Successful Alternatives to On-Line Dating

Six Suggestions that Work

Posted Apr 30, 2018

So many single people in today’s relationship seeking world are currently having complicated and frustrating dating experiences.  In the four decades that I’ve been helping people find and keep quality partnerships, I’ve never faced so many exhausted and discouraged relationship seekers.  

I absolutely believe that this interpersonal disillusionment is a growing trend, certainly not as pervasive as even a few years ago. This is despite the exploding presence of multiple on-line dating services that have blossomed since the mid-nineties.

Most of my single patients have ardently explored these supposed short-cuts to romantic bliss for many months and even years. And, though there have been some percentage of successes, too many relationship seekers have come away empty-handed.

There are legitimate and significant reasons for this low probability of success, but one that stands out most clearly in my experience. It is that many of those who advertise their profiles on line are not honest in what they advertise. And, because it is not always easy to corroborate those profile presentations, responders can’t be sure who is truly on the other end of them. More often than not, the person they eventually meet bears little resemblance to the one expected.

In the past, most people had more options to test the viability of a potential partner from family and close friends before they decided to meet a new person. They hung out in the same social circles and stayed in the same geographical areas long enough to attain some mastery of the dating terrain.

Now that so many people have moved away from where they grew up, that information is rarely available. Relationship seekers are now on their own to find ways to check the authenticity of potential partners. Even tracing footprints on the Internet is not always reliable to predict safety or to find them if and when they spontaneously disappear.

Given the odds in favor of failure and the associated frustration, what can relationship seekers do differently to more successfully find viable partners in this painfully confusing dating picture? Where do people actually find successful long-term partners, if not on the Internet?

I have six suggestions that may help.

1. Hang out where the probabilities of success are the most likely.

This suggestion encompasses several sub-sets of data. You will be, of course, subject to the hours and options that are available to you. But, safe to say, single people have their own individual hobbies, interests, and favorite haunts. Match your own interests to like others and find out what haunts they are likely to inhabit.

For instance, if you are a work-out buff, you are more likely to find single people at twenty-four- hour fitness establishments before and after work hours, and in the middle of the morning on weekends. And, there are often coffee houses nearby that welcome sweaty after-work-out-people looking for some energy brews but relaxed enough to be open to meeting similar aficionados. These healthy single-people hangouts also have classes that run the gamut from trendy soul-spinning to hard Yoga workouts. Go where, and when, the gender percentages are in your favor.

There are also countless meet-ups that are locally advertised on the Net that cater to singles. Special classes that would be more likely to welcome one gender do not necessarily exclude the other and the proportions can make connections more favorable. An attractive man I once knew took a seminar for women on what they wanted in a man. Yes, he was the only male present out of the 103 participants. Good odds.

If you’re inclined and wealthy enough to travel to exotic locations, check out singles’ trips to unusual places. They are more likely to attract interesting people who like unusual experiences. One of my patients met her partner helicopter skiing where she was the only woman in a group of eighteen men.

2. Expand your connections vis-a-vis trusted others

Most single people surround themselves with other single people. They are all looking out for one another and relatively well aware of the current status of each. Exempt those few who might compete by sabotaging, most people thrive on belonging and mattering to others and often prioritize their social connections to those they already know and trust.

Interestingly enough, successfully partnered people, though they do hang out more with other couples than with untethered souls, do come across quality singles who are related to their committed partners. Let anyone you trust know exactly what you are looking for in a partner and unabashedly ask for assistance in finding him or her. Someone who knows and treasures both you and the person he or she is fixing you up with, can definitely tip the odds in your favor.

3. Trust the universe.

Wherever you are, at any time of the day or night, you might meet the person you could spend your life with. Too many people, especially in these days of rushing and hyper-focusing, do not see who or what is around them. Every single person you connect with is the hub of more than two hundred other people. And those you make honest and caring connections with, even for a few minutes, often lead to others you might never meet any other way.

The people who are in the most demand, regardless of status, are those who are in love with life. They smile more, reach out more, and make others feel terrific on the other end of them. They also are infectious in their wonderment of even the smallest things and most people look forward to meeting them again. It doesn’t take very long to make meaningful connections, but too many people nowadays are so preoccupied with what is directly in front of them that they forget how they are seen by, or affect others.

So many people have shared stories with me of unexpected, spontaneous interactions with people they might not have met moments before or moments afterwards. That, of course, means that there are many possible relationships in the world available to everyone and that these unexpected and unpredictable 1% miracles do occur. But people have to be open to those possibilities lest they miss them when they emerge.

Many years ago, one of my patients left a party, realized an hour later she’d left her purse there, and went to retrieve it. As she was leaving, she literally ran into the brother of one of her close male friends who happened to be visiting from another city that weekend. Even though she hadn’t intended to stay, she was immediately attracted to him and decided to explore what had inadvertently come her way. Four hours later, they realized that fate had intervened and they were meant to be together, and they still are, seven years later.

Another one of my patients had just left a work-out session at her gym late one evening and was happily recalling an amazing day at work. She went into an all-night supermarket to pick up a few things and just couldn’t help humming a tune and dancing down one of the aisles. A single-dad, out to buy groceries with his wide-awake two-year old, told her how her enthusiasm gave him a much-needed lift.  Yes, they ended up together. But, it would never have happened had she been her usual exhausted self, focusing only on the task at hand.

4. Let go of the negative biases from your past

Of course, that is always easier said than done. But so incredibly necessary. Multiple disappointments make most people wary, cynical, and pre-defeated. Those feelings tend to manifest in physical and emotional expressions of negative expectations and are definitely not magnetic attractions.

My most often expressed words of advice to new daters are, “Never talk about any past relationships in a negative way or make wide-sweeping generic statements that broadcast your disappointments or disillusionments.” If someone you date says something like, “My ex destroyed me with his/her lies and betrayals. I’m having a hard time trusting anyone after what he/she did to me,” please beware. Whether that person means to or not, he or she is implying that the new partner better not repeat those hurtful behaviors. That’s way too big an onus for you to bear.

Also, try hard to not advertise yourself as someone who needs to be rescued or fall into the trap of being the one to rescue someone else. It is fine, and appropriate, to have compassion and to be supportive to someone who has suffered in a past relationship, but it is not your responsibility to be the chosen one who will compensate.

Too many people think that they are exempt from the disappointments of past lovers and will be the exception. It generally is not a successful formula. Eventually, they are much more likely to be thrown into the same scrap heap as the others who failed. 

Distrust begets distrust. Discernment is better. With each succeeding relationship, you can learn better what to choose and what to discard in your next attempt for long-term success. Ask yourself this important question: “If all the important relationship partners I’ve had gathered in the same room well equipped with truth serum, and shared their experiences of me, what would those stories have in common?” That, combined with an accurate exploration of your own typical relationship patterns, can give you a lot of crucial information to help you learn better how to choose more wisely in the future.

5. Learn from others who are successful in love

It is true that some people are truly luckier in love than others. Personal attributes, good parenting, financial options, quality past relationships, quality social connections, and availability of potential partners seem to be in the mix for some more than for others.

Yet, there are people who seem to create great relationship despite not being lucky in all of those categories. They often have several desirable personality characteristics in common and are known for  rarely complaining or bemoaning their losses. Perhaps they are just blessed with resiliency or have other joy options in their lives when a current relationship falters. Whatever the reasons, others simply seek out their company and feel enriched in their presence. Their partners don’t usually do anything to risk losing them because they know they are highly unlikely to find others who are as valuable.

This is not about comparing or competing. In every other life endeavor, we look for mentors and those who are successful at what they do and why. Love relationships are no different. There are just people who are good at them and their characteristics are often learnable.

6. Commit to a purpose, ideal, or meaningful pursuit independent of a relationship

Buddhism teaches that suffering comes from attachments. Though it is not possible for any of us to give up all attachments, it is easier to let go of faltering relationships when we are deeply involved and committed to something else that is equally or even more important.

Think of yourself as having both a vertical and horizontal connection to people, things, or ideas that matter deeply to you. Your vertical connection is to what makes your life meaningful separate from a relationship. It can be a God, a philosophy, a cause, or a sacred relationship of any kind, and is always there to call you to your highest self. Your horizontal connection manifests in your earthly relationships with others, whether they be social, work-related, or romantic.

When people clearly understand that no horizontal relationship should ever be more important than their vertical commitment that keeps them true to themselves no matter what the price. If they are able to hold that choice sacred, they are much less likely to stay in a relationship that compromises their basic values.

In this article, I’ve purposely left out the multiplicity of relationship-seeking advice that is so common today. So many competent relationship experts have guided people to becoming the most attractive they can be, working at being more interesting, and learning how to choose the right partner. There are so many ready references on these subjects already, and, though certainly important, have not seemed to tap some of the deeper issues that predict failures in the dating arena.

I truly hope that these suggestions might fill in the gaps. My patients tell me that using them has increased their success in finding viable partners. Perhaps, even more importantly, they feel that looking at the dating scene in this new way has given them renewed confidence on this increasingly difficult journey.    

Dr. Randi’s free advice e-newsletter, Heroic Love, shows you how to avoid the common pitfalls that keep people from finding and keeping romantic love.  Based on over 100,000 face-to-face hours counseling singles and couples over her 40-year career, you’ll learn how to zero in on the right partner, avoid the dreaded “honeymoon is over” phenomenon, and make sure your relationship never gets boring.