A new study shows American singles have changed their priorities for potential partners. What do you need to do to match up to the new standards?
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Another dating trend. Those words can evoke unwelcome feelings for people who have embarrassing blind-date stories or experienced cringy connections via Tinder or Facebook Dating.
Before you pass up the newest craze, however, realize this one does not involve apps and algorithms. Rather it is for anyone looking for a meaningful match.
According to a study published November 2021, for the first time in 11 years, singles are more concerned about finding a partner who is emotionally mature than just physically attractive.
The survey, conducted by online dating company Match, found that 83 percent of U.S. singles prefer emotional maturity in their partner over physical attraction. Though 78 percent also wanted a partner with good looks, that figure is down from 90 percent in 2020.
Those surveyed—most of whom were Generation Zers and millennials—also said they were looking for a partner who is open-minded and accepting of differences (83 percent indicated they preferred these traits) and a good communicator (84 percent).
Likely, these trends are positive byproducts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another Match survey found that the majority of millennials and Gen Zers took up new hobbies (72 percent) since COVID-19 spread across the globe, made strides in their career (69 percent), got better at managing their finances (69 percent) and got better at managing their time (68 percent).
The long pause in routines during the pandemic gave many time to reevaluate priorities.
“It’s a lot of personal growth, self-reflection, thinking about what you want in life,” Lisa Clampitt, president and founder of her self-named matchmaking company in New York City, said to Time. “People have had so much time to reflect, and they want to be with someone who’s also reflecting on similar things.”
Starting a hobby or improving your career, while they take time and commitment, can be relatively easy to do. But emotional maturity? How can you capitalize on this yourself? What does emotional maturity even mean?
There are actionable steps to take to learn to manage your own emotions—and make you an even more desirable date.
Single Yourself Out
Growing up physically is automatic. There is little we can do to stop ourselves from growing through our formative years. Yet that can trick us into thinking all the other traits that bring adulthood success are automatic as well.
That is simply not the case when it comes to developing emotionally. Just as children sulk when they do not want to accept blame, get furious at playmates who do not share a toy, or get frustrated when people do not pay attention to them, a 30-year-old who has not practiced controlling his emotions will react just as impulsively if he is accused of wrongdoing, feels he is being mistreated or is not given attention.
“People who are emotionally immature don’t meet society’s expectations for social behavior within their age range,” WebMD states. “It’s safe to assume that a grown-up will be able to consider their impact on others and pay attention to their feelings. Emotionally mature people can accept criticism and learn from it. Adults with emotional maturity can think about and plan for the future as well. People with emotional immaturity, however, struggle with these things.”
The website listed examples: impulsive behavior, demanding attention, name-calling, avoiding responsibility through excessive escapism, and narcissism.
Any one of these traits can deal a deathblow to a budding relationship. Yet no one is perfect. We all have undesirable tendencies if we are honest with ourselves. So do not get discouraged—identifying your weak points is the first step toward maturing.
The next step is to learn from a role model. We already picked out the perfect match.
Relationship Role Model
Not many consider the Bible as a source of relationship advice. Yet it is a book almost exclusively about personal growth and improving relationships.
For example, virtually everyone is familiar with Jesus Christ’s “golden rule” instruction: “Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them…” (Matt. 7:12).
In other words, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Yet have you considered the line that immediately follows: “…for this is the law and the prophets.” The law and prophets refers to the writings in the Old Testament (the New Testament was not yet written).
In effect, Christ summarized the whole point of Scripture—learning proper behaviors to better relate to others! God’s Word is a book that, if taken seriously, will help you mature.
This is very different from the supposition that Christ came to do away with the “old teachings.” Notice where He upheld the Law—known as the Ten Commandments—by boiling it down to its two core tenets: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like [it], namely this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).
All that Jesus Christ preached during His earthly ministry simply went into greater detail of how to fulfill the commandments. Look at some from the “sermon on the mount” in the book of Matthew:
If you are merciful, you will receive mercy (5:7)
Never lash out in anger—it only harms yourself (vs. 21-26)
Replace vengeful feelings against those who revile you by seeking to help them (vs. 38-42)
Recognize and address your own faults before correcting others (7:1-5)
Each of these has to do with developing mature emotional responses, which is key to “loving your neighbor”—meaning maintaining relationships.
A more detailed instance of this is Christ introducing a method to resolving interpersonal conflict. Notice: “If your brother shall trespass against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone” (Matt. 18:15).
Instead of silently stewing over an offense, gossiping to others about the issue, or flying off the handle, the offended party must initiate a formal discussion with the offender.
If followed, this method would prevent one of the main causes of divorce—poor communication. The ability to openly and calmly discuss problems lands big points on the emotional maturity scoreboard from potential partners. Harboring ill-will and exhibiting passive-aggressive anger does not.
Beyond Christ’s teachings, the Bible is filled with many more concise keys and benefits of emotional control. Here is a sampling:
How to respond in the face of anger: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1, NKJV).
Honesty and keeping promises: “Let your yes be yes, and your no, no; lest you fall into condemnation” (Jms. 5:12).
Be vulnerable instead of trying to be seen as “perfect”: “Confess your faults one to another…” (vs. 16).
A warning against holding grudges: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart: you shall in any wise rebuke your neighbor”—in other words, talk about the issue—“you shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people” (Lev. 19:17-18).
If sincerely applied, this will not only give you an edge at a time when singles are seeking stable, communicative and balanced partners—it will benefit you in all your relationships.
The Bible contains much more about emotional maturity—and exactly how to achieve it. That is all laid out in “Are You Emotionally Mature?”
On top of this, God’s Word contains the blueprint for dating on the path to a happy marriage. Our book Dating and Courtship – God’s Way will help you steer clear of relationship woes and find the right person for you!