There’s a time in every dater’s life where bad date goes from entertaining story to panic-stricken reality. You might suddenly be asking yourself, “What if I never meet The One?” “What if he/she really doesn’t exist?” “What if he does exist but he’s in another town? Another state? Another country?” “When?”
I was doing all the right things, on-line dating, going to parties, getting set up, but what I didn’t realize was that my attitude about finding love had a lot to do with the lack of momentum finding it. I would go out hopeful: “Maybe this time I’ll meet The One!” and then I’d come home frustrated, disappointed, and hopeless as in less hope. No good.
I realized that pattern didn’t create momentum, it created an emotional roller coaster. High hopes going up and disappointment coming down. That frequent repetition lead to burn out. With technology’s interference with romance, dating became even more emotionally draining, at times inconsiderate, disposable, and extremely confusing.
What’s the opposite of burn out? Fresh start. Let’s flip the finding-love perspective to not only save you time and energy, but to give you more of all three. I’d like to share a few ideas from my experience how to get that momentum back and make dating fun again. (It can be fun?) It’s time to reframe your dates. This is how:
1. First of all, get this. You’re not looking for The One when you go on a date. You’re not! You’re looking for you when you go on a date. Who do you want to be when you’re with someone else?
2. If you are looking for love, decide you want to get married. Now decide you’re ready to get married.
Woah, Heather! We’re just talking about dating here. Don’t get all grown up.
That’s what I would have said to me years ago if I read this article. Labels used to seem so dumb. Unnecessary. I just wanted a “great guy” but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with him if I ever met him. I wasn’t even sure what a “great guy” was. I know people who say they “just want a partner” which sounds similar but isn’t the same when it comes to saving yourself time and energy. I’ll tell you what I mean.
When you’re single and looking, and you shift your goal to getting married, you’ll honor yourself in a different way. Certain things become crystal clear, faster. For example, when you’re looking for something “great” (but not marriage), if he’s/she’s unreliable, it might just seem confusing because dating can be confusing. When you’re ready to get married though, unreliable becomes unattractive real quick. You’re looking through a more sophisticated lens of “Do I want this for my whole life?” rather than “This is exciting and yet confusing.” (You can decide later whether you both want marriage or just a committed partnership but it’s a perspective we’re talking about here.)
3. New & Improved MUSTS When You Go On A Date:
Notice the good things about the other person. These are things that will sharpen your future-husband/wife-radar. When you get home, add to a list of qualities that you notice you enjoy. This helps trip up the disappointment repetition. This list you create isn’t an accumulation of qualities to go find in someone, it’s to widen your awareness of how you like to feel with someone. Warm smile. Funny. Polite. Kind. Curious. Spiritual. Attractive. (That might be 7 different people!) When you look for positives it helps make the date more enjoyable and humanizes the process. We’re all looking for love in one way or another, we might as well be polite.
Change up the scenery. Do something you like to do. The repetition of meeting for coffee or a meal already sets things off on a “this is going to be like every other one” tone. When I changed from sitting and having coffee (where there’s nothing to react to except each other’s face) to going to a photography exhibit or taking a walk, even the bad dates had an element of accomplishment. On a deeper level, this helps retrain your emotional field from coming home disappointed, frustrated and hopeless to “That exhibit gave me a new perspective,” or “I got some exercise.”
Practice something on the date that you want to improve. For example, do you want to practice flirting? Conversation skills? If you don’t have anything on tap, practice clarity. Integrity. Kindness. Elegance. Whatever it is you want to be. This sets you up for feeling accomplished no matter what the turn out. Bonus if you’re attracted and both want to go out again.
4. Let Rejection Be Your Fairy Godmother.
Can we please change the sentiment “If you love someone set them free” to “If you don’t love someone set them free”? When it comes to dating and respecting each other’s time, this is what the TYFNWMT perspective calls for. Take a rejection as a freakin’ time saver. I probably don’t have to tell you this, but you do not want to marry someone who does not want to marry you. That would not be a time saver. To ease the lousy temporary feeling of rejection, remember, your goal is to get married, not marry that person. They are letting you move on sooner. God bless ’em. Thank them, genuinely, for not wasting your time.
5. Let the phrase “Thank You For Not Wasting My Time” help you be yourself. If you’re afraid of “leading someone on” that you’re not interested in, you can still be your best self. Maybe that will bring out their best self and that will lead to a next date. If it doesn’t, and you’re not a match after two dates, (I always accounted for first date nerves), you can tell them respectfully that you don’t want to waste their time.
6. Who do you spend your time with?
Thank You For Not Wasting My Time is not only about how you spend your time dating, but how you spend time in your mind, your emotions, and who with. Be sure that your friends, especially your wingmen/wingwomen aren’t naysayers or bring your energy down telling you all the good ones are taken or something ridiculous like that. Spend time with encouraging friends who inspire you.
7. If you find yourself saying, “I can’t imagine this ever happening” or “I’ll never meet someone”, take comfort in the fact that these thoughts have nothing to do with whether you actually will. Check out the article on this website “How to Get What You Want… Faster” and pay close attention to the section: “Tally Your Irrelevant Thoughts.”
If you’re ready to have children, the problem is, no one can tell you when you’ll meet someone. If you’re approaching an age where you need to make choices, let these thoughts guide you rather than depress you.
Also, take solace in the fact that if you’ve been out there dating for a while, when you meet the right person who’s at the same life stage as you are, it likely won’t take long to start your future together. Make it clear in the first month what life stage you’re in and what you’re ready for. Keep dating other people until a face to face conversation about commitment occurs. Then give it four months, at least, before considering it a sure thing, to get to know their character. You need to see if there’s consistency and how you communicate when there’s a problem.
Lastly, it might be helpful to remember that this is dating burn out you’ve got, not love burn out. I believe that the heart is always open to love. Our gut, our personal security system of experience, means well when it warns us that things aren’t changing. That message sends out the same emotions of disappointment you’re so familiar with. But the heart’s ability to love is like how light can be studied but not darkness, because darkness is just the absence of light. Love can’t burn out. The layers of bad-date-dirt just need to be windshield-wiped away. Treat yourself with kindness and respect in new ways that can preserve your energy and even increase it. Fresh start.