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Last updated on March 3, 2014 | by Aet Suvari


How online dating can help you find your life partner

I get it that the whole notion of “life-long” sounds a bit old-fashioned in the context of relationships nowadays.

But isn’t that ultimately what most of us are looking for (even if subconsciously) when we sign up to a dating site?

Isn’t that the reason we’re prepared to pay money to join the most popular dating websites?

Isn’t this why we put up with one dating disaster after another, why we keep coming back to the same place, even after the disappointments we’ve endured?

Indeed, it is.

However, I bet you sometimes wonder if this is how it really works. Whether dating sites are really the right places to look for something lasting, real and sincere. We’ve all heard the horror stories of scams and fraudulent activity that can happen online, and even if we haven’t experienced something as dramatic as that ourselves, we surely all have our own horror stories.

The not so secret formula

So, does it work? We’ve all read or heard about dating site success stories and I’m sure all of you have wondered whether one day you could be starring in one of those stories.

Up movie couple life partner

First of all, you should establish if you are at a place in your life where you’re looking for someone you could possibly share your whole life with.

I know I said that this is what we’re all ultimately looking for – I don’t think anyone who tries online dating is really going to settle for a string of short term relationships or one night stands (there are other types of website for that anyway) – but you might just not be ‘there’ at this particular moment in your life.

And as you very well know, that’s fine too.

I recently read this great article at Wait But Why, which tells us a lot about the pressures society puts us under.

There’s absolutely no need to make this another pressure point in your life – it’s very well put in the article I’m referring to:

“In our world, the major rule is to get married before you’re too old—and “too old” varies from 25 – 35, depending on where you live. The rule should be “whatever you do, don’t marry the wrong person,” but society frowns much more upon a 37-year-old single person than it does an unhappily married 37-year-old with two children.”

Unfortunately that’s only too true.

I want to, I want to not

So, first things first, you should ask yourself some very important questions:

  • Who are you looking for: a true life-partner or just someone to share your life with so you wouldn’t be alone?
  • Are you scared of being alone – now and in the future? If so, then why?
  • Do you truly want a partner – or perhaps you’re just keen to become a parent and are therefore looking for a mum/dad for your child?
  • What are the characteristics that are most important for you when looking for a partner? How willing are you to compromise on them?

It’s crucial to get it right: what is it that you really want – that’s really the only way to go after it.

Otherwise you’ll only be stumbling around with outstretched arms, like suddenly being struck blind in a grocery store, trying to grab whatever you can catch. You met get lucky and satisfy your immediate hunger but it’s hardly the best scenario for long term nourishment.


The logical question here is why. Why isn’t it a good idea to just try out different strategies, go on lots of dates and figure it all out in the process?

Well, first of all, because it’s confusing.

It’s all down to the way our body works.

Surely there’s no harm in having a little fun, just trying out your options – I mean, you’re both grown-ups, both wanting to live your lives to the full, right?

What’s wrong with having sex with a few dates here and there? Well, morally – nothing, unless it’s against your own particular beliefs.

And if that’s what you feel like doing at this moment, then by all means, dive in!

Reason vs Chemistry

But if you’ve established for yourself that you’re looking for more than just casual dates that might or might not evolve into a long-term partnership, then it might be wise to wait a little.

Sometimes your body can just make these decisions for yourself before your brain even gets there – and your libido’s much less reliable than good old common sense in that department!

First you want to do it once, then the oxytocin kicks in, begging you for more…. And before you know it you’re involved in something that you weren’t initially looking for.

Again, it’s well said in the Wait But Why article:

“Our brains can usually override this process if we’re just not that into someone, but for all those middle ground cases where the right move is probably to move on and find something better, we often succumb to the chemical roller coaster and end up getting engaged.”

Who, why, how?

Now, let’s say you’ve established that you’re indeed ready for a long term relationship.

The next important step that you need to do, is to find out the reasons behind that decision.

I know it sounds trivial – what does the reason matter if you’re sure about what you want?

Unfortunately it matters a great deal.

I’m not trying to say that there are right reasons and wrong reasons for wanting a life-partner – after all, it’s your life and you have your own moral compass to guide you through it.

But knowing your reasons facilitates the process of looking for a partner, of knowing what you really are expecting from a relationship and it also helps to eliminate the fears and qualms you might have about the process.

Because, bear in mind, it is a process.

up-couple-reading life partner

Finding a life partner online is different to getting involved with someone in the real world.

Online dating is not too different from shopping as a process. It sounds callous and calculated, but usually we put in a lot of research and effort when picking a car. A life partner is an incomparable amount of times more important than a car, yet we’re supposed to just rely on fate and chance then trust our gut feeling?

“It happens when you least expect it,” is what people say. “You’ll recognise true love when you see it,” is what Hollywood conveys.

Yet, you can also go through a more reasoned and pro-active process for finding love, picking the right kind of person who you want to be with – someone who corresponds with your wants and needs.

5 types of people looking for a life partner

So, let’s take a look at the Wait But Why article once again.

They define several different types of people looking for a long-term relationship.

Here we have the Overly Romantic Ronald who simply cannot live without romance and the notion of “true love”, who believes in “fate” and will cling on to relationships purely because he thinks it was written in the stars.

Then we have Fear-Driven Frida who is so scared of staying alone for the rest of her life that she’ll just settle for the next match that seems fairly suitable.

There’s also Externally-Influenced Ed who listens more to what society, his family and friends tell him than his own common sense.

I think we all have met one or two Shallow Sharons who care more about the particular picture her relationship paints to other people than the relationship itself.

There’s Selfish Stanley who wants to eat his cake and have it too or who only needs a partner so he can always rely on someone being there for him.

In any case – you get the picture.


It’s difficult to analyse yourself but try to take a step back and take a good look at yourself: do you perhaps recognise yourself in one of those descriptions?

Remember, there are no right or wrong reasons for wanting a life-partner, but some of those reasons above are just not viable for long term happiness.

They’re not a reliable stepping-stone towards a lasting relationship.

If you feel like one of your reasons was listed here, maybe you’re not as ready as you thought.

All relationships require an amount of work, nothing just miraculously works on its own. The same goes for the relationship you have with yourself. That too requires work, and more importantly – can be worked on and can be changed if you’re committed to putting the effort in.

Some questions to ask yourself
  • Am I ready for the fact that my relationship isn’t going to be all just about loving and kissing and lovemaking – it’s also going to be about hundred mundane little things, about annoying habits, about constant cleaning and listening and cooking and who knows what else? Am I ready that it will be ordinary rather than romantic?
  • Do I realise that love is fickle? Am I prepared that I cannot control other person’s wishes and feelings and that he or she might leave me? Am I prepared to accept it and allow the other person the freedom he or she is entitled to?
  • Do I want it because it is my heart’s wish – or because my mother/friend/colleague/neighbour/flatmate thinks I should want it? If I found someone they didn’t accept but I loved nonetheless, would I be strong enough to power through?
  • Am I ready that the person I am looking for won’t be as good-looking as I wish? As rich as I wish? Am I ready to love an office clerk as willingly as a lawyer? What is it that matters to me in a relationship?
  • Do I realise that my partner’s sole purpose and role in life won’t be to support me, listen to me, cook for me, make time for me, give birth to my babies, clean for me, comfort me, praise me, admire me? Am I ready to give us much as I am willing to take out of a relationship?

Once you can answer honestly all these questions you’re already half way closer to understanding who you are and what you are really looking for.

Ready, steady, go

The next step is the easiest step.

Now you actually have to find what you’re looking for. I’m going to say it’s the easiest step… but it is also the hardest.

It’s made easy by the fact that on an online dating site you have the initial search part already performed for you.

You have a sample of candidates, you have a choice, and they’re all there on the site to be found, to be approached. They’re not married or involved with someone (at least on decent dating sites they shouldn’t be!), they are also – to an extent – ready for a relationship, and some of them are even looking for a life-partner just like you.

You’ve got that part figured out for you. Your task now is to make your choice wisely.

Only you know what it is that you’re looking for in a partner.

Up couple bed

What are the characteristics you’d prefer him or her to have? What are you willing to compromise on?

Most dating sites let you do a pretty detailed search, although I can’t say I recommend it too strongly. Most of the characteristics that we can pick on these searches are external – based on appearance, and you’d do much better to keep your options open in those areas.

Of course it’s another thing with education, religion and occupation, perhaps even income. It doesn’t automatically make you a Shallow Sharon if you have certain standards that you’d like your date to meet, just don’t be too close-minded about them.

There are always exceptions to every rule and it’s better to be spoilt with choice rather than eliminating the bulk of candidates on a whim.

When you search and browse profiles, it pays to remember your reasons for being there.

Effort brings rewards

You have a plan and a vision for the future and generally the profiles on dating sites will show you enough about a person that can help you establish how serious they are about finding a life partner.

Generally you can tell a lot about the effort that people have put in to their profile – is it thoughtful and reflective? Does it have good pictures? Is it well-written? (and by that I don’t mean so much the style and grammar, I mean the feeling that you get when you read).

Do you think they’ve worked on their profile? I suggest you don’t waste any of your own and their time if you don’t think initially that they are there for the same reasons that you are – you’ll just end up disappointing each other – no matter how attractive those pictures look!

Focus on the matches that seem interesting, that take time and effort to go into details, and that moves something inside you.

There’s leisurely browsing on online dating sites and there’s serious searching.

Be prepared to spend some quality time and energy on looking for the right match. Be prepared to carefully select your best options. Be prepared to work hard on your communication with them. And be prepared for disappointments – not all of them will get back to you.

Out of those who do, there will be a smaller percentage that you actually like in real life too.

Be prepared to start the process all over again – from the question whether this is what you really want, if need be.

However, remember that with patience it is possible to achieve anything.

If you decide to do this – good luck! I sincerely think you’re on a right path.

You’re prepared to take fate in your own hands and not just sit there and wait for the Cupid’s arrow to hit you.

We all know how easy it is to end up settling with someone unsuitable, or no one… and that’s not what you want, is it?

If you need some help getting started on your quest our UK dating site reviews are a good place to start to find the most reliable sites where people are looking for long term relationships.

About the Author

has been reviewing and writing about the world of online dating since 2008 and the launch of Online Dating Help. A stickler for promoting ethical practices within the UK dating industry she champions the sites that get it right while highlighting those holding it back. You can follow her on Google+

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