#182 - Are you open and available?

Are you open to and available for a relationship? My guess is that most of you will say “Yes, of course I am!” Let’s just assume you are emotionally healthy and ready for a relationship. But…is that the way you’re showing up?
In today’s society, odds are you’re not showing up to be approachable. You’re not showing up as being open to meeting new people. How do I know? Well, much if it comes right from the people I coach and the people I talk to about dating and relationships. the rest comes through observation.
So much of what I here is “Where do I find a great guy or great woman?” “There are no good men left, they’re already taken.” “Kansas City (or name your city) is a terrible place to date (because someone who has never been here says so). These are universal complaints by both men and women.
The idea that you can’t find someone of good morals and values, someone that’s truthful, someone that’s smart, financially responsible, funny, etc., etc., says more about you and where you’re looking than about the quality of men and women out there.

Change Your Focus
When you’re looking, what are you focusing on? Are you focusing on all the things you don’t want in a mate? If you are, that’s your first problem. Focus on the things that you want in a partner. Studies have shown that you attract what you focus on so stop focusing on what you don’t want and tune in to the characteristics that you do want!

This is part of the reason that creating your Must Have list is so important. For those of you that are unfamiliar with a Must Have list, this is a list of the non-negotiable characteristics you want and need in your next relationship. These must be written in a positive format. For example; rather than saying you don’t want any couch potatoes, you might say something like “Must be physically active.” You can even break this down further and list specific activities such as biking, hiking, running, camping, etc.
In my book, Dating Backward: A practical guide to dating and finding your soul mate, I share several examples of possible Must Haves to give you some ideas to spur on your thinking.
  • Must be a Christian with strong morals and values.
  • Must earn a respectable living.
  • Must be politically conservative/liberal.
  • Must have personal goals.
  • Must enjoy modest personal displays of affection.
  • Must have a positive attitude.
  • Must be able to communicate effectively.
Your list can be as long or as short as you want it to be. It’s up to you. Only you know what is truly important to you.
Be Open And Approachable
Today we live in an immediate gratification society. If things don’t happen immediately we’re unhappy and turned off. If you don’t answer my text or IM immediately you’re inconsiderate or there is something wrong. Our time is to valuable (note sarcasm) to have to stand in line (unless it’s someplace like Starbucks) because the store doesn’t have enough registers open.
We continuously check our phones and computers for new messages or to get the latest update on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Please dwell on this last statement of a minute.
When was the last time you saw someone standing in line or at a cafe that you were attracted to? Odds are this happens almost daily. But, you didn’t approach them because they looked like they were busy, in the middle of a text conversation, or just playing games on their phone.
Now, think of how many times and places you’re doing exactly the same thing! Our electronic devices put up an artificial barrier around us that says; “Stop! Do Not Disturb!” Is that the image you want to portray? Or, would you rather portray the image that you are approachable?
Put away the devices. Make eye contact with people. Start up a conversation with someone you don’t know. Starting up a conversation is easier than you think. Just ask simple question. ‘Hi. Do you live in this area? Can you give me directions to…” Or “What is the easiest way to get to…” If you’re standing in line at Starbucks, you might say something like; “Is this location always this busy?” or “Have you ever tried the Mango, Orange, half caff Mocha Latte?”
Hopefully you get my point. Ask simple, non-threatening, non- personal questions. If you’re going to use a compliment, say something like “That’s a sharp looking suit you’re wearing.” or “That’s a great dress.” It should be very simple and said sincerely.
Go It Alone
Ladies, try going out alone. It’s usually too difficult to approach you when you’re part of a group of women. The intimidation factor goes up dramatically. When you’re in the pack, most men won’t even bother coming up to say hi, ask you to dance, or try to get to know you.
If you’re not comfortable going out alone, arrive 30 minutes early when you plan on meeting your girlfriends for drinks or dinner. This gives you some time to meet someone, have a brief conversation and if it doesn’t look promising, you’ll always have your girlfriends to fall back on because they’ll be arriving soon.
Where To Look
Almost everywhere look, there are places to meet people. Some are just not as obvious as others. We all know the online dating sites, your local church, the bar scene, Meet-up groups, charity events, and on and on. What about thinking outside the box? What about starting a conversation with someone in the grocery store or your favorite coffee shop?
How about striking up a conversation with someone you’ve friended on Facebook? Most of us have hundreds of friends on social media that we barely know. You already have a loose connection so why not explore it further. One of the great things about Facebook is you can watch their posts to see what you might have in common.
Facebook is always giving you new friend suggestions. If you see someone interesting, send a friend request. Watch what they post and make an occasional comment. Who knows where the conversation could lead. Just be careful to not be creepy or stalker like. Use common sense and be a good conversationalist.
All to often people complain about their lack of dates and dating resources. Remember, you are the common denominator in all your personal interactions with others. Make sure you can hold a good conversation. Don’t be afraid to step a little outside your comfort zone and start up a conversation with a stranger. Try it on someone you’re not interested in first. Get comfortable with talking to strangers.
Put your damn cell phone and computer away when you are out. Be open and approachable. Don’t use your electronic devices as a shield or barrier that keeps you from meeting someone fantastic.
Try dining or going out alone or at least arriving early when you’re meeting friends. In the end, it’s all about connecting with people. You never know who you’re going to meet and what kind of connection you’ll make. It may be an auto mechanic or a plumber, a doctor or a lawyer, a barista or a musician, a computer tech or a graphics designer. You just never know where these connections will lead until you decide to strike up a conversation.
Just make sure you’re open and available to have a conversation with a complete stranger.