I’ve been single for the most of my adult life with a couple of year relationship being the longest. There was a variety of reasons for that: in my early 20s I wanted to be independent, then relocated to another country, started career and had a busy life and eventually transitioned to nomadic lifestyle changing countries every few months. I want a relationship and I am trying to put a conscious effort into finding a partner that I’d want to commit to, but every time I start thinking I found the one, things fall apart. I’ve been trying different dating strategies both online and offline, lowering my requirements, dating people that are not exactly my type I’d imagine myself with, but nothing works. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life flying solo, but I am getting so tired of looking for my perfect match. Should I just settle down for somebody who does not feel exactly right?
Thanks so much for sending in this question. My first thought is Gah! Don’t lower your expectations! Settling for sharing your life – your super precious life – with someone who isn’t suited for you is such a recipe for disaster. Be unapologetic as to who you are and what you are looking for. That’s your number one thing to work on, okay?
All of your reasons for not being in a long term relationship to date are valid and healthy. Independence, travelling, career growth – these are all things you can’t put a price tag on, so move forward with no regrets as to the decisions you’ve made in the past. Understandably, it can be discouraging now that you’ve decided to settle down and the results aren’t coming in as lickity split as you would like. Society overwhelms us with images of the perfect romance budding as soon as we step outside in a pretty gown and make eye contact with the first “prince” who passes us by. That is the expectation you need to lower. Finding someone who fits us can take some time, so be patient. So here are a few suggestions that might help you out.
Tell people. I know it seems obvious, but make sure folks in your sphere know you are ready and open to dating. Sometimes people don’t want to suggest an introduction for fear of offending. They may not want to imply there’s anything wrong with being single, so they just side step it all together. So make sure they know and give them a bit of info as to the type of person you are looking for.
Volunteer. Cliché? Maybe. But who cares. I honestly can’t recommend this enough. And it’s a win-win no matter how it works out. There are so many organizations out there looking for good people, so at the base level, you’ll be doing a good thing. There’s your first win. When you’re deciding where to put your time, look at establishments that create group situations, as opposed to one on one scenarios, or being tucked away in a back office. Groups that do fund raising events are fantastic, as they open you up to new experiences and a whole slew of new people. And the second win? If you meet someone, you already have tons in common and you know that they have similar moral coding to yours. Win-win.
Have an open attitude towards dating. I mean, safety first, of course, but a bad date is not the end of the world. At worst, it’s a good story. (Gawd, I’ve got a lot of great stories…) Get chatty at the grocery store. Make a bit of eye contact when you’re out and about. Be receptive to connecting with people. Be brave and try new things.
Be patient with online dating. I once knew someone who signed up for a dating site and set up 5 dates in 5 nights. By the end of the week, he had kicked a couple of them to the curb (or vice versa) and then handed out a couple of roses and booked second dates. Within a few more weeks, he had begun what turned into a long term relationship. And if she hadn’t been in the first group of 5, I can almost guarantee he would have continued down that path until she was. Is this a romantic approach? No, possibly not. Is it mercenary? Maybe. Is it efficient and effective? I think it is. Unless you are a 20 year old who is still out there meeting tons of people on a regular basis, it really can be just a numbers game.
So there you have it, Carla. I hope this is helpful and wish you much luck and love as you continue down this path!