How Do You Get Past the Cynicism and Get Back In The Dating Game?

young couple on a date, drinking wine

Got this email on Facebook yesterday from a regular reader:

Evan, as a dating coach, how do you help motivate people to get past the cynicism and being jaded and get them back into the dating game? I think there are people out there who genuninely want to find the one, but there was that one special person – after a whole string of others – with whom things didn’t work out and it kind of became the last straw. And that person is no longer angry about the failures but just becomes apathetic.

50% of my job is dealing with negativity, apathy, and old baggage. The other 50% deals with actionable steps moving forward – how to market yourself online, how to be a great first date, how to understand the opposite sex, how to be the most likable, confident, self-aware version of you there is. Needless to say, the second 50% is more fun than the first 50%. But there IS no second 50% if we can’t get past the negativity, apathy and old baggage.

So if you’re struggling with the “Why even bother” question, take heart that you’re not alone. A regular reader wrote me a scathing email about how she’s sick of my advice and that:

  • men don’t put forth any effort
  • men will always choose the younger woman based on hormones rather than a woman who would be good for him
  • the good ones really are gone – those who are left are too negative, have too much baggage, aren’t interested in a committed, lifelong relationship, only a hookup
  • men will say and do anything to get sex which makes them dishonorable at best
  • men aren’t gentlemen anymore – I can’t tell you how many men drop the door in my face instead of holding it open for me!

Well, if you believe the above, then I can pretty much assure you that you’re not going to have much success in dating. I don’t even think I need to explain why. It’s not that your experiences are not valid, it’s that it’s a glass half-empty way of looking at life. I’m not a “Secret” guy per se, but if thinking positive thoughts does anything, it makes you more optimistic, cheery and fun to be around. Negativity is a self-fulfilling prophesy.

The two main points I make to clients fighting the abyss of “I quit” are these:

1) The next guy has nothing to do with the last guy. Just because 5 straight guys cheated on you doesn’t mean all men are cheaters. Just because three straight men weren’t attracted to you doesn’t mean all men won’t be attracted to you. Once you assume that ALL men are the same and that EVERY outcome will be a failure, that’s when there’s no incentive to keep going.

2) Effort pays off. Therapy pays off. Dating coaching pays off. Online dating pays off. Bad dates pay off. Failed relationships pay off. The only way you guarantee that you’ll NEVER find love is by failing to learn, failing to bounce back and failing to be open and vulnerable to a new partner.

Yes, it’s hard. But that’s why I coach. You shouldn’t have to do it alone.

The final way to get past cynicism is because there is SO much proof that love is out there. In addition to the email I got above, I received this one below:

Hi – this isn’t a question – it’s a THANKS!   One of your newsletters was SO impactful to me that I accepted a marriage proposal!   We were married in February – it’s going great and I tell people about you ALL of the time.   Thanks Evan!

Factor in that a former client just got engaged this week, and that I’ve got a 73-year-old client who has 17 emails in her inbox, and yeah, let’s just say I’ll be an optimist for the both of us!

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  1. 1

    Ok I guess the fact that I carry a computer with me means I get the first word in. On the one hand, I my mind grasps what Evan is saying. But once the process of shutting down begins, it’s a tough place to get out of.

  2. 2

    I’m going through the same thing with my brother right now and he can’t keep anyone around for a second date because he can’t get over being negative. I’ll forward this to him he might pick something up. 🙂

  3. 3

    Thank you, Evan, for posting this. It’s so true, what we believe is what we see. I’ve encountered guy at parties/on dates who site there sulking that they came to this party/tried Match but there’s nobody there who’s fun/cute/emotionaly available. And I’m sitting right there! An attractive, emotionally secure, upbeat gal.

    And some single women I know I can’t hang around anymore because they’re too negative.

    I’d rather spend a Saturday night alone than hang out w a bunch of friends bitching about being single.

    So lighten up, everyone! And don’t believe the hype. I know of many people who’ve gotten married into their 40’s and beyond. Just give yourself a break and good people will flock to you.

  4. 4

    i am very cynical towards men.

    men want sex or money from women.

    im tired of being perved on or expected to pay for all of the dates.

    i have everything i want. i have a condo and i travel. what can a man do for me that i cant do for myself? nothing

  5. 5


    Here’s my 2 cents. Even though I’m not the demo of your audience, I went through plenty of cynical stretches. After much introspection and research, I got over it by:

    1. Becoming outcome independent. I didn’t see them as dates, I saw them as chances to socialize with a new person, even if it was for only one time. Thus, I no longer saw bad dates as missed opportunities.
    2. I made it fun for me.
    3. It’s not personal if it goes unexpectedly.
    4. If you want to attract good people into your life, look in the mirror. Are you attractive? Make the changes that will attract other attractive people.
    5. Volume helps. Go on hundreds of dates until you realize it’s really no big deal. Because it isn’t.

    Hope that helps.

    Lance´s last blog post…Interview with Dream, Founder of the 21 Convention

  6. 6

    Wow, you read my mind with this post, Evan. I am just about ready to give up. However, what I struggle with is that, even though I feel like my dating life has been one huge disappointment, I know that to attract someone it ain’t gonna happen if I am inadvertently giving off that air of apathy and don’t have “joie de vivre”, y’know? So how do we just “get over it” and move on and be open to someone new and be happy being single so that that zest for life attracts someone new? For those of us who can’t afford dating coaching at the moment, do you have any pearls of wisdom? 🙂

  7. 7

    Evan, I know you don’t think much of Patti Stanger, but the “Dating Detox” section of her book did it for me. While it’s not an entirely new concept, it was the first time I had seen a whole chapter devoted to it in a dating advice book. It does have a certain Law of Attraction aspect to it, which was great for me but may not work for others.

  8. 8

    Negativity is certainly a self-fulfilling prophesy. I’ve been on countless dates, sitting across from women with their arms folded glaring at me, as if to say, “Prove to me that you’re not like every other guy who’s broken my heart.” Those are the ones that don’t get called again, and whose negative views of men then get reinforced.


  9. 9

    Cynically, “the good ones really are gone” means “the ones who are really good-looking (plus other qualities) are gone.”

    As Lance says, success has much to do with what you have to offer others. It’s not much of a stretch to say that those who have never had much success generally don’t present themselves well. And “well” and “overtly sexy” often are at odds.

  10. 10

    men want sex or money from women.
    What? You do not like sex?

  11. 11

    Lance, I appreciate your advice; however re: #5, I presume you were exaggerating, but many people can’t devote every waking moment to dating. I think we would all agree it’s somewhat of a numbers game, and the more dates you go on, the higher your chances, but that’s exactly why it can be so disheartening. Once you do put in significant time and effort and it doesn’t yield any results, it’s hard to find the enthusiasm to keep going. I guess that’s when we need to find the strength within (and from the likes of Evan) to stay on course!

  12. 12

    Ok, I understand about giving off the negative vibe; I totally get that and I don’t believe that anyone truly desires to be that way. As a matter of fact, I’ll bet if I were behaving that way and someone showed me a video of myself doing it, I’d be very disappointed with myself.

    So maybe the better question is this: we all know that there is a lot of toxic behavior in the dating world. We can’t change it and we all have to deal with the fact we’ll be exposed to it. So, how does one remain open to love while being self-protective? Because that really is the trick. There has to be a good way to “shield” ones’ self from the negativity of bad behavior so that we don’t “shut down”.

  13. 13

    If you had a doorknob in your house that came off in your hands you might be irritated by it, but it wouldn’t make you miserable or cynical.

    I think that is true because you just accept the doorknob for what it is, without liking it or endorsing it.

    You don’t get miserable or cynical because you don’t have a sense of a thwarted entitlement about the door knob.

    I think many people make themselves cynical and ultimately losers in the “battle of the sexes” by having a sense of unjustified entitlement.

    Look for words like “should”, “must”, “ought to” in your thoughts.

    It isn’t a law of physics that a person SHOULD be attracted to you because you are them, that they SHOULD treat you in a decent manner. Those thing just are.

    If you can accept ( not like, not endorse ) the pitfalls of dating as just being the way it is, totally impersonal, like a broken door knob you will probably get frustrated from time to time but you will not make yourself cynical to the point of giving up. Or turning other people off and away.

  14. 14

    A good way to avoid psyching yourself out of happiness is to avoid generalizing to yourself. Your words are you thoughts and your thoughts elicit your emotions.

    “I won the lottery” will make you feel better than “my car just died”.

    Generalizations in your thoughts illicit stronger emotional responses are rarely true.

    “There are NO good men left” isn’t true and repeated often enough will get you more upset than framing your experiences in accurate way.

    “The last 3 men I dated had some faults I didn’t want to tolerate. I may have to look a lot longer for a man I like”

    Watch out for generalizing to yourself.

  15. 15

    The “Law Of Attraction” is pure BS, it is rationalization for letting people believe in magic in the year 2009.

    There are many ways to add things up so that they fit with reality. You can add things up in positive ways that have just as much validity as the negative ways.

    The difference is that negative thoughts demotivate you. Positive thoughts inspire you to keep on trying and trying eventually produces results.

  16. 16

    @Marc, post #7

    I’ve had those experiences. I feel like a character in an old western who just walked into the post office to discover that my face resembles a top criminal on a wanted poster. Guilty until proven innocent. Blech, who needs that. I can have more fun watching back episodes of Lost at home.

    Your blog makes me laugh on a regular basis and makes me validated in my experiences.

    Does writing your blog help you stay positive? Do you get your frustration out in your posts and get up from your chair ready to go back out?

  17. 17

    @Steve #15- The Law of Attraction is not ‘pure B.S.’ There is more to it than just what was in the Secret.

  18. 18

    Interesting post Steve, #13, I guess that’s another way of saying have no expectations and you might be pleasantly surprised.

  19. 19

    Steve @ #15,

    While I’m not unsympathetic to what you say – nobody likes to be unfairly characterized or judged – I’m reminded of a couple of EMK’s posts: a woman’s job is to sit back and see what he does; if she likes it, stay. If not go. And when getting a compliment from a man, on a date, etc., he’s not necessarily interested in her, he’s just being in the moment. A woman has to maintain a certain level of detachment in order to remain objective. And yet open enough so a man doesn’t feel he’s being unfairly judged or that she’s cold and closed off. I’m not complaining or calling you wrong, I’m just saying that it’s no easier for the women.

  20. 20

    It can all get tiring, it’s true. But, I have met MANY men on match that were really good guys, really looking for a relationship, really willing to explore. Yes, they wanted sex, at least after an appropriate time, well, that’s not quite right, they were willing to wait for the time I wanted if that happened. But, sheesh! I want sex too! As to money, well, yes, they want someone who is financially independent. A lot of them are suffering the financial after effects of divorce. I don’t want to support a man but I don’t want to be supported either so it’s pretty much even.

    After I got help from e-Cyrano with my profile—away from lists and to story— I had lots of interest from really good guys most of whom commented on how much they enjoyed the profile. Some were even way outside my geographical area and wrote just to compliment my profile. So, there’s a way to get attention!

    I have now met a guy who is a published author of several books, smart, articulate, not so much money, lots of affection and dazzled by me! Yeah! We are only into it a half year but it is good. Fun, funny sexy, and even if we can’t find the forever after, we sure will be good friends. Totally worth it!

    Did I have to sort through some weirdos? yep. But, I can usually figure out if there are the qualities I seek by what is revealed in their profile.

    Good profiles work.

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