When to Discuss the Type of Relationship You’re Looking For

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Online dating is a great tool for people to find and build relationships. However, the relationship goal can be quite different from one person to the next. For me, I used online dating because I wanted to find a long-term relationship.

looking for a relationship

However, as I discovered over my time dating online, not everyone was looking for the same thing and this initially caused me confusion and later frustration when I would feel like I had wasted time. It becomes clear that discussing the type of relationship you are looking for is important…but when should we discuss this?

Here’s how one of my readers put it:

Some people sign up for online dating to find someone to go on dates with and not get too attached, while others are looking to develop a serious relationship. To me, it seems like there should be a common understanding of goals early on, to avoid disappointment later. I’m not sure how to bring up the subject, though, without sounding weird or presumptuous. What are your thoughts on discussing dating goals, either in an online dating profile or first/second date conversation?

When to Discuss the Type of Relationship You Are Looking For

First off, I believe that stating our desires for a relationship is something that we should always discuss in our profile. At the very least, we should hint at what we are looking for.

I understand that there could be concerns over sounding weird or presumptuous, but it’s a pretty big deal: if met a woman and on the second date she said she had no interest in finding a long-term relationship, I would have felt like I wasted my time.

How Should I Describe What I’m Looking For?
I believe we should be clear on the type of relationship we are looking for as early as possible, but I do think we should put some thought into how we express this. I don’t think we need to hit other people over the head with our stance. Being too aggressive could scare some potentially good dates off.

Being Aggressive in What You're Looking For

For example, talking passionately about finding a long-term relationship and then discussing marriage in detail in your profile could be a bad idea. There might be a great person out there who would have similar desires as you, but might worry they’d be dealing with someone who wanted to get married after the third date.

While many of us have stances on what we want, most of us also have some flexibility in who we are willing to date. Just think of all the relationships that started out more casual that eventually turned into marriage. I think we should describe what we’re looking for with that flexibility in mind.

For example, I wouldn’t put this text in a profile:

“I’m not looking for a long-term relationship. I just want to have fun!”

That might be true but at the same time, if the right person comes along we might change our mind. Instead, I’d write that as:

“I’m staying open about who I date and I’d look forward to meeting new people. Initially I’m not looking to jump into a committed relationship but down the road I’m open to the possibility”

Now I’m sure the first example would attract some people, but I would hope the second could also attract those same people without scaring others away. On the other hand, if you never want a serious long-term relationship then perhaps the first is better. I don’t want to suggest that you lie, but I do think there are good ways to describe what we are looking for without giving people the wrong impression.

What If They Don’t Reveal What They Are Looking For?

If they are silent on what they are looking for in their dating profile, I believe it would be best to bring it up before the first date. Sometimes it can be difficult to fit this comfortably into conversation so it may need to wait until the first date, just recognize that you may spend a few weeks getting to that first date and then not like the answer the other person is giving you.

Just as when we talk about what we are looking for, I wouldn’t be too aggressive in getting them to open up about what they are looking for. A simple question like, “What led you to try online dating?” could reveal a lot without making them uncomfortable.

My Own Worst Enemy

Personally, I think I was my own worst enemy early on in this area in regards to describing the type of relationship I was looking for. I was very vague because I wanted to be open and acceptable to as many women as possible. In reality, I wanted to find a long-term relationship and eventually get married but I never listed this in my profile.

Eventually, I was clear in my profile on what I was looking for and I did feel better about the first dates I was going on. Sure, most of them still never progressed very far but at least I knew we were starting out with the same goals.

I imagine being honest may have prevented me from going on some dates, but in this case, isn’t that a good thing? I would encourage you to be open about what you really want in a relationship to save yourself time and headaches.



About the Author:

Brad initially struggled with online dating but over time became quite successful using it. He met his wife using online dating and has been giving advice and helping people improve their results since 2007. He has written a Free Online Dating Guide to help others find success with online dating. You can learn more about his personal experience using online dating and running this website here.


  1. Karl  November 5, 2016

    These articles have been very helpful. Is there a site where I can ask a question I may have for free and get either a immediate response or with in 24 hrs.?


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