Jennifer was sick and tired of being overlooked by men … and she wasn’t shy about letting me know it.
“I could follow all the dating advice out there to the letter,” she complained, “and it wouldn’t do me as much good as liposuction. All I need to do is look hot. Then everything will fall into place.”
Was Jennifer right?
At a cursory glance, what she says has merit. Focus on your looks, and male attention flows. Each admiring glance feels like money in the bank.
But I like to think of the long game. And I was hoping to convince Jennifer of that, too.
There are two ways to play the dating game:
You can play the short game, or you can play the long game.
The short game is all about instant gratification. It’s about getting more male attention, the phone number requests, the hits on your online dating profile. You know you’re winning because you’re flooded with so much attention.
But the short game is hard to win. There’s a lot of competition. There are women with glossier hair, who take better selfies, or are more shameless about self-promoting.
I see so many women disheartened because they’re losing the short game. They’re not walking into venues and seeing heads swivel. They’re not getting five date requests a week.
But there’s a better game in town.
A game with higher odds of winning.
The long game is all about a lifetime of love. It’s not concerned about what happens today. It’s concerned about progress: that slow, gradual movement towards a dream. It aims for strong marriages and lifetime commitment.
What you look like isn’t so important in the long game. In fact, so-called “beautiful people” are at a disadvantage. A 2017 Harvard study found that attractive couples are more likely to divorce, and their relationships don’t last as long.
What keeps marriages together is this:
Knowing how to work through problems. Respecting and validating one another. Growing together as your relationship evolves.
Sure, those things aren’t as much fun as fashion, makeup, and flirting. And they’re not something you can show off in a selfie.
But, unlike smooth skin and waist-length hair, relationship skills are something you can never lose. You only get better over time. The more you learn, the more you practice, the more you realize your own power. Relationships don’t just happen to you. You create them through everything you say and do.
Jennifer didn’t believe me at first. “If guys don’t notice you, how’re ya gonna have a chance to wow them with your skills?” she asked.
Amazingly, your relationship skills come through with every conversation you have. You demonstrate your skill level through how you deal with everyone in your life, from friends to co-workers to causal encounters.
Every relationship, whether professional or platonic, is an opportunity to practice resolving conflict, communicating better, and building bridges. We’re talking emotional intimacy.
And men do notice.
They notice women who make them feel good. Women with that special knack for dispelling loneliness and replacing it with a special genuine quality.
Rachel Greenwald, author of Why He Didn’t Call You Back, found a surprising answer when she asked over 100 married or engaged men how they knew this woman would be their future wife. Would it be her looks, her sense of humor, or their common interests?
Instead, it was her niceness.
These men spoke glowingly about a time they saw their future wife doing something kind or compassionate.
Playing the long game attracts men who are interested in the long game.
Sure, vamping it up might attract more dates. But getting to know someone, noticing what matters to them, and acting with integrity impresses the men who don’t want a short-term fling.
The long game applies in other areas of relationships, too.
For example, in the aftermath of a breakup, many women look for some tip or trick that will get him back now. They don’t want to wait. They want to snap their fingers and return everything to the way it used to be.
That’s the short game.
The long game is more difficult. It requires postponing instant gratification so that you can figure out what went wrong. It involves self-reflection, thinking about why the relationship ended and what you can learn from it. It involves growing from the experience and using it to be a better person.
Maybe he’ll bump into you again, in a few months or a few years, and he’ll be amazed at this woman who’s nothing like he remembers.
And maybe your relationship will have a chance again.
Love is worth the time. Quick fixes make shaky foundations. Take it slow and go the distance. The woman you are is your best investment.