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Spoiler: I’m in a wonderful and loving relationship since 2015. The following text doesn’t include much information about that on purpose.
On a cultural note: Whenever I use the word “dating”, I mean the German way of dating which is: going out for coffee or dinner, getting to know each other, spending time together. I don’t mean “serious relationship”, which I think is the American meaning of dating.
This is an honest letter to all the single ladies (and gents ;)) out there, who don’t wanna be single anymore. The first part of this blog post consists of my personal stories and the second part are the 13 dating tips as promised.
Change always requires energy, time and willingness from the person who wishes to change, so there’s really no quick fix or magic involved. There’s a lot of soul searching and honesty towards oneself though.
I hope you enjoy reading this piece and I hope even more that it inspires you to take action! You’re personal happiness lies in your own hands! Reading time is about 16 minutes.
I’ve been single most of my adult life. I’ve had 3 serious relationships and the longest of these lastet 1.5 years. So out of 11 years of potential relationship time (I was a late bloomer and was 18 when I met my first bf) I’ve been single 7 years in total. And most of the time, I enjoyed being single.
Was I happy being single? Yes and No.
Here’s why I was happy:
Independent Woman Part 1
I was independent and could do whatever I wanted without having to consider someone else and their feelings. Being single and living by oneself is a special kind of freedom. I was accountable to no one, didn’t need anyone, always had a job to fully sustain myself, and when I decided to go back to university, I just did.
I was happy by myself (probably also owed to the fact that I grew up as an only child). Being independent always sounds so glorious, but here’s the thing: It helped me to grow up and to own my (sometimes not so smart) decisions. And it is a great feeling to not depend on anybody.
Living Alone – I don’t Need a Man
I had a beautiful apartment in the heart of Stuttgart that I adored. It was my woman cave, that I had to take care of myself (my mum was right about tidying up btw) and I loved every second of living there. I spent endless hours reading on my couch, watching Gossip Girl (yes, that was my thing back then) and learned how to cook a decent meal.
I had friends over when I felt like it and when I didn’t, that was fine as well. Also, I learned a lot about how to maintain a place and am not too shabby changing lightbulbs, hanging picture frames or building any kind of IKEA furniture. Oh and I’m very capable of getting a network up and running, thank you very much.
I learned how to have friends. Ok that sounds a bit weird. Most of my friendships came to a halt when I started dating my very first boyfriend. When that relationship was over, there was no one left.
Because I was that shitty friend who focused way too hard on her then boyfriend and forgot her (very few) friends over that.
I could rekindle one friendship and met new people when I started university a few weeks later. New friendships started to blossom. Lesson learned: Don’t ever neglect your friends no matter what.
Improved Social Skills
For me it was never easy to act normal in social situations. I consider myself as socially awkward. Since I’m an introvert, it takes me some time to get comfortable with other persons. Being single forced me to put myself out there or end up as the loner girl no one wants to hang out with.
I learned how to introduce myself without staring to the ground. I learned a lot about self-esteem, communication and self-confidence. I learned how to flirt. Yes, indeed 🙂 I learned to feel good in my body. All of that was pre Youtube tutorial videos by the way, involved a lot of reading, and trial and error in real life situations.
I believe there are a couple of situations everybody needs to go through: Heartbreak for example and making mistakes to learn from. I did that a lot during my time being single. It helped me to discover more about myself, my values and preferences. It helped me to sharpen my mind, to set boundaries, and to learn when to trust my gut feeling.
Dating – The Good Stuff
My mum always told me to date a couple of men before ever thinking about marriage and family. I leaned more towards the romantic side of first and forever love as a young adult, but reality hit me hard when that first relationship failed. It left me with so many questions about men in general, about sex and about love.
After crying my heart out for months and missing my ex-boyfriend, despite having been dumped in an ugly way, I slowly made my way into the dating game. And man, my mum was right (again): Dating taught me a lot about myself, what kind of men I like, what kind of attributes I find attractive, which things turn me on and – most importantly – to own my story and be authentic.
Here’s why I wasn’t happy:
Sometimes I would encounter situations that were so beautiful, spectacular and breathtaking, that I wanted someone else to witness these with me. Why? Because I like sharing things, that make me happy, with people I love, to make them happy, too.
It’s not that I couldn’t savour the moment by myself. But here’s an example: I’ll always remember when I was standing on top of the Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro. Yep look at me solo traveling in 2008!
I looked down at the stunning landscape and I wished a loved one could be by my side (friend, family or partner) so we could marvel at one of the most gorgeous cities in the world together. I don’t know but I’ve always had this urge to share happiness with others.
Sure, I’ll never get tired to tell myself that I’m a strong, independent and empowered woman (cue Queen B!).
But, we’re human beings and we crave connection. Mental and physical connection. The more meaningful and deep the better. So, while single, I definitely missed being hugged, cuddling and having a partner in crime.
Sometimes, I’d sit on the couch and ball my eyes out. Mostly on a Sunday afternoon, when my couple friends did couple things such as breakfast in beeeed with fresh orange juice, lots and lots of cuddles, long walks through the park with their cute French Bulldog called Emma (that’s a lie, none of my friends had a Frenchie, but you get what I mean).
Not being part of that “club” and feeling like an outcast sucks. The older I grew the worse it got with friends around me getting engaged, a thousand weddings happening within one year and let’s not forget the baby bumps.
To be in love is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world and I wanted that for me! To love someone and to be loved. Having a healthy, non-toxic relationship. Feeling understood and accepted for who I am. Feeling at home.
Dating – The Ugly Stuff
Dating is not easy. It’s hard no matter which age. The thing is, once you pass a certain threshold of dates, it only gets worse in my opinion. Most of my dates after the age of 25 were bad. And I mean, really really bad. Like no silver lining visible bad.
That had also to do with me being way more picky and way less naive than back when I was starting the whole dating game. The longer I was single, the less I wanted to waste my time with strange guys, narcissists, bad boys, cheaters, imposters, machos, shallow dudes, plain idiots, drama kings, relationship phobics etc. And I recognized them faster. But why was I attracting those kind of men?
On Breaking the Cycle & Changing My Behavior
Here’s the thing: It’s easier now for me to write about my story in retrospect, but it took a lot of time and energy for me to figure the following things out.
Short version: I had a very specific type of guy, that I was attracted to. My dating pattern was very consistent. I chose the same type over and over again (unconsciously).
Journaling helped me to be more self-aware. At one point, I understood that I had to break the pattern and change the type of guy I usually would date in order to meet the right person for me and to be emotionally available to let this person into my life.
Evaluating: What’s My Type?
I started to list all men I had dated in the past and tried to find similarities in personality, profession, cultural background etc. Here’s what all of them had in common:
- Very attractive
- “Bad Boy” Attitude
- With a tendency to cheat (yes, I was “the other woman” a couple of times, sometimes by choice and sometimes I was only told after a few dates that he was taken. Nothing I’m proud of and I’m planning to write another blog post about that)
- Emotionally not available due to different reasons (e.g. insecure, not over ex, emotional baggage, in love with someone else…)
Evaluating: What’s My Pattern?
I then started another list (see how I loooove making lists?) with where I usually would meet those guys, how I would behave on dates and which of these behaviors would trigger unhappiness for me.
On a side note: I rarely dated guys that were completely unknown to me. The majority was always connected to my wider social circle. I always would at least know someone who would know someone who would know the guy.
It made me feel safer. I guess my mum showed me too many newspaper snippets about rape and murder (she cut them out and put them on the breakfast table and once I moved out she used to send them to me via WhatsApp). I love my mum so much 🙂
- Hanging out at the same spots, bars, clubs.
- Hoping to find Mr. Right in that nightlife environment.
- Wondering why that was never happening.
- When I liked a guy and we started to go out, I tried to figure out what kind of girl he liked and adjusted accordingly instead of being me.
- Not speaking my truth.
- Not wanting to see the clear signs the universe was sending me to move on.
- Choosing guys that would look good on paper in order to please others (society?).
Being More Self-Aware & Taking Action
While going through a ton of shitty dates, I often asked myself “Why me? How do I deserve this?”.
Simple answer: If I don’t treat myself a certain way, why would anyone else?
So if I didn’t start to treat myself with more respect and dignity, stand up for my values and set firm boundaries, I would go on attracting the wrong guys.
If I wasn’t ready to fully commit to a loving relationship and tear the walls down that I built around me over the years, I would never be able to open up to be vulnerable and show “the real me”.
And if that wouldn’t happen, I couldn’t attract the right person for me.
There is no “being ready” or “starting point” by the way. I learned that changing my behavior and letting go of habits that weren’t serving my well-being is a journey and that it would take a while. I made baby steps such as the following:
- I started repeating “I don’t deserve to be treated like this.” in my mind, so I wouldn’t forget.
- Whenever someone would overstep a boundary, I would say “No”.
- Whenever I shared my opinion and wasn’t taken seriously because of my looks and gender, I made it a point to go deep into the discussion – just to find out that my date had no clue about the topic in the first place.
- Whenever a man would disrespect me in any way (yeah sure, it’s always meant to be “funny” or just “a joke”), instead of smiling it away to not be seen as “difficult” or even the “uptight bitch” I would confront him. And end the date right away.
No, I didn’t win “Most Popular Girl” with that attitude, yet slowly but surely things changed. By focusing more on pleasing me instead of a random guy, my aura changed and I started to attract another type of men. Guys who weren’t afraid of a strong woman.
What else did I change consciously?
Location, Location, Location
I wasn’t looking anymore for Mr. Right in places like bars or clubs where the chances of finding a decent man in the right mindset were pretty slim to begin with.
Most of these encounters tend to be superficial and more about hooking up than finding the love of one’s life. I hear you yelling now: But where else should I look for a guy? Read on or jump to the “Tips on how to find someone” section down below 🙂
Personality over Looks
Yeah, I know, I know, that’s as obvious as “the earth is a sphere”, but hear me out: One day, I dissected the type of guy I thought I was attracted to in my journal and wrote down all things I value in a life partner.
All of a sudden I understood that looks were never my #1 priority. I’m not saying it’s completely off the radar, because I believe that there must be something about the other person in order to be attracted to each other, but looks shouldn’t be the most important thing.
I figured out, that for me things like
- sharing the same values,
- being a good person,
- sharing interests and hobbies,
- being understanding,
- a deep connection
- similar humor,
- a similar intellect,
- being able to motivate and inspire each other,
- having each other’s back,
- having longterm goals
- and having similar personality traits
are so much more important.
So here’s my advice: Be single and enjoy it. It’s a necessary phase of life. And I don’t talk about a couple of days of being single in between relationships. I mean at least a couple of months to get over your ex-partner and be ready to move on.
Go out till dawn, have breakfast at some random coffeeshop and go to bed at noon. Do that until you don’t like it anymore, until you get sick and tired of the nightlife, so you don’t get FOMO in your forties (aka midlife crisis). Travel with friends, do that road trip next weekend. Have fun, make out with the hot bartender.
Regret nothing. Because that’s what life is all about, gathering experiences.
Learn as much about yourself as you can. What are your values in life? What’s your favorite hobby? Which are your sexual preferences? What kind of food do you hate more than anything else? What’s your favorite music?
Get your priorities straight. Do you wanna have kids or would you rather not? Go and learn something new, try unknown stuff (not talking about drugs here btw – I’ve never done anything other than alcohol). Get excited about something meaningful to you!
The older I got, the more complicated it seemed to me to find someone because I knew exactly what I liked and wanted and what I absolutely didn’t want. This is an advantage (yeah it feels counterintuitive doesn’t it), because you will know right from the start if someone is good for you (or isn’t) and you won’t waste time trying to figure out useless “what if” scenarios.
It took me a long time to meet my perfect match. It happened random through a work related encounter. He wasn’t my (previous) type – and is exactly the kind of man I want to grow old with. This didn’t just happen, I put a lot of work into my transformation to be prepared for a moment like that.
13 Tips on How to Find That Special Someone if You’re Ready to Start a Relationship
Be Comfortable to be Alone.
You are the one person you spend the most time with, so better be your very own best friend. Why?
- Wanting to be in a relationships out of fear just so you’re not alone isn’t a good reason for a partner and won’t help you making healthy decisions.
- No one wants to be needed, but wanted. Watch Esther Perel’s Talk about desire in long-term relationships if you want to know more about that topic.
- If you keep selling yourself short, you’ll become desperate for anyone’s attention – and you will be treated that way.
- Once you’re comfortable with yourself, your aura will change similar to when you’re in a relationship (you know, when suddenly all those guys who used to ignore you want to go out with you now that you have a boyfriend, ugh).
- Start with baby steps. Here are some ideas:
- Pamper yourself on a Sunday afternoon at home.
- Go to a café by yourself and observe people.
- Sit in the park and read a book.
- Take a walk alone and observe nature and other people.
- Make yourself a fancy dinner.
- Take yourself out on a date e.g. that restaurant you wanted to go to for ages, that movie no one wants to watch but you.
- Take a class and learn something new.
It’s all about practicing being comfortable alone. It gets easier with time.
The first time I was sitting in a café by myself I was terrified. What were others thinking about me? Were they wondering if I don’t have friends? I don’t care anymore what random people think about me and it’s so relieving. Practice, practice, practice.
The 2nd Look
Take a second look at guys you didn’t consider before. Sometimes, the men that aren’t “your type” are exactly the kind of person that would be perfect for you (a nice guy instead of a bad boy for a change).
Write a list with everything you wish for in a life partner. Now read through it carefully. Which of those traits do you bring to the table? You can’t expect something from someone else without offering anything in return. Maybe it’s time to get to work?
Change the location to get away from the nightlife scene and hook-up culture. There are so many other places where you could meet someone great if you just put yourself out there.
What are your interests and hobbies? Which place have you never been to but wanted to visit for ages? The chance that you meet a person with the same interest are so much higher if you target specific places instead of going to random locations.
Here are a couple of ideas that would work for me:
- The gym,
- a new workout course,
- art galleries,
- at university,
- through work (I’m not encouraging AT work, the potential for awkward situations and shitstorms is massive, so never EFF the company!),
- your favorite coffeeshop,
- charity work,
- going for a walk with a rescue dog once a week,
- random places like your neighborhood or supermarket (yeah yeah I know I said to minimize random places… but it doesn’t hurt to include these either if nothing else is working).
Leave your comfort zone, learn a new hobby and attend e.g. a cooking class to meet new people with the same interest. Go to that friend’s home party you always skip.
Involve your Tribe
Tell your best friends about your plan and ask them for a blind date set up.
Ditch Online Dating
I’m not a big fan of online dating or dating apps. In my opinion, they enforce the hook up culture and desensitize us by putting a screen in between the human interaction. Swiping makes it way too easy to get rid of people. Since another option is just one swipe away, why bother with that one person? Why settle? Hello FOMO!
I tried online dating in 2012 and gave up after 4 real life dates. Two of the guys I met were nice but there was no connection, the other two were creepy AF and rank very high on the worst dates in my entire dating history.
When I moved to Dubai and didn’t know a single soul I tried Tinder. I met about 3 nice people – and I swiped A LOT. About 99% of the men were downright creeps and/or psychopaths. It wasn’t the right approach for me (not even to find friends) and maybe it isn’t for you either?
Be honest about your intentions when you meet someone you like. Make it clear that you’re not looking for a one-night stand but for something long-term. Don’t have a one-night stand and hope the guy will fall in love with you afterwards. That’s not gonna happen.
Spare yourself the drama and heartbreak and part ways with no hard feelings. But: Please don’t talk about marriage and which color the nursery should have on the first date. That’s a little too honest and a sure-fire way to scare away anybody.
People won’t Change
Use your new men selection filter and changed dating pattern. If someone doesn’t fit the qualities you look for in a life partner, then leave him alone. People don’t change. Don’t waste your precious time and move on.
Be your Most Loyal Fan
Do whatever feels right to YOU (and not for your sister, parents or best friend). Trust YOUR gut feeling.
Be yourself and don’t play a role. By being your authentic self, you’ll attract someone who likes the real you.
Karma is a Bitch
Here’s an advice on karma: Don’t ghost anyone unless it’s a creep. Don’t treat anyone any other way than you would like to be treated. There’s always a kind and gentle yet firm way to tell somebody that you’re not interested.
You got a crush on somebody? Congratulations! Now walk over and talk to this lucky person! I know, finding the courage to talk to someone you LIKE seems like the hardest thing ever.
But here’s a secret: Guys aren’t as cool as they would like you to believe and the majority of them get shy and insecure at least as much as us strong and badass women 😉
It’s human to fear rejection but there’s nothing to be ashamed of. And if it doesn’t work out, at least you were willing to take a risk and put yourself out there. So much to be proud of!
Avoid Forced Situations
“My heart is at ease knowing that what was meant for me will never miss me and what misses me was never meant for me.”
– Imam Al Shafi’i
Don’t enforce situations. Whenever I did that, things went south. I’m a strong believer in “Meant to be” moments. When things happen easy, the universe aligns in harmony and you feel that this is where you’re supposed to be. You can hear the angels sing.
On the contrary though, enforcing situations to make that date happen or for whatever other reason often seemed to me like a good idea in the short-term but when I was being really honest with myself, I knew I shouldn’t go forward.
To exclude any of the following actions still works like a charm for me since this isn’t only true for romantic relationships but for any kind of human interaction:
- sacrificing too much too often,
- calling various times trying to confirm a date,
- not getting any feedback from the other person,
- accepting to be stalled,
- being ok getting indifferent responses to texts,
- feeling that something’s wrong and not acting upon it,
- not respecting my own limits to accommodate someone else’s needs,
- things move too fast for me,
- my “no” isn’t accepted or taken seriously.
There’s a Spanish saying my mum always told me whenever I was sad that something wasn’t working out as I had planned:
“No hay mal que por bien no venga.”
This means something along the lines of “There’s nothing bad that doesn’t entail a good outcome.”. And whenever something isn’t working out as I had planned, I remember her words and feel at ease.
A Love Note to You
You’re an amazing person and you deserve to be valued as such by someone inspiring and motivating. Someone who isn’t afraid of your potential but standing right next to you.
I hope you’ll meet someone like that soon!
Comment below: What was your best, funniest, weirdest or worst date ever?
If you’re interested further in the topic, here are a two blogposts, I enjoyed reading:
“How to Pick Your Life Partner” by Tim Urban, Wait but Why?
“The Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-Guide to Solving Relationship Problems” by Mark Manson