· dating advice

"Duty Dates" are a hot topic with many other coaches- myself included. I have re-read both "All The Rules" and "Not Your Mother's Rules" multiple times and don't recall seeing the term "duty dates" in there. For those of you who don't know what a duty date is, it's when you go out with someone even when you aren't interested. It's just a "practice" date. So, even if he's super short, just got out of prison for murder, and has been unemployed for the last decade, you should give him a shot. That's the premise of a duty date. Even if he's not attractive at all, you two have literally nothing in common, and he's working a minimum wage job while you're an attorney, you should go out with him. Now, this may sound drastic but, I've seen those profiles on Tinder in the past. Guess what? These are red flags and it's not worth it to date someone you can't see a future with.

However, there are two pros: practice dating (although few Rules girls need it) and a bigger dating pool. Now, I will play devil's advocate here: you may meet Mr. Right doing this. When my dad asked out my mom the first time, she was so not interested- he wasn't her look (although a lot of women found him attractive), six years younger, she made more money (although they were pretty close in this respect), and thought he was boring. When I asked why she went out with him, she said "because she had nothing better to do". However, he asked her out for dinner and a movie and, within three dates, she knew he was the one. Quick note: I'm not sure if it was a Saturday night date since both parents worked really strange hours (weekends, night shifts, etc)- mom is a retired magistrate and my late father was transitioning from the North Carolina Highway Patrol to the Secret Service. Regardless, I know he asked in advance and it was overall a Rules relationship. But, let's get one thing clear: although being pretty different, they were on the same page on important things. So, it wasn't a waste of time.

However, there are more cons to duty dates. First, he could be sketchy or a buyer beware and put your safety at risk. YOU DO NOT WANT THIS! If his profile mentions that he spends his days smoking weed, getting drunk, constantly partying, anything about strippers, or having kids with multiple women all over the place...it should go without saying that you don't want to go out with him. If he's significantly shorter than you, has something in his profile that makes you uncomfortable, or you can tell he breaks a deal breaker right off the bat, decline.

Secondly, there is an increased chance of going out with him instead of Mr. Right, thus ending up with Mr. Wrong. On top of that, you could be doing other things instead of dating him- going to singles events, going out with men who you're more compatible with, going to the gym, taking a class, networking, volunteering, doing something to work on/take care of yourself, etc. Basically, you could be having a life and meeting men who think you're awesome. Wasting time with Mr. Wrong will lead to you being resentful down the road.

So, what should you do to date smarter, not harder?

First, come up with five deal breakers. Be realistic and fair. For example, mine are taller than me (5'8"), same faith, vegetarian or willing to compromise (mostly the latter), no kids and fine not having them, not a Gemini (two serious relationships were Geminis- ended horribly), easy going and overall we just have to "match". My type tends to be tall, dark hair, dark skin, and quieter. But, I keep an open mind as long as he meets the minimum requirements. I also watch his behavior- does he blow crazy amounts of money or put a lot of emphasis on material goods? Is he in a lot of debt? How does he treat people? Do my friends/pets/family/etc. like him? Does he take care of his mind, place, body, finances? Is he really cheap? Now, this sounds like a lot but, you want to make sure your potential spouse has it more or less together. OBSERVE HIS BEHAVIOR. If he doesn't dress that well, has a quirky collection (within reason), or is going through a "mustache phase", you can live with that. It may be annoying but, it's harmless. But, if he's in a ton of debt, parties a lot, his place is really messy and resembles an episode of Hoarders, he hates his parents, or no one in your circle likes him, you need to really be wary about dating him. As long as he meets those, give him a shot. If you can't tell off the bat, give him the benefit of the doubt for now. It's just a date. You aren't getting married tomorrow so, calm down.

Another note about deal breakers: be realistic. Firstly, only one should be physical. As mentioned, I won't date shorter men. The shortest I will go is 5'8" but, if he's that short, he has to make up for it in other ways (be ridiculously good looking or have a really winning personality). I really prefer over 5'10". Even if you aren't physically my look, I will give you the benefit of the doubt. But, I will give a guy a shot if he isn't that physically attractive as long as he's tall.

Secondly, be on three to five dating sites and/or apps. Don't respond to every message or swipe right on everyone. If you can tell he doesn't meet one of your deal breakers, it's okay not to respond. For example, if a man mentions having children from a previous relationship, I won't date him. Why? Well, I don't like children enough to have my own. I know it sounds bad, but, I'm not a huge "kid person". Some people don't like cats- it's no different. But, if it looks like he meets most of them, respond.

Finally, take as many social actions as possible- through your house of worship, ask people to set you up, go to singles events, volunteer, take a class, go to the gym/beach/park, go on random adventures near where you live, etc. I'm not a huge bar or club person but, if that's your thing, go for it. All that matters is that you get out, show up, and look good. Also, accept as many social invites as possible. Now, if you get invited to two on the same day, it's okay to only choose one. However, aim for a minimum of one social action weekly. But, aim for at least three. If I can do it between work, school, writing, and starting a business, so can you. Even if you don't meet Mr. Right, keep going.

If you're in a position like me where your dating pool isn't that big (ex. dating within your faith), you need to be especially diligent. Even if it sounds lame, go. I'm not the best about doing this but, overall, go to just about any event our church puts on. While I would probably go to most anyway, there are some nights when I would definitely prefer to stay in and curl up with a good book. You never know- you may meet someone with a great friend, son, grandson, etc. You're still single, remember? While I may not come across as it, I'm as introverted as they come. My favorite person to hang out with is usually me. But, I've come to really enjoy meeting new people and going out some.

However, the biggest takeaway in dating is that it's quality over quantity. I've been the woman who got tons of dates (before and after The Rules). Getting dates was never hard for me. However, I converted to a new faith and, while that means less dates, it's a higher quality. You can compromise on many things but, not morals or standards. So, definitely date smarter- not harder! But, keep an open mind.

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