A few weeks ago, we announced my participation in Laurie Davis’ Click Date Love group coaching series. Since then, we’ve had three sessions, and you know what, I’m actually excited to try online dating again. I haven’t purchased a Match.com membership yet because I’ve been crazy busy working my day job, traveling (post coming soon on my SXSW experience in Austin!) and managing my film projects. But, I feel much better about tackling online dating this go round.
In this post I want to focus on developing a good mindset before even opening an online dating account.
Previously when questions here have come up around vetting and criteria for a mate, I consistently answer with one starting point: Who Are You? However, Laurie indicated that many people actually start in the opposite place: what does my ideal partner look like? And from there a list, sometimes a really long list, develops. As they encounter and evaluate potential partners, they neatly check off various boxes. Something Laurie shared that I found interesting is that as women get older, their lists become based on fear, especially related to past relationship failures.
Her advice: tear up the list.
Um, excuse me, what? Tear up my values driven list? My knee jerk reaction was “great, another dating expert who wants women not to have standards.” As black women we are told so many times to lower our standards (everyone has kids out of wedlock! That janitor might be the next Barack Obama – Michelle saw his potential! Stop talking about your degrees – you’re emasculating good brothas!) that it has just become old, stale and annoying.
But as she explained further, it isn’t about throwing out standards but learning how to make decisions instinctively without seeing someone’s worth through a list of checked boxes. To help you get away from “the list,” focus on WHO YOU ARE. In thinking about past relationships, focus on finding the good, affirming things you enjoyed and exiting when you see harmful behaviors surface. This is far more productive then checking off “good, he makes six figures.”
I’m at a good starting point because what I primarily want in a mate is someone who shares my core values, not a list of things like level of education, income, eye color, etc. “But what about high school dropouts?!?” you might ask. Well, one of my core values is wisdom. I look for intellectual curiosity and other indicators of wisdom to me. A high school dropout who doesn’t exhibit these traits isn’t someone I would continue to engage; I don’t need to put on a list “must have completed high school.” This also frees me to consider someone who is a productive member of society, whose wit and curiosity about life has captured my attention BUT he dropped out of high school. Obviously you still need to vet from here.
Getting away from a checklist mentality helps you avoid doing things so literally, which is something I struggled with when I was younger. If someone gave me advice, I’d apply it literally just to say I did it. It is a lazy and fear based way to go through life, in my opinion. I had a bad experience dating a blue collar guy and for a good while I said, “I will never date a blue collar guy again because there was sabotage and jealousy and I just can’t go through that anymore.” Well, the issue isn’t blue collar men in general but rather dating blue collar guys who are trapped into those kinds of jobs due to bad decision making (i.e. indicates a lack of wisdom). A guy who intentionally chose trade school for HVAC work and has ambitions related to his field might be different. Again, look for shared values and positive traits/behaviors vs a checkbox of “has a college degree.” There are many, many people I consider to be unwise who have completed college.
So before you get on a site, do basic homework around WHO YOU ARE. Like Laurie says, once you know that, you can get away from the checklist and start looking for things that matter.
Be sure to check out Laurie’s blog for more of her advice.