online dating and the long term“Cathy” wants a long-term relationship (LTR). She’s 55, tired of dating, and would love to find a partner for the long haul. She and “Jacob” have been dating for six months. This feels like the relationship of her dreams. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, Jacob tells her he’s leaving. He met someone else. What happened? It turns out that Cathy wanted an LTR and Jacob was in it for the casual sex. He liked her a lot, but he’s ready to move on. Cathy’s desire for an LTR felt like pressure to Jacob. She assumed he wanted the same thing she did, and was blindsided by his sudden breakup.

How can you tell if you both have the same relationship goals? If you speak about it too soon, he might feel pressure and bolt. You would probably do the same. I don’t recommend having “the talk” before you’ve been dating for a while. But you can predict long-term relationship potential before you even go on your first date.

LTR or Casual Sex?

  1. What’s in his online dating preferences? If you’re dating online (and in order to optimize your dating success, I believe everyone should be), there’s a section in the preferences that asks what type of relationship you’re looking for. You should be able to choose between a date, an activity partner, a long-term relationship, or marriage (or any combination of the above). This is the most obvious first place to look to see if you’re on the same page. If you see only ‘activity partner’ and ‘date’ filled out, it’s pretty obvious he doesn’t want a long-term relationship. Next!
  2. What’s wrong with his essay? A person’s words are usually a good indicator of their intention. When seeking a partner online, look for words in his essay that speak to his desire for a relationship. Skip over the guys who lead with “I’m a great lover.” Some men even have sex-driven usernames, like ”GoodLoverMan” (this is real). Pretty good chance those guys are not in it for the long term! But it’s not only the sex-obsessed who don’t necessarily want an LTR. Some guys just lack the stamina. Here’s a guy who makes that clear in his essay: “I’m retired with some bad knees from sports & the army, so I don’t walk around like I used to, but I still have a great sense of humor and looking for a nice companion.” Call the retirement home, and move on to the next profile!
  3. Look for relationship-oriented essays. Here’s an excerpt from an essay of a guy who seems to want a long-term relationship: “I would like a soul mate – a woman who I can spend the rest of my life with!” And here’s a guy who reveals his core values about friendship. This speaks to how he would probably value a life partner: “Several of my friends are long-time friends. Once you’re my friend I try to keep you.”  Here’s another example of someone who is seriously looking to get married: “Looking for someone with whom I can walk arm-in-arm for the rest of my life. We’d be soul mates, have mutual respect, trust, and honesty, knowing that we would be there for each other whenever the need arose.” Would you date this guy? (I did! He was true to his word, just not the right guy for me.)
  4. Beware of Mr. Everything! Then there are men who say they are looking for everything, from a friend to an activity partner to a spouse. Their profile essays are often just as ambiguous and vague. Be cautious about the guys who I refer to as the “open net.” They don’t really know what they want, so they are looking to catch anything that falls in. Your relationship will probably be just as confusing and ambiguous.

Once you know the right relationship key words (and once you meet, the follow-up actions) to look for, it’s easy to spot a keeper. When you start out on the same page, your success at relationships will increase exponentially.

Have you ever been in a relationship where you wanted a long-term relationship and you were surprised to learn that he didn’t? Please share your experiences below.

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