I made this mistake throughout most of my dating life, as did most of my friends – in fact I think nearly all of us have.
You see, I looked at dating as serving one purpose, and one purpose only: To start a relationship with a guy that I thought could be Mr. Right.
You're probably thinking right now "But that is the purpose of dating, right?" Well, yes and no.
Let me explain.
Dating as the beginning of a relationship with your Mr. Right is one possible purpose of dating, but there are many other possible purposes of dating.
For example, you can date just to get out of the house for a night. You can date to see if someone might turn into a friend. You can date for networking. You can date for practice – so you're very comfortable being with a stranger for a couple of hours so when the real Mr. Right comes along you won't be nervous and uncomfortable during those critical first few dates.
I know this all sounds obvious, but here's what's so hard for most of us – it's OK to look at dating this way.
Most of us feel bad if we go on a date when we're not feeling that it will go anywhere - we feel like we're using him, or stringing him along, or wasting our own time. But it's actually the opposite - in fact, it's the best possible thing you can do to find your Mr. Right. And you're doing yourself and the guy a huge disservice by doing it any other way.
Stop taking it so seriously.
What I never understood about dating is that it’s not about searching. It’s not about the hunt.
It’s about enjoying life. It’s about enjoying spending some time with another person that may or may not turn out to be our life partner. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s not about that.
It’s about having fun.
It’s about learning how to be comfortable with another person you don't know very well. It's about trying different people on for size. It's about getting to know people who you might not think of as your type.
Break away from your type.
Yes, I too thought it was all about the search. All about finding the one. All about finding true love.
And so it became the point of everything. The entirety on which my whole dating life was based.
And with that kind of mindset I missed the entire point of what dating is really about. In fact, like nearly all of us, I would only go out with a guy if I felt a connection, that chemistry, first!
Why? Because I thought that if I didn't feel that chemistry from the beginning, if I didn't think he might be the guy I would spend the rest of my life with, then why bother? I didn't want to waste my time.
What I didn't realize was that I actually was wasting my time. I was wasting my time going out with the same type of guy, over and over and over again. And finding out he wasn't the guy for me over and over and over again.
I was stuck in that mode of falling for a certain type of guy, and I just couldn't get out of it.
It's just dating.
What I finally learned is that the key to dating successfully is to enjoy the process.
Just go out with guys and enjoy getting to know them, without all of this crazy pressure to decide if he's the one or not. Don't worry about it! If he doesn't seem like your type, but he asked you out, just go out with him three or four times and get to know him.
What can it hurt? The worst thing that can happen is you get to know someone a little better.
I wish I had dated this way earlier; it would have taken all the pressure off – of both of us. It would have kept everything in balance. Instead of the physical, emotional, and mental side of dating, there would have just been one side – the fun side.
Without all the other stuff that made it so complicated and made me so anxious, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for that all-important next step (where is this relationship going?) when it wasn’t even a relationship to begin with. It would have just been about two people spending some time together, getting to know each other a little better.
Living. Going out. Experiencing. Enjoying. Having fun.
So if someone wants to set you up with their brother-in-law, or that awkward guy from accounting asks you out, or you get sent a wink from a guy whose profile isn't one that would have caught your eye, just go out with him anyway.
And have some fun.
The same thing goes if your dream guy is coming over to pick you up for a romantic dinner. Stop panicking about making sure everything is perfect, and just have some fun. Don't worry if it will turn into anything serious.
It just might, but until it does, just enjoy the ride and don't take it so seriously.