Carrie L. Burns, Certified Mars-Venus Relationship coach
March 29, 2018
So, if you’re going to take the plunge into the online dating world, there are certain guiding principles you should follow when looking for a mate.
You should first make sure you are on the same page.
To make sure someone is on the same page, you need to take your time to get to know them. Obviously, you can’t do this during the initial selection phase, but you can ask questions that will help you weed people out.
Ask questions like:
“How many times have you been married?” (This answer can tell you a lot about a person. If he’s fifty and has been married four times, then you might not want to go there. If he’s fifty and has never been married he may have problems committing.)
“What was your longest relationship?” “Why did your last relationship end and how long ago?” “If I was to ask your ex about you, what would they say?” “What are you looking for now?”
Be clear about what you want and don’t waste your time on people who aren’t looking for the same thing. This sounds rather simple, but it isn’t. For example, if you are looking for a life partner and when you ask your date their feelings about settling down, they tell you, “If the right one comes along”, then you should be cautious. This is someone who isn’t clear about what they want, but, wants you to THINK you might be the lucky one to convince them. You shouldn’t feel like you must compete to win someone over. And, you may think they are on the same page as you and are looking for the same thing, when they are not.
Write down what you want in a partner. What are your 6-10 core values and what are your deal breakers? As a word of caution: do not make a list of 100 qualities and features someone must have for you to date them. Expand your horizons, but do not budge on morals and principles.
Always remember, don’t take everything everyone says at face value. Everyone presents themselves in the best light possible at first. You don’t know this person and they don’t know you. It is only over time that people reveal their true selves, but asking questions and getting to know someone will start you on the right path.
Don’t base your decisions solely on a picture.
My guy is not really my type. He has red hair and freckles and he’s starting to lose his hair at the young age of 35. Based on his pictures, I really didn’t think I would find him attractive in person and I didn’t see how we would possibly have chemistry. But, I liked his personality. I focused on the fact that he always seemed happy and in good spirits when we were texting and, given my penchant towards negativity and depression, I knew that was something I wanted and needed in my life.
So, lo and behold, I was completely surprised when he walked into the restaurant the night of our first date. I found myself immediately attracted to him. We’ve been together pretty much since that first night (with a few hiccups). Never judge a book by its cover because you never know what you might get.
Don’t rule anyone out unless they are totally and completely not what you are attracted to. Give people the benefit of the doubt as you would like them to give to you.
I know a lot of people lie about their height and weight and only provide the best pictures. I can’t tell you how many guys have shown up on dates looking NOTHING like their profiles. So what? Everyone is human. We are all seeking connection. Be open. If nothing clicks physically then maybe you’ve made a new friend.
Expand your horizons
Don’t get stuck in the mode of having rigid thinking. If you think “I have to date someone who is college educated, or, makes over $100,000.00 a year, or a guy who is over 6 feet tall or someone who has never been married or has no kids, then you are narrowing your dating pool.
I have a B.A. in philosophy and a Juris Doctorate and I’m a spelling maniac. My boyfriend has a high school degree and can’t even use there or their properly. But, who really cares? His ability to spell has nothing to do with his ability to meet my needs or make me happy.
Your match is the person who accepts you for who you are flaws and all and vice versa and that is what you are looking for. Don’t just focus on finding someone who checks off all the boxes.
Make it fun
Dating doesn’t have to be a chore. When I was dating I considered every date a chance to meet someone new or do something fun or make a new friend. If I ended up liking them, great, and if not, I didn’t lose anything other than an hour or two of my time.
Don’t approach every date expecting to find, “The ONE” because that’s just too much pressure for anyone.
Dating should be fun. It should be about getting to know someone and enjoying their company. Even if they aren’t your type, you don’t have to be rude or mean or cold. Be honest about your attraction level and whether you want to see them again. Always be kind.
Most importantly, get out there and enjoy yourself because you never know what’s waiting around the next corner, or the next email!
A 5-Step Plan for Finding Love After a Difficult Breakup
It took me a couple months to start repairing my broken heart after the toughest breakup of my life. I thought we were going to spend our lives together, but the gods of love had other plans.
After I’d grieved in healthy (and not-so-healthy ways) I knew I could take two paths: stay stuck in my misery or pick myself up, dust off my sadness, and make a plan to move on.
And now it’s time for you to move on and find love again, too.
I know it’s not easy. For years I believed my ex was “the one” and the thought of finding someone new after our breakup was terrifying.
But I got back on my horse and kept riding. I felt the fear of rejection, putting myself out there again, playing the “dating game,” trusting someone new, and wasting my time with people I didn’t connect with.
But finding love doesn’t have to be complicated and scary if you follow a plan, just like anything else in life.
You want to start your own business, take a vacation, or get out of debt? Make a plan.
You want to find love? You’ve got to make a plan for that, too.
If you don’t have a plan you’ll continue stumbling around in the dark hoping you’ll miraculously find true love. So if you’re struggling to find love and tired of the same old patterns leading you into the arms of the wrong people, then listen up…
Step 1: Let go of your ex.
Have you really let go of your ex and moved on from your breakup?
If you haven’t let go, you’re not going to find love. Period.
On the first date I went on after my breakup I talked about my ex. A lot. I knew I was breaking the sacred rules of first dates, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t about to hide my true feelings. Because the fact was I was still sad about it. It was clear to me that I wasn’t yet over the breakup.
But I also understood that if I had my ex and my breakup on my mind there was never going to be room for new love to enter.
Do you still have negative feelings around your breakup? Are you holding onto anger, shame, or resentment?
Whether you’re getting over a recent breakup or a breakup that happened months or even years ago, you have to let go.
First, stop avoiding and suppressing your negative feelings. We avoid dealing with our feelings in all sorts of ways: binge-watching television, eating, sex, alcohol, drugs, and telling people, “Everything is fine,” when we’re actually a hot mess.
Instead of avoiding and suppressing, let your feelings flow through you and get comfortable with the discomfort. Don’t chastise yourself for the feelings. Ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” and, “Why is this coming up NOW?” Getting curious is always healthier than suppression.
Second, get back to doing things you love. Sometimes when we’re in a long-term relationship, we lose ourselves. Go do things that light you up inside and bring you joy. Go take that hip-hop dance class, join a new gym, or write the book you’ve been putting off.
And finally, make sure you have someone who listens to you without judgment and will let you vent when you need to. You think you don’t have someone to talk to? Think harder. You might be surprised of how willing people are to help and listen when you tell them how much you’re hurting. Exploring solutions is always easier when we have someone who listens instead of feeding us useless clichés like, “Time will heal.”
Other solutions to exploring our feelings are support groups in your community, online forums, or starting a journaling practice. Get the stuff out and you’ll be surprised how much easier it becomes to let it go.
Step 2: Don’t date people just because they’re the exact opposite of your ex.
When you go through a devastating breakup you convince yourself that you’ll never date someone like your ex ever again! “That’s it!” you scream, “I’m going for someone totally different than my ex!”
Your ex hated spontaneity and adventure? You’re going after a rock-climbing, world-traveling, adrenaline-seeker.
Your ex had blonde hair? Only brunettes from now on!
Your ex didn’t like reading, cats, Star Wars, trying new restaurants, the opera, camping, people-watching, or road trips? You get the idea.
But the problem with this approach is that it’s a knee-jerk reaction. Instead of thinking about what you really, truly want in a relationship, you jump in blindly. Dating someone just because they’re not like your ex probably won’t end well.
Go to Step 3
Step 3: Get clear on your values.
Our values are the guiding lights in our lives.
If you’re not clear on what you value, how can you find someone who shares your values? Because if you’re dating people who don’t share the same values as you, it’ll never work.
Think about your past relationships. Remember those times when you first started dating someone and you discovered something that didn’t jive with your values? And remember how you brushed it to the side and said, “It’s probably not that big of a deal. Maybe I’ll change….or maybe they’ll change.”
Fast-forward to your breakup. I’ll bet some of those old clashes in values came up throughout the breakup process, didn’t they?
Get clear on your values and don’t negotiate, undermine, or reduce them. Stay true to them and find a partner who shares your values. If you do this, you’ll be taking a huge step toward finding love again.
Step 4: Say “no” to relationships that are a waste of your time (and theirs).
It’s hard to say “no.” We don’t like hurting people’s feelings and letting people down, so we say “yes” to things we shouldn’t. Then we kick ourselves afterward for not having had the guts to say “no.”
When we delay our “nos” we’re wasting our time and the other person’s time. We go on third, fourth, and fifth dates with people who we’re really not interested in, but we just can’t tell them the words, “I’m sorry, I just don’t want to be with you.” Instead, we draw it out into a painful process of indecision, stress, and fear.
How do you say “no” to someone you’re not interested in continuing dating?
You say, “I’m sorry, but I know what I’m looking for in a partner and you’re not that person.”
Now, you don’t have to use those exact words. You have to find your own balance between honesty, compassion, and staying true to your values. Because if you’re clear on your values after Step 4, there’s no reason to waste your time with people who don’t align with what you’re looking for.
And really, what’s so bad about saying, “You’re not the partner for me?” Personally, I’d rather hear that and say my goodbyes than feel attacked by a laundry list of all the areas I lack and reasons we’re not a good couple. Just because things didn’t work out with someone doesn’t necessarily mean I should change; maybe it just means there’s a better match out there for me.
Yes, people might feel hurt by your honesty. But ultimately, that’s for them to deal with. I don’t say that to be callous; I say that because people aren’t going to grow if you lie to them, coddle them, and keep saying “yes” when you’d rather say “no.” Ultimately, that honesty is going to help both of you move forward in a healthier way.
Step 5: Improve yourself.
No matter how many self-help books that you’ve read, we all have blind spots and weaknesses.
After my latest breakup, I realized I needed to work on some things. I reflected on my fear of commitment. I got clear on my core values. I worked on my ability to communicate my feelings around tough subjects like sex, money, and having children.
I read new books, worked with a coach, and traveled by myself. I met new people and shared life experiences with them in a vulnerable way.
It’s really hard to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Where have I been going wrong? What can I do to make myself better?” It’s so much easier to point a finger and say, “It’s your fault! Not mine!”
But true growth can only happen when we look inside ourselves. When you grow and become a better version of yourself you’ll develop more confidence—and we all know confident people are a lot more likely to find true love. Lastly, get out there and make yourself available to opportunities like online dating and be yourself above all else.
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