You’ve been dating for a while and you’re feeling frustrated with the progress you’ve made. There are endless categories you could put yourself in: divorced and looking for the real love of your life, young and ready to settle down, old and looking for someone to share all your accomplishments with. Whatever your situation, you are still single and unable to find that special someone to share all you have to give with. You are probably feeling defeated and ready to give up, thinking that it must be you. Don’t give up. I will say it here and I will say it throughout this tip, there is nothing wrong with you!
The number one question you can ask yourself is, “why am I looking for a relationship right now?” Are you looking to fill a void, are you looking to share your life with someone, are you looking because it’s the Holidays and your mother will ask when she is getting grandchildren for the 30th time? Whatever your reason, it is important that you know why you want a relationship and what that means for you. There is nothing wrong with being single. Being single is a great opportunity to work on you and can be a driving force to doing so. At the same time, it is okay to want to be in a partnership. Your friends may be telling you that they envy your single life, getting to do whatever you want whenever you want. Don’t let them talk you out of wanting a relationship, if that’s truly what you want.
Knowing why you want the relationship helps you know you’re in it for the right reasons. If you are happy being single, then be single. Even if being happy and single means going out with your friends and their partners and being the “odd man out.” The same thing could be said for the nagging mother comment above, if you are only dating to please someone else then don’t do it! The only way you’re going to find happiness in having a partner is if you’re doing it for yourself. If you reflect back on your failed dating escapades, is this the reason for the failure? Did you subconsciously sabotage the relationship or first date you were on because you aren’t actually interested in a relationship right now? If this is the case, not wanting to be in a relationship, then stop reading and enjoy your Singledom.
If you have thought about the idea of being single or in a relationship and you have decided that a relationship is right for you, there are some strategies you can use to help you get there. Again, I will reiterate, there is nothing wrong with you! The idea behind this tip is to help you reevaluate the lens to which you are using to find a partner. The object of this tip is not to change the core of who you are; instead it is to give you some new tools to use in the midst of your search.
The first strategy in finding a partner is to find a good support system. There are two strategies wrapped into one with this- emotional support as well as guidance to stay on track. The underlying strategy is that you have to be okay with failing. That is, rejection will come whether you are being rejected or doing the rejecting. It’s okay; there is still nothing wrong with you. There is a copious amount of reasons that could be given for why relationships do not work out: timing isn’t right; chemistry isn’t there, looking for different things, the list goes on. By having a good support system during this time of rejection, you can have a clearer head of what went well and what didn’t go well for you during the time of dating.
Your support system should be able to help you to sift through reasons why the relationship didn’t work out. Your support system should also be there to let you be joyous in the moments that you enjoyed and sad in the moments that hurt. Your support system should not be pushing you to settle and on the opposite side, they should not be saying you’re undeserving of love; you are. Your support system should be helping you check yourself to make sure you stay on track and not get caught up in the butterflies and rainbows that are coming your way with a new relationship. They should also check you when you are not feeling those things but the person meets every criterion on your list.
The list. The list is the next thing to get straight in your journey to finding Mr./Mrs. Right. Get clear on what you want. Do not make exceptions for one person that you wouldn’t make for another. The list can help ground you, so when the rainbows and butterflies start to come you are not blinded to other factors that may not cause your stomach to roll every time you think of the apple of your eye. The list can also work when your radar is off and you’re not quite getting those butterflies yet but the person meets most of the requirements on your list. Yes, I said “most requirements.” A side tip to note is that you probably will not find a person that fits every point on your list. Just be sure that you are not accepting parts of a person that is a hard limit no on your list.
A good list will have three tiers to it. The first being your hard limits, under no exceptions will this person be able to date you if they do not have these criteria. Or, if a person does encompass these criteria you will not date him or her. Non-negotiables touch on the person’s core. Are they genuine, do they share the same passions as you, what is their value system? Your hard limits may also touch on the person’s job or ambitions for a career. How many children do they want, do they even want children. Do you want children? Some people also put things like religion on this list.
The non-negotiable part of the list consists of descriptors and characteristics of the person that are most likely not going to change about them. Remembering the point of this list, non-negotiables reminds you that you cannot change a person. If you are entering into a relationship thinking “Oh he’ll convert to my religion.” Or, “She will want children once she meets my nieces.” Remind yourself; if they don’t originally fit into the first tier of your list then get rid of them. There are plenty of fish in the sea that will meet your criteria without having to work hard to change them. Changing a person has the capability of making them resent you later down the road. The changes may feel fine initially but they may realize that the changes were never meant to be for them.
The next tier on the list is strong preferences. Strong preferences consist of characteristics you really wish your partner had but if they do not, you can still be happy within the relationship. Religion may be down on this tier if you are not very religious or are okay with having two religions within your family and can work out how to raise your children. If you have a good job, the other person having a job may not be as important to you but it would still be a turn on for them to have a job. Music preferences may go in this category alongside dietary preferences and way of living (clean vs. messy). Other items on tier two of the list may be if the person can make you laugh or if they can comfort you properly. Items such as these can be learned/taught without necessarily changing who the person is at their core.
The last tier is compiled of things that you prefer but are more surface descriptors of a person. Characteristics on this tier may be how the person dresses or the way they wear their hair. Height and weight also go on this list. These are all things that can be subtly changed without changing their core characteristics. The items on tier three are quirks that do not define who the person is. For example, if a person wears a Polo versus a T-shirt, it doesn’t define them as a mean or nice person or someone who can or cannot relate to you.
After you make your list, get back to yourself for a moment. The list probably took a lot of energy in exploring your needs and wants and how another person can fulfill these. Do not forget, you should be able to fulfill your needs on your own. The other person is just an added bonus. With that said, treat yourself like a God/Goddess. Do not wait for someone else to. If you want a massage or a nice dinner, treat yourself; don’t wait for that person to be available on a Friday night for date night. Do not pass up opportunities to do activities that you would enjoy just because you have to pay for them yourself or because you do not have anyone to go with. Do it yourself.
Despite being able to please yourself and not have to rely on others to get your needs met, you must also invest in your dating life. Make time to let other people treat you and take care of you. Make time to go on that date instead of biking your annual 26 miles on a Friday night. Be open to meeting that special someone in the grocery store, at the library, or in your work parking lot. If you’re constantly in a hurry with your head down and focused on your daily agenda, you may miss a great opportunity for love. Investing in your dating life may also incorporate putting yourself on a dating website or going to a singles mixer. In this day in age these activities are the norm, do not be embarrassed that you have to “resort” to these venues for love. 75% of the single population in the United States has used online dating at least once in their lifetime.
With online dating on the rise, it is much easier to not put all your eggs in one basket. If you have a successful date with one person, don’t turn down another person just yet. The other person may be just as charming, if not more, than the first person. Not becoming attached too quickly to one person also allows you to stay focused on your list. You will also not seem as dependent and needy if you aren’t always available for them, which for most people is an attractive feature. With that said, do not play too hard to get. If you’re really feeling that person and you want to take your relationship to the next level then give yourself permission to do so. There is a fine line of not waiting long enough and overseeing certain characteristics on your list and waiting too long to where the other person thinks you’re not interested or serious about them.
It is important to distinguish between early dating (some may refer to this as casual dating), commitment dating where the two of you are committed to one another and all communication with anyone else has stopped. The commitment stage may be you going from “I’ve seen this guy a few times” to “I want to introduce you to my boyfriend.” The next stage may be life commitment. You’re now stepping into more serious roles with one another. This person is your top priority, aside from yourself. You may choose to move in together or get engaged or at least have that conversation about where you see yourselves in five years. Communicating about what these stages look like and what the expectations of one another are is important.
Not putting all your eggs in one basket by dating multiple people also allows you to figure out your dating patterns. How do you come across to other people? Are you the type of person that seems too needy, over promiscuous, not available emotionally, too serious…? If you go on a date with someone and it doesn’t work out, do not be afraid to ask for feedback. Also, be willing to offer feedback for them as well. Dating can be a very large part of how you grow as a person, in that you can learn a lot about yourself.
The next strategy for finding that special someone is to allow you to be surprised. This plays on the third tier of your list. You may have “34-years-old, 6’2”, dark hair, blue eyes,” turns out Mr. Right is only 29-years-old and has sandy blonde hair, and is only 5’10” with brown eyes but he has all your tier one requirements met and surpassed. Again, tier three is full of characteristics that can be changed or will change about a person. When you’re old and sitting in a rocker with the love of your life, she will most likely be wrinkled with saggy breasts and white hair. However, she will still make you laugh, still care for you in that same way she did when you first met.
The last strategy for finding that special someone is to enjoy life. Happy people attract happy people. If you’re single and don’t want to be, find something enjoyable about your circumstance. Also, enjoy the stages that you see here. Take the time to learn about yourself and what you’re made of. Spoil yourself and let yourself be spoiled. Enjoy each moment, even if it is a bad date you’re on. You will still learn something about yourself along the way.