How to survive dating

Dating. Yes. Used to be so easy to do. My grandmother and grandfather met during WWII. As they were introduced to each other, he gazed straight into her eyes while shaking her hand, holding it in his a bit longer than it was appropriate. She smiled back, and did not withdraw her hand. That, for both of them – was a clear sign – I like you. And so they started dating. Got married as soon as the war was over. And stayed together forever. Simples!

Not any more, as we all know. The dating scene has become ever more complex since the days of our grandparents – and today it’s a maze of uncertain signs and behaviour we have to struggle to decipher and interpret properly, and often fail. The rules have changed, primarily because more and more people take dating much more casually. Not only you don’t have to marry the person you are dating – you don’t even have to call them back after a date. Even if you went much further than holding hands on your date, it is perfectly fine to pretend like nothing ever happened next time you bump into each other. You can invite a love interest to tag-along with your friends and pretend it’s a date, while you are checking them out in a “safe” environment, and you can date multiple people simultaneously – to “keep your options open”, provided that you have enough time and energy to do that.

As the rules of courtship are becoming almost non-existent, dating etiquette of today can only be described as one big mess. Nobody knows what is appropriate any more, and many people don’t even bother showing their dates some respect or just plain common courtesy – like, telling them they are not interested in seeing them any more, rather than just leaving it to the other side to figure out the “signs” by themselves. I guess there is nothing wrong with making our own rules, but the problem happens when we fail to communicate them to people we are dating – it creates (unnecessary) confusion, hurt and heartbreak.

As a result – even though today we have so many options to meet people – we have online dating, speed dating, dating agencies, blind dating, not to mention just plain old normal meet-you-somewhere-random dating, we don’t seem to be better and smarter at actually meeting the nice people we want to date. So we have dating experts and dating coaches who tell us how to get better at dating, flirting and seduction. That is, meeting new people and getting them to like us. Yet, what they rarely tell us how to actually survive all that dating. How to protect our hearts, how to stop wasting time on people who don’t deserve our attention or affection. How to minimise that “dating-waste” and actually get to the point – meet one special wonderful person that we actually want to be with long term, not just date. Someone who will not be playing dating games with us – but will just be happy to be around us.

I don’t have a universal answer to successfully managing the dating game, but I will try to share with you a strategy I believe can help. As I’ve mentioned in my previous post – the right choices will come to you more easily when you love and respect yourself fully – but, in the meantime, try this:

Go on dates, with as many or as few people you want, as casual or as serious as you want. As long as you enjoy the interaction with others and their company – there is no harm in trying, and putting yourself out there. But – keep your expectations very very low at the very beginning, and try not to involve your heart too much and get over-excited about the possible future with this person, before you are sure they want you, and want only you, and want you for real.

Easier said than done, I know, but if you go to dates with this mindset, it can help you not to get your hopes up too high, and subsequently – avoid disappointment and heartbreak. You don’t have to miss dating opportunities, or stop being open and genuine with your dates – just try not to imagine things that are not yet there, and curb your expectations until your date’s behaviour has proved itself worthy of them. In other words – to determine if someone is really into you: look for solid, consistent good behaviour – and not flimsy bits of here-and-there positive gestures mixed in with lots of bad and hurtful ones. That way you will not only minimise getting hurt – but over time, you will learn to differentiate between people who just want to play a bit without any particular end in mind – and the ones that are actually into you and will make an effort to get you.

Unless somebody has shown you multiple times in a row they are serious, they want and crave to see you, they will make time and space in their life for you, they want to see you that badly that they will rearrange their busy days to make it happen – they are not really into you. If their behaviour is indecisive and inconsistent, and you keep questioning yourself whether they actually care – I am afraid, that has to be – no, they don’t.


Any thoughts on dating… ? I am sure you have some!
Add your comment and let me know what you think.

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14 Responses

  1. A lot of people need tips on surviving dates, it is not a walk in the park believe me, I come from experience.

    • Thanks for your comment. I agree with you – and this article tackles only a part of those troubles. Please feel free to share some more of your thoughts about dating, I would love to hear them.

  2. Ms Jones says:

    I went on my first “date” since I split up with my ex over 2 years ago. I met a nice couple on the train ride home from the beach a few weeks ago. I told them I was single. They live near me and go to my local YMCA. They said they had a single friend.
    Last night (3 weeks later) they took me and the friend out to dinner, which was very gracious of them. They are nice people and I hardly know them. The friend was nice. It was like I was on a “first date” with 3 people. I was so nervous as I never “date”. Everything went okay, but the guy was really not the right type for me. I was more depressed when I got home.
    I am 56 years old and never married. I do not know how people keep their spirits up with Internet dating, blind dates, fix ups or anything like that.
    I am glad I tried. At least I took a step. I have had no luck with Internet dating. I am much more of an old school person, like the grandparents you mention in your post.

    • Petra says:

      I think it’s great you did it and made the effort to go on this blind date despite your reservations. You started dating again, and that’s what matters – you’ll get into your grove soon enough! The key to finding someone new is to keep looking, it’s not about finding them at your first attempt, very few people have it that easy. Less thinking why and what, and how old you are, and just go ahead and do it. You never know, the most ridiculous occassion or chance event can be the one when you’ll meet someone special. I’ve seen so many people find their partners in the most unlikely places!

      • Ms Jones says:

        Thanks for the vote of confidence Petra. I cried when I got home. At least I did not cry on the date!
        My friends also gave me the thumbs up for trying.
        It is sad that spent so much time and had so much hope for my last relationship and it did not work out, but a little less so with the passing of time. I have gained some perspective too.
        Anyway, I have met men in the most unexpected places before and since I don’t want to be alone forever I will just have to remain optimistic and keep trying!

        Ms Jones

  3. Pam says:

    Ms jones, I’m also 56 and been divorced for 9 years. I’ve had no luck whatsoever no matter what i’ve tried. I am so discouraged and appalled by the arrogance of many of the men with whom I’ve communicated on line. Rarely made it even to the first date, let alone a second one. Many are too lazy to call or travel no more than an hour to meet, if they live in a different town.

    Seem to think the women need to make all the effort. I really don’t get it and seem to keep making mistakes., It’s so hard to keep on trying after so many failed attempts. Only savign grace is beign spared from these duds.

    • Ms Jones says:

      Hi Pam –
      I had NO luck with on line myself, and frankly have been very lonely since a very disappointing breakup with a man I thought I was going to marry. We split up a couple of years ago and I have never been married.
      It has been extremely difficult to face this. However I will say the “online” experience has been a complete waste of time for me and for my friends that have tried it. Really lazy men, most just looking for sex. I stopped wasting my time with that entirely.
      I don’t know how or where I will meet someone, but I still have hope. If you want to meet someone, I wish you luck. And if online is not working for you, just stop doing it. It is not the be all and the end all of dating by any means. I would just drop it. I have a girlfriend that keeps
      doing it week after week and telling me how horrible the men are. I told her the same thing. Drop it.
      I am no dating expert. I am a nice person and there are a lot of “duds” around here too. There must be ONE that’s right for me. That’s all I need. Good luck Pam.
      Ms. Jones

  4. angela says:

    Love this, i am trying to survive my attempts at dating only to find myself awake at 3am and in tears, i am ready to date after being a widow 8 years, you would think men our age…56 would have it together….sad

    • Petra says:

      Glad you like the blog – and so sorry you feel this way. I know it’s hard to date, it’s hard at any age – different challenges come our way, but there is always a lot of obstacles to finding the right partner. It is possible to change that – it is actually up to each one of us to change that, we have control over our experiences. When your heart and mind are in the right place you get much better feedback from the world, and your opportunities widen and your matches become much more precise. Let me know if you feel you’d like to talk about it, we can do a consultation and explore your situation in more detail.

  5. princessakbas says:

    Hi everyone!

    I saw this post and wanted to share my story. I’m the sort of girl that’s never had any luck with guys. There was always a few floating around but my heart was never ever in it, or if it was, it was baldy broken. And despite being in my early 20s I’ve always been a mature thinker and wanted to be careful with my choices. I’ve secretly always wanted to be with one guy and to have him be my best friend and husband… Very weird for a 23 year old living in London huh? Most of my friends have met somebody they’re serious about and are all in happy committed relationships. I feel like one of the very few left! But in all honestly my opinion is very different now. I think for one to grow and develop mentally sometimes they just have to go for things- without considering the future, whether its the right guy or the wrong guy. Even a person you meet randomly in a corner shop and have a 2min conversation with can say something which will spark a new train of thought in you. So in reality date as many people as possible. Because each person is opening up new dimensions to you. It could be so small and slight but even then you are changing in small and slight ways. And in all honesty nobody knows who the right/wrong guy is, they only know the guy who is willing to TRY for them and not give that up so easily.

    And this guy could be so unpredictable. And it could be this guy wasn’t the one you dreamed about at 23 in the slightest. That’s the way life works. If it doesn’t scar you or break you, or challenge you or introduce you to new places and new people how can you be getting the most out of life?

    • Petra says:

      I agree with you – we should go out and get dates, and look for opportunities to meet people – you never know who you’ll end up falling in love with, so it’s best not to be prejudiced about people before we get to know them. You are very young still, please don’t be so pessimistic, there is plenty of time for you to find yourself and find love. You probably are one of those who want the real thing, and not just “a relationship” so you might need more time to figure out what is this real thing for you. But it only means that once you find it, it will be a great match for you – unlike so many people who just end up with partners they don’t really like so much, and don’t have much in common with, but stay because they think it’s the right thing to do, or they feel they can’t find anyone better. Also – you are right in saying that challenging experiences are good for us – but only if we learn from them, they are not here to make us suffer, but to help us grow. If you’d like some help and direction, contact me for a free consultation. All my best!

  6. Ms Jones says:

    I decided to revamp my profile and take another crack at on line dating (since I have not many other men in real life to date.)

    I had such a weird experience recently. I had been exchanging many messages with one particular man. I finally suggested we meet. He asked about Saturday. It happened to be my birthday and I did not feel that it was the most auspicious occasion for a blind date (all my blind dates have been kind of stressful) so I figured “why stress myself out on my birthday?”

    So I told him no, another time. Well, we could not agree immediately on another day and he kept sending me more and more messages. Finally I asked him for his number. He said he was sorry I was so skeptical about Internet dating and did not offer me his number or ask for mine. I got a strong feeling this man was either incredibly insecure or – perhaps he was married! He told me he was really hopeful to find someone nice, but it was not me. I think he had that day free and when I said no, that was it! This was after exchanging MANY messages.

    Any ideas on that one – anybody?

    Ms Jones

    • Petra says:

      I know online dating can be frustrating – especially that online part before you actually meet someone. I’d always go for meeting someone as soon as possible – at least you will know if your connection has real potential. This guy clearly has a hidden agenda – whatever it is, I don’t see it’s worth spending any more of your time or energy on him than you already have.

  7. Ms Jones says:

    Hi Petra –
    Thank you for your response.
    Yes, hidden agenda I agree. I did spend a lot of time and energy corresponding with him. Felt bad that I could not at least meet him, like I “flunked” at Internet dating.
    But the truth is no one knows who the stranger on the other side of the dating site really is. If he is a grown man interested in making a connection, he likely would have been more forthcoming about calling to arrange a time to get together.
    Best to walk away. I don’t think I missed “Mr. Right”. Internet dating is extremely difficult. At least the guy has to be game to show up and make personal contact.

    Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it!

    Ms Jones

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