In my time as a Dating and Life Coach, I have met, worked with, and conversed with many daters, both male and female. Many have gone on to be successful in their dating life, meeting that special someone or going on many great dates with awesome people. Others have struggled, however. Lately I have been thinking more and more about what truly separates those who are successful in dating and those who aren’t. What, if anything, represents a common thread for all those who can and should be successful, but aren’t? Based on my observations and in-depth analysis of the people whom I’ve met and coached, the main issue holding these people back is their negative, limiting mindset. It’s easy to spot these people: They are always complaining, bitching, talking about how “all women suck” and that “all guys are dogs.” They harp on and on about the dating process as a whole, saying that it’s “pointless” and that nothing they can do will be able to fix their problems, because their problems always come down to “bad genetics,” so why try to fix something that cannot be fixed (most of their issues CAN be fixed, however, and have nothing to do with “genetics.”) Due to their negative attitudes, they approach and initiate less conversation, when they do speak, they hardly ever bring anything positive or interesting to the conversation, and as a result, they go on fewer dates, and have fewer long-term relationships. It’s almost as if it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your beliefs about dating, yourself, and fellow daters in general will have a profound effect on how you interact with the world. When put like this, it sounds pretty logical, but let’s take a more in depth look at why this is true.
“Whether You Think You Can, or Whether You Think You Can’t, You’re Right.” -Henry Ford
People with a negative attitude towards dating expect the worst to happen every time. Unfortunately for them, that is exactly what they get. But why? Pessimists are always looking for the problems, the shortcomings and the worst-case scenarios. There’s nothing inherently wrong with pointing out the downsides-after all, throughout history pessimists have been a huge help to humanity by helping us avert dangers that we may not have noticed if we had been a species of Pollyannas. However, when it comes to the subject of improving oneself, pessimism often backfires on us. It can be a saboteur, silently robbing us of the energy and desire to make the necessary changes in our lives. Pessimistic daters will reach out to fewer prospects online, they will hardly approach anyone at all in a social setting (even if they want to), and will generally put in the minimum amount of effort needed to secure a date. They do this because they have over-analyzed each and every negative situation in their heads and have replayed it countless times. Somehow, they “know” what will happen to them, even when it hasn’t happened yet. So, they don’t even try. Why put yourself through the torture and agony of being rejected by that pretty girl at the bar when it’s just so much easier to keep staring at her and admiring her from a distance? In addition, pessimists tend to take longer to recover from a rejection, so it will subsequently take them longer to “get back in the game” and try again. As a result of all this, they tend to become socially passive people overall. They don’t go out as much, they don’t speak to as many people in general, and when they do, they often make frequent social gaffes due to their lack of practice. Form there, they come down hard on themselves, and go back into their isolation and wait even longer to come back out and try again. You see how this is all connected, and a self-fulfilling prophecy? It all started from having a less favorable view of dating (and to a lesser extent, socializing in general) than other people.
But what about the Optimists? How do they do things differently? Optimists tend to have more social resiliency than pessimists. If they experience a rejection or a setback, they will do a better job of “shrugging it off” and putting themselves out there again. This does not mean that optimists are blind and do not experience bad dates and bad interactions with the opposite sex, they just don’t let those bad experiences consume them, and they keep trying in spite of them. Furthermore, since they tend to have a more favorable view of dating (and humanity in general), they will have no problem putting themselves out there more, and reaching out to more potential partners, thereby increasing their odds of finding a good match for them. Another key difference is that optimists tend to believe that most problems have clear and defined solutions, rather than viewing a problem as an irreversible and permanent issue, as pessimists tend to do. If optimists encounter a recurring problem in their dating lives, their first thought tends to be, “How can I fix this? How can I make this better so that it won’t affect me on future dates?” Pessimists tend to respond by taking the attitude of, “Well, this is just how things are for me. I’m unlucky, I can’t change it.” Optimists tend to be more solution focused, rather than feeling like there is nothing they can do.
Developing a More Positive Attitude
“But, why should I be more positive? I always get the short end of the stick, so what’s the use in believing that things will be better?” Back in my more pessimistic younger days, I could completely sympathize with people who talked like this. Hell, I did talk like this, and quite often! On the surface, the quote seems to make sense, if all you’ve gotten in life up to now is shit sandwich after shit sandwich, why should you all of a sudden expect a filet mignon? The issue here is with the idea that a positive attitude comes from having prior success, and not the other way around. In actuality, a positive attitude can be developed without prior success, and this can be huge in turning around your fortunes. This is not some hocus-pocus new age Secret stuff either, this is actual science here (links at the bottom, of course!).
If you want to change your results, you need to take on a more helpful attitude. How exactly can we do this, though? There are a number of things you can do to help you. Firstly, one needs to learn to be more grateful for the small, incremental victories we have achieved in our dating journey. If you’re 35 years old and goal is to find your special someone and get married and have kids, and up until the time you decided to make a concerted effort, you’ve only been on a handful of dates in your life, look at the positive side of things. Since making the attempt to get better at meeting people, you have been on more dates than you had been on in the previous 3 decades of your life, and through meeting these dates, you are finding out more and more about the type of person you want to be with, what is working well for you, and what isn’t. You are constantly gathering data which you can use to improve your prospects in the future. That is a reason to celebrate.
Something else you can do to develop a more positive dating outlook is to look at things from a different angle, what we call reframing. Let’s take a 30 year old guy who has recently lost all of his hair ( No, this is NOT a personal story)! Remember, pessimists tend to look at dating mishaps as something that is unchanging and permanent, something that cannot be improved upon or changed. In this case, our folically-challenged pessimist believes that ALL potential partners will be turned off by the fact that he’s bald, and there’s nothing that can be done. Optimists will understand that yes, there will be a specific subset of women who will be turned off by bald guys, but that is hardly the case for EVERY woman. In fact, ( and yes, I know this personally) ,plenty of women find bald guys to not just be attractive, but they in fact strongly prefer them to guys with full manes. So, our optimistic bald dater will no doubt suffer some rejection due to his having a chrome-dome, but he will not be fazed. Instead, he will get right back in there and search for those specific women who admire his look, because he knows they’re out there.
However, the underlying issue that needs to be there in the first place is the core belief that success is possible in the first place. Just because you may fail on some dates with some people, does not mean that you will fail with everybody. When you start looking at people as unique individuals instead of one big collective Borg-like mass of uniformity and conformity, the more your attitude towards humans will brighten, and the more opportunities you will find to make unique, powerful connections.
Go out there and viewing things differently. Don’t let your dour attitude on dating and the opposite sex continue to sabotage your love live. Learn to overcome your own mental obstacles and watch your potential to find meaningful connections grow.
Until next time.