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A 5-Step Business Approach to Dating This effective marketing strategy will help you find your next romantic relationship.

By Robin Buckley, PhD Edited by Amanda Breen

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In business, we typically create an ideal client avatar as part of our company's marketing strategy. The avatar helps everyone in the company know the types of people ideally suited to the company's products or services. Knowing your ideal client also helps the company refine and narrow its focus and develop products and services tailored to the needs of its customers.

Interestingly, these same business principles are not typically applied to the search for a romantic partner.

But why not?

For many of us, the idea of dating and marriage is wrapped up in emotions like love and lust. Adopting a strategic approach to determine who we want to share our lives and resources with seems incongruous. But could developing an ideal companion avatar and adopting a proven and effective marketing strategy work in our personal lives? Absolutely.

Related: Treat Your Brand Like a Relationship

Here is my five-step approach to finding your next romantic relationship.

1. Create your ideal companion avatar

Before venturing into the dating scene, consider which characteristics and values you are looking to find in a romantic partner. Use your past dating experiences as market research. What are you looking for? What do you want to avoid? Write your ideal companion avatar down, in as much detail as possible, to make it real and lock it into your memory.

2. Collect data from experts

By experts, I mean experts on you. While we might not want to admit it, often our family and friends have a better perspective on the types of people we interact best with than we do. Ask their opinions on the types of people who might be best suited to you. Find time to analyze this information in an objective way and consider whether information from the data collection might be valuable to incorporate into your ideal companion avatar.

Related: From Speed Dating to Healthy Relationships

3. Identify your target market

Where would you most likely meet people who match your ideal companion avatar? Organizations? Clubs? Online or in person? Join those organizations and clubs and get involved. Who in your professional or personal life might be associated with individuals fitting your ideal companion avatar? Share the type of person you are hoping to meet and ask for introductions.

4. Evaluate potential matches

Now that your ideal companion avatar is fully developed and locked into your memory, you can use it as a litmus test for individuals you meet. While you don't need to find a 100% match, knowing what you are looking for helps you avoid compromising on the things most important to you. For example, if you meet someone who aligns with only half of your ideal companion avatar, but is incredibly complimentary and attractive, your avatar might help you see that the return on investment with this person is low and may not be worth your time.

Related: What's Missing From the Conversation About Work-Life Balance

5. Establish a probationary period

The probationary period is the initial dating period. This is when you explore what a relationship might be like with this person. It is when you determine whether your values are in alignment and identify the goals of the relationship (such as long-term commitment, short-term fun or companionship). The purpose of this period is to assess whether the person truly matches your ideal companion avatar and ascertain the return on your investment in the relationship. During the probationary period, contracts in the form of moving in together, giving the person a key to your living space, engagement, sharing of resources (such as a car or money), or other commitments should be avoided because they distract from your ability to objectively analyze whether this person can give you what you want.

Creating and applying a business approach to relationships is not intended to discount the power or importance of attraction or your feelings. Instead, this approach integrates concrete, cognitive steps with the emotional components typical of dating. This process allows you to analyze the relationship more completely, looking at all variables instead of relying on emotions alone. Ultimately, taking a strategic approach to your relationships increases the likelihood of a higher return on investment and decreases the likelihood of the dissolution of a long-term relationship.

Robin Buckley, PhD

Executive and Couples Coach

A cognitive-behavioral coach with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, Dr. Robin Buckley helps successful women and couples thrive in their careers and relationships.

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