Getting out of the Singleness Rut

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In Los Angeles, a city dominated by young singles, I’m a bit of an exception - married and expecting a baby, all while still under the age of 30. It’s not that my friends wouldn’t love to be in relationships, but they’re finding it increasingly difficult to move beyond a coffee date to something more meaningful.

Perhaps it’s simply this city that makes it more difficult. More likely, this is an indication of a much bigger cultural attitude. As I speak around the country, I’m meeting college students and young adults who are all struggling with this same problem.

We’ve grown up in a culture that values career over relationship, defines independence as singleness, and tells us to delay the advancement of adulthood and responsibility as long as possible, which often means avoiding commitment, marriage, and gasp, family.

Yet the result is too many young adults stuck in the singleness rut, wanting more out of relationships but unsure how to get there. They can’t get a date to save their life. A real date. One that requires someone asking, someone accepting and a bit of planning. Taking someone to hang out at a bar with your friends doesn’t count.

How then do we move beyond our fear of commitment and open up the possibility for dating? How do we get past the voices that tell us commitment is “settling down,” and instead, begin to intentionally pursue relationships?

Here are three tips to implement now:

1. Change your mindset

How we think has an incredible affect on how we act and interact with others. A friend recently told me that when she shifts her thinking from over-analyzing the guys in her life, their ‘potential’ and the relationships she has with them, she gets asked out. She’s more relaxed, which instinctively makes her more approachable and less a threat to those guys that she’s going to expect this to become something serious immediately.

Look at going out with someone as a chance to get to know them better. Invite them out for something casual, like happy hour, a cup of coffee, or to catch a movie. This may only be one date or the start of many. By keeping an open mind, you’ll be more relaxed, putting less pressure on the date and the person.

2. Go out on dates. A lot.

While I was single, I had a rule: if a guy asked me out on a date (and there weren’t HUGE red flags), I’d say yes. He took the risk to ask, he gets a first date. Rarely did it materialize into more, but it allowed me the practice of going out and kept expectations down about what this date may or may not become.

Going out on a lot of dates doesn’t mean you’re a player, or you get around or that you’re playing with people’s heart’s. You’re getting to know people. Plain and simple. Don’t discount someone before you’ve gone on a date, and don’t weigh it down with unrealistic expectations.

If every date ends with you waking up next to each other the next morning, then yes, we need to chat about how fast you’re moving things. Dates are meant to be an opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with someone to get to know them, to have a conversation, to see their personality on display and their character in action.

3. Check yourself.

For some, the problem is the lack of dates to which to say, “Yes.” You’d happily go out on a first date, if you could just get asked!

There will be seasons for all of us where we seem to be walking through a relational desert.

It may be that that those around you simply aren’t the right fit, and you need to make a point to meet some different people, either through joining a church, a club, a sports team or volunteering somewhere. Perhaps you’re so busy with work and school that you seem unapproachable to those around you.

If you’re interested in dating, but are not getting asked out like you’d like, then evaluate what vibe you might be sending to others, or if you need to make more of an effort to find other similarly minded single adults. You cannot expect to get asked out if you the most interaction you have every day is with your dog and your barrista.

What suggestions do you have for getting out of the singleness rut?

Photo courtesy of dannebrog via flickr