1. Set aside your pride. Dating is not for the hypersensitive. Even if this person isn’t interested in you because of how you look or how you are in bed, remember that’s about them and their desires, not about you. Another person may want you because of the very thing this person doesn’t care for. Recognize that nothing is personal. Assure yourself that there’s nothing wrong with you.
2. Step out of your own way. Listen to the person’s judgments of you, remembering they’re 90 percent about them. However, there may be some kernel of truth to what they are saying. Hear their words, whatever they may be, and decide for yourself what you think about them.
3. Never play games . If you’re not sure where the relationship is heading, or what their intentions are, be direct: “I really like you and would like to see more of you,” or “When people go out together, it is hard to know if it is a date. I’d like it to be. Would you?”
4. Be vulnerable. With your feelings put aside and protected, you can allow yourself to take risks. Do and say things you normally wouldn’t. Use this as an opportunity to find out how you want to be in a relationship.
5. Don’t let another person play games or be indirect. Getting mixed signals? Don’t be afraid to be direct yourself: “You say this, but you do that. It confuses me. Can you tell me how you feel about me?” If, after some dialogue, they won’t be direct, then they are not the person for you.
6. Never judge either of you as right or wrong, good or bad. When dating isn’t going well, it’s easy and common for people to want to make things black and white. This is a dead-end road. Everyone has their own way of communicating and their own level of awareness, as you’ll discover as you date different people. If that dating situation isn’t working out for you, just move on to the next person without labeling anyone bad for being different.
7. Stay visible. Many of my clients struggle to find people to date because they’re not involved in their community. Go to the community center, get on committees and boards, volunteer your time for organizations, go to a social meet-up group, help with a mailing, go to fundraisers. This is where active, confident people are.
8. Even if (especially if) things go badly, see dating as a fun experience, an adventure. You’ll date lots of interesting characters before you meet the right one. Let yourself have fun—and learn a lot. Each person you date will teach you something different and expose you to new things in life, for which you’ll be grateful.
9. Learn from each dating relationship. Observe yourself and reflect on what went well and what didn’t. Were you open, honest, and direct? Did you hold back your thoughts and feelings just to make the relationship work? Were you moving too fast? Too slow?
10. Force yourself to approach people. Don’t wait to be approached. If you approach a person, especially in front of their friends, and strike up a conversation, it will be worth the risk. How else will you ever know whether the encounter might turn into anything?
If the conversation doesn’t go well, keep asking questions to break the ice. People like to talk about themselves.
But beware. Some people like to talk exclusively about themselves. If the conversation eventually does not move back to you, consider this a red flag. For many people, everything you say about yourself becomes a prompt for something about themselves.
11. Go ahead and put ads on Internet web sites and post on apps like Tinder and Grindr. I’ve counseled lots of individuals who’ve found friends, dating partners and long-term relationships that way. But don’t forget about the catfish.
12. Learn to laugh about some of the experiences you are having. Laugh at yourself for the blunders you make.
Once, I dated someone who drew stares wherever we went. At first I thought I was imagining it and when I mentioned it, my date initially denied but later confirmed without saying why. Was this individual on the wanted list or in the news for some scandal I wondered? Only later did I learn this individual was the mayor of the city we were in. Because this person lied about their job and who they were I cut short our dating. Later, I couldn’t stop laughing at the lengths this person went to in order to not tell me.