Emotional exhaustion. Hopelessness. Hating men and/or yourself. That’s what dating the wrong way can do to women. You get to feeling like it’s just not worth all the nonsense, hurt and disappointment. Why bother? You have a pretty good life, so why are you bothering?
I’ll tell you why: Because you have to date if you want love in your life. And no matter how great your life is, the love, commitment and adoration of a partner adds a richness that you just can’t get any other way.
So let me tell you about a way to approach dating (online or off) that I’m sure will help you maintain your dignity and sanity, have more fun and eventually meet the man of your dreams.
As I was coaching one of my private clients a while ago it dawned on me: Women would benefit greatly if they could learn to think more like men when it comes to dating. Here’s “Debbie’s” story, but it’s typical of what I hear time and time again from women who are dating.
As part of her coaching program, I helped Debbie get online with a great profile and pics. She was raring to go! Right off the bat she found a profile she really liked and, with my help, sent the guy a friendly, flirty email. He seemed great on paper, and during a few email exchanges, he seemed very interested. The next thing you know…she had a date!
On their meet date (the first meeting is just that – a chance to decide if you want to go on a real date), he complimented her, told her he felt lucky to have met her and mentioned some activities they might do together. At the end of the date, they both agreed they wanted to see each other again.
Debbie was feeling a major connection. She was excited, and had that he-could-be-the-one thing going in her mind. I’m sure you know that feeling.
But the end of this story was not happy: That was the only date they had. She never saw him again.
He did call once but didn’t call back when he said he would. And then he disappeared.
By the time Debbie and I connected, this entire story had transpired. When I talked to her, she was in damage mode. You know: down the rumination rabbit hole, where we gals can’t help but go. Why had he said all those things to me? What did I do wrong? Do you think he ever liked me? Maybe he just has too much going on in his life right now…should I tell him I’ll wait? Why was he such an asshole?
Debbie was emotionally drained, and her dating confidence was in the dumps. She was exhausted. And then those words I hate to hear (but hear way too often) started coming: Why does this always happen to me? I’m done! This is bulls#%!
Yep, I thought. Here we go again. I had to tell her that it wasn’t about the guy at all; it was about her.
Debriefing Debbie’s Date and Response to His “Disappearance”
Here’s what I gave her as answers to her many questions:
Why had he said all those things to me? Because he probably liked you.
What did I do wrong? If you showed up, had fun and were “real”…absolutely nothing.
Do you think he ever liked me? Again, yes. I do…when he was with you.
Why was he such an asshole? He wasn’t. He’s a guy who is dating.
Should I wait? Hell NO! For what?
Why does this always happen to me? It doesn’t. First, you’ve gone out with about 12 guys in the past few months, and this great-date-then-disappearing-act thing has happened twice. That doesn’t count as “always” in my book. Second, nothing happened TO you. Something just happened.
And the major, most important information I gave her was this: You will never know what happened to this one guy in relation to this one date. Ever. And it DOESN’T MATTER.
As the “Compassionate Truth Teller” that I am, I had to give Debbie the straight facts to help her move through her self-inflicted emotional turmoil. She didn’t even know this guy that she had spent the last two days being depressed and angry about! Instead of recognizing his bad behavior and realizing that he did her a favor by disappearing, she was latched on to her initial impression of him…which was based on a few paragraphs in a profile and 1.5 hours with him drinking coffee.
Although she was a woman dating after 40 − Debbie was 54 − it didn’t change what she’d been doing with men all her life: Hitching her wagon to a fantasy. She created a story about this man based a fraction of information coupled with a deep WISH to meet The One.
After one date Debbie jumped in HEART first…and created her own crash and burn drama.
And the kicker is, while she was spending all her energy on a relationship that never existed, she wasn’t responding to the dozens of men in her match.com inbox who were waiting for her attention. Seriously…dozens!
So What Was the Guy Thinking About Their Date and Relationship?
Over the years I’ve talked to countless men about dating and relationships, so I’m going to use what I learned from them to guess the guy’s side of this story.
“Oh, Debbie was nice looking and fun to hang with. Yeah, It would be nice to see her again. I’ll make a date.” And then, in the next day or so “Oh look! Something shiny!”
That shiny thing could have been another woman, his job or maybe some family thing. It could have been the realization that she was nice and all, but not a woman who could be His One. Again, we’ll never know. But he found something he’d rather do, or he chose not to spend more time with her. So he went on to live his life. I mean, after all, they only had one short coffee date. Surely he didn’t owe her a phone call to say he didn’t want to see her again.
I agree it would have been super extra gentlemanly of him to tell her that he was moving on, but I don’t think he owed it to her. (And I think that could be somewhat awkward, don’t you?) This guy wasn’t a jerk or a liar. He did enjoy their date. He did plan to see her again. Then he changed his mind. After one short date, he was not yet invested in her at all. He was dating and understood that it meant meeting a bunch of people until the special one comes along. And for the ones you meet that don’t work out, you simply move on. Next! That’s all he was doing.
Why We Should Approach Dating More Like a Man
Yes, I said it: It would help you to approach dating a little more like a guy. So many women go on every date hoping he’s the one and that only sets you up for disappointment. One of two things tend to happen due to your high expectations (and hopes for this one guy):
1. You judge him too critically and don’t give him a chance.
2. You try to make him fit into the “maybe he’s the one” category and overlook clear signals that he’s wrong for you.
Most men approach dating quite differently. Even though they may be seriously looking for a lifetime partner, most men go on dates thinking something like, “I hope she’s attractive and nice. I hope we have fun.” And if he likes you “It’ll be cool to see her again and get to know her better.”
After a date or two, if what he learns doesn’t knock his socks off, or you don’t want to see him again, he doesn’t spend days wallowing in disappointment. He knows that’s what dating is all about. And that there will be another shiny object. Next!
Discover, Don’t Decide
The purpose of dating isn’t to get a man to like you or make a guy fit your expectations so you can finally say you found someone. Dating is all about DISCOVERING whether he has potential to be your guy as you get to know him. A relationship is about DECIDING if he truly is your One.
Not only did Debbie lose three weeks of potential fun dates, but she burned herself out and brought herself to the verge of giving up on finding love…all over a guy she never knew.
Start slow, keep an open mind, stay in the moment and don’t go ALL IN on anyone too soon. This is the grownup girl part of dating: manage your expectations and keep your fantasies in check no matter how strong the guy comes on. Balance your heart with your head.
By choosing the crazy woman’s path of dashed hopes and disappointments (I think I can say that because I was that crazy chick for many years.), you will likely burn yourself out. The ups and downs will get the best of you. And then you miss out on so many opportunities to enjoy yourself and to stay open to many guys, one of which will your last first date. Slow and steady wins THIS race…and the right guy.