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That means your best bet is to maximize the most highly-datable options in the least amount of time, says Steinberg.The best way to do this is to approach this part of your life with as much intention and effort as you would, say, your friendships or career.

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"You have to decide how much time you can give to each of your priorities, and how much of you want to give to each priority," says Carpenter."As professional opportunities start to arise, you'll have to make decisions.); actually putting yourself out there at events and activities where you're likely to meet people; tapping into your network of friends for set-ups; and so on."It's about taking action, in more ways than one," she says.Sure, you could theoretically meet your future life partner anywhere.

But you've probably been there and done that with the bar and going-out scene, and might not have many opportunities in your current job—where you spend the majority of your waking hours.

The less time you spend with a dead-end dude, the more room you'll have to pace the relationship with a guy who seems like a potential winner.

"You don't want to rush the process with him," says Steinberg. Make a date with yourself for a cup of coffee or glass of wine, grab a notebook, and take stock of your behaviors in your 20s.

You could even have some sort of "list" for what you want in a guy.

But after a decade of missed connections or random encounters, it might be time to get real."If a woman is interested in marriage and biological babies, it's time to really take the reins of your love life," says Boston-based dating coach Neely Steinberg, author of Skin in the Game.

If you're looking for marriage or biological babies, says Steinberg, your job is to recognize these zero-potential guys early and often.