I read women’s dating advice (including our own), and scroll down the comments:
- “If only men weren’t so self-centered…”
- “I’m done with guys. They care about ONE thing and have no desire to commit.”
- “Men nowadays are impossible. If they’re so complicated, what’s the point in having them anyway?”
And then just to torture myself further, and for the sake of some perverse kind of balance, I click through the men’s forums to see the angry guys there:
- “Women are selfish and manipulative…”
- “All modern women are crazy feminazis who use men for their sperm and their wallets…”
- “Women just want players. It’s best for us decent men to forget relationships and go our own way.”
(Yes, I’ve cleaned these up. The real comments are far worse.)
I sigh again.
Because it’s so damn easy to do. Anyone can do it.
Think right now of that super frustrating guy who kept stringing you along via text and then disappeared. Or that guy who sent dirty messages waayy too quickly. Or a guy who flaked immediately after sex.
Angry? Great. Now write a think piece about why modern men are f**kboys who can’t commit and the future of love is doomed.
Or, if you’re a man, just think about that woman who brutally shot you down when you tried to say hi. Or the one who stopped texting after a week for no reason. Or that one you took out for cocktails who let you pay and then told you she “just wants to be friends”. Now take to the internet and talk about how women are manipulative harpies who just care about a guy’s social status and money.
Look, I get it. I’ve dated enough to know the world of love can be harsh and unforgiving.
But so what??
When did we stop learning how to deal with disappointment in an adult way? When did we allow a few bitter, angry, sexually frustrated keyboard warriors to define the narrative for the rest of us and make us all despair so much about love?
Believe me, I’ve met people at our retreats who have been through awful experiences in love. And what’s fascinating is how people respond to these experiences in COMPLETELY opposite ways.
I believe that what defines maturity isn’t the amount of experiences we’ve gone through, but how we choose to filter and interpret those experiences.
And if you feel nothing but righteous anger against the opposite sex for being “unfair”, maybe it’s time for a new filter…
Don’t Read The Comments…
It’s very fashionable to hate the modern dating “scene”.
We’ve all had failures (or even successes) that made us feel empty and numb. People who date in big cities feel the transience of sex with no emotional connection. Most of us have faced the humiliation of being disposed of by someone who believes they have better options.
But how will we react in these moments? This is where character truly emerges.
When we meet that selfish social climber, or that superficial narcissist, do we throw our toys out the pram and say: “This is what ALL MEN are like! This is what ALL WOMEN are like!”, or do we say: “this is only one person, and there are hundreds of thousands of OTHER people out there who could be right for me”.
I feel it’s time to call a moratorium on all the righteous anger.
Making generalizations about the other sex is boring. Being bitter and despairing about relationships is boring.
It’s so easy to spend hours trawling through comments, forums, subreddits, and see all the horror stories written by god-knows-who telling you about their terrible relationships, and allow it to warn you off from ever being optimistic about love again.
Despair is a game the internet loves to indulge in: but it’s one of those games you lose just by playing.
The Formula? Be Cautious, But Be Open To Romance…
Now, I’m no crazy optimist.
In terms of romance, the world can be an unforgiving place, but I do believe in our ability to make things remarkably better for ourselves with the right approach and set of mental tools.
In terms of love, I believe the best approach is a kind of cautious optimism.
Caution = Choose people wisely. Be careful of who you allow to take up your time and emotion. Don’t ignore the red flags. Follow your heart but take your brain with you. Never assume you really know someone until you’ve spent enough time with them.
Optimism = Be open, believe there are great people out there, be willing to take a chance at any point with that amazing person you could meet tomorrow that will shake your world and make your heart swoon just from touching their lips to yours, be willing to be blown away.
Because it happens all the time.
From my years giving seminars with Matt, I’ve seen women who were at the edge of despair when they first introduced themselves, only for them to send an email to our inbox three years later telling us the most heart-soaring stories of finding a love they didn’t think was possible for them after all their bad experiences.
If I was ever a cynic before (and as a default, I generally am), these stories have shown me how incredibly wrongheaded we can be in our pessimism and despair.
Unbridled optimism often gets taken to task for having a rosy, false image of the world, but the truth is, unbridled pessimism also suffers from an enormous blindspot – it ignores all the success stories, and focuses on the failures along the way.
Yes, we make mistakes in love. Yes, we get burnt. It’s happened to you. It’s happened to me. We’ve all picked the wrong people before.
But it’s one thing to lose a relationship, it’s another to lose your ENTIRE sense of optimism and openness to love. That’s a far greater tragedy.
It’s like choosing a career as a mechanic, hating it for 5 years, quitting, and then deciding that careers are for suckers. No, you just picked the wrong one. With the right strategy and work on yourself, there’s an amazing fit for you out there.
- There are still people with good intentions out there who are just looking to connect with another human being.
- There are STILL people coming together every day to form lifelong commitments (whatever the doom-and-gloom articles say).
- There are still people who care about values like family, intelligence, honesty, generosity, and other important traits of a great partner.
“BUT THAT ONLY HAPPENS TO A FEW PEOPLE! A GUY LIKE THAT MUST BE A UNICORN! THERE AREN’T ANY GOOD ONES LEFT!”
There’s the pessimist again.
It’s easy for that voice to come back. Until you get bored of despair, let it go, feel a hundred pounds lighter and decide to give the right people a chance again.