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If my previous article about 10 signs that you’re too picky resonated with you, it’s time to take action toward positive change and ensure that pickiness isn’t a roadblock to finding and keeping love. Becoming a more open, less judgmental dater will allow you to give more potential partners a chance while decreasing your tendency to weed out great people for silly or rigid reasons.
As you’ve heard me say in many of my articles, I’m a huge advocate for having high standards and knowing your worth as you search for a great partner. Pairing this approach with dating with a confident, positive attitude will aid you in finding your ideal partner instead of simply settling or mindlessly dating. For instance, it’s healthy and smart to look for a partner who’s open to traveling the world with you if you love to invest your time and money on vacations and exploring new places.
However, having realistic, high standards that are in line with your values is very different from being overly picky, selective, or inflexible about things that may not actually matter. Rejecting someone because they didn’t go to an Ivy League college or because they’re a couple of inches taller or shorter than you will likely be costly.
Here are eight strategies to combat pickiness:
Often pickiness is used as a defense mechanism to keep you safe and feeling comfortable. It acts as a barrier to intimacy by hindering your ability to get close to others. In turn, it keeps you from confronting underlying fears.
Basically, it’s easier to find fault in others (and reject them first) than to take the risk of being rejected, getting hurt, or cultivating true intimacy.
Reflect on your fears around love and relationships to determine what acting picky may be protecting you from. Consider your feelings and anxieties about commitment and rejection. Find other healthy ways to face your anxiety and fears. For example, seeking professional mental health care, talking to your support system, slowly taking more emotional risks, and using anxiety management strategies.
When you notice yourself being overly fastidious as a way to cope with your fears, remind yourself that this approach isn’t working and blocks your desire for a loving relationship.
Being picky is another form of building a wall that keeps intimacy from growing. Being vulnerable is a necessary component in successful dating. This involves being open, honest, emotionally available, and present as you date.
After all, the goal of dating is to determine connection and compatibility by getting to know each other over time.
While revealing your true self to your date may provoke anxiety, you can learn a lot by the way he or she responds to you. Not baring your real personality may feel safer, but you will also miss out on valuable information about your date and the opportunity to explore if you’re a good match.
You can practice becoming more vulnerable by changing your perception of vulnerability (it is strong, not weak!), taking small steps to share more about yourself, owning who you are, and reaffirming to yourself that you have a lot to offer.
The never-ending choices available through online dating can lead to indecision, anxiety, inaction, regret, and unhealthy selectiveness, especially if you buy into the trap that there’s always someone better out there.
Dating with a “grass is always greener” mentality will increase hypercritical behavior and leave you feeling doubtful about the amazing date who is in front of you. It’s important to date at a pace that works for you and invest in getting to know someone as opposed to viewing them as completely disposable until someone you consider better comes along.
Stop yourself from constantly comparing and cycling through potential partners by being more present in each dating experience. Slow it down, give it time and don’t schedule too many dates in a short time frame.
Barring important red flags, take your time getting to know someone. Often my clients tell me they feel pressure to know if they like someone after just one date. They feel they’re wasting their time and their date’s time if they’re unsure, so they end things.
The problem here is that getting to know someone, by definition, takes time, and prematurely ending things commonly leads to chronic singlehood. This pressure also goes hand in hand with pickiness, especially if you expect yourself to feel completely connected and certain after such a short amount of time.
Change up your dating approach by reminding yourself that the quality of personal contact over time is the best way to truly determine compatibility. Also, understand that attraction can develop gradually and often does. Therefore, expecting it to be instantaneous only leads to missed opportunities.
Pay attention to how you feel pre- and post-date, and give your dates a real chance. Don’t pressure yourself into knowing if you like someone until you’ve gone out with them at least a couple of times and had continued contact in between dates.
Knowing what you want in a partner is important. However, having rigid requirements and being narrow-minded isn’t wise, especially if you tend to dwell on minor details that don’t actually matter.
For instance, music preferences, favorite movies, and hair color may seem important, but these details are meaningless when it comes to long-term compatibility.
Take the time to explore your values and what you want in a partner. When your brain focuses on tiny or specific details, such as “My partner must like the same sports team as me” or “My partner must love horror movies as much as I do,” give yourself a reality check, and go back to focusing on what truly leads to a long-lasting satisfying relationship.
Look for qualities such as integrity, a strong work ethic, kindness, generosity, emotional availability, similar values, congruent relationship goals, etc. Use this guide of questions to further explore if you’re on the same page and have what it takes to go the distance.
If you expect your future partner to be perfect, you’re going to be disappointed. Having high standards and feeling good about yourself will make you a better dater, but expecting perfection in a person or relationship is an unhealthy, unrealistic approach that will leave you single.
Consider the following: How can anyone have a true chance with you if you expect perfection? How can anyone feel comfortable opening up if you appear to be judgmental of natural imperfections and overly critical of flaws? Also, how could you develop feelings if you’re constantly searching for something wrong with your dates and obsessing about every last detail being perfect?
Work on dating from a more compassionate, kind, and flexible place in which you see your dates as human beings. Assess your expectations for a partner, and toss out anything that isn’t realistic. Also, implement these dating skills to date smarter and more successfully.
Wanting a Hollywood love story often leads to being picky. You may be closed to certain people based on the way you met or even avoid online dating altogether because it doesn’t produce the type of story you desire.
Sure, it sounds special to lock eyes with your perfect man from across the room and fall in love at first sight, but many successful love stories start off very differently (and a lot more slowly). For example, your partner may start off as a friend, co-worker, blind date, random online date, or someone completely unexpected. Don’t let a one in a million love story stop you from being open and saying yes to dates.
Yes, you should be with a partner who enriches your life, supports your personal and professional goals, and allows you to be yourself while pushing you to grow into the best version of yourself. However, believing that there’s only one person in the whole entire world with whom you could fall in love sets you up for being extremely demanding.
Date with a healthy mindset that’s rooted in reality, and, if you determine that you’re falling for the soulmate trap, try to broaden your perspective. Even if it feels different from your previous thought process, are you willing to believe that there’s more than one person who can bring happiness and love into your life? Can you believe that there are many amazing single people out there you could connect to?
Challenge yourself to believe that you could be happy with numerous people, and give potential partners appropriate time to get to know you and vice versa.
If you’re dating from a picky place, identify where your picky tendencies are coming from and implement the eight strategies above.
If you discover pickiness is closely linked to fear or anxiety, encourage yourself to practice vulnerability and face your fears head on. If your pickiness is coming from a belief system or common dating trap, give yourself a reality check and work on dating with an open mind and heart.
Regardless of where pickiness comes from, know you can create change. The first step is awareness, and the second step is action!