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The following was written by Amy Stevens Seal for LDS Living. To read the full article, click here

As a professional matchmaker, I have been privileged to hear thousands of heartbreaking, beautiful, and amazing dating stories from singles in the 31–45 age range, otherwise known as mid-singles. Some are divorced, others widowed, and many have not yet been married.

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As I compare and contrast the various situations of the individuals involved and the struggles they endure, there are many common themes. I have boiled them down to five tips that have been immensely helpful to my clients and I would recommend to singles as well as those who want to help them find a real, sustainable, loving relationship:

1. Be willing to be vulnerable.

To be vulnerable takes courage, and as we open up to someone we trust, it leads to true connection, which is a huge part of romantic chemistry. In fact, most people agree that no matter how physically attracted they are initially to someone, it either increases or decreases based on the level of emotional connection they feel as the relationship builds.

To accomplish both connection and vulnerability, it’s important to learn how to share what you think, feel, and need in a way that matches the stage of the relationship. It’s not about sharing all your secrets or baring your soul on the first date. It’s important to learn the art of what to share, when, and with whom in order to create the kind of connection that will deepen a relationship.

Dr. John Van Epp uses the Relationship Attachment Model (RAM) to teach how to pace vulnerability based on five areas of bonding in relationships, which are: 1. Know 2. Trust 3. Rely 4. Commit 5. Touch. One area of the RAM should not become more deeply developed than the area preceding it. For example, a couple should not form strong bonds of trust beyond what they have established in their level of knowing each other.

To get to know someone new you must be curious about them, ask good questions, be a good listener, ask follow up questions, relate to what they are saying, empathize, and share about yourself. It is important to use emotion words so that they can get to know how you think and feel and you can empathize together about life.

It is also important to not overshare before they know you well enough to understand context of the situation and trust your character.

2. Be honest with yourself.

While many mid-singles have a list of the qualities and characteristics they are looking for in a spouse, not all are focused on being those qualities themselves. While it would be nice if everyone was attracted to us, the reality of this mortal world is that attraction does matter to most people when it comes to dating and marriage. Given this truth, it is wise to determine through analysis and feedback whether you are a good physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual match for the kind of person you are focused on finding. If not, are there changes you can and want to make or can you adjust your expectations to find a more realistic match instead? If you are willing to receive feedback, there are many possible ways to approach this. Friends, family, members of the opposite sex, or unbiased third parties such as a dating coach are all options, as long as you approach them with honest intentions to hear and receive their input and advice.

To read the full article, click here