I was at a drinks-do once talking to a lovely singleton who was exasperated by the apparent fact that all the good people were taken. Nobody was left (in the world it seemed) to date, let alone to marry.
As a psychologist specialising in dating and relationships, I am often struck by how our worldview can literally hijack our minds, distort our thinking, trapping and handicapping our potential to seize opportunities. If one is to truly believe there is no-one left to date, then pursing love would no longer make any sense and one would stop looking. That is a sad state of affairs.
It is not uncommon that we have errors in our thought system. Without geeking too much on psychological theory about thought systems, suffice to say that everyone sees the world in different ways, through different lenses if you will. What this indicates is that we interpret things according to our value system and idiosyncratic life experiences. This in turn means that we walk about seeing the world in distorted ways that don’t always correspond with reality.
Let me give you an example. You are on a date with someone. There are a lot of things you like about them. They seem really nice and friendly. You are having a good time. Then they spit the pip of an olive out and your mind has been made up. That’s it. This person is insane. You can’t possibly date a person that spits olive pips out. No second date. Not even a snog.
A bit over the top you think? It’s a true story. I don’t know about Pip-Spitter, but Judgemental Dater is still single (and in fact never been married). The point here is that we make judgements about people based on our idiosyncratic lens and sometimes they are erroneous judgements. They don’t fit with reality. Ms Pip-Spitter was perfectly nice, good looking and smart. Mr Judgmental has an error in his thinking that hinders him from seeing what is really there. Whatever ‘pip spitting’ represents to him hijacks the reality of the nice person he is on a date with. The more errors you have, then more the world will seem as if all the good girls and guys are taken.
Consider this: You are in London, there are literally MILLIONS of single people (google ‘marital status census 2011’). It would be incorrect to say that they are all ‘bad’. Therefore there must be something going on with you. You sabotage yourself, set yourself up for failure, pick unnecessary fights with dates just to prove ‘everyone is no-good’ and you are left frustrated and lonely.
If this sounds a lot like you, then it might be worth sitting down and thinking about the things you are frustrated by in dating. Write a list of things if there are more.
- ‘There are no good men left’
- ‘All women are crazy’
- ‘I can never get second dates’
Then add ‘because….’
- ‘No good men, because they are all taken’
- (All women are crazy, because they get upset and overreact all the time)
And rate on a percentage scale how much you really believe it to be true.
- ‘No good men, because they are all taken’ 80%
- (All women are crazy, because they get upset all the time 80%)
Then think about what experiences you have had that suggest this is the case, and make a note of these.
- ‘I have been on dates with 3 guys who were jerks’
- ‘The last guy I dated ghosted me’
- (‘I had a girlfriend once that cried all the time’)
Then, the crucial part, consider why the statement may not be true.
- ‘The last guy I went on a date with wasn’t that bad’
- ‘All of my male single friends are actually really nice guys’
- (‘In reality, I was a jerk and never turned up when I said I would’)
Then re-rate how strongly you feel about your first statement.
- ‘No good men, because they are all taken’ 30%
- (All women are crazy, because they get upset all the time 30%)
The idea is to gain a more realistic perspective and to take ownership of your dating journey. I think you have more power and say in the matter than you realise. One, well two, questions I think is really helpful to ask yourself continuously is ‘what am I doing to foster this experience and what can I do to change it?’
You want to meet nice guys? Then start looking for the positive traits in men you meet. You don’t want to date crazy women? Then stop being a jerk.
It takes a certain amount of courage to go there sometimes. The alternative is a comforting default position, but as they say you won’t get different results if you keep doing the same thing.
By Madeleine Mason
She is one of the best dating coaches in the world, picking up third place at the international iDate awards 2016. Her specialism is in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) based coaching seeing both singles and couples who need help with their love lives. Alongside her coaching, she is Psychologies Magazine’s in-house dating expert for their LifeLabs blogging platform and is seen regularly in the press. Furthermore, she is founding member of the UK-based Dating Industry Professionals Network, member of the British Psychological Society and currently undertaking a part-time doctorate in counselling psychology.
Madeleine and her team offer private face-to-face and Skype sessions to singles and couples struggling with their love lives. You may like to book a free 10-minute consultation today: http://passionsmiths.com
For anyone particularly interested in learning more about where they may be going wrong in dating and how to combat the emotional ups and downs of dating, perhaps try this 1 day intensive in July run by Madeleine. https://intensive062016.eventbrite.co.uk