Why is it that some people can date with ease and authenticity while others feel awkward and inhibited? When you date with ease, you date more frequently and are much more likely to meet the right person because you are exposed to more people. If you find dating arduous, then you are more likely to choose pizza alone on your couch than meeting with a dimly known stranger. That is understandable, but if your goal is to find a tight, mutually fulfilling relationship with another, pizza alone on the couch is unlikely to get you there.
Leave white-knuckle submission behind by getting yourself in shape to play the dating numbers game with more confidence.
Here are 5 habits of successful daters:
1. Successful daters believe there is potential in each person they meet: If you go into each new encounter telling yourself “there is no way this is going to work,” then you are transmitting that defeatist energy to those around you. Doing this means you are wearing your low self-esteem on your sleeve, and you are communicating your negative attitude and lack of interest to this new person. Successful daters go in with a positive attitude. They tell themselves “Tonight could be the night!” This enthusiasm makes it easy to bring their full self forward. They take the date seriously and are open, not guarded, and they are able to really hear what their date is communicating about him/herself. All of this helps in assessing whether this is a healthy potential match for the longer term.
2. Successful daters are okay if it doesn’t work out: The counter to #1 is that successful daters believe deep down that if the date doesn’t turn into anything special they will still be okay. Their worth does not hinge on whether or not they find the right match on any particular night. As a result, they are not overly solicitous and willing to do or say anything to get their date’s approval. Knowing you will be fine-whatever happens- makes you less desperate and more able to assess your date from your point of view. And too, each date is learning experience about yourself and a way to become more comfortable even when a deeper connection doesn’t click easily into place.
3. Successful daters have a life outside of dating: Successful daters are not overly lonely and desperate. Of course, they may long for romantic connection, but they are not at a loss for other types of connection. They have close friendships, deep interests, and have meaningful activities that they look forward to. If your dating life is your main focus, you may want to take a step back and devote more time cultivating other interests, activities and non-romantic relationships. Work to find things you look forward to that are not related to dating or to finding a partner.
4. Successful daters take emotional and physical care of themselves: When you take good care of yourself, you are more attractive to others. You appear in control, relaxed, at ease. In addition, you will not seem like someone your new date may have to take care of some place down the road. Taking care of yourself means you attend to your emotional world. If you have upset, you process it with a friend, a therapist, a journal. You generally attend to your physical health—get regular check ups, exercise regularly and eat in a generally healthy manner. This kind of self-care is contagious and will make others want to be around you.
5. Successful daters are persistent: Anyone dating regularly will have low moments or moments when they want to throw in the towel. It is hard to put yourself out there over and over again, and it is hard to feel that you are not making headway. Dating inevitably brings some rejection. But while successful daters take breaks to lick their wounds and increase their self-care, unsuccessful daters give up and feel defeated. Adopt a mindset that dating is a process and that eventually, if you don’t give up, you will succeed. In my workbook, Getting Close to Others: 5 Steps, I discuss how developing intimate relationships is a skill that with effort can be sharpened and developed.
Jill Weber, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice in Washington, D.C., and the author of The Relationship Formula Workbook Series. For more, follow me on Twitter @DrJillWeber and on Facebook, or visit drjillweber.com.