Hope and dating can sound like complete opposites if you’ve been in the dating pool for a while. Maybe it feels like an endless supply of the wrong people and no good ones. And in all probability, understanding how to remain hopeful while dating probably feels laughable to you.
I get it. I’ve been there. After you’ve been lied to, cheated on, or ghosted one too many times, it can be hard to date without expecting the worst.
But, if you are dating with that negative mindset, how will it ever work?
[Read: The early stages of dating and how to navigate the dos and don’ts]
Why you should remain hopeful while dating
When I first entered into the dating world, I was ridiculously optimistic about everything love. You could have probably called me a hopeless romantic.
I went into every date with the idea that it could turn into something amazing. This made dating unbelievably hard. I wasn’t realistic and expected way too much out of my dates and myself. I tried so hard to make a date work, even if I didn’t really like them just because I wanted a relationship. [Read: How to tell if there’s no chemistry and you should stop trying]
The problem with that mindset is you get let down a lot. When you expect so much from one date, each of those dates that doesn’t work out feels like a breakup rather than a mediocre evening.
Eventually, after one too many of these mini heartbreaks, I changed my mindset. I went into each date or even each dating app message assuming I would be ghosted. I got so used to the worst happening I went in always expecting that. And I figured it would be the best way to not get hurt, and if someone was decent it would be a nice surprise.
[Read: How to date with trust issues and open yourself to hope again]
But, what that did was spoil anything that could have been. Because I expected the worst, I would self-sabotage. I wouldn’t let myself trust anyone and went into each date with little effort because I anticipated being ghosted.
Both of these ways of thinking don’t work. One hurts too much, and the other cuts you off from the possibility of anything meaningful. Release expectations and remain hopeful while dating.
[Read: How to stop pushing people away and learn why you’re doing it]
How to remain hopeful while dating
Remaining hopeful while dating is all about balance and reality. Let go of the past, but appreciate what it gave you. Be aware of the possibilities but don’t expect a certain outcome. Definitely enter in hopeful without getting your hopes up.
I know it sounds hard, and well, it is. But it is possible. It took me years to realize this. But, from my experience, I hope you can make this work for you a bit sooner.
For years, my best friend would tell me I expected too much from a simple date. Even the most mediocre date would leave me spiraling, wanting things to work out when I barely liked the guy.
Later, she told me the same thing again. I went on dates expecting the worst because I was used to it. She told me not to have any expectations. How do you do that? [Read: Unlucky in love? How to turn things around and get lucky again]
I convinced myself it wasn’t in my nature to have no expectations. I told myself my anxiety and nervousness got in the way and I always had to overthink.
But, I convinced myself to self-sabotage. Eventually, I was able to be excited about a date without it holding so much weight. Once I finally balanced my hope and the reality of all the possibilities I ended up meeting my current boyfriend. I went into that date with a decent level of nerves but no expectations.
[Read: Do people always leave you? How you may be sabotaging your relationship]
The date went well, and I was happy to see him again. By the time he asked me to be his girlfriend, I was so happy living in reality instead of focusing on our future or my past that when we became official I was shocked instead of waiting for it.
Many people say love will find you when you least expect it or when you stop looking, but it isn’t about not looking. It is about being grounded in reality and remaining hopeful while dating.
If you want a relationship, go ahead and look for the right person, just keep your expectations controlled and carry enough hope, so you’re still excited about the possibilities.
But, that was my story. How do you instill this way of thinking into your dating routine? [Read: Why am I still single? The things you do that sabotage your love life]
#1 Try not to get overwhelmed. This was always the hardest step for me, but it was the most beneficial. Dating is so congested with what-ifs and unknowns. Dating apps, blind dates, set-ups, they are all so hard.
But, letting them overwhelm you is what makes you overthink and allows your nerves get the best of you.
Say you’re on a dating app, don’t swipe all day, every day. You don’t need to talk to someone constantly or always be on the hunt. Put the app in a miscellaneous folder on your phone or on its own page so it isn’t always staring you in the face.
Only use it for a limited amount of time each day unless you actually feel a connection with someone. Then transfer to texting so you can give that person a fair shot. [Read: Should you try online dating? A guide to decide if it’s right for you]
#2 Keep busy. Dating can take over your life. Whether you go on a lot of dates or talk to a lot of people without ever meeting, it can still feel like it is taking up so much of your mind.
I was on dating apps for about three years before I ever actually went through with meeting anyone, yet dating and being single took up so much of my brain. Stay busy. Hang out with friends, have hobbies. Dating should be a part of your life, not all of it.
#3 Enjoy your single time. I always hear people complain about being single. Others mock people who enjoy being single as if it couldn’t be possible. It took me years to enjoy it, but it is what led me to a happy relationship.
Being single is not the worst thing ever. Feeling lonely when you’re alone is a whole lot better than feeling lonely when you’re in a relationship. Enjoy your time being single. Engage in your independence. Get to know what you really want. Realize you want to share your life with someone but that you don’t need to. [Read: How to enjoy being single and learn to live the life YOU want]
#4 Get excited. For a long time, I dreaded dating. I wasn’t looking forward to dating or talking to anyone. I was just going through the motions. But, if you let yourself get excited, it is a lot more fun and your hope takes center stage.
You don’t want to be writing your dates’ name in hearts on your notebook, but you also don’t want to dread meeting them. Go into a first date the same way you would go into your first day at a new job. You’re nervous, but excited about the opportunity.
#5 Enjoy your dates for what they are, not what they could be. Every date has the chance of being good. Even if you don’t click romantically, it can be fun to talk about your love of obscure bands or 90’s movies.
When you go on a date, don’t think about how the night will end or if they’ll text you later. Enjoy the time for what it is. Pay attention to what they are saying and really get to know them. [Read: Why dating actually gets harder when you reach your 20s]
#6 Be realistic. Just because you clicked via message, it doesn’t mean you’ll have fireworks in person. Just because your conversations lacked excitement, it doesn’t mean your date will be boring.
Don’t tell my boyfriend, but our messages weren’t all too exciting before we met. But once we did, things fell into place. If I had taken our prior conversations and assumed what our date would be like, I wouldn’t have been as open to everything as I was. [Read: 20 practical things to consider before you even think of giving up on love]
#7 Take risks. You don’t want to get hurt, whether you fear being ghosted or rejected or cheated on. No one does. But, without a little risk, you won’t be open to the possibilities.
If I didn’t let myself admit how much I liked my boyfriend before we became official, I would have been closing myself off to what we have now. I was scared that he didn’t like me as much and that I’d get hurt, but if I didn’t face that fear I wouldn’t be so happy now.
[Read: Still single? The silly excuses you tell yourself and the real reasons why]
It is hard sometimes out in the dating world. However, you can find the balance and remain hopeful while dating and have some fun along the way.
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