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!

Join our conversation (53 Comments).
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  1. 21

    @Jennifer, post #17

    To be fair, I haven’t bought/viewed the materials. It is my understand that the “Law Of Attraction” posits that you can change the universe directly with your thoughts. That is another way of saying “magic” to me.

  2. 22

    Here’s something I’ve learned too when it comes to dating. Sometimes my ego gets in the way; I’ve gone out with guys in the past who I wasn’t crazy about and yet, when they didn’t call back after a date or two, it bothered me. Nobody likes to feel rejected or not be in control, but I think we should all take a step back and ask ourselves: “Was I really that into her/him to begin with”? Sometimes, I get caught up in the “I’m so bored, it would be nice to spend time with someone” but the reality is, we repeat these patterns and stay/continue to go out with people for the wrong reasons. I’m trying to avoid the victim status too in moving forward and be more cognizant of “bad behavior” red flags sooner rather than later.

    Dating can be emotionally exhausting sometimes but I think Lance sums it up nicely. Bottom line – keep it light, don’t take things too personally and try to stay positive in spite of all the negative experiences you might have encountered in the past. I’m 48, single, and would much rather be hopeful than be in a marriage or relationship which was hopeless.

  3. 23

    @ Steve #21

    There’s a lot more to it than that (beyond the scope of this blog, and a bit off topic), but you actually agree with the most basic tenet of the Law of Attraction: positivity begets more positivity. No one is trying to push some airy fairy nonsense on you. But there seems to be a lot of commenters here who can at least agree that you only get out of dating what you put into it. You can call it magic, or you can just think of it as a less pessimistic way of looking at things.

  4. 24

    Ah yes… you have to let yourself be vulnerable, but rein yourself in at the same time. That can be a toughie, and a delicate balance indeed. You certainly don’t want to come off as, “I don’t give a damn,” but you also don’t want to wear your heart on your sleeve. Where’s the medium?

    I think it’s being solely focused and mindful of only the moment at hand. It’s another way of saying to let yourself be free and simply be, as I like to say. But gosh, it’s hard to do. And it’s so easy to give up. It takes more strength to go on than to say, “I’m done!”

    I know that my frustrations with online dating can really get me going sometimes: 95% winks/flirts vs emails (which I do not like in the least), an excessively high amount of out-of-town’ers come knocking, flirts sent without even a peep at my profile, winks sent, then the profile goes missing in action, dealing with not-so-gracefully aged men who are looking for only the 20 year-old hotties, etc.

    No matter how good my profile and photos are, there are many other factors taking place which I have absolutely no control over, and that bites. But all it takes is one.

    It’s easy to become cynical, depressed, bitter, etc. about dating, but those qualities can affect other aspects of your life, too. And who wants that? Hope is never ending.

  5. 25

    I do get frustrated with myself when I think about this stuff too much. I should go sponsor a child or volunteer at a breadline or something and shift my focus.

  6. 26
    Mikko Kemppe

    “Effort pays off. Therapy pays off. Dating coaching pays off. Online dating pays off. Bad dates pay off. Failed relationships pay off.” I agree with Evan completely about this.

    One crucial thing I think that is also missing from the outlook of most people who are desperately searching for the right one is this:

    You have not learned how to have fun and positive dating experiences!

    By realizing, like Evan is saying, that dating really is a skill you will open yourself up to learning more. And I believe Evan has something to teach to everyone.

    I am relationship coach my-self and I have already learned a great deal more about dating just from reading his blog and his other material.

    So here is my advice: don’t to take dating so seriously. Instead, learn to have fun and to create positive dating experiences. This will free you to develop a better attitude about dating. And as Evan said, this positive attitude will be then become like a magnet making you a more attractive.

    And specifically women: Use guys to have a good time. Guys love to be used. Don’t do it out of evil intentions, but from the realization that deep inside man wants nothing more than to make a women happy.

    – Mikko Kemppe

    Mikko Kemppe´s last blog post…Interracial and Intercultural Relationships: Can Love Overcome All Differences?

  7. 28

    Mikko, you are spot on! 🙂

  8. 31

    Well this is an interesting conversation….since I myself am about to give up the gauntlet. I understand the frustrations from the never ending search. It’s tough to stay positive and light hearted about it without getting discouraged…that all the good ones are gone. Economically it’s getting tough to even just spend the money on the memberships…being a single mom and finances getting tighter well it comes down to first things first. In regards to Christine #4….I hear you!
    It would be nice to have a “special someone” though. People can be content with just living their own life alone. I know a few people who do it. I tell myself…why can’t I be like that just satisfied with what I do have which is good. It’s the special companionship, support, love…friendship…all those things. I am a people person and love to love someone else and be loved. Lance #8, really has the right idea…once you calm down and CHANGE your perspective…it all changes. Recently I had to do that to jump back in the game…it worked. Really did..didn’t feel bad about saying no thanks, cut people off without regret, stayed open to different people….etc.. I used e-Cyrano too and got a great profile written…it helped to eliminate some really freaky bad seeds, but still hasn’t attracted the right person. I have great photographs etc….I am super friendly…happy smile….but still not attracting the “right” people. I contact people too…not afraid, but usually those I can tell are just being nice and string me along until they just….poof! disappear. I am not pushy or too inquisitive, I take it really slow but offer good conversation. Oh gosh! who knows….I have thought so much about this it’s ridiculous….Like Christine said, she doesn’t want to be expected to pay every time either…which btw…I can’t afford either. So….I guess it’s off into the wild blue yonder….!

  9. 32

    @ Steve #’s 13 & 14 Your talking about thinking errors we all engage in from time to time and there are so many more out there to trip us up. When I read the email I was thinking the same thing, you just stated it more eloquently than I did. I work as a counselor, a field that is, at it’s best about home. The specific area I work in though, does not present a pretty picture of humanity. Because of this I am very aware of my biases, and continually check in to ensure I don’t project onto potential dates or partners. It’s also about knowing my limits: what I can change-ME and what I cannot-Everybody Else. It helps to remember that when I do get discouraged and feel like there’s no hope or no one out there. Well, and also I’m just too stubborn to quit.

  10. 33
    Mikko Kemppe

    Thanks Diana!

    Mikko Kemppe´s last blog post…Interracial and Intercultural Relationships: Can Love Overcome All Differences?

  11. 34

    I’ve posted my dating stats before and I’ll do it again.

    Before I met my current boyfriend, with whom I’ve been dating for two years, I dated 33 men and went on over 55 dates. All within an 18 month period.

    I did what Lance (#8) suggested–looked at my dates not as dates per se but as an opportunity to meet someone new, engage in some light conversation, and have a pleasant evening. No more, no less. Out of all those men and all those dates I can actually say that I only had two negative experiences–one with a guy who somewhat stalked me and another with a guy who put no effort into the dates. (The stalker ended up moving halfway across the world to date a woman and married her two months later. Whew! Dodged a bullet there!)

    And I met plenty of negative men. One was actually a really great guy but I was so turned off by his negativity that I didn’t see him again–probably reinforcing his views! I tried to tell him that his negative attitude might be a problem with dating, but he refused to believe there was anything wrong with the way he viewed women.

    For women, you might seriously consider reading Norah Vincent’s “Self-Made Man.” It’s her account of the year she spend “passing” as a man. One of the most illuminating chapters in the book is about dating. She dated straight women as a man, and found women in their mid-to-late 30s to be remarkably bitter and entitled. And as a lesbian, she is in a unique position to understand how women hurt other women; she acknowledges that in the relationships both people hurt each other. Yet the straight women she dated refused to believe that they had anything to do with their relationship troubles, blaming it almost entirely on the men!

    I highly recommend reading this book!

    1. 34.1

      I think it’s insecurity that makes people that way, but it’s also insecurity that makes people blame themselves. I tend to take utter responsibility for everything – everyone’s behaviour is my fault, everyone’s emotions are my fault etc. I tend not to lash out because I blame myself instead but I will put myself through absolute hell.

      I’ve learned from this now and recognise that while it is good for me to be self-aware, I should also be other-aware and try to notice their behaviour too. My rule of thumb nowadays is that if they do not meet the same standards I apply to myself (and which I manage to meet 99% of the time) they do not meet my standards.

      But that doesn’t mean they’re not good enough or there’s something wrong with them. It means they are unhappy. My standards aren’t particularly high, they’re pretty normal. I expect appropriate responses from people (don’t ignore a direct question for days then suddenly show up wanting to see me), and I expect not to be blamed for things I haven’t done (I feel bad, it must be your fault, you did this to me). If someone acts that way – lashing out at others – it’s because they’re unhappy. Judging others will make you just as unhappy as judging yourself. Better not to judge at all and accept the truth – that everybody is fine just how they are, but many of us could feel better about ourselves and about the world.

  12. 35

    Funny how Evan always seems to come up with the right subjectmatter to write about.
    Recently, about 2 month ago “gave up”dating.
    I dated for the last 2 and a half years after my divorce. I read Evans advice, still do and learned a lot. I met a fair amount of guys, corresponded and talked on the phone with plenty.Believe me I do try to remain positive, however I have to admit that is is hard to keep on going.I am by no means a desperate woman.
    I took myself of the dating websites and now I concentrate on going out to make new friends or go out with the friends I have. I am having more fun and like it better this way. Less hassle and aggravation. I do not want to waste anymore of my time. I am happy with my life. In 2 and a half years I completely rebuild my life. I like where I am at right now.
    If I meet someone great, if not fine too…

    Love reading your advice Evan!!!

  13. 36

    @Erika, post #33

    For women, you might seriously consider reading Norah Vincent’s Self-Made Man. It’s her account of the year she spend passing as a man. One of the most illuminating chapters in the book is about dating. She dated straight women as a man, and found women in their mid-to-late 30s to be remarkably bitter and entitled. And as a lesbian, she is in a unique position to understand how women hurt other women; she acknowledges that in the relationships both people hurt each other. Yet the straight women she dated refused to believe that they had anything to do with their relationship troubles, blaming it almost entirely on the men!

    Nail, head, hammer, bang!

    I’ve been hearing a lot of whining from both men and women over the pitfalls of dating. It seems to me that the louder and more unrepentant of the whiners are single women. That probably isn’t true. The microphone is probably pointed more at their whining than men’s, because as EMK often reminds us it is their dime — they are the ones paying for dating advice.

    It seems like there is a loud chorus of embittered women who expect _everything_ from men dating/happiness wise while at the same time being disappointed in them and thinking very little of them.


    Thank goodness there are plenty of single women out there who are not like that.

    I heard about the book you mentioned years ago, but never read it. Your quote is making me think about putting it on my reading list.

    On a related note one of the best/funniest/validating quotes I ever heard was from a female bisexual friend after getting fed up with an emotionally high maintenance girlfriend she had. She said she couldn’t fathom how straight men managed to handle the emotional drama all of the time. Hah!


  14. 37

    @mic #10: Hundreds of dates is an exaggeration for most, but you get the picture. Although, I know some people that HAVE been on hundreds of dates!

    @Mikko: Men want to be used? Was that thought lost in translation?

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

  15. 38

    So I had an attitude adjustment, am in a better frame of mind, and thought ok, just for grins I’ll post a profile on Plenty Of Fish because it’s free and wasn’t sure I wanted to put any money into online dating at this time. Yeah, I’m getting passed over alot, but I’m finding it’s no big deal. I think it’s kind of funny and interesting that I’m getting viewed but passed over by a lot of “below 7’s” but I can’t say I’m bothered by it. I’ve got a couple of “bites” (pun intended) but if they chat great and if they go “poof” oh well.

  16. 39

    BTW, I was also honest about my body type in my profile, so if they’re contacting me anyway, I admit I’m pleasantly suprised.

  17. 40

    95% winks/flirts vs emails
    Why not send an e-mail back (if their profile is interesting), Diana?

    If they <i. still refuse to e-mail, just move on.

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