Dear Dr. Frankie
I’m single now and it’s been less than a month since my last girlfriend and I broke up. I am just coming back into my Self and feeling happy again: I’m cleaning house, working out, finishing personal projects, redecorating, and enjoying my friends. I am already starting to get those urges to look around and flirt. I know myself and it would be so easy to jump back into something new. I am already getting offers and new crushes are very entertaining and fun for me. But here is the thing. I want to stay single long enough to make some progress on those personal goals, feel more empowered and confident, and take care of business. I don’t want to feel that I need another person to be happy. I also would like to be more careful the next time around. I don’t want to jump in or settle.
Looking into my dating history I have responded quickly to people who make the first move. I am a sucker for a girl who goes after what she wants especially if its me. I think I need to learn how to select and pursue someone rather than just consider what comes my way. It may be a strange question for a matchmaker but how do I stay single? Then, how do I carefully select and pursue someone after I’m in a good place to start dating again?
Dear Addicted to Love,
What a great question for a matchmaker! I think you are certainly on the right path to enlightenment! Never underrate the power of introspection and mindfulness. From what you say it sounds like your dance card is full, you just have to refine your search for the right partner.
I would start by setting a date, perhaps six months from now, where you do not allow yourself to date anyone seriously. Flirting and casual dating is fine and highly encouraged, however I would discourage you from seeing someone monogamously until the six-month mark has passed. Use this time to self-reflect on your negative dating patterns. Humans invariably repeat patterns that reinforce our view of the world, and recreate relationships from childhood. If you think you need help identifying or changing these patterns then consider seeking a relationship coach or individual therapist.
Next, make a list of qualities you seek in a partner: intelligence, emotional availability, communication skills, sense of humor, etc… Then rank them in order of importance until you have found the top three most important characteristics. When you begin casually dating keep these three deal-breakers in mind and let their presence or absence guide you. If you are dating someone who has all three then perhaps you have potential for a healthy, long-term relationship. If you are seeing someone who doesn’t possess your top three most important qualities, do not allow yourself to move into serious relationship territory.
By limiting your dating pool to the girl that showers you with the most attention, you are missing out on the full experience.
It is comfortable to like someone who likes you first. But you won’t necessarily be attracting women of equal caliber. For your personal growth, and for a better chance of meeting someone who can challenge you in an exciting way, you need to take a more active role.
Put a new twist on the delightful game of cat and mouse and try out the role of cat. By pursuing I don’t mean you have to do the actual legwork of “courting” her, but initiate a conversation, let her know she caught your eye. If you are interested in learning about specific body-language indicators of attraction, refer to my February 2011 article “Are they into me? Behaviors that indicate attraction” at littlegaybook.com for some helpful tips. You might be surprised at how exciting and empowering the experience is when you are an equal participant. Although it will be a little uncomfortable to change your well-established dating patterns, you have an exciting journey ahead! Best of luck to you!