We’ve heard so many single adults say, “I hate dating.” Why is that? Perhaps there are as many answers as there are people. But I think all these answers come down to something deep in our nature that dislikes being judged. Dating gives you more opportunities to be judged than almost anything else. When we pursue a dating relationship with someone we really like, we are always opening ourselves to being judged unworthy, inadequate, or lacking in some important way. And the feeling of being judged that way hurts. It triggers the self-doubts and insecurities we already have.
People may say they don’t like dating because they don’t like “playing games.” But what games are they really talking about? The games are the deceptions and ambiguous acts or statements we use to conceal our interest as we attempt to find love without risk. We don’t want to “show our hand” before we know how the other person feels. So, we joke around or make ambiguous statements to feel the other person out, puzzle it out with our friends, and otherwise fail to be honest about our interest, because we are afraid of being judged and rejected. We will do almost any contorted thing to avoid facing rejection directly. And those convoluted machinations are exhausting—especially when we expend a lot of effort into guessing whether someone is interested only to find out that he or she is not.
Knowing what we all fear about dating, what can we do show up better dating and make it more joyful? My first suggestion is radical acceptance of the possibility of rejection. That is the price of admission. Remind yourself at the outset that you are taking a risk and that means it may not work out the way you hope.
Second, recognize that rejection is not about you. Rejection and judgment are about the other person and what they want. The fact that you are not what they want does not mean you are not valuable. They are simply making a choice. Recognize that you are not for everyone, but you are for someone. If someone rejects you, recognize that they are simply not your person—even if you may have really hoped they would be. But just because they aren’t your person doesn’t mean there is not one. Have faith that Heavenly Father is lining things up for you in ways you cannot fully understand (and maybe not even partly); and that the relationships that didn’t work out are nonetheless important and meaningful experiences that help us along on our journey or teach us important things.
Third, cultivate a healthy self-image. You are in your middle years now. You have lived a good part of your life. You have likely experienced successes and failures. You know what you like and what you don’t like. You have had a chance to develop your strengths. You know the goodness that you are capable of bringing to a relationship. If someone else is unable to see it or appreciate it, you can tell yourself in all confidence that another great person will appreciate you and want what you have to offer. Knowing that makes rejection feel less harsh.
Finally, remember that dating is simply a matter of getting to know great people, and exploring the depths of another precious human soul. Dating is not about games and deceptions and being judged. It is about having fun, making friends, and enjoying new adventures. I will never forget my first date after many years of marriage. I remember getting ready, making sure my clothes and my hair were just right, putting on cologne, and driving to the restaurant with a sense of anticipation. I vividly remember walking in and seeing my date seated at the table. I remember the way her black curls fell around her shoulders and the pleasant smile on her face. We had a couple of hours of pleasant conversation and good food. As I drove home, I was on cloud nine. To be very clear, we didn’t decide to become a couple that night. There was no physical affection apart from a hug coming and going (which is customary, at least in Utah, and does not indicate any serious interest). But I felt elated because I was reminded that the company of a beautiful, intelligent, kind, and charming woman is still one of the greatest pleasures in life. I had not experienced that in many years.
The woman I went on that first date with has remained a good friend. She became one of my best friends. We were never meant to be a couple. But we were in each other’s lives for a reason. We supported each other’s mid-single journeys and served as wise counselors for each other as we moved forward to rebuild our lives. While that was not the outcome I may have envisioned at the outset, I am grateful she appeared in my life when she did. She enriched and enhanced my journey.
You may be anywhere from 30 to 70 and feel like you have blown your chance at love. I want to tell you very sincerely that the pleasure of getting to know a special person of the opposite sex is a great adventure and a blessing. Even if you are 65 years old, appreciating the beauty of a full moon while taking a walk at the park or on the beach can feel just as enchanting as it did when you were 25. You are alive and God has placed passions in you for a purpose. Seize the moment. Push past your fear and be bold. It is not too late for you to rediscover joy and be filled with love.
NEW LILY RESOURCES
Want to develop your own positive outlook on dating and developing new relationships? We are offering a LIVE 12-week course this Fall (Sept-Dec) on Courting with Confidence. Learn our 6-step process to make REAL progress in the dating world with confidence and ease. Use the links below to explore this exciting new resource we’ve been developing.
LILY Pod: Make Dating Fun!
LILY Tube: Dating is a Numbers Game
LILY Short: Are Breakups Urgent?
About the Author
Jeff Teichert, and his wife Cathy Butler Teichert, are the founders of “Love in Later Years,” which ministers to Latter-day Saint single adults seeking peace, healing, and more joyful relationships. They are co-authors of the Amazon bestseller Intentional Courtship: A Mid-Singles Guide to Peace, Progress and Pairing Up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jeff and Cathy each spent nearly a decade in the mid-singles community and they use that experience to provide counsel and hope to mid-singles and later married couples through written articles, podcasts, and videos. Jeff and Cathy are both Advanced Certified Life Coaches and have university degrees in Family & Human Development. They are the parents of a blended family that includes four handsome sons, one lovely daughter-in-law, and a sweet baby granddaughter.