We all need a little help staying positive and staying strong when times are tough. Here’s how you can keep your chin up and keep going forward if you’re struggling with dating fatigue or downright dating despair.
Let’s be real: No one really has a magic formula for how long it takes to find love. For some of us, it’s a lifelong mission. If you want to get things moving along faster (and have more fun as the momentum grows), you need to set some reasonable expectations.
This matters because you have to be resilient to be dating these days. Whether you’re online, offline, or doing a blend of both, managing your dating life takes effort. And there’s no one else to pick up the slack if you get busy or get lazy or get burnt out. (Though there are people you can outsource it to – dating coaches and matchmakers like myself. But that’s another topic.)
The reality is that you’re in a relationship with your non-relationship status. Which is to say, you’re in a relationship with “project dating life.” And like all relationships, it will grow and blossom when it’s nurtured. When you experience dating stress, you can swing back and forth between the hubbub and the hope, never quite sure which one you’ll settle into long-term.
The only smart solution is to get the tools you need to make it through the dark times of dating. Of all the inner resources you can cultivate, a resilient mindset is one of the most important. Without it, every set back becomes a reason to quit, a reason to settle, or a reason to brand yourself a failure, doomed to living life alone.
In the 25 years I have been eyebrow-deep in dating & mating research and in the 6 years I’ve been helping proactive singles across North America find love, there are several experiences that define the “make it or break it” attitude. When you learn to fairly evaluate yourself and what you have to offer as a unique individual, you can make better decisions. And when you learn to fairly evaluate your dating market and the advantages and disadvantages of being single in that geographic location, you can make better decisions. More often than not, my single clients are too close to the issues and too personally attached to certain stories they’ve been telling themselves and too attached to certain outcomes or expectations to really see what’s going on.
Here are the 6 mindset secrets that active daters need to know so you can manage your expectations and not get too discouraged when the inevitable ups and downs of looking for love occur. Whether you’re in the midst of personal upheaval, or want to be ready for a serendipitous day, this list will help you think about your dating habits differently.
Remember, the more you can go with the natural ebbs and flows of human behavior, the more resilient you will feel when you hit a bump in the road occur.
Personal growth takes time. Finding love often takes time as well. Whether you want to sharpen your conversation skills or flirting skills through training, or makeover your personal image, nothing is more misleading than hyped-up marketing that says you can “Change your life in 10 minutes” or “Overcome the one habit that’s driving guys away in 3 days or less.”
I call BS! Getting good at anything takes time; entrenching a new habit takes time — especially if there is legitimate value to it. I don’t know anyone who transforms themselves inside and out in 3 days or 6 days. Can you create something worthwhile in that amount of time, of course you can. But a whole lot of elbow grease and thoughtfulness goes into it, and rarely, if ever, is that accomplished in just 3 days.
Being a guardian of your time means that when someone promises you the universe, you have to ask yourself: is it real? Investigate the claims, ask for testimonials from happy clients and then trust your gut. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
I’ll say it again: growth takes time. That’s why my clients and I commit to at least a 90-day program together. When other lifestyle issues are in play (health & fitness, career change, post-divorce issues, etc.) It’s not uncommon to dedicate 6 months or more to complete the transformation. It’s do-able. And so worth it. Because nothing contributes more to your health and happiness than your partner in life.
Personal growth is the result of “right” or “correct” efforts. Well, yes and no. This is so important to understand, because we all only have so much time to make these efforts. Having the direction and clarity of what efforts specifically can really make a difference vs the ones that are merely easiest to do (path of least resistance) or make you seem busy, has an effect on your timeline and your sense of progress and accomplishment. When you spend time doing things that don’t move you toward your goals, your goals take longer to achieve. That sounds obvious but it’s where what we say and what we do often differ. I have to hit this one hard because so many single people focus their efforts on doing the things they have always done (you know, those things that haven’t gotten them any results) and avoiding the things that challenge them.
When you have a sense of which efforts move the needle — and by that I mean that your efforts cause you to book more dates and better dates, increase your visibility and desirability, and enhance your reputation and your image — that is when you begin to feel, “This is really going to happen! My odds are excellent that I’ll meet someone wonderful!”
Positivity begets positivity. Success begets success. Love begets love. (The Ripple Effect.) The more you see yourself growing into the person you’re meant to be and living the life you’ve dreamed of living (with the person you most desire), the more you will manifest it. There’s a ripple effect in personal growth. When you intentionally move your attitudes, your beliefs, and your behaviors forward, you yield richer, better experiences – even if those experiences aren’t with the person who will become “the one.”
When you do that, you no longer settle for the crumbs of attention or investment that you lived off of before. That doesn’t mean you’ll automatically rule out someone who’s “iffy” after you worked so hard to establish your must-haves-and-non-negotiables just because they don’t check all the boxes. It means that you can afford to be generous with yourself in that way is a gift to whoever you choose to spend time with.
All big goals require mini-steps. I learned this from my business coach and I cannot say it enough to my clients: You need a plan. (I will make one for you!) Then you need to work the plan. (I will support you as you do that! And I’ll hold you accountable as you do that!) And when you find things that work, you need to take note of them so you can repeat your steps. C’mon, you are too smart to flounder; you know it’s both wise and brave to ask for help when you need it. And once you have some dating wins under your belt, you can think about how to replicate your successes.
If your dating and relationship life has been a string of “one hit wonders” (aka serial monogamy) you would definitely benefit from clarifying what your personal and social assets and liabilities are, so you can choose and repeat the actions that create the highest probability for finding Someone Special and getting off the merry-go-round.
Your time is your most valuable commodity. But time alone isn’t enough. Being present in the moment is what makes time mean something. Your time is finite. That means that when you put your time into one thing, something else doesn’t happen. Learn to budget the time you spend on dating websites and apps as well as the time you spend on coffee dates, lunch dates, and social outings where you’re seeking to meet new people. And balance that with time spent on rest and relaxation, or in nurturing, self-care activities. Otherwise, you could find yourself bogged down in distracting but meaningless dating tasks (obsessively swiping left or right at stop lights…) OR tasks that prevent you from focusing on maximizing your dating tools and moving the online chatter to a real life date.
You probably don’t perceive yourself accurately or judge yourself fairly. If you feel a little resistance to that, hey, I get it, I don’t really like to hear it either when someone tells me I’m coming across in a way that I don’t mean to or don’t agree with.
Dating is a subjective experience. When you get some bad feedback or rejection, it feels personal – and it’s hard to tell if there’s a kernel of truth in it. This comes up in relationships in a variety of ways: you may feel insecure or that you’re “never good enough”; your worries get the best of you and you self-sabotage; your perfectionism rears its head making it hard for the other person to connect with you and please you; you may get frozen in analysis paralysis as you weigh several good relationship options and no decision gets made – or you keep juggling your options, trying to keep as many plates spinning in the air as you can.
As a dating coach, sometimes I have to hold up a mirror, metaphorically speaking. I get to reflect back to my client all the positive, endearing, desirable things they are. And, dive into the ugly parts (we all have ‘em) — the areas where they’re most critical of themselves and the most hurt so they can heal that wound. Sometimes my job is about simply holding them accountable to who they are and what they want as they journey through the dating space, as there are lots of pretty packages (male and female) that can easily distract you from holding true to what you said you needed.
Here’s the thing: We often see the good in others that we overlook or discount in ourselves. But we attract people, energy, and experieces into our lives and being overly focused on what’s wrong can end up bringing more of what you don’t want. What you nourish will grow. What you pay attention to will grow. Having a coach who is both a grounder and a reflector will facilitate this growth and dissolve the harsh edge off that inner voice that has so many of us feeling “less than.”
These 6 mindset points are essential if you’re going to avoid the sneaky pitfalls of fear, inaction, negative thinking, and procrastination. Yes, you can meet someone amazing to share your life with.
You are your own biggest ally. And I’m right there with you. Be an optimistic-realist rather than a pessimist. You have a choice. And when you master your mindset, everything else feels more fun, easier, and makes more sense.