How do you think about love? What are the secret, unconscious “societal codes” that shape how you think about relationships, men, women, and your beliefs about people in general?
A while ago, Matt and I spoke about our top 5 dating myths.
And one of them was, “there aren’t enough great people out there”.
It was fascinating the read the comments in response to this point. Both men and women replied with the same accusations towards the other.
The specific comments I won’t quote verbatim, but the general tenor goes along the lines of:
- “You’re wrong. Men don’t try anymore and only want one thing.”
- “Women want perfection and won’t settle for anything less than a 6ft billionaire. It’s impossible.”
- “You should see some of the crappy dates/rejections I’ve had. Where are all the good people?”
I don’t doubt the sincerity of these comments. I’ve have been through the treadmill of single life. I’ve seen behind the curtain of the ugly dating world too.
I’ve felt the malaise and general despondency that arises when you go for yet another disappointing drink with someone who doesn’t live up to what you hoped for when exchanging text messages. Or the cold sting of a rejection from the first person you were mildly excited about in months.
Or maybe it’s just too many cycles of arriving home from work, watching TV alone, and wondering if it’s even possible for you to hit what feels like the astronomically improbable jackpot of meeting someone you’re both (a) physically attracted to, and (b) actually want to talk to every day.
I’ve been there. And every time I’ve eventually been proven wrong when I’ve lapsed into pessimism.
Because this is only a story.
One that we gradually spin in our head every day. It’s the same false story that people in bored couples tell themselves about what a golden meadow of freedom the single life will be if they could only ditch this crappy relationship.
Every time some voice worms into your mind and says, “I’m the only one out here trying. I keep healthy. I work on myself. I have a good job, great friends, interests and passions, and yet there’s no-one who seems to offer the same back!”, that’s not reality talking. It’s exasperation.
It can feel like you’ve been dealt a cruel hand. Or that you’re somehow playing the game wrong. Like other people who do this whole relationship thing well must have access to come code that wasn’t passed on to you. Or maybe they all congregate on a super secret dating hotspot where all the great people meet up and leave the rest of us to starve on Tinder, Bumble, or whatever other stupid app is considered the new best way to download love right now.
The truth is: it’s always a story.
And it only requires ONE new data point to change the ending.
You’re not looking for a thousand people who want what you have to offer. You’re looking for one.
It’s the height of arrogance to assume that we are so unique that we can’t find just one soul out there that matches with us, that wants the same things as us, that shares our values.
Falling into pessimism isn’t just counter-productive, it’s just false.
True, most people expect more of relationships than ever. Probably you do too. That’s ok. But it still means we have to be willing to give people a chance at the beginning. It should also prompt us to ask: what really matters to me? What are the precise values do I really care about? (rather than writing some 100 item checklist, “must have a PhD, must earn xxx income, must have dark brown eyes, must prefer tacos to Shake Shack”, etc.)
If we’re dismissive, we’ll soon find we get dismissed. If we’re confrontational, we’ll soon find ourselves pushing people away. If we’re cynical, we’ll lose all the optimists and be left with other cynical people like us.
This isn’t wishy-washy “law of attraction” fluff. It’s just the way human psychology tends to work. People who approach dating a bit more lightly, with a sense of fun and curiosity, tend to seek out and attract similar people.
So some general thoughts if you’re stuck in the cynical loop:
- Be open-minded about whom you meet, but be SUPER selective about whom you invest in emotionally. Most people do the opposite. They dismiss almost everyone, then when they first person they’ve liked in a year, they totally fall head over heels for them regardless of whether that person even wants a relationship, treats them kindly, or shares their core values.
- Make meeting people a regular part of your life – not just something you once a month. The more people you meet, the more GREAT people you’ll eventually meet. (Just as long as you vary up the location).
- Stop blaming the entire opposite sex for not being good enough. It’s too tempting and it’s a total losing game. There are great people of both sexes out there. PERIOD. You’re not the luckiest person in the world when you find one, and you’re not the unluckiest just because you haven’t found your one yet.
- Ok, it’s true. There aren’t enough amazing, incredible, growth-minded people in the world. There never are. It would be wonderful if everyone we met was playing at the highest level. But then it wouldn’t be special. If we’re going to expect the best, we have to work on being that ourselves. Then let go of our ego and focus on connecting again, rather than judging. We’re not looking for perfect, we’re looking someone whose messy, wonderful, unique pieces fit ours and fill us with joy when put together.
- Give people a chance – I’ve been blown away time and time again by how much I can misjudge and be surprised by people when I’ve been willing to be open to opportunity. Being dismissive is not only unattractive, but it’s a huge hindrance to finding someone great if you can’t even give people a chance to show you it in the first place.
Ok, that’s about it for my jumbled thoughts on this one.
By the way, it would be misleading if I have made it sound as though most of the comments on the video weren’t lovely and positive. Most were. These comments seem worth addressing though given how often I’ve heard the “no-one is good enough” complaint. Certainly enough to warrant trying to dispel some of the cynicism of those who espouse it.