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
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
This 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.
So ~ 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!