This blog is a cross post of a post that I originally wrote for the Urban Dater, published March 22, 2016
“Stop looking and you’ll find the right person.  The right person will come to you.”
“Don’t worry about finding the right partner, it’ll just happen.”

How many of us have heard of this ‘advice’ at some point?  I have and found just the opposite to be true.

In my own love life, I was single during most of college (where there are singles everywhere), and was hoping to meet someone but was not actively looking, and guess what?  Love didn’t come knocking on my door.

On the other hand, when I started actively looking and making an effort to talk to more women post-college, I got more dates.  As I continued to date more, I improved my own life and got smarter about choosing the right person, and the quality of girls got better.  Through it all, I had to consistently take a chance, step out of my comfort zone, fail a bunch of times, learn from my mistakes, and try it all again – a little wiser and stronger each time.

When I was 27, many of my close friends were in relationships, and I decided it was time to focus seriously on finding a long term relationship.  After four years of dating where I dated 89 different girls and had 10 relationships, I found that I was finally getting closer to meeting the right person when:

- I made it a priority to go out and socialize several times a week and organize get togethers.

- I was efficiently and wisely looking, meaning that I would quickly filter out girls who weren’t looking for the same type of relationship, and didn’t have common values and interests, and move onto girls who were a match.

- I put myself in situations where I was doing something that made me happy (like running, teaching dance, or attending events where I was learning something or experiencing a new adventure), and where there were potential singles as well, so it was a win in that it was a worthwhile event even if I didn’t meet anyone.

- I asked out and dated a lot of different girls, had many failures and break ups, and learned more about what I really needed in a partner, what I definitely didn’t want, and what I could compromise – because it made me recognize, appreciate, and hold on to the right person when she did come along.

- I had my life together (my health was good, my career was going well, I had a friend or two around as wingmen, my family was taken care of), which made me more confident about my future and grateful for what I had, as well as less concerned about rejections.

When You Should Stop Looking (Temporarily)

There are times when you should take a break from dating, and those times are if:

• You’re looking desperately
• After a bad breakup
• If you have no idea what type of relationship you want, or
• If you need to take care of other life priorities (your health, your family, your job prospects, etc.).

Love doesn’t fall on your lap. The odds are rare to find someone single with the same interests and values, who doesn’t have any dealbreakers, who is attractive and thinks the same of you, and is interested in dating now. It is likely that one major thing will not be compatible, so if you’re single and want to be in a healthy, happy long-term relationship, know that it takes time and a lot of trial and error to find someone who is right for you.

If you’ve reached the third date, that’s a great sign, because most people cut bait between date one and three.  The third date should feel more relaxed than the previous two dates.  Whereas in date one and two, there is a bit of pressure going into it and concerns about making a mistake, date three is more about getting to know each other better without the need for a fancy night out.  I think date three is a good time to invite that person over, or to go over their place. 
This was the first dinner that Alena made for me.

For our third date, we spent it at my place enjoying dinner and a movie.  Alena knew the way to my heart was through my stomach, and she brought over a delicious dinner of sautéed shrimp, salad, a mix of sweet and regular baked potatoes, and some tomatoes with mozzarella cheese.  That was the first time someone that I dated cooked me dinner, and it was a sign to me that she was a keeper, because she was putting in the effort too.  The same night, she looked at my fridge, saw that I had healthy food in there, and told me months later that it got me some points, since I was walking the walk about eating healthy, not just talking the talk like other guys did.

Before the Third Date

- Keep your options open.  Before the third date, I think it is fair game to keep your options open and date other people casually if you haven’t committed to dating anyone exclusive.  It’s not about being a player – it’s about dating efficiently.  It's about giving yourself as many options as possible in case something doesn’t work out, and not making the mistake of going too fast with anyone too soon.  The first or second date can be unpredictable.  The person you’re dating may be dating someone else casually, and may be gone tomorrow.  It’s good to be dating someone else casually if possible so you don’t put all your eggs in one basket too soon, and you don’t get too head over heels for someone, which can scare them away. 

But I caution about keeping the options open too far into the distance – after three or more dates, you should have a better sense of who is a better fit, and you should respectfully narrow the dates down.

- Rejection is likely to happen.  You’ll find as you go on more dates, most of them end before date three.  It’s normal and happens to everyone, and although it can sting after a while of going through it over and over again, just move on and take whatever lessons you can draw from them.  Write the experience down in a dating journal.  Rejection sucks, but I can assure you that it’ll pass, and when you meet the right person, you’ll look back and may even feel like you dodged a bullet!

Self Awareness + Self Improvement + Time + Opportunity + Luck = Dating Success

In our first blog of this two part series, we talked about the 5 key factors for dating success and the importance of preparation.  In this blog, we’re going to discuss the remaining 3 factors: time, opportunity, and luck.

“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”  - Bruce Lee, Martial Arts Legend

In one of my favorite books, Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell said that you need about 10,000 hours of practice to achieve something major, and I think it’s true for dating.  If you’re just starting to date, understand that it can take some time, perhaps years, before meeting the right person.  You need all the time you can get.  And that means:

- Making dating a priority.  When I decided that I was ready to settle down and find a relationship, I decided that I was not going to pursue a management position at work for a few years, knowing the extra time commitment working after hours would eat up my time dating.  I have the rest of my life to work, but I only had a certain window of time to date and get this right.  After I married Alena, I pursued and landed a management position. 
- Dating efficiently.  In other words, don’t waste time dating the wrong people, and increase as much time as you can dating people who match you and what you’re looking for.  It’s not just about the quantity of dates, it’s about getting a high quantity of quality dates.  In my last year of being single and by the time I met Alena, my dating efficiency was high.  I knew what I wanted and didn’t want, and was able to turn down girls who were incompatible from the first conversation or first date, even attractive one’s, and focus my energy towards girls who had similar interests and goals in life.