How to find a partner that's right for you

Wouldn't it be great if, at the exact moment you decide you’re ready for a relationship, your perfect match miraculously appears at your door with a smile and your favourite foods and suggests a cosy movie night on the couch? 

Unfortunately, there's a little more work involved in finding a partner that’s right for you, including asking yourself some pointy questions and being prepared to wait for the right person.

This can help if:

  • you feel ready for a relationship

  • you’ve had relationships with people who weren’t right for you

  • you don’t know what kind of person is right for you

  • you don’t know how to find that special person.

Young couple looking at each other

What are you looking for?

It isn’t always a simple matter to decide if you want to get into a relationship with another person. Whether you’re on the lookout for someone, or already have a particular person in mind, it’s a good idea to be clear about what you want. First of all, do you want a relationship for the right reasons? Are you comfortable with your current life situation and want someone to share new experiences with? It’s not unusual for some people to look for a relationship as a way of ‘fixing’ something in their life, or because they simply like the idea of it. But making sure you’re ready can help you to feel secure and happier when you find someone you want to be with. 

When you know you’re ready, think about what aspects of a relationship are important to you and what personal qualities you value in yourself and others. You can even make a list and underline the things you won’t compromise on.

Try to avoid just listing superficial things like ‘long hair’, ‘a cute smile’ or ‘blue eyes’. These things can distract you from what’s going to be important, such as whether you are compatible on a personal level. Of course, physical attraction is important, too, but it’s amazing how irresistible someone can become as you get to know them.

You might decide you like people who are:

  • trustworthy

  • honest

  • affectionate

  • respectful

  • kind

  • generous

  • fun

  • loyal.

Once you’ve made your list, keep it in mind when you’re meeting new people or getting to know someone better. It’ll help you to figure out whether a connection you feel with someone could lead to something meaningful.

It’s also worth thinking about what kind of relationship you want. Do you want to be in an exclusive relationship with one person, or would you be open to you and your partner consensually dating multiple people? It’s important for you and your future partner to agree on this, to avoid misunderstandings that could lead to one of you feeling hurt.

Do you already have someone in mind?

If you’re attracted to someone and are thinking about having a relationship with them, then spend some time getting to know them first. The more you discover about them and let them get to know about you, the better idea you’ll have about whether you’re right for each other.

To help you decide, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do they have the qualities that I value?

  • Do we communicate easily?

  • Do I feel relaxed and myself around this person?

  • Do we respect each other’s beliefs and cultures?

If you’re still unsure if someone would be a good match for you, you can always talk to your friends and family to see what they think about it.

Does the other person want a relationship?

Relationships are a two-way street. If you’ve got someone in mind, do you know how they feel about you? Ideally, each of you will feel the same way and, if it feels right, you can go for it.

But often things don’t run that smoothly. It’s hard when you realise that the person you’re really into doesn’t feel the same way about you. Feeling rejected sucks. But it's also a normal part of dating and of the process of finding a partner. The most important thing is to be with someone who’s into you, too.

Young queer couple dancing

Where will you find someone who’s right for you?

Try going to places where there are people with similar interests to you. Clubs and societies create great little communities of like-minded people, and there’s nothing like a shared interest to get you talking with someone new. Do a bit of research to see if your school, uni or local community has any groups you’d be interested in joining.

You never know where you might meet someone. A gig, a house party, on the bus, or (if you’re over 18) a new bar. If you meet someone who you think you could get along with, try starting a conversation and see whether they’re open to chatting. A smile and a friendly gesture can be all it takes to start getting to know someone better. But if this is a bit daunting (and it is for heaps of people), check out our tips for meeting new people.

What about dating apps?

Chatting with and meeting people on dating apps can be a really fun and positive experience, and it’s how a lot of people date. Plus, it can be exciting coming across people you may not necessarily have met in your day-to-day life. 

If you decide you’re keen on trying out dating apps, keep these tips in mind:

  • Safety first. Make sure you’re careful of your personal safety. Meet people in public places, and don’t give anyone too much personal info early on. Check out e-safety’s tips for safe online dating for more info. 

  • Looks aren’t everything. If you're judging people based only on how they look in their photos, there’s going to be plenty of potentially great matches left behind as you swipe left and dismiss them.

  • Take a break if you need to. Constant swiping can become tiring. And it’s not unusual to feel pretty fatigued by the process. Check out these tips on how to avoid dating app burnout.

It doesn’t have to last forever  

You may decide that you’re ready and want to be in a relationship now, but that doesn’t mean you’ll want to stay in it later. You should never feel locked into a relationship. So, if you do start dating someone, keep checking in with yourself about how you’re going.

If you’re just not feeling it any more, and are thinking of ending things with someone, that’s totally fine, too. Just remember that the other person’s feelings matter just as much as yours do, and it’s important to go about things respectfully. Here are our tips on how to do this.

Importantly, if the relationship is having a negative impact on your mental health and wellbeing, then there might be something more serious going on. Talking about it with a counsellor, relationship specialist or peer worker can help you to figure out if the situation you’re in is toxic, emotionally abusive or something else, and they can support you in dealing with the situation. 

Hopefully, you’re now feeling a little more prepared for the world of dating and starting a relationship. These experiences can be super fun (but don’t forget that being single can be great, too).

What can I do now?

  • Head to the ReachOut Online Community to chat with other young people about dating and relationships.

  • Learn more about sexual health.