You’re lonely and ready to meet someone special, but “everyone has red flags!” If this feels like your inevitable reality, do this ONE thing.
I’m seeing a pattern. My single-and-looking patients all have a similar story: they’re ready to meet someone special and they’ve mapped out their dream-partner criteria, but the “one” is nowhere to be found.
When I hear patients complain that “no one is out there” or “everyone has red flags,” I always give them this one piece of advice: go on more dates.
There are a lot of reasons people don’t “serial date.” Maybe it feels morally wrong, desperate or too time consuming. And while online dating remains the fastest way to meet a lot of people, it has gotten a bad rap for unclear reasons. The more I treat people with relationship problems, though, the clearer it has become: quantity of dates equals quality of partner.
Take my patient, “Michael,” a successful stock broker, for example.
Michael feared serial dating for many reasons. First, it seemed socially unacceptable and morally wrong — in a word, he felt sleazy. I used an analogy to help him see beyond this cultural stigma: how often do we limit our research for really important decisions? Take buying a car, a house, or a stock, for example. Chances are you’re going to research and try on your options before settling on one. Michael eventually saw dating for what it truly was: due diligence.
But reaching out to too many women also made Michael feel desperate and needy — feelings he judged harshly. I challenged this judgment and helped Michael see how neediness is a normal human emotion; there’s nothing wrong with it. I also explained that only he was judging his neediness; others would see a man committed to finding a partner. So, with time, Michael let go of his neediness fear.
Next, we tackled Michael’s fear of time — “how could I possibly find time to date all these women?” I soon discovered Michael had trouble cutting off dates with women who displayed red flags. I helped him understand he didn’t owe anything to his dates; if he didn’t think it was a fit, he could leave after a drink. (And how stringing them on for a second or third date wasn’t fair to the women — it was wasting their time — and not the altruistic act he imagined.) We walked through scenarios about how to cut off dates.
But Michael still felt guilty being so critical — “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover,” “Maybe the drinking too much was a one-time thing,” “I’ve been late before. How can I judge her for being 45 minutes late with no apology?” I assured him it was his job to stand up for himself and not these grown women. He finally realized and accepted that this was HIS relationship mission, HIS dream and he’d have to trust his gut and move on. Ultimately, Michael had to develop the skill of critical judgement and become extremely comfortable using it — and he did.
Last, it was difficult for Michael to come to terms with the fact that, as a divorced middle aged man with no children, there were few woman who’d meet his dream criteria: an older woman of childbearing age who did not have children. The solution? Meeting as many women as he could. He eventually got comfortable with “serial dating” and for a year, dated one to two woman a week (with a few relationships lasting about a month) before finding the woman to whom he is now engaged.
Michael’s story is a great example of how dating more can lead to the right relationship. Yes, we had to overcome obstacles and Michael had to learn new skills, but ultimately, his due diligence led him to “the one.”
If you’re struggling to overcome relationship issues like Michael’s, we’d love to help. Contact us for a free consultation today.
To your emotional health,