Last month, I went country line dancing and ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in almost a year. People know I write for a dating website, so a common question I get is, “How is the dating life going?” to which I usually respond with a smile, an okay, and a comment about Chipotle stocks.
This time, however, I decided to be honest and straightforward, and responded, “I haven’t been on a date in two weeks.”
She also shared, “I haven’t been on a date in nine months.” She did not say it with a tone of satisfaction.
I’ve spoken to men and women with great dating lives and others with frustrating dating lives. The people with great dating lives are not all six feet tall, aesthetically gifted, career-successful individuals. They share other success factors.
From speaking to them from a microphone or barstool I’ve heard their stories and found that these people with happy dating lives do share a few things in common in the way they approach dating and relationships. Here is what I’ve found.
Maximize Your Potential, Because Nobody Wants To Watch a Half-Hearted Athlete
This goes without saying but I can never emphasize it enough. You do not have to be a great person, a successful person, or look like a magazine cover in order to be successful with dating. You just need to be realizing your potential.
Conor MacGregor—not a professional boxer but a champion in a similar sport—recently fought 10 rounds with arguably the greatest professional boxer of the century, Floyd Mayweather. From the fight it was evident that Conor was not a boxer. He was lanky and awkward and his punches were gross.
However, it was also evident that he had prepared as best he could. He was in good shape. He had an approach, a game plan. He was absolutely confident. He was at the peak of his potential. In the end he lost, but people loved the show. Most would agree that he did the best he possibly could and the world loves that.
If you think you could be potentially in better shape, potentially have a nicer personality or potentially dress nicer, make sure you’re taking the steps necessary to make that happen. We can’t all be number one always, but there is never an excuse for wasted potential.
On realizing potential, it’s often the small things that hold us back. I can’t count the number of young men or women who have told me, “I’d like to go out with Henry” or “I’d like to take Melinda out but….” and it’s usually something small like an annoying nervous tick, bad dental hygiene or a self-deprecating view of life. Don’t let the small things hold you back.
Pick Your Three Top Deal-Breakers and Join Groups That Share Them
You find amazing people in places you find amazing. Don’t waste your time in groups with which you have nothing in common except that you all like Happy Hour. Who doesn’t like Happy Hour? The people who like Sad Hour?
Get serious and narrow down your top three deal-breakers you have in relationships. Join groups that share these deal-breakers. Maybe you’re deal-breakers are like:
“He needs to volunteer.”
“She needs to be athletic.”
“He needs to know who Claude Monet is.”
Join a band of well-doers, an art crowd, and an intramural sports team. Go to their events every week. Be active in their social media or online chats. You’ll have a much better chance running into someone who shares your values in a niche group than you would.
Go On a Date Every Week
Dating can sometimes be likened to attending Mass. While all cannot go every day, we should all be going at least once a week.
To do this you need several venues: meeting people online, in-person, and through groups. You do not need to be an extrovert to do all this, just friendly. Increase the number of encounters you have with other people by writing more messages, saying “Hi” more and having a good time about it no matter how they respond.
Ask/get asked out weekly and preferably in those groups of people you share deal-breakers with or have something in common with. It’s safe to say that if that is happening, your path to finding someone in a year is fairly clear.
Go Out With Multiple People Until You Find Someone Crazy about You
Life is short and time flies. Before you know it you have spent the greater part of the year going out with people who were nice but never really crazy about you.
So do not cut off your options prematurely. You find someone amazing? Keep going out with other people. Go out with other people until you find someone amazing who is also crazy about you. Then, it’s time to cut the options off and focus on that person.
This can be tough especially when you feel like “This person is the one”. They are not “the one” until they think you are awesome, amazing, special or all of the above.
To find him or her in a year you need to maximize your time and keep your options open.
Pursue Someone like They’re The One, But Be Ready to Let Them Go like They’re One Of Many
Dating is a marathon. To do a good job you need to keep your heart in shape. If your heart dies or gets weak, you stop running and you stop dating. You lose time and you lose opportunities.
Even if you’ve got something good going with someone exclusive keep your heart open, unlatched and be ready to let go. Until someone says, “Yes” or “I do” there is always a chance you can lose them.
In that case, be ready to keep running if your running buddy falls behind or leaves you in the dust. Just keep going. Keep the pace, keep meeting people, keep the heart beating.
Think More of the Present and not so Much of the Future
Thinking of a future with someone is exhausting. Having that “Where is this going…?” conversation is the worst. If you really need to know where “this” is going you may have too much invested.
I don’t really know nor really care where bonds are going because they are less than 2% of my retirement investments. If I start to invest a lot or if it seems like bonds are starting to take off, then I start caring. I start thinking about the future.
I start having the “where are bonds going” conversation with my financial advisor. However, that conversation has never happened because bonds are slow, low risk investments. Hopefully, I will have that conversation one day, but it just has not happened yet.
The first few months of a relationship should be something like that. Enjoy the present, stop thinking so much of the future. Put your best effort into it and let it happen. Water it and let it grow. Leave it in the sun and let it bloom. Do not be so concerned about tomorrow or where it’s going. You know where you are going and that is what matters.
Guys, Learn To Tie the Knot…
This actually may or may not help you in a relationship but it’s good to know and I wanted to finish this list at seven (!).
If you are wearing a traditional-collar button down shirt it’s okay to tie the single Windsor knot; but if you are wearing a wide or spread collar you need to tie the double Windsor knot. When in doubt, just tie the double Windsor. It looks more even, symmetric and mature.
On that note, go ahead and toss the clip-on and also learn to tie a bow tie, preferably in less than five minutes. For women, knowing how to tie a bow tie can also be huge because pretty much any guy would rather have someone else do it than trying to fumble with it backwards in the mirror while watching the how-to YouTube video.
DISCLAIMER: If you do all these things, it does not mean that you will be engaged in a year, nor much less married in a year.
It does mean you can find someone amazing in a year and get something started. It does mean that you can have an enjoyable dating life. And at the end of the year, that is what we all want.