I’m a psychologist and dating coach and I often come across singles that have grown up around certain dating beliefs that may not hold true. Whether you agree with the below assertions or not, I encourage you to question any old dating beliefs that may be holding you back and to make them conscious. Some dating beliefs that may not always hold true include, ‘Love should come easily, when I least expect it,’ ‘My soulmate will make me happy,’ ‘Once I get married my relationship will be easy,’ ‘My soulmate will be the perfect fit for me,’ ‘ A guy should do XYZ or I won’t date him’ and, ‘The opposite sex is really the problem.’
I have taken these beliefs (even though there are many more) and have challenged them below, providing tips that will hopefully improve your dating success.
Relationships are Work– Whether it’s dating or marriage, relationships are work. When I used to lecture regularly at the Learning Annex on dating I often heard, ‘I hate dating. It’s so much work. I can’t wait until I’m married.’ I just looked at them and said, ‘You think dating is work, just wait until you’re married!’ Of course that was very unpopular…but nevertheless. Half of marriages divorce and a third are unhappy because marriages require patience, compromise and work. So, once you accept that you are willing to put in the effort to get back the benefits, whether it’s dating or a life-long relationship.
A Partner Won’t Ultimately Make You Happy– The research suggests that for happiness, there was no difference in happiness from just before the wedding until just after. Satisfaction with life did increase from just before the wedding to just after. But then it decreased continually over time. It may be that your base line level of happiness and your ability to enjoy your life is more important than finding a mate to make you feel that way. This is probably and unrealistic expectation so you can choose another one like, ‘having a life partner, someone with whom to create a family and to grow with,’ etcetera.
You Need to Take Action in Dating- In the movies the characters meet by chance in some romantic setting-and sometimes this can happen in life-but you can’t wait around for it. We are far too busy these days to leave love completely to chance. This is why there has been to advent of dating sites and singles events. It’s unfortunate there are less fix ups and community events where like-minded people can regularly meet. But, we are used to taking action on all our other goals, so why not on dating too? The sooner you recognize that you can make an effort to meet people in a variety of ways, the more likely you will get dates and will begin to move forward in your love life.
No One Will Be Perfect– This is something most of us know about ourselves and our friends but somehow we don’t apply the, ‘No one is perfect’ rule to our dates! Instead we make a list of 100 qualities we want in a partner and hold each person up to tremendous scrutiny. This is no fun and it doesn’t make for a loving relationship, either. If you accept instead that, ‘Everyone will have challenges, it is just which ones I choose,’ then you can be realistic in seeing the great and challenging qualities of your potential life partner and can cast the net wide(r). Remember that you too have things to work on and the right partner will be willing to do the work together.
You May As Well Be… You!– There is only one you so be proud of who you are and be yourself on dates. There is a ton of game playing in dating and some of those tricks might even make a guy temporarily more intrigued but none of it will help you discern who is a true match and is willing to embrace you as you are. So, be real and trust that the right guy will stick around.
Make Your Own Rules– In my book, When Mars Women Date: How Career Women Can Love Themselves into the Relationship of their Dreams, I explore much of the traditional gender role related advice that experts give and how it may not apply to you. Take some time to consider the relationship you’d like to create and how equal you’d like it to be. Do you want your career to be as important? Do you want equal parenting and domestic responsibilities? If so, consider your beliefs regarding asking a guy out or paying equally on a date and the precedent you are setting. It will differ for every person but be conscious about this and make your own dating rules so they will work for you in the life you are creating.
‘I May Be The Problem Here’– I’d be rich if I had a dollar for every time a single person complained about the opposite sex and blamed them for their lack of love life. Granted, sometimes men can be non-committal or non communicative when dating and certain things are out of our control. But, often the one constant is you and it is the one thing under your control so it makes sense to start there. Are you being too picky? Are past events causing you to be negative about the opposite sex and dating? Do you reject people too much? Do you have low self-esteem and don’t love your life? There are exercises you can do to help you become more conscious of your role in the dating process.
It is always good to think about how your beliefs and context affects your results and your love life is no exception.
To learn more about how you can become more conscious of your role in the dating process, check out Dr. Paulette Shermans book: Dating from the Inside Out: How to Use the Law of Attraction in Matters of the Heart published by Atria Books.