Ask the Coach: only socializing to find a date?

Ask the Coach: only socializing to find a date?

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Coach Linda, I read the info on the Empowered Singles support group, where you said this event is not about mindless socializing or to find a date. Isn’t not wanting to be alone the reason people mingle, date, marry, etc.? And what is wrong with Socializing to find a date? When women make comments like this is probably the reason a lot of men are not attending meet ups. Dating is difficult for many men like myself because I work in an environment of mostly men and don’t have the opportunity to meet a lot of women. And then, men are expected to initiate the process. But when I think about it I guess only men can give men good advice on attracting women. Women will say something stupid like “Just be yourself” well I am being Myself and I am still single. ~ Michael*

Michael, this is a great email and there’s so much in it that I’d like to talk about, so thank you for giving me this opportunity.

First, I hear your concern and your need to be in an environment where you can find a potential partner. That seems to be your top priority, am I right? While yes it’s true that the only way to find a potential partner is to socialize, when we socialize only to find a date, we’re setting ourselves up for frustration and disappointment. Here’s why.

National Epidemic: The Isolated Single

Friends vintageSingles need to consciously expand their support community and network to lead a life they love – a single relationship, no matter how compatible, cannot meet all of our emotional and social needs. This is especially important in today’s world because we are such a mobile society, with many people living and working away from where they grew up. The number of people who live alone has increased since 1960 and many of those tend to live isolated social lives. Check out my blog posts on loneliness and isolation and the many benefits of friends HERE and HERE.

Plus, the complexities of any relationship – whether it’s a partner, family member, friend – can prove challenging. If you are NOT learning how to relate with friends and family or even strangers, then you can expect this skill deficit to continue when you are in a love relationship. I consider our social network to be our own personal learning laboratory.

On top of that, many successful couples have found the love of their lives via their social network (despite the illusion that bars and generic singles events offer us opportunities to connect on an authentic basis, less than 10% of happily married couples found their partner at a bar). Finding the relationship you’re looking for in these setting is possible but not very likely. When you have a robust social network, such as the one I am building with the Empowered Singles support circles, more than likely these people (and the people that they know) share the same values, goals and/or passions. This Empowered Singles community will offer a level of mutual support and involvement in each other’s lives.

Friends vintage2While Empowered Singles Circles are not intended to facilitate and promote opportunities to ask people out on dates, chances are that sparks will fly among members, especially as they get to know each other over time and bond. I’ve seen this happen hundreds of times in my own life (when I was living in New York).

Even if you don’t meet the kind of potential partner you are looking for, you can still form friendships and network. You could probably even form professional relationships, which would only enhance your career and finances. Not only that, your new friends can be your best scouts – people that you would want for friends are more likely to know someone who would be a great match for you.

I would encourage you to not look at socializing solely as a “meet market” – this viewpoint will only lead to disappointment if the setting doesn’t have the woman you’re looking for. Have fun, make friends, and by living a life that is fulfilling and interesting to you, you will attract the people you want into your life.

Empowered Singles Circles will Increase Your Happiness

In addition!! My Empowered Singles Circles are support group events, where each participant will be able to talk about the issues, challenges and joys of being a single in today’s digital age. And fancy this: Research suggests that the happiest people have twice as many substantive conversations, and engage in much less small talk, than the unhappiest.  Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona who published a study on the subject, proposed that substantive conversation seemed to hold the key to happiness for two main reasons:

  • human beings are driven to find and create meaning in their lives, and
  • we are social animals who want and need to connect with other people

“By engaging in meaningful conversations, we manage to impose meaning on an otherwise pretty chaotic world,” Dr. Mehl said in an article in the New York Times. “And interpersonally, as you find this meaning, you bond with your interactive partner, and we know that interpersonal connection and integration is a core fundamental foundation of happiness.”

The happiest person in the study, based on self-reports about satisfaction with life and other happiness measures as well as reports from people who knew the subject, had twice as many substantive conversations, and only one-third of the amount of small talk as the unhappiest, Dr. Mehl said. Almost every other conversation the happiest person had — 45.9 percent of the day’s conversations — were substantive, while only 21.8 percent of the unhappiest person’s conversations were substantive.  

Yeah Buddy! Just Say No to Mindless Socializing!!!

Socializing & the Importance of Social Skills

Second, Michael, you say that women tell you that you should be yourself and yet, while you are yourself, you’re still not finding the love of your life. To be honest with you, you may need to do a little soul searching with that statement. I never advocate for people misrepresenting themselves just to woo a partner yet I’m curious about how you’re showing up in the world. I’m not talking about your likes or dislikes or even your values. I’m talking about things such as attitude and people skills.

For example, think about these questions:

  • Are you always negative, complaining, blaming, and being the victim?
  • How are your social or people skills, such as listening deeply (vs. listening just so you can share your own opinions), collaborating (as opposed to demanding everything be done your way), and resolving conflict in a respectful way?
  • How receptive are you to feedback… or do you react defensively?
  • Do you trust others or are you suspicious/guarded?
  • Do you actively value and appreciate others?
  • When challenging events befall you, do you feel cheated in some way?
  • Do you lack confidence to talk with others, even on a neutral plane?

Embrace Your First Impression

Getting a date hinges on first impressions so think about your appearance. I’m not saying you need to look like George Clooney but do you take care of yourself or do you look like you’re one Happy Meal away from a coronary? Do you take the time to dress neatly or do you look like you just came back from an Australian walk-about? I know this is going to seem really harsh, but studies have shown that regarding a first impression, everything counts.

The fact is that when you first meet a person, he or she makes a judgment about you in approximately four seconds, and his/her judgment is finalized largely within 30 seconds of the initial contact. In a survey of the members of the American Personnel Consultants, members generally agreed that they made their decision to hire or not to hire a person within 30 seconds of the first meeting, Obviously we’re not talking about job interviews here but these details are relevant.

You see, you could go to 365 singles events a year, but if you have no support community, your people skills suck, and you’re not making a powerful first impression, chances are you will be stay single.

Smash this Myth: Women Don’t Approach Men

Third – regarding the belief that women expect men to make the first move – again I’d encourage you to examine that belief to see if it is 100% true. One of the most recurring complaints that I hear from men is that women don’t approach enough. Many, many guys, especially ones who are more socially inexperienced or who deal with acute social anxiety, regularly lament that men are expected to do all the hard work when it comes to trying to start a relationship and wish women would help out by being willing to make the first move.

The truth is that women have become far more empowered to make the first move. They do it all the time. It just seems less significant compared to the many men who shotgun their dating approach. Other times they get brushed off by the men because they’re not the women those men want to approach them.

Then, there are the times when guys don’t recognize that someone is trying to make the first move. More often than not the way women approach men they’re interested in doesn’t match up with how they picture the approach going.

But realize this:  personality matters. It matters……a lot. Most women would pick an average looking guy with a great personality and sense of humor over a hot guy who lacks in those areas. I can absolutely personally attest to that statement.

However, it’s important to realize that all of us get really anxious about approaching people we find attractive, thanks to this deep fear of rejection. Here’s my blog post on this topic:  HERE  

Bust this Myth: Men Don’t Show Up

FINALLY, I’d like to explode the myth that men don’t show up to Meet Up events. Most of the people who have attended the past two Empowered Singles Circles were men. The most recent event attracted 100% men. Now granted, these events are in their infancy and the number of registrations have been small compared to these singles dance events … but if I were to do a projection based on the current percentage of men vs. women, I’d say that these events are going to be havens for guys. Why? My gut tells me that these events are going to be low-pressure with no expectations that they must hook up or be in control.

 So, having explored all of that (whew, that was a LOT), you can see in more ways than one, it makes sense to attend these Empowered Singles Circles so you can build your social network to gain and hone your relationship skills as a way of preparing for, finding and keeping a successful relationship. If you live in New Jersey, please consider joining me for the next one.


* This email question has been edited to protect the privacy of the querent.

On the Menu:  Good Conversation

On the Menu: Good Conversation

Community Dating Skills Fulfillment Requirements

“Finding oneself in a good conversation,” writes author Alain de Botton, “is rather like stumbling on a beautiful square in a foreign city at night—and then never knowing how to get back there in daytime.”

Empowered Singles Circles as today’s town square.

Despite living in a society that prizes sociability, most of us who are single struggle with the art of conversation. Despite the illusion that social media actually connects us and meets our need for being social, singles – singles such as yourself – struggle with isolation and loneliness. In the face of growing evidence that we’re leading less socially connected lives, I have a gift for you: an opportunity for you to chart your way back, in the full light of day, to that beautiful town square as pictured above, full of community and conversation via Empowered Singles Circles.

What’s interesting about these Empowered Singles Circles is that, before the rise of the internet, there were groups of people who met regularly to specifically discuss a variety of issues ranging from art to politics to current events. These groups and places were these events were held were called salons which originally started in 16th century Europe and were popular well into the early 20th century.

Kathy Bates portraying Gertrude Stein in Midnight in Paris. This film allows us a glimpse into Stein's famous salons held in 1920s Paris. Salons were opportunities for thinkers, philosophers, poets, writers, artists etc. to gather to share ideas and create community. Maybe you'll be part of this new generation of salon that I'm creating for Empowered Singles.

Kathy Bates portraying Gertrude Stein in the film Midnight in Paris. Stein held famous salons held in 1920s Paris for thinkers, philosophers, poets, writers, artists etc. to share ideas and create community.

(Perhaps you’ve heard of the legendary salons hosted in Paris by writer Gertrude Stein, with frequent guests including Picasso, Hemingway, James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald to name a few. Her salons were brilliant think-tanks and were instrumental in the shaping of that era’s cultural giants. If you check out Woody Allen’s film Midnight in Paris, you will see scenes involving these famous salons – in fact, Kathy Bates portrayed Gertrude Stein, as pictured to the left. One of my favorite scenes involved Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali – brilliant!)

Create a Support Network

While this idea of hosting circles or salons may seem nostalgic or antiquated, I foresee this experience making a big comeback – primarily because of our essential, undying human need for face-to-face contact and the kind of dialogue that can only come with physically interacting with another person. I have personally experienced the kind of nourishment that occurs when meeting and conversing regularly and over a long period of time with people who share similar values.

The purpose of these Empowered Singles Circles is to encourage you to let go of preconceived ideas, become open to the unexpected, to allow you to go deeply into an issue, to learn, to listen. The emphasis of these circles is on community, to create a sense of ‘groupness,’ so that you can achieve higher insight, wisdom and guidance, to open the heart and speak truth.

So take a moment to picture what your life would be like – how would your life be different and even more enjoyable – if you had a place you could regularly go, to discuss what’s your mind – things that maybe your coupled-up friends don’t understand – and learn?

I invite you to become part of this new movement.  Check out the next time we meet by clicking HERE.