If you are like me, you may have been through a marriage or two, experienced a few heartbreaks and relationship disappointments, and may find yourself hesitant to open up fully and risk getting hurt (again).
I recently moved to a new state and separated from a man who I love deeply. Long-distance relationships aren’t for me—I want a man’s attention in real time.
Feeling lonely after the break up, I decided to try online dating. As I read through the profiles of the hundreds of men who approached me, I began to notice common themes. Some had written extensive descriptions for the ladies, telling them what not to do. Others clearly outlined what’s important to them. And then, there were the classic one-liners.
As I kept reading, I noticed that underneath the seemingly surface requirements, deeper stuff was waiting to be seen.
I know it can be really frustrating to be out there—looking for love. It may feel like there’s lots of competition and way too many players who will leave us feeling used, heartbroken, and flawed. But I believe that with some inner work and a few adjustments, we can find the relationships we desire and deserve.
My recent online experiences and observations lead me to believe that the big problem in today’s internet dating is that both men and women enter a dating site as if it’s a battle field—expecting an enemy to show up—and both seem shielded, armed, and ready to defend themselves.
By living in a time of no defined roles, no clear rules, and no firm boundaries, we seem to be afraid of each other and automatically expect to get hurt.
But this is the worst thing we can do when looking for love and intimacy. Love and intimacy require showing up without armor. They require trust. They require openness.
Intimacy comes from taking emotional risks. But in today’s dating, this seems difficult to do—because navigating online waters often feels emotionally dangerous for most of us.
In my first dating article, I outlined a few tips for men. Based on my latest interactions with men in search of a partner, and what I’ve learned in 15 years of researching and decoding men’s behavior, I’m offering some insights geared toward women, that can help us understand men better and approach dating differently.
But truthfully, these tips can be useful for anyone looking for a mindful, mature relationship.
1. Sex is not the only thing a man wants.
Yes, it is high on his list (and perhaps on yours too), but most men want more. Like you, he wants connection. Like you, he wants to feel safe. Like you, he wants a partner he can trust and rely on. Like you, he wants to be valued, respected, and loved. Like you, he wants to feel special, desired, and important. Like you, he wants to grow and contribute—and he is aware that it’s more fun, and more possible, to do that with you. Like you, he wants to reach his full potential and show up at his best.
2. Help him to begin and keep the conversation going.
Most men feel quite vulnerable when they approach a woman they like. And they have no clue how to do it.
Most men feel threatened when they have to reveal something about themselves. Men are trained to cover their traces—they are warriors or hunters. Understanding this can inspire you to be more creative and more compassionate when he attempts to begin a conversation.
Create emotional safety for him, just as he is creating safety for you by revealing who he is. Most men struggle when it comes to conversations with women, so help him and he’ll be grateful. This will separate you from the rest and he will begin to open up to you in the way you’re longing for.
3. Have your boundaries in place.
It’s easier to feel safe and make better choices when you know exactly what you want. Learn to say no without feeling guilty. Then your yes will be more real, too.
4. Select a man who is willing to make you happy.
I know women who choose men solely by height or age. Later on, they may wonder why their more important needs aren’t being met. I’m not an exception—I too want to be with a man who looks good. But I learned to choose what matters most to me. I now prioritize a man who shares my values and helps me fulfill my deepest human needs.
So don’t always go for chemistry at first glance. Allow yourself to be surprised. Go out with men who aren’t your “type.” Your type might be the very reason you are still on these dating sites.
5. Figure out why you want a relationship, and why you want this particular man.
You decide what you want a man for—to impress your girlfriends with his looks, or to experience real romance and blossom into your full feminine glory under the gaze of an attentive man who is present for you. A man who is willing and able to make you happy. A man who loves you and values you for who you are.
Of course, creating this kind of connection requires some skill. You must reveal to him who you are in a way that is both engaging and authentic, because authenticity is what’s truly attractive.
6. Notice and appreciate his effort.
Help him relax. Understand that this is not easy for him. Trust that he means well. Believe that he wants to make you happy. Show him how you like to be romanced. Appreciate what he provides.
7. Don’t judge him; inspire him.
Inspire him to be his best self and It’s possible that he’ll want to spend the rest of his life loving you.
8. Give him a chance.
Give yourself a chance. Give love a chance. Because the reality is that if you spend enough time with him and get to know him well enough, you might just fall in love with him.
So choose a man who is willing to make you happy. Choose a man who is willing to grow with you. Choose a man who is willing to give to you—his attention, his presence, his affection, his understanding, his time, his words, his heart. Choose a man who will love and appreciate you as you are.
This requires transparency and taking a risk or two.
9. Make it a real life experience rather than a “safe” head trip.
Take it out of the dating site as soon as possible (and when you feel it is safe), and agree to meet him before you get too deep into correspondence that may easily lead to fantasies.
10. Listen to learn; don’t listen to answer.
Even if you don’t feel attracted to him, you can learn something from him. You can learn what it is that you don’t like. You can learn what triggers you. You can learn what you want in a relationship, and what you don’t want.
11. Show your appreciation.
Thank him. Thank him for choosing you in the first place. Thank him for taking the chance to meet with you. It is a big deal for him! Thank him for the time he spent with you, for the lessons, for the generosity of teaching you about you.
12. Make new choices.
Choose to be open. Choose to be kind. Choose to be the woman in the relationship. Choose to allow him to be the man. Choose to look for what’s good about him, and not what’s not enough for you. Choose kindness over perfection. Choose how you want to feel rather than how you look with him next to you.
13. Let go of the desire to control.
Let him approach you, make suggestions, plan your dates, and offer to nurture you. When you start by letting him choose the places and dates, you learn more about who he is. Then you can decide if he is for you or not.
14. Find out what he really wants.
You may think it’s sex. And hopefully, that’s part of it. But behind his desire for sex, there is a deeper need—the need for human connection. The need to feel that he matters. The need to know that he is safe with you, that you have his back. And perhaps, the even bigger need to access divine realms through you and with you.
Some of the most common beliefs my female clients share tend to create unconscious barriers to attracting a great man and experiencing true love. My heart aches for all the men and women who long for love, for touch, for connection, for romance, and for deep intimacy, but get lost at sea—the sea of endless dates and illusions of perfect love.
Perfection is found when we say: “This is enough. I will give this person a chance. I will look at what’s right with this person, not what’s wrong.” Because when we share our life and our true selves with one another, that’s when we feel more happy, more fulfilled, and more alive.
Author: Gina Brezini
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman
Social Editor: Taia Butler