I recently came across a list of dating horror stories. They’re both entertaining and awkward. Has anything like this happened to you?
- They met for dinner, at which point he told her he “accidentally already ate.” (How do you accidentally consume a meal?)
- He bailed while she was in the bathroom. (Wow. Classy.)
- She ran into her ex right outside the bar where she was meeting her date. (Not uncomfortable at all.)
- He got drunk and threatened to throw guacamole at strangers for fun. (Points for creativity, I guess.)
- He was into making out . . . in a hearse. (There’s “tall, dark and handsome,” and then there’s just DARK.)
Granted, those are extreme cases. Even if you spend an evening with someone like hearse guy, that’s probably not your normal dating experience.
And yet, every one of those stories is totally believable. That’s because dating is strange and goofy and chaotic. Sometimes that makes it fun, and sometimes that makes it agonizing.
But there’s one thing it’s not. Predictable. Even computers can’t crack the dating code, as researchers from the University of Utah recently discovered.
A lot of dating services claim they have fancy algorithms that can identify your perfect match. It turns out that’s just not true. Matchmaking, these researchers discovered, isn’t something you can control or forecast.
And you can be honest about how that makes you feel.
It’s a little scary. You can play all your cards right, be smart about how, where and when you find dates, and you still might end up at dinner with some yahoo scheming to sling guac at passersby.
You can’t eliminate the chaos. So, there’s really only one thing to do. Lean into it. Embrace the mysterious nature of dating and make it fun.
Pulling that off is easier than it sounds. It doesn’t require any kind of mental contortionism. Just stick to a couple of powerful principles.
If you’re single . . .
Don’t let the unpredictability of dating keep you from getting out there. Yes, it’s scary. And yeah, sometimes you’ll end up on dates with weirdos.
But stay open to life. Let life flow through you. When a date is a flop, practice the art of connecting with another human being in a genuine way…even when you have no interest in the guy.
Everyone has something good within. Find it. Draw it out of him. It will make you feel happy and alive. And in the long run, this practice will enhance your other relationships.
Don’t get cynical.
Staying open hinges on not losing hope. The minute you get cynical about your prospects, you’re out of the game. Even if you meet a good guy, you might not recognize the opportunity.
Do your best to laugh at awkward situations when they happen . . . and remain optimistic that you’ll find the romance you’re looking for.
If you’re dating . . .
I’ve shared this before, but it’s worth sharing again. One of the keys to long-term romantic bliss is playfulness. If you lose your shared sense of adventure, the relationship will soon feel old and stale.
Find new and exciting things to do with him. Make it a point to ask about his day. Keep right on sharing your hopes and dreams with him. Keeping the magic alive depends on keeping curiosity in play.
Don’t make assumptions.
Even after you’ve been with him for years, you won’t know everything about him. Remember that. He can still surprise you. You can still grow. And your relationship can still take unexpected turns.
Roll with that. Expect the unexpected, and look for it. Never buy into the myth that there are no surprises left.
Epic romance really does happen right here in the real world . . . even with how chaotic dating can be. Don’t freak out when you have a dud of a date. Instead, laugh about it with your friends and move on.
Do your best to stay curious, even after you’ve been together for years, and never lose that optimistic, playful attitude. That’s the secret to relationships that never lose their passion.
 Dachille, Arielle. “11 Bad Date Stories That Are So Entertaining, You’ll Almost Be Glad You Wasted Two Hours Of Your Life.” Bustle, Bustle, 6 Oct. 2015, www.bustle.com/articles/112345-11-bad-date-stories-that-are-so-entertaining-youll-almost-be-glad-you-wasted-two-hours.
 Joel, Samantha, et al. “Is Romantic Desire Predictable? Machine Learning Applied to Initial Romantic Attraction.” Psychological Science, 2017, p. 095679761771458., doi:10.1177/0956797617714580.