Dating is horrible. Online dating give you the opportunity to beat horrible to death. It’s a lot of work, for highly questionable returns.
Which means that it can make people crazy.
Before I divorced and joined the ranks of online daters, I would talk to my friends about their dating experiences and found that women I admire; women who were amazing leaders, friends and business people were in fact… the crazy bitches who my male friends would say showed up on dates. Women told me the same stories I had heard from men; stories about breaking down crying, screaming at their dates over a mild comment or getting drunk because of the anxiety of these forced first encounters. (I have since had similar experiences with men, so this isn’t a female only issue.)
Granted, I’m a lot more mellow than most people, so I didn’t go into dating with any sort of goal or expectation. I had just gotten out of 20 year marriage which had started just after I had turned 20 (stop it with the math, you!) so I had never particularly dated. I went straight from college sophomore flitting from one shiny thing to another to sinking deeply (comfortably) into the relationship that would define my entire adult life. Hence, when I started dating I left myself as wide open as possible any and all experiences that came my way.
After awhile, I began to truly understand what I was looking for in a partner beyond the vagaries of physical stature, workout frequency and tv habits. I began to look for that person. That’s where the frustration set in. Frustration so deep that at times it was hard to not start yelling at random date #46 for no particularly good reason, except sweet release of that frustration.
Giving up was not an option for me, so I had to find a way to continue where I wouldn’t be butting my head up against what I wanted vs. the possibilities that were presenting themselves. That meant getting very clear, present and calm with myself.
Fall in love with yourself, first.
One of the things that happens in dating is that you feel very insecure. You hang out with you all day long. You know all your faults. You are the encyclopedia of every bad thing you’ve ever done, and every hateful thing anyone has ever said to you. For most people, it’s a bunch of crap that you need to get out of your head.
Focus on the things that you do and the ways that you are that you believe are the best of you and make you feel like the most like you, your personality on steroids. For me I feel my best when in nature, cooking, crafting a particularly fine argument or having a dance party for one in my living room. To channel Joel Salitin here, these things express Krisness of the Kris. I can use them as home base from which to go into the world to find love. In them I have love for myself, just being me. So, I don’t need to be concerned about where I may not measure up. I’ve seen my flaws. I’ve seen my greatness. In the end, it’s all me and I’m good with that.
Like attracts like.
It’s a very simple concept, but one that people don’t think applies to them. Most people take this from an offensive position, with the assumption that they’re “completely normal” so, of course, they’re going to attract someone normal. However, to paraphrase Mortitia Adams: Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly. Which is to say, your normal doesn’t exist.
The best dates I’ve had are with people who think the way I do.
Be the person you would like to attract.
It’s so weird to me that people: a) don’t go out to actually meet anyone, b) stand the person up or c) run out after meeting the person. Here’s the deal; you will never find someone to love if you don’t leave your house. Take chances. It will be fine.*
When you’re on said date, pull your big girl or boy pants up and treat this person how you would like to be treated. I had a date last 7 1/2 minutes once.
Have a dating system.
I find it helps me to focus on the date at hand by having a standardized system to get ready for each date. I wear basically the same thing; a red v-neck sweater with jeans or a skirt or a red v-neck dress if it’s a dressier date. (This was decided on through a trial and error process – if I had to do it again I’d just have friends vote.) I wear the same makeup. Do the same hair. I get myself in the mood to talk by thinking about things I know about my date and what I’m curious about, thinking about things that I’m passionate about or listening to fun music. I give myself as much time as possible to get to wherever I’m going so that I don’t get rushed or anxious.
By doing this I never put thought, energy or worry into getting ready so I can put that energy where it belongs; on the person I’m meeting. I can focus on things I want to learn about them. Not to my own ends but because I’m genuinely interested IN THEM. That’s what leads to having a good experience.
Learn who you are and how you choose to be in the world.
In dating you get to interact with someone you would never meet otherwise. As such, it’s a tremendous opportunity for you to learn about a life and ideas that are different than yours. It also a process where you can learn how you react to things in life.
I’m a highly pragmatic person who really prefers facts and evidence to hyperbole and drama. I love creativity but in looking at the world, I prefer for things to be straightforward and grounded. As the ‘dating thing’ wore on and on, I was surprised to find out that I am actually very positive and upbeat. With every experience I’ve had that was… less than stellar, I came back listing off the things that were good to learn or were a fun one time experience I never want to repeat. I’ve also learned that I can take care of myself, that I can have fun with most people, and that I’m a very multifaceted person. I don’t know of any other medium, as it were, that I would have learned these things about myself and been able to enjoy them.
The person sitting across from you is not responsible for fulfilling your anything.
We all want love. We all want to meet someone that knock our socks off from the first moment we meet them. We all want to get our rocks off. We all want to be with someone who gets us. Who is there for us. Who… etc. etc.
The person you’re spending your date with, probably isn’t that person. Get over it and act like a grown up. You can’t get angry at the person for not being what you made up in your head any more than you can get angry at cat for shedding hair all over.
*Also, don’t do the let’s have coffee so I can make sure you’re not a freak before I really commit to going out with you thing. Coffee will never feel like a date. Just go on a real one.