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Keeping Up Hope While Dating

Does finding the one for you feel impossible?

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Keeping Hope Alive While Dating

Dating can be difficult and at times you may want to give up. Research shows that fulfilling relationships and connecting with the meaningful people in your life are the keys to better health and increased happiness. 

Humans are social creatures. We crave connection with others, and we cannot discount the importance of social connections and relationships. It is well documented that people who are isolated or remain in distressed, unhealthy relationships have a far higher mortality rate than those with developed social connections. In a University of California Berkeley study, Drs. Berkman and Syme found that close friendships and marriages increased lifespans by an entire decade. 

When you try to find that special person, it can be disheartening to go on dull or lackluster dates. Dr. John Gottman famously went on 60 dates when he first moved to Seattle. He used the dates to really hone in on what he wanted and didn’t want. He had a mindset that it was a numbers game… if he went on enough dates sooner or later he would meet his match. And he did meet his wife Julie on date #60. Many experts say that it takes somewhere between 40-60 dates to find the right person.

This is important to incorporate into your mindset when dating. It’s likely not going to be quick. You are going to have some bad dates and probably some so-so dates. Maybe you will even have some fun dates with someone who is not really relationship material for you. Treat this like research, and make notes about what worked and didn’t work on your last date. Think about your communication leading up to that date. Are there things you know now that you could learn from for your future dating?

Attraction is real, some people you have chemistry with and some you don’t. If you feel that chemistry, then great! Be sure to take your time so that you don’t move too quickly and miss potential red flags (read more about the role of chemistry in the honeymoon phase here). And, if there is no chemistry you can be honest with your date by saying just that. This will save both of you from the uncertainty that can happen after a date. If you are clear and say how you feel, then everyone is on the same page.

When you are dating, remember to think about the things you are grateful for in your life currently. I was single for 8 years and went on plenty of bad dates while really yearning to find my person. During that time I found comfort in knowing that I had a good life with friends, family, and my career. I placed emphasis on keeping my friendships strong and being thankful for a peaceful happy life. Then I could envision that a partner would add to my happiness and complement my life. This made the whole journey more manageable. I did finally find that person. We have been together for 2 years and just recently got married. It is possible. It is not easy and I can empathize if you are struggling. 

Have fun and try to see this as a journey. Stay safe and make sure you take things slow so that you have time to determine if they are safe and trustworthy. Remember, it is hard work, but it’s worth it. Good luck in your dating journey. If you would like more on this topic, I lead a Gottman-based singles workshop focused on how to create healthy connections. Learn more.

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Stacy Hubbard, LMFT is a Certified Gottman Therapist and Gottman Master Trainer based in Ashland, Oregon. Prior to earning her Masters Degree in Counseling at Portland State University, she worked as an adventure guide and rock climbing instructor. You can view her website here.

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