Why Short-Term Pessimism and Long-Term Optimism Is The Only Way to Date

You may have heard me talk about short-term pessimism and long-term optimism.

I mention it in my Believe in Love program and I firmly believe it’s the only way to date.

Basically, don’t expect anything from any one guy, because chances her the next man you meet is not your future husband. But if you keep dating regularly, chances are high that you’ll finally meet your future husband.

I think short-term pessimism/long-term optimism is nuanced and almost unassailable in its logic since it adheres to what we see in the world. Most guys aren’t right for you. Don’t sweat it and move on. Keep moving until you find one guy who is worthy.

Enter Dr. Martin Seligman, author, psychologist and godfather of happiness studies.

In the above-linked piece for GQ, Seligman talks about how your brain is wired for pessimism but emphasizes how you can train it to be more optimistic.

Some key takeaways:

I think the good thing about meditation—mindfulness, concentrating on the present, detaching—is as good anti-anxiety, anti-anger tools.

“When you look at pessimistic people, probably the single [most-telling] hallmark is they think that bad events are permanent and that they’re unchangeable. So what learned optimism is all about is recognizing that you’re saying that to yourself, and then realistically arguing against it.”

“I think the good thing about meditation—mindfulness, concentrating on the present, detaching—is as good anti-anxiety, anti-anger tools. But one of the costs of accepting fate, accepting that you can’t go on and do something good in the future, correlates highly with physical illness, shorter life span, less accomplishment at work. So, it’s a good anti-anxiety tool often, but it’s got a lot of costs as well.”

“Education is important, and books like Steve Pinker’s Enlightenment Now, which take people through the statistics, are important. And we don’t do very well with those. But what we do well with is tragic stories on the headlines. The anecdote to “if it bleeds, it leads” is actually the statistics on human well-being, which, by every statistic I know, is much better than it was 200 years ago.”

I concur wholeheartedly.

I love my readers but there’s a big difference between blog/newsletter readers and clients who invest in coaching.

Those who invest in coaching don’t believe that bad events are permanent.

Those who invest in coaching don’t believe they have to accept their fate as singles.

Those who invest in coaching are open to objective facts, even when their life experience and feelings are telling a completely different story.

And that’s why those who invest in coaching get results

As a reality-based dating coach, I appreciate and empathize when people are down on dating. But if the opposite sex is always to blame and the inevitable result of relationships is bound to be heartbreak, there’s no point in continuing to pursue them.

And that’s what many people conclude. I wish I could save them all.

But believing the best of people and taking action is pretty much the main difference between the people who remain single and the people who find love.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Cathalei

    A particular sentence grabbed my interest: “Those who invest in coaching are open to objective facts, even when their life experience and feelings are telling a completely different story.”
    How can life experiences tell a completely different story to the facts? I am not sure I understand, but this sentence is surely worth thinking about along with the post.
    Of course, doing what you do in present is beneficial. Enjoying the moment while going for the future is the article’s message. What I saw here often is focusing too much about the alleged faults of the opposite sex or how their perceptions are automatically wrong by the virtue of diverging from yours. The truth that isn’t talked about is, same sex relationships are no different. Differences in perceptions and expectations occur in them too. Speaking from experience, I don’t look at it as “men vs women” thing. I look at as cues taken from previous interactions. That proves effective because I don’t demand that people change to meet my needs. I make them known and strive to arrive at a point where both would be comfortable with. Still, I think the bulk of the people on this forum are open to advice no matter how they may resist it in the beginning. Thank you for this nuanced and informative piece, Evan.

    1. 1.1
      S.

      @Cathalei

      I look at as cues taken from previous interactions. That proves effective because I don’t demand that people change to meet my needs. I make them known and strive to arrive at a point where both would be comfortable with.

      Fascinating.  Do you find the other person strives too once your needs are known? If you reach that comfortable point, do you find the point sometimes . . . moves?  Relationships, all relationships, can be a moving target as one grows and changes.  Slow moving, but still changing.  Continuing to find that balance, that point over time seems key.

      For me, with platonic relationships, it’s a bit easier since you expect less.  And I also find that things that are right from the start and just flow, are so much easier than things that never quite fit.  I don’t really strive for that balance point as much as try to meet many more people who I just jive with from the beginning.  There are less of them, but gosh, it’s so much easier overall.  Even years and years later.  That point will move but it’s so much easier with someone you have a natural affinity with from the beginning.

      1. 1.1.1
        Cathalei

        Without doubt, whether the other person strives or not depends on them really. That response determines my future course of action as well. And I am successful in this in general, because I usually propose ways that would make them feel appreciated. I am not capable of stealth tactics even if I would want to. It’s much more trouble than it’s worth. Of course when I mentioned same-sex relationship, I was alluding to the fact that I’m bi.

        The point of course moves and I get to know the other person while communicating. That helps me to understand where they’re coming from and depending on the results, it grows my attraction towards them. Yes, sometimes I feel I am comfortable around some people initially, but since I have Asperger’s it’s harder for me to determine that whether it’s genuine or just a fluke based on the place I’m in which would evaporate in a glitch. Hence these interactions determine whether we truly jive.

        Moreover, physical attraction is very important for me and a thing that I would not overlook. It’s just that my other must-haves aren’t that numerous and realistic. 🙂 Very good observations you made right there.

  2. 2
    S.

    Those who invest in coaching are open to objective facts, even when their life experience and feelings are telling a completely different story.

    Is it self-selecting? Maybe those who are ready to invest are already optimistic or hopeful in one way before they even get the coaching?  Or do they come pretty pessimistic and the coaching (and the results) changes them to be more optimistic?

    And no, I’m not minimizing the effects of coaching and having support.  Just wondering if people who ask for help are simply in a different mindset already.  Even hitting rock bottom sometimes makes one more open to help.

    The author of the article puts it this way:

    When you realistically appreciate the hopelessness of the circumstances you’re in, that’s a message to change your life.

    Well, heck yes!  In the end, I think his conclusions are correct. Overall, we have reason to be hopeful.  And I feel that.  Sometimes we just get mired in unimportant details.  He made a good point about exercise too.  Sometimes I have to step away from the keyboard and walk into the sunshine.  There is always hope and things simply don’t come along the way you expect, but they can still come alone in a good way.

    1. 2.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      People who reach out for coaching are like people who hire a personal trainer. They’ve hit bottom and are doing something because they know they are partially the common denominator.

      People who read and never invest in themselves are like people who read articles on fitness or maintain a gym membership they barely use; they know there’s a problem but they don’t see the urgency to make necessary changes. As a result, nothing changes. There’s knowing something and DOING something. Coaching forces you to DO and apply your knowledge.

      Sorry for the alcoholic metaphor. That sounds way more negative than I wanted it to; I just know there’s a big difference between people who are lurkers and people who take action; and the results are the best evidence of this.

      1. 2.1.1
        S.

        I agree.  When you hit bottom, you know you need help.  Very brave to reach out for help.

        And I’m glad you mentioned alcoholism.  Some people are working on a lot of things and dating may not be the urgent one to change at this time.  Say one was an alcoholic, one has to get a handle on that before asking for help with dating.  And everyone’s ‘bottom’ is different.

        Maybe some people don’t see the urgency and simply aren’t that unhappy they way they are.  For others, just buying the gym membership itself was a step.  Not a big step, but a step for them.

        I don’t think it’s harsh, just the truth.  And just as you advocate compassion for both sexes and not blaming, I have compassion for folks who have trouble moving forward on their goals.  It’s hard work and results can take time.

        The best thing about the article to me?  It emphasized the value of hope.  Without that spark, it’s hard to get far.

  3. 3
    No Name To Give

    It all depends on the level of urgency upon which one places finding a mate. That will vary from person to person. Granted, there will be those who feel the urgency but don’t want to put in the work. But someone who’s been married and had children may not feel the same level of urgency as someone who has.

  4. 4
    Sue

    I always say dating is like looking for a job. People tell me you can’t compare looking for love to looking for work, but it’s the same in that not every job will be the right job. In fact, most jobs won’t be for you. So, you keep applying, keep going on interviews, networking, whatever, and will eventually find the right gig.

  5. 5
    Suzie Wheeler

    I am absolutely in love with this blog post. I have always been a natural optimist who didn’t actually believe I could ever achieve what I wanted. I know, weird. A complete polarity within myself. So I teetered between super hopeful, delusional, and disappointment. Once I began a yoga/meditation practice, my life changed completely. I am also in a 12 step program and that taught that people really do change, I am one of them. I began to drop my story of doom and gloom in my own head and be not only smiley and optimistic on the outside, but on the inside too. I wholeheartedly believe in coaching Evan. I am a coach and a yoga teacher and my practice thrives when I am working with my coaches and teachers and spiritual masters… and when I am not, I get restless, irritable, and discontent. Thank you so much for the post.

    All my love,

    Suzie

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