As a dating coach, I’ve probably heard every excuse in the book in answer to the question ‘Why are you still single?’.
From blaming past partners, to family, careers, time, weight, age – you name it, I’ve heard it. But when we get down to business and cut through the excuses, it usually boils down to one thing.
You are getting in your own way.
If you are still in the blaming stage of singledom, you are probably not ready to be dating. Once you arrive at the point where you are ready to step up, take responsibility and own your situation, you start approaching date readiness.
Owning your situation involves accepting the role that YOU play in keeping yourself single.
I know it sounds counter-intuitive. Why would you undermine the achievement of something you dearly want in life?
Well, the answer lies in your sub-conscious mind.
Your conscious thoughts are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the entirety of your mental life. What lies beneath the surface is a deep, complex, often contradictory set of thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
Your sub-conscious thoughts can sneak up on you and stand in the way of your progress if you don’t know how to recognise and change them.
It’s time to get out of your own way
Here are 5 common ways that people sabotage their dating success and some tips for getting out of your own way:
1. Undefined Goals
You wouldn’t go to a job interview without having a career plan in mind, would you? How would you know if the job was in line with your overall career direction? So why go on a date with someone if you don’t have clarity about your ideal, perfect partner and the type of relationship you want to create?
Lack of clarity in dating goals leads to aimless wandering through a quagmire of inappropriate dates and inevitable frustration and time-wasting.
If your end point is not defined, you’ll tend to bounce from one date to another and tend to respond to potential dates who show interest in you, rather than making proactive and empowered choices about who you want to spend time with.
It’s a bit like waiting to be head-hunted in your job rather than networking and doing your own research.
What to do? Set a specific goal about your future relationship. Get really clear about the outcome you want and create a set of actions to do every day and week.
2. Unrealistic Self-Evaluation
Many people inaccurately appraise their readiness to step into a serious relationship.
Whether they are carrying wounds from a previous love, have not created space in their lives, need time to work on themselves or have a head full of negative messages, they stumble into the next relationship and it things go south.
What to do? It is so important to make an accurate and honest self-evaluation of your current state in relation to dating. On a readiness scale of 1 – 10, where are you at? You might decide that a 6/10 is good enough for you and you’ll enter in the dating scene with a level of caution.
Or, you might prefer to wait until you are 9 or 10/10 before putting yourself in the dating firing line. [I’m aware that I’m using quite negative language here and it’s intentional – dating can be tough – it takes resilience and grit to bounce back from the inevitable rejections and disappointments so being emotionally prepared is critical]
3. Unconsciously focusing on what you DON’T want
I bet you could give me a long list of all the characteristics you don’t want in a partner. All the things that have annoyed and frustrated you about past relationships, all the niggling nasties that turn you off before a date even opens their mouth. Am I right?
Whilst this topic is fodder for some fabulous conversations over cocktails or beers, it can actually be quite damaging. The thing about our brain is that it creates more of what we focus on.
By carrying around a bunch a negative thoughts about dating or relationships, we set about either a) repelling any good potential dates who may be floating around, or b) stepping into dysfunctional relationships that don’t last and create more emotional pain.
What to do? First, write a list of all the things you DO NOT want in a partner and relationship. Then destroy it! Start fresh with a new list of all the things you DO want and display this where you will see it every day.
4. Trying to change things beyond your control
Have you ever felt really annoyed when it rained during a picnic, wedding or concert? It’s frustrating isn’t it; you put all this effort into planning an event then the weather changes without notice and the day is ruined.
Have you also noticed how fruitless it is to get angry with the weather…?
Focusing your effort on something that is beyond your control will inevitably lead to disappointment. In dating, I see people wasting their time with dates who are married or live interstate, and investing way too much emotional energy in ‘wishing’ the situation were different.
What to do? Each time you become frustrated with an aspect of your dating life ask yourself ‘Is this within my control?’. If it is, work toward changing it, if it is not, let it go.
5. Self-limiting beliefs
This is probably the most common (and most damaging) of all the self-sabotaging behavioural patterns. We often send ourselves negative messages about our worth and this is incredibly prevalent in the dating realm.
Common limiting beliefs about dating I see are:
♥ “I don’t deserve to be happy in a relationship”
♥ “When I lose weight/get another job/buy a house I’ll be ready”
♥ “No-one would ever be interested in me”
♥ “It’s been too long, I’ve forgotten how to be sexy”
♥ “I probably won’t like him/her so what’s the point?”
What to do? Start to notice when such thoughts are showing up for you. When they occur, you need to stop > breathe > challenge the thought > reframe the thought. It helps to create your own (more positive and helpful) line of thought to replace any negative thoughts that come up, e.g. “I deserve love and I’m getting ready to meet my ideal, perfect partner’.
So spend some time reflecting on your own approach to dating and question your choices.
Check your self-talk and develop a clear vision for your future relationships.
And get out there and flirt up a storm – you’ve got nothing to lose, but your single status.