Why You Procrastinate and Put Off Dating

Why You Procrastinate and Put Off Dating

I took a poll of my mailing list and asked my readers to self-select into one of three categories: Dating, in a Relationship or Taking a Break.

The numbers surprised me:

  • 43.4% were dating.
  • 19% were in relationships.
  • 37.6% were in between, starting over or taking a break.

That’s like 40% of the readers of Golf Digest NOT playing golf. You don’t get better at golf by just reading about it; at a certain point, you have to pick up a club.

It’s an imperfect analogy, of course, because dating is NOT like golf. Sure, the default setting for both is failure but dating is a much more emotional endeavor that is dependent upon opening up and making oneself vulnerable. From that perspective, it’s a little easier to understand why so many women claim to want love but aren’t actively pursuing it.

That brings me to today’s article about why we procrastinate, which I thought was interesting, especially when overlaid onto why we procrastinate when it comes to dating.

“Put simply, procrastination is about being more focused on “the immediate urgency of managing negative moods” than getting on with the task…

The particular nature of our aversion depends on the given task or situation. It may be due to something inherently unpleasant about the task itself — having to clean a dirty bathroom or organizing a long, boring spreadsheet for your boss. But it might also result from deeper feelings related to the task, such as self-doubt, low self-esteem, anxiety or insecurity. Staring at a blank document, you might be thinking, I’m not smart enough to write this. Even if I am, what will people think of it? Writing is so hard. What if I do a bad job?

All of this can lead us to think that putting the document aside and cleaning that spice drawer instead is a pretty good idea.

But, of course, this only compounds the negative associations we have with the task, and those feelings will still be there whenever we come back to it, along with increased stress and anxiety, feelings of low self-esteem and self-blame.

In fact, there’s an entire body of research dedicated to the ruminative, self-blaming thoughts many of us tend to have in the wake of procrastination, which are known as ‘procrastinatory cognitions.’ The thoughts we have about procrastination typically exacerbate our distress and stress, which contribute to further procrastination, Dr. Sirois said.”

My job is to make sure those breaks are shorter, lest your life pass away while you’re avoiding the pain of dating.

Sounds about right.

At any point in time, I have 25 women in Love U group coaching and 15 private clients. Even though all have invested $5000+ for six months, at any point, there are probably 15% of women who are “taking a break” from dating, men and relationships. My job is to make sure those breaks are shorter, lest your life pass away while you’re avoiding the pain of dating.

In writing this, I’m not minimizing the pain of dating. If anyone is acutely aware of it, it would be a guy has listened to women’s complaints for 16 years. The flakes, the pervs, the liars, the losers, the players; let’s face it, the struggle is real!

Alas, “not dating” doesn’t lead to happy, healthy, long-term relationships that leave you feeling safe, heard, and understood for the rest of your life.

Sure, you could avoid the potential pain and turmoil of dating – but you’ll never get the pleasure of the happiest marriages. That’s what you’re here for. 

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

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  1. 1

    I bought WHD and longtime reader of the blog. I’ve been in a happy, easy relationship for two years thanks in a large part of Evan’s teachings. I was long guilty of frequent Guy Hiatus breaks. Dating had become painful and disappointing so it seemed wiser to spend time socializing, working overtime, investing in myself. Those things brought a return on investment while dating was draining and consuming time I didn’t have to throw away on rude strangers and liars. When I finally got the concept of becoming a ceo of my love life and stopped wasting time on the wrong people, all while staying upbeat about it my “luck” changed for the better. Right person while i was in the right mindset. But I understand why some people stop putting the effort into the search.

  2. 2

    I think part of the problem is that when it comes to dating, your success depends 50% on another person. Same goes for a happy, lasting marriage. Such will always depend 50% on another person, it’s not something you can do for yourself. You can do everything right, and if the other person decides they’d rather be single 10 years down the road, all your efforts were for nothing. It’s not like making money, or having a certain career, or buying a certain car, or owning something specific. All those, you are pretty much guaranteed to achieve if you’re willing to work hard enough to get and keep them. You don’t get to keep a person or the same relationship if the other person no longer wants to provide it.

    It also depends on what a person’s goals are. If having a happy marriage or relationship is the ultimate goal, then the person is more likely to take the risk. Because the partner you’re having said relationship with can be replaced with another that’ll bring you right back to the same goal once one leaves. That’s like keeping the same career, but changing where you work or who you work for. You will still have the career you love.

    If loving a person (rather than mostly the happy marriage/relationship) and having permanence with that person is what someone truly values most, they’re more likely to procrastinate. Because chances are fairly high that it won’t happen, even if that person IS willing to do whatever it takes on their end. And all the pain on the way to achieving said relationship will only emphasize the fear of loss.

    The second is somewhat like parenthood to me. You cannot replace a child with another child if you lose one or lose the relationship with one just because you highly desire parenthood and a good, happy parental relationship with a child. The child, and the relationship with said child matters more than parenthood itself. The fist kind of reminds me of: Well, if the relationship with this kid doesn’t work out, I’ll just find or make another. Because the ultimate goal is to have a good parental relationship with a child. And well, people move on.

    1. 2.1

      SYLVANA at 2said “I think part of the problem is that when it comes to dating, your success depends 50% on another person.”

      Yes, exactly ! I can’t stand relationship/Pick up Blog etc (not this one) that have headlines proclaiming “You can have ANY man/woman you want” etc. and try to sell you that if you do, X,Y, and Z you can make ANYONE fall in love with you. Like they are selling you some sort of model airplane kit, and you have to do is follow this one, two, three process, and VOILA, the person you want will have no choice but to fall under your spell. NO, just no. The best you can do is to weed out the WRONG people ASAP, and learn to recognize those who really value you and would be compatible, and hopefully, among the ones who really want you, hope you can find a match among them.

      I don’t even like that expression that “you are the common denominator in all of your failed relationships”. I could see the point if every person you ever had a relationship with went on to be happily married to the first relationship after breaking up with you, but that’s rarely the case. You may be the common denominator in all of those past relationships, but either way you slice it, you were still only 50% of it.

      You can do everything right, and still not attract a suitable match. The other person has free will, and you just can’t force someone to fall in love with you. And someone can look like your perfect match on paper (attractive enough, pleasant, kind and interesting personality etc) and if you don’t feel a baseline level of attraction you can’t force yourself to fall in love with anyone either.

  3. 3

    I printed that article out a while ago because it was so good. It perfectly describes why I’ve put off dating for so long. I’ve also gained one hundred pounds in the last six years, after having originally lost 85 before trying to date in my early 30s. I’m still trying to psych myself up enough to jump back into the dating pool but it’s doubly hard now, knowing I’m not only a lot older but I’m much heavier. But if I don’t get out there to at least try, I’ll never know if I could’ve managed to find real love in time to have my own kids. I’m thinking that at this point, maybe I should just put a profile on a fat people site and see how it goes. Compounding my reticence is my work schedule, which sucks bigly because it prevents me from going out at all on weeknights. That’s an easier fix though, since I just have to get a new job. If only dating were that simple!

  4. 4

    Sylvana puts it very well; success in a rship is only 50% dependent on you. Since I cut contact with a cheating narc (diagnosed) about a decade ago, I went into a flurry of self assessment and self improvement and a harsh critique of my situation which lead to my decision to leave a very high paying job and leave the state entirely. Reading Evans blog and others, reading everything I could get hold of on rships, not giving up online or IRL. I never, ever, waste time on men who are wrong for me and when I found some are cheating, they were gone, pronto. Zero contact thereafter. I refuse to waste time on those that are mentally immature, mentally ill, deadbeats, or addicted in any way. Such are gone often before the first date.
    I too, however, are guilty of guy-atuses (more like guy sabbaticals) due to stringent work schedule, my mountain location, tending my dying dad, and just general anger and frustration at the whole blasted process.
    I’ve always been a driven, disciplined, insightful person, mainly due to a very bad upbringing I escaped. I am finding that no matter how hard I’ve self improved, stay healthy, fit, put together, one is, there’s zero guarantee that will land you a compatible, supportive partner. Zero return on investment. Yep, working hard will land you the expensive car, the cool house, the promotion, but there is no clear parallel between the amount of work one puts in and the quality of partner available. Been thinking a lot about my leaving here, my attempts at selling this house and drawing many parallels to not just dating but society in general. My home is unique, with acreage revegetated by yours truly. Well built, solid, lots of big windows, beds to grow food, a chicken coop. Cabinets hand built (by moi), granite counter, awesome copper art on one wall, beautiful wood stove. Wood and pellet stove and passive solar heat. What to do homebuying folks here want? Small, no yard to speak of, no need to care about or maintain this home as it’s really only a place to sleep after skiing. Do not care about local environment, noisy, pothead neighbors right there, noisy cars. No intent to care about or become involved in the community. Convenience Uber alles; it can be a cheap, shoddy pre fab, have zero foundation, so long as there is cable, a dishwasher, gas heat, and someone else clears the snow. Society and rships are going in this direction; superficial, short lived, cheap,
    zero character or quality, no desire to be present and maintain. Am still on line on one (environmental) site and the last two men I finally cut contact with really demonstrate the problem; one, in the age range I’m “supposed” to accept, acted very immature, cannot read a map (nope, upper Michigan is NOT a three hour drive from Oregon), and has been in some sort of a ten year battle to change his ex wife’s thinking. The other, older, a fellow PhD, seemed enthusiastic but then kept wanting ME to reconsider, making me wonder if he was hiding who he really was. A well known woman of my people, Winona LaDuke stayed exactly how I feel; “We do not want a bigger piece of the pie, we want a different pie”. I want the guy who is mature, has his life together, takes excellent care of himself, always wants to learn new things, and can/desires to treat others (including the planet)well, with respect.

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