I learned that there’s a lot more to dating than, well, dating.
There’s a problem with a lot of modern dating advice. It lacks focus. It rarely looks at the whole person but rather fixates on patching up our personality quirks or giving us the best, most intriguing lines to use. Just think about it: How many “tips and tricks” have you willingly tried, without relating them back to your own self-development?
These tips and tricks aren’t bad ideas, but often in executing them, we overlook the very thing that prepares us most for a healthy relationship: personal growth.
Sage advice from the right sources is invaluable, and a little help in the right direction will infuse your dating life with confidence, inspiration, and yes, even worthiness. So, after a lot of thinking, I took a deep breath and decided to finally sign up for services offered by an online dating coach.
Now, a year later, I couldn’t be happier with my outcome. Here’s my story.
01. Before I started, I accepted my worth.
Long before I had the gumption to actually put money towards dating advice, I had a mind shift. And it started with this one little thing Brené Brown said: “When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible.”
A sense of worthiness is ground zero for how I started viewing myself within the bounds of a romantic relationship. Essentially, as humans, we have an intrinsic worth. And this made me think. How many relationship problems of mine stemmed from feeling a lack of worthiness?
The answer: far too many, my friends. Embracing my worthiness wasn’t something that came naturally at first, and it made me realize that it’s OK to ask for help in this area. So, after my birthday, I finally did.
02. I reworked my budget to find a dating guru I really liked.
The moment I turned 30, I made a little deal with myself. Any personal growth or relationship book, workshop, or weekend experience that would aid my growth, got the green light. I had to do some shifting around with my budget, but I made it work.
After a little poking around online, I took the leap and purchased a program offered through one of my favorite dating coaches who helped fill in the gaps of where my understanding of men was going wrong, or what was simply lacking. And while I was afraid of feeling humiliated or beating myself up for past mistakes, the process was actually quite fun!
Instead of peddling the powers of seduction or pickup lines—over time, much of what I learned was incredibly dignified and useful, not just in a dating sense, but also in exerting more influence to negotiate a raise at work, or having the confidence to chat up strangers in the grocery store line.
Far too many singles struggle with the dating game. We wonder why the scales haven’t tipped in our favor yet but then sit back and never take the next step, which is reaching out for expert advice. One of the game-changing lessons I learned was that it’s OK to ask for help. It’s the first signal that we are moving toward growth.
03. I learned I already had all the tools within to be confident.
Signs of progress started appearing a few months after truly taking some of the advice to heart. For instance, at a writer’s conference, I joined a nice-looking stranger who was sitting alone at a breakfast table. My normal M.O. was to sit at a table nearby, hoping by some Jedi mind trick that he’d notice I was single—but this time, I took action.
So, yes, technically I made the first move, and I was relieved at how in control I felt. In ways, this was so much easier than having a random guy approach me in a bar! Turns out, we shared many interests, and it wasn’t long before the conversation pivoted to an offer for dinner that evening, which I accepted. The spontaneity of it all was magic, and when we left the conference, he remarked playfully, “If I didn’t pull you out of there, the other guys would have been lining up behind me.”
I laughed at the irony of his statement. Compliments? On-the-spot date offers from perfect strangers? Where is this all coming from? My tiny step of confidence was paying off big.
Even my own family noticed that something had shifted in my countenance. “Something’s different about you, Lauren,” my sister remarked. “You seem like you are coming into your own these past few months.” And, she wasn’t wrong. My confidence was gaining momentum, and those around me felt it, even if they couldn’t explain what it was.
04. I learned not to be confined to formulaic ways of meeting men.
As time passed, the typical ways of meeting men (aka, at bars or online) fell by the wayside. I began to realize that I didn’t have to go out of my way or try anything fancy. Rather, I simply transformed the way I saw everyday interactions: chatting with new coworkers, picking up groceries, and even trips to my local coffee shop where a cute barista worked.
This kind of confidence and my free-flowing social skills weren’t built in a day—and in so many ways, my process of self-growth is far from complete. And that’s OK. I realized these skills are honed over a lifetime, from interactions that we leverage by being good listeners, having amazing energy, and throwing in a dash of wit here and there.
Identifying and eradicating things like my dependence on dating apps, my false beliefs about men, and behaviors like passively waiting around for someone to notice me, wasn’t just growing my dating skills, but the bedrock of my confidence and character. This alone was worth every penny I spent on dating advice. And while I may not have Mr. Right on my arm just yet, I’m certain that he will look twice in my direction when we do cross paths.