9 Useful Mindsets That Will Keep You Happy When You Date
“I HATE DATING”.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard this from people who want to find a relationship.
And that’s a shame. Because unless you’re going to wait forever for your best girl friend to set you up with “this really cute guy from work” (spoiler alert: he won’t be), you’re seriously limiting your options when you nix dating entirely. And yet, there’s truth to the complaint: dating nowadays can feel like a chore…if you do it wrong.
People are cynical about relationships, frustrated with online dating, and the antipathy between men and women seems to have grown over the last decade.
But that’s only because we tend to hear the loudest voices. Many of which are negative, angry or frustrated.
The truth is, if you approach your love life with the right mindset, it doesn’t need to feel like work, nor should it make you feel despair.
That’s right. Going out, dating, finding a meaningful connection – this can be a rewarding part of your life, regardless of whether or not you’re currently looking for a committed relationship.
So if you need a refresh for your brain right now, here are 9 mindsets that will make dating feel easier:
1. “I’m here to connect with a human being”
Dating isn’t an interview. If it feels like it, something has gone wrong.
Whenever I go on a first date, my mental strategy is to tell myself: “I’m here to have fun and connect.” That’s it. No expectations. No grandiose fantasies and speculation about the future.
We meet. Chat. Get some ice cream if things go well. Spend another hour hanging out if things do well after that. And so on.
When we take the pressure off, we stop seeing a date as a “pass or fail” test.
2. “It doesn’t have to lead somewhere to be worth it”
Lest I state the screamingly obvious, not every Tinder match will lead to a deep emotional connection.
Maybe it will lead to a tipsy make-out session and a fun story to tell. Or a promising conversation that fizzles out when you realise you both aren’t looking for the same thing. Maybe it (gasp) even leads to making a friend.
We can see dating as very all-or-nothing. Either it MUST go somewhere, or it’s a waste of time.
But there are in-between stages as well. Sometimes we get juice just from being in the thick of things and meeting different characters that we would never have known otherwise. And that’s worth it in and of itself.
3. “My time is precious”
Remind yourself of every day upon waking. Don’t sleepwalk into a life where you say “yes” out of politeness, or where you fritter evenings waiting for a text back. You could have been (re)watching The Godfather, learning Japanese, making tacos, laughing with your friends.
There are endless things to do, and not enough time to do them all.
So say “no” to anything that doesn’t bring you meaning or fun. Especially in dating.
And what’s more: respect other people’s time. If you feel you want something different than the person you’re texting/flirting with/seeing, let them know, talk it out, and take your leave if you feel like one of you is being lead in a direction they won’t be happy about later on.
4. “Chemistry + Compatibility = next date”
Unless you see any glaring red flags, the decision to see someone for a second time should only require a “yes” to two questions:
– Do I feel some unique physical chemistry with this person?
– Do I feel like our personalities/values are compatible?
The rest can come later. People tend to try to think of 100 tick boxes at once and it creates too much pressure. Keep it simple at the early stages.
5. “Not being liked does not mean I’m unlikeable”
People also make rejection too complicated.
I personally don’t really care if someone flakes after a date or two. Maybe they’re still in some weird situation with their ex (this was true of someone I went on a couple of dates with a long time ago). Maybe they just can’t be bothered. Maybe they have some weird esoteric taste that you just don’t fulfill. Maybe they have toxic attraction patterns and you were “too nice” for them.
Blah blah. Who gives a shit?
It means nothing.
Ok, if it happens dozens of times, then maybe it’s time to reassess and look in the mirror. But in general: we just aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. That will always be the case for myriad reasons. It’s cool. Just stop texting them or agree to be pals and move on to someone who really gets you.
6. “Disinterest is a turn-off”
If I had to guess, somewhere between 50-100 women have approached me after seminars showing me texts on their phone from some guy who boomerangs in and out of their life. Every few weeks he chases again, throwing breadcrumb texts just to make sure he gives enough scraps to keep them fed. Then he stops. Rinse and repeat.
Then they ask: “What do I say to make him take me seriously?”
This behaviour should gross you out. It should make you laugh at the audacity of someone who thinks they can get another minute of your attention with such lame non-committal behaviour.
You’re the prize. Always. Period.
If someone doesn’t see that. Great. They have bad taste. That’s a turn-off: who wants to date someone with bad taste? Not me.
7. “It’s not my job to fix anyone’s else beliefs/issues/traumas/cynicism”
Everyone has their stuff.
Family problems. Difficult past relationships. Heartbreak. It all affects us.
But it doesn’t mean we get to bring that to the next person. Nor does it mean our job is to fix someone’s messed up beliefs about men/women, love, or a generally unpleasant outlook on the world.
Again, struggle is ok. Having a past is ok. But things get a LOT easier when we stop deciding it’s our role to play therapist and reform the person in front of us until they’re the person we need them to be.
It’s ok to have bad stuff behind you, but find someone who is willing to look forward to a brighter future.
8. “I will never be ‘complete’”
Romance won’t solve your life. It won’t fit every jigsaw piece into place and leave you riding off blissfully into the sunset.
It will just be another “thing” in your life. A thing that expands your heart, makes you cry, gives you joy, and makes you tear your hair out.
If it’s the right kind of love, it’s also messy in a good way.
We get happier when we expect less from things. And relationships are the same. They won’t complete us. They’ll add to our lives and magnify them in beautiful ways. But they’ll also be the beginning of a whole new challenge.
9. “There is more to life than romance”
“Love is all you need” – maybe for you John Lennon, but I also have a life.
I like art, literature, creativity, philosophy, exploring new places, making connections, challenging myself physically, and playing Zelda on my Nintendo Switch.
What can I say? I’m a multi-faceted man.
And so are the most interesting people. It’s easy when there is pressure to get married/find love/prove something to some aunt you never see/have babies blah blah to assume that this is the sole definer of your existence.
Which is why we need some damn perspective.
Dating and love and sex and romantic connection are essential to the flavour of life. But there are also other scoops in the sundae (does that metaphor work?).
Jerry Seinfeld once said a key to life is to “fall in love with moments”. The great coffee. The perfect parking spot. That meal that was exactly what you were salivating for.
It’s easy to overlook, but there’s more to life than making your heart do backflips and falling into the tranquilizing bliss of new love.
There are other parts to life. The more we remember this, the less pressure we put on ourselves to GET A DAMN PARTNER ALREADY.
Take the pressure off. Remind yourself there’s beauty in many corridors of life, and maybe one of them will one day lead to the partner of your dreams.
And if not: there’s always another Zelda on the way.