We have all heard the saying, “if you have low expectations, you can only be pleasantly surprised.” Well, if you are out there dating, you may want to adopt this as your mantra. There are some people that can look great on paper, and yet be complete idiots in person. Some people post pictures from when they were younger, skinnier, or had far more hair, and then when you meet them you find a totally different person in front of you. Then there are those who might appear fine during the first few dates, but as time wears on you start to see icky character traits. The latter are the toughest ones to deal with because if they have made it through the first few rounds of 20 questions, you cannot help but start to hope for the best. Yet the best thing to do here, is curb your enthusiasm.

If you have zero expectations as to when someone should call, email, text or set up the next date, then you won’t be disappointed with whatever timeframe they choose for themselves. In the meantime, you just need to figure out whether their behavior works for you. If someone really wants to make something work, they will make the time. We all have busy lives and varying interests, but let’s face it, when we meet someone that causes us to say “wow,” we can shift things around to pursue a relationship that seems worth it. If that is not happening, then you just need to accept that s/he is just not that into you.

Unfortunately, rejection is a big part of the dating experience, but you cannot always take it personally.  A lot of the initial reasons someone may not want to pursue a relationship with you may have nothing to do with you, but more of their own issues.  Here are some examples of what I have run into: some people might be intimidated by your income or education level, or maybe they don’t want to date someone that has a kid already, or maybe they want the convenience of dating someone that lives within a 10 mile radius so the fact that you are geographically inconvenient automatically knocks you to the bottom of their list of candidates.

Finding someone that the whole package is not easy– while there may be a decent supply of intelligent and attractive individuals, kindness is unfortunately rare.   Even when you do then connect with someone that has all the qualities in your must-haves list, they may not share your core values or have a vision for the future that is compatible with yours, or maybe you have all of that but as you continue to head down the road of life together you find that your conflict resolution styles completely clash.  It sucks, I know– and this is why you have to take your time with relationships and keep your eyes wide open for any red flags.

It’s not easy to navigate all the land mines out there in the dating world, but I urge you to lead with your head, not your heart (or other body parts) and listen to your gut.  The closer you look the more you will definitely find the dating pool is infested with frogs.  But when you find a prince or princess, please do let some enthusiasm show.  As my best friend from college likes to say, when you are in love, “you will move heaven and Earth to be with that person.”   So, when you meet someone special make sure you let them know you believe they are worth your time and energy, don’t just play it cool.

Just to recap, I am 100% advocating that we all start off in the dating game with zero expectations precisely because I don’t want you to be too disappointed with the dearth of good prospects out there.  Keep your eyes and ears open– listen to what people say and pay attention to what they do or don’t do.  Know your own self worth and cut your losses when you hit your deal-breakers.  Take your time, and don’t just settle for good enough. There is no point to settling– finding that “wow” factor is totally worth the wait.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.