- It’s impossible to predict a divorce, but there are ways to date so you find a more compatible partner.
- Asking certain questions about values, like with family planning and religion, can help.
- Pay attention to how you resolve disagreements and communicate, therapists said.
There’s no surefire way to predict a divorce, but dating in an intentional way before marriage can help you find a partner you have long-term compatibility with.
Since everyone has different relationship needs and desires, knowing your own and learning the relationship expectations of the people you date will allow you to see if they match up, Sara Tick, a therapist and founder of men’s dating coach service Modern Meet, told Insider.
Then, as you date someone and deepen your connection, noticing patterns in how you communicate, fight, and make decisions can give you clues into the sustainability of your relationship.
A person’s relationship goals are more important than the relationship structure they’re in, whether they are married, in an open relationship, or something else, according to sex therapist Shadeen Francis, She tells her clients to date with the goal of building a healthy partnership that feels good to everyone involved. Instead of focusing on marriage status as a goal, think of it as a lifelong process, Francis said.
“Marriage itself matters and is not, I think, the accomplishment that people are expecting it to be because you still have to build a life,” she said.
Francis and Tick shared their advice for how to date with the goal of building a long partnership, potentially avoiding divorce down the line.
Understand your values, and get to know your dates’ values
Tick warned that having too many non-negotiables could lead to dating self-sabotage, and singles should be curious and open to differences of opinion while meeting new people.
At the same time, understanding the type of life you live and aspire to have can ensure you find a partner with similar intentions.
In Tick’s experience, for example, couples who don’t talk about their views on children before getting married tend to have trouble moving past that issue. Learning where your partner stands, or even hearing that they’re unsure, can give you more insight into your compatibility, she said.
Religion, career, personal lifestyle, and where you live are other values worth considering.
Reflect on your past dating mistakes to break unhelpful patterns
If you can’t seem to figure out your values, or why your past relationships didn’t work, consider looking at your dating patterns, Tick said.
Francis often sees people making the mistakes of fixating on a first impression too much, and carrying the grief of a past relationship into a new one.
She works with many of her clients on their vulnerability, asking them what would happen if they stopped putting on a performance when they go on dates and instead gave themselves grace.
“It boils down to, what would happen if you honored the reality of your emotional experience? What would happen if you treated your emotions as real and valid and just let them be rather than pretending you have other ones or that you don’t have them?” Francis said.
If a person doesn’t grieve the ways their parents, friends, or previous lovers were unable to meet their relationship needs, they could also unintentionally carry that grief into a new partnership.
This could lead to unfair expectations of your new partner, so understanding the source of your hurt can help you communicate what you need in a more productive way, she said.
Get to know someone for a year before making any big decisions
When you’re in a new relationship, it’s easy to focus on the positives and put forward your best impression. Your new lover is likely doing the same. That means you won’t immediately have a full picture of their personality.
Tick suggested dating someone seriously for a year before making a big change that involves them, like moving in together or getting engaged. This way, you have chances to work through difficult times together.
Focusing on how you grow along with another person, rather than on your initial chemistry, can lead to a more fulfilling connection.
Instant connections can feel great in the moment, but may not have staying power, Francis said.
Pay attention to how you fight and resolve disagreements
A couple who never fights may have less obvious conflict, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re happy or fulfilled.
Tick suggested paying more attention to the nature of your arguments than the frequency. Arguments around how much time is spent with in-laws are common and frequent, since family is a fixture in most people’s lives. That doesn’t make the disagreements a sign your relationship is doomed.
Instead, observe if you and your partner hear each other’s perspectives and try to understand where you’re coming from. The ability to engage in a disagreement while staying kind is a sign of healthy communication, Francis said.