Have you ever dated someone and thought ‘this person has their sh*t together’ and not just their personal life, but their dating life? They know how to communicate interest. They know how to build attraction. They’re vulnerable yet mysterious, leaving you both satiated and wanting more. They just date well. We’ll call this individual Person A.
Then there are others who appear put together, but are a train wreck when it comes to dating. They’re hot and cold. They take the path of least resistance. They pull back after moments of intimacy. They seem confused about their interest and hell-bent on romantic self-sabotage. How could someone so seemingly interesting be headlining for dating amateur hour? Let’s call this individual Person B.
For the past year or so I’ve observed this phenomenon and wondered WTF is actually going on. I think I’ve finally figured it out. By *it* I mean the delta between Person A and Person B. What makes someone crush it in dating vs. someone on the chutes and ladders board of love.
I present to you: How To Date Like A Jedi.
The six (no longer secret) weapons to a dating life you love <3
Be Purposeful & Forthright.
Date with purpose. Know what the heck you’re looking for and seek alignment early (& often). If you’re looking for something casual, be up front about it. If you’re looking to build a life with someone — provided you meet the right person — communicate that. Whatever you’re looking for, be candid and date within that lane. As you’re dating someone, what you want might change. It happens. Communicate that too.
The challenge with dating today is everyone is trying to ‘play it cool.’ They’re interested, but they’re trying not to show it. They want something more serious but they’re pretending they’re okay with just casual. When you ‘play’ at dating, you’re making it a game — which is so high school. Plus, when you play games, you lose. Except Monopoly — I always win at Monopoly. Want to stand out in the dating pool today? Be human and authentic. Express when you’re elated, sad, turned off, or interested. It’s refreshing. When you’re forthright, you give the person you’re dating the permission to be so too.
Have A Filtration System.
If your visceral reaction to initial romantic interest is “Yay! Someone finally likes me!” you’re doing interest wrong. Being so thirsty won’t serve you. Your initial reaction should be, “Great, but do I like them?” If you have an incredible, magical life, you’ll naturally be protective of it and not want to let trashy people into Disneyland. Who does? They’re loud, they’re rude, and they generally wreak havoc on the park.
Dating Jedis have systematic *checks* to filter out the unworthy. Here are just two of mine:
Side note: when you filter people out, it doesn’t make them a bad person. It just means they are bad for you. We have to get over the concept that everyone has to be our cup of tea, and that if they aren’t, there’s something wrong with them (or us). It’s not a healthy mindset: it kills our self-confidence, as well as our ability to approach each new person without imputed baggage. Both of which hold us back from genuinely engaging with the right person when we do meet them.
Re-frame Your Insecurities.
We all have elements of our life we are self-conscious about telling a potential partner. Maybe it’s a health limitation. Maybe it’s kids from a previous relationship. Whatever it is, we don’t like to bring it up because we think it is a limiting factor, a check-mark on the List of Reasons Not To Date Us. The reality: other people will only see something as a limiting factor if you see it that way.We need to own every part of our life and stop orphaning elements we see as ‘undesirable.’ We need to re-frame the negatives as positives. Having a health limitation has developed my resilience. Having kids makes me more responsive to the needs of others. Take a hard look at your greatest insecurity and start seeing it for the good it has brought to your life and why it actually makes you a *better* partner. You may not have control over the specifics, but you do have control over the story you tell about it. If you see it in a positive light, the people you date will too.
Treat Online Dating Like Passive Income.
We’re living in a time right now where there really isn’t the stigma attached to online dating like there used to be. Many people are meeting online and developing lasting relationships — and that’s great. It’s one of many options. Key word: many. Online dating shouldn’t be your only way of meeting potential partners. If it is, chances are you feel depressed and saddened at the choices out there. It’s not that there aren’t great people online, it’s that they tend to be few and far between. Or maybe it’s the shopping cart culture of the whole thing — who knows.
I *do* know this: if you’re doing the online dating thing, a filtration system is more important than ever. It will help you weed through the riffraff to find those high-quality people quicker. And don’t let it take over your world. I’m not currently on the apps, but when I was, I would usually only check them once a day or every other day. It gave me a much needed reality check and allowed me to keep my focus on things that I love.
Online dating should be the dessert, not your main course. Your primary focus should be meeting people in person during your day-to-day life: at the coffee shop, at the bookstore, on the train, in line at the grocery store. Make it a habit of engaging those around you and you’ll never run out of interesting people to date. And if you happen to meet some amazing people online? Icing on the cake :)
Have A Solid Friend Group.
When you have a solid group of friends, it gives you the confidence to date with abandon because you are treasured to begin with. You won’t settle for stupid shit because you are already getting the royal treatment. You won’t be afraid to say the hard thing because if it goes downhill, your tribe will still be there. People who feel loved are able to love others more freely. Close friends provide much needed relational security and are bedrock to dating from a place of strength. It’s critical, too, to have close friends of the opposite gender. They can be a good sounding board as you try to measure up a potential suitor. They also provide some safe male/female attention, which, let’s be honest, feels incredible.
Have A Life You Freaking Love FIRST.
Fix up your damn life first. If you don’t like your life right now, you have no business dating. Period. We should go to a relationship to share a life, not to get one. Relationships will enhance your life, but not if your life sucks to begin with. In that case, dating and relationships will only make you more miserable, and you’ll end up hurting people along the way.
It’s so important to build a life you love before you start dating. Things to get passionate about: your job, your hobbies, your family/friends, trying new things, an upcoming trip, books you’re reading, little adventures in every day moments. Because when you’re busy loving your life you become *more* attractive, not less. We don’t want to rescue someone from their loneliness, we want to join them on an adventure that has already begun. Be the incredible person you want to date and you will have no problem attracting high-value partners.
Most of our lives we spend keeping up with the Jones’. Or rather, keeping up with people we perceive as respected by society’s standards: the social media influencer we follow on Instagram; our rich cousin who works ‘remote’ from a new beautiful island every month; the CFO that lives next door to us with the Tesla, the beautiful wife, the perfect kids, & the golden retriever (do c-suite execs ever get dogs that aren’t retrievers?). Our goals — let alone our view of ourselves — are contorted by the gaze of others. It’s constant, it’s exhausting, and sadly, it’s self-inflicted. To escape that comparative mindset for just a few hours in a day is freedom. That, and going to a Backstreet Boys Revival Concert WITHOUT SHAME. Also freedom.
Let’s leave other people alone for a moment, though. In fact, can we leave other people out of the rest of the freaking article and just focus on you for the next 5 minutes? That would be great.
If I were to ask you what you *really* want out of life, how would you answer? Not you in relation to other people. Just you. Your dream life. Indulge yourself for a minute. What is it that you really want? Paint a vivid watercolor of the life you desire.
Have it? Good. Your canvas, while probably more granular & specific, will have scenes that fall within these 5 categories:
All of these, together, paint a picture of abundance. Most likely, your dream life, even just parts of it, contain a combination of these five. For example, that incredible job you want would fall under significance and financial freedom. A beautiful house would fall under comfort and control. Becoming a world-famous author would touch on all five. You get the picture.
So… why don’t we have our dream life? Societal brainwashing would have us answer that it’s other people. It’s the adverse circumstances we grew up in. It’s pervasive and sinister forces working against our will. It’s ‘other people’ that hold us back. Deep down, though, this rings hallow. While adverse circumstances make things more challenging, they don’t prevent success. Real-life examples demonstrate this: Oprah Winfrey, Howard Schultz, J.K. Rowling. I could go on and on. People who grew up in abject poverty and/or the victims of abuse who maximized their life and created what they wanted. And these aren’t just exceptions to the rule, they break the rule. I’m not minimizing pain inflicted by others at our expense — it’s evil & it’s sickening. I’m merely claiming it doesn’t prevent someone from building an incredible life. There are countless people I know personally (myself included) who had freaking hard lives and are living their dream life right now.
So if it’s not other people, it has to be us. We’re holding ourselves back. Which is actually a good thing. If someone else is culpable, it means it’s not in our power to fix. We’d be destined to futility. In reality, it’s *our* problem to own and change, and as responsible, free agents, we shouldn’t want it any other way.
So how are we screwing up something so fundamentally important? Said with less sass — what exactly does personal abundance require?
The abundant life we want comes, primarily, by way of certitude. Hard work, humility, and humor are close followers.
Let’s break this down.
I recently started a new job, and in my first week, I was *metaphorically* smacked on the face with the importance of certitude as the starting point for incredible life experiences.
On my first day, I happened upon the Sr. Manager of Communications Technology — aka the video guy. Let’s call him Todd. We hit it off really well. I mentioned I did promo videos for my previous company, and offered to help with any upcoming video needs. He seemed interested and the next day invited me to participate in an initiative that Friday. I was pumped! Friday came and my new the team took me out for a welcome lunch. The waitress was very slow, and the whole ordeal took two hours — door to door. I was officially half an hour late (and very embarrassed!) to the recording session.
I dropped my purse at my desk and ran to the studio. The group of participants were assembled in a circle, receiving instructions from a gentleman with glasses. I didn’t see Todd there, but I assumed that he was present at the beginning and had since done a hand-off to the bespectacled gentleman. I introduced myself to the group and explained that Todd had invited me to participate in the video. The gentleman in glasses said, ‘You’re just in time. We’re about to go outside and start filming.’ The video initiative was about fraud protection. I ended up starring in one of the cameos as an unsuspecting woman whose phone is snatched by stealth-man-in-a-hoodie while she is chatting with her coworkers.
I returned to my desk, excited about my cameo, and noticed a generic ‘hey’ IM from Todd. I responded:
“Hey Todd! Sorry for the tardiness. The team took me out for lunch and the service was sooooo slow. Got back around 1:30 & stopped by the studio. The group was able to use me in one of the videos :)”
Todd came by, looking utterly confused, and asked what I was talking about. I re-iterated what I had said on IM.
“That…. wasn’t my video,” he said.
Now I was the one that was puzzled.
“Well, if it wasn’t your video, whose was it?” I asked.
We looked at each other, paused for about 3 seconds, and then burst into laughter as the hilarity sunk in: I invited myself to someone else’s video. The irony is practically perfect - I frauded my way into a fraud protection video. Todd’s event was actually a dress rehearsal/sound check for a meeting the following Monday. Yep. The new girl crashed a corporate video. I’m like Owen Wilson with way less hair issues.
Word of this spread throughout the office, and as I was finishing my meet and greets that afternoon, people were like ‘Oh yeah, you’re the new girl that was accidentally in the fraud protection video. Way to make a splash on your first week.’
It turns out the bespectacled gentleman’s name was Jake, as I was officially introduced to him later that afternoon. We had a good laugh about the whole thing, and then I asked him, “Why didn’t you stop me?” He looked at me, total deadpan, and said, “You seemed so certain you were in the right place. It didn’t dawn on me to question you.”
Cue: light shining down from heaven. Enter: epiphany.
My certitude was the gateway into this opportunity. It wasn’t my listening skills, my leadership aptitude, or my communication prowess (all good things, I’ll have you). My belief that I belonged there was my ticket to the experience.
Certitude is waking up on purpose. Walking into a meeting with command. Launching an initiative like you’re the best person to run it and oversee it. It’s an attitude of they are damn lucky to have me here wherever you go. Having this frame of mind, daily, is what engenders your dream life.
Certitude alone isn’t enough, though. Because sometimes you’re wrong. Terribly wrong. As I was in this example. If you double down on certitude when you’re wrong, it makes you look arrogant, unaware, and frankly silly. It is at that point when hard work, humility, and humor salvage the faux pa. I didn’t double down and blame Todd for the mix-up. I took it with humility as my own mistake. I also had the humor to laugh it off with everyone I encountered that day. Additionally, after realizing the mistake, I did the hard work of socializing my apology to the affected parties. Not to mention the *already-in-play* hard work of starting a new job in a new organization, building my credibility and respect from the ground up.
Accidentally starring in that video made me see something so clearly: I could put in the time, follow the rules, do all the “right” things, but if I didn’t have certitude I would be missing out on a whole array of incredible experiences. It also made me wonder how many amazing things I have missed out on in the past on account of my uncertainty. On account of not believing in my core that I deserve abundance and the best this world has to offer. Seriously, why do we not believe this? Why do we not believe we are worthy of every good thing? No one is perfect, so that makes it an even freaking playing field. That person you’re envying with the dream life — they are not perfect and still got their dream life. So why not you? Why not me?
I want you to picture your dream life again. That life of abundance. What if you actually believed this was in your grasp? I mean, really believed this was for YOU and not for someone else? What if you started working toward it, as if it belonged to you and you were just claiming what was rightfully yours? What would you do today to secure that reality? How about tomorrow? And as you move toward that dream life, you’ll have some starts and stops, but what if you had the humility and humor to not take things personally, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving forward? That dream life would be yours, and more assuredly set in stone than my next Costco trip (seriously, those samples though). If you have certitude, no person can stop you. Well technically they can, but like Jake, it won’t dawn on them to do so.
Speaking of Jake, I ran into him this week. The accidentally-starring-in-a-video bit has NOT gotten old. He informed me that they made a gif of the cameo. I’m the one in the red dress 😘
I can now happily cross item #87 — Being in a GIF — off my life goals list.
*looking you straight in the eye as I say this*
Don’t count yourself out of anything. Ever. And if you want something, job 1 is believing it is for you in the first place. Certitude is the path to getting everything you want, and truly, the gif(t) that keeps on giving.
“How are you still single? You’re such a catch!”
Things I’d rather do instead of answer this question: partake in a never-ending hotdog eating contest; heckle old people in nursing homes; reenact Hunger Games 1,2,&3 on the hallow-deck with the safety protocols off; clean underneath my fingernails with a chainsaw.
Honestly, as far as the benefits of being in a relationship go, 50% is the romantic perks and 50% is not having to answer such an insipid line of questioning. Okay, that was a bit dramatic. It’s probably more like 80/20.
Regardless, let’s slay this beast once and for all. Well, at least half of the beast. This affront to all things considerate comes in two parts — the ‘how are you still single’ part and the ‘you’re such a catch’ part. Let’s leave the first part alone for now. Perhaps it will be a future post. This article will concern itself with the latter piece. The being a “catch” nonsense.
Problems with the *catch* metaphor:
1. It likens wooing to capturing.
I’m going to state the obvious — I’m not an unsuspecting fish. Just think about the analogy for a moment. You’re saying that someone can throw a net around me, remove me from my habitat, and carry me away against my will (cue the Pontipee brothers). Besides being completely dramatic, it’s also quite brutal & cavalier. Romance is a beautiful dance between two people, not a grab and go special at the local Pizza hut.
2. It eliminates attraction.
I recently wrote an article about interest — and why women lose it — that unleashed some strong reactions. In it I talk about how building attraction is a back and forth between two people. A partnership has to be reciprocal, and the “catch” analogy is completely one-sided. It’s the fisherman doing all the work while the fish is completely passive (except, of course, for the flailing around on account of protesting its impending doom). The “catch” is not an active participant in the interaction, and thus, there’s no room for desire — one of attraction’s main ingredients.
3. It promotes a victim mentality.
Outside of the fishing comparison, there’s another one that is worth mentioning: catching someone who is falling. “I caught you” could just as well mean, “I broke your fall.” Can you see the problem already? It positions me, the *catch* as someone in need of rescuing. It conjures an image of someone who is one giant piece of work. And we all know confident people are not attracted to big pieces of work. We’re attracted to people who have their shit together and who are going places. Tell the truth, now ;)
The itch the *catch* metaphor is trying to scratch --
I think what people are trying to say when they say you’re a catch is you have immense value. That’s more on point. They look at you and see all the amazing ways you can add value to a partner’s life. How kind you are. How smart you are. How strong you are. How you continually work on yourself. How you regularly take healthy risks. How you speak your mind. How you pick yourself up when you fall. How you remain humble when you succeed.Who wouldn’t want to be with you, they’re thinking. They see your value and are shocked others (seemingly) don’t see it as well. And it’s to their credit.
This statement doesn’t just have an optics problem, though, it has a receiving problem too. When someone calls us a *catch* it doesn’t sit well with us. Like milk that’s been the in fridge a week too long. Why? For the three reasons above, certainly, but for one more reason too: We don’t want to be caught — we want to be won. We want to be a prize, and we want to obtain a prize.
The prize analogy is way more apt. To obtain a prize you have to work for it; it doesn’t come easily. You personally have to qualify to even be in the game. Then you have to compete against others. The only way you will do well is if in the ‘off-season’ you’ve been training your mind and body, daily.
The prize isn’t just an object — it’s a reflection of the work we’ve put into ourselves along the way, the work that led to us obtaining the reward. We don’t want to be a catch, we want to be a prize. And to get the prize, we have to be one first.
When I first started dating, I believed attraction was an art. A beautiful mosaic that two people painted together, each with their unique brush strokes and favorite hues. I still believe this to some degree. It’s two intricate, complex humans coming together to create something equally intricate and complex.
This view of attraction as art suited me in the early years. I was never much of a math/science person. I naturally gravitated towards the humanities and would run rapidly from anything that required small numbers in even tinier boxes (hello, excel!).
But as I started dating more and reflecting on those experiences, I came to a critical realization: there are more patterns in attraction than I originally realized. If I did certain things, the guy would disappear, guaranteed. If I did other things, the guy would chase me, hard. The inverse was also true. If a guy did certain things, I would be very interested. If he did other things, I would Check please! quicker than a Scaramucci. There’s a level of predictability to interest, which, in turn, challenged my original hypothesis. Attraction is just as much science as it is art, maybe even more so.
Before I dive in to what I learned, I’m offering a soft disclaimer. I haven’t been appointed official Spokesperson for Womankind (I mean… but how cool would that job be?), so what I’m saying might not apply to all women. But I *can* speak for myself and what keeps me interested. And I’ve floated this by many of my female friends and they all say I’ve hit the mark. So, there’s that.
Here is what I’ve noticed. The two things that keep women interested.
Women stay interested when their partner is fascinated and fascinating.
Have one without the other (or neither) and a woman will lose interest.Let’s unpack this.
He is fascinated.
When a woman feels she is the object of her partner’s fascination, she will stay interested. What does this look like?
He is fascinating.
When a man is fascinating, a woman will stay interested. This is a man who:
He’s figured out what he wants to contribute to the world and is doing it. He’s ambitious but also takes time to relax and have fun. He’s intentional about building and pouring into those important to him. He wakes up each day excited to learn, do, contribute. A fulfilled man.
All of these things are a life force for him. He doesn’t need a woman to complete him. He has a full, thriving life already. He’s got it going on. He’s someone she can lean on, learn from, respect, and desire. He’s fully perfect & external to her. And that grounded, stable presence pulls her in.
We’ve all been in situations where someone we are dating is one but not the other. For example, someone who is fascinated with us but have nothing going on in their own life. That’s a turn off. Or the incredible person with the incredible life, but they barely reach out or make an effort. Also a turn off. Both pieces — fascinated and fascinating — are needed to maintain attraction.
I was recently at an event where the speaker could not stop talking about his wife. How much of a rock she was in their marriage. How wise she was. How he loved her smile and her legs (not in that order). She was in the audience — the front row to be exact — and was just glowing. I mean, connect some sort of generator to her and we could power the state of Michigan for perpetuity. The interesting thing? From a looks perspective, she was *average* by the world’s standards. It didn’t matter. Her man’s fascination made her glow.
For a second I was almost jealous of her. Not because I wanted to be with her husband, but because I wanted someone to feel about me the way he clearly felt about her.
Men, don’t miss this. It’s less about your looks or your paycheck and more about how you make her feel. Your affection has the power to make a woman shine. Be liberal with it. She will blossom under the sun of your interest & shade of your presence. And that’s not to say women can’t bloom without a partner. That’s not it. It’s that there’s a certain type of illumination unique to a woman basking in the rays of a man’s fascination. It’s breathtaking.
And the speaker was more than just fascinated. He was fascinating. He was changing lives through his public speaking career. He was charismatic and captivating. He was living out his value system. He was community-driven and purpose-driven. He was someone she could admire and respect.
I would often look at couples who had been together for decades and were still taken with each other, and compare them to those cheerless couples that make observers want to run from commitment, and wonder how the same situation — years in a relationship — could produce totally different outcomes. I don’t wonder anymore. It’s the science of interest. Smitten couples are doing the work of fascination. That is it. They are still interested and show it, they are still interesting and live it. That’s the magic sauce.
When I see couples like that it inspires me to hold out for the real thing. And validates every past decision not to settle for something less than.
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