Thursday, January 13, 2011

When the Date Rocked, but the Aftermath Didn't - 5 Tips for Staying Positive When Things Don't Pan Out


We've all been there: The first date was amazing - we connected, we laughed, we tingled in "This might be it" anticipation - and then, for inexplicable reasons, things fizzled. Maybe they didn't call again, maybe there's been no further connection and things aren't progressing like we feel like they should, or maybe we discovered a deal-breaker. Whatever happened, this is a hard, and very discouraging situation to deal with. Dating, for most of us, is a violent series of ups and downs, and when the ups don't keep us up, the resulting downs can really suck.

Here are five tips for keeping our spirits, our energy and our hopes up when dating gets us down:

1) Focus on the positive. Part of the reason dating is so hard is because we tend to place very high expectations on what we want and what we hope for. If instead we focus on enjoying each date for what it is -- a fun (or really bad, and therefore funny-because-it-sucks) night out with someone new -- we can regulate our ups and downs much more effectively. Each new person we interact with teaches us about ourselves, how we're perceived, and what we like and don't like. So instead of getting bummed about something not working out, place the focus on what we liked about that person and in the future, seek out those traits. Were they adventurous? Join a hiking club or a rock climbing gym to meet others like them. Were they relaxed and at peace with life? Start going to yoga classes. Yes, it's a bummer when we thought something was there and then found out it wasn't -- it's very easy to get discouraged. But ultimately, we're in this game to meet someone and getting discouraged doesn't help. So focus on the positive and put the negative in a box, only to be examined in the company of friends during your next group pity party.

2) Take a deep breath. Do yoga. Relax. Meditate. Walk. Run. Join a kickboxing class and bang out your frustrations. Exercise, meditation and focusing inward like we do during yoga all helps to put things in perspective, elevate our mood and relieve stress. These are all positives when our dating lives are annoyingly off-track.

3) Hang out with friends. When we're bummed out, we can have the tendency to hole up on our apartments and hibernate in our self-pity. Don't do this. Call a friend and meet for coffee, a day of thrift shopping, a mini-road trip or happy hour. Talk it out. Laugh about the good dates and the bad. Friends are there to support us and lift us when we're down (just as we're there for them). Use them.

4) Change it up. If things are consistently not going well, it may be time to change up our MO for meeting people. Online dating fan? Take a co-ed class or join a co-ed club, doing something you enjoy -- new friends (or their friends) can equal new dates. Constantly getting set up by friends? Try online dating. The bar scene not panning out like you'd planned? Try online, getting set-up or expanding your activity circle. After all - what have we got to lose? If our current mode of finding dates isn't working, what's the harm in trying something new for a while?

5) Dial Down Your Dating Focus. When we place dating (and finding a new love) at the top of our personal priority list, it's easy to be very (and overly) affected every time something goes well or goes badly. Some people thrive on intense focus, so if that's your thing, rage on. However, if you're finding yourself getting sick on your emotional roller coaster, it's time to back off a bit and insert some other priorities in as well, like doing things that make you happy. After all, when we focus on making ourselves happy (by pursuing hobbies, hanging out with friends and kicking ass at work), we're more confident in ourselves. Confidence is attractive.

As clich├ęd as it sounds, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. So each time our dating lives kick us down, finding the strength to get back up and carry on -- head held high -- is an immense positive. We learn who we are, what we're capable of (and recovering from) and how we handle ourselves and each time things suck, we get stronger for having had the practice to move forward. Getting through the hard times is what builds our character and makes us great, so even though it's incredibly rough to deal with having yet another great date not pan out, it's vital to remain as positive as possible and move on. And who knows -- the next date may be THE date...

Originally published by BounceBack, LLC on www.bounceback.com, where I'm the dating expert.

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