Saturday, March 22, 2008

Clueless Daters: A 12-step program to get you back on track

Everyone's problems are different--and we tackle all kinds of relationship issues throughout this site--but the basic framework of how to jump start your love life remains the same.

  1. It Ain't Them; It's You: If you're striking out
    over and over, then that's because you have some bad habits.
    Sit down for some soul searching. Are you looking for
    a person to solve your entire life? Are you searching
    for impossible perfection? Are you still stuck on your
    high school sweetheart? Are you needy and possessive?

  2. Bad Habits Be Gone: Figuring out your habits
    is only half the battle. You need to readjust your thinking
    and get rid of them: talk to friends, read some books,
    find a therapist.

  3. Love Thyself: Without confidence, the dating
    world is going to repeatedly thump you on the head like
    one big Whack-a-Mole game. Do affirmations, take prozac,
    get a makeover, force your Mom to tell you how cool you
    are. Do whatever you need to do.

  4. Love Thyself, Part II: Healthy relationships
    involve attraction--so you better be comfy with sex. That
    doesn't mean you have to be out there doing it willy-nilly,
    but you need to understand that sex is a good thing. You
    need to understand that sex combined with love is a mind-bogglingly
    fantastic thing.

  5. Experiment (Just a Little): If you're trying
    to break out of old ruts, it helps to play at dressup.
    Play a different persona in a safe situation: put on an
    outrageous Halloween costume, fake your career at a party,
    date online. This isn't because you should ultimately
    be lying about who you are, but because it will get you
    to think differently.

  6. Meet and Greet: Get out, get out, get out. You
    aren't going to meet anyone while sitting on your couch.
    And, sorry, you're not going to meet people by working
    100 hours a week. Throw parties, take classes, join a
    vollyeball team, do hobbies, work in coffee shops, go
    to alumni gatherings, run a personal ad, attend singles
    events, ask your friends for blind dates. You get the

  7. Flirting: Flirting isn't tough at all. It's nothing
    more than treating someone as if they are the singlemost
    fascinating, captivating, and exciting person in the room.
    Leave sexual innuendo and double entendres for the advanced
    practitioners. For now, just hang on their every word.

  8. Asking Someone Out: If this is tough for you,
    then do it in the easiest way possible--invite someone
    along for plans you've already made. Whether it's happy
    hour with work friends or two tickets you bought for the
    local Truck Rally, you can make it sound like you were
    doing it anyway--as opposed to that horrible "Want
    to do something sometime?" that leaves you hanging
    out there for rejection.

  9. Basic Dating Etiquette: First dates aren't like
    relationships, in which you get to relax and be totally
    natural. Dates have rules. This is one time when you do
    have to act like you're having a good time.

  10. Be Yourself, But Not Too Much: This is the crux
    of how to behave once you meet someone with potential.
    Relax. You know you're a cool person--your friends like
    you after all, right? You don't have to put on any kind
    of show. But you also don't get to lay everything out
    on the table. Do not talk about your painful divorce for
    three hours on the first date. Do not admit to your chicken-killing
    voodoo habits. That comes later.

  11. Fledgling Relationships: Early on, a new relationship
    can turn on a dime. Don't panic if one little thing goes
    wrong and suddenly you feel awkward. And don't hold it
    against them if they do something (small) wrong. If you
    wait it out a day or two that feeling usually disappears.

  12. It Ain't You; It's Them: Do not give up. Be the
    Energizer Bunny. If at first you don't succeed, try try
    again. You get the picture. There are only a handful of
    people in this world any of us can fall madly in love
    with. You're going to have to kiss a few frogs along the

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