Lately I’ve been feeling that I’ve put so much effort into new relationships, just for them to go on and end for various reasons. I think I’m running out of steam and I simply don’t want to date anymore unless i have a good idea it’ll work out for me. How do I become more effective in my dating strategies, stop wasting so much time, and actually find a good long-term partner?
I truly understand the struggles you have been having. It can be difficult and tiring to constantly put yourself out there only to be let down in the end. Although it can be hard to predict how a relationship will turn out when something is so new, here’s some advice and research about how you can go about the dating scene and get the most of it, hopefully finding the right person for you.
In one study, it was found that those who had more long lasting, stable, and satisfying relationships had less activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex and the right nucleus accumbens.1 These areas are heavily associated with pleasure and reward, with the nucleus accumbens being known as the “pleasure center.” Although this may not be the most applicable to everyday life, as most people don’t have immediate access to an fMRI machine, it could be helpful to note whether or not you feel this sort of obsessive and addictive love for the people you are seeing, because this can be harmful.
Other research has shown that socially constructed ideas of gender norms, hook-up culture, and power dynamics between men and women can lead to women being in relationships that are perceived as pleasurable in society but are in fact not.2 These norms can be hard to combat in the dating scene when hook-up culture is so prevalent, but the best advice I can give is that you should stick up for what you want. If you want to have casual and fun relationships, do that! Don’t let society and double standards shame you from doing this. However, if you are truly looking for a monogamous, long-term relationship, don’t be dissuaded or pressured by men into not doing this either.
Whatever you decide to do when pursuing a romantic relationship with a new partner, know that staying for longer and trying to work things out with someone you just aren’t compatible with rarely solves anything. Trying to “change” the other person can be a tiring process. Research shows that the outcome of a romantic relationship, whether it be good or bad, depends little on the time spent in the relationship but much more on the partner of choice.3 So in these cases, maybe these “failed” dates can actually be a good thing! You are another step closer to finding someone who you are compatible with and is emotionally available, rather than staying with and trying to change something that simply wouldn’t work.
1, Xu, X., Brown, L., Aron, A., Cao, G., Feng, T., Acevedo, B., & Weng, X. (2012). Regional brain activity during early-stage intense romantic love predicted relationship outcomes after 40 months: An fMRI assessment. Neuroscience Letters, 526(1), 33–38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2012.08.004
2. Torras-Gómez, E., Puigvert, L., Aiello, E., & Khalfaoui, A. (2020). Our right to the pleasure of falling in love. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 3068. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03068
3. Puigvert, L., Gelsthorpe, L., Soler-Gallart, M., & Flecha, R. (2019). Girls’ perceptions of boys with violent attitudes and behaviours, and of sexual attraction. Palgrave Communications, 5(1), 56. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-019-0262-5