Remember the hilarious 1993 film “Groundhog Day”? Poor Bill Murray‘s character, Phil Connors, repeats the same day — Feb. 2, Groundhog Day — over and over and over again. But he’s aware that he’s reliving it so he begins to do different things each day, at first hedonistically, then he begins to reexamine his life and priorities. He’s sweet on Andie MacDowell‘s character, Rita, so begins to learn what she likes, then woos her by pretending to like the same things until she falls for him.
It struck me the other day — not on Feb. 2 — that dating is an opportunity to do your own “Groundhog Day” with a twist. Instead of reliving the same situation with the same date, you have an opportunity to try something new with each guy.
For example, you decided you weren’t straightforward enough with the last guy you went out with. You realized you should have been more clear with him about what you were looking for (e.g., a long-term relationship vs. casual dating). You two never went beyond his always calling you at the last minute for a movie and dinner. That guy is gone, so now you get a chance to do it differently next time.
With each successive guy, or even experience with the same guy, you have a chance to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work, then to behave differently the next time. If it’s with the same guy, you can see how your new behavior is received and whether the outcome is what you want or not. Just like Bill Murray’s character, you can see how these new actions work and make adjustments for the next time.
If it’s a new guy, you can watch how your new approach works. Since every guy is different, the new behavior may work fine with one but not another. For example, if your fresh approach is to disclose on the first encounter your aforementioned purpose in dating, one guy may think it’s great you are so clear and share that he, too, is looking for a long-term love, not a casual activity partner. Another may be impressed by your clarity, but share he has different needs. And another may be so threatened by your assertiveness that you never hear from him again. Good! You’ve now learned that your new behavior works to get rid of those who are threatened by you and attract those who say they want similar things. This works so well, you decide to bring it up in the pre-meeting phone conversation so those who don’t want something similar are weeded out.
So look at dating life as a way to have your own personal continuous improvement program. Just as businesses are constantly looking at how to improve their processes and therefore their results, you have a grand opportunity to do this for your personal life. Look at it as a live training ground for you and use every opportunity to examine your own behaviors and outcomes and make adjustments the next time you’re with a date.
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