This is article #38 to be published on the Get The Guy blog from my brother Stephen. Steve helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.
(Photo: Matthias Ripp)
Should you sign up to online dating to meet more men? What about singles events? Would you try speed dating?
I have a rule when it comes to these things: If it doesn’t sound fun, don’t bother.
Or to put it another way: Any action you take for your love life should also be something that also benefits your whole life.
So if huddling in a bar one afternoon to meet fifty people in rapid-fire succession sounds fun (and there’s no reason why it can’t be), go ahead. Find a cool, open-minded friend and make a game of it together.
But, if the idea of sitting through fifty games of musical chairs with strangers and exchanging trivial biographical résumés sounds like your vision of the eighth circle of hell, or is something you just feel have to do as a single person, chances are you won’t get much out of it.
Dating is one of those things that depends a great deal on your mindset. What your gut tells you matters. If nightclubs aren’t your thing and feel like a depressing waste of time, don’t trawl bars just to be out on the town.
The rule when it comes to meeting guys from now on should be as follows: either you meet guys while doing something fun, or find a way to make meeting guys fun.
Those are your two options.
But fun doesn’t have to mean it can’t challenge you, or that it won’t feel a little unusual at first (especially if you’re not used to meeting guys). Whether easy or difficult though, it’s imperative you find a way of making the experience something that excites you.
Because one thing is for sure: Whether it’s a diet, exercise, a career that demands more waking hours than is healthy, or meeting guys, if you don’t find a way to enjoy the process and make it fun, it’s guaranteed that you’ll eventually give up on it (or succumb to despair and severe mental fatigue!).
Why Your Love Life Isn’t Like The Economy
So how should you go about finding guys?
A big mistake I see many women make is treating their love life as though it were separate chunk of your life that exists in isolation to everything else they do. They talk about their love life as though it were an abstract object. There is their “life”, and then there is their “LOVE LIFE”. It’s as though their love life is like the weather, or the economy – something that exists in separation from one’s daily activity and which can only be observed and occasionally worried about, always affecting one’s life but never really under our control.
I think this has something with Matt talks about the stages of relationships (i.e. Find The Guy, Attract The Guy, Keep The Guy), people tend to have the most despair with the “Find” part. It sounds laborious, awkward, repetitive – it’s either too much like hard work, or feels like something completely out of out hands.
We tend to think the problem of a lack of readily available guys is like the weather and the economy; when things are tough you just have to buy an umbrella and keep sheltered, or take stock in the recession and pray for more abundant days.
But the state of your love life isn’t like the weather, whose seasons come and go no matter what you do. Your love life is more like the state of a new house you just moved into.
You can’t fix it all at once, but you can find ways every day to improve it piece-by-piece until it gets better and better, and eventually you have an ideal space for you and someone else to live in (though maintenance is still required afterwards of course!)
And like building the new house, it can either be a drudgery, or it can be this enticing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be creative and enjoy every minute of the process.
The First Brick – Meeting Guys The Easy Way
Clearly, we have to begin at the beginning: meeting guys in your everyday life.
Now I’m not in any way against singles events, Tindr, online dating, or any other method of bringing more single guys to your attention. These are all good things, and I’m actually a strong champion of using all technological forms of communication to bring us one step closer to potentially exciting friends, lovers, or life partners.
But if you’re not also meeting guys in your everyday life, you are losing an enormous pool of guys that are right in front of you for no good reason. To lose the ability to make face-to-face introductions is like saying that now you’ve bought a WiiFit you no longer need to exercise outside, or play sport, or go to the gym. You could just use stay in and get fit in front of your TV, but you’re also missing out on so many other exciting, effective ways to achieve the same goal.
When you save all of your love life activity for one night a month when you go to a singles event, or you mistake a lonely evening of swiping on Tindr for having a social life, you end up missing out on the 30 other potential days in the week to meet and interact, flirt, chat, joke and arrange a date with the myriad of guys whose path you cross every single day.
See, most people’s problem isn’t that they lack proximity to good potential partners, it’s that they don’t take the opportunities in front of them.
If I’m single and not meeting anyone, it’s usually because I’m either (a) not getting out of the house enough and being a moody shut-in, (b) I’m not making the activities I enjoy sociable enough, or (c) I’m not taking enough small risks when I meet people in my everyday life (i.e. not flirting, not asking for a phone number, not making an effort to joke or even say ‘hi’ to someone I want to meet).
As an example of point (c), I remember walking down a hotel corridor while on holiday with a friend and seeing a girl walking past us in the opposite direction. Five seconds after we passed, the girl turned around and said: “Where are you guys headed tonight?”
It was so casual and unassuming that it felt like a natural question (plus it helped that we were in that ‘hotel holiday vibe’ where it’s acceptable to talk to other guests for no reason). Even though this woman could have walked right passed us, we ended up exchanging phone numbers and hanging out later that evening.
In fact, hotels are a great example of the opportunities around us all the time. In a hotel, you could spend the entire holiday alone nestled on a sun lounger shielded behind the twin barriers of a new paperback and your Dior sunglasses, or you can join a mass game of volleyball in the pool and meet ten new people to hang out with in one night. This is a choice we also face every single day, albeit in more subtle forms.
There’s a saying from the movie Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you can miss it”.
This is how I think most people are when it comes to their daily approach to finding love. They miss all the little opportunities, all the crucial chances to attract new people into their world – they let people disappear, telling themselves that at some later date they’ll take the risk they could have taken today.
But I know, it sounds easier said than done, right?
It’s easy to wax lyrical about meeting men on-the-fly until you actually have to start a conversation. That’s one way to look at it. But truthfully, this gets easier the more you do it. It’s incredible how just taking even 10% more risk in your daily life can bring you more fun and more experiences in a single month than most people have in a year.
What you’ll start finding is that whether interactions go the way you want them to or not, you’ll feel so much better for being the kind of person who can approach anyone (and your friends will think you have some kind of superpower!).
Just to recap a few important pieces of advice:
(1) Don’t do things you hate just to meet people – Chances are, if you’re feeling shitty, it’s going to be noticeable. And you’ll start to resent your love life. Either find a way to make it fun (i.e. because you’re going to learn about yourself, practice conversation, or because you can make it a game, or because you’re interested in other people), or don’t bother.
(2) Start conversations not because you have to, but because life becomes infinitely more fun when you do.
(3) Find a way to make the things you do love more sociable – This is the smartest and most enjoyable way to meet more like-minded people. It’s all well and good to follow your passions, but make sure you are finding ways to meet people who share them. This way, it’s win-win. You do something you love and meet others who love it too. If you struggle to make things more sociable, set yourself the challenge of talking to three new people everyday and then you’ll have to find a way to be in proximity to other people.
(4) Go for Low-Risk, Low-Investment conversation – make lots of small, low-pressure conversations everywhere and it will feel much easier to talk to strangers (e.g. “Which coffee is good here?” “Any books you would recommend?” “Where’s fun to go out in this part of town?”).
(5) Find friends who encourage your risk-taking side.
(6) Hotels are fun places if you jump in the pool now and then (or ask a question to the guys walking through the corridor).
There’s no reason why this should feel like a slog. This isn’t so much about trying harder as it is waking up to the opportunities that exist in every single day.
I’m certainly not saying women have to do all the work in meeting men. I’m saying that once you make finding the guy fun, it won’t feel like work at all.
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