Are you a planner? I am. I love Post-its and daily to-do lists. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of triumphantly scratching things off those lists as goals get accomplished. It feels good to plan for every eventuality.
Expectations can be great for motivation and goal-setting, but when it comes to dating, all bets are off.
Dating is not a linear experience and "dating expectations" can prevent you from getting your heart’s desire.
Here are some sneaky ones to keep one eye on…
#1. Playing the Waiting Game
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you want a high-caliber person to come into your life.
You’ve put your profile together with true-to-life-yet-dazzling snapshots of you walking on the beach, hugging a redwood tree, sipping a cappuccino al fresco on the coolest street in your town, etc. You’ve painstakingly polished your essays so they are charming, not trying too hard, but will still knock the socks off of any dater within 100 miles of your front door. Now, you’ve just got to wait for this whole dating thing to get rolling, right? Mr. or Ms. Amazing is going stumble onto your profile and snatch you right up. Yes?
Waiting for someone to find you online and opting to only date those who reach out to you is the equivalent of having the luxury of eating at any delicious restaurant you’d like—as long as they deliver (unrealistic expectation).
Hot tip: Be the first to reach out. Don’t expect that amazing person to find you in a sea of thousands of other daters. Search out interesting people who have mutually matching criteria and say hello! Drop a line or three and see if they pick up what you’ve laid down.
#2. And So It Is…
I once heard a woman say, “All the guys I meet online end up being liars or cheaters.” Now that’s some powerful feedback for the universe about who you’re calling into your life to meet, don’t you think?
Hot tip: If you think all men are jerks, liars, and cheaters, then that’s who you’ll find. If you think all women are drama queens, high-maintenance whiners, and gold diggers, then that’s who’s going to be crossing your path. Instead, try one (or more) of these three approaches:
· Say, “The right person is coming my way” out loud.
· Pick someone like you. Say, “I can’t wait to meet someone who’s a lot like me! Same sense of humor, has integrity, and loves animals as much as I do.”
· Focus on five characteristics you really love about your friends or admire in other people that you want in a partner. Say, “I can’t wait to meet an irreverent, funny, whip-smart wordsmith who thinks I’m amazing, just as I am.”
#3. Do They Match Your List?
Experienced daters have clearly defined lists of what they’re looking for and of what they want to avoid in a companion. The must-haves can stack up to multiple pages, and there’s not one thing wrong with that—if you understand how to use your list.
Let’s say “must be generous” tops your list. Instead of asking, “Are they generous, yes or no?” ask, “How are they generous?” instead. When we’re only putting yes/no questions to ourselves, we miss all kinds of opportunities to really see someone, there’s no curiosity in the inquiry, and you may accidentally rule someone out who just might be perfect for you.
A super-smart friend of mine has her list memorized, and on it is “Must be financially stable.” She went on a first date with a kind man who pulled up to the coffeehouse in an old beater. He apologized that he was a little overheated; his air conditioning was out in his car. Her initial thought was, “This guy is broke! He doesn’t have his finances together or he wouldn’t be driving that old, broken-down car. Is he going to need me to buy him a new car if we date?”
But this smart cookie didn’t send him packing back to his (literally) hot car. Instead, she decided to learn some important things about him (without grilling him on his stats) first. She asked him questions about what he loved about his life, what was coming up that he cared about, and what he was passionate about. She listened to him share his world. She enjoyed the date—and at the end, she decided she didn’t have enough information to rule him out quite yet.
On their second date, she learned that he had a career he’d been in for fifteen years that he loves, he owned his own house, and he’d been waiting to buy a new car during a month when he could get the best deal. Boom! Financially stable.
Having a list is fine, but understanding how to use it to your advantage—and how to listen for what’s actually important to you—will help you stop ruling people out before you have a sense of who they are and what they’re really about.
· Don’t lead with the stats checklist. That means everything from “What’s your favorite sports team” to “What do you do for a living” to “How many kids do you want.” It’s a huge turn-off to most daters.
· Look for how your date is expressing the qualities you hope to find instead of trying to determine if they have that quality by asking yes-or-no questions.
· Expect to learn new things about yourself and what you really need at this stage in your life.
Knowing who you are and what your deal-breakers are is powerful. Having expectations and standards for a shared life is smart.
But with all the planning for the future, we can lose sight of one thing, and that’s chance. Be open to the magic of serendipity.