Dating today is more complicated than it used to be. Sure, at our fingertips we have access to strangers around the world and theoretically can meet more people in one day than ever before. Figuring out how to work this system to our advantage can be overwhelming and exhausting.
I remind my clients regularly that dating applications exist for us not the other way around. What that means is that we can set a strategy for navigating dating and relationships that include apps but are not limited to them.
Successful relationships do not happen randomly or haphazardly. Temporary, non-serious, connections abound in New York City if that’s what you are seeking. Anyone can meet a stranger at any time. But if you are seeking a committed and healthy relationship, you need a strategy for success. Most great achievements in life - home ownership, getting into graduate school, starting your own business - require sweat and strategy for successful implementation. Dating is no different.
How do you navigate today’s climate of instant gratification over long-term gains, of immediate pleasure over meaningful fulfillment?
1. Set expectations accordingly: Accept that finding a long-term partner takes time. That is as true today as it ever was. You may have to kiss some frogs before you meet your Prince Charming. By the way, all the frogs you encounter along the way are helping you hone in on what it is you want and do not want in your future partner. Accept that it may take you a year or a few to meet the right person for you. Accept that this process will require effort, time and work. Setting expectations accordingly is key.
2. Know thy self: Figuring out who you are authentically and what you seek in your partner are not as easy as it seems. If it were easy, you would have found your man already. Many people go with their feelings upon meeting a date but feelings are fleeting, often misleading initially. The clients I work with often come to me and say that x, y and z are important to me. By the time we’ve completed working together, they have a different understanding of what they are seeking in a mate and why. Peeling back the layers takes time. After all, beliefs about whom we should marry and what job we should have by a certain age were instilled in many of us from an early age. In order to “advance” in life, we need to do x, and to appear to be doing well, we need to do y. Those ideas are not necessarily what you desire in life but what is instilled from an early age. If you don’t know who you are, there is no way you’ll know what you need in an intimate relationship. It’s that simple.
3. Expand your horizons: Meeting new people isn’t just about dating apps. Use dating apps to your advantage but realize that from the time you wake up in the morning to the time you go to sleep at night, opportunities abound to engage with new people and therefore, potential new dates. Read the blog I wrote about this: “Where the good men are.” Expand your social networks. Attend meetup.com events; volunteer for a cause; take a cooking class. Whatever your city offers, participate. Stop limiting your circle to just your friends; they know the same group of people. Expand your circle. Studies have shown that your second and third degree connections on LinkedIn will help you land the job you’re after, not your first. The same principle applies in love.
4. Listen to Your gut/Inner Voice: If you’ve been single for a while, or you’ve been dating and getting frustrated with commitment shy men (I wrote another blog about this), then you may have to refresh and reset. When you come from a place of frustration or negative energy, you’re less likely to listen to your gut because other factors are potentially muddling your inner voice such as loneliness and fear. We’re human and trying without getting the results we desire can wear us down over time. If you’re feeling drained or frustrated from dating, be compassionate with yourself and allow yourself some “time out.” Give yourself two months to focus on you; recharge, get massages; read good books; enjoy friends; and travel so that you can come back rejuvenated and ready for a new start.
5. Be radically honest: Ask your closest friends why they think you’re single or why your relationships haven’t worked out. We all have patterns and subconsciously are drawn to people and situations that may not be good for us, however familiar they seem. Again, I talk about this in my blogs. Figure out what’s going on inside. Don’t get mad if your trusted friends and advisors share something about that you may not agree with; they are there to shed light on something you can’t see, not to hurt you intentionally. We all have blind spots. What are yours?
6. You have to do something different to get better results: Meeting eligible men on dating apps alone won’t take you the distance. You can meet a lot of people and even go on dates but until you understand your patterns and emotional baggage, you’ll end up repeating what does not get resolved. Figure out your pattern and what is not being resolved. Confidence will get you to a date but competence and emotional fitness will take you the distance.
7. Check your attitude: How are you showing up to the world? So you talk to every person you come across in your daily life but if you’re not approachable; you don’t smile; you don’t make eye contact; you don’t flirt when opportunities arise; you won’t get the response you seek. I worked with a client who once said that her best quality was that she could talk to anyone in a room full of strangers and make that person laugh and feel good. Amazing trait, if you do indeed have this ability. But it was hard for me to believe this in her case because upon our first meeting and every interaction thereafter, she seemed short, direct and a bit cold. What we think we project is often not how the world receives us.
7. Work with a therapist and a coach. Your family and friends support you but they don’t know what they are doing. By that I mean they are not relationship experts. Work with a coach who can provide objective feedback, help to unpack your issues and keep you accountable to your elevated way of being. Just as there are effective strategies to advance your career, there is an effective strategy for dating successfully. If you’re already in a relationship, for your relationship to keep thriving, you need to keep connecting with your partner in meaningful ways. Your relationship is either growing or dying. Where does yours stand?
Bottom Line: No, I’m not saying this is your fault, on the contrary. The world has become more obtuse and superficial. That said, the only person you can control is YOU. The only interaction you can manage is YOUR OWN. The fastest way to get the results you desire is to start with YOU.
Finding your dream partner requires real effort, time and work. Accept this and then go after it relentlessly and without reservations. That’s what you deserve.
What in life have you accomplished that just fell in your lap? We have to work at it, constantly improve ourselves, learn from our mistakes, and adopt a more effective strategy in order to drive success. Let’s do things differently to get the results we want. Keep the long haul in mind. Dating today is not unlike today’s stock markets: volatile, some days are down; other days rebound. Data has shown that those who keep investing over the decades, regardless of what the markets are doing, are the real winners.
What’s your dating strategy?
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