If you've been on the dating scene for what feels like forever and you're starting to feel frustrated and disillusioned with it all, it might be time to take a step back and do a little re-calibrating. We project how we feel to others; people can sense your negative outlook from a mile away, which ruins any chance of things working out. It seems counter-intuitive, but the more you act like things are never going to work out, the longer you'll probably be alone.
Load up any story online about dating or romance and you'll see an unclimbable mountain of negative comments about how dating is "only for attractive people", how the opposite sex is "always making things difficult" and how they must have drawn the short straw.
Sure, some of them are just people in need of an outlet where they can vent (and that's OK), but a great many truly believe what they're saying. They have an "it's not me, it's them" mentality and the truth is it's only making their situation worse.
Part of the problem is our attitudes going into the unpredictable world of dating. Even when we're fresh to the scene and true love feels like it's only a romantic candle-lit dinner away, we tend to believe that we deserve someone's love just because we gave it a shot. This entitlement is flawed and dangerous. When we don't get what we thought was owed to us, we think the universe is holding out -- as if others had been given a gift over us.
"Why have the gods of love forsaken me!" you shout. But that's not what's happening. Success, even in the world of dating, is not given -- it's earned. Not necessarily through self-improvement or clever pickup lines from some cheesy how-to video, but through tenacity and the willingness to show your true self to others in hope they will do the same. Like birds doing a mating dance day after day, or bucks standing their ground during rutting season, we have to try, we have to do our best and we have to maintain the somewhat naive belief that next time will be better.
When you let dating get you down, it poisons your perspective. You think, "Well, it didn't work out last time, so it won't work out this time either." You lose hope and slide further and further down into anger. You begin to see rejection as a personal attack and not a simple mismatch, and you start to protect yourself so you don't have to feel that way again.
First, you build up your defences, like a thick castle wall. After all, how could someone hurt you if you don't let them in? Then, like volleys of arrows, you make preemptive strikes at anyone who gets too close. You project your dissatisfaction and immediately let them know through body language, snide comments and low self-confidence that you think this isn't going to work out, that you're not good enough, and that dating is all just a bunch of bullshit anyway.
Well, guess what? People don't respond to that very well. They see the dark cloud of those volleys approaching from afar, they feel the arrows rushing past their cheeks, and they turn away, looking for a place that welcomes them.
It's not easy to be vulnerable, and it's not easy to keep hope alive, especially when it makes you feel like a fool time and time again. But it's what must be done to run this gauntlet, however long it may be. It isn't you versus the world; it's you versus yourself. As the wise man Ice Cube once said, "You better check yo' self before you wreck yo' self."