Ok, folks. It’s time to get to the nitty gritty. If you’ve been keeping up with my posts these past few months, you’ve seen how important it is to spend some time getting to know yourself, acknowledged your insecurities and vulnerabilities, and admitted to yourself that you’re tired of jumping from prospect to prospect like a twisted game of hopscotch. Or at the very least, you’re done faking the funk and acting like you don’t want something more meaningful than a “can I come through?” text at midnight. You’re finally ready for the big leagues. You’re ready to date smart- not around.
I’m not a dating expert or the female version of “Hitch”. As I said in the last post, I hate most of what modern dating has become. My advice for how to date smart is based on the fact that I’ve been in healthy relationships for the past few years. I have a good eye for character and can usually read people like a book. And that essentially is what dating is: reading between the lines and projecting your best self. There’s A LOT more to this but for this entry, I’ll boil dating smart down to three main buckets:
1. Attract with Confidence
I don’t want to repeat what you’ve probably read in a bunch of other books and columns, so I’ll keep it simple: project your most confident and dazzling self. From the wardrobe to your witty sense of humor, it all matters. Ladies, even if we’re having a bad hair day or we have an extra 10lbs we’re feeling self-conscious about, too bad. Slick your hair back, put on a bold lip color, and don your most flattering A-line dress. If you’re like me and introverted or less talkative, own that. Crack a joke, be a little goofy, sing along to the song playing in the restaurant. Remember, you’ve worked hard to love yourself. If he’s not feeling it, it’s cool. Don’t forget, he’s there to impress you, too. And if he’s on a date with you, he’ll also be nervous. You have to decide if you like him! So fake it til you make it and act like the world is your stage. Which brings me to number 2.
2. Listen by Asking
Ask the right questions. Get him talking about whatever he wants but keep asking questions. I’m not talking about those overly invasive “Think like a Man” kinds of questions like “what are your short term/long term goals?” If that comes up organically, then by all means, discuss. But randomly bringing that up on a first or second date can be weird. So let’s say Mister is talking about a movie he saw the other day where the woman broke up with the boyfriend because he cheated/lied. You can interject to ask “would you break up with your partner if they did that?” It seems like a simple question but you may find out about their views on relationships without exactly asking outright. Remember, this is an investigation! Dates aren’t all supposed to lead to an amazing romance. It’s just a date. But if you’re dating smart, you’re there to sift through the riff-raff without investing too much of your time and energy. Shallow or unsavory men can and will talk themselves out of a second date if you ask the right questions and observe their body language. Is he leaned in to you, giving eye contact, and engaged? How often is he checking his phone? Read that man like he’s a magazine in the cash register aisle. You’re gathering intel on this guy. And by asking the kinds of questions that gets him talking about what you want, you’ll find out more about his character.
3. Adjust Accordingly
Remember you’re about your business. You’re not going to deal with a fool just because he’s offering free meals. Another free meal is right around the corner from a man with the energy and vibe you’re looking for. I’m not an advocate of using people so if you want to continue to entertain duds just to be fed- be my guest. But I like efficiency and while you’re dining with Mr. Not Right, you could’ve been out with your girls and flirting with a romantic investment banker from across the room who’s looking for a woman just like you.
Adjusting also means giving what you’re getting. If you find that a man won’t call you for a few days, don’t be the one always texting and calling. You don’t need to keep an exact count of who texted who but pay attention to how he’s interacting with you.
Adjusting also means flat out getting rid of someone. My friends know when they ask me about a prospect, if I say he’s nearing cancellation, that means his actions are not up to par with what I’m looking for. I’ve listened by asking, observed how he interacts with me, and now have adjusted him out of my current dating pool. That’s actually the bonus: keep your options open.
Bonus: Keep your options open
Dating one person at a time can cause you to focus too much energy on them and before you know it, you develop feelings faster than you normally would have if you were dating several people. And just to be clear: dating several people does not mean that you’re sleeping with them. If you want to, that’s entirely up to you. I don’t advocate having multiple sexual partners because it significantly increases your chances of contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections. Safety First! But the great thing about dating several guys at a time is that you’re never really bored. And if you’re dating smart, you’ll continue to adjust as you learn what you like and don’t like.
Most of us date so intensely because we’re focused on getting in a relationship. And I understand and have written about dating with intention. But we have to be sure that we’re not settling for a guy just because he happened to be around when we felt our ovaries age another year. Or because all of our friends are in relationships. Committed relationships take work so before you convince yourself that it’s super important to get locked down and “chose” make sure you have an active part in doing the choosing, as well. He has to be worth it.
So remember: dating isn’t a game. But it can be fun.
Peace & Love,