When I first started online dating after my last relationship, I was idealistic, excited, and very horny. After a few short weeks, I was sorely disappointed by the whole scene. The guys I was meeting were nice, but not as cool as their profiles suggested. The dates were pretty lackluster. One café began to look like the next. Most disappointing of all was that none of them were even close to a good match for a relationship. It wasn’t an out-of-their-league thing. I could just tell that we weren’t going to fit. So what was a modern girl to do?
Well, I quit. I deleted my apps and deactivated my accounts. I traveled around the world, literally, and when I got back I made the single most important decision I have ever made with regards to dating.
I decided that I was going to have fun no matter what.
Since then, dating has been an entirely different world altogether. It became something I looked forward to and enjoyed, whether there was chemistry or not. All of a sudden, I became hyper aware of how many people engage in digital dating and hate it. I figured I would share what I had done to turn my experience around in case it could be useful to other romantic hopefuls such as yourself.
Once I had decided to write this piece, I also wanted to include a male perspective so I interviewed a bunch of handsome, generous gents. This article is written from the gaze of a cisgendered, straight woman, but I hope that my ideas can be helpful for people of all orientations and identities. Love is love after all.
Let’s do this!
1. LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE
One of the reasons that I wasn’t clicking with men during my first round of dating was because I wasn’t bringing my most awesome Self to the table. The kind of men I wanted to date - intelligent, charismatic, confident, ambitious, handsome - were not going to see the real me while I was feeling depressed, frustrated, lost, and whiny. I wasn’t fully present for the experience because I was distracted by the low energy stories bouncing around in my head unchecked.
I mistakenly wanted to be with someone because I wanted to feel more love and I wasn’t doing a good job of filling up with love on my own. I had not learned how to grow beyond past traumas and negative experiences with men; including a divisive relationship with my father when I was young, a rape when I was 16, cheating partners, and of course, my general feelings about the Patriarchy. Not to mention, I was still reeling from losing my last relationship and beating myself up for being unable to fix it.
If I wasn’t treating myself with self-respect and self-love, how could I expect to attract someone with those qualities?
It’s sounds cliché but self-love is the first step toward having a love life - single or coupled - that rocks your world. When you are loving on yourself and making yourself feel like a million bucks, people want to be around that. Self-love is the bedrock of confidence, and as I’ve said before, confidence is the fastest way to attract a partnership you can be over the moon about.
2. KNOW THYSELF
The first person I had to get straight with was me. Why was I on these dating apps anyway? Why was I dating period? Was it for connection? To have a good time? To get a hit of attention or a hit of intimacy? To meet someone who would add some stability to my life because I didn’t feel like I had any? To meet Mr. Right?
Over time the answer to this question has evolved. At first I just wanted to get laid. Then I wanted to connect with people and have a good time. Now I am looking for someone to build a truly magnificent and epically adventurous relationship with.
Most of the time when I ask this question, people don’t actually know why they are dating. Or they have a knee jerk answer, which isn’t the real one, because they haven’t explored it in a way that’s honest and real. Knowing what you really want will make it a lot easier for you to create it. Having a clear vision helps you move from a space of reaction to a space of creation. You begin to mold your experience instead of having your experience mold you.
3. OVARY UP, WOMAN!!
I had to learn how to say ‘no’. Not only was I bad at saying ‘no’, but more importantly I was bad at recognizing when I wanted to. As soon as I got more tuned in to when I wanted and needed to draw boundaries, I was able to draw them in kind, empowered ways. I stopped finding myself in uncomfortable positions like tiptoeing around not giving a stranger my number or making up reasons for why I couldn’t hang out with him. I can now handle these situations with relative ease, and power, and it’s taken a good amount of practice.
Saying ‘no’ can be uncomfortable but it doesn’t have to be hard or confrontational. It is important for your ‘no’ to be respectful and kind. This is for your safety as much as for your social bank account. Resistance is often met with resistance, and the same goes for aggression. Not to mention, whoever this other human is, they have hopes, dreams, a family, and fear of failure. Same as you. So treat them with the same dignity with which you want to be treated, but don’t be afraid to be clear about your boundaries and your desires.
I used to become wary and resist interacting with men for fear that they would inevitably want something from me. Now I am able to enjoy flirting with sexy strangers even if I don’t want anything to become of it because I am confident in asserting my boundaries. When you become good at saying ‘no’ kindly, you get to invite in one of the sexiest, juiciest, most electric parts of dating; no-strings-attached flirtation with handsome hunks who want to get to know you. Don’t resist the fun of courtship because you fear a handful of uncomfortable seconds. The trade off isn’t worth it. Since making this shift and opening myself up to the conversation, I have become keenly aware that by closing myself off the way I did, the man of my dreams could have been standing next to me and I wouldn’t have even seen him!
Get good at saying ‘no’ and you will get to settle back into your feminine power and revel in the juiciness of flirtation. It’s basically the best thing since sliced bread.
4. HE'S NOT GOING TO BE MR. RIGHT... WAIT, WHAT?!
You are setting aside an hour of your precious, irreplaceable time to spend with a total stranger. Not to mention the back and forth of digital chatting that you have been engaging in for the last few days… weeks… months! If you come into the room expecting him to be your tailor-made dreamboat, you are setting yourself up for a BIG disappointment. Even if he was that special cocktail of handsome, funny, confident, and brilliant that you say you want, the pressure of having to measure up to your checklist is too much for any mere mortal. Imagine if the scrutiny were reversed!
What if you walked into a date and your end goal was to have fun no matter what and to be the engine of your own enjoyment? Now you’ve created an energy dynamic that is fertile breeding ground for connection and chemistry.
Even if there is no second date or you don’t experience that special spark, you both get to walk away with a win. Especially you! This is your time and you get to decide if it is wasted or not. I choose not.
5. YOU'RE MAJESTIC AS FUCK
My favorite trick that I learned during my interviews was to “Rock Your 7!”
What does that even mean? Great question!! Consider what you wear on a daily basis and the normal way you present yourself as your 5. It’s your comfortable, reliable, everyday you. Now bump it up two rungs to a 7!! Don’t go all out with a 10 and show up to the coffee house in an evening gown and a professional coif but put in some extra effort to tell your own brain that you, mademoiselle, are one fine lookin' lady!
Confidence is-oh so-sexy and when you boss up and present yourself at your 7-out-of-10 you will feel confident, attractive, and bomb-diggity. I make sure that I feel like my own unique brand of 7 whenever I go out on dates, and I love feeling that extra juice of electricity knowing that I’m a wiz at giving myself the gift of looking and feeling good.
Have you ever noticed how changing a pair of shoes can change the way you think about yourself? I have! When I put on my chunky, winter boots vs. my hot pink, high-heeled sneaker-wedges, I am a different woman! Whether it’s putting on your sassiest lipstick, spending an extra 10 minutes on your hair, or rocking your coolest pair of overalls, DO IT.
Do whatever it is that makes you feel two notches more badass, brilliant, beautiful, and bombastic than usual. That attitude and energy makes you someone you like being and someone that others relish being around. Go on with your bad self!!
This is great for all the humans! When ladies in my network have embraced this approach - clients, family, friends - I often get glowing text messages accompanied by babelicious photos and captions like “YAS KWEEN!!”. They feel like the total dime pieces they are and that feeling alone is pretty priceless. Like me, you may find that rocking your 7 becomes a daily occurrence. Feeling like a badass everyday is very addicting.
6. GOTTA LOVE THAT 'D'
I mean this figuratively. At least for the most part. I had to learn to love men and let go of wanting them to prove me wrong about all the shitty things other men had done to me in the past.
I was mad at men because of the Patriarchy and I was using what a few men had done to me as evidence of how ALL men were bad or had the capability to be bad. I mean it is 2017 and all the guys I’ve been on dates with can read plus they have access to the internet, so why aren’t they as woke as they should be? That’s when I realized that my anger was not creating the results I really wanted. It turns out that my informed, educated outrage was not making these men avid, loving, kind, present allies. Go figure.
I made a really important decision this year and it was a vow to revoke my right to emasculate men, to ridicule them, to bitch about them, or treat them as anything less than individual persons deserving of my love, respect, and compassion.
Don’t punish the man because of the patriarchy. The unique thing about privilege is that when you have it, you don’t see it. I am not suggesting we excuse harmful behavior or that we do not have a right to be angry but far too often I see my sisters getting small highs off of their scorn for men, and then they wonder why their love lives are so unfulfilling.
It is a complex dynamic that deserves a complex approach. I would invite you to see where you can embrace love and peace in your approach to men over anger and revenge. The quality of my life, my relations with men, and my ability to inspire new allies has quintupled since I made this commitment.
This shift has also made space for some of the most scintillating chemistry of my life!! Like Did-That-Orgasm-Let-Me-Glimpse-the-Splendor-of-the-Cosmos kind of chemistry. So I have no plans to go back any time soon.
Thanks to the men I have embraced instead of shamed, I live in a safer, more open minded, and exciting world than I did before.
HAVE FUN DAMN IT! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is truly up to you. You have every power in the world to make this date, this day, this interaction one that you can enjoy. If you aren’t enjoying it, you can use those very same powers to change it.
My favorite story about having fun no matter what came from my coach and mentor. She was writing a book (which unsurprisingly became a bestseller) and she made a promise to herself that she wanted the book writing experience to be fun. Not just most of it, ALL OF IT. And she did. If she needed to turn up her favorite Rihanna single and have a one woman dance party, that is what she did. If she needed to type wearing a golden sequin gown, that is what she did. If she had tried everything and still couldn’t seem to make it fun the way she had promised herself, she would table writing for the day and do something else that she loved.
This kind of creativity and commitment to your own pleasure will turn your ultra-lame dating experience inside out. In a very short period of time, you will find that you are having a total blast, and if you’re not, you will feel awesome about taking a break and nourishing the other aspects of your life.
What’s really cool about internet dating is that you get to cross paths with people you may have never met otherwise. It is an amazing playground to practice becoming the most awesome and ignited version of yourself but an exhilarating love life can be about so much more than just dating. Too often we stop questing beyond the designation of single or coupled and I think "being in a relationship" is a very binary and limited metric for success in the realm of intimacy. What about enjoying being single and loving your own company, or exiting a partnership that doesn't fit you with grace and power, or learning how masculine and feminine souls communicate differently, or making sure that the partnership you are in or getting into is one that truly lights up your soul? These are the kinds of questions that I am constantly exploring in my personal life and professional work and I am honored to be able to share my insights and lessons with you along the way.
Good luck Soul Sisters and Brothers and may the force be with you!
My sincerest thanks go to Morgan, Julie, Ashley, Cecily, Steve, Rob, Adam, Erich, Ian, Josh, Winston, Patrick, Daniel, and Anu for your help and inspiration.