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Is There a ‘Right’ Way to Date?

Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistJuly 28, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

Finding love may be your dream, but dating can feel like a nightmare — especially if you’ve been single for a long time. You might start to wonder what you’re doing wrong and what you should be doing instead. While there is no single “right” way to date, there are right and wrong ways to date for you.

As you consider what approach is right for you, here are some points to think about:

The more people you’re exposed to you, the greater your chance of finding a partner.

Sitting home alone or going through your days with eyes downcast clearly limits your possibilities. So, let the world know you are looking and choose to be open to any reasonable opportunity to meet people. If friends want to set you up, say yes. Consider joining groups of like-minded people. This might mean joining a wine-tasting class or signing up for Habitat-for-Humanity projects. Also, make sure to engage with others as you do these things – a potential future partner might be right next to you, but you won’t know until you talk to them.

Internet dating is another option that many people choose. It provides access to many people who are also interested in dating. If you pursue this route, keep your expectations in check. Even with so many profiles on the site, you may not find a match there – no matter what the ads promise.

Dating multiple people at once is a great idea, but it’s not for everyone.

There are definitely advantages to having multiple dates each week. You get a lot of practice in your dating skills and have more chances of finding someone to connect with. It can also prevent you from prematurely settling on someone if you feel lonely or fear being alone.

Even so, not everyone is comfortable with this. If you are more of a date-one-person-at-a-time person, then respect that. Just remind yourself of what you want in a partner and regularly ask yourself if the person you’re dating meets those criteria. If not, don’t settle. Let go and move on.

Deepening your friendships can open you to intimate relationships.

There are many reasons that people remain single even when they’d prefer to have a partner. A couple of common ones are a fear of intimacy and weak interpersonal skills. For instance, someone may be easily triggered to anger, or not know how to effectively resolve personal differences. By deepening your friendships, you may be able to work through some of your relationship issues and open yourself up to greater success in your romantic relationships.

Be kind to yourself.

Be compassionate to yourself as you struggle with dating. When you are kind and encouraging to yourself, you are affirming your lovability and giving yourself motivation to keep trying. If, instead, you condemn yourself for your failings – whatever you imagine them to be – you will likely remain lonely… even if you find a partner.

You are given only one life to live (as far as we know). Enjoy it.

It’s admirable that you want to do all you can to find love. But it’s also important to remember that a fulfilling life has many facets, such as good friends, a satisfying career, meaningful activities, and fun. If you take the time to appreciate and enjoy all of these aspects of life, you can create a life you love – even as you look for a partner to love.

Dating basically follows the same “rules” as life. If you want to be successful, commit yourself to getting out there, following what’s right for you, being kind to yourself, and persisting toward your goals. With this approach, you’ll be aiming yourself toward finding love as you date “the right way” for you.

Entries for the Relationships blog are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.

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About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love.

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