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Playing The Dating Game To Win

DATE. The dictionary defines this word as, “an engagement to go out socially with another person, often out of romantic interest.” When two people meet and share a mutual interest in exploring something more, they usually arrange a date. Simple, right? Apparently not.Dating today seems to have taken on a number of different meanings and contexts, depending upon whom you talk to. Many singles verbalize uncertainty about the who, what, when, where and how’s of dating. Somewhere along the way the game changed and the old rules were forgotten or lost. What’s a single person in search of a relationship to do?

The answer will depend upon what an individual’s relationship needs and goals are. If someone is playing for fun, there may be few if any rules. If they are playing to win, the rules will matter, as the stakes for them are high. Much of the confusion and difficulty seems to occur when two individuals with different goals meet and make plans to get together.

So, how can someone play the dating game in a way that maximizes their chance of meeting their relationship expectations? They must decide IN ADVANCE what their (long term) goals for dating are and what is and is not acceptable for them from any future partner and relationship. Then they must make conscious, self-serving decisions regarding the who, what, when, where and why questions that arise.

In order to assist you with these important choices, I have designed a pre-date checklist. It’s a basic primer that will help you to meet and date compatible singles who are in a similar dating place (at the present time) as you are. Some careful thought beforehand will help you to avoid making impulsive and/or poorly thought out choices that can lead to the kinds of headaches and heartaches that are detailed in the many emails I receive.

Pre-Date Checklist:

* Am I dealing with any unresolved (past) issues that impact my ability to have a healthy social/dating life?

* At this time am I interested in meeting a lot of people and dating for fun and experience or am I looking for a serious involvement?

* Do I know the best ways/places to meet people who share my present dating expectations and goals?

* Do I have a rough list of attributes/characteristics that I am looking for in a partner (if applicable) or a person I’d want to date?

* Do I have “rules” that are in line with my dating expectations and goals? If so, am I able to be consistent in following them?

* Am I upfront and clear in my communication with singles in whom I have an interest in dating?

* Am I comfortable (and appropriate) in expressing my disinterest in dating (or continuing to date) someone?

* Do I think through the possible consequences beforehand of drinking too much, agreeing to leave alone with someone I have just met and any other reckless and/or impulsive behaviors?

A healthy, successful dating life requires making CONSCIOUS choices that are based on a strong self-knowledge and good self-esteem. If you have a past dating pattern that is characterized by first dates that go nowhere; promises of calls to get together that never come; first meetings that leave you wondering what went wrong when the connection felt so right; and other dating disasters- then I urge you to try utilizing the pre-date checklist and doing some work on yourself first, in order to help change your dating luck and chances of relationship success.

© Toni Coleman

Toni Coleman, MSW is a licensed psychotherapist, relationship coach and founder of As a recognized expert, Toni has been quoted in many local and national publications including: The Chicago Tribune, The Orlando Sentinel, New York Daily News, Indianapolis Star and Newsweek newspapers and Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Cosmo Style, Tango, Men’s Health, Star (regularly quoted body language expert), and Nirvana magazines. She has been featured on;;;, and Toni offers dating help and relationship advice as the weekly love and dating coach on the KTRS Radio Morning Show (St. Louis, MO) and through her syndicated column, “Dear Dating Coach.” Her newsletter, The Art Of Intimacy, helps over fifty-five hundred subscribers with its dating and relationship advice. Toni is a member of The International Coach Federation, The International Association Of Coaches and The National Association of Social Workers.

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