Originally published in The Hudson Reporter
Just call me Dr. Date. It seems as if I’m the resident “doctor” of the group now. Have you ever met a doctor out socially and immediately start describing the weird pain you’d having in your tendons? That’s kind of what my life is like now. Any time I tell people what I do, if they are single, they start launching into this and that and last week this and next month that. I don’t mind, I find it very entertaining. Each person’s situation is so different from everyone else that it’s fun to pick it apart and see where to start helping. There are some things though, that are universal and can help everyone out.
One of the things that really bothers me is when people say things like, “I have the 100% guaranteed way to always meet girls!” or “Learn this 1 fact and never be lonely again!” It’s hogwash, frankly. Two words you’ll almost never hear me say are, well, “never” and “always.” These words get bandied about so much as to lose their power. Those two words are certainties and absolutes. And anyone that his lived even a few decades knows that life is far from certain. There is no magic bullet. There is no “sure thing.” Everything is a process, even dating. I compare it to tennis. No one can just pick up a racket, spend an hour or even a weekend learning how to use it and then jump right into a competition and expect to be on easy street. The same with dating, especially with dating. You are changing yourself and self is resistant to change. To learn how to hit the ball in tennis, you may hit the ball against a wall hundreds or thousands of times until it feels natural and second nature to you. Yet most people won’t put that same mentality towards their dating life. They feel as if every person, every approach or conversation might be “it” (and it’s true it might be) and if it doesn’t work out, they take it personally. For the guys out there, this would be in approaching women. If you truly want to improve, you have to practice, like in anything. The more times you go up and talk to a girl, the easier it will become until, like tennis, it becomes second nature. You don’t have to want to date the person to want to talk to them. Just last week I was hosting a dating event and there were two middle-aged ladies who were both sporting wedding rings. I was curious why they were there and went and chatted with them for awhile. They were fun and fascinating to talk to and when they found out what I did for a living they got all excited and wanted a bunch of my cards to give to people they felt could use it. Consider it honing your skills for the ones you actually DO want! Talk to your local barista, ask a woman on the street for directions, politely inquire about a book a fellow subway rider is reading. Practice, practice, practice!
One of my favorite quotes is by Albert Einstein (allegedly). “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” I feel like this applies to a lot of women I meet. Whilst lamenting the sorry state of affairs of their dating life, they’ll ask for my help. When asked to describe how they are attempting to meet people, invariably I get, “We go out on the weekends to the bars or clubs or lounges.” Now this response can really set me to gnashing my teeth. I don’t mind this if you go out because you are enjoying being out with friends and meeting new people. The ones that get me are the people that say that they are truly looking for someone. If you keep looking in the same spots, you’re going to keep finding the same people. Expand your sphere of influence. Branch out. People in this area are very experimental with their food, trying new things all the time. Use that same mentality and search out other venues and locales that could be populated by like-minded singles.
Like any new activity, there is going to be a learning curve. That is okay, that is normal. Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable or uneasy. Any new routine will cause some discomfiture but that will decrease as you practice more. If you are truly to get out there and make it happen, you might want to look at things that you haven’t looked at previously. Just remember that this is a process, not a light switch. Don’t expect it to change immediately and don’t get down on yourself if it takes some time. Anything worth doing is worth doing right.
If you have a question that you would like answered in this column or just need some good old advice, please email Hunt at email@example.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments also can be left at www.hudsonreporter.com. Hunt Ethridge is a Hoboken-based dating consultant and a fashion writer. Currently he is the Senior Dating Coach at New York Dating Coach (www.newyorkdatingcoach.com).