Ask Dave-New year, new start, new love?

He’s made a resolution to start the year right by finding a boyfriend. But how realistic is it?

By Dave Singleton

ear Dave,
I am a 42-year-old gay man who’s ready to shake up my dating life. I am sick of the hookups, starting from scratch with each new date, and the lack of follow-through that most guys exhibit. I am really ready for a new year and a new approach to dating.
My concern is that I will appear overly eager.
It’s been three years since my last serious relationship and I’ve shed a lot of baggage (and about 20 pounds) since then. I am feeling good in general, but missing an intimate relationship. There’s a void when you don’t have that. My concern is that I will appear overly eager. I want a boyfriend so bad; how can I make sure I don’t jump the gun or come off as desperate? Is it bad to even say it aloud? I am superstitious that I will jinx my chances if I make a relationship my goal. What advice do you have for starting a whole new approach to dating this year?
– New Year, New Boyfriend

Dear New B,
You want a boyfriend. Yet you don’t want to wear your heart on your sleeve. Ah, therein lies the rub. You can desire all you want, but be selective in who you share it with, what you say, and how you present yourself. Yes, it’s true that most communication is non-verbal. It’s also true that men smell desperation the way a dog smells fear. However, you have to be clear about your needs and put some energy into it if you are prepared to make a change.

If you’re ready to turn up the heat in your dating life, you won’t jinx your chances by committing to a new approach. As Bruce Springsteen famously sang, “you can’t start a fire without a spark.” So get out your matchbook.

Where the jinx becomes a threat is in the kind of goals you set for yourself, and whether they are realistic. The worst approach would be to make it your lone desire, excluding the well-rounded balance of interests and internal self-esteem that make you attractive — both inside and out — to a new partner.

You aren’t alone in your quest. Finding someone is typically one of the top New Year’s resolutions for single gays and lesbians. It’s right up there with losing weight, finding a new job, and continuing the fight for equal rights.

Whether they get made at the start of a new year or in the middle of July, the one drawback to resolutions is that they must be reasonable and attainable. Is this the start of your deliberate commitment to writing a new chapter in your life—or a desperate attempt to find a drink of water right this second after being in the desert for too long? I hope it’s the former.

You’ll be happier if you spend some time answering these four questions first.

1. What will you do differently this time?
You want to reshape your approach to dating, but what does that mean, really? Hooking up a
Perhaps it sounds corny and torn from the pages of a self-help book.
lot can train you out of the habit of thoughtfully screening dates. Are you willing to give some prospects more of a chance instead of treating them like an assembly line? Do you want to limit the number of dates you have, but improve the quality? You might spend a lot of time looking for certain attributes in a partner, but are they the right ones for you in the long run? For example, have you focused on shallow interests (looks, money, status) over true depth (character, core values, shared interests)? Spend some time, too, thinking about what you bring to the table. Be cognizant that you’ll get what you give.

2. Is your goal reasonable?
An objective such as “I want a boyfriend in two months” only sets you up for failure when Mr. Right Now doesn’t materialize, or you pretend that Mr. Wrong is Mr. Right just so you’ll have a steady guy in your life. Set realistic goals: “I will be clearer about what I want, less willing to engage in old behaviors that don’t fit with my new goals, more willing to put myself out there and initiate smarter connections, and emotionally available if I find a guy who fits the bill.” In other words, commit to doing what you can do, which is change your attitudes and behavior. You can’t guarantee an outcome.

3. Is your plan clear?
I don’t mean to suggest that you should date a certain number of guys or hit specific, regular milestones. My version of quantifying includes these steps:
  • Revise your online profile to reflect who you are and what you want now;
  • Respond thoughtfully to a certain number of ads;
  • Commit to activities (volunteering, athletic league or cultural group, anyone?) to make sure you’re out there and involved in things you care about. One of the best places to meet someone is where you’re involved in an activity that you enjoy.
4. Are you living your best life?
Don’t hang all hopes for the New Year on a partner who’ll sweep you off of your feet and out of the doldrums. Instead, get out of the doldrums first and then see who’s out there. I don’t care if it’s running marathons or taking pictures, do what it takes to be happy in your life and with yourself. Yes, it’s great to adopt a strategy of “new year, new dating life,” as long as you remember that the biggest relationship you have is with yourself. Perhaps it sounds corny and torn from the pages of a self-help book, but it’s true. The side benefit is that if you follow your interests you’ll be a more attractive date.

Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Send your dating questions and comments to him at
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