The process of dating, (and dating and then dating some more) can wear on a person. After several unsuccessful relationships, after a few False Alarms, after being invited to yet another wedding (where you will not be able to extend the ‘And Guest’ invitation), it can be easy to slip into a state of self-doubt and cynicism.
If you notice yourself starting to think or say things like There are no good men left! or There are no good single women in this city! it’s really time for a shift in your thinking.
Finding a long-term partner, finding someone whose company you long for and who reciprocates those feelings, is going to take some time. Just like with any other endeavor (finding a great job, finding the perfect home, finding the right spiritual community), you are going to have to be patient and try out a lot that doesn’t work before you find one that does.
I’d like to challenge you to shift any cynical thinking that pops up as you’re traversing the dating scene. Every obstacle you face is actually an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and improve your personal process. In my typical step-by-step guidance system, here’s a way for you to make a sometimes long and arduous journey a bit more bearable.
Next time you go on a date that’s terrible, or you get involved with someone who isn’t right for you or you participate in a relationship that just fizzles out, follow these three steps.
1. Analyze what happened.
Be honest with yourself here (if you’re feeling stuck, you may want to enlist an honest friend’s opinion and advice). Did you jump into the relationship too soon? Did you ignore some red flags? Did you come on too strong? Was there just no chemistry? *Remember, just because something didn’t go right doesn’t necessarily mean that you did something wrong. Sometimes things just aren’t meant to be between two people. But instead of dwelling on ‘yet another relationship that didn’t work out’, analyze what happened so that you can let it go and move forward.
2. Ask yourself: What have I learned from this?
Each time something doesn’t work out, rather than get discouraged, try to find the opportunity that exists for growth and learning. Every failed romantic relationship helped me get closer and closer to defining what it was that I wanted in a partner and helped me clarify what I was, and was not, willing to tolerate. It took some time, but by the time I met my husband, I had a very clear picture of who I was and who I was looking for.
3. Define the new actions and behaviors you will now take.
Now that you’ve honestly analyzed what happened and realized the lesson you needed to learn from this experience, it may be time to change some of your behaviors. If you jumped into a relationship too quickly and ended up getting hurt, what’s your plan for next time? How will you ensure that you don’t repeat this behavior? If there was no chemistry between you and another person but you continued to date them out of desperation, what action can you take next time this occurs so that you don’t waste time?
As you’re progressing through the process of dating people and figuring out what works and doesn’t work for you, resist the temptation to be cynical and give-up because of a few mistakes. Take the obstacles you face and shift your thinking so that these become opportunities to bring you closer to what you’re looking for.
It may take some time but if you continue to move forward intelligently and consciously, you will find who you are looking for.