The stories people tell each other, and themselves, have always had great power. Throughout history, the myths and legends passed down through generations have guided the behaviors and thoughts of countless people. Our cultural myths are how we learn right from wrong. They teach us how to operate, what to think, hope for, imagine, and how to understand our world.
But sometimes myths are not based on truth, or they grow old, or they lose their usefulness. In Aztec myth, human beings were portrayed as servants to gods who needed to be fed in order to keep them happy, and thus avoid disaster. The gods, it seemed, needed something that could only be found in human blood. This myth might have served a purpose for a time, but, have you noticed? There is no more human sacrifice happening among the descendants of the Aztec people. They outgrew those myths.
There may be myths about dating that hold you back, or keep you living in the past (or in a darkened room with the X-box… or with a stack of Danielle Steele novels) instead of getting out there and finding love. I want to help you rewrite your stories about dating so you can get past the fears they encourage or support, and become a more confident, optimistic dater.
Here are five limiting myths, or stories, that we often tell ourselves about dating.
→ The dating world is like America’s Got Talent—full of judges waiting to reject me.
Rejection is a feeling that originates in you, not the other person. Think about it. You are picking out paints in the hardware store and you shuffle past Robin’s Egg, Periwinkle Sunrise, and Violet Afterglow, finally landing on Colorado Sky. Are those color chips you hastily tossed aside as not right for your kitchen crying inwardly and feeling horrible? They simply were not right for you. Your choice, or another’s, does not “create rejection”—but how we respond to another’s choice can feel like rejection. Don’t let it.
No-one can make you feel rejected without your permission. The disappointment you feel stems from your own beliefs about why you were rejected. Be the color chip—realize you are a gorgeous color but just not the right color for everyone. Do not take it personally. And honestly, what a relief to know that people are not going to waste your time monopolizing you and your attentions even when they know you are not the right match. Be glad you are freed up to find the right person who’s going to love your Periwinkle Sunrise….
→ Normal people like me will never be attractive enough to catch someone’s eye in this airbrushed world.
It is true that our world is steeped in unrealistic images and we are brainwashed to perceive a certain (unattainable) ideal as the very thing we should strive for. Forget it. And do two things for me: look around and look at yourself.
Look at couples on the street holding hands, on the bus with their legs pressed together, sitting at dinner in local restaurants. Do they all look like a Calvin Klein ad? Of course not! Now look at yourself in the mirror. Smile. This is who the world sees. You are the one person most likely to tear yourself apart and pick away at perceived imperfections. But STOP! Seeing yourself is not the same as tearing yourself apart. That person in the mirror is the Perfect YOU.
Sure, it’s great to do an objective assessment, maybe opt for a new, more updated hair style, or buy some new clothes that accentuate your assets or complement your eyes and represent the real you. But then, move on and walk the walk of Perfect You! Stop overanalyzing and start loving—yourself!
→ Odds are, one of us is going to be borrrrrinnnnnnggg, or, even worse, bored. Why bother?
First of all, you are not boring. Second of all, not everyone is the right fit. I would be bored if someone wanted to talk about the nuances of the international finance market, but to someone else, that is fascinating stuff! Remember that dating is about seeing what is going to work and what isn’t.
There are things you can do to enhance the experience of those early conversations, however. Keep the conversation light and upbeat. An easy way to build a connection is to talk about a topic that you can both relate to. If it’s not currency exchange rates around the world, it might be cooking, travel books, or basketball.
Find out about your date—and, just as importantly, share yourself. The anecdotes each of you tells will reveal things that are of interest in determining compatibility. If your date talks about travel a lot, and you are a homebody, that may make you uncomfortable. But maybe you’ve been longing for someone to travel with! Anecdotes about work, friends, and other interactions can reveal much about how we interact with other people and the world. Avoid talk of past relationships or significant trauma… for now. There is no need to go heavy and deep to find out a lot of good information, and keep things from being … boring.
And remember the usual tips that can help you listen sincerely, and show interest through body language and responsiveness. (Revisit my earlier blogs Hello, did you hear me—How to Be an Active Listener and Do You Speak Body Language.
→ The dating scene should actually be called “booty call”—people don’t want relationships, they just want sex.
There are people out there who “date” only to hook up. But there are plenty—millions, in fact—of people who long for real human connection, just like you do. Believe me, I know. I see some of them every day in my practice. There are things you can do to avoid the hassle, embarrassment, or stress of getting mixed up with the ones who want only sex, and find others who are more aligned with your values.
- Be sure you have a great online profile that conveys you in an authentic way.
- Set and keep physical boundaries when you meet people for the first time, so that the message is clear that you are interested, but not ready to hop in bed, and that reveals how you feel about yourself and how you wish to be treated.
- Though you don’t want to talk about commitment during your first phone call or date, it’s okay to be honest about what you are dating for—to meet someone compatible for a serious relationship.
→ Disappointment is inevitable.
Stop that! If you believe that that “disappointment is inevitable” with all your heart, you will behave accordingly and end up attracting the disappointment you fear. Your beliefs (as I have said many times in this blog) create a set of feelings and actions that lead inexorably to outcomes. If you fear rejection, you believe in rejection as a likely outcome, and will come across as someone who expects rejection. People who expect rejection—not so sexy, right? They are the Eeyores of the dating world. Eeyore had good friends who understood him, but… not a lot of dates.
But once you stop self-sabotaging with your negative beliefs (disguised as fears), remember: dating is a process. As such, it has a beginning, middle and end. Not every first date will lead to marriage. What a crazy thought, anyway, right? The process starts with meeting and getting to know many people. Next comes the part where you date for a while to get to know one another. If you see every first date that does not lead to a second date as “disappointment” you will become depressed, and fast. Rather, see it as another stepping stone on the way to the right person, and be grateful you are not wasting time on someone who is not right for you. That way, you’ll be available when that right person shows up.
I hope I have shattered a few myths and the hold they have on you. It’s often true that embedded in a myth that has staying power there is a germ of truth, or at least a basis in experience—if not ours directly, someone’s experience, at some point in history. Sure, some folks are shallow and look for that perfect “10” (and I say, “Good luck finding it!”). And yeah, some people are just looking for sex. They are the ones to feel sorry for as they work their way through a series of meaningless encounters and still end up alone. The germ of truth is just that—a germ! Wash it away. Whatever the myth that is defining you and controlling your outlook and actions–let it go.