Now that you know who you are, what would you like in a partner? I’m not necessarily talking about the rest of your life — after all, you may very well want different things in someone at one stage or another of your life — but it makes no sense to date someone who loves kids and animals if you want a lifestyle of travel and high adventure and risk with a partner.
Similarly, if sex is crucial in your life, dating someone who thinks sex is dirty is somewhat counterproductive. Look at a specific list of the characteristics that would balance your good and bad points. For example, if you’re shy, would you be happier with someone who is more outgoing or shy like yourself? There is no right or wrong answer here, just good questions.
Being the real you
Once you’re aware of who you are, you can begin working on how you’re you. You can look at your body language, your wardrobe, your vocabulary, your tone of voice, your fears, and your desires and make sure that there is some
consistency between what you truly want and what your behavior indicates you want. It’s amazing how often we all give out the wrong clues in an attempt to pretend to be someone we’re not. When you’re more knowledgeable about
yourself, you can hold a mirror up to your behavior and see what others see — and respond to. Think about how you present yourself and determine whether you send out signals that are consistent with what you want.
Are you timid and looking at the floor or confident and covering up sweaty palms with a bit of swagger? Are you noisy because you’re fearful no one will listen to you, or do you whisper so that people have to stand close because you’re afraid of your own power? Do you stoop to appear short or fluff your hair to appear bigger?
A personal ad with no purse strings attached
In Chapter 3, I talk about writing a real personal ad. Here I want you to use the gimmick simply to get in touch with you. The major distinction between a real personal ad and this exercise is that real ads are limited in number of
words and just focus on the tip of the iceberg. Without these restrictions, you can look well below the H2O level.
One of the quickest ways to make sure that what you’re advertising for and what you want are the same is to write a personal ad that is just for fun and practice and that will, most likely, never see the light of day.
A personal ad can tell you very quickly whether what you want and how you’re advertising are out of whack. If you’re looking for someone with whom to settle down, for example, then looks should be less important to you than stability, sincerity, and fertility. If you love to travel, you shouldn’t be trolling for a homebody. To use your personal ad for this exercise, look at what you said you wanted in your mate (your fantasy) and what you said about yourself (your reality). Look for compatible or complementary traits.
Mixed messages and other near disasters
For example, if you listed that you want stability and commitment in your About Me section but listed adventurous risk-taker in the About Him/Her section of the ad, you’ve got some work to do in order to achieve some semblance of compatibility. In determining whether the lists are compatible, look for overlap in words or ideas. If you see “fun-loving” in your list, you probably want to see “fun-loving” — or a concept like it — in the fantasy date’s list, too; be careful if your fantasy date’s list includes qualities that conflict with yours, like “down-to-earth and serious.”
You’ll think of them as a stick-in-the-mud, and they’ll see you as frivolous, flirtatious, and untrustworthy. You may be saying to yourself, “Hey look, I’m only talking about a date.” But don’t go off in a direction that makes no sense (why date someone of another faith if you would never allow yourself to fall in love with that person or marry out of the faith? Why date someone who smokes if you hate smoking?) unless you simply want a diversion, which is expensive in terms of time and energy and emotion. Of course, if you want to do that, it’s fine with me. Just make sure that you make your intentions clear upfront to all parties concerned, including yourself.
The hairdresser, the psychic, and the cue ball
Do not be tempted to send this ad anywhere. Personal ads can certainly jazz up your social life, but don’t waste the time or the money on a personal ad until you have a bit of conventional dating under your belt. You want to make
sure that you have most of the details worked out before you take the act on the road.
Tuck the ad away in your notebook for a while and go on to the next chapter. If, after dating for a year or so, you feel like you know what you’re doing but would like to widen the dating pool, you’ll be prepared. Do read the ad again to make sure that everything is accurate in terms of how you see yourself and your prospective date. (Of course, it certainly should have changed a bit once you’ve been out there — nothing’s quite as valuable as a bit of experience.)
You’re now most of the way through armchair dating. Just a bit more and you can get out there and strut your stuff.