A few days ago, a friend and I were reminiscing about our lives when our conversation turned to our dating adventures. After some heartfelt belly laughs, we both delineated the many mistakes we have made in search of a romantic partner. I wanted to share them with you. Although I present my perspective from the male point of view, I think this advice is also good for women, at least it will help shed some light on the pressures we all face.

Matters of the Heart are not logical 

We have all heard the saying that “the heart wants what the heart wants”, and it’s true. There are no formulaic steps one can take that will guarantee someone will love you. So, don’t expect to find any suggestions here that will assure love from the woman/man of your dreams. If it were only that easy, right? There are a lot of people selling their “foolproof” approach to finding love, but I don’t think anybody really knows the secret, so don’t sweat it.

However, there are things that will blow any situation to smithereens and kill any possible love before it has a chance bloom.

Four strategies that will help

1) You cannot be someone you are not. Having been single now for over five years, I have experienced plenty of failure and rejection. In frustration, I turned to “dating experts” for their advice who offered strategies and confident one-liners that will show you are a challenge to get.

These “experts” predicate their dating advice for men on the theory that women like bad boys. First, I don’t even understand what makes one a bad boy. Is that someone with a criminal record? Someone who is verbally or physically abusive? Or is a bad boy someone who is emotionally distant or always playing hard to get? All this advice left me with a bad taste, i cannot be a bad boy any more than I can play basketball like LeBron James. If women are truly looking for bad boys, then I’m going to be single for a lot longer, for I cannot fake being one.

Therefore, I think the best policy is to just be yourself. In fact, feel confident about you. This is an area you know lots about, and it is important to show who you are. If you try to fake something you are not, like being a bad boy, you are bound to make a fool of yourself. Besides, I think your date will see right through you.

While it might be true most women prefer bad boys, if you are not one, then those women were never meant for you in the first place. The same applies to women, if you have to be someone you are not in order to keep your love, the union cannot last very long.

2) Spend most of your time listening. This can be a double-edged sword because it is also important for you to reveal who you are. But a person doesn’t have to hear everything about you on a first date. This is where pacing is your friend, and there is no better way to do this than by listening.

As the saying goes, “you learn a lot more by listening than by talking”, and this is particularly true when you are trying to get to know someone. Listening shows interest and it makes the other person more comfortable in your company. Opening your ears to someone may not promote a next date, but it increases your chances to connect.

There is another practical reason for listening to your date; it can make you aware of your date’s idiosyncratic behavior you might find objectionable. By talking too much and not listening, you are shutting down the opportunity to discover your prospective partner’s red flags while you may be hoisting your own.

3) Practice common sense when it comes to your appearance. Women are more conscious of their appearance than men are of theirs. Most women know how to present themselves in public. They also have some advantages; they can color their hair and use makeup.

Men need to step up to the challenge and use whatever tools are available to them. However, I know some men think it’s good to color their hair, but men who do so look insecure about their age to me. Although you may not reach the point experts recommend you need to be to attract a bevy of available partners, showing you are not confident about yourself is a certain turn off. Having bad hygiene is another.

I am not discounting the possibility of finding a romantic partner in a running, cycling or other athletic group. For example, I have encountered several dateable women on the tennis courts long after my Right Guard deodorant had stopped working under my left armpit. But the odds are that you will meet dateable people under more formal conditions. This is why good hygiene practices are important.

This advice is basic for men; shower, shave, brush your teeth, use mouthwash, comb your hair, trim ear and nose hair and put on clean clothes. Use a deodorant and some cologne, although only a light application. Women don’t want to smell their man before they can see him.

I’ll leave to women to recommend good hygiene practices for women.

For most occasions, a nice pair of slacks or jeans with dress shoes and a collared shirt should do the trick. Unless you are meeting someone to run, golf, cycle or play tennis, don’t show up on a first date wearing shorts, tennis shoes and a t-shirt. Logo jerseys are a no-no unless you are going to a sporting event to support the particular team whose logo you are wearing.

4) Force nothing. This one was hard for me to learn. Feeling rejected after my divorce, I was overeager to fill the void left by my ex-wife’s exit. Early on, I showed up to every date thinking I would find my potential “the one”.

This was a terrible strategy, it made me look desperate and needy. No woman (or man) finds a needy, overanxious date very attractive. You might get away with this on a first encounter with someone who has dated very little, but any person with courting experience can smell desperate from a mile away.

Breaking this bad habit begins with becoming comfortable being single. There are many people in the world who don’t have a romantic partner and live a joyful, fulfilling life. So can you. Being comfortable and grateful for your life, just as it is, makes you more interesting and relaxed to other people. This is a good thing!

After all is said and done, incorporating these four tips into your dating will not guarantee you success in finding the love of your life. But you will be better equipped to improve your chances.

Remember, paying gratitude for your life forward will reward you with greater joy and contentment.

Photo by Denilo Vieira on Unsplash