Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Best Dating Advice I've Given, Ever.

I haven't talked much about dating and relationships on this blog.  Although I have a bunch of thoughts on the topic, I'm not an expert.  But, there's one piece of advice that I've repeatedly given out to friends, family and co-workers that I must share with you.

I came to this conclusion as a result of my past profession.  Over my career I've interviewed and hired hundreds of candidates.  Sometimes the process works well and, other times,  we recruited what we thought was a great candidate only to find out that we made a serious hiring mistake.

Tired of repeating the same cycle over and over, I decided to approach the process differently.  My new process worked so well that I had to tell the other hiring managers.  Each manager that implemented my recommendation noticed improvement in hiring the right person. They were all grateful for my advice.

The advice I gave out was actually dating advice applied to the hiring process.  Because, in my mind, interviewing and hiring was similar to dating and getting married.  Now, I share these words of wisdom purely as dating advice.  In fact, I actually had a conversation with a guy yesterday who recently got out of a bad relationship.  As he was sharing the story of what went wrong, the red flags jumped out at me.  The first thing he said, after I gave him my world famous advice, was "I wish I would've heard this earlier."

Here it is......Here's the dating/relationship advice that could change your life.  Listen close.

When you are dating/courting.  The natural tendency is to identify what we like about the person, or what we have in common.  Once we've identified those traits, we tend to only focus on them to the point of ignoring (or explaining away) any of the negative traits.

My advice is this.  When you are dating, make a list of the "negative" traits you see in the person.  Negative simply means traits that don't align with what you want in a partner.  In the case of the guy I was talking to yesterday, one of her negative traits was that she wasn't a communicator.  He loves to talk and wants someone who can engage in lively conversations. But the woman he was engaged to would communicate via text versus having robust conversations.  You're probably asking yourself, "why would a guy who loves to communicate propose to a woman who barely wants to talk?"  Because he committed a common dating mistake of only focusing on what he liked about her.  When I asked him to really articulate what he loved about her, he couldn't give me any substance.  The answers were extremely shallow and he realized that once he tried to verbalize them in a way that made sense.

Instead of focusing on everything you like about a suitor, I invite you to take inventory of the misaligned traits that peak out during the dating process.

Once you have a list of non-aligned traits, I want you to multiply them by 10X!

After you've multiplied the undesirable traits by 10X, ask yourself, "am I still willing to accept this in a partner knowing that I will have to deal with this issue times 10?"  If the answer is yes, then you are clear to proceed.

Let's say you are dating a handsome guy who seems really into you.  He's super funny, cute, open to new experiences and loves being around you.  But you see faint signs of a few traits that you aren't fond of.

1. He gets so excited that sometimes he doesn't let you finish your sentences before he starts talking.
2. His car is a bit messy which bothers you slightly because you're a clean freak.
3. He sometimes will cancel last minute to go out with friends.
4. He avoids conflict and doesn't like to talk about his feelings or things that really concern you.

Those are just a few things you notice.  They're not serious enough to break up with a person over.  Now you multiply each trait by 10X which could look like this.

1. He's so into his opinions that he always interrupting you mid-sentence.
2. He's a total slob which means that you have to pick up after him all day, every day.
3. He always puts friends and family over you when it comes to his free time.
4. Your relationship is empty and void because the two of you don't discuss important matters.

I realize that the list above is an exaggeration and might not happen.  But, I want you to think like it can and WILL happen.  Why? Because as the dating euphoria wears off, the negative traits will grow in intensity.

But, if you look at the list (multiplied by 10X) and you say, actually, I can deal with these issues, then feel free to move forward.  Please note, there is a difference between "I can deal with... and "I can change this about him".......

Please, please let go of any thoughts about trying to change a person.  That's a losing battle that will require lots of time, energy and emotional power.  It's draining and almost never works.  This is not about changing a person, it's about what you are willing to accept.  What if you say to yourself, " I can't accept having someone always interrupting me and not allowing me to express myself."   Now, you have a decision to make.  Do you break up with the guy right now? Maybe.

You can also continue to date and observe whether you see signs of the non-negotiable trait(s) becoming worse. It's a good idea to let the person know, in a calm manner, that you noticed sometimes he doesn't allow you to finish your sentences then see what happens.  If he makes a real conscious effort to shift his behavior.....great!  But exerting tons of effort to change a person is not the answer.

I've seen too many people completely ignore red flags then enter into long term commitments only to break off because of a sign that existed since day 1.  Don't waste time and energy on a "unqualified candidate" when there are tens of thousands of people who meet your minimum requirements.

Use this method as a way of preventing unhealthy relationships and, essentially, wasting your time.  Nobody's perfect and this isn't about finding the perfect person. It's about recognizing which "flaws" are tolerable and which are a no-go.
  1. I like this *claps, claps and claps*
    But what if instead of changing him, for point 3 for example, could you ask him if he is willing to change and if he can see that she (the gf) should be put before his friends. Sometime people don't realise what they are doing/neglecting to do right???

    I would love to see this from a hiring manager perspective, and what negatives you can see during interview. Especially as a candidate that is still doing interviews and climbing the ladder :-)

    Awesomest post :-D

    1. I was in a 3 year relationship. I was vocal about my needs and he did change but one big deal breaker I was giving him time to work out was not changing, though he was trying, and I couldn't take it anymore.

  2. YES!!! You said a word on today, ma'am!! This makes SO much sense and I thank you for sharing.

    Fullafizzy - I agree with you when you say that sometimes people do not see how their actions are affect others. I was in a 6 year relationship where I was vocal about my needs/wants and nothing changed. Nothing. Not to say that people cannot change, because they can, but it's not your responsibility to get them to change!

  3. Seriously great advice and great post!

  4. Thanks for this advice. I never thought about the aspect of the negative intensifying as you continue in the relationship. Dating is an audition. We should expect people we are dating to be on their best behavior. If they are exhibiting questionable behavior/habits we should accept that this is the best it will be. You are right, accept it or stop the relationship.

  5. Brilliant! Recently single and using this method in the future!

  6. This is a 100% true and I thank you for sharing. I recently divirced and I know that all the signs were there from the beginning but I was just hoping he was going to change but things just got out control...

  7. This is an interesting approach! Even though I agree with you and I see why it should prevent unhealthy relationships, I think it is very difficult to apply. When I meet someone I really like, I am head over heels about him and never, NEVER think about his negative traits. In fact, I've noticed from my talks with my girls from that we are usually prepared to even consider some negative traits as positive. For instance, if the car of my boyfriend is dirty, I would say.. "Oh, wow! He didn't have time to clean it. He must be a very busy man" or if he interrupts me I would think that he is just a passionate person. I honestly believe that was also the reason why your friend's relationship ended. Maybe he thought in the beginning that this girl is just shy or she's interested in hearing more about him than talking about her. Therefore, a correct interpretation of what we see isn't always working, especially if we are really crazy about someone!

    - Louise