David: 'Women seem to have very fixed views on what kind of man they're looking for. Maybe it's someone just like their ex, because they'll often tell you to your face that they want someone with a certain income, who dresses well, takes them to fancy restaurants. Even if they're not that great looking!'
Sheila: 'I know I have some baggage, but some men I meet seem desperate to rush into a relationship, just to have someone there in their lives. I've met men who've proposed marriage or want to move in with me, within a week or so of meeting! There's quite a lot of desperation out there.'
Sometimes we need to sit back, think deeply, make some inner and outer changes in our lives, before we go out onto the dating scene. One of the first big questions to answer about yourself: 'what am I looking for in a new partner and why do I want to start dating?'
You may believe you are looking for a long-term partner, love, romance and commitment, but are you emotionally free of past relationships and ready to start afresh?
It's been called 'dating detox'. Just as a detox diet cleanses yourself of various impurities, you might need to start ridding your mind of various reasons why you find dating difficult.
- You just don't fancy anyone enough. If you are too definite in your views of what kind of person you find attractive, then you're effectively closing the doors. Are you choosing the wrong kind of potential dates? Stop going by your checklist and instead seek out different kinds of people.
- There are too many problems in your life. That may be a good enough reason for not dating right now. But don't let the time go to waste. Use this period to create changes in yourself: take up a new kind of exercise or sport, change your clothing and hair style, lose a few pounds.
- Shyness makes you unattractive. Try concentrating on meeting more people, go to classes, networking sessions or join a campaigning group. You need to be active in your social life so that you have interests to talk about and share. If your shyness is really crippling then maybe it's time to seek therapy.
Building up your self-esteem and confidence
How strong is your level of self-confidence or self-esteem? Just because you were brilliant, witty and attractive as a younger man or woman does not mean you'll feel as good about yourself now. Losing a job, partner, and to some degree looks, can expose insecurity in the toughest individuals.
Getting out to meet new people, for companionship and social events, may be the best way to ease yourself back into a more confident you. Try self-development courses of which there are many out there. Take up something new like Pilates, the Alexander Technique, assertiveness training, or neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).
At one point in my life, when I was feeling quite low, I went to a series of NLP courses and learned how we allow language and everyday talk to control our thoughts and actions. How often do we say something like, 'I can't do that, I'm no good at it'.
Say 'yes' rather than 'no'
Try something new. Think beyond the usual boxes or checklists. If you're not meeting people who excite you, then put yourself in totally new surroundings. If you're experimenting with online dating sites, why not go for something completely different? Try a singles holiday, do work for a charity or voluntary group, maybe go abroad to help out in a poorer country.
It's time to push yourself out of the comfort zone. Be more outwardly friendly, smile at strangers, even talk to someone on the train or bus. Do anything you can to break the mould. Your self-confidence will return and a new you will slowly start to blossom.
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