A Practical Guide to Modern Dating

So you’ve thrown yourself into the modern dating pool, eh? You brave, brave soul.

Look, I know meeting new people, going on dates, figuring out if you even like the person sitting across from you—it can all be confusing, frustrating, and just exhausting at times. Not to mention all that dating advice constantly dished out by caring friends and meddling strangers, advice that promises everlasting love but delivers only frustration.

But before you start to despair, I want to challenge you to open up your mind a little.

Instead of trying to figure out all the things you need to do or say to go on more dates, I want you to start thinking about the kind of person you want to be to attract the right people into your life.

It’s not about saying the right lines or sending that perfect text at the perfect time or anything like that.

It’s about figuring out who you are, then finding ways to express that so that you invite the right people into your life first.

Let’s dive in.

How to Make Yourself More Attractive

A lot of dating advice out there tells you how to be more attractive by making yourself look a certain way or talk a certain way or act a certain way.

But none of these things matter if you don’t have the emotional foundation for a healthy, attractive personality and lifestyle.

So, here’s how to actually make yourself more attractive.

Drop the Needy Behavior

Neediness is the root of all unattractive behavior.

Neediness is when you prioritize what others think of you over what you think of yourself.

It all comes down to your intentions.

In whatever you do, are you trying to impress others and get them to like you because you value their opinion of yourself more than your own?

Or are you genuinely expressing yourself in an attempt to connect with someone else, and they can take it or leave it?

This is why dating advice that focuses on what to say or do or how to act or whatever completely misses the point. It doesn’t matter what you say if you’re being needy and trying to get someone else to like you or be impressed with you or whatever.

Get Your Shit Together

Alright, time for some tough love here: No one wants to date a project.

I’m not saying you have to be perfect in every area of your life. But if you’ve got emotional problems or health problems or money problems or work problems or major family problems—you’re far better off getting those areas handled first before you drag someone else into it too.

Some big areas to focus on, if you don’t already:

  • Your physical health. Eat right. Move your body a little more. And get some goddamn sleep already.
  • Your mental health. Get the stress in your life under control. Find ways to get out into nature more. See a therapist if you have lingering emotional issues you can’t seem to figure out.
  • Your finances. Get your financial house in order. Build some savings. Pay down debt. Learn the basics about investing.
  • Your job. No one likes to hear someone constantly complain about their job. If you hate your job, start looking for a new one.

A lot of these things won’t directly help you date more people, but they are often roadblocks to developing healthy connections and relationships with many people.

So get them taken care of.

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    How to Date the Right People

    Dating apps, meet-up groups, local clubs and organizations, dance classes, yoga classes, pottery classes, all the classes… and on and on and on.

    Any and all of these are great ways to meet people, but I think a lot of people expect these things to be some kind of magic bullet. The truth is, you still have to put in the work to find the right people no matter how or where you’re meeting them.

    However you choose to go about meeting new people, here are a couple of things to keep in mind.


    In my book on dating and attraction, Models, I have a whole chapter dedicated to finding highly compatible people to date through leveraging “demographics.”

    The concept of demographics in the context of dating is simple: like attracts like—and so you attract what you are.

    This includes things like your lifestyle, your beliefs about other people/the world, your values, and yes, even things like your age, money, and looks.

    (Quick side note: Age, money, and looks do matter, but how much they matter is different for different people. Check out Chapter 7 of my book Models for more on this.)

    Basically, demographics in this context largely determines the type of people you’ll end up dating.

    For example, if you’re an intellectual introvert deeply interested in abstract concepts and you’re looking for a companion with similar values, you probably aren’t going to have much luck dating club-hopping party animals who haven’t opened a book since high school.

    Chemistry and Compatibility in Dating

    I’ve written more extensively about chemistry and compatibility in dating and relationships, but briefly:

    • Chemistry is the emotional connection present when two people are together. A high degree of chemistry brings out the warm, fuzzy emotions in each person. Two people who lack chemistry, on the other hand, won’t feel that “spark” between them.
    • Compatibility is the natural alignment of lifestyle choices and values of two people. This can include anything from how late you like to stay up at night to your political and religious views.

    Relationships that have both chemistry and compatibility are the healthiest and most fulfilling.

    If you just have chemistry without much compatibility, well, that usually turns into a rollercoaster of a toxic relationship.

    If you just have compatibility without much chemistry, the relationship gets boring fast.

    There are a few things you can do to figure out what’s the right type of person for you:

    Know Your Boundaries—and Stick to Them

    Boundaries are like the invisible walls that protect our emotional wellbeing. They help us define what we’re comfortable with, what we’re not, and what we need from our partner in order to feel safe and loved.

    Many of us, however, struggle with setting and enforcing boundaries.

    We fear rejection or conflict, or simply lack the communication skills to express our needs effectively. However, neglecting to establish clear boundaries can lead to all sorts of problems, including resentment, anxiety, and even abuse.

    Setting healthy boundaries means:

    • Taking responsibility for your own actions and emotions. And not taking responsibility for the other person’s actions and emotions—or expecting them to take responsibility for your actions and emotions.
    • Recognizing and responding to red flags. If you’re dating someone who ignores your needs, belittles your feelings, or violates your boundaries, take action. At the very least, that means having a blunt conversation about their behavior. If nothing changes, it’s best to just walk away at that point.

    Of course, people are people and we can’t expect to align on everything 100% of the time. Establishing healthy boundaries is more about figuring out what you will and will not compromise on.

    But if someone is trampling all over your boundaries and you’ve only started dating recently, well, do you really think it’s going to get any better with time?

    Remember, your emotional wellbeing is your top priority, and it’s not worth sacrificing for the sake of someone who doesn’t respect you.

    By being clear and assertive about your boundaries, you’ll attract partners who share your values and priorities, and build a relationship that’s both fulfilling and sustainable.

    Good luck out there.

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