Great relationships are not discovered– they are built.

🗝 The Keyring // 010

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The past year has thrown human courtship into turmoil. As a result of the pandemic, dating went virtual, cohabitating couples became co-workers, and millions of weddings got postponed.

For those who are trying to get their romantic lives back on track, I’ve got a special guest. Logan Ury is a behavioral scientist turned dating coach and the author of How To Not Die Alone. She’s also the Director of Relationship Science at Hinge where she leads a research team dedicated to helping people find love.

After listening to a recent interview Logan gave on Below the Line, I knew I wanted to interview her for this month’s Keyring issue.

In our interview, Logan shares:

  • 👤 What to look for in a life partner

  • 🧠 The right mindset to be successful at dating

  • 🧲 Why picking someone with a compatible attachment style matters

  • 🔥 How to rekindle desire after sheltering in place with your partner

  • 💍 How to build up the confidence to make a serious commitment

and plenty more…

What would you recommend to someone who wants to find their person but is turned off by the inefficiency of the dating process?

A lot of my more career-driven clients approach dating like finding a new job. They want to know how many dates they need to go on each month and what they need to do to convert a first date into a second.

As you can imagine, this leads to a lot of frustration when things don’t go according to schedule.

So, the first message I try to get across to them is that love isn’t a systematic process. It's not about going on a certain number of dates each month. It's about the mindset that you bring to each date. 

Even though finding the right person takes work, dating shouldn't feel like work. Instead, you need to get into a more flirtatious, present, and experiential mindset that allows you to actually have fun and connect with someone.

What would you recommend to someone who’s dating a lot but not finding much success turning those dates into relationships?

That reminds me of a coaching client who told me in our first session that she went on 100 dates in the past year. She was saying it to show how much effort she was putting in. But when I heard how few of them had converted into second dates I started to wonder:

  • What kind of people was she selecting?

  • What kind of dates was she going on?

  • How was she showing up to those dates?

  • How was she deciding who to go out with again?

For her, she was putting too much emphasis on going through the motions of dating and not enough on connecting with the people she was meeting.

So usually, I need to do a bit of digging to figure out where things are going wrong.

If you’re a career-driven person, what kind of mate should you look for?

One of my favorite chapters of the book is called “Look for a life partner, not a prom date.”  It's about what to look for in a long-term life partner. 

People often think they need someone who has a similar personality and shares their same hobbies. But in reality, there isn’t much evidence that either of those things matter. 

What we know does matter for long-term relationship success are things like kindness, loyalty, emotional stability, the ability to make hard decisions together, and the side of you the other person brings out. 

For someone who’s especially career-driven, I encourage you to talk to your potential partner about your future goals. Do you envision being in a couple where both people are trying to accomplish ambitious things at work, or do you want a life that is more family-centered? Whatever your vision is, make sure that the other person’s vision is compatible and that they’ll support you in making your goals a reality.

How do attachment styles play a role in relationship compatibility?

Attachment theory is one of the most rigorously researched parts of relationship science. It comes from the field of developmental psychology and tells us that when people are growing up they develop different ways of relating to their primary caregiver. These attachment styles often carry over into adult romantic relationships. 

The three attachment styles are:

  • Anxiously attached people tend to crave intimacy and look for constant reassurance. When somebody is traveling, they want to text and be in constant touch. 

  • Avoidantly attached people strive for independence and fear being smothered. They often push people away.

  • Securely attached people are comfortable with intimacy as well as independence.

Even though 50% of the population is securely attached, those people often get snatched up into relationships. So, you have this pool of anxiously attached people who feel like they're going to be abandoned, dating the avoidantly attached people who feel like they're going to be smothered, and they're reinforcing each other's worst habits. That’s called the anxious-attachment loop. 

The important work is to identify your attachment style. If you’re anxiously or avoidantly attached, focus on addressing your own triggers and aim to date someone who’s secure.

This year a lot of cohabiting couples started spending a lot more time together. What’s some advice you have for couples who are trying to keep the magic alive?

I’ve heard from a lot of couples who moved in together right before or during the pandemic and, after spending so much time together this year and are having trouble reigniting the initial desire that brought them together.

As Esther Perel says, “desire is like fire, it needs air.” These couples have just been so on top of each other that they don’t have the necessary air to kindle desire. 

I encourage them to create boundaries and spend time apart. Go on separate walks. Spend time with friends outside of the relationship. Allow yourself to miss the other person. Coming together is what builds romance. 

What do you recommend to people who are in a happy relationship but having trouble deciding whether to commit to the next step (moving in together, marriage, etc.)?

I live in the Bay Area where I meet a lot of “maximizers” who want to make sure they are with their optimal partner. They think if they could only date everyone out there, it would be easy to pick the right person. 

What I try to help them understand is that great relationships are built, not discovered. So, instead of spending all your time wondering who else is out there, find someone great, and put in the work to build that great relationship with them.

How can you build up the confidence for the next level of commitment?

One of my favorite relationship philosophies is: “Decide, don't slide.” It means you want to enter different stages of the relationship by making an intentional choice about moving forward, not just sliding into it. So you don't want to move in together just because your lease is up, you want to move in together because you've had a conversation about what moving in together means to you. 

When it comes to marriage, most people are not 100% certain about walking down the aisle. This is especially true with maximizers [part of Logan’s Three Dating Tendencies Framework] who want to know they’ve picked the best option. You want to make an informed decision about your partner, but it’s ultimately going to be a leap of faith. You're saying that “the person who I am today believes that you are somebody who I could grow old with.” Instead of trying to find the perfect person, who will magically be the perfect partner, realize that you’re empowered to work together to build the relationship of your dreams. 

Five Takeaways

Here are five insights you can take from Logan to make progress in your romantic life:

  1. You can’t just go through the motions of dating. Success requires showing up with the right mindset.

  2. Have the conversation about life goals early.

  3. Discover the blind spots holding you back from finding love. 

  4. Great relationships are not discovered. They are built.

  5. Decide, don’t slide.

A big thanks to Logan for sharing her insight. If you want more, check out her book How to Not Die Alone. You can follow her on Instagram @loganury and join her relationship newsletter here.

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– Nick