Through the years as a psychologist, I have worked with many single men and women who have found that trying to date in Southern California is not easy. Even though there are seemingly so many potential candidates here, people often are too busy or too disconnected from each other or are exposed to so many “choices” it can be hard to pick the “one.” Actually, I remember reading an article years ago which noted that there may be around 39,000 “one’s” in the world that are right for each person, which gives everyone much better odds and much more hope in finding the right person than if there truly was just only one.
In working with my single men and women clients, here are some observations and tips which can make the whole dating experience more healthy and less frustrating:
1. Know what you are looking for, but also be flexible enough so you have more choices.
Before you venture out into the dating world, make a list of your top ten characteristics you want in a love match. Divide the list into the top five being your “must have/dealbreaker” priorities, the next three being your “qualities you must have in a partner, but can compromise on,” and the last two being “it would be nice to have in a partner, but I can live without it” traits. Be very sure that you don’t put more “fluff” items as your “must haves” rather than what will really matter to you and last over time. For instance, good character or honesty probably should be higher than model looks or the buffest physique.
2. Make it known you are available and looking.
Tell as many people as you feel comfortable about your wanting to meet someone. You never know who knows who know who, which can open your world up to meeting people you may never have run across on your own. Also, put “eggs in more than one basket” by trying different ways to date, be it through speed dating, online dating, matchmaking, etc. to increase your odds of meeting more people. As it is often said, trying to meet the right person is a numbers game in which the more people you are exposed to, the higher your chances of meeting someone who could be a good match for you.
3. As you are meeting potential people, let these prospects show you who they are and what they are capable of.
Don’t script things for them or ignore what you may not like about them because then you will not get to know the real person. Instead, you may find yourself in a relationship with more of an idealized version of that person and be unable to accurately know if you are truly right for each other or not. Too often, I’ve had to work with my clients to stop doing more than their share of giving in the relationship because the potential partner isn’t being as proactive or to stop making excuses for behavior they don’t like or is missing in a prospect.
4. Dating can be demoralizing and frustrating at times.
It is healthy and actually necessary to take a break from it periodically to recharge your system and cleanse your head and heart from the experiences that didn’t work so that you can come back to the dating world with at least a neutral mind-set. Taking some time off from dating can also allow you to more objectively review what the dating experiences were like so you can learn the lessons of what worked and what didn’t so you can put this new knowledge into practice when you re-enter the dating world again. Definitely, if you are feeling burnt out, cynical, or negative about dating, it is not time to date yet.
5. If you are not sure about a prospect after the first date, give it one or two more chances with him or her to see if there’s anything there.
Remember that on a first date, anyone can be nervous, very chatty, or even withdrawn. It is completely understandable to feel uncomfortable because along with having one’s hopes up and feeling excited about meeting each other, fears of feeling rejected or of being worried that things may not be as great once you meet each other can also can be there.
Again, these are just a few of some tips and observations to help the dating experience hopefully be more healthy and less frustrating. However, if you find that you are repeating patterns in your dating life in which you continually end up with dead-end or wrong relationships or you have issues with fears of closeness or fears of commitment, it would be best to see a psychologist to help you work through these blocks in your life so that you can have better results in your love life.