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Dating From the Inside Out
by Susan S. Davis

Dating Outside the Box

The term “Think outside the box,” used to refer to looking at a problem from a new perspective without preconceptions, sometimes called a process of lateral thought, according to Wikipedia. The catchphrase has since become widely used in business environments, especially by management consultants and executive coaches, and has spawned a number of advertising slogans.

It is no secret that the world of online dating has created an entire cottage industry of services and related businesses. Almost any kind of relationship may be found online, from exclusive “virtual” circumstances, where people maintain only an online connection that is often fantasy-based, to the more usual, traditional, face-to-face meetings, using the Internet merely as a springboard to the “real” world.


Information published in Online Dating Magazine has estimated that more than 20 million people visit at least one online dating service a month. 31% of adults in America have said that they know someone who has used an online dating service. (Pew Internet & American Life Project Report: Online Dating, March 2006).

While online dating is certainly not rocket science, the experience can sometime feel like a science fiction experiment. This is usually because unrealistic expectations are harbored by one or more parties.

In a recent Dr. Keith Ablow television show, several “career” online daters were profiled, each with a unique perspective on the online dating experience. One “serial” dater had claimed to have been using various online services for over ten years, claiming that she had gone on literally hundreds of dates. From her attitude, it was apparent why she had not yet found someone to get to know for more than two dates (and that was also rare, according to her). Another gentlemen actually kept a spreadsheet, containing all manner of information about various people that he had met online.

Authors of “Finding Your Mate Online: No Fear, No Embarrassment, Just Love!,” Karin Sterling Anderson and Beth Roberts, advised that in order to really “find” what you’re looking for, it is necessary to “say yes,” more often than you normally would, maintain a positive vibe, and be willing to have fun. And while that tactic may not seem like “thinking outside of the box,” for Dr. Ablow’s guests, it was really just that, since prior tactics had been to be tough, harsh, and almost hostile.

Taking a fresh approach to online dating can prevent needless dating disappointment. Some of the following tactics can provide concrete methods in securing more positive dating experiences.

1 – First and foremost, check your attitude. It is paramount to view each new circumstance with an open heart, a clear mind and a positive approach.

2 – Refrain from complaints and negativity. If someone doesn’t turn out to be just what you are interested in, or was less than honest, take it all in stride, be pleasant, and move on gracefully.

3 – Entertain being less critical. The reality is that some very nice people are available to strike up friendships with, and it’s a good idea to learn how to get to know people on that level, before jumping into romance. Statistics have shown, over and over again, that the very best relationships are built upon friendships. It just may be time to focus on friendships first, rather than a romantic connection. And the only way to get to know someone is to accept an invitation to do so. Don’t always assume that when you’re meeting someone, that you have to become romantic with him or her instantly.

4 – Make sure your manners are in tact. Being rude in any way is really not necessary, no matter what the circumstances are. Think of the experience in this way: would your behavior make your mother proud? As silly as it may seem, it is a good way to balance behavior. Leaving a good impression, no matter what the situation is, will only make you look like you were raised properly and know how to treat people. Besides, you never know when you may run into someone again, or under what circumstance!

5 - If you are normally shy, or wait for people to approach you first, instead try the tactic of approaching someone who may seem interesting. You can start by sitting next to someone or hanging out in the places where you see them. Without being too obvious, the next tactic is to try and make eye contact. This particular step can be critical in determining interest. Volumes can be spoken by not speaking. When someone smiles back, it is usually an indication that they may be interested, or at least approachable. This can clear the way for an easy way to start a conversation. Talking about the location you’re in, or the activity you are taking part in, is usually an excellent starting point.

Without being too forward, you can also begin a conversation about something you have in common (a book, film, music) or even a simple compliment. If none of those things seems appropriate, asking for directions or about some activity in the area is also a good icebreaker.

By all means, always remember to treat people the same way that you would like to be treated. Be aware enough, also, to listen to your gut. Being open and friendly does not mean to ignore your instincts. If a situation does not seem right, trust your first inclination and politely move on.

Thinking outside of the box involves making changes to how one operates. And while it isn’t always the most comfortable way of dealing with things, the rewards can far outweigh the amount of effort involved. So if you feel like you aren’t making much headway with the way you’ve been going about your social life, and it isn’t quite what you’d like it to be, or you’d like to make it even better, “just say hello” to some new people. It may ultimately provide a great deal of opportunity for a very special, new potential relationship. If nothing else, you may be able to pave the way to finding some new friends and social situations that you may not have otherwise been exposed to.

Susan S. Davis is a published book author and writer, currently doing research for a romantic screenplay she is writing. Her Dating From The Inside Out column is published every Tuesday.

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