One of the most common complaints I hear from my girlfriends is how much they hate going out on dates. The men they meet – if they even bother to meet them – are all wrong. So just in time for the New Year, I thought I’d provide my top picks for 2014 dating resolutions for the single woman:
1) Know What You Want
It may seem obvious but the most important thing you can do is figure out exactly what you are looking for from dating. Is it the man of your dreams, a companion in life, hot sex, or just someone to see the new Almodόvar movie with? And, ladies, it generally doesn’t help to say all of the above! Granted, you may not know exactly what you want, and that’s ok, but you can at least start with knowing what you don’t want. One note of caution: be wary of adopting other people’s values, morals, and goals for yourself. I find it amazing how many times I hear from my straight male friends that the women they date would never want to hook up on the first date as this just doesn’t jive with what I hear from my girlfriends when the boys aren’t around. I get that you don’t want to give it all away right out of the gate but I promise that guys will respond much better to direct, open communication about what you want and don’t want.
2) But Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New
That said, I highly recommend that you try something new in 2014 to spice up your dating life. The women I know have far too many rules about dating, easily prattling off the infamous: “He’s just not my type”. Now, for gay men, this wonderful euphemism generally means that we’re just not that attracted to him. Fair enough. If you aren’t attracted to someone then I think going on a date is pretty much a waste of time. But remember, dating is a number’s game. You need to play to win and play frequently. This may mean meeting men from different backgrounds, social circles, or age groups than you normally wouldn’t. A former mentor of mine once told me that she learned the most in her career from positions, projects, and tasks that were not her first choice. I believe that this is a universal truth about the human condition. You sometimes need to get out of your comfort zone to find out what you want and grow.
3) Leave Your Expectations At Home
However, once you are on a date, there is nothing more infuriating for men than to be measured against some invisible set of standards. There is an art to dating and, for me, it involves being fully present with the person sitting across the table from you and being open to getting to really know them. You have already decided to invest the time to go on the date, so what’s the worst you have to loose but a couple hours of your time? Despite what the media would like us to believe, men come in an infinite number of interesting varieties – get to know them! Expectations, especially tacit ones, take you out of the moment and sabotage any hope of seeing what’s right in front of you. I have met some of the most amazing people on dates that have ended up becoming colleagues or even friends. I think this is something that gay men understand better than our straight friends. That separation you have between dates, lovers, partners, friends, and family is one of convention, not obligation. Make yours a conscious choice.
4) And Relax, It’s Just Dating
And really, at the end of day, dating is supposed to be fun! I credit my therapist with giving me the greatest dating advice I’ve ever received: “Be yourself, be curious, and don’t forget to breathe!”. If the art of dating is presence, I would say the science of dating has more to do with learning to relax and having a good time. One of the best ways to do this is to remind yourself that a date is really just one long conversation. As Miss. Manners has always said, good conversation skills start and end with making other people comfortable talking about themselves. We all love to talk about ourselves. So much so, we often forget to listen to each other because we’re too busy formulating our next thought. Instead, I suggest a practice of conscious breathing and active listening on your next date. I think you’ll be surprised how much more fun you have. When you do speak, say what you mean and don’t be afraid to flirt! I think the number one complaint I hear from men is that women don’t say what they mean, or at least they don’t hear it that way. I know it’s shocking but men are just not that sophisticated. Be direct, be specific and go with the chemistry that you two are playing with.
5) Get in Touch with Yourself First!
When done right, dating can be used as a crucible of self-discovery. Meeting new and different men with an open and playful spirit can help you burn away any of the uncertainties you may have of who you are, what you want out of life and how you best want to share it with someone else. However, like with any skill you wish to develop, practice makes perfect and there are two very important lessons that I suggest you steal from men’s playbook: trust and touch yourself! Men masturbate a lot. They also rarely ask their friends for advice. The result? Men have a pretty good handle on what turns them on and how to access that energy. They also learn to trust their own instincts even though they may not admit to having it. The few women that I know who admit to masturbating have an advantage when they date men. They are in touch with their sexual energy, know what they like and best of all know how to keep men on their toes – generally with the threat of a battery powered replacement.