Dating – Are You Sabotaging Yourself?
“I hate dating” is a comment I hear from my women clients all too often. This negative attitude towards dating is one of the main reasons that single women can stay ‘stuck’ and single for so long. Most of the women I come across in my coaching practice approach dating with completely the wrong mind set, meaning that the way they approach dating actually sabotages their chances of meeting their life partner.
And yet this attitude is completely understandable. We’ve all been there, ‘forcing’ ourselves to get in the game, signing up to the online dating sites, trawling through messages which sometimes make the skin crawl, too often from married men and other undesirables, and eventually giving someone a chance because he looks nice. Making contact, chatting backwards and forwards, perhaps even beginning to get a flicker of excitement – he seems nice, he’s quite good looking in the pictures and there is a definite connection. So you arrange a meeting. You are nervous, you spend lots of time and energy getting ready, you wonder if you are making a mistake, but you make the effort, pull on your coat, go out into the cold and travel to wherever (quite often a few hours even) to meet your date. You are feeling excited now, after all he could be ‘the one’.
And then you see him! Your heart drops because he looks NOTHING like his pictures, in fact he is more ‘Shrek’ than ‘Becks’. He’s two inches shorter than he said he was, and those pictures were obviously taken several years ago judging by the extra weight and distinct lack of hair! However you weakly resolve to ‘try’ to give him a chance, I mean you came all the way here! There is about as much magnetism as you would feel with a soggy cabbage and you immediately start planning your escape. But you don’t want to be rude so you sit through an agonizing hour of awkward, polite conversation about nothing much, and all the time you are just itching to get away. The connection that was there online is nowhere to be seen and you are clearly both feeling uncomfortable. As you leave in the rain you wonder why you spent the time, money and effort to come on another date and you head home feeling disappointed and even more firmly entrenched in the belief that there just aren’t any decent men out there for you! It’s no wonder women get fed up.
Dating can be frustrating and it is easy to get demotivated. It can feel draining and even heart wrenching to go on a string of dates with people that you feel no spark with, and have your hopes of meeting a partner dashed again and again. There is a risk of burnout when you do a lot of dating and some women can become very cynical and even jaded. This is not going to help your situation at all because when she is in this mode, a single woman can easily miss her Mr Right altogether when he does come along.
Did you know that most women don’t actually fancy the man that they later go on to marry when they first meet him? Interesting! A recent study in The Daily News estimates that around 22% of couples meet through work. This is no accident – it is because the attraction is allowed to build naturally, over time. And in most cases he is often someone that you would never have given a chance to if you had met him online, something to bear in mind as you are sifting through your matches.
So what to do then to change this negative feeling about dating?
Well in fact a simple shift in perspective is all that is needed to transform the whole experience of dating for yourself so that you can actually start enjoying it, and you can call in your man much more quickly. If women can start viewing dating as ‘fun practice’ they will have a lot more success, and also they will enjoy the process a lot more. So what exactly does ‘fun practice’ mean?
These TOP TIPS will tell you how to use the ‘fun practice’ approach for success.
1. Drop the agenda.
Don’t think of him as a potential life partner, instead just be present in this moment with this new person and be curious about him. It’s just a date – there is no promise of a relationship or marriage – it’s just a coffee, or a walk or whatever you are doing together. The benefits here are twofold, firstly it will take all the pressure off so that you can both relax, and he will feel that. Most good men are nervous on a first date and don’t present themselves at their best, however this will help put him at ease. Secondly you get to practice being around men who like you, meaning that your self-esteem goes up, and when ‘your man’ does show up you are ready for him because you have become ‘a natural’.
2. Keep initial dates very short.
Don’t accept dinner dates for the first few dates because they are too long to spend with someone you don’t know. An hour each time is plenty to spend on the first couple of meetings. Short and impactful is what we are going for here. This will help prevent burnout too while you are dating several people at once at the beginning.
3. Don’t communicate online with people who live very far away from you.
This saves a lot of energy and heartache. Have a rule to only date people who are local to you (within an hour’s travel distance tops). Most online sites have a feature where you can refine your search results to only include people within a certain distance. Remember you don’t actually know someone until you meet them in person, so there is often a connection online that just isn’t there when you meet face to face. I also advocate the man traveling to the woman for dates.
4. Relax and enjoy the date. Have FUN!
Beware – this doesn’t mean drink a truckload of alcohol! Although I do understand why people like a drink on a first date it is better to refrain altogether or stick to just one on the first date so that you can really stay clear headed and see how you feel on this date, without alcohol giving things a rosy tint. Instead see if you can find out something interesting about him, everyone has something!
5. Give him a chance.
This means that he gets a second date if he asks for one, provided that you feel safe with him. You give him this chance even if you don’t feel attracted to him. Yes REALLY! This is an important part of the process, especially for women who have a pattern of bad relationships and picking men who aren’t good for them.
6. Let him lead
This is all part of my overall approach for women who are seeking a happy relationship. So that means he will be the one to ask for a second date, if there is to be one. I also advocate that he pays because this helps set up the relationship dynamic correctly, although I realise this is controversial to some people. Ladies you want to be romanticised right?
7. Practice complete honesty about how you are feeling.
When you are on the dates with these men you are honest and you say how you feel, even if this is awkward to do so at first. So if you feel bored/nervous/turned off/interested/excited you can express that. Not in a bitchy way, in an open and honest way. This terrifies some women, and you will be surprised at how most men will take it in their stride and appreciate the honesty. Plus it opens the way for real, honest communication, and gives him feedback which is a golden opportunity for him to adjust and step up his game for you (if he thinks you are worth it – which you are).
8. Be courteous, interested and polite.
You may not think he is your ideal man but he has showed up for you and is treating you to a date, and that deserves appreciation.
Dating this way will not only help you to enjoy it more, but it will also help you to build your ‘relationship muscle’ because you will get to practice being yourself (a strong, feminine woman) around real men. And while you are doing all this your man will show up when you least expect it!
Follow these top tips for dating and see how your dating experience completely transforms.