You’ll date fascinating characters before you meet your “one,” so why not have fun and learn along the way?
As a psychotherapist specializing in sex and relationship issues, here are the top 12 suggestions I have found of most use to myself and my own clients in the search for a loving, lasting relationship.
1. Set aside your ego.
Dating is not for the hypersensitive. If the one particular person isn’t interested in you because of how you look or how you are in bed, remember that’s about them and their desires, not about you. Another person may want you because of the very thing this person doesn’t care for. Recognize that nothing is personal. Assure yourself that there’s nothing wrong with you.
2. Step out of your own way.
Listen to everyone’s opinions of you, remembering they’re 90 percent about themselves. However, there may be some kernel of truth to what their saying. Hear their words, whatever they may be, and decide for yourself what you think about them.
3. Never play games.
If you’re not sure where the relationship is heading, or what the other person’s intentions are, be direct.
“I really like you and would like to see more of you. I hope you feel the same way.” Done.
4. Be vulnerable.
Allow yourself to take risks. Do and say things you normally wouldn’t. Use this as an opportunity to find out how you want to be in a relationship.
5. Don’t let another person play games or be indirect.
Getting mixed signals?
“I’m feeling confused because it seemed like you felt this way, but your actions seemed to convey something different. Can you tell me how you are feeling about me?”
If, after some dialogue, they won’t be direct, then they are not the person for you.
6. Never judge either yourself or the other person as right or wrong, good or bad.
When dating isn’t going well, it’s tempting and common to see things in black and white.
That is a dead-end road.
Everyone has their own way of communicating and their own level of awareness, as you’ll discover when you date different people.
If a particular dating situation isn’t working out for you, move on to the next person without labeling this one “bad” because they aren’t right for you.
7. Stay visible.
Many of my clients struggle to find people to date because they’re not involved in their community.
- Go to the community center.
- Get on committees and boards.
- Volunteer your time for organizations you care about.
- Go to a social meet-up group.
- Help with a mailing.
- Go to fundraisers.
These are the venues where active, confident people who share your values and interests spend their time.
8. Even if — especially if — things go badly, see dating as a fun experience, an adventure.
You’ll date lots of interesting characters before you meet the right one. Let yourself have fun — and learn a lot.
Each person you date will teach you something different and expose you to new things in my life for which you’ll always be grateful.
9. Find something new to take away from every single person you meet.
Observe yourself and reflect on what went well and what didn’t.
- Were you open, honest, and direct?
- Did you hold back your thoughts and feelings just to make the relationship work?
- Were you moving too fast? Too slow?
10. Force yourself to approach people.
Don’t wait to be approached – either online or in person. How else will you ever know whether the encounter might turn into anything?
If the conversation doesn’t go well, keep asking questions to break the ice. People like to talk about themselves.
But beware. Some people like to talk exclusively about themselves. If the conversation doesn’t eventually move back to you, consider this a red flag. For many people, everything you say about yourself becomes a prompt for something about themselves.
11. Put up a profile on online dating sites and apps like Tinder, OkCupid, MeetMindful and even Grindr.
I’ve counseled lots of men who’ve found friends, dating partners and long-term relationships that way. But don’t forget about the catfish.
12. Learn to laugh about some of the experiences you are having. Laugh with yourself for the blunders you make.
Once I dated a guy who drew stares wherever we went. At first I thought I was imagining it, and I asked if he noticed it, too.
He initially denied it, then later confirmed but he wouldn’t say why.
Was he on a wanted list?
In the news for some scandal?
Only later did I learn he was the mayor of the city we were in.
Because he had lied about his job, I cut short our dating, but I couldn’t stop laughing at the lengths he went to not to tell me.
If you take it all to seriously, you will burn out before you make it to your end goal — true love.
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