One of the most common dating pitfalls for women is that we keep repeating the same mistakes, especially when it comes to whom we choose to date and why. If you’ve ever asked yourself mid-breakup how you ended up back here or found yourself rolling your eyes after another disappointing first date, know this: You are not alone.

Lots of us find ourselves wading through the same pools yet yearning for a fresh perspective on finding lasting love. To help, ESSENCE went to the experts. Matchmakers Tana Gilmore and Kelli Fisher, known as The Matchmaking Duo, offer up their best advice to help you change course.

Maybe you’re not choosing the wrong type, but perhaps the wrong type is choosing you.”

ESSENCE: Why are women drawn to the similar characters when dating?

KELLI FISHER: There are several reasons. One is, maybe you’re not choosing the wrong type, but perhaps the wrong type is choosing you. If you can’t initiate a conversation or don’t feel comfortable doing so, then the only people you’re talking to are the ones who approach you, and they may or may not be right for you. It could be that you keep attracting the wrong person, and when you get in the room with someone who could be the right person or someone you might be attracted to, you don’t take the initiative.

TANA GILMORE: A lot of women we meet are really focusing on what they want versus what they need, so they’re looking for that immediate attraction. They want someone who looks great and has chiseled arms, a six-figure income and that dazzling smile even when this person doesn’t have the same end goal as they have. He doesn’t want to be married or have children, or she doesn’t want to travel the world with you. A lot of women are looking for immediate gratification and someone just to be with in the moment, and they’re not really concerned about what they need long-term.

ESSENCE: So we tend to notice only our ideal type?

FISHER: Women seem to go after the one who commands the room, but then they don’t always know what to do with them. Everybody is usually looking at him as well, and he comes with a premium. He’s gonna be a problem, and he’s gonna give you a run for your money.

ESSENCE: How can we expand our minds and standards when it comes to potential love interests?

FISHER: We need to understand what’s important to us. If you’re looking at building a life together and having longevity, you need to look at a partner’s integrity and credibility. Can you build a family with this person? Do you enjoy each other’s company? Do you like who he is as a person? Often, we don’t look at the end goal but instead focus on what is immediate. We recommend that you be open-minded and really think about what qualities you need in a mate and in a spouse to achieve your ultimate objective.

ESSENCE: How can you decipher which qualities you’re really looking for?

GILMORE: As women, we need to think about what isn’t working and what hasn’t worked in the past. Where has this specific type of partner gotten you? Where are you today with him? You know clearly that type isn’t compatible, so you have to do things differently. You need to date with the intention of finding the right mate. So write down a list of the characteristics that can go the distance.

ESSENCE: Should you ever take a dating break to reset things?

GILMORE: If the process has become frustrating and it’s taken over your thoughts or mood, then stop and just gather yourself. Think about what it is that you can command. That confidence is so key. Write down some of the attributes you offer to this amazing partner you are going to meet. That’s how you start speaking it into existence.

This article originally appears in the December 2019 issue of ESSENCE

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