She sat across the table from me and looked down at her drink. My best friend and I were catching up as I asked her what’s new with her dating life. “Fuck dating… It’s so hard,” I heard her utter as her eyes filled with tears.
As a therapist, these are just some of the things I hear when I meet with clients in their 20’s and 30’s who are looking for love and so afraid of ending up alone. They’ve come to me because their anxiety has skyrocketed, they are engaging in addictive behaviors to escape the pain of their loneliness, or they’re not dating at all because they are so disappointed by previous experiences.
But once in a while, I’ll find a magical human who absolutely loves dating. Who always meets amazing men as she evolves into different versions of herself.
When I ask these people about their dating experience, I’ve noticed that they have the following in common:
1. THEY FOLLOW THEIR HEARTS. They go to events they actually want to go to because it feeds their soul. They go on dates with men they truly find attractive. They go on dates where they enjoy the food or ambiance. And it’s not just about dating people they want to date. It’s also about stopping dating someone they don’t see a future with. This may sound like common sense, but I can’t tell you how many clients come into counseling so disconnected from themselves, not able to identify what they do like in a man because they keep settling for men that don’t meet their standards.
2. THEY GET CURIOUS. They acknowledge their intention to meet their match. Then take a deep breath and let it go. They set a new intention to simply get to know the person sitting across from them. They ask meaningful questions on their date. Examples of questions: What’s their story? What are they proud of? What are their struggles? Meaningful questions open the door to deeper connection and compassion with those around us.
3. THEY MEET THEIR DATES ON PLATFORMS THEY VIBE WITH. More than ever before, there are so many ways to meet someone. Some get set up by a friend. Some organically meet in a public place. Some dabble with online dating. There are so many options but not all resonate. As a therapist, I often hear clients complain about dating online but stick to it because they convince themselves that they need to do everything they can to meet their guy. People who love dating recognize that if they aren’t vibing with how they are introduced to someone, that energy will carry through in their language, behavior, and tone; they get clear about which means to dating work for them and stick with those.
4. THEY ARE WHO THEY WANT TO BE. The most important question they ask themselves before their date is, “Who do I want to be?” Some responses may include, “Sexy, intellectual, centered, funny, or flirty.” The purpose of dating is to simply see if the person sitting across from them supports them in being who they want to be. For example, if they want to be intellectual, they look for someone who can hold a deep conversation and exchange ideas.
5. THEY SET LIMITS AND STICK TO THEM. If sex is off the table for them on their first date, then they communicate that and don’t waver. They don’t say they aren’t ready to have sex and then contradict themselves by going up to his apartment and having a passionate fling at the end of the night. They set the limit by communicating what they like, what they don’t like, what they’re ready for, and what they’re not ready for. As a result, they can end their date feeling empowered and centered.
6. THEY ARE OPEN TO TRYING NEW THINGS. They take dating as an opportunity to have fun. They try new restaurants, new bars, and new activities. Did you know creating novelty is one of the determining factors of successful long-term relationships?
7. THEY DON’T LET BAD DATES DETER THEM FROM EVER DATING AGAIN. I once heard a quote, “If you try on a shoe that doesn’t fit, does that mean you will never shop for shoes again?” Every date will be a different pair of shoes. If you don’t like one, keep shopping.
We live in a society that has made it normal to vent about dating in the 21st century. I invite you to change your relationship with dating and share what works for you!
It doesn’t have to be painful, so why not make it fun?