James J. De Santis, Ph.D.
Post Office Box 894, Glendora, CA 91740-0894
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Can You Find Love?
Success at dating and forming intimate relationships is not necessarily a
matter of pure talent or instinct. Yet society assumes we know how to go
about the process without help.
Many of the traditional rules of dating that helped guide single people in the
past no longer apply. Finding your own way is a difficult task. With the
absence of agreed-on social conventions can come ambiguity, anxiety,
loneliness, and discouragement.
However, singles can successfully increase their chances for meeting other
eligible compatible singles and developing intimate relationships by treating
dating as a task, by learning and applying specific behavioral skills, and by
strengthening these skills through practice.
If something isn't clicking, If what you're doing isn't getting you where you
want to be, a task-oriented approach will focus your energies on actively
addressing your needs and wishes while increasing your self-respect.
What You Can Do
Here are some action-oriented steps for successful dating. Don't flatly
reject these steps, but don't follow them uncritically either. Try them out
and see what fits for you. After all, would the effort be worth it?
1. Don't just sit and think and wait; begin today. Dedicate yourself to
patient, systematic effort over time.
2. Make sure you're seeking a relationship for the right reasons. If you are
depressed or emotionally empty, address these issues too.
3. Begin with a plan. Define the ideal characteristics of what you want in a
partner--don't be vague. Be exhaustive and have high standards. Then
identify which of these qualities are truly non-negotiable for you.
4. Enlist the support of a "study partner" who is also dating to help you with
your "homework," with whom you can exchange suggestions, receive
encouragement, and keep on-task.
5. Generate a list of places you are likely to meet the type of person you
are looking for. Try going at least once to each place on your list.
6. Assertively let friends and family know you are looking. Let them know
specifically what kind of person you are looking for.
7. Take time out of each day to get out of the house and be visible.
Instead of rushing, cultivate a consciousness for looking.
8. Maximize your choices by meeting lots of people. High standards mean
meeting more people.
9. Be curious. Ask plenty of questions and listen genuinely. People love to
talk about themselves. Assess whether each potential partner you meet is
emotionally healthy, truly ready for a relationship, and compatible with you.
10. Be selective. Heed warning signs of potential problems. If you determine
that a person doesn't fit your non-negotiable list, don't be tempted to
linger, move on. Focus only on good prospects.
11. Accept anxiety as a natural part of the process. Desensitize yourself by
practicing initiating contact. Don't make dating too big a deal; think in terms
of just making new friends.
12. Maintain a positive attitude about the process. Remind yourself that
your personal efforts will make an impact on your life and ultimate
happiness. Remember how good personal accomplishment feels.
And when you strike gold, stop digging!
When To Seek Help
If you want to be in a relationship but find that you just can't seem to meet
the right kind of people, are too fearful or self-doubting to initiate contact
with potential partners, or are too discouraged about the whole process, it
may be time to seek out some support.
Consider doing some independent reading on the subject, attending
workshops on dating, or consulting a qualified therapist.