March 21, 2020
I spent a decade and a half in school.
Not once did I attend a lecture or class on dating, relationships, or anything in between. Yet, the masculine-feminine dance is one of the most important and rewarding aspects of life, regardless of your sexual orientation.
Dating has gone through a rapid transformation.
Gender roles are going from fluid to undefined. Dating apps are making meeting through a screen the new normal. PC culture is making everyone double-check their words and intentions.
All these cultural shifts are influencing the way we date. We’re in unchartered waters.
With the adventurous spirit of a life explorer, I threw myself in the deep end and ran self-experiments around dating. This helped me understand what I enjoy, and debunk myths and beliefs that were holding me back.
From turning a wonderful 3.5-year relationship into a supportive friendship; to intentionally interacting with over 300 women in a year to get over my fear of rejection, I’m never too shy to question common sense.
Together with my friend and fellow writer Zita Fontaine, I decided to dispel 5 dating dogmas most people take them for granted. In her twin article, you can find the same myths, debunked, from a woman’s point of view.
1. You Have to Date All the Time
Let me tell you this: whatever you’re going through in your dating life, you’re not alone. Over the past few years, I have gone through monastic months, hedonistic weeks, long relationships, short adventures, mental blocks, unshackled confidence…the list goes on.
Like most things in life, you should do what feels right for you right now, not what you think you should be doing. That’s just your guesstimate of what other people may be expecting of you. But guess what? They are too busy thinking about what other people may think of them to worry about you.
Doing what you feel doesn’t mean staying comfortable. One of the reasons why I love to embrace personal challenges is to create the freedom to make my own choices, instead of letting fear decide for me.
(This includes speaking to hundreds of women in a single year).
Here’s my point: Quit judging yourself for whatever’s going on in your dating life. If you don’t feel like dating, it’s all good. Just ask yourself why. Maybe all you need is a better way to date.
2. Online Dating is the Ultimate Way to Find a Partner
Since the advent of Tinder, the OG of online dating, tons of dating apps have launched that have now either disappeared or gone mainstream. Swipe, like, wait: they all promised to make dating easier and more fun, but they ended up creating a ton of admin instead.
Dating apps aren’t bad, per se, but they’re not the end-all and be-all of dating. In 2018, I spent six months living in a different city and country each month, Tinder was another way for me to meet women in a new place. It was a great way to date or meet a local.
Most apps want you to believe that they’ll let you meet more people of the opposite sex or more compatible and interesting people.
In my experience, nothing beats good ol’ real life. Dating apps take “fear of rejection” away, which means that the competition is fierce, and your value declines in some market inflation. You’re just “another swipe”.
Moreover, most apps give you no actual information other than proximity: personalities become flattened, and photos are often misleading. You have to go through a long rigmarole of chatting and meeting before you get an idea as to whether the whole hoopla was worth it.
Online dating is a great way to meet people, but remember that it’s not the only way, nor the best one. The events, places, and groups that are already part of your life are the best way to meet likeminded men or women that have something in common with you. If you manage to get over that fear of rejection, you’ll be one of the very few.
3. You Have to Date Within Your League
Just like apps have become a buffer to help minimise your experience of potential rejection, being realistic is also another way to protect yourself from it. That’s what ‘league’ mentality is there for: to keep you protected from taking a risk (so nothing can get hurt but your fragile ego).
Whether you’re telling yourself that “most women aren’t interesting” or that you’re not good looking enough, you’re wrong.
Let me prove it to you with a story.
A few years ago, I kept telling myself that there aren’t any interesting women out there. Until, one day, I started listing all the great women in my life: friends, friends’ girlfriends, colleagues, even my mum…the list was relatively long. That’s when I had to call BS on my limiting belief: there are plenty of interesting women out there, I was just looking in the wrong places. Deep inside, it was nothing other than self-sabotage. Through my actions and thoughts, I was telling myself that I wasn’t ready.
Plus, everyone feels just as inadequate as you do.
Most of the time that I’ve approached someone particularly attractive or threateningly confident, she was pleasantly surprised that someone dared to do so. I read a Quora answer a while ago of a woman posting two outfit photos: one in a dress (stunning), the other in a sweater (approachable-y cute). She commented about how no one ever talks to her when she is wearing a dress, while she often gets comments when wearing a sweater.
Next time you feel like you’re out of your depth, remember: everyone else feels just as inadequate as you do.
4. You Need to Know What You Are Looking For
Online app culture has turned people into casting agents and dates into auditions. After all, from sex to a long term relationship, apps are downloaded for a specific purpose: there’s little room for spontaneity. Knowing what you want to attract is an advantage, but trying to fit every interaction into a box takes all the magic out of dating.
My point is that being too prescriptive is much worse than not knowing what you want. Expectations create a stream of sanitised connections to sieve through.
On the other hand, not knowing what you want or being open to possibility allows you to make the most of what life throws at you. Instead of seeing each man or woman as “another candidate”, see them for the individual that they are.
Enjoy the moment. It’s not about lowering your standards (see my previous point). Removing expectations has helped me turn bad dates into great stories, and create personal connections whenever there’s something in common.
5. You Have to Play Games
I used to think there was a script for great dates. “What will she think if I say this?” bubbled up in my mind throughout each interaction.
If you’re a guy and have ever read a “how-to” article about dating, it’s likely you came across a step-by-step to a great date. Or that you found a particular script that would make any woman swoon as soon as the words leave your lips. The truth is, dating isn’t that complicated.
Before we move forward, I want you to take a minute and listen to the excuses and exceptions that your brain is fabricating for you right now. I suggest “Matt has a glorious beard, of course, he says dating isn’t complicated — it’s different for me”.
No, it’s no different for you (okay, unless you have a Borat-style moustache).
Dating is often seen as some selection process, during which someone else graces you with their acceptance. This view is the other side of the “casting process” in my previous point. I remember a former flatmate going on a date years ago, commenting “Good. She doesn’t hate me,” when I asked him how his date went.
Thinking about dating as a selection process projects you to the future: you’re only interested in what happens next.
Whether it’s a second date, sexy times, or a long-term relationship that’s on your mind, enjoy what you have right now and see everything else as a bonus. This attitude will allow you to behave naturally and connect with the other person, instead of putting on a mask to hide. Remember, you may see this person again: do you want to wear a mask for the next few weeks / months / years?
Honesty is the best way to attract the men and women you resonate with, and repel the ones you don’t. You have to accept yourself first.
Just like most areas of life, conventional actions will get you conventional results. Dating is no exception.
You can listen to dating myths and follow common sense, but in the end…are you getting the experience that you desire and the connections you deserve?