Hello everybody, welcome to episode 112 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino and today I’ve got a question for you that’s all about dating and the expectations we bring to it that inevitably get us into trouble. A lot of adults are having a hard time getting excited about those they find themselves on dates with, and hopefully today, we can shed some light on why. Here’s the question…
QUESTION: “I’m having a very difficult time finding a guy that I’m excited about. I date a lot and meet some nice people that are always interested in seeing me again, but I usually mentally check out some time during the first date. Shouldn’t there be excitement during a first date? Or am I not giving these guys enough time? I remember having more enthusiasm about boyfriends when I was younger, so I know the feeling I’m looking for, but no one lights it up anymore. I can’t tell if it’s dating that has changed or if it’s me.”
You've Both Changed
Ah, you’ve both changed! Good question. I don’t know how old you are, but something tells me a lot of people, especially around my age, are feeling this way.
This is definitely the mental commentary where I’m from, I don’t know about your background, though.
Of course both you and the dating world have changed since your younger days when you were dating guys and being excited about it – that’s how it goes. It sounds to me like you’re just looking for that childhood wonderment that, more often than not, fades over time.
We see it in all areas of life, right? And among all species.
A Cat Story
I’m reminded of my kitten right now as I’m watching him harass one of the older cats. What an example. He’s a youngster, so he does as youngsters do. He runs from destination to destination, he finds a way to play with everything in sight, and he’s constantly amused because everything is new to him and he’s not weighed down by physical or mental stress.
Conversely, the older cat watches him closely as she tries to sleep. She might give him a little swat or a hiss to leave her alone. Other times she’ll run with him, but for the most part, her definition of fun has changed and different things enthuse her – mainly sleeping in the sunlight.
17 years ago, she was the baby enthused by the same things the kitten is now. These cats were both rescued from the same streets of Providence at roughly the same age, they’ve been raised around the same people and they’ll likely follow the same trajectory.
We all know that humans do the same thing in all areas of life. As we get older, our childhood versions of fun change.
Our childhood versions of responsibility change. Our childhood versions of health change. Everything changes, yet because of the magic and timelessness we like to attach to love, we like to think that our romantic relationships should always require the same childhood wonderment – the butterflies, the non-stop talking, the “can’t get my mind off of you, nothing else matters” stuff.
But that changes too.
Apps and the Dating Landscape vs. Aging
It’s inevitable for everyone, yet we hate to believe it because it seems less magical. We often feel it’s silly to not go for someone who we don’t instantly feel taken over by, but it’s so much easier for that to happen when we’re younger, and by continuing to search for that same thing when we’re older, we cheat ourselves of a lot of good potential partners.
So while the dating landscape has drastically changed with the apps, and the incessant texting before meeting (which is another conversation for another time), I’d say those changes are still minimal compared to the changes we undergo by merely aging.
Such changes include things like having less time for others, being more distracted by other significant priorities, carrying trauma and attachment issues around, acknowledging urges we may sometimes have for other people, and the list goes on.
And this is nothing to be said about, it’s evolution. It’s not to say that the magic of romance doesn’t exist, but it IS to say that that magic has changed and it’s important to be comfortable and realistic about the change if we stand to have good romantic relationships as we continue to age.
Acceptance is Not the Same Thing as “Settling”
Note: this is not the same thing as “settling”. I wouldn’t encourage that. Sure we’re settling for the changes that have occurred, but we have no choice but to do that. This is different from settling for a person that we don’t like just for the sake of being in a relationship.
As you become aware of and comfortable with the facts of dating as an adult, as well as your own shortcomings, you must become aware of and comfortable with the shortcomings of others. This is called accepting people, not settling.
Redefine What You're Seeking
So with all this in mind, it’s time to redefine the magic you’re looking for when it comes to dating. I might first consider looking towards what you seek in a friendship. You can find someone who has similar values, someone who will help you out in a time of need, someone who has a similar story, someone who enjoys the same hobbies, someone you have good rapport with.
Items like these form a very good foundation for dating, but are often overlooked because it’s hard for ourselves and others to both find these qualities and display these qualities when we’re instead scrutinizing the people across the table for little things based on fairytale-like romance. And it’s not to say the butterflies don’t come sometimes for some people, but I’m not sure it’s practical to say it’s butterflies or bust.
Of course it’s up to you to decide which qualities you look for in a romantic partner are negotiable and which are non-negotiable, but generally speaking, your Prince Charming might have bad teeth. He might have a deadend job. He might have a hard time hanging out in big crowds. He might devote Fridays to his friends. He might be nervous around you at first. He might not be a good dresser. He might prefer not to travel.
Generate Value From All Areas of Life Beyond Dating
These are many realities of adult dating, and there are countless more.
Once you see how they exist in you and your partners, you’ll be in a good position to date as you’ll be open to the less-than-magical in everyone. And hey, if you still can’t find someone that aligns with your new definition of magic, that’s ok too.
Many people today are less enticed by relationships as they’ve been known in the past, and whether that’s due to not being willing to flex on our childlike versions of love or excitement over freedom or saving money or anything in between, we don’t need to find someone.
Generating enough value from other areas in life that no one you meet is worth replacing something that’s already in your schedule is fine. Not everyone talks about it yet, but it’s fine.
Dating Conclusion: Acknowledge Changes
To stand the best chance the best chance at finding happiness with yourself and happiness with someone else, however, it’s time to acknowledge the changes that have occurred since the old days.
All right, thank you again to the woman who sent this question in. I sorta feel like there are a lot of ways this question could’ve been answered – could’ve gone down a whole rabbit hole of dating theory and advice, but hopefully my interpretation of your question and thus my answer to it was helpful to you. If not, let me know and I’ll tweak it accordingly.
Everyone else, go ahead and email us any questions you might have that you’d like answered on the show. Email advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
We’ll take your questions there and do what we can for you. We’re done for now though. I appreciate you being here, and I’ll talk to you next time. Bye everyone..