Become A Fearless Dater In 28 Days
Worried you’ll never meet The One? One author has created a simple, five-step plan to help you take charge of your love life and feel more comfortable on dates in just four short weeks. Read on…
s your dating life perfect? Great — then you can stop reading right now.
For the rest of you singles out there, however, your romantic routine could probably use a little improvement. After all, if you’re single and looking (but don’t want to be), then things aren’t exactly as you’d like, right? But knowing you need to make a
change and actually doing something about it are two different things.
|Wishing and waiting for the right person to appear in your life won’t get you anywhere.|
“Wishing and waiting for the right person to appear in your life won’t get you anywhere,” says Jonathan Alpert, a Manhattan-based psychotherapist and coauthor of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. “I’m all for positive thinking, but there’s a big difference between wishing for something to happen and taking smart, strategic steps to make something happen… one is a passive approach, while the other is proactive and action-oriented.” With that in mind, Alpert has tailored the five-step program he uses in his practice and expanded in his book so you can apply it directly to your dating life. The goal: To put you on the path to real romantic change for the better in less than a month. Let’s get started, shall we?
Step One: Define your dream
“No matter how many times you clean out your closet to make space for your dream match to appear in your life, it isn’t just going to magically happen,” says Alpert. “In order to know how to get where you want to go, you have to know where you are headed first. Therefore, defining your dream is vitally important.” What is it you want — marriage, dating, a relationship? What would your mate be like? Which qualities would your dream partner have? Be specific — and be honest with yourself. Everyone has different goals and needs, so don’t think that you have to conform to societal norms if they’re not right for you. It’s also important to be realistic and flexible. “If someone is so locked into a certain type — i.e., ‘I will only date people with blue eyes’ — then this person might miss out on Mr./Ms. Wonderful who has brown eyes,” says Alpert. “That type of rigid thinking might lead to missed opportunities.” So it’s important to get a tangible idea of what you’re seeking from your dates — but you should also be willing to entertain some unexpected prospects along the way.
Step Two: Break your fear-based behavioral patterns
Now that you’ve got a clear idea of what your goal looks like, it’s time to figure out what’s keeping you from going out and finding it. “Fear is indeed at the epicenter of people’s unhappiness, and it prevents them from taking risks in their careers, relationships, social lives and beyond,” says Alpert. To combat this, he suggests doing a “fear dump” (the idea is to purge yourself of all the negativity, including reasons why you think you can’t do something for yourself). “A ‘fear dump’ is helpful, because it takes all of those thoughts that may have been barricaded up to this point and gets them out,” Alpert explains.
To break your own pattern of fear, Alpert suggests asking yourself the following questions:
Write down your answers — and remember: It’s crucial to be honest with yourself!
- What stops me from finding my dream partner?
- What are some reasons why I can’t pursue this person?
- What are the benefits of staying exactly where I am right now?
- What are the benefits of actually making some changes and finding this mate?
Step Three: Rewrite your narrative in a positive way
Now that you’ve dumped your fears onto the table, it’s time to replace any negative thoughts you uncovered with positive, accurate, and empowering ones. “Rewriting your narrative helps to rid a person of feeling stuck,” explains Alpert. “If you continuously speak to yourself in a negative way, then you’ll start to believe it — and your actions will be consistent with such thoughts.” For example: Michael Jordan probably wouldn’t have been such a stellar basketball player if he were constantly filled with self-doubt. So if you continually find yourself
saying things like, “I’m never going to meet anyone,” you’re making a self-fulfilling prophecy. You diminish your chances of finding romantic happiness if you’ve given up before you’ve even had one first date.
|Follow these steps, and soon, you’ll be practicing the art of fearlessness.|
So, pay attention to how you talk to yourself; notice the mental traps you find yourself in. Are you using self-defeating language, or more empowering words? How does it affect you physically when you feel anxious and/or fearful emotionally? Now, try to reframe your thinking and self-talk in a more positive way. That doesn’t necessarily mean walking around repeating “I’m awesome” in your head all day (though that might actually be true). Instead, focus on allowing yourself to accept that you’re worthy of love, capable of finding a great match, and likely are perfect for someone out there who is also actively looking for you.
Step Four: Eliminate your stress response to dating
Everyone knows that dating can be scary sometimes. But now, it’s time to take the fears you wrote down earlier and banish them in real life. In other words, you need to learn how to relax with regards to dating. “If someone is fearful, he or she won’t be very comfortable — and as a result, it will be obvious. This person won’t be very appealing to others,” says Alpert. Instead of putting insane pressure on yourself during your next first date (i.e., thinking “Is he The One?” or “What if I screw this up and she never wants to see me again?” constantly), try to chill out and see it for what it really is: a chance to simply get to know another human being. “People often create unrealistic expectations and set themselves up for disappointment,” says Alpert. “Keep yours in check.”
Not sure how to do that? Try doing a little pre-date visualization. First, see yourself on the date in your mind’s eye. Visualize yourself feeling relaxed and interacting with the other person in a carefree manner (i.e., you’re being polite, funny, and acting like your true self). See this initial meeting as nothing more than a chance to get to know each other better, without setting any expectations about what should happen next.
If your anxiety tends to manifest itself physically (hello, sweaty palms and nervous twitches!), Alpert suggests trying a progressive muscle relaxation exercise before heading out on your date. First, lie down on your bed (or in a similarly comfy spot). Starting at the top of your head and progressively working your way down your body, contract each muscle as tightly as you can, then release it until you feel your whole body start to let go. This should help you calm down so you can feel present and relaxed during your date. Just be careful not to get too mellow, or you could end up falling asleep instead of going out afterward!
Step Five: Devise an action plan — and stick to it
While sitting on your couch with a bag of chips and the remote may sound like an appealing Saturday night, it won’t get you any closer to finding The One. This final phase in your challenge to redirect your dating habits is all about action. “This is actually doing something different than what you normally do,” says Alpert. “Research ways to meet people — online, speed-dating, through activities, etc. — then commit to doing them.” In other words, mark it in your calendar! If you’re the type of dater who needs a little nudge, enlist the support of a friend you can call for support (or to help you get out of the house when your motivation wanes). Try updating your online dating profile and start actively contacting people, if you haven’t already. Without this step in place, you will likely stay mired in a place of “all talk and no action” instead.
Although there are no guarantees, Alpert says that if you go through all of these steps within approximately 28 days, you’ll at least have put an action plan into place and overcome any fear that may have been holding you back from pursuing an ideal mate — which puts you a whole lot closer to finding love. “Follow these steps, and soon, you’ll be practicing the art of fearlessness,” asserts Alpert. “You’ll feel more in control of your future and achieving your relationship goals.” Now, get ready to change your dating life for the better… one day at a time!
Kimberly Dawn Neumann (www.KDNeumann.com) is a popular New York City-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in such publications as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Redbook, Maxim and frequently online. A certified dating/relationship coach, she’s published two books: The Real Reasons Men Commit and Sex Comes First and is the founder of www.DatingDivaDaily.com.