A woman at a crossroad with arrows pointing in 3 directions

15 Ways to Make Wise Dating Choices

by Jeannie Assimos - February 8, 2016

The most wonderful relationships are the sum of many good decisions made over months, years, and decades. In Nicholas Sparks’ latest romantic cinematic journey, ‘The Choice’ (in theaters Feb.5), these issues are explored as a young couple deals with some heart wrenching decisions, and must face the question: How far would you go to keep the hope of love alive?

Sometimes a decision is relatively simple: “Should I accept this person’s invitation to go on a first date?” Other times the decision is far more significant: “Should I accept this marriage proposal?” The wise choices you make—from mundane to momentous—will contribute to the greatness of your romantic relationship. Here’s how:

1. Get perfectly clear. The bigger the decision, the more confusing it tends to be. Know precisely what the issues are and the possible ramifications.

2. Collect all the pertinent data. Gather as much information as you can to make the best possible choice. Don’t move forward until you’re confident you have all the facts.

3. Determine the best possible outcome. Since most choices have potential risks and rewards, define what results would be optimal for you and your relationship.

4. Give yourself the freedom to delay—but not to dither. Taking time to ponder and process is helpful; prolonged procrastination isn’t. As renowned psychologist William James said, “When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.”

‘The Choice’ arrives in theaters Feb. 5, 2016.

5. Sift through your emotions. In matters of love, feelings are not always reliable, but neither should they be dismissed. Listen judiciously to what your heart is telling you.

6. Weigh your values and convictions. Your core beliefs are the essence of who you are and why you do things—act only in harmony with your deeply held values.

7. Accept outside input. Lots of people love to give advice, and that’s why you should be very selective about who you listen to. Take input from only those you trust implicitly.

8. But resist deferring your decision to others. Input is helpful, but each choice is yours to make. Step up and stand on your own best judgment.

9. Learn from your past experiences. Ask yourself how similar situations you’ve encountered in the past turned out. How do previous experiences inform the present decision?

10. Evaluate how this decision will affect your personal goals. Each choice of any significance will move you toward or away from your ultimate ambitions. Which direction will this one take you?

11. Don’t be pressured to choose prematurely. Proceed according to your own timetable, not the sense of urgency others might impose upon you.

12. Check your motives. Realizing that we all have blind spots, try to honestly discern your drives and intentions for every choice.

13. Remember Occam’s Razor. This principle states, “When you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better.” Phrased another way, “The simplest answer is usually correct.” Sometimes we make choices more complicated than they need to be—lean toward a simple solution.

14. Look into the future. Envision yourself and your relationship after your decision has been made. Any concerns about the way it turned out?

15. Do the right thing, whether it’s easy or hard. When you’ve sifted and sorted, checked the facts and your feelings, rely on your best judgment to make the correct choice. Hopefully, it will be the obvious, natural, and painless conclusion. Even if it’s a tough call, have confidence that you’ve done the right thing for yourself and your future happiness.

‘The Choice’ arrives in theaters Feb.5, 2016.

Motion Picture Artwork (c) 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Photo Credit: Dana Hawley