So you want to find “the one,” eh? You’re sick and tired of all the dating apps and websites and trying to meet people in your kickball league? And how many awkward first dates can you go on to find a “normal” person? And what’s with all the fake personalities and flaky people who seem more interested in themselves and can’t be bothered to make a slight change in their schedule to, you know, go out with you?
If this describes the majority of your romantic life, I want you to open up your mind a little and start looking at things a little differently from now on.
First, consider this: everyone wants to be with the perfect partner, but few people want to be the perfect partner.
I think the vast majority of problems around “finding someone” are caused by uneven expectations like this.
But when you flip this on its head and you start taking a little more responsibility in this area of your life—when you start focusing on what kind of life you want to live and what kind of partner you want to be—you’ll start to see all the flakes and narcissists and liars fade into the background. You’ll start to make genuine connections with people that you’ll make each other’s lives more enjoyable.
For years, I probably obsessed a little too much over this part of my life. But after stumbling through one unhealthy relationship after another, I learned a very important lesson: the best way to find an amazing person is to become an amazing person.
So, if you’re willing to have an open mind, and take a painful look at yourself, then read on.
The root of all unattractiveness is neediness. The root of all attractiveness is non-neediness.
Those are bold words. So what is neediness?
Neediness occurs when you place a higher priority on what others think of you than what you think of yourself.
Any time you alter your words or behavior to fit someone else’s needs rather than your own, that is needy. Any time you lie about your interests, hobbies, or background, that is needy. Any time you pursue a goal to impress others rather than fulfill yourself, that is needy.
Whereas most people focus on what behavior is attractive/unattractive, what determines neediness (and therefore, attractiveness) is the why behind your behavior—that is, your true intentions. You can say the coolest thing or do what everyone else does, but if you do it for the wrong reason, it will come off as needy and desperate and turn people off.
The vast majority of people can sense needy behavior right away—and it’s a major turn off. The reason for this is that neediness is actually a form of manipulation, and people have a keen nose for manipulative bullshit.
Think about it, if you’re acting needy, you’re trying to get someone to think of you in a certain way or act a certain way towards you for your own benefit. Think about the way you feel when someone is blatantly trying to sell you something with high-pressure, salesy tricks. It just feels wrong. It’s a similar feeling when someone is acting in a certain way just to get you to like them.
Now, we all get needy at times because, of course, we do care about what others think of us. That’s a fact of human nature. But the key here is that, at the end of the day, you should care more about what you think of yourself than what others think.
Examples of neediness in your life
How needy/non-needy you are permeates everything in your life and is reflected in all your behavior. And I mean all of it.
A few examples:
- A needy person wants their friends to think they’re cool or funny or smart and will constantly try to impress them with their coolness or humor or smart opinions about everything. A non-needy person just enjoys spending time with their friends for the sake of spending time with them and doesn’t feel the need to perform around them.
- A needy person buys clothes based on whether or not they think other people will think they look good in them (or at least what they think is “safe” to wear). A non-needy person buys clothes based on their own personal sense of style they’ve developed over time.
- A needy person stays at a soul-crushing job they hate because of the prestige it gives them in the eyes of their friends, family, and peers. A non-needy person values their time and skills more than what other people think and will find work that fulfills and challenges them based on their own values.
- A needy person will try to impress a date by dropping hints about how much money they make or important people they know or dated or where they went to school. A non-needy person genuinely just tries to get to know the other person to find out if they’re compatible with one another.
TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF
No one can see your value as a person if you don’t value yourself first. And taking care of yourself, when done from a place of non-neediness, is what demonstrates that you value yourself.
Now, there’s a fine line between taking care of yourself for the right and wrong reasons. If you do these things in order to get others to like you, you’ve already lost (that’s needy behavior, remember?). You should take care of yourself because you genuinely want to be a healthy, intelligent, well-rounded individual for the sake of being a healthy, intelligent, well-rounded individual that values your own self-worth over what others think of you.
Think of it this way: people won’t love you until you love yourself.
So with that said, here’s a list of some of the major areas of your life you should focus on first (if you don’t already):
- Health – Taking care of your physical and mental health is the single biggest step you can take towards improving your life. It has the biggest, most enduring impact on virtually every other area of your life, including dating and relationships.
Besides making you look better, consistently eating right and exercising simply makes you feel better on a day-to-day basis. When you feel better—when you have more energy and your mood is raised a little—it’s a lot easier to get your ass out of the house and into the world so you can engage with people genuinely and confidently. You’re also more pleasant to be around.
And if you have any past traumas or psychological issues that need to be dealt with, do it. Talk to friends and relatives and get therapy if you need it. You’re ultimately the one who can help yourself the most, but it’s okay if you need a little help in this area. Get it taken care of.
- Finances – Money is a major source of stress for a lot of people. It can be so stressful, in fact, that most people end up ignoring a lot of their financial problems altogether. This, in turn, leads to a vicious cycle, where ignoring your money problems only makes them worse and you end up even more stressed as time goes on.
Long-term stress like this makes you less attractive. It saps your energy, causes health issues, and generally makes you a dick to be around. So if this describes you, it’s time to get real about your finances. Learn about personal finance. Cut out waste and find ways to make more money in the short and long term. Open a savings account for emergencies. Pay down debt as quickly as possible. Learn the basics of investing.
In short, get this area of your life handled so it’s not dragging you down in other areas.
- Career – To put it bluntly, no one wants to be around someone—let alone date someone—who complains about their job all the time. Look, I get it, not everyone can have their dream jobs or start a billion-dollar business tomorrow. We’re all born with varying levels of raw talent in one area or another, and sometimes our talents and passions can be turned into careers.
Other times, we have to work “normal” jobs to make ends meet and pursue our talents and passions on the side. But regardless of your current situation, there is absolutely some action you can take, right now, towards finding meaningful work that you enjoy, or at least work you don’t dread. Apply for new jobs. Go to job fairs and network with people. Take classes and develop useful skills that you enjoy. Learn how to interview better and how to negotiate better terms of employment.
- Social life – If you end up at the same three or four bars with the same three or four people every weekend and then wonder why you can’t meet interesting, attractive people who you can connect with—well, just think about how backward that is for a moment.
Developing an active social life not only makes for a more fulfilling, enjoyable life, it also puts you in contact with more (and different) people, upping your chances of meeting someone you click with.
I’ll cover this more in the next section, but for now, a few ideas to get you started are things like exploring new hobbies and interests, taking an art class, signing up for martial arts or yoga, joining a community sports league, etc. Do things that get you off your ass and out interacting with people. This will pay off immensely in all areas your life.
You’ll notice that all of these areas take quite a bit of time and effort to develop. In fact, you’ll probably never stop working on each of them to some degree, and that’s okay. The best way to get these areas of your life handled is to develop healthy, consistent habits around them.
And the point isn’t to reach some state of nirvana in your life where you have six-pack abs, a bazillion dollars, and a packed social schedule with thousands of friends and then, FINALLY, you’ll suddenly find true love. The point is to just always be working towards being the best version of yourself you can be at any given time.
WHERE TO FIND TRUE LOVE
Are you deeply interested in social justice? Are you a health nut? Are you a party animal or socialite? Are you really into art and music? Or maybe you love the outdoors?
Develop your interests first, simply for the joy and pleasure you get from experiencing them. Then, as a byproduct, you will meet people who share your values and are attracted to you based on who you are, rather than what you say or how you act.
Here’s a slightly ridiculous example to illustrate my point: an intelligent woman who’s devoted to her career as a scientist probably won’t have the best luck meeting men she’s compatible with by competing in wet T-shirt contests. Not that everyone who goes to wet T-shirt contests is stupid, it’s just that she’d be better of developing more intellectual pursuits she’s interested in so she can meet people whose interests and values are more aligned with her own. Things like signing up for language classes, volunteering at a local museum, attending art galleries and lectures, and so on.
So if you’re really into sci-fi or Dungeons and Dragons or 8th-century Medieval art, don’t go to clubs and bars looking for love. Similarly, if you like quiet nights at home and enjoy knitting, then joining a skydiving club might not be the first place you should look to expand your social circle and meet potential dates.
It’s okay to experiment with expanding your interests, but as always, do it for you, not to meet Mr./Mrs. Perfect.
A word on online dating and apps
I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with online dating and studies have shown that more and more people are meeting online and having long-term relationships. It’s definitely doable and it can be a great way to meet people, especially if you’re new to a city, extremely busy with work, or just “getting back out there.”
With that said, most people don’t use online dating very effectively. If you’re having problems with people being flaky and/or lukewarm, well I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it’s not them, it’s you.
You see, online dating and dating apps are great for meeting people quickly and efficiently—and that’s about it. After that, it’s up to you to be bold and clearly communicate what you’re looking for.
This will freak some people out. This will cause some people to “ghost” on you. And I’m here to tell you that this is a good thing.
Think about it: the people who freak out and ghost on you, they are the flakes and wishy-washy people you’re so tired of going on dates with. It’s best to weed them out as quickly as possible and not play into their wishy-washy games. This is doubly true the older you get.
If you tell someone on a first date that you’re looking for a long-term relationship and it scares them off, then you just did your future self a huge favor.
Notice I’m not saying you should tell someone you want a long-term relationship with them on a first date. That’s probably an indication of an enormous amount of neediness. But if simply stating your general intentions freaks somebody out, then the reality is that they don’t want the same thing as you and/or they have their own issues to work out. Learn to see it as a blessing when someone eliminates themselves for you.
Your job is to simply express yourself honestly and not be ashamed of that.
HONEST COMMUNICATION AND VULNERABILITY
A dizzying amount of “dating advice” out there is utter bullshit. So much of it focuses on the “tactics” and “strategies” of attracting someone that it completely misses the whole point of the joy of meeting someone you connect with.
“Say this, don’t say that. Wait 3.46 days before calling/texting them back. Touch them on the left arm once every 7 minutes while sub-communicating your sociosexual status. Smile, but not TOO much. Act subtly interested, but not TOO eager. Always keep them guessing to keep up the ‘mystery’.”
Yeah, fuck that.
Look, part of being a mature, functioning adult in the world is being able to communicate and express yourself honestly on an emotional level. For many people, especially those who’ve had troubles in their romantic lives, this is hard. They’ve either never been taught how to be vulnerable in a healthy way or they’ve gotten so jaded about dating that they figure, what’s the point? So they throw up their guard before anyone has the chance to really get to know who they really are.
Vulnerability, when done correctly, is actually a show of strength and power. Telling someone you like them and want to get to know them better doesn’t “give them all the power” unless you’re entirely invested in the way they respond to you.
If, instead, you are merely expressing yourself to make your desires known and you’re willing to accept the consequences, good or bad, others will notice that. And it’s incredibly attractive.
But before moving on, I want to make something clear about vulnerability: this is not another “tactic” or “strategy” to use to get people to like you. That, by definition, is neediness (we always come back to neediness, don’t we?).
A person who is truly secure and comfortable with being vulnerable is simply expressing themselves and saying, “This is who I am, faults and all. You don’t have to like me for me to be OK with that.”
And when people don’t like you for who you are? Well then, fuck ‘em.
HEED THE LAW OF FUCK YES OR NO
Years ago, I wrote a post called “Fuck Yes or No”. People liked it. They shared it on Facebook and sent it to their friends. They posted it on their dating profiles. They called their mothers crying and asked why they weren’t taught this in school. They nominated me for a Nobel Prize.
OK, that last part didn’t happen, but the point is that it resonated with a lot of people.
The Law of Fuck Yes or No is quite simple:
The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” states that, in dating and relationships, both parties must be a “fuck yes” about each other. Why? Because attractive, non-needy, high self-worth people don’t have time for people who they are not excited to be with and who are not excited to be with them.
The Law of Fuck Yes or No applies to meeting and dating someone, sex, long-term relationships, hell, even friendships.
If you meet someone and one or both of you aren’t a “fuck yes” for seeing each other again, that’s a “fuck no.” If you go on a first date and aren’t a “fuck yes” about a second date, that’s a “fuck no.”
And it’s not just idealistic, passionate romance I’m talking about here. You might be going through a rough patch with someone, but you’re both a “fuck yes” for working on it. Awesome. Do that.
If you’ve been with someone for years and one or both of you aren’t a “fuck yes” for being together for the foreseeable future, that’s a “fuck no.”
In any long-term relationship, problems arise and arguments are bound to happen. But a good sign of being “fuck yes” with someone is that you still want to be together even when you’re pissing each other off.
The point isn’t that you won’t have any apprehensions if you’re “the one” for each other. The point is that you find yourselves saying “fuck yes” together for each step in the relationship despite the apprehensions you might have. From the first date to the second date to the 100th date, to doing the naked horizontal electric slide together, to making it “official,” to fighting with each other, to moving in together, to getting married, to buying insurance together, and so on.
When you think about it, the Law of Fuck Yes or No is actually a byproduct of everything we’ve covered so far. Non-needy people who take care of themselves and communicate honestly don’t have time for people who play games or are wishy-washy about being with them. They have too much self-respect and don’t care about what wishy-washy people think of them.
And so, if you take nothing else away from this, just know that the way to find true love is to be the best version of yourself and do it unapologetically and without shame. You’ll attract people into your life who connect with you on your level and, just as importantly, you’ll weed out all the people who don’t.
And that’s the whole point, isn’t it?