As a professional dating coach, I talk to single people everyday who are frustrated with the modern dating scene. I see the differences between the people who are successful in finding love, and ones who keep coming up against the same struggles time and time again.
What is clear to me is that people from all different backgrounds, ages and geographic locations have a lot of the same issues navigating the dating scene and are making a lot of the same mistakes that are keeping them single.
Here are the biggest ones.
1. Only dating people you’ve met online
Technology is simultaneously the best and worst thing to happen to dating.
On the one hand, you have access to more romantic prospects than at any other time in human history. If you only want to date Christian broccoli farmers, the internet is going to really help you target your search. These days, technology is used by nearly everyone looking to connect romantically, even those who have easy access to lots of “offline” options.
From an emotional standpoint, it’s a lot easier to “wink” or “swipe” or “favorite” someone online or on a dating app than to walk across a room and say hello.
For most people, the risk of being ignored online is less painful than risking someone saying to your face “I’m not interested.” And so technology becomes a digital crutch that works as substitute for the face-to-face courtship humans have engaged in since the beginning of time.
More and more people are losing their ability to flirt and connect in real life. Those in-person skills are key, because that’s where the magic actually happens. Not on a screen, where you are making a million judgments about a curated version of someone’s essence.
Online dating also makes us pickier, and now one stray typo or reference to a rival sports team can tank a budding romance before it begins.
When you meet a new person in the real world, you don’t instantly interrogate them with a laundry list of questions about their interests, views on monogamy and favorite movies. (At least I hope you don’t!) It’s more likely that you view them as an actual complicated person, and not just a collection of some photos on a screen.
If it’s been forever since you dated someone you met offline, challenge yourself to make that happen. Practice making eye contact and smiling at strangers — invite the interaction to happen. Go to new places and put yourself in situations where you’ll encounter new people. Ask friends for (low-pressure) introductions. Go speed dating or to a singles mixer.
Try something new that doesn’t involve a username and a password!
2. Requiring instant chemistry
Whether it’s when looking at an online profile or meeting someone in real life, the number one comment I hear from frustrated singles is they’re not attracted to the people they are coming across.
If you are requiring instant chemistry to even consider dating someone, you’re making a big mistake.
I have a whole theory about how to judge when chemistry is a possibility or a definite no-go, but I will summarize here. When you think of the people you’ve met in your life who you felt instant chemistry with, how did those situations usually turn out? Have you ever met someone who you didn’t think much of physically at first, who turned out to rock your world?
The point is, instant chemistry is an unreliable indicator of long term compatibility.
You could be cutting yourself off from some great potential partners just because you didn’t feel that instant attraction. When it comes to online dating, this is especially likely. Most people are terrible at online dating, and that definitely applies to their terrible photos. Not everyone is photogenic or has a clue as to which photos they should use in their profile.
The rush of instant attraction can be intoxicating — literally. Your brain chemistry is impacted and your judgment is as well. Not the optimal state to make sound decisions, and who you’re going to be romantically involved with is a pretty important decision!
Be open to the possibility of chemistry developing — be an active participant in forming a bond with the people you meet and see if you can cause the sparks to start flying!
3. Taking everything too personally
Repeat after me: I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me.
Repeat after me: I cannot know everything that is going on in another person’s life or mind.
Repeat after me: Because someone doesn’t want to date me/text me back/pay for my dinner doesn’t mean they are a horrible human or that I am fundamentally unlovable.
Repeat after me: I am the center of my universe and everyone else is the center of theirs. For them, it’s not all about me.
Bottom line: Some people don’t like chocolate. I have a friend who doesn’t like bananas. I met a guy who hates potatoes — even french fries! I cannot relate! But everyone has different tastes and everyone has different love goals at any given time.
Rejection is a part of dating. You can’t let a “no” keep you from going out and seeking your match. Every “no” gets you closer to the “yes” that can change your life, so take heart, don’t take it personally and keep going!
4. Feeling (and acting) entitled.
Entitlement is a huge love blocker. If you find yourself:
With a long list of characteristics you want in another person, and you yourself don’t meet all of those characteristics and/or...
Assuming it is up to the other person to demonstrate their interest in you, even if you don’t show interest in them and/or...
Thinking that chemistry is supposed to “just happen” and you don’t take responsibility for contributing to it and/or...
Generally expecting your romantic partners to read your mind and you don’t recognize that communication is a two-way street and/or...
Getting angry when someone isn’t interested in you...
Your best course of action figure out how to turn your entitled attitude around! If you approach dating and relationships from a place of entitlement, you are setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment. Entitlement isn’t sexy. And you’re likely to only attract people who are similarly entitled, which is a recipe for major conflict.
FOMO, (Fear Of Missing Out) is one of the biggest pitfalls of modern dating. If you find yourself feeling like you have infinite options, here is a reality check: you don’t have infinite options!
Yes, there are millions of single people at your fingertips online and it is easy to feel like there’s always someone better than the person in front of you, just a swipe away. But the problem is the more you have that mindset, the harder it will be for you to settle on someone who might be a great match for you. And the more unhappy you will be when you do settle on one person — you’ll always wonder if you chose correctly. Social psychologist Barry Schwartz calls this the Paradox Of Choice.
The first step in eradicating dating FOMO is to recognize you have it. If you find yourself falling down a rabbit hole of online dating profiles, eliminating people based on the slightest shortcoming or becoming increasingly critical while evaluating your romantic prospects, you might have FOMO.
Yes, there are other fish in the sea. But there aren’t millions of them out there who are the right fish for you. There is no such thing as perfection. Show others as much grace as you’d like them to show you.
Be the change you want to see in the modern dating scene. Happy dating!
(I originally posted this on The Huffington Post.)