Focus on Opportunities for Connection
Have you noticed that singles and unhappy couples seem to worry more about Valentine’s Day than most of the lovebirds enjoying their piece of “happily ever after?” It’s about space. Even as the number of adult singles have outpaced the marrieds in America, there remains an “odd man out” mentality. However, most of the “wish I hadn’t” anecdotes in my book Date Like A Grownup clearly illustrate the downside of employing a need-based focus instead of a “right fit” strategy. Real, life-enhancing connection goes deeper and further than one single romantic relationship. So, before you singles start stockpiling gloom in anticipation of a solo February 14th, let’s peel back the pretty pink tissue paper and take a good look:
It’s finite—24 hours, start to finish. You can do this. I once had to write a light-hearted Valentine’s Day piece just days after a breakup. So…I blunt-tipped Cupid’s broken arrow and got it done. You can too.
It can be fleeting. Did you know divorce attorneys refer to the day after Valentine’s Day as “D-day?” After the spike in flower sales comes a spike in breakups. Chocolate-covered strawberries rock, but simply slathering a layer of chocolate and flowers over a stale relationship isn’t so satisfying. Many of those happy couples you may be tempted to envy, aren’t. Happy, that is. Keep your eyes on your own life. Don’t like it? Change it. More on this at the end. Read on…
You have options. Sure, you can focus on all the guys and gals scrambling to snag the last cards at the Valentine’s Day display near checkout—or you could, instead, focus on developing strong friendships that will will outlast bad dates, stem isolation and nurture your better self. Grocery shopping on an empty stomach leads to junk food in the shopping cart. It’s the same with our emotional lives. Loneliness makes fools of us all.
You have opportunities to celebrate. One of my favorite Valentine’s Day activities is to distribute roses and good wishes at the nursing facility my grandma lived in until her death in 2010. Regardless of my own “relationship status,” I can remind those who are sometimes forgotten of their infinite value. Christmas carolers come and go—non-seasonal visits can be a real pick-me-up to both resident and visitor.
Better to live genuinely. Always. And that means releasing a few weighty expectations in favor of the hope you can power with your own forward momentum. Hope is helpful; expectation is presumptuous.
- Appreciate the season in which you live. Single? Grab a pen and begin coloring in your own life.
- Identify the root of your pastel-hearted sadness. More often than not, we are mourning an apparent lack of possibility or the death of a relationship dream rather than any “perfect relationship” gone bad. Your focus will determine where your next possibilities grow.
If you’re isolated and lonely—it’s likely that the Valentine’s Day Dread isn’t about February 14th, but is instead indicative of a lack of connection—and you have some control over this! Aim to build your life out, one friend at a time. Genuine connection requires more than Facebook status checks. If your circle is limited to the office and a couple of random neighbors, begin adding connection that matters. Here in the Columbus area, we do it with Cabernet Coaches—a weekly face-to-face gathering to build and acknowledge the value of friendship in our lives.
And remember… Valentine’s Day is really just the precursor to what I like to call “Discount Chocolate Day”—celebrated annually at the bargain bin of a retailer near you!
*Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.
5 Keys to Dating Like a Grownup
The Difference Between Dating and Dating Well
Single? Hello, your name is “Average American.” It turns out that there are a lot of us bypassing bulk food bargains in favor of single servings. In its August 2014 data report, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics revealed that for the first recorded time, more adults are unattached than married in America.
And often, the first instinct of the newly single adult is to be part of a couple again—maybe not in a marital, “let’s get this court-stamped” sort of way, but Dating? Sure. A new, better relationship? Please! And preferably, we’d like to be coupled up again before we’re passing green beans to Aunt Bev around the holiday dinner table.
But before you toss your online profile into the ring, it’s well worth gauging your dating readiness first. Otherwise, you risk treadmill dating—an emotional workout that will wear you out without moving your life forward.
Evaluate the following:
1) Who You Are Today. One of the worst bits of advice my widowed sister received as she reentered the dating arena was “don’t date anyone you wouldn’t have dated in high school!” Huh? While the intent was, perhaps, to encourage stability, the message—that we are somehow stuck in time with our “beginner self”—is ludicrous. You’ve changed. Picking someone who fits who you were will chafe against who you are now becoming.
2) Your Confidence. Have you brushed off the dirt and let the wound heal? A tumble in divorce court or the death of a spouse is trauma. There’s a rehab period. Racing back into dating too soon raises the likelihood of making need-based choices. These are non-sustainable space-fillers that will waste both time and energy. “I don’t want to be alone” decisions only create ruts from which to complain about our lack of good dating prospects. Using Dating as a life patch will work about as well as a spare tire on a road trip. Stabilize your vehicle before you begin the journey.
3) Your Financial Stability. Divorce rarely leaves us with a bigger bank account. Compromised goals and deferred dreams can be difficult to face—but do it. Come up with your own Plan B. If you’re aiming for a long-term sustainable relationship, don’t allow another person’s finances to impact their attractiveness. Your best insurance against using the dollar sign equivalent of “beer goggles” will be gaining traction on your own financial situation before you begin dating.
4) Acceptance. If the divorce playback still has a hero and a villain, you might want to wait for the remake. Rarely is a relationship breakdown a one-person debit. Most often, there has been an ongoing pattern—an accommodation of “unhealthy.” The divorce is either a continuation of the dysfunction or an attempt by one or both parties to break free of a rut-digging pattern. Bitterness and rearview regrets will sideswipe forward momentum.
5) Connection. “Great to meet you! Say, would you mind holding my hopes and dreams?” Yes, people do this. It most often happens with the disconnected as they mistakenly tie their future happiness to somebody else’s wagon. Guard against this by building connection—good old-fashioned, face-to-face friendships. Creating choices for yourself will allow you to say “no” without fear and “yes” without expectations. Life must be bigger than your next relationship for sustainable love to grow.
Originally published in Eyes On News | Lifestyle section.
Still Single? Resolve to Wait For the New Year
For many adult singles, November is the cut-off. While most hope to meet someone special in time for mistletoe moments, integrating early dating with family gatherings is an added stress most singles would rather forgo.
We discussed the pursuit of relationship and the upcoming holidays at a recent Cabernet Coaches’ happy hour.
“It’s just awkward. You have to meet the whole family!”
“I’d rather wait until January at this point…”
If a certain level of intimacy isn’t achieved by the onset of turkey and tinsel, many singles wisely opt for a vacation from dating. Die-hard hopefuls and diversion-seekers may not be so seasonally sensitive. They run the risk, however, of getting a premature overload of personal information—or of being politely excluded from more intimate circles. While some harbor hope of gaining a toehold on love, the capacity for a fast flameout makes holiday “first-dating” a riskier, more pressure-packed venture than relationship starts at other times of the year.
My friend Kathy remembered a one-date wonder her daughter brought home who lives on as a ghost of Christmas past. While the brand new relationship didn’t last beyond the holiday season, the young man’s ever-present image has achieved family joke status. “I don’t want to be the nameless stranger—the “what was her name again” woman in somebody’s family photos!” Kathy laughed, explaining her decision to take a break from dating for the rest of this year.
It’s wise to wait. Dating a stranger during the holidays can actually amplify those feelings of loneliness—because you’re incongruently sharing significant events with someone who hasn’t yet earned significance in your life. And, even worse, sharing holiday events can unduly extend a space-filler relationship at the expense of maintaining a single’s availability for a “right fit” match.
Resist the urge to accelerate your relationship search when the Halloween candy hits half-price, and hit “pause” instead. If you can use November and December as a “reset” time in which to deepen existing connections to friends, family and to your own self, you’ll be in a better position to find love in the new year.
Originally published in Eyes On News | Lifestyle section.
Date Like a Grownup:
More Than a Dating Manual
Date Like a Grownup is for singles—stuck in a dating rut and ready for more. Release the “pause” button on living the full life you deserve.
9 Ways Job Interviews are Like Online Dating:
A List of Things That are Unlucky in Love and Job Search.
At first glance, dating and job interviews don’t seem to have much in common. But as I was writing “Date Like a Grownup: Anecdotes, Admissions of Guilt & Advice Between Friends,” I began noticing missteps common to both endeavors.
Are you coming off as desperate? Bad-mouthing an ex? Turns out there’s a lot job seekers can learn from going on first dates and online dating in general. So when you’re headed to see the hiring manager, remember these hard-learned lessons from the front lines of dating.
Don’t Be Desperate
The most common cause of poor dating choices is loneliness and the fear of being alone. An empty space on Friday night’s calendar leads many to pick anybody over nobody at all, starting downward spirals that lead to even lonelier places.
Similarly, the first instinct of the newly unemployed is to do a panic grab towards any position that might fill that 8-5, Monday-Friday space in their workweek. Better to breathe first, assess second and then make strategic moves. Desperation repels. Cloudy thinking will waste time, energy and opportunity. Rather than react, make a thoughtful choice.
Don’t Be Irrelevant
One of the biggest hindrances for the newly single is navigating changes in the dating landscape. If the previous relationship was of significant length, they must contend with the new phenomenon of “social obsolescence” and actively upgrade their connection skills.
Similarly, the unemployed must advance their professional skills to compete in a job market with openings for only forty percent of active seekers. Come-from-behind victories are hard work — better to stay well versed on industry trends and to keep your professional/social connections active and solid.
Don’t Dwell on Shortcomings
You want to stand out? Be you. A vague or overly general self-assessment guarantees you’ll blend in, but wallflowers are last to dance and slow to be hired. You can’t have every skill. While highly desirable, that would be equally unbelievable. So instead, be specific about where and how you excel.
On dating sites, this translates into profiles that display genuine personality. On a resume, that means focusing on your “star quality” attributes, and showcasing those top talents to fit the job to which you’re applying.
Face-to-face? Don’t apologize for your lack of managerial experience. Instead, draw attention to your creative initiative.
Don’t Wear Rose-colored Glasses
If you start dating someone who is constantly traveling on business, then you can’t get mad down the road when you’re unfulfilled. And if your date asked for bail money the first time you talked but you didn’t heed the warning sign, that’s on you.
This kind of wishful thinking and seeing only what we want to see can lead to interviews at companies with negative histories, into too-good-to-be-true scenarios, and other employment situations in which perception doesn’t match reality.
Do a little research online and within your network so you can lead with your head instead of your heart.
Don’t Compromise Too Much
A little flexibility is good but know when to hold firm. What can you live with? What can’t you live without? Too much pliability is a set-up for failure.
Some singles are so eager for coupledom, they’ll load up on Benadryl to welcome the allergy-inducing cat. But reality and resentment are great levelers. Better to be real, both in love and in your job search.
If this job is only about money, think long and hard. Do you see a job or a career path? Is it more of a stepping-stone to something better and less of an ideal, long term match? Plan accordingly.
Don’t Go It Alone
You’re going to do this alone? Seriously? Don’t think so.
Adult singles fare poorly compared to those who have a support network to yank them back from emotional disasters. Similarly, job seekers who have mentors and supportive colleagues will make better choices and find better opportunities. That big buzzword “networking” is really just about making genuine connections—building your own community that will stand ready to help you.
Don’t Be Dishonest
Failure to portray oneself in an accurate and positive light is one of the biggest problems in both online dating and job search.
If you’ve been on a blind date, you’ve likely uttered the phrase “He/She doesn’t look at all like the picture.” Either that shot was taken 10 years ago during better times, or it’s just made up. Likewise, if you embellished your resume, work experience, or skills to the point you could be considered a fake, you’re going to be found out — and summarily dismissed.
It sounds trite, but be yourself. Sure it may not work out because not everyone (or every job) is a good fit, but at least be honest.
Don’t Be Selfish
Ever been on a date that’s been completely one-sided, in that the other person won’t stop talking about him/herself long enough to even consider finding out about you? Being so focused on yourself doesn’t lead to many second dates, and the same holds true when it comes to job search.
While it’s essential to spotlight your achievements and general excellence during a job interview, there has to be more than that. Hiring managers will ultimately based their decision not on what you’ve done in the past, but how you fill a crucial company need in the future. That means listening to what the company needs and making a legitimate effort to be of service.
It’s a two-way street.
Don’t Be Something You’re Not
Blithely comment, “It’s not you, it’s me” to a roomful of singles and watch the eye rolls. But it’s often true—in both dating and the hiring process.
Being the most skilled financial auditor won’t lift your resume over the moderately qualified actuary applying for a valuation modeling position at a life insurance company. He fits the job, you don’t. And wrong fit jobs lead to unhappy employees, dissatisfied employers and a rapid rewrite of the resume.
Squeezing yourself to fit the wrong job increases your chances of failure, or, even worse, a cycle of short tenure positions. Be real on what each of you offer and require.
Originally published at Salary.com.