As my plane takes off for the LA airport, I can’t help but reflect on the many trips I have taken to attend the Huntington Beach Conference and many other singles events over the past 12+ years. This is the first time I am going as a married woman – ok, I’m not actually attending the conference itself but will be on the beach mingling with awesome singles to find great matches for my clients.
Because I spent so many years navigating “the scene”, experienced multiple heartbreaks, divorce and even a cancer diagnosis along the way, I feel that I can offer a unique perspective to others who are in the midst of finding or continuing joy along the journey to finding their ideal match.
Over 1500 singles will emerge on the beach over the next few days. The first timers come with high hopes, cautious optimism and/or perhaps some fear as you embark on this adventure. Returning attendees, have a wide range of experiences attending other events and may be returning with excitement for reconnecting with old friends and anticipation of meeting new faces or perhaps even rekindling a previous flame. Many register well in advance and plan details of their trip to make the most of their time, while some wait until the last minute, not wanting to appear too eager or available.
Whatever you are feeling at this time is perfectly ok, normal and very familiar to many others who are in your same situation. We all tend to think no one else feels the way we do, or has the same challenges and frustrations but despite our different situations, we actually have so much in common.
Whatever your circumstance or story, there is likely at least a glimmer of hope you have in meeting someone who fits the criteria of your ideal match. Here are my best tips as a professional matchmaker and dating coach to make the best of the conference this year:
1) Step Away From the Crowd – if you came with a group of friends, take time to break away and meet others. There are many intriguing singles who are attending the conference alone and would enjoy meeting a friendly face. Even if there’s not a romantic connection, others will observe your outgoing personality.
I met and dated people from several conferences I attended when I was single. Each person I dated either came alone or were there with a lot of hesitation and were truly just grateful for a friendly face. After initial introductions, we connected and ended up pursuing a dating relationship. There were others who remained just friends but I am forever grateful to have built these relationships.
2) Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back from the life you want. Although the last 23 years of my life have been spent in very visible, people oriented roles, I actually am very much an introvert and have battled shyness since I was a little girl. A wise friend once counseled me to “walk through the fear” and my mantra became: “feel the fear and do it anyway”. Following this advice has brought significant opportunities, wonderful experiences and amazing friendships.
Don’t be afraid to touch someone on the arm and give him or her a sincere compliment and say “I’d love to see you later at the dance or dinner” or “it’s been great chatting with you, I would really enjoy seeing you again”. What do you have to lose? If they don’t feel the same, you will likely never see them again in the crowd of faces and even if you do, they will be flattered that you were confident enough to be genuine.
3) Remember What God Wants For You. It’s easy to feel alone, forgotten, unloved or even abandoned as singles and this may translate into not feeling a connection with God. I promise that NONE of those feelings come from God! Remember the adversary is real and wants you to stay in discouragement and give in/up. Satan’s best chance for ruining eternal families is to stop them from being created in the first place.
As the conference theme states, “Look Up”! The Lord is there and will give you people, resources and inspiration on how to overcome the thinking errors that are bringing you down. Here is a great resource for attacking common thinking errors - a huge epidemic plaguing our society: http://us.reachout.com/facts/factsheet/common-thinking-errors
4) Focus on What You WANT vs. what you don’t want. So many singles give me a laundry list of things they want/need in a spouse and approach each person they meet looking for reasons to screen them out. Too short, too old, not enough hair, lives too far away, watches R rated movies, doesn’t make enough money, too many kids, not currently temple worthy, not enough education, weird family, quirky personality trait, etc, etc.
Focusing on what you don’t want actually attracts those qualities into your life and that is what you tend to notice in those around you. Instead, visualize and make a list of the positive qualities that you do want, with the kind of life you envision with your future spouse. Focus on noticing those qualities in people you meet – men and women, as well as having those qualities yourself. You will be amazed at how much better you feel and how much more effective this approach is in attracting quality people to you.
5) Pick Your Poison - I totally get that there are marriage “must haves” and I encourage you to evaluate yours as you date to ensure that the person you end up with has the key qualities you need to create the life you want. However, everyone has undesirable issues that are what I call “pick your poison”.
I have my clients select one of their least desirable characteristics to give up as their “poison” of choice - the last poison is to remain single, which is a perfectly acceptable alternative if they choose. I understand that it’s not easy to give up anything you want in the person you have dreamed of spending your life with. My knight in shining armor ended up being a recently divorced dad of six children. My fear almost caused me to walk away in the beginning but I decided it wouldn’t hurt to go on a few dates. He ended up being everything I had ever hoped for in a husband and much more! I am so grateful that a wise coach encouraged me to “stay in the game” and give him a chance ;).
6) Consider the Upside of Long Distance Dating – I am well aware of the many downsides of dating someone in another state, or even 100 miles away from you. However, with a little planning, effort and extra investment, you might just find that hidden gem you’ve been looking for all along. Those living outside of Utah typically have fewer opportunities to meet great singles who share their faith and are therefore, more willing to consider your particular situation.
You might feel like the average Joe or Jane in Utah but to someone outside, you might be very appealing. If you live in Utah and meet someone who lives elsewhere, why not mention that you’d love to see them if they decide to visit – chances are they can find an excuse to be there and take you out. And if you don’t live in Utah and meet someone who does (or elsewhere) – why not let them know that you are “planning a trip” to their location and would love to see them when you’re in town. Yes, you guessed it, I also did a lot of long distance dating when I was single. I mastered the art of cyber cuddling and fun Skype dates if you need any tips ;).
7) Prepare to Send the Right Signals for Attraction – you may or may not know that up to 93% of communication is nonverbal. Wow – do you realize what this means? You don’t have to be the life of the party or be the most articulate person in the room to stand out! You just need to know the secrets to connecting at the subconscious level through etiquette, body language and flirting. Many “average” looking people get more dates because they are better at these things than the most attractive people.
I have many friends who are much more physically attractive based on what society deems “hot”. I am about as average as they come – red hair, fair skin, embarrassing rash on my neck when I get nervous . . . In spite of my limitations, when I was single, I enjoyed many great dating opportunities in part because of my ability to read and connect with the nonverbal cues from others. It didn’t mean I could date anyone I wanted but my focused efforts typically resulted in consistently attracting great guys to date. If you’re interested in learning some great tips fast – I recommend checking out Body Language Expert, Vanessa Van Edwards: https://youtu.be/ZHrotQnZv2U
Above all, have FUN this weekend! I’ll be on the beach Saturday, cheering you on and if you’d like to stop by The LDS Matchmaker tent, I’ll be there with my team, ready to hear about your adventures! We may even be doing a drawing for some free tickets to our private, “sold out” Sunday brunch ;).
May the odds be ever in your favor!