Five dating mistakes & how to avoid them

Five dating mistakes & how to avoid them

Dating

If you’re like most people, chances are that after going through a traumatic breakup such as a divorce, you want to get to the good stuff – i.e., having a romantic partner – right away. Kinda like there’s a huge hole in your heart and the only thing that can fill it is the loving attention from someone special – or at least that’s a common train of thought. And chances are you don’t really want to hear things like “you need to love yourself before you can love another”. Etc. etc.

If you’re like most people, you probably might believe something like “I don’t need all that personal development stuff – I’m lonely and I just want to meet the love of my life.”

The thing is, if you find yourself scoffing at the “Become Successfully Single & Relationship Ready” phase of being single, it may come back to haunt you. If you intentionally (or unintentionally) choose to remain in the dark about who you are and how you show up in relationships, there’s a good possibility that if or when you FINALLY meet that special someone, you may fall into the 14 dating traps (see more HERE). Or you may be susceptible to making five whopping dating mistakes that will cause you to remain stuck and frustrated.

Here’s what I’m talking about … try to determine if you find yourself frequently making these mistakes.

Dating Whopper #1: You move too fast!

So let’s just say that you found someone that you are interested in romantically. Finding strong chemistry with someone is so exciting! I totally get that. That feeling is such a high and it often sends us sprinting into the Romantic Love stage of our Relationship Journey. We feel we’ve struck gold, and often start behaving as if this were the person with whom we will spend the rest of our lives.

We start making decisions that have us on the fast track to “forever.” But when the Romantic Love stage ends, the high wears off, we see what is actually real about the relationship, and often we’re shocked. Sometimes we’ve moved so fast and gone so far that it’s hugely painful to realize we’ve made a mistake and this isn’t quite the ideal relationship we thought it was.

What happens next is that you or your partner begin to become resentful and if you aren’t careful, you may start acting snarky or even worse, cruelly.

Dating Whopper #2: You edit or change yourself to “fit” with your new love interest.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the euphoria of new infatuation. When you’re in the grips of these overwhelming feelings, it’s tempting to convince yourself that you’ll do anything to “win over” the object of your affection. But the truth is that you can’t win someone over under false pretenses.

When you’re not being authentic, you’re simply immersing yourself in a role or a character and your true self is being eclipsed. The danger here reaches far beyond the fact that your potential partner is attracted to a person that doesn’t exist. It even reaches beyond the inevitability that your true colors will eventually bleed through. The real danger is that you are losing yourself in an attempt to snag a partner.

Dating Whopper #3: You get overly emotionally invested when you’re not ready.

Dating when you are not ready or available stops you from getting to know yourself and your dreams. If you aren’t clear of your own vision and purpose, you’ll be swept up into someone else’s and will eventually grow resentful or angry. You’ll wind up attracting people who don’t serve your greatest good or who are not right for you. The outlook for relationships whose partners don’t share the same vision, values and life goals is pretty dim and you’ll wind up back out in the dating pool once more, making the same mistakes. Is this really what you want to do with your life?

Dating Whopper #4: You haven’t recuperated or moved on from your previous relationships.

I remember a client of mine expressing excitement about an upcoming date she was looking forward to. She had met a wonderful guy who seemed to be just what she was looking for, and based on what she knew, he met much of her relationship criteria. Her excitement quickly turned to dismay when he spent the entire evening talking about his former wife. It was obvious to her he had a need, for some reason, to fill her in on every detail – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Needless to say, there was no second date.

If you find yourself frequently wanting (needing) to talk about a prior relationship there’s a good chance it’s not over yet – that you have not moved on and aren’t ready to begin anew with someone else. Chances are, you have unresolved feelings or have not put the relationship behind you. One key thing you can do is to ask yourself whether you compare your former relationships with your current one. Are you expecting someone new to live up to a standard set by a former spouse or mate? If so, this will sabotage any attempts to engage in a healthy relationship with someone else.

It’s important that prior relationships, as well as other matters, are well behind you. Be sure you’re “going to” something new rather than “getting away from” the old. To further explore this, ask me for a Relationship Readiness assessment by emailing me HERE. This will give you a clear understanding of areas, if any, in need of resolution.

red flagsDating Whopper #5: You Choose to Ignore Red Flags 

There are times when I wish Red flags were like the STOP signal at a traffic light – the light visibly turns and you come to a stop. There’s no guess work. In the realm of the heart, however, red flags act like the amber light so that make you question yourself – should I or shouldn’t I? The thing is with red flags is that if you’re not crystal clear about what works for you and doesn’t work for you in a relationship, there’s a chance for you to blow past them and then get into trouble.

There are three truths about red flags: You won’t suddenly become immune to them. If they show up at the beginning, when people are at their best, they won’t stop later on. And relationships simply don’t work when one person feels bad. (And a corollary: You only have to know HOW you feel, not why.)

Have you ever left a relationship over something intolerable, and then realized you could have seen it coming from the start? We all have. One woman I know cringed at a date’s demeaning joke but told herself it wasn’t THAT bad or important. After months of public embarrassment and insults, all attraction and some of her self respect were gone. Another was criticized for her dress on a first date. It later became serious verbal abuse. Both were red flags.

Should you bolt the minute you don’t like something a date does? No, but do open your eyes. Give the benefit of the doubt. If other things are right, try respectfully requesting a change. If you see a sincere effort, great! You can be patient.

If you see defensiveness, dismissiveness, or self-justification, watch out. Your next move – no matter what else you may like about the person – needs to be a graceful but firm good-bye. Then you will be free to find the one who makes you feel terrific!

 
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Ask the Coach: Should I give up looking?

Ask the Coach: Should I give up looking?

Ask the Coach

I can’t find that special someone

Coach Linda,

I’m not sure what to do here. I’m 41 and never married. I’m a nice guy, but I’ve never found that special someone. I consider myself attractive and intelligent and so do my friends. I’m employed, pretty social, am active in several community groups and am always going out to different events featured on Meet up. I would love to be dating someone but it’s such a struggle. I have a hard time finding available single women. I find the bar scene and online dating are not my thing, so what do I do?

Lately, I’ve been thinking that I’d rather give up looking for something I’ll never find anyway, and just stay single and alone for the rest of my life.

What do you think?

~Tony

searching_for_love koichigotikoTony, I know how frustrating it can be when you want someone special in your life and you haven’t found her (or him) yet. Sometimes it may feel easier to just give up looking. This is something that I still grapple with myself at times…despite all the dating and relationship coaching tools at my disposal, sometimes I feel that this process is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

The thing is, if you and I were to give up, in our hearts we know we would be disappointed. We all deserve to have the love we want. The trick is to approach the process intelligently and intentionally, balancing our desire for an extraordinary relationship with living an extraordinary life. Like all things in life, if we fail to plan, we plan to fail.

Let’s look at a few things a bit more in-depth, starting with some of your foundational beliefs.

One of the first things that jumped out at me from your question is that you probably think that you should have found that special someone by the time you reach your 40s. The unadulterated truth is that most people haven’t (even if they are married!). A good 50% of today’s couples are headed for a divorce; another 40% don’t have the information or education they need to create a frickin fantastic relationship (and aren’t looking for that information either). Just because someone is married, doesn’t mean a dang thing.

Perhaps you believe that finding true love should be easy. Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes hard work to find special love, and hard work to keep it. This is why it pays to be intelligent and intentional in your life.

What also struck me is that you are engaging in some negative thinking and self-talk. Don’t get me wrong – we all have an inner critic that loves to point out all the negative things in our lives. For instance, most of us tell ourselves every day we can do this or can’t do such and such. In your case, you stated that it’s a struggle to date, you never meet anyone and you don’t attract single women.

We have to be careful what we say to ourselves since what we focus on, expands. Our success and happiness in any area of life begins within us. The vibes we send out are immediately subconsciously picked up by others, and create a self-fulfilling purpose. It sounds like your vibes may be screaming, “I’m getting desperate because I think I’m getting old,” or “I’m a loser in the dating arena.” When we tell ourselves a million times that something is difficult, it subsequently becomes a rock-hard belief that makes the task or situation much more difficult than it really is.

It also appears you have no plan in place to meet that special someone, which is a common singles problem.

Your Homework Assignments

First, if you find yourself suffering from stinkin’ thinkin’, repeat after me: “I AM A GREAT CATCH.” Because you are! And a great woman will love you, for you, if you apply the right kind of effort to your search. And to be truthful, my Become Successfully Single and Relationship Ready coaching programs – either home study or VIP intensive – are designed to help you do just that. If you’re out there in the world and you’re not getting the results you want, then it’s time for you to get serious about your approach. Email me HERE to set up a time for us to talk about getting you enrolled.

Next, here are six tips to get you started.

#1 – You mentioned, ” … it’s a struggle.” Make a list of what those struggles are. As you reveal each struggle, ask yourself, “What are my responsibilities in this?”, “What could I contribute to help myself in this situation?” and “If I could do this again, what would I do differently?”

#2 – Love, inside out. Spend quality time getting to know yourself in relation to relationships. And, if there are areas to work on, like removing bad habits, negative assumptions and fear, work toward mending and healing. Phase out the unnecessary that inhibits your confidence, and nurture the lovely that your friends and family embrace about you.

Part of this process, which is what we cover together in my coaching programs, is identifying your top values, relationship requirements, and what you really want in a relationship. What most don’t realize is that you must be clear on what is it, exactly, that you are looking for in a relationship, and what type of person it will take to co-create it with you.

#3 – Positive mental imagery. Mentally envisioning successful outcomes will help train your mind to believe in attaining those goals. Olympians practice this exercise to achieve their successes. Through trial and error, they maximize their abilities envisioning their goals. Why shouldn’t you? Imagine your successes in meeting, dating and having a healthy relationship, and go for your own gold!

Sorry, I had to.

Sorry, I had to include this image. 🙂

#4 – Eliminate ‘either/or’ thinking. There are many choices other than your black-and-white options of “that special someone” or “stay single and alone”. Why not have several casual special someones and enjoy life until Miss Ultimately Special shows up? I’m not suggesting you play the field or get overly emotionally invested in several people but there’s nothing wrong in getting to know people.

#5 Employ smart strategies. Ask friends to introduce you to women they know. Join civic organizations that interest you and will benefit the community and also allow you to meet women. Experiment outside your comfort zone perhaps including other cities, other cultures, other countries, and yes, even virtual universes (online dating…). Don’t limit yourself to one or two dating venues.

#6 Pay attention to your body language. Are you welcoming? Do you smile and make eye contact? Is your vibe relaxed, friendly and confident – or do you lock onto to people and make them feel like they’re cornered?

The bottom line:

Just because you’re in your 40s doesn’t mean life is over and you’re hopeless. There is no hurry. One of my cousins recently met someone who is now the love of her life and she’s in her late 50s!! So get informed, be intentional without being obsessive, have fun, patiently build relationships with a variety of people, and allow the universe to act as your wingman.

Can you be romantic without a romantic partner?

Can you be romantic without a romantic partner?

Fulfillment

romance – noun (rəˈmæns ; ˈrəʊmæns)

* a love affair, esp. an intense and happy but short-lived affair involving young people
* love, esp. romantic love – idealized for its purity or beauty
* a spirit of or inclination for adventure, excitement, or mystery

The other day, one of my clients and I were working together to help her identify her top 5 values. Values identification is one of the very first coaching exercises all of my clients go through because our values form the foundations of our lives; to live in “right relationship” with our selves, we must be congruent with them.

One of her top 5 values stopped me in my tracks.

Can you guess what it was?

Bingo! You’re right – it was ROMANCE.

Uh.. yeah, No. You don't need this to honor romance in your life.

Uh.. yeah, No. You don’t need this to honor romance in your life.

When I saw that, I had to challenge her a little bit on what this truly meant to her because when most people think of romance, they think of it in terms of having a romantic, sexual partner. While this is totally understandable, given our society’s tendency to lump sex with romance, it can lead into a trap … here’s why.

To live a life we are totally energized by and engaged with, we must learn to honor our top 5 values on a daily basis … and we need to find the independence within that allows us to honor them, regardless of outside circumstances. When we rely on a romantic partner to satisfy any of our top values, we jeopardize our own fulfillment because we are at the mercy of someone else.

We often don’t recognize that it’s our job to meet our own needs and honor our own values. This is what I mean when I talk about being The Chooser or the Architect of our lives. It’s the lack of taking responsibility that has lead us to become a society overly obsessed with finding that one perfect person and partnering up — so much so that we’ve forgotten how to love in other ways. You know, without a romantic partner.

Surprise! Romance is not actually synonymous with sexual feelings! (Although most people use it as a way to elicit those feelings.) Not only is the feeling of romance not dependent on romantic or sexual feelings, it doesn’t have to happen with a partner. (And geez, watch what you’re thinking!!)

Romance is about enjoying spending time with someone, enjoying their company. Romance is about emotional intimacy, caring and concern.

You can enjoy that fuzzy feeling in all sorts of ways. When we think of romance in a non-sexual way, and fall in love with our lives, we’re really allowing ourselves to experience a spirit of or inclination for adventure or excitement.

So if romance is important to you in your life, and you’re ready to create it in your life, read on for eight exciting, unique opportunities to experience ROMANCE in a new way.

  1. best friend dogYour dog, cat, horse, bird or other pet.

All creatures great and small have love and affection to give, and your pet is no exception. And besides, our pets’ love is unconditional, whereas some people can run either hot or cold while still others find it nearly impossible to give that sort of love. You know your favorite furball will love you even on your worst days.

  1. Your children.

Granted, it may be harder to fall in love with your children when they refuse to clean up after themselves, are giving you a hard time about curfew or what have you… yet wait a few years and the feeling may come back. If you don’t have children, perhaps there is a special child in your life, like a niece or a nephew or your best friend’s kids, that you can lavish with attention. (I know that’s what I do with my niece.)

  1. best friend girlsYour best friend.

When was the last time you allowed yourself to truly and deeply appreciate your dearest friend(s)? When was the last time you renewed your vows of deep friendship? I know that when I express my appreciation to my dearest friends, it lights up their day and in turn, it lights up mine.

  1. Your favorite author, actor, artist, or athlete.

No, this doesn’t mean you have permission to stalk them or harbor any delusions that they love you back. And no, it’s not all about worshipping celebrities. It’s about discovering what you enjoy about their work. Try to think on a local level, too – there are all kinds of local artists pretty much everywhere who would love to hear some honest-to-goodness praise of their work.

  1. Your favorite family member who makes you feel loved and special.

Small gestures mean a lot. I know that when my niece insists that I sit next to her at our family holiday dinners, I feel beams of love emanating from my heart. Maybe you can do something similar with a beloved family member that causes their heart to burst with joy.

  1. Your work and career.

Yes, some people really do fall in love with the work they do and the difference they make in their world. I know many who are crazy about their profession. Loving your career can be one of the most rewarding and fruitful things you do. Not wild about your career? It’s time we work together to make some changes in your life!

  1. romance red_natureNature.

When we engage with Nature, we open the door to our intelligence, notice the lessons to be learned, and see that everything has its own purpose, rhythm and balance. We learn from Nature about how to truly be who we are — that is, to be in full and open self-expression. Nature also gives us an easy and powerful way to work in the realm of soul ~ even a small amount of time in Nature can awaken the Sacred within. Engaging with Nature is about opening to the possibility that the entire universe is a resource for growth.

  1. Your life and life itself.

If you can fall in love with life — your life — then you’ll live each day with a full and open heart. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

10 things to do right now to find your perfect partner

10 things to do right now to find your perfect partner

Dating Dreams

1. Start by losing the losers
If you want to find your soul mate, you must be available and not involved with people who aren’t right for you. It’s helpful to get crystal clear on what works for you in a relationship and what does not.

2. OK, available now? Next… are you “ready?”
Do you have anything “unfinished” that might sabotage your next relationship? Get it handled now! This includes ridding yourself of beliefs and behaviors that prevent you from attracting the extraordinary.

3. Next, make a list your top five requirements
Your requirements are the “must haves” in your relationship, otherwise you would not enter into the relationship or you would leave if you were in it. Make a list of your non-negotiable deal-breakers and vow not to get involved with anyone who doesn’t meet all five. Share your list with your closest friends and make them swear to tell you the truth and to lock you up if you get off-track.

4. Good job. Now, let’s get crystal clear about this “dating” thing
If you want to avoid the deadly dating traps, focus on these Four Steps for Empowered Dating. My clients focus on these four steps in-depth in my “Attract the Love of Your Life” coaching program.

• Scouting: This is the process of finding compatible people to meet, whether through internet dating sites, through friends, through getting out there, etc.

• Sorting: This is about quickly determining if someone you meet has potential. You’ll need to have your top five requirements handy.

• Screening: This step is concerned with collecting enough information about the other person to determine if your requirements would be met.

• Testing: This step involves dating a few times so that you can compare the reality with the information you gathered.

5. Get support
Don’t do this alone. Dating can be scary and isolating, and your friends and family can be your safety net to help you stay on track. If you want to save yourself time and frustration (as well as unlock your joy and peace of mind), consider enrolling in my Become Successfully Single & Relationship Ready coaching programs.

6. Work it!
Most people meet their soul mate through someone they already know, so let people know you’re looking for someone and network like crazy. Be smart about it though – the scattershot approach will only exhaust you.

7. Be positive and happy
Success breeds success, just as misery loves company. It’s your choice.

8. Be the Chooser!
Go after what you want proactively and don’t simply react to what or who chooses you.

9. Be assertive!
If you settle for less, you’ll get less. Ask for what you want and say “no” to what you don’t want.

10. Live a great life NOW while you’re single
“If you build it, they will come” (from the movie “Field of Dreams”). By creating a life you love, you will naturally attract people who fit.

 

If you really, truly, once and for all, want to be happy in your life, enjoy being single, date blissfully and create extraordinary relationships, enroll in my Become Successfully Single & Relationship Ready coaching program. In the words of one of my clients, Anita: “This is the best gift that I gave myself”. Email me here to get started.

 

Many thanks to David Steele for this inspiration!

Let Go: The key to being blissful

Let Go: The key to being blissful

Freedom Goals

I sat down today to write this blog post and thought: am I repeating myself? For your sake, I hope that I’m not yet I feel like I am.

I keep encouraging singles to first embrace themselves and their lives before getting out there to find a partner with whom to create a great relationship. Yet I know so many people who are still stuck. Still overly obsessed with finding partnership and running around in circles, chasing their own tails, trying to achieve their dreams but just not getting anywhere.

Yes it’s true that our desire to love and be loved is a powerful – and neccessary – goal. But I’ve seen so many people to fall into a hopeful wishful obsessive trap where they yearn for a partner so fervently that everything else falls to the wayside.

I’ve seen a lot of emotional suffering and pain arise from this attachment to this desire, yearning, and goal. I see so many singles cling to the myth that relationships are the cause of happiness, as in: “I’ll be happy when I have a romantic partner.”

Too many singles think happiness is contingent upon external circumstances and situations, rather than upon their own inner attitude toward themselves, or toward life in general.

letting go leaves fallingThey become attached to outcomes.

When I was in high school, I used to fall into this trap a lot. I remember hoping and praying that the universe would bring me a special, uber-person who would see me as the divine creature that I am. I will never forget that burning feeling in my heart as I longed for a relationship that would “complete me”.

And what did all that praying get me? Desperation and mania and countless relationship mistakes.

Again – don’t get me wrong. Wanting to love and be loved is one of the greatest things we can do and experience.

The trouble comes when we get driven about our dreams and goals – grasping after them, insisting that they continue, craving and clinging, taking it personally when there’s a hitch, or getting pushy.

The art is to pursue our goals and dreams with enthusiasm, discipline, and skill without getting all hot and bothered about them – and to enjoy life’s pleasures without getting attached to them.

The truth about over-attachment to our desires

Attachment to outcomes or to a goal is based on fear and insecurity. As mentioned previously, you begin to believe that you need something outside of yourself to make you happy. It’s easy to think, “I’ll feel good when I have more money in the bank, lose 15 pounds, find my soul mate, pay off my bills, etc.”.

This obsessive attachment reflects our mind’s struggle in response to challenge – in this case, the challenge is being single and looking.

Yet none of us want to struggle. Most of us want an easier time of being single and an easier time of dating.

Ironically, letting go, particularly regarding outcomes, is key to being peaceful. You set your intentions and take whatever action is needed, and then relinquish your attachment to the outcome. When we get so caught up in our yearnings, such as the idea that we must be in a partnership to be happy, we can’t see the trap we’re setting.

I recently read a poem by the 5th Century Tao poet Chaing Tsu that summarizes the Catch-22 we often set for ourselves:

The Need to Win

When an archer shoots for nothing he has all his skill.
When he shoots for a brass buckle he is already nervous.
When he shoots for a prize of gold
He goes blind, or sees two targets.
His skill has not changed, but the prize divides him.
He cares.
He thinks more of winning than of shooting,
And the need to win drains him of power.

So think about it – the more attached we become to the outcome (finding a perfect partner), the more we over-react emotionally and the more we hinder ourselves. In fact, using this poem as an example, we hinder ourselves in two ways:

Emotionality: If the archer needs to win, the prospect of failure is threatening and produces an emotional reaction – nervousness – which undermines the steady hand required of the task.

Distraction: The archer will perform best when his attention is focused on shooting to the complete exclusion of everything else. To the extent the archer thinks of winning rather than shooting, the prize divides him and the need to win drains him of power.

Benefits of non-attachment

When you understand the true meaning of non-attachment:

  • Expectations no longer rule your life.
  • Emotions arise, but you have perspective.
  • You have a clarity of mind so you’re able to see through to the truth of things.
  • The problems of this world evoke compassion rather than anger.
  • You don’t chase after happiness. You just enjoy it when it’s present, and release it when it dissolves.
  • You’re able to allow life to unfold without needing to control everything.
  • You don’t stop loving. You love even more.
  • Your heart only grows bigger and bigger and bigger, when you see all the unnecessary suffering in this world.

The Let-go How-to:

OK I love this image but letting balloons drift into our atmosphere is not great for our environment... I know, Buzz Kill.

OK I love this image but letting balloons drift into our atmosphere is not great for our environment… I know, Buzz Kill.

So here are some tips on how to let go of attachments while pursuing your goal of finding a partner:

Hold lightly.  The best principle I’ve found for navigating the tension between wanting a goal to manifest and being peaceful is to be intentional, but hold it lightly.

In other words, have a goal, but don’t be so bound by it that you miss out on the opportunity to learn. Take a stand, and be open to surprises and new learning.

If you practice this basic principle over and over again, you eventually develop an instinct for how to assess risk and navigate uncertainty. If you move without clarity about your intentions, or if you hold on to those intentions too tightly, you will likely fail. If you hold onto your intentions too tightly, you miss out on the learning.

Practice letting things be. That doesn’t mean you can’t actively work to create a different tomorrow. It just means you make peace with the moment as it is, without worrying that something’s wrong with you or your life. Learn to operate from a place of acceptance.

Question your attachment. If you’re attached to a specific outcome—a dream job, the perfect relationship—you may be indulging an illusion about some day when everything will be lined up for happiness. No moment will ever be worthier of your joy than now because that’s all there ever is.

Notice. One of my favorite psychologists, Dr. Rick Hanson, talks about being aware of wanting inside your mind. Try to notice the ways in which desiring feels subtly tense or uncomfortable. Notice the emotional pain of not getting what you want, including disappointment, frustration, discouragement-perhaps even hopelessness or despair. Notice the discrepancy between the rewards you expected to get from a want, and what it actually feels like to fulfill it. Similarly, notice that the anticipated pain from the things you want to avoid – especially things that would really be good for you to go after – is usually worse than the discomfort you actually feel.

In the end, the key to being an empowered single, whose experiences are blissful and easy breezy, is to set sail and chart a course of action yet still allow the tides to carry you along.

Ask the Coach: Going dutch when money is tight

Ask the Coach: Going dutch when money is tight

Ask the Coach Finances

Coach Linda,

I’ve been dating this guy for a short while – about 6 months. We’re both in our late thirties, never married. Every time we go out, he wants to split the bill 50-50 – whether it’s for a weekend at a hotel, a Yankees game, or dinner – whatever. I thought this was okay when we first started dating, but now that we’re dating exclusively, it seems like too much. He likes to go out a lot, and it’s stretching me beyond my financial limits. I mean, I’m employed but I have other financial obligations right now. Whenever I bring up the money topic, I get this impression that he gets angry. Naturally, that keeps me from saying more.

Except for the money, I love dating this guy. We have a great time and we get along really well. What should I do? What’s the money protocol when it comes to dating nowadays? ~ Anna


 

money love scalesAnna, I totally understand your interest in honoring your financial boundaries. It’s smart of you to recognize this now and not try to “keep up appearances”.

For the record, I’m not too much into “protocol.” My view is that cultural norms do more to harm rather than help relationships. I also don’t believe in dispensing advice so here we’ll focus on helping you work something out that feels good and fair to both of you, while keeping an eye on the process as well as the solution.

Before we address money, we need to address the fact that you think he gets angry. This is a huge red flag and if we ignore it, we’re just burying our heads in the sand.

Let’s first determine if he truly gets angry … or if you jump to the conclusion that he gets angry. Do you have any proof that he feels angry when you bring up money? What did he actually say or do to make you come to this conclusion?

It’s important to get to the truth of the situation because many times, people misinterpret as a result of their own filters that are clouded with past experiences. For example – I recently had to call my vet to ask a few questions about spring shots that were administered for my horse. The receptionist immediately went on the defensive, interpreted my questions as an attack and told the vet that I was upset. Until that moment, I was not in fact upset. The point of that story is that because she weathered angry owners in the past (or perhaps she is hair-trigger sensitive), she immediately associated a questioning owner as a hostile owner. When we leap to conclusions like this, we shut the door to fruitful conversations and create polarity. (See my blog post on the hostile kiss cam incident to understand this concept a bit more.)

One the otherhand, if you have verifiable proof that he gets angry, what’s underneath his agitation? To understand his emotional reaction, you may need to ask clarifying questions and avoid accusing him of anything. I’ll write a blog post on conflict resolution soon to help you. If you find you can’t have a rational conversation with him – if he becomes too emotional on the topic – you may have to re-evaluate the relationship. If you can’t talk things through with him now, while the relationship is still young, things will not get better on their own. And remember: Every moment you spend on a poor relationship choice prevents you from finding a relationship that works!

Then on the flipside: If he doesn’t actually get angry, then maybe what you’re experiencing is your own discomfort in asking for what you need. Think about what buttons are being pushed within you and what’s really causing you to feel unsafe. There may be something for you to develop in yourself so that you can be confident around discussing things that don’t work for you, without holding back due to fear of rejection or retribution. A good life coach (like me!) can work with you to identify and break through the limiting beliefs that are making you wary and timid of honest and open communication.

OK – so now for the money part of your question.

You seem to be fine with paying 50/50 as opposed to thinking that the man should always pay. It speaks a lot about how you want to be an equal partner in any relationship, where you’re taking responsibility and contributing in kind.

If this is not the case, and you truly resent your partner’s insistence on going dutch, you may have to examine your values and your needs (i.e. you need to be taken care of) and then have a conversation with your partner to determine his needs (i.e., having an equal partnership).

It’ll be important for you to know how to handle this kind of conversation without making him feel like he’s wrong. You might discuss your (and his) past experiences; he may have felt like a prior girlfriend took advantage of him, and once you understand that, you may find common ground.

This is a conversation worth having no matter what, since it’ll be important for you both to be on the same page if you want this relationship to last. The bottom line is to understand what’s important to both of you around money and spending.

So now, let’s say that you are truly OK with paying 50/50 and your finances truly are strained.

It is really important to be open and honest with your guy, and let him simply know you can’t afford all of the expensive dates. Before you open the door to this conversation, tell him that you love dating him and why. Tell him you are uncomfortable about discussing this topic but you see the need to resolve it and to grow more confident in your partnership with him. Ask for his support and understanding.

You now have some options.

You can offer to continue paying 50/50, except let him know the frequency needs to be cut back.  Then he can decide whether he wants to put a little more money out on the dates you can’t afford and pay for you.

Another option is for each of you to split the date cost proportionate to your income. For instance if you make 2/3 of his salary, you contribute slightly less than half toward the date costs. If he doesn’t want to pay any extra, consider whether or not you will be okay with this for the rest of your life if you get serious with him. This means you will always have a very calculated financial future with him.

Another option is to start exploring inexpensive date ideas. I just blogged about this topic HERE.

You can also open up the discussion to finding win-win solutions that are outside the box (and thereby you can possibly increase the closeness you feel in your relationship).

The bottom line is that the future success of your relationship relies on your ability to communicate with him. To have a fulfilling, long-term relationship, you have to be honest with your expectations and feelings and your partner should be open to listen and understand. And vice versa. A true partnership and healthy relationship requires a willingness to meet in the middle. Compromising your goals now, much less your financial well being, will lead you further into an unhappy relationship and dismal future.

Above all, don’t sell yourself short. Money is a big issue, and if you don’t work out something now, then there is no point in continuing with this relationship.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more support in unraveling your limiting beliefs around asking for what you need.

How you benefit from happy relationships

How you benefit from happy relationships

Relationships

Man, do I love having a strong social network and community. As someone who has never been married, is currently single, and who has never had children, I’ve never deluded myself with the perceived escape hatch of relying on that one Special Someone to turn my grey skies into blue.

As a result of being single for my entire life, I’ve always experienced the power of proactively creating a support network that reflects my top values. I love talking deeply with them about topics that matter to me … and I love knowing that they’re there for me in good times and bad times (and vice versa!).

My recent move to another state has reinforced for me how important it is to establish that network and not let good friendships fade into the sunset (which happens all too frequently).

I’ve written and talked at length about how we overall have moved more toward isolationism and how most singles unconsciously try to make up for this by heaping too much responsibility onto a romantic partnership.

But as I’ve been contemplating new programs that support what I feel is important to address for singles of this day and age, I’ve been re-inspired to help create community and combat isolation and loneliness.

So I thought it was time once again to revisit the many benefits that make forging close relationships worth it.

Here, then, are 10 reasons to find, nurture, and endure the ups and downs of relationships of all kinds:

  1. Social support in life. It’s helpful to have people in your life who can offer their expertise to help you out. This might mean being a good listener, an empathizer, being handy with fix-it stuff around the house or being an expert negotiator (which can be extremely handy when you need to buy a new car). All of these types of support improve your quality of life, according to recent psychological studies.
  2. Help in becoming the person you want to be. Another study found that a loving partner or friend who sees you more like the person you want to be will support you in a way that helps you become that person. Because your friend or partner’s response to you can help shape the person you become, they named this the Michelangelo phenomenon.
  3. An opportunity to be caring toward others. Creating truly happy and high-functioning relationships requires compassion, cooperation, love and kindness; as a result, high-functioning relationships foster altruism. Altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others. You don’t need a scientific study to tell you that being altruistic can make you feel happy and view yourself in a positive light – though such studies certainly do exist to support this claim. Studies also show that altruism creates a sense of calm and reduces stress.
  4. friends vintage tiltawhirlFun and fulfillment. Doing things you enjoy is a wonderful way to spend your time – and having friends to share these experiences with can make them all the more fun and meaningful.
  5. A sense of being part of something bigger than yourself. People have an inborn need to feel a sense of belonging as well as a need to contribute. And, when people meet this need, they gain a sense of well-being. As part of a network of friends or a more formalized group, you can meet this need and feel like your life has purpose and meaning.
  6. Reduced stress. Social relationships relieve stress through the many ways in which they are a support and help people to feel good. Although feeling less stressed is positive in itself, reducing stress is also important because stress can cause problems with coronary arteries, insulin regulation, and the immune system. As a quick FYI: When researchers from University College London measured cortisol levels (one marker of chronic stress) in people 30 minutes after the subjects woke up, they found that the loneliest people had levels 21 percent higher than the most socially connected.
  7. Better health. People who have an active social network and have a cadre of people on whom they can rely have better health in the following ways:
    * Fewer Colds: A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that after healthy people were given nasal drops containing a strain of cold virus, those with six or more types of social ties (including friends coworkers and fellow volunteers) were four times less likely to get sick than those with only one to three types of social relationships
    * Lower Blood Pressure: Researchers have found that people with hypertension who feel they can open up to friends are a third less likely to have their condition go uncontrolled. In another study that tracked people for four years, those who were the least lonely could expect their blood pressure to be 14.4 points lower than that of those who were the most isolated.
    * Good Health Habits: Not only do people’s relationships have a directly positive effect upon people’s health, they also influence people’s health behaviors. For instance, spouses and other loved ones often actively encourage exercising, eating a healthy diet, and following up with medical issues. So, not surprisingly, people with emotional support tend to recover better and be less susceptible to illness or disease than those who are more alone.
  8. Longer life. People who have strong social ties are much more likely to live longer than those who are more isolated. Holt-Lunstad, the lead author of a study (2010) that reviewed and analyzed research in this area, noted, “A lack of social relationships was equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.”
  9. Improved intelligence, reasoning and understanding. Socializing can give your mind a workout. According to one study, the more frequently people interacted with others, the higher they scored on cognitive tests. Plus, research in the American Journal of Public Health found that among older women, those who had daily contact with friends saw their risk of developing dementia reduced by 43% compared with those who had contact less than once a week. This may be because social interaction helps form new synaptic connections, staving off cognitive decline.
  10. Better sleep. In a study in Psychological Science, researchers monitored college students’ sleep patterns and found that those who reported feeling more connected to their peers fell asleep 14 minutes faster and spent 17 fewer minutes awake during the night than their more solitary counterparts did.

So are you as inspired as I am to create a wave of positive connections? Do you want to be part of a movement that helps you succeed and be happy in all areas of your life, while having fun doing so? Then consider joining my Empowered Singles nation. Sign up here. You’ll receive a free 5-session eCourse on Creating a Life You Love as well as get my monthly newsletter which is chock full of great new content. You’ll also be kept abreast of all new programs that I launch, along with special pricing discounts available ONLY to members of the community.

Join us, won’t you?

 

Photo (c) Micheal Ging

The art of the cheap date

The art of the cheap date

Abundance Creativity Dating

How not to break your bank

In the previous post, Larry asked for my thoughts on dating while unemployed (HERE). While I find it’s important to focus on finding employment and not be distracted by “why can’t I find my perfect match” obsessions, I do know you can get out there and date for fun.  (Check out how to transform sucky or overwrought dating into fun dating – HERE.)

Whether we like it or not, money troubles can rock our foundations. Being unemployed or in financial trouble causes a great deal of stress, which affects our moods, our health, our outlook on life. I get this…I’ve gone through my own experiences with not having enough money coming in and trying to create a long-term relationship with someone.

If you’re not feeling great about yourself, if you feel desperate to have a relationship, if you feel that being in a relationship will rescue you from your current woes, you will more than likely get involved in a relationship that is unsustainable (from a healthy point of view). Most relationships – unless the couple proactively seeks support from a therapist or relationship coach – do not survive ongoing financial woes and the side-effects that come with it.

In a future post, we’ll take a look at socio-economic stressors on relationships, considering that, in the U.S., the middle class is under tremendous pressure and more and more people are falling under the poverty line. But for now, let’s focus on getting you a new job and let’s explore ways you can still enjoy going out.

Look on the bright side

I know you’re probably overwhelmed with feeling miserable about yourself and your situation. But there is an upside of dating while money is tight: you’ll be able to sort through the people who may be looking for a free ride or who demand to be treated lavishly or who want to be taken care of. If you’re ultimately looking for a healthy relationship, when your financial boat is up-righted, I don’t think these kinds of people are the ones for you.

Before planning a cheap date

First, think about the things you enjoy doing with someone else (i.e. a walk on the beach or in the park) and talk about these things with your potential date. He or she may enjoy the same type of activities. Many times the things that are most enjoyable to people do not include a big price tag.

And remember to think out of the box. Most people do not engage their creativity at all when planning the first few dates and think it’s all about going out to dinner. If you’re creative in this way, you’ll definitely make a better impression AND you’ll do a much better job at screening.

Also, be clear as to your current situation and how your primary focus is on your career right now. Tell the whole truth, without apology, early and often. You don’t necessarily have to blurt out your employment situation within the first point of contact, but it’s important to set up realistic expectations early on and not give people false hope. And who knows, maybe this person can actually help in some way.  Plus, do you really want to hang out with someone who doesn’t respect your need to be financially responsible?

Remember that regardless of your financial situation, the first few dates are better spent in face to face low-cost or no-cost activities anyway. You need the face time to screen for fit. Be authentic and generous with your attention. Focus all of it on your potential partner and they’ll feel the richness of your presence. This is a far greater gift than the presence of financial richness.

Finally, do consider seeking the assistance of a certified professional coach. A coach, if examined solely from a cost-benefit analysis, will help you get you where you want to be more quickly – from feeling better about yourself to mapping out a game plan to find a new job as well as find people with whom you want to spend time. As I always say, when you love your life, you’re in a much better position to find the love of your life – and working with a coach like me can help.

Meanwhile, check out these low or no-cost date options:

couple playing poolPlan a Low-key Cocktail Excursion

Skip the pricey wine bar and grab a drink at your local low-key bar. Make sure you pick a place with a pool table or dartboard set up. Some bars I’ve been to also have chess games and checkers. You can learn a lot about people when you play some sort of game with them.

Get an Adrenaline Rush

Go to a rollerskating or iceskating rink or indoor rock climbing gym. It’s a great way to have fun with each other. If being physically active or in good health is a top value for you, this is a good way of weeding out those who do not feel the same way

Couple riding bikesTake a Bike Ride

Dust off your bikes and head to the park to take a spin on the bike trails. Bike riding is fun, relaxing and great exercise. After the ride is over, park your bikes and enjoy the great outdoors. Then at the end, celebrate with a cup of hot cocoa or combine it with a picnic so you can have another great activity to look forward to.

Plan a Themed Picnic

Everyone loves a picnic, but a themed picnic is even better. How about a detective-themed picnic? All you have to do is pack up your picnic food, grab a blanket and some Post-it notes with clues written on them. Have your date find the clues in your picnic area. The answers to the clues can be anything you packed, anything either of you is wearing, or something in the environment.

Take a Trip to the Gardens

Most large cities have botanical gardens with low admission fees. In fact, many have special times of the month when entrance is free. Take advantage of the free admissions days and visit the gardens. Take a light lunch with you and sit on a bench in the gardens and enjoy one another’s company. After lunch, take a stroll through the gardens and enjoy a wonderful conversation while admiring the beautiful plants and flowers.

Go Apple Picking

Spend the day picking apples or other seasonal fruit at a local farm. Once you’ve picked all the fruit you can carry back to the car, you can always plan for the next date to get creative in the kitchen and think up some recipes with the fruit you picked. You can then judge each other’s creations, Top Chef style.

Take a Tour of Local Wineries, Breweries – or Chocolate Makers

The easiest way of enjoying cocktails on the cheap? Take a tour of a winery or brewery. Most local wineries charge an incredibly small fee for 10 tastings (which amounts to 2 standard sized glasses of wine). Plus, if it’s a small winery, chances are you’ll be able to talk with the owners themselves, who are always glad to share their passion for what they do.

Keep Up on Entertainment Specials

Dying to see a play but can’t afford the tickets? Call around to see if you can buy tickets to the dress rehearsal instead. You’ll pay a fraction of the cost for a “behind the scenes” experience. Keep your eyes on Living Social or GroupOn for special offers and deals to local restaurants.

open mic nightExplore Local Book Signings/Poetry Readings/Live Music/Comedy Club Amateur Nights

Wherever you live, chances are there are local bands dying for an audience. Check out local music venues in your area and go to a show. Of course, bear in mind that loud, live music is not overly conducive to getting to know someone. Perhaps an author or poet you enjoy or are curious about is doing a live reading. I also know there are usually some comedy improv groups who host amateur nights at local venues, too. Or maybe you’re brave and want to explore open mic nights.

Attend a Free Cultural Event

Many cities have free or low-cost museums. Museums are great places to talk and learn about each other as well as to enjoy art, history or whatever the theme of the museum. Items in museums can serve as great conversation pieces, which helps you avoid those awkward moments of silence.

Visit Your Local Coffee Shop

You can’t go wrong with a coffee shop — even if you don’t drink coffee. Coffee shops usually have live music, poetry readings, and other events on different nights. If there is no event going on, consider bringing a board game along to play while sipping on your favorite hot or cold drink.

Take Art Classes Together

Right now there is a current fad of painting classes for those who have no artistic talent whatsoever. So if you’re not a budding Picasso, you have nothing to worry about. Plus, stretching yourself in this way can be a great opportunity to show people just how gracefully or humorously you roll.

Attend a Local Minor League Baseball Game

Tickets can be as cheap as $10 and are a fun way of enjoying baseball.

 

Honestly, as I look over these ideas, I’m thinking – why the heck not enjoy them with your friends, too. These ideas are a lot of fun … and dating is not the only way to enjoy them. Plus when you hang out with your friends, you’re strengthening your support network … and I’d bet that you could really benefit from that right now.

Have fun!

 

Featured Image (c) Liz Morrow

Ask the Coach: Is it possible to find love while unemployed?

Ask the Coach: Is it possible to find love while unemployed?

Ask the Coach

“… How do you make yourself attractive to others when money and employment status are such strong criteria for so many people…?”

Dear Coach Linda,

I want to date and find a partner so I can be happy. But I was downsized from my job about 18 months ago and my benefits have just run out. I’ve been looking for work the entire time, but haven’t had any success. I’m 45, I have two kids and share custody with my ex-wife. I’m under a lot of pressure economically and I’m really frustrated with my dating experiences.

When I meet women I want to date, I’m honest with them that I’m currently unemployed. That doesn’t lead to more dates. I think that the last person a woman wants to date is someone who is unemployed. And I know I’m certainly not the only one who’s experiencing this problem.

It’s hard enough to have stress in the financial part of your life, but it’s even harder when there’s pressure in the area of relationships. I want to move on with my life. I want to get married again and be happy.

What’s your advice for dating when you’re unemployed? What can I do? How do you make yourself attractive to others when money and employment status are such strong criteria for so many people in our society?

Larry


Dear Larry,

I’m sorry to hear you’re having employment challenges because of the economy and I want to congratulate you on being willing to reach out to request support while going through this period. Getting support is one of the best gifts that you can give yourself right now.

I truly get it that you would like date while unemployed, to get married again and move on with your life. To be loved is one of our primary driving forces as humans.

I’m also aware that, as you said, most women are somewhat reluctant to be involved with someone who doesn’t have employment or benefits, especially in a rocky economy. I have often heard women say that they don’t want to get involved with someone who is struggling. We can’t blame them.

And you’re right, there are many in the country who are in your position – both men and women. A number of people who attend my complimentary events are searching for love yet are not employed and don’t have any financial resources.

Let’s take a moment to look at a couple of things you said.

First, you say your situation is even harder when there’s pressure in the area of relationships. Who is pressuring you? Are you doing this to yourself? If so, ask yourself what’s so important right now, when things are shaky, that you find a partner. Are you afraid of being alone? Do you not have a healthy support network? What’s the rush? You have many years ahead of you to continue achieving success in your career and personal relationships. Try to remain as cognizant as you can about what’s motivating you so you can avoid getting caught in the trap of desperation and scarcity, which can only lead to relationship failure.

Remember that when we’ve gone through a loss of employment, our self-confidence and self-esteem can suffer. Unemployment is notorious for contributing to feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, uselessness, helplessness (deprived of strength or power), and meaninglessness. Put these in the blender and you’ve got someone who may be at risk of falling into the Rescue Trap. We fall into this trap when we hope someone can save us from our current reality and we fail to realize that being an Empowered Single is a path of personal responsibility. This trap results in desperation, neediness, and relationship failure when your problems multiply instead of disappear.

money loveAlso know that money issues can impact the health of a relationship. A study published in the Family Relations Journal in 2012 looked at data from more than 4,500 couples as part of the National Survey of Families and Households. The study found that arguing about money is the top predictor of relationship failure. If you’re constantly worried about money and paying your bills and child support, there’s a real good chance that if you found yourself in a new long-term committed partnership, you will argue about money. Being stressed about money is not the optimal way of starting a relationship.

Third, I also want to point out that you may be stuck in the “I’ll be happy when I’m in a relationship” trap. There are too many people who feel that happiness can only be achieved when in a relationship – and this is simply not true. Relationships are mirrors of our reality – they emphasize who and what we are right now. Relationships do not CAUSE happiness – rather they reflect the emotional state of the people who are in them. If you want a happy relationship, you will need to already be happy in your life.

Larry, I’m sure this is not what you wanted to hear. Don’t be discouraged though. Please know that there are things you can do to make it through this period of your life as an Empowered Single. Here’s what I recommend:

Money woesStay focused on the priority of finding some form of employment.  Looking for a job is a full-time job. And, certainly it is a stressful time. I know from experience how self-confidence and self-esteem suffer. There are many unknowns – not only about what the next job will be, but also where it will be located and how much money you will be making. I remember a time when I had been “reorganized” right out of a job and then simulatenously met a man with whom I wanted to explore a long-term committed relationship. Being between jobs, worrying about money, and having too much free time (to obsess over the relationship) all combined to create a powder keg. And boy when the time came, did it ever explode. Ugh.

Also, searching for a job will require you to be on top of your mental and emotional game. During interviews, you’ll need to exude confidence and competence – this is harder to do if you’re preoccupied about the status of your dating life… or worse, still reeling over a recent romantic rejection.

Get support. This is not the time to “go it alone” – even though so many of us prefer to tackle our problems in solitude. Are you getting support from peers and friends – both professionally as well as personally? Don’t have a good network of friends and peers? Make this your top priority.

Take time to expand your professional network as well. There are many groups that meet weekly for the sole purpose of networking in the effort of seeking employment. Find one of these in your area.

While meeting with others for networking, you might be surprised to meet someone who understands and is willing to accept you as you are. The fact that you have joined such a group illustrates your initiative and desire to regain employment.

Plus, you indicated you’ve been looking for work for over a year. Have you consulted a career coach? It would be helpful to have someone who is knowledgeable to reassure you that you’re on the right track or who may be able to advise you on how to switch rails to find employment in another sector.

To be clear though, your primary objective for meeting people should be networking for employment and support, not dating. Remember, you’re only good for someone else when you’re good for yourself. In addition, remember you have your children to think of. At this point, perhaps dating is less important in the big scheme of things.

Remember there is No Shame in Your Game. One of the most important things to remember in “showing up” for our quest for a great life is to BE AUTHENTIC no matter what. When we are completely honest about who we are and what our situation is, this mirrors to others our true selves.

Our culture typically does not honor those who are experiencing temporary setbacks with jobs and other occurrences that have us pinching pennies, so it makes it difficult to be authentic when these times arise. Nevertheless, we can continue to honor ourselves by accepting ourselves during these periods and not playing “the games” many others play.

Date for only for fun. From a relationship readiness standpoint, you have much to sort out right now. If you’re out there, meeting and connecting with new people, and wind up finding someone with whom you want to have dinner or go to a movie – great! Keeping it casual will keep the pressure off… and it just might lead to more dates. But again, don’t actively seek out a committed partner at this time. There are too many unknowns right now.

Find inexpensive ways of having fun. There are many activities that are available in any community that are either free or minimal in expense. During the times we may have less cash flow, we can choose to attend such events and enjoy these varying experiences. I believe other authentic people will truly enjoy them also and will just enjoy the time spent with another authentic person, rather than be concerned that they are not at “the hottest event happening”. Stay tuned for my next blog post where I explore The Art of a Cheap Date in more depth.

Get coaching to become an Empowered Single. Sometimes life’s toughest challenges are the gateways to truer happiness and fulfillment if we learn how to navigate them skillfully. They offer us opportunities to go deep within ourselves, to discover our truth, and to rid ourselves of all the beliefs and behaviors that keep us despairing and unhappy. This is NOT the time to be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to personal growth and development. Investing in yourself when your life is a bit messy is really the ideal time to do this kind of work and pays dividends down the road. I often hear people say things like, “Oh I’ll invest in myself when things get better.” That’s cart-before-the-horse thinking again – similar to saying “I’ll be happy when I’m in a relationship“. Remember that you are a magnet, attracting or repeling situations based on your inner game. As one of my teachers likes to say: Your Results Are Your Report Card.

This is an EXCELLENT time to enroll in one of my coaching programs so that you can make the most of this time as well as prevent yourself from spiraling into depression or despair. Perhaps it’s time for us to talk about how you can benefit from them. Again, don’t let money stand in your way of getting the support you need. There are always ways to get around our perceived limitations, including a scarcity of money. Plus you deserve to feel good about yourself. So contact me today to set up an initial consultation by emailing me HERE.

In the meantime, I will keep you and your job hunting efforts in my thoughts. The very best of luck to you.

Why dating does not suck

Why dating does not suck

Dating

But your approach probably does

The other day I gave a presentation to a group of about 20 singles over the age of 55. This was a new group and had never heard of the Empowered Singles movement.

One of the gentlemen in attendance, who was deeply struggling with his profound feelings of love and yearnings for his “soul mate” – a woman who not only did not return his feelings but told him to stay away – shared with the group his own movement, which he calls Dating Sucks.

Insert Buzzer Sound Effect Here

Insert Buzzer Sound Effect Here

Ugh. This is exactly the kind of negativity that most singles carry around with them – the kind of negativity I’m trying to get you all away from. The kind of negativity that will actually submarine your attempts to find a healthy, happy relationships.

So let’s be clear – Dating Does Not Suck.

What sucks is his attitude toward it.

What about you? Have you ever said “dating is hard”? Or “all men want is to date younger women” or said “all women want is to date a rich man”? Are you sitting there in your living room, watching TV night after night, hoping to meet the right one, while replaying all the horrible experiences you’ve had on dates in the past?

If so, then perhaps your attitude sucks too.

Listen, I get it – dating and relationships can really really really SEEM confusing to those who have not taken the time to educate themselves about their past patterns, and subconscious sabotaging beliefs.

Most singles consistently make the same mistakes over and over again without taking the time to figure out what they are doing.

The thing is, many singles don’t have any true idea how dating really “works.” They don’t have a clear idea on how to approach dating that makes the process fun. And no one seems to know how to date without adding a ton of stress and pressure. Yet when I talk to most singles, they seem so assured that they know what they’re doing. (Meanwhile 90% of my community admits to being dissatisfied with their dating experiences.)

No more excuses, people.

Here’s a quick guide to help you snap out of it:

1. REDEFINE HOW YOU VIEW DATING

The biggest trap that most singles get caught in, in the early stages, is heaping a ton of romantic overlays onto the get togethers. Most people use that very first get together as the make or break moment – that puts way too much pressure on all involved. I always caution people about throwing the baby out with the bath water. Unless it’s a hugely obvious mismatch, take your time getting to know this person. By all means, use your relationship requirements to screen the obvious out but once you found someone who passed that first litmus test, try not to cut that person off immediately. Reformulate your decision making criteria – instead of evaluating the person straight off as “relationship worthy”, instead determine if you think this person is someone with whom you’d enjoy having a conversation.

Then ascribe a new meaning to the word DATING. Let’s agree that dating is simply the best way to learn more about other people (and yourself as well). And be forthright about your new view on dating.

2. FOCUS ON THE NOW

One of the most important ways to make dating fun is to focus on the now. Stop dwelling in the past – if an old relationship didn’t work out, accept it and move on. I know it’s much easier said than done to embrace this harsh reality, but the truth is that if you don’t accept and admit to yourself that a previous relationship ended because the person just wasn’t the right one for you at the time, you’ll never be able to move forward.

Also, avoid overanalyzing everything. I know too many singles who need to scrutinize the tiniest detail and behavior of others. When you are focused on the now, are in the present moment, and are living a life you love, you’ll be far less likely to worry about what the person did or did not do.

3. SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE

I’d say that going slow is almost as important as focusing on the now. If you walk into a date knowing that you’re priority is to get to know this person as a friend, then there won’t be any added pressure of worrying about what may happen after the date. This approach will set both of your minds at ease and you’ll have more fun enjoying each other’s company!

4. DO SOMETHING SPONTANEOUS

If you’ve found someone with whom you enjoy talking, try doing something off the cuff with that person – it takes a lot of pressure off both of you by being spontaneous. Being spontaneous requires you to Be the Chooser, to take responsibility as well as take a risk. Yet the rewards can be enormous.

A guy I was dating over the past summer actually surprised me after dinner and took me to mini golf and it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I also spontaneously asked him to go out bowling and it was a great time. (I realized how awesome I am at bowling when I beat him, just saying. Thank goodness he had the ability to roll with things.)

5. LET GO OF EXPECTATIONS

We’re told to let go of grudges, right? Well, let go of expectations too.

Expectations are strong beliefs that something will happen, that someone will or should achieve something. They are like unspoken pacts with other people or the universe. While having expectations can be a great boost to confidence and a predictor of success (“I expect this job interview to go well), it can also set up for disappointment.

In dating and relationships, it’s so easy for people to constantly wonder, “Is this The One?” and so we go through the motions of dating with these high expectations that every person we meet, let alone date, has to be The One. Then, when this person turns out to NOT be Prince Charming or Ms. Right, you go home defeated, dismayed, depressed.

If you create your expectation as an unspoken pact that this person has to be a romantic match, then you’re likely to feel cheated, angry and/or hurt. It leads to blaming. “Things didn’t work out the way I thought they should, so someone is to blame.”

What’s important here is not to find out why things didn’t go the way they “should” have and who is responsible for that. The real question is who decided that things should go a certain way and that any other way was unacceptable. This is the source of the disappointment that expectations are famous for. What we do with that disappointment determines how much pleasure we can have in the ensuing moments.

In a previous post on spiritual singles, I wrote a bit about mindfulness, a spiritual practice through which we develop awareness, cognizance and understanding of things, our “selves”, feelings, thoughts, other people and Reality. The practice of mindfulness is all about discovering one’s expectations of self and then letting go of them.

Through the ongoing practice of becoming present with experience “as it is,” there is a gradual increase in experiencing things as they are, without trying to change them (and a subsequent joyfulness in the experiences). In the simplicity of accepting something—including oneself—as it is, there is a release of the need to be something “better.”

Another way to deal with unmet expectations is to reframe the experience. Suppose I expected to see a movie tonight but when I got to the theater, I discovered that the movie was no longer being shown. Besides feeling disappointed or angry, I could immediately look around for another pleasure. I could take this as a gift and look to see what else is playing or what other interesting, cool things might be around.

6. BECOME AN ADVOCATE FOR FUN

fun while datingThis is really the cherry on top of this whole cake. The most important thing to do and remember is to HAVE FUN!

For years, I had put a moratorium on dating because I had made my past dating experiences so incredibly grueling — I can’t say I ever really had fun while I was dating. Which is why I decided that I needed to regroup and “do the proper preparation” (as I always advocate to my clients).

Recently though I’ve been thinking it’s time to get back out there since I know that my partner is not going to magically appear on his own.

This time, however, I knew that I needed a different approach. This time I decided that I was going to go into dating with the intention of having FUN.

So as a result, I made it clear on my profile that I want to have fun and described what fun looks like to me. (Fun is a custom experience after all.) I realize now that without fun, there really isn’t anything. In my opinion, fun is a great place for two people (who don’t know each other at all) to begin — because let’s be honest — if we’re not having fun, we’re not likely to want to see someone again.

In the past, I had a negative image of having fun while dating. I thought that if I told men I wanted to have fun that they wouldn’t take me seriously or see me as the mature and dynamic woman I am. I assumed they would see or hear the word “fun” and think I was shallow, or just looking for sex.

But what I have found is just the opposite. I am being very honest and authentic when I speak about having fun. What ends up happening is that while having fun with someone, I build a potential foundation for things moving forward.

What also has changed is that I am more willing to go out on a date or two (or three or four) with someone who I wouldn’t have normally dated.

This experiment reinforced for me what I already knew: that if I am too rigid and focus too much attention on what I am “looking” for (and what everything must look like and feel like in that process), I am missing out on allowing myself to experience something special.

couple arcadeSo ~ Be charming, be friendly, enjoy the time you’re spending with this person. If you don’t make it a priority to have fun with the person you’re with, you’re going to get overwhelmed with boring. Who wants that kind of life? I’m sure you don’t. So next time you go out on a date, remember to smile and show off your confidence and fun side and set the intention to have a great time, no matter what!