Give Yourself a Dating Makeover!

October 14, 2017

happy womanIn my view, there are few things more compelling than a set of Before and After photos. I’m really into design and lifestyle blogs – they’re full of great ideas for decorating, organizing your space, and DIY projects. My favorite is Apartment Therapy, which features a lot of readers’ renovation projects.

Naturally, Before and After shots are a must. Though it’s always fun to see newly decorated spaces, it’s the Before pics that really catch my eye. They are invariably dark and dank looking, depressing and gloomy. They look cobwebby and dirty. The most common and dramatic improvement comes from giving the space a good cleaning and painting everything white. You can find an example here.

Makeovers are about finding a new look – a fresh start. If you google “before and after”, most of the results are about changing your makeup or getting fit. That got me thinking about the value of a dating makeover. It’s a more abstract concept and obviously not conducive to great photos. But most of us crave a fresh start at one time or another, and sometimes we wish we could hit the reset button on our dating lives. Why not a dating makeover?

Though the visual isn’t as compelling as Apartment Therapy’s photos, I created a chart to illustrate how life-changing a dating makeover can be:

Does any part of the “Before” description resonate for you? Do you feel beaten down by dating and worried that it’s never going to happen for you? If so, you’re not alone – I think most people who’ve been dating a while feel this way, at least some of the time. Wouldn’t it be great to feel positive and energized for dating again?

Most importantly, the weary “Before” dater is stuck in a strategically weak position. She feels discouraged but sees no way to improve things, which keeps her trapped in a cycle of failed dating attempts. That comes across in all kinds of subtle – and sometimes obvious – ways to the people she meets. If she can figure out a way to hit reset, she can wipe the slate clean and present a much more together, secure self to the world. Strategically speaking, that’s a very strong position to be in.

I’m going to share with you my template for a total dating makeover. I don’t mean to suggest you can get this done over the weekend. I’ve spent months working with clients on the process. But it includes all the steps you need for a fresh start, and there’s no reason you can’t DIY it. Let’s start with the hardest part – getting rid of all the crap that keeps us miserable.

Phase I: Demolition

The first thing you have to do is tear down the barriers that are preventing you from being successful! These often include harmful beliefs that you hold about yourself, as well as preconceived notions about other people. Because you’ve been dating a while, you feel like you’ve seen it all and that there’s nothing much left to learn. That’s not true – if you shift your approach, you’ll change your results.

Action Step 1:

Identify any and all personal attitudes and self-limiting beliefs that may be holding you back:

  • Pessimism: If you don’t believe you can get what you want, you’ve already guaranteed failure.
  • Denial: Are you honest with yourself in dating? Or do you make excuses for guys who treat you poorly? Do you find it impossible to get over an ex, and always keep a kernel of hope alive that you can get him back? Do you pursue casual hookups to prove that you can have sex without getting attached?
  • Avoidance: Do you have your guard up? Is is hard to trust a guy? Do you play it cool even when you really like someone?
  • Desperation: Are you panicked about finding the one? Do you view all your dating experiences and relationship dynamics through that filter?

Write down the ways in which you recognize your self-defeating attitudes. Don’t worry right now about how to get more positive, just be really honest with yourself about the negativity you may be bringing to your dating life.

Action Step 2:

Identify any and all behaviors or habits that are getting in the way. For example:

Self-sabotage:

  • Do you cancel plans to go out with friends because you feel like staying home?
  • Are you a pushover? Do you not set boundaries, e.g. no texts suggesting plans after 10 p.m.?
  • Do you have sex before you feel ready?
  • Do you avoid online dating because you find it too overwhelming?

Physical:

Are there ways in which you don’t take good care of yourself?

  • Not enough sleep
  • Sedentary
  • Stressed
  • Over-indulgence, e.g. eating, drinking, smoking
  • Exposure to risk from STIs
  • Lack of attention to personal appearance, grooming

Social:

  • Lack of ongoing effort to meet new people and expand social circle.
  • Not making the most of your existing support network; not regularly seeing old friends and family.
  • Not accepting social invitations whenever possible.
  • Not initiating social interactions, including making eye contact, chatting with strangers, etc.
  • Not networking or joining activities within your professional, educational or civic communities.

Do any of these self-defeating behaviors resonate? Spend some time thinking about these questions. What jumps out at you? Write it down. What comes to mind that I didn’t think to include here?

In the next post, I’ll discuss Phase II: Design. That’s the time for identifying specific objectives and making a plan for change. What do you want your dating life to look like? What are the steps you can take to bring that change about?

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you in the Comments. I welcome questions and feedback about this model as we move forward.

What’s getting in your way? What would you like to improve? Let’s discuss how you can achieve your dream!