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How to improve your dating life

How to improve your dating life

If you're on the dating scene in 2024, you've probably accumulated a certain amount of clutter. Maybe it's an outdated online profile that you can't seem to improve yourself, or a match you keep sending messages to despite not seeing a future together. Perhaps you are still afraid of someone who has possessed you.

These forms of romantic hoarding are symptoms of an app-driven dating culture in which people have a habit of constantly swiping and looking for new prospects, even if “it's not necessarily the best thing for your mental health,” Nick Fager, a licensed mental health professional, said. Consultant who sees clients in New York and California.

“Every one of these people that you're meeting with, that you're striking up a conversation with, are taking up some mental space,” he said. “You can only take on so many new relationships before you start feeling some jealousy.”

Mr. Fager and other mental health and dating experts share strategies that can help de-clutter your dating life and bring a new sense of clarity and peace.

If your love life feels chaotic and confusing, spend some time identifying your goals, says Samantha Burns, a licensed mental health counselor and dating coach in Boston. Are you on the rebound and just looking to have fun? Are you looking for a long term partner?

“A disorganized dating life feels disorganized,” she said. “It feels like you don't have any real framework for your dating decisions.”

Lamont White, a professional matchmaker and dating coach in Atlanta, said it can help to look back at past relationships and past dates, and write down what you liked or what you missed. He takes a strict stance on dating if you can't clearly articulate what you want. “People who are not dating with intention should stay out of the dating pool,” Mr White said.

Therapy can also be a useful resource “to help people be really, really, really self-aware in the dating scenario,” says Lisa Blum, a clinical psychologist in Pasadena, California. This may mean opening up about childhood experiences and past relationships with a professional. “You have to fix your chooser so that you don't get invited into relationships that don't really serve you,” she said.

Dating clutter, like all electronic detritus, can easily end up on your phone. Experts said there are no strict rules, but Mr. White recommends not using more than two dating apps at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Ms. Burns recommends communicating with no more than three to five people at a time — and making a mental commitment to send messages to anyone you “swipe right” on. This, he said, helps ensure that swiping is not a “mindless process” or a temporary “ego-boosting” process. It can also help, he said, to set time limits for swiping and communicating with matches, like 20 minutes a day — and even deleting contacts or conversations that have failed.

If you feel any kind of connection with a match, try to take your conversation offline as soon as possible, Mr. Fager said. He acknowledged how difficult and time-consuming it can be to go on a date or call someone, but sending constant messages also takes a lot of time and mental effort.

“I think it's better to save your energy for that one meeting,” Mr. Fager said. This way, he adds, you're not pinning your romantic hopes on “30 different” unsuitable matches.

Mr. Fager is aware that there are times when ghosting may be necessary, given that matches can sometimes result in foul or even Dangerous, But closing the circle when you're able to can be restorative for both of you, he said.

“I completely understand the impulse to ghost. I've done it,'' Mr. Fager admitted. “But I think people don't realize how much it promotes things like burnout.”

The lack of closure can be emotionally draining on all sides.

That said, keep it simple. Instead of prolonging an online conversation or lingering on a “situation” that's going nowhere, you can say something like “It doesn't feel like a match,” Mr. Fager said, or even Might as well just say “goodbye.”

Dr. Blum said, there are often moments in the early stages of getting to know someone that can provide a glimpse of how they will treat you in the future. Focusing on them can help provide clarity, he said.

Dr. Blum gave the example of a friend who had a promising conversation with a man she met at a restaurant. But on their first date, he insisted on taking her to a seafood restaurant, even though she told him she was a vegetarian. He proceeded to order a massive seafood tower, while she chose the only salad from the menu.

“We make excuses and try to explain away the behavior,” Dr. Blum said. Don't pin your hopes on a match that starts on the wrong foot: “It's all part of the chaos right from the start,” he said.

https://static01.nyt.com/images/2024/01/03/well/03WELL-DECLUTTER-DATING-LIFE/03WELL-DECLUTTER-DATING-LIFE-facebookJumbo.jpg

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