Is it something in the air this time of year? I’ve been seeing more clients whose approaches to dating have not only failed them, but have left them feeling depleted and less confident. I’ve noticed two dating approaches or mindsets they have shared that are to be avoided at all costs.
The first approach I’ll call: “It’s a contest—choose me.”
Just reading it makes me feel stressed! I’m finding that so many women (more than men) approach dates as a contest they will either win or lose. When I probe a little deeper, I learn that they take on the failure of the date when they did not even like the guys! This really isn’t that hard to understand when the media consistently portrays successful women as picture-perfect, perky, always energetic, etc.
When you find yourself falling for that story, look just behind it. Dating is not about winning or losing. What to do? You need a shift in your mindset. A date is about two people looking for a fit of attraction, values and lifestyle. Try this: rather than self-judging, go on your next date thinking about the fit for the both of you. Is it right for you? I expect that might change things for the better.
The other mindset I’m hearing about is best referred to as “Holding out for Prince Charming.”
On the one hand, so many of us hate dating because of feelings of being judged. On the other hand, by having our own absolute checklists we are judging — big time! How did this happen? I am absolutely, 100% against arranged marriages. However, it is instructive to note that the divorce rate amongst arranged marriages is less than those of self-chosen unions.
Perhaps one reason has to do with expectations. Not settling, but expectations. Take Judy as an example. Judy lives in a metropolitan city, is a highly-successful businesswoman, works out regularly, has a strong and long-standing group of friends with whom she travels and has an active social life. Her missing link is a life partner. She looks at friends of hers who have married and initially she felt they settled. “He isn’t as educated as she is” is one of the kinds of things that has come up, for example. Upon closer examination, however, Judy told me that her friends were genuinely happy and didn’t feel like they had settled in the least. Remember, the most successful relationships build from a mutual attraction anchored in friendship and shared values. Flexibility is important.
Something shifts when we let go of the self-judgment and look instead for the best fit; when we stay flexible with expectations in the same way we would want our partner to be gentle and flexible with us. With time, practice and nurturing rituals that help you build your personal sense of comfort and power, you can experience dating as part of your roadmap towards the future you envision.
Barbara Waxman, President and founder of the Odyssey Group, works with business owners, executives and individuals increase their leadership capacity and their ability to deliver concrete results. Barbara founded The Odyssey Group in 2005 in order to use her skills as an executive and life transition coach for adults, midlife and better. “My passion is working with people for whom the primary tasks of middle adulthood have been complete. Children may have (almost) been raised. Relationships have stayed the course, dissolved, or are on the horizon. Career goals have been achieved, have been a disappointment or are being dreamed of. The question we face is “What’s next?”