We all know that dating can be treacherous ground - full of landmines, rejection and unexpected highs and lows - so naturally all daters carry around a toolbox. Instead of a hammer and screwdriver, this toolbox carries go-to coping, healing and dealing mechanisms you’ve developed to handle emotional situations.
From personal experience and through years of professional matchmaking, I know that often these toolboxes hold items that don’t serve you (i.e. defense or numbing strategies, limiting belief systems, etc.).
Here’s the good news: I’ve compiled a short and sweet list of the three items you must have in your dating toolbox, and they’re pretty easy to get your hands on (you likely already have them, but perhaps don't utilize them effectively). Aside from these 3 tools, I've created a freebie to help you dive deeper into this topic: Download the PDF Dating Toolbox Checklist here.
Back to the basics - these are the three tools every dater in the world today needs:
1. Assemble A Tribe
It’s easy to go to 'just any friend' with your dating woes… after all, we all have disaster date stories to share and funny first-date moments to vent about. But when you’re out there, dating, trying to find someone who makes you feel possible, you are putting your heart in a vulnerable place.
Those moments deserve great care.
When I say you need a tribe, I’m not talking about “friends." I’m talking about the people in your life that researcher Brené Brown calls “move the body” friends. People who “show up and wade through the deep with you. Your “move the body” friends are the ones who take great care of your heart and your story.
Think about your community of friends. Who really shows up for you by holding space, empathizing and giving you their undivided attention? Dating is tough enough, so you need people trustworthy with your emotional well-being.
That person, or those people, are your tribe. And when you’re dating, there is nothing as important as having a strong tribe to lean on.
To be clear, "move the body" friends support your personal and professional growth, relish in your successes and encourage positive change in your life. Any detractors who don't meet these standards should be promptly kicked out of the dating toolbox.
2. Your Bat Signal
Like I mentioned before, dating can be treacherous ground. There will be moments where you need to vent, cry, laugh, scream, etc. Too often, I see that we discount those moments as overreactions. We downplay our need for support because asking for support and not getting it sucks.
That’s why you need a Bat Signal in your Toolbox.
When in an emotional dating pickle, you’re going to send this Bat Signal to one or a couple members of your tribe, asking for specific support. Using a Bat Signal takes some prep, so let your tribe know you’re creating this signal and how you would like them to respond.
Learning to communicate about your needs with friends in this manner is great practice for developing healthy and open communication with a future partner.
3. Develop A Search Strategy
This one might be the simplest sounding, but it’s the most difficult. Your dating strategy is the go-to guide for how you plan to put yourself out there and how to protect your heart along the way. This strategy is not one-size-fits-all, and it takes trial and error to discover what’s best for you.
Over and over again, I see clients pushing themselves to make love happen. I hear, “It’s a numbers game, I just need to meet more of the right people.” Pushing yourself to meet more people, even if you’re exhausted and burnt out takes a huge toll on your heart.
It’s like continuing to run on a sprained ankle... you'll probably end up more injured than when you began.
The science of cognitive overload (more on that here) suggests that “dating as a numbers game” will result in burnout and a miserable dating experience along the way. Your Search Strategy is not complete until you are able to recognize and listen to your own boundaries - put the app down and stop going out because you've hit that limit.
Pinpoint your search strategy boundaries in three steps:
Make a short list of the ways you're putting yourself out there to date (online and in-person).
Take note of when you start to feel icky throughout the process, honor that and take a break.
Once you've practiced the above and feel confident with how you're putting yourself out there and when you're going to rest, you have your search strategy!
The clients of mine who have taken the time to cultivate these tools see massive results in their dating lives; meaning more great dates, less burnout and more joy along the way. Give it a try.
I wish you all less stress and more success!
Lily Womble has been a top three matchmaker at Tawkify for two years, and in that time, she has worked with over 100 clients across the country. Through this experience, she's developed Brazen, a methodology and course that helps people create a dating experience that leaves them feeling energized and confident, possible and powerful.