Rank the following in order of importance to you in dating:
- Male attention
- Getting a ring
- Landing the guy that got away
- Connecting with someone
Research shows that only ONE of those options is guaranteed to make you happier. Which one is it? I’ll tell you in a minute, but first…
You know how important it is to have goals. If you didn’t have goals, you’d end up spinning your wheels. Goals move you forward. They challenge you to decide what you want and what you’re going to do to get it.
In dating, your goals might include going on a certain number of dates per week or always getting asked on a second date.
But here’s the kicker:
Achieving those goals won’t necessarily make you any happier.
How many times have you gotten something you REALLY wanted and worked hard for…
Only to feel much the same after the initial buzz wore off?
Getting what we want doesn’t always make us feel any better.
It turns out that WHY you pursue your goals matters even more than WHAT those goals are.
Pursue a goal for the right reasons, and you’ll feel a lot happier—even if you never achieve it.
Pursue a goal for the wrong reasons, and you’ll end up feeling more anxious and unhappy—even if you manage to achieve it.
That’s especially true in dating.
If you date from a place of extrinsic motivation, you’ll find dating a lot more stressful and difficult.
If you date from a place of intrinsic motivation, you’ll find dating a lot more fun and satisfying.
So what are these two different types of motivation, and how can you use them to succeed in dating?
Let’s start out with the best kind of motivation: intrinsic.
Intrinsic motivation is when you’re motivated to pursue something for its own sake. You’d do it even if there were no rewards. It feels good to you. It reflects deeply-held personal values like exploring your creativity, expressing yourself, growing as a person, and serving others.
Extrinsic motivation is when you’re motivated to pursue something because of the rewards you expect. You work hard in order to earn a promotion. You lose weight because you want to be a size 8. You’re still driven by values, but they’re worldly values like success, status, wealth, and looking good.
Both kinds of motivation are at play in our lives. And we need both. As great as it would be to follow your heart 24-7, we live in a social world. We have to consider other people and how we fit in.
However, you need to know this…
Researchers have found that people are much, MUCH happier when they focus on what motivates them intrinsically.
For example, sticking to a weekly exercise plan because you want to lose weight may work for you in the short-term. You may hate every minute of it, but you know the reward of looking good will be worth the pain.
But if you find some exercise you actually enjoy, and that’s what you build your exercise plan around, you’ll find it much easier to stick with fitness over the long term AND you’ll be happier.
The same holds true for dating.
If you date in order to achieve a specific outcome, then you won’t be as happy as if you date because you find the process valuable in and of itself.
Dating because you HAVE to do it to get a boyfriend feels more stressful and difficult than dating because you enjoy meeting new people and practicing your flirting skills.
Dating so that you can meet that special someone is a great goal, so don’t change it. Just play around with your motivation. Can you find some way to make dating intrinsically worthwhile?
There’s one kind of motivation that beats all the others, hands-down, when it comes to making you happier. I already gave it to you at the start of this article. Care to glance back at the list in the beginning and make a guess as to which one it was?
It turns out that the only intrinsic value on the list…
Is connecting with others.
Anything that increases your connection to others, whether it’s joining a choir or going out on more dates, makes you feel happier.
Just to clarify, there’s nothing wrong with wanting more male attention, a ring, or to land the guy that got away. Just be aware of how that’s making you feel. If you feel pressured or stressed, try to find intrinsic reasons to keep on doing what you’re doing.
There’s no point in suffering if a simple perspective switch could make you happier. 🙂