Your network predicts nearly every opportunity (career, platonic & romantic) you’ll have in life. – Paul C. Brunson
If the above is accurate, some of us are in big trouble. Although the internet and social media platforms have expanded our reach tenfold compared to decades past, it still feels smaller in terms of dating. Is it because we’ve somehow found ways to shrink our ‘vast’ networks or because we don’t leverage their full potential? Is it due to applying unrealistic (and unnecessary) rules to our dating pool or just nature’s way of forcing us to work harder for love? Do we simply enjoy having an inordinate number of ways to (over)complicate our dating lives?
Instead of having your network work against you, here are 4 ways to make your dating network work harder for you!
1) Venture into new territories – Everyone looking for love has been advised to go digital with dating. Largely because we crave comfort so we limit ourselves to communities, jobs, and pools of friends within a 15-mile radius. The downside isn’t merely turning our backs on the rest of the world, for fear of bringing crazy to the local Starbucks, but also the self-inflicted problems we create with these limited networks. Going online forces us to shed that which is familiar as well as expand our reach. But what about an easier first step? Try getting out of the house and doing things in your community or a neighboring town. We typically spend our days engaged in the same things, going to the same places, and hanging with the same people. Give thought to being in positions where you can find and be found. Unless The One is going to break into your home with a bouquet and chocolates, you have to venture outside of what’s comfortable. Especially if what you’ve been doing isn’t producing the desired results.
2) Yes, Forget all the Rules – Is it just me or is there an endless list of dating do’s & don’ts? I’m uncertain who authored (and mastered) the ‘Unwritten Dating Rules Guidebook‘ but I’m not buying it. There are rules about dating a friend’s ex, dating friends of your ex, dating someone in your social circle, dating a colleague, etc. While I’m certain some would argue they’re important and necessary, most rules do nothing more than validate the time-honored tradition of possessiveness in relationships. If someone is your ex, what they do and who they do it with is no longer your concern. Ironically, we tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people so if you can’t date anyone in your circle (due to rules regarding their previous attachment to your friends), you’ve limited the majority of your opportunities to find compatibility! (Yet another reason for #1.) Maybe it’s naive to think we could stop forcing our feelings on others and allow them to lead full lives–including dating, loving, and marrying whomever they desire. Unfortunately, that’s not our reality. We believe in girl/guy codes and ‘ownership rights.’ Working your network means forgetting these meaningless restrictions and doing what it takes to make the most out of your dating life. Imposing limits on how a person lives and loves isn’t friendship, it’s manipulation and control.
3) Build your street team – Take a minute and think about restaurants, services and products you’ve tried simply because a friend or acquaintance 1) told you about it and 2) gave a glowing review. Word of mouth is powerful and has done wonders for many of the world’s largest goods and services. So why not apply similar logic in dating? Be strategic in your approach by ensuring you have an equipped street team, sans the bullhorns and posters of course. The village can’t help if they don’t know you’re looking! Tell people your interests and allow them to introduce you to prospects. Friends and family have the best vantage point when it comes to understanding our strengths and opportunity areas. They can identify where you flourish and where you flop. Plus, people always think they know what’s best for your life, maybe it’s time to put ’em to the test.
4) Know yourself first – Before you can create with someone, you must feel complete by yourself. The first time I heard the dating terms ‘negotiables’ and ‘non-negotiables’ was during a late night discussion with friends while in business school. Roughly seven of us sat on my dining room floor debating love, life and everything in between. When asked about evaluating a woman as potential wife material, a guy friend reiterated the importance of knowing what you can and cannot accept. Negotiables suggests flexibility and latitude while non-negotiables help clarify the hard points. Often, little time is spent uncovering what we like, dislike, embrace and repel. Rather than knowing what we want and need, we accept what’s offered. Don’t compromise your vision for someone that has yet to prove purpose in your life. Be confident in who you are and what drives you. Don’t feel ashamed for having preferences. The key is understanding just how imperative those preferences are when faced with a new suitor.
How are you Working your dating Network? Add your comments below!