Can you guess what it is? The most common pitfall that this matchmaker sees single men and women falling into every day? The one thing that folks keep doing that virtually ensures that their next date (and the one after that) will be a waste of time, effort, energy and dough?
It’s related to expectations. There’s some yearning mixed in, caused by underlying angst, exacerbated by weariness as single men and women simply get tired of dating. Especially if there’s been a string of unfulfilling, disappointing, go-nowhere dates and less than heart-warming relationships.
The expectation is that dating will soon be over. And what will replace dating will be The One. A blissful union and the Happily Ever After that we’ve been promised since we heard our first fairy tale.
Now, before we launch into a spiraling guilt trip, torturing ourselves for wanting and craving this End Result, let’s remember to cut ourselves some slack – plenty of it – as it’s completely normal and instinctive for us to allow fantasy to weave its allure through every thread of our life’s tapestry. We shouldn’t even try to squash fantasy, as its part of who we are and our minds will naturally be pulled to thoughts driven by fantasy, which has been fueled and exacerbated by the media since we were in diapers.
So seriously, what to do here is to notice that you have a fantasy guy or girl in your mind and to allow for the simple notion that you’re wired to want this ideal person in your life. In fact you might even feel entitled to have this person in your life. This person whom your mind has so creatively invented…. And each date you go on, each online profile you study, each suitor your matchmaker calls you to present to you… you’ll compare to the fictitious, imaginary, ideal partner who’s lodged in crystal in your mind’s eye.
If you find yourself consistently vetoing, dismissing and discarding candidates and suitors, then it’s very likely that you’ve got a pretty tough standard to measure up to, in that mind’s eye of yours (which may or may not be realistic, but that’s another blog…) The standard you’ve set for your perfect partner is a piece of the problem, and if you’ve been studying with me for any length of time, you’ll know already that I will encourage you to practice the art of really seeing the people you encounter and to practice the oh-so-valuable art of looking for what’s lovely (vs. what’s missing) in the people you discover out there. But that’s not what we’re really attacking today.
The pitfall we’re attacking today is in a different area of the dating and relating quicksand pit. The tragic mistake is to consider dating to be something to get through, something to be survived, only for its function, which was to deliver you to the other side, which is into the arms of the person you have been waiting for. Oh, boy.
If the ONLY benefit of having a date, the ONLY reason to engage this person, to dress up, to show up at the restaurant or coffee shop would be the magical / miraculous chance that this person would be THE ONE for you (and vice versa) then I can promise you that you will hate dating.
How much could a professional baseball player enjoy the game if his only joy or reason to play would be the out-of-the-park home run or a World Series victory? That’s the kind of pressure you’re putting on yourself if you have fallen into this trap – thinking that the PURPOSE of dating is to stop dating altogether.
I often produce Plus-One events — inviting really special people, attractive, intriguing people. The catch is that each person who comes to the event must bring an opposite sex friend to share, someone whom I don’t yet know. It’s a really fun community building way to do events. And you know what breaks this matchmaker’s heart, every time I produce this event? The number of really lovely men and women whom I invite who don’t get to come, because they say they have “no one to bring” — I’m sad and incredulous when I see this.
Why it makes me sad is because I can see so clearly the reason — it’s because the folks who have no one to bring, who’ve not managed to nurture warm, friendly relationships with the myriad of opposite sex, single folks whom I KNOW are all around, all the time — the “I don’t know any single people” singles have fallen into this trap — vetoing, dismissing, discarding all kinds of potentially worthy people all along their journey, these past weeks, months, even years of being Out There.
All of this loneliness, angst, disappointment, frustration and woe is so easy to fix. All that’s needed is the practice of a new way of being with people. All people. All the time. It’s the practice of being in the present, observing and appreciating The Process of the unfolding of your very own life. Here’s what to practice.
Your mind is wandering, as you’re listening to someone speak. Practice the art of pulling your attention back to what’s being said. Practice the art of being curious. Can you listen without attachment? Can you simply let this person BE, without letting instinct interfere? Meaning…without comparing this real person to the fake person you’ve imagined over and over again in your mind? Can you see what’s special in this person?
I have a prediction for you. If you can learn to appreciate and celebrate people as they are (vs. in comparison to the person you THINK or HOPE the person might be for you…) then your dating journey will be SO much more fruitful. For one thing, you’ll have the opportunity to make some friends along the way. Friends who have friends. And who knows, one of those friends might be someone you’d really resonate with. But surely not if you have only one-date-wonders and dismiss all as not worthy of your time, attention, warmth, kindness and friendship.
I dated a guy in college for an extra couple of months, I think, because I was so fond of his grandmother. She was a Southern Belle from Atlanta and had men chasing after her til the day she died. She had some fantastic advice for me, which I always followed, and which I’m happy to pass along to you today. She said, “Julie, never turn down a date with anybody; you never know who his friends might be.”