I’ve been coaching men and women on finding love for years, but it recently occurred to me – I’ve been out of the dating scene for a long time! When I was last single, phones were still connected to walls. Facebook didn’t exist, let alone “dating profiles.”
Have the rules changed? I googled “how to find love” and shuffled through all the advice. I read that true love can be achieved in as few as 8 or as many as 22 steps.
Seriously? Then I suddenly remembered: I am an expert in this field! Not only do I practice and teach the Handel Method®, but I have found the holy grail of the dating world – a long, happy marriage to the love of my life, Lee. I certainly didn’t find it by downloading the right app or showing up at a trendy bar.
That’s not to say you won’t find good dating advice online (after all, you’re reading this!) But all the advice in the world won’t do much if you don’t put it to work in your own life, and if you don’t come around to the truth of the matter: that finding your great love might require you changing yourself.
So even though times have changed, the things I know to be true about finding love have stayed the same. Here are my tips and why they work – in half the steps that it takes on Wiki-How.
Get clear on what you want – NOT what you don’t want.
When clients tell me their “dream” or ideal vision of what they’re looking for in a relationship, I often hear statements like: “we never fight” or“he is faithful” or “she loves me for who I really am.” Can you see the conflict here? What these statements are really saying are: “relationships are full of conflict”and “people cheat.”
Write down the details of your “dream relationship” and see if you can spot your own brand of negative beliefs. Dealing with whatever issues you find there will help you get clear on what you do really want, and what you need to do to get it.
When I was young and single, I had sort of a dark romantic orientation; the “typical” American dream marriage, 2.5 kids, suburbia didn’t appeal to me … too normal and boring! Strange that I found myself always getting involved with women who were dark, tortured, unstable and almost as depressing as me. It wasn’t until I let go of my judgments and bad beliefs about “normal” and began to focus on what I truly wanted (honesty, humor, etc.) that things began to change.
Change what you think
The theories you believe about love (and everything else) can either propel you forward or hold you back. If you believe – “love is hard”, “all of the good ones are taken”, “men are afraid of intimacy”, “she going to leave once she knows my true self” – the sad truth is that you will search for ways to prove those theories true, and collect evidence that supports your case.
How you think determines how you act; if you believe that men will cheat, how deeply will you be willing to connect with them? If all the good ones are taken, how hard will you really look?
Believing that “all the good ones are taken” is not going to bring you to your goal of finding love. Once you have identified how your negative theories and beliefs get in your way, you can rewrite new ones that align with what we are really going for and start collecting evidence to support them. Make it your mission to prove a new theory right: “love is rewarding and fun”, “the right person is waiting for me” or even “I am ready for and deserving of a monumental love.”
Now that you know what you want in love, and you have developed new theories that are aligned with that goal, it is time to take action. All the big dreaming and planning and reassessment of your priorities will be pointless unless you act on them in a conscious and intentional way.
At the Handel Group, we have our clients make promises to help them progress toward their goals. They can be anything from a commitment to a certain number of dates per month, to only dating people who honestly want what you want from a relationship (long term, monogamous, etc.). Here are a couple of my favorites:
Fire Your PR Agent
We all have an inner “PR agent” that tries to present the best version of ourselves to people we want to impress. Your inner PR agent is the one that gets you to lie about your age on your dating profile, exaggerate or downplay aspects of yourself on a first date. There’s an underlying fear that if you reveal your true self, your date might find you boring, or weird, or unlovable. So you lie and let your inner PR agent tell a different story about who you are and what you want. This is a recipe for disappointing relationships and missed connections, and so much time and energy wasted.
When I was first dating my wife, my PR agent wanted to run the whole show. Play it cool, show her my best side, keep her far away from the “red flags” I thought would scare her off – my previous marriage, my family past, all the things I didn’t like about myself. But lying to her would have scared her off forever, and telling her the truth brought us closer together. I had to fire my inner PR agent!
Tell The Truth
Tell it early and often even before you start dating. No lies about your past. No covering up what you really want in the future. Ask for a second date if you want one. Say no when you don’t. All of this sounds easy and simple, but we can come up with a lot of great excuses for not doing it.
I mean actually listen to the person you are dating. Instead of focusing on whether they like you or whether they are telling the truth, make a promise that on dates you will focus on the quality of the connection instead of the outcome. Ask questions and really listen to the answers – and then ask more questions.
I will be the first to admit that I am not a great listener – I think most of us aren’t. We’ve all been on dates with people who chatter about themselves the whole time. The key is to be mindful of it and be willing to practice – really, it’s a skill you’ll never not need.
I still work on it after 22 years of dates with Lee – listening intently about her day, her feelings, etc. is one way I show her that I’m still deeply in love, and interested in what she has to say.
Though I haven’t been on a “first date” in decades, I’m confident that these rules stand the test of time. In fact, the principles underlying these rules (like clarity, honesty, and integrity) can be applied to your career, relationships, health, or any area of life you want to take to a new level.
P.S.- Come to our powerful 12-Week Design Your Life Tele-Course and start getting in action, making progress, and feeling incredibly proud of your results. Designing a life that aligns with your dreams is the best step you can take towards achieving them. We’ll show you how.