Ladies, You're Doing It Wrong: Love Advice From A Dating Coach

by Neely Steinberg

If you’ve never seen the movie, “Mr. Mom,” get to Netflix, stat! Made in 1983, the film chronicles the adventures (or rather, misadventures) of Michael Keaton, who becomes a stay-at-home dad while his wife is out, making big bucks at an ad agency. There’s a great scene in the movie where Keaton attempts (and fails) to accomplish the very simple task of dropping his sons off at school. He is quickly reprimanded by a perky traffic guard: “You’re doing it wrong.”

I don’t know much about being a mom, but I do have a lot of experience helping single women navigate the dating world. As a dating coach who works with smart, savvy, professional women of all career backgrounds to create the type of love they desire in their lives (not to mention, someone who spent many years struggling to find my own way in the dating world), I have seen and heard it all when it comes to dating.

So, here’s my list of just a few of the ways that you’re doing it all wrong:

If you see dates as interviews for marriage and babies, you’re doing it wrong.

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re being interviewed on a date or when you suspect your date is measuring you against some sort of future-spouse checklist instead of getting to know who you really are. When you’re meeting someone new, relax and throw out the lengthy checklist so you can start to see beyond the superficial. Talk about your passions; encourage your date to talk about his passions — find out what you have in common. Let the conversation flow organically.

If you go into dating with an attachment to the outcome, you’re doing it wrong.

I’ve been there: You meet a guy who seems utterly perfect for you and your chemistry is on fire. Suddenly, you start to feel like you’ll die if it doesn’t work out, as if he’s the last guy with whom you’ll ever have chemistry. Maybe you start to mold yourself into the woman who you think he wants you to be, just so you can hold on to him.

This is a losing proposition. When you don’t go into the early stages of dating with an immediate attachment to outcome (“This just has to work out or I’ll die, and there will never be another guy out there for me!”), you’ll feel a lot more relaxed and more able to just be yourself. Date from a place of abundance, not scarcity.

If you believe dating and meeting “the one” happens entirely by pure luck and serendipity, you’re doing it wrong.

You might fantasize about how great life would be if the heavens parted and dropped Mr. Perfect into your lap, but the truth is, women benefit from experiencing mistakes and wrong turns. Lord knows, I went through a lot of trial and error in my dating life before I met my husband, and for a lot of women, this will also be the case. Your dating and love life requires time, effort, and commitment.

Invest in your love life in the same way you’ve probably invested in other areas of your life (i.e. academics, career, hobbies, etc.). If a healthy, happy relationship is what you want to create, make this part of your life a priority and commit to doing what’s necessary to get to that place. Furthermore, when you commit in this way, you’re less likely to compromise on any dating boundaries you set for yourself. (Example: If a guy wants something casual and you’re looking for a relationship, you’ll have the courage to walk away.)

Remember: You are the creator of your life; you build and shape your life story (including your love story) through the beliefs with which you choose to fill your head and the actions you take. Choose to live by a growth mindset (“I can grow from my experiences”), as opposed to a destiny mindset (“my path to love is fixed, so no need for learning and growth”).

If you believe dating is about being rescued or swept off your feet, you’re doing it wrong.

The only person who can truly rescue you is you. Often times, women get swept up in this notion of being rescued by a man who will take away all of their problems or will fill the voids in their lives.

For instance, a woman might want a man who has a lot of money because she’s not financially savvy. Or, she might want a man with perfect abs because she feels deficient about her own body. Or, she might want a man who is motivated and can motivate her because she has a difficult time motivating herself. Rather than looking for someone to save you from yourself or validate you, rescue and validate yourself first. Be — or commit to becoming — the person who you want to date.

If you believe you should run from your fears while dating, you’re doing it wrong.

The journey of dating (or, as I like to call it, your entrepreneurial dating and love venture) requires you to confront your fears instead of running from them. When you run from your fears, your heart and ego may initially feel safe and protected, but you’ll never get to where you want to go.

When you actually confront and stand up to your fears, you get to see what you’re made of. Ironically, the most loving thing you can do for yourself in your dating life is to face your fears by saying, “Thanks for helping out; I see what you’re trying to do and I appreciate your concern. But you know what, I got this. I’ll take it from here!” And then, take action despite the fear you feel.

If you’re looking at dating as a means to an end, you’re doing it wrong.

Dating isn’t just about finding a hubby; it’s about discovering who you are, who you want to become and what type of man and relationship you’re looking to have. But the truth is, once you’ve found your life partner, your journey doesn’t end when you say the words “I do.” Imagine a budding entrepreneur who has raised one million dollars in financing for her venture.

She shouts, “Hooray, we did it!” But the initial seed money isn’t the goal; the goal is a successful company. The same is true when it comes to matters of the heart. Indeed, getting married doesn’t mean you have to stop learning and growing. Now, you just have someone with whom to learn and to grow alongside you. In essence, you are beginning an entrepreneurial venture with someone else to create lasting love together. Your love life is a lifelong commitment.

Photo via We Heart It