You’ve got your reasons for being single. You’re picky. You’re career-focused. You just haven’t found the one. Whatever excuse you’ve given over the years about why you aren’t in a relationship doesn’t matter. The truth is you’d like to be in one, and as Valentine’s Day approaches yet again; you are reminded of just how much you really want to find your person.
I understand your plight all too well. I’m a dating and relationship coach and every day I talk to dozens of singles that are trying to best navigate the dating sphere in the hopes of living happily wedded-after. Like you, many of my clients have a lot to offer. They are smart, attractive, well rounded and thoughtful. And with so many dating apps rife with potential prospects you would think coupling up would be quick and easy. So why isn’t it?
The truth is that most of us go about looking for love the wrong way. Our culture of instant gratification has us impatient for anything that takes longer than a few nanoseconds. While you may be able to get a date that quickly, building a relationship with someone still takes ample time. We can’t order up our perfect match like a Starbucks drink, and yet that’s just what we try to do. We want what we want and we want it now. If you can let go of these bad habits, however, and embrace some important new ones, this can be the very last time you’re single on Valentine’s Day.
In 2008 it was all about “playing hard to get”. Ten years later we’ve that replaced that strategy with “go after what you want.” Gone are the days of waiting with anticipation to hear from someone. If you like them, you text them. Doesn’t matter if you said goodbye thirty seconds ago and they are still within eye shot. That’s what we do now. When we want something we go after it like an Olympic athlete goes for gold. There’s no holding back.
The problem is that as fast and furious as we make connections today, they burn out even faster. We have lost our restraint and will power to the technology God and he is royally screwing us over in the love department. If we want to make something last, we have to pace ourselves. Relationships are not built overnight, so regardless of how badly we want someone, making them wait a little is still a good move.
Try Someone New
Keep ordering your grande, iced, sugar-free latte, but when it comes to dating you need to branch out. You might daydream about someone who’s six feet tall, or curvy and blond, but love doesn’t always come in the package that we expect. Just because we are attracted to a certain type doesn’t mean we won’t be attracted to someone outside those parameters. Rosey, a 38 year-old stay at home mom remembers the day she met her husband at a local bar. “I started talking with him because he was standing there. Not because I was initially attracted. He had facial hair, which I’ve never been fond of, and he looked like he lived at the gym. But I said yes when he asked me out, and after our first date, I fell in love with him. We’ve been married for five years.”
A common mistake, especially with online dating, is to narrow your search preferences down to your seemingly “ideal match”. But we don’t fall in love with someone because their eyes are blue, they went to Dartmouth, or they live in a swanky part of town. We fall in love because of how we feel when we are with them. And that’s something you cannot tell until you actually go on a date. So widen your search criteria and sample date as many people as you can.
Ask The Right Questions
All too often I see my clients fall for someone that embodies a lot of what they want on the outside, but that they really don’t know on the inside. “If he’s Catholic, and we have chemistry, what else do I really need to know?” Said Jenna, a twenty-three year old graduate student at the University of Virginia. Actually there is a lot more that you need to know, although many singles today are focused only on physical attraction and have a fear of digging too deep. In an effort to seem fun and datable, women especially are keeping the conversation very light; sticking to non-controversial topics and steering clear of anything too personal. But getting personal is how you not only get to know someone; it’s how you form a real, genuine connection. If you don’t ask the right questions, neither of those things can happen.
In my book, “Was It Something I Said: The Answer to All Your Dating Dilemmas” I stress the importance of asking meaningful questions on dates. Questions like, “When was your last relationship? Why did it end? What kind of men/women do you find yourself most attracted to?” These questions will give you good insight into the most critical aspect of the person sitting across from you – what they are like in a relationship. Other questions to ask, “Are your parents still together? What’s their relationship like? What was the last argument you had and with whom? While driving to and from work, what do you think about most?” There is no reason to fear asking any of these questions, and you should ask them early, before you fall for someone that isn’t your cup of specialty coffee…
If you go on every date, and enter every relationship expecting it to result in marriage, you are going to suffer heartache your whole life. While the purpose of dating is to find the right person and eventually settle down, the function of dating is to simply get to know the other person so you may determine if they are right for you. I may sound like a pessimist right now, but in truth you will only marry ONE person. So the other 20 you had to date to find him are not going to work out. If you start to accept this fact, instead of fight it, you will find yourself hating dating much less. You won’t be so disappointed when you learn that the guy you’ve been seeing for four weeks is not right for you. You will think, “Oh well. He’s just not right for me. Guess I have to try again,” instead of lying in bed for days wondering what you did or said that chased him away.
There is a second problem with expecting a relationship to work out from the get-go. If you have already decided that this is it, and he’s most likely the one, you are more apt to over look red flags. You are more likely to accept his bad temper or severe mood swings because in your mind you’ve already committed to the idea of you two together. I have a friend who is very unhappily married to a man she is constantly fighting with and crying over. Their courtship was extremely rocky and there were numerous times that she contemplated getting out. However, even though she often felt compelled to walk away, she didn’t because as she says, “when I met him, something told me he was the one.” The expectation of the relationship working out kept her from breaking free. Because she convinced herself he was her future husband, nothing (not even him stealing money from her) was going to change her mind. Now she’s married and just as miserable. Continue reading