“Stop trying to find love! It will show up in your life when you least expect it!”
If you like that idea, prepare yourself. It’s the last thing you’ll like about this article.
As a dating coach, I’m always impressed when someone comes to me.
It shows they’re an action taker. It shows they realise the importance of this area of life. It shows they’re the type of person who’s willing to invest time and effort into themselves.
But there’s something that impresses me more than any of this.
In a society that told them finding a fulfilling relationship should be effortless and that asking for help is shameful; they’ve had the courage to take chance out of the equation.
When I first hired a dating coach, I was a soft-spoken 20-year-old, who consistently failed to make an impression. I wasn’t a bad person. I was friendly and nice and a hard worker. Yet, I’d never had a relationship, was too shy to talk to people, wasn’t following my passion in life, and worst of all, had no courage to change any of it.
The only courage I could muster was the courage to ask for help.
Fortunately, that turned out to be all the courage I needed.
“You need a dating coach? That’s pathetic!”
Our culture tells a hopeful young medical student to spend thousands of hours in schools and universities, working hard to enter a career in which she’ll work harder and longer for the best part of her most vibrant years.
Our culture tells an aspiring young beauty therapist to spend hundreds of hours at private teaching institutions, learning and mastering her craft. If successful, she’ll work 40 hours a week in that job for most of her life.
And a coach tells a hopeful young swimmer that, if he wants Olympic Gold, he must be in the pool day and night for most of his teen and young adult years. His moment of happiness must be paid for in blood, sweat, tears – and most importantly – time.
Put time here. Put time there. Put it everywhere.
Except the one place it really matters.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m as achievement minded as they come. I’m not saying these things don’t matter. I think they matter a lot.
But even I can see the unmistakable discrepancies, here.
I’m yet to hear our culture remind these young men and women of the importance of putting time into the one area of their life that will determine their happiness more than their career, sporting achievements and goals ever could.
The art of relationships. The skills of dating. The craft of choosing a partner. No one encourages young people to spend just a small amount of time learning these fundamental skills that will play an enormous part in their happiness.
Just 59.9% of respondents in a major 2014 survey reported being “very happy” with their marriage. Studies report that, conservatively, 25% of marriages experience infidelity, while 1-3% of men are unknowingly raising children who are not their own. It takes no statistician to realise many people are picking spouses who aren’t right and doing monogamous relationships wrong.
And this is just the ones who make it down the aisle.
Dating, like it or not, is a set of skills. Relationships are a set of skills. Spotting early warning signs of untrustworthy men is a skill. Understanding why we choose who we do, how to change negative beliefs, and how to raise our self-esteem to attract someone better for us – you guessed it – all skills.
Skills we’re all getting worse at.
Technology is making bad relationships and infidelity easier than ever, and we’re still moronically shaming people who try to get better.
Let’s stop that.
Let’s encourage people to work on this area of their lives. The statistics – and the way dating and relationships are today – show we all need it.
If we don’t – fulfilling, monogamous relationships will become a thing of the past. None of us want that.
For all the best hours of our life that beckon with the right person, doesn’t it makes sense to put a little time into finding the right person to spend the time with and learning the skills to keep them?
We’ve all met the perfect couple who met in grade 8 and stayed together. It’s a beautiful story, but beautiful things are beautiful because they’re rare.
For those of us who, like me, didn’t happen across true love in high school, who didn’t find a keeper with the first swipe on Tinder, and who don’t want to spend your lives ‘hoping’, it’s time to stop buying into the fantasy that romantic relationships are the one area of life where you get results without taking any action.
I’m not saying hire a coach. I’m not even saying you need one.
I’m saying stop believing it’s shameful for you – or your friends – to learn the skills of dating and relationships.
I’m saying take action – and put time into – this area of your life. Buy a book. Attend a seminar. See a psychologist. Do an exercise to help you get over that ex.
Take action – any action – and be proud of it. Then, encourage the people around you to do the same.
One by one, let’s make a shift. A shift where we stop shaming people who want to improve this crucial area of their lives.
Each person that comes to me is one who’s proud to invest themselves in their own success. The more who do, the more I get encouraged, because I see the shift happening. Let’s build a world where the skills of dating and relationships are as important as learning how to spell. Imagine what those infidelity and divorce rates might be if we all encouraged each other to put our egos aside and become as good at relationships as our grandparents.