Designing Your New Approach to Dating

October 31, 2017

casual dateIn my last post I discussed the value of a fresh start in dating. Many people find it helpful to take a pause, especially after a disappointing romantic experience. They feel discouraged and even hopeless that they’ll ever find someone to love. That’s the best time for a new approach.

In dating we can’t control the feelings or behavior of any person except ourselves. Often how we present ourselves and communicate with others shapes the outcome of the relationship. So it’s worth doing some self-examination and identifying areas where we can change and improve.

Phase I (read it here) is the “Demolition” phase. It’s about tearing down the barriers to your success. Those may include limiting beliefs and attitudes, as well as specific behaviors that are sabotaging your relationships. Demolition is about identifying the things we need or want to change about ourselves in dating.

Phase II is about designing a new and different approach to dating by setting specific goals. Phase III involves implementation – what are the specific actions you need to perform to meet your objectives?

Phase II: Design

In Phase I we focused on what we need to change. That is, what we need to STOP doing. That’s often the easiest part – I find that most coaching clients have a pretty good idea where they’re going wrong. They just don’t know how to identify the right steps to identify and adopt the positive behaviors that will make them successful.

In Phase II we start by setting goals or objectives. There are three essential aspects to successful goals:

1. They are positive. 

Goals worth striving for must be optimistic and hopeful. If you believe you’re going to fail, you’re right.

2. They are proactive. 

The most common mistake I see, especially among women, is passivity. Here are a few examples:

  • They have questions about what’s happening in the relationship but they are afraid to speak up and ask them for fear of seeming needy or “psycho.”
  • They know they want a relationship but go along with a guy’s very casual approach to “see where this goes.”
  • They know they’re not being treated well or respected, but they go along with the relationship because they don’t want to be single.
  • They suspect they’re being deceived or cheated on, but instead of holding the guy responsible, they direct their antagonism toward the other woman.

When you set a goal, you take responsibility for your own results. You cannot control others’ behaviors or choices, but you are always in control of shaping your response. That in itself is empowering.

I’ve spoken with many women who stood up for themselves and lost the guy. But they felt like they’d won the battle because they stopped wasting their time and removed a primary source of constant anxiety.

When you project serenity and security about your own choices, it’s attractive. You draw others to you.

3. They are specific and realistic.

For a goal to be effectively met, it must be within your sphere of influence. It must also be measurable. For example, “Find true love” is not a good goal because you can’t reach it without others and you can never know whether “true love” is just around the corner or years away.

A better goal would be “Go on two dates this month.” There are concrete steps you can take to make this happen, and you’ll know at the end of one month whether you failed or succeeded. At that point, you can assess your progress and tweak your goal as needed.

Your Main Goal

What is it that you really want right now? Is it to find your life partner? Or to have your first serious relationship? The approach to both of these goals is the same, but it’s important for you to be honest with yourself and identify what you want most. Moving forward, it will be important for you to own that and be honest with others about it.

Supporting Goals

1. Get out of your comfort zone. 

Change happens in our lives when we take some risk. You can’t get what you want if you keep doing the same things that have failed you in the past. You need to:

  • Be willing to be vulnerable, i.e. open your heart.
  • Try new things.
  • Meet new people.

2. Replace unproductive old habits with helpful new ones.

New guidelines for negotiating dating and relationships protect you from taking the wrong kinds of risks. Like dating yet another bad boy. Or having sex to please a guy before you’re ready.

These guidelines have to do with respect. The respect you have for yourself, as well as for the autonomy of others.

3. Effectively use your support network.

You have people in your life who care deeply about your happiness. Friends and family, coworkers, perhaps a mentor. We don’t hesitate to urge people to network assertively to advance their careers. Indeed, it’s the single most effective way of identifying and competing for new job opportunities.

Yet we are sheepish about networking to meet new people socially, especially for dating. That’s a huge missed opportunity, because “friends of friends” is the most common way that spouses meet one another. Sometimes it happens naturally at social gatherings like parties, but many people are intentionally introduced or set up by friends.

My next post will cover the Implementation phase. In the meantime, please give some thought to these important questions:

  • What do you want in your life now?
  • What would make you feel successful in dating?
  • To find one special person?
  • To feel that you have options?
  • To enjoy your life whether you are single or part of a couple?
  • What are you willing to do differently?
  • What new things are you willing to try to be successful?
  • Are you ready to step out of your comfort zone?
  • How can you enlist the help of people who care about you?
  • What are some potential networking opportunities for meeting new people?

Let’s discuss!