Dating and connecting can seem quite daunting. It can bring up feelings of being tested or judged or fear of being found wanting.
But from working with hundreds of people to help them find the love or connection they are looking for, there are a few simple guidelines to help you navigate the dating world.
Coaching on The Undateables
I worked with Richard on The Undateables and he could not get past a first date as he would get nervous and say or do the wrong thing. To a Russian woman he kept talking about Chernobyl. With another woman he sneakily ate her chips.
What was happening was he was getting really anxious and he could not slow down, breathe and be present. The show brought me in to help him manage to get a second date.
We met in London for a few hours. I got him to build some embodied confidence by affirming himself and using his voice and physicality to connect with the affirmation. We also worked on releasing anxiety. Then I got him to role play a few dates with a few different women so he could get more comfortable with different scenarios and chatting to women.
He did really well and the next date he had he was able to reveal his funny debonair self and go smoothly into a second date.
Hearing all parts
So why can dating seem like such a struggle? One of the reasons is that our ‘inner parts’ can get easily triggered and might have different feelings.
One part might feel exasperated that you haven’t met someone yet…
One might feeling that flirting is too sexual…
One might judge that you shouldn’t flirt and that it’s frippery nonsense…
One part might feel that you should be loved just as you are and that you should not have to put your best foot forward…
One part may feel that it is protecting you from incredible pain and cannot let you notice if someone likes you.
I suggest keeping dates to an hour and a half and date a few people initially, so that it doesn’t take over your whole life. It’s usually not a good idea to have really long dates at first as this can mean you or the other start to over-bond and this can lead to one of you liking the other more. This can lead to possible repulsion or boredom for one and fantasy for the other.
If you are doing online dating, keeping a boundaried time of half an hour to look online daily means you can keep the overwhelm down.
It can be helpful to take things gently and slowly while still prioritising your life.
Rule number 1
The only judgement you need to make for early dating is: do you enjoy the person when you are with them? Try not to judge them in between. As much as you can, keep it light hearted and try not to share your deepest secrets for a couple of dates. Try to keep messages to arrangements and niceties like “thank you, I really enjoyed being with you and would love to see you again”.
Rule number 2
Have a date, get a date! Even if you are not in-love yet, if you like them a bit then hint on date one that you would like to see them again (you can always change your mind ) and share the kinds of things you would like to do. After the date, make sure you let them know that you enjoyed it and would like to see them again. This helps keep the flow of dating. Many people assume the other person knows — they often do not and need this confirmed to dare to ask you out again.
Keep a few dates with different people on the go. This helps you not attach too quickly to someone ‘being the one’ and helps keep things light and playful.
Rule number 3
Get yourself in dating mode and in a flirty mood. Dress for fun, get relaxed and if you are coming from work then try to do something to change up your energy like a dance, listening to a meditation or speaking to a friend.
Sometimes people turn up to dates in their work mode and fire questions as if they are interviewing someone — this does not create a warm, safe atmosphere and is not the best way to make a connection!
So remember, don’t take dating too seriously and have fun with it!