The dating game can be a tough one, but there are many ways I observe my clients make the process that much tougher without even realizing it.
They blame the apps. The city they live in. Their age. The men they date who repeatedly don’t show up. Their exes for shaping their awful dating history.
I’m not diminishing any disappointing experiences here …
I became a heartbreak/finding-love coach because I did all of the above and found myself repeatedly heartbroken and/or perpetually single and lonely.
So, what changed?
I pulled up my big-girl pants and changed my attitude, and I committed to stop condoning poor behavior just because I had feelings for someone.
You need more than feelings.
You need respect, compatibility, loyalty, aligned values, and a shared desire for the same things in life (to name a few), as well as a similar timeline as to when you want to pursue things like marriage, kids, etc.
Yes, the dating scene can be tough, but this “tough-love” coach wants you to get tougher when it comes to how you’re showing up, who you’re selecting to explore things with, and how you handle disappointment when things don’t go your way.
Here are five tough-love dating tips that will help shift your dating story to one of empowerment.
Editor’s note: Although this article uses male pronouns, the advice applies to all sexual orientations and gender identities.
1. Nip saying “I only attract unavailable men” in the bud.
You get to change the story of attracting unavailable people RIGHT NOW, by saying NO to them RIGHT NOW. Attracting unavailable men isn’t a problem—saying YES to them is. And usually we say “Yes” because we have feelings that our hearts and vaginas want to respond to, while our heads paint green over red flags. Feel the discomfort and say “No” when you clock unavailability.
2. Find out what he’s looking for by the end of date three.
Just because he checks “Looking for a relationship” on his Bumble profile doesn’t mean he’s looking for the kind of relationship you’re looking for. Sure, it can be a little awkward asking someone this question, but you’re not asking them if they want a relationship with YOU. You’re justifiably inquiring so that you don’t waste your time. I say by date three, there should definitely be an open organic window to ask this perfectly reasonable question.
3. When he says he doesn’t know what he’s looking for while you DO know, BOUNCE.
Don’t fall for the trap of believing that if you play the “cool girl” card, he’ll suddenly know he wants you. If you know you’re ready for a solid, awesome partnership, you deserve to be with someone who desires the same. Plus, you don’t want to be “selling” energy in your situationship, which is created from the belief that you have to prove yourself in order for him to go all-in. You don’t. Hear a man when he says he doesn’t want a relationship or isn’t sure about it, and gracefully exit, holding your classy, worthy head high.
4. Take things slowly (even when he wants to go fast).
If you have a pattern of going all-in way too soon only to have your heart broken a month later, PAY ATTENTION. No more than two dates a week for the first four to six weeks, no matter how much you want to spend more time with him or how much more often he wants to see you. Be present in the rest of your life. Process the dates in between. Think about what you’d like to ask him next, or get more clarity on something he said on an earlier date. Don’t get into the habit of texting each other incessantly like you’re already boyfriend/girlfriend. Date other people, even when you have the urge to put all your eggs in one basket right away. It takes time to get to know someone, even if you feel like you’ve known them forever upon meeting them. You DON’T know them, so slow it down and keep your eyes wide open on making sure his actions actually line up with his words … Your person will honor your pace, and if he doesn’t, it’s better you find out his disrespect of your time earlier than later.
5. Don’t let five disappointments in a row derail your desire and motivation to keep dating.
I get it. When there are multiple disappointments in a row, your instinct is to toss up your hands and claim, “Love just must not be in the cards for me!’’ But giving a handful of lame guys who treated you poorly—or who didn’t match up to the attractive pictures they posted on their profiles—all the power to dictate how your future love life is going to unfold ISN’T the solution! You’re looking for ONE person, and I suggest you lean into being WILLING to move through the awkwardness, pain, and disappointment of dating in order to find your person—EVEN if another five disappointments come your way. You can handle the negative emotions that come up … After all, you’re already feeling negative about not finding him, so why would you stop dating if that’s what you ultimately want?
You get to choose your discomfort: Either the discomfort of fulfilling old patterns that recreate painful events with one unavailable guy after the next OR the discomfort of showing up differently even though it feels very counterintuitive …
Both are tough, but I assure you that the latter will be the most rewarding!
Claire Byrne is a heartbreak/finding-love coach and host of her podcast, Stop Wanting Him Back & Find Someone Better. For more information, go to clairetheheartbreakcoach.com.
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