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. 41

    Just because the “below 7s” don’t contact you doesn’t make them bad people, just people whose type you aren’t.

  2. 42

    I don’t recall calling them bad people, Joe. But the phenomena of people pursuing someone up farther on the scale with regard to online dating has been discussed on here many times. I would not necessarily classify myself “higher” on the scale so I’m not calling anyone anything.

  3. 43
    Karl R

    starthrower68 said: (#38)
    “I think it’s kind of funny and interesting that I’m getting viewed but passed over by a lot of ‘below 7’s’ “

    They could be passing over your for any number of reasons. I’ll pass over women if it’s obvious that I’m not what they want. For example, if they list “braniacs” as a “turn-off”, then I’ll assume that we’re not a good match.

    I’ll also pass over women who don’t seem to be a good match for me. If it looks like a woman is primarily interested in a travel partner, I’m not all that interested. If a woman wants kids, we’re not a good match. They may be superb matches for someone else, but not me.

    If someone views you and passes, there’s no telling what the reason was. Therefore, there’s no reason to spend a lot of time wondering why.

  4. 44

    Point well taken, Karl.

  5. 45

    To Michael #40 ~ I have occasionally responded to a wink or flirt with an e-mail. Nearly all of the communication I receive is far away from my dating area. That is perplexing to me, given both the volume I receive, my vicinity, and the high availability of singles my area. And I do sometimes e-mail guys on my own.

    While I do not like the excessive amount of impersonal smiley icons coming my way, I do not want to specify in my profile to not wink. Rather I let them know that if they are interested, they can email me. The problem is, I think most guys who see a quick thumbnail photo and a brief few lines of my profile are kind of like a microwave ~ they either instantly click yes for “wink” because they like what they see or quickly move on. Few seem to take the time to actually read my profile. And I think some guys click wink to nearly everyone as a numbers game.

    Here’s an interesting thought about winks … some online dating experts try to really discourage guys from using this kind of communication because if you translate this situation to say real time, it’s kind of like a guy sitting in a bar and winking at the girl across the room, and she’s supposed to come over. When in fact, they feel it’s the girl who should be sending the winks out.

    A wink feels sort of like a cop out. If you’re really interested, then read her profile, find something, anything to comment on, try to interject a little of your own personality, and hopefully, she’ll at least see that you stand out from the pack, and write you back.

  6. 46

    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 am 41 and been divorced for a year after 12 years in a relationship. I have to agree that I haven’t met one single women, either on a date, co worker or just a friend that ever places any blame on themselves when it comes to relationships ending.
    I never really thought about it until I read the above paragraph. Even my ex-wife who left me for another guy, blames me for our marriage ending! it simply can’t be the guys fault every time.
    “bitter and entitled” I have noticed some of that as well. But the biggest thing I have noticed is that even women my age still have the same rigid specifications for men.

  7. 47

    To Mike #46 ~ I have noticed this pattern, too. Looking inward to try and learn what role you may have played in your failed relationship requires a great deal of courage, strength, and self-awareness, as well as dealing with tremendous pain and disappointment and failure which most people do not want to deal with. No one wants to feel as if they are responsible for their own pain, etc.
    What frustrates me is that I am not that kind of person. I confront all of my issues, so that I can learn, grow, and hopefully, truly heal and move forward, but people do not want to hear this. They are like heat-seeking missiles with only wanting to focus on the fact that I was betrayed and cheated on. That my family’s life was destroyed by the selfish and cruel actions of another. They refuse to see where I may have played any part in the marriage before the cheating occurred. Sitting around all day and stewing what a horrible monster he was may feel good in the short term, but it doesn’t get me anywhere. I have found self-reflection to bring less anger and forgiveness on both sides.
    I clearly see both sides of the coin ~ someone who will forever be solely responsible and held accountable for his actions, and a marriage where each of us made mistakes as individuals and as a couple. It wasn’t all about him.

  8. 48

    I never really thought about it until I read the above paragraph. Even my ex-wife who left me for another guy, blames me for our marriage ending! it simply can’t be the guys fault every time.”

    Maybe it has something to do with the way you treated her   — did you shut down completely rather than try to resolve conflict?   Were there money or housework issues you refused to deal with or do anything about? — that might’ve pushed her toward someone else.

    I never really thought about it”

    Maybe that’s part of the problem.

    There are a lot of men who “don’t see” a breakup coming till it actually happens, because the other thing they “don’t see” is some bad habit of theirs that’s pushing their wife away as an actual bad habit — they just see it as “the way they are”, with no attempt to examine their behavior to see if it might be worth changing in order to improve the relationship (which, after all, is about two people, not just one).

    If I’ve learned anything, it’s that a breakup is rarely *all* of either party’s “fault”.

    (Though I think I’ve also learned that some men — again, some, not all — are nearly obsessed with “placing blame”.)

  9. 49

    To Mike #46
    Mike, though I can understand how enlightening that paragraph was to you, yet I think this “I knew its not my fault” thinking doesn’t help much either.
    When dealing with  bitter people (be it men or women) what we have to do is to understand, that they act from a place of fear (to be rejected, to be cheated on and etc. etc.).
    I think the key is having the compassion in a sense that we give them the benefit of the doubt and a chance to show another self, not just plain dismiss them after 1 negative sentence.
    Of course, if the cycle of negativity and bitterness and whatnots persists, the person is clearly not ready for a relationship, so in that case the best thing is to move on.  I’m not a big advocate of telling people how to live, but in such cases I do tell them I can’t deal with their negativity, as such line might actually trigger some guys need to analyse his patterns.
    On the other hand, as I’m a woman myself, I do understand where does this other womens bitterness comes from, as they constantly see the men of their age coupling with way younger women (old wives overboard!), hear men saying that “you’re too  rigid about men, why don’t you consider this fat-old-boring guy (whereas men themselves don’t usually rush dating way older-not so good looking-etc women)”, if they’re in their 30s –  constantly  get reminded about their clock ticking and get criticised about dumping men, who turn out not to be a relationship material (woman, you ain’t getting younger, grab your last chance!). Don’t know how it is in USA, but where I live woman above 40 has little chance to meet eligible men, as even 30y olds are considered “too old” by many men in their late 30s.

    1. 49.1

      HEY Laura 49, I don’t know where you’re from,   but I noticed that I ,   a woman in my early 40s started dating online and met a few guys who were my age, older and even a little younger who asked me on datea.   The guys were attractive, had good jobs and took me out on nice dates.   I think it’s possible, but when we feel like we’re not worthy, it shows and it pushes people away.

  10. 50

    Laura 49 – how do you know that a fat guy is a boring guy? He might be really nice.
    Phooey to the when you’re over 40 you don’t meet eligible men.   That is just not true.
    Happily (:o).

  11. 51

    I have given up on dating several imes for different reasons.   I basically felt that anything that was meant to be couldn’t be this hard.   I am a slight introvert and I had taken to focusing on myself, working on certifications and pursuing other interests and while I felt more confident that I had indeed enhanced myself,   I felt like it was a shame not to share all of the great things this new and improved self had to offer.   I get where people may say that they have it all and nobody can give them anything they don’t have for themselves, but I am of the opinion that people are meant to be together in this life.   A good person who you trust, love and can share things with makes a good life even better.   For every negative reason someone has about the opposite sex, there are several examples of it not being a definite truth so I’ve spun my roulette wheel and waiting to see if my bet on love pays off.

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