By Seth Myers, Psy.D.
People get angry when they don’t get something that they really, really want. If you’re one of those people who’s been duking it out in the dating world – date after date, trying to find someone who sticks – you can reach a point where you start getting angry. Getting angry makes perfect sense, too. In the same way that you’d be irritated if you had sent out resumes without ever getting an interview, going on lots of dates without finding a lasting relationship can cause the nicest and happiest of men and women to become a little bitter.
Signs that you’re getting bitter about dating
Examples: You don’t believe a word anyone says in their profile for fear that it’s all lies anyhow; you schedule a couple of dates on the same day because you’ve lost faith that either one will be worth the trouble; you act sarcastic or get defensive on dates; you ask questions or make comments as if you’re testing the other person; you secretly fear that everyone you go on a date with is already being intimate with several other people; and you cancel a fair share of first dates because you doubt any date will actually result in a relationship you’d want.
If you find yourself feeling bitter, it’s time to 1) be honest that you’ve become bitter about the whole dating process, and 2) create a plan to improve your mood about dating so that you attract good and sane people into your life.
Ask yourself what kind of relationship you want.
Be clear about whether you want to casually date or whether you’re ready to set up house soon if you meet the right person. Also, make sure to ask yourself whether you’ve been too rigid – or not rigid enough – about the traits you’re looking for in a partner.
In general, men and women become bitter when they’ve lost sight of the bigger picture. Go back to the drawing board and write down the five to ten traits you’re looking for in a partner, and ask yourself if you have been on dates in the past three months with anyone who meets these criteria. If you’ve been on dates with people who meet at least some of your criteria, take inventory of what’s going wrong.
Ask yourself the following questions: Are you trying too hard? Do you come across as anxious or desperate? Are you scaring people away by trying to make too many future plans on date number one or two? On the other hand, are you not trying hard enough? Are you not verbally communicating your interest? Are you not taking the initiative to call him or her after your dates? Are you waiting for the other person to do all the work?
Be vulnerable with your BFF.
Take the plunge and let yourself be vulnerable with your closest friend. (Guys, that includes you, too!) Ask your friend, “Why do you think I might be having such bad luck? What do you think I might be able to do differently?” No matter what, do not be defensive when you get feedback. Sit with it for a day or two, and odds are that you will see that there is wisdom in the feedback.
Try a new social scene.
When you get bitter in dating, it’s time to change your literal point of view. Besides trying your usual online dating, make more of an effort to go with friends to different restaurants, bars, sports events, or local activities. If you continue to go to the same places week after week, there’s a good chance that you’ll either become bored or bitter because you’re not varying your social routine enough.
Seek out self-soothers when your mood is down in the dumps.
There are countless ways you can soothe yourself when your mood and motivation are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Keep in mind that self-soothers aren’t active outlets, such as exercise or primal screams. Soothers include things or activities which make you feel comforted and calm. Examples: taking a bath several times per week; curling up with a blanket and good book or magazine; nesting in front of the fireplace on a cold night or basking in the sun on a warm day; hosting a small themed gathering at your place with your best friends; going for a massage; writing a poem or jotting down random thoughts in a journal; and cuddling with a pet or a bunch of comfy pillows on the sofa.
Sooner or later, we all hit a point where our emotional gas tank is running low, but the extent to which we seek out healthy self-soothing mechanisms determines how quickly and effectively we can break out of a bitter funk. If you take a step back and let yourself feel grateful about the positive things you have in your life already, you won’t feel as anxious about find a lasting relationship immediately!
About the Author:
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.