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The Rating Game
The Foolproof Formula for Finding Your Perfect Soul Mate
By Reba Toney
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2009 Reba Toney
All rights reserved.
Dating Up and Dating Down
Are You Dating Up or Down?
Which situation best describes your last relationship?
1. I broke up with him
2. I got dumped
3. I haven't been in a relationship for two years or longer
What emotion best describes how you felt during your last relationship?
Did you feel like the person in your relationship had ...
3. Nothing at all
Which best describes the way you met?
1. He approached me first
2. I approached him first
3. We were just friends before ending up together
Which describes how you felt about yourself when you met him?
1. Feeling great about life
2. In a weird place
3. Have no idea what I was thinking
What adjective best describes your first date?
Did you feel like the relationship was ...
3. What relationship?
What did you wear on your average night out with him?
1. Whatever I wore to work that day
2. Another brand-new outfit
3. Old jeans and a T-shirt
How important was sex and intimacy in this relationship?
1. I wasn't too interested in having a physical relationship
2. I was ready to have sex all the time to make him happy
3. What's sex?
What type of fruit would best describe your last boyfriend?
1. Mealy apples on sale
2. Perfect peaches at $4.99 a pound
3. Sorry: out of stock
If you answered mainly 1s you are the dumper, and need to stop dating down.
If you answered mainly 2s you are the dumped, and need to stop dating up.
If you answered mainly 3s you are in dating denial, or are not dating enough.
Why is dating so darn difficult? Maybe it's our surreal expectations. Rarely is a personal association as closely scrutinized. Every call, every word, every kiss, and every dinner is put under a microscope and analyzed in an attempt to find a hidden meaning. And what do we end up discovering, Sherlock? Most of the time, what you see is what you get.
Other social activities have a learning curve. Usually an activity requires a bit of practice before you get really good at it, but every time you try, you build on your past experience. Take volleyball, for instance: when you started back in eighth grade, you played in a few games, you figured out how the team scores, and after you realized how boring it was, you got smart and brought a note into gym class saying you were having your period. Or, after a couple of games you got the hang of it, and figured out how to duck out of the way when a ball was coming toward your head.
But dating is different. First, every person is different, so every relationship will be different (don't you hate that?). That means there isn't really a lot of room for practice, because you never get the same ball thrown at you. And, although we may think we learn a lot from relationships that don't work out, what we learn isn't always applicable. For instance, if you found out that your last date was previously an ax murderer, what are the chances that you'll meet another guy like that?
The real tragedy here is that on those rare occasions when we could actually learn from our mistakes, we miss the message entirely. Instead, most of us operate the way I used to, and continue to repeat our dating mistakes. We choose the same type of person again and again, and then we are surprised when yet another relationship turns out to have the same bad ending. No sooner do we get good at dating than we turn around to witness the sea of failed relationships in our wake. Then you ask, "Why am I doomed to attend events with my cousin?"
RELATIONSHIPS THAT WILL NEVER WORK OUT
I've found that there are three types of bad relationships. The first is when you are dating up. Dating up occurs when you are constantly dating people who are "above" you in some area of life, whether it's their extreme good looks, a fabulous body, a dynamic personality, or a life situation (i.e., great career, lots of money). You know that you are dating up if you are always getting dumped: eventually, the person you're dating realizes that he is "too good" for you. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't have aspirations, but it does mean that you need to be a little more realistic about what you are bringing to the dating table.
On the other hand, if you are always dumping the men you date, then you are dating down: you're choosing guys who really are not good enough for you. You're dating down if you are constantly bored in your relationships. Or, you may be subconsciously looking for someone to mother, or smother, until you realize that each guy is a project you aren't willing to complete.
And if you are not dating at all, it is likely that you have a misconception about how fabulous, or unfabulous, you really are. Or, if you do realize what you've got, you might not want to date people who are in the same boat. I call either of these scenarios dating denial. And I find that with rare exceptions (as in Cinderella and/or Prince Charming), dating denial will also lead to dead ends or problematic relationships.
Dating up, dating down, or dating denial are all clear signs of being stuck in a rut. You might have a lot to offer, but you have gotten comfortable choosing — or being chosen by — the wrong person. I'm going to show you how you can stop this cycle, get out of your dating rut, and start dating guys who are just right for you.
THE MISSING SOCK DILEMMA
In America, 40 percent of adults are single. That is a lot of lonely socks to sort through. So if you are having trouble finding a match, then you may be what I consider a "frustrated dater." Sometimes, dating is like trying to put together a piece of furniture from IKEA. You open the box, lay out all the parts, and look at the pictogram instructions — but no matter how hard you try, the new entertainment stand just isn't coming together. You know that "other people" bought the same furniture, and in fact, they are very happy with it. Were they smarter? Not likely. Chances are they were simply better at putting stuff together. So now think of reading this book as taking another shot at putting your life together. By carefully reading these dating instructions, you'll be able to find plenty of matches in the pile of lonely socks.
It is equally frustrating when you have not been approached by someone of the opposite sex in a long, long time. You might feel like you live in a town where there is not a decent single guy left. But I can assure you that there is still hope, even if you are an extremely frustrated dater. There are plenty of good men out there. In the meantime, here's what you need to do when you are frustrated with dating (or frustrated with not dating):
Find one married person you can call who will tell you their problems. This will give you a new perspective on being single.
Go out to dinner with your favorite couple. You will get the "relationship feeling" through osmosis.
Start opening your mail at a nearby coffee shop. You will feel less lonely doing routine tasks around others. While you're at it, start doing your laundry at the local Laundromat for another social setting.
Don't go home after work. Go anywhere else but home for at least four hours. It will break up your week.
WHY AREN'T YOU DATING?
Have you used any of the following "legitimate reasons" for why you're not dating?
I haven't been asked out
I don't know anyone
There is not anyone I'm interested in
I don't like myself right now
I don't have any money to go out
No one would like me
I'm raising kids
Asking someone out gives me hives
I work too much
I wouldn't know where to start
People scare me
I need to lose weight first
I'm too old
I'm not pretty enough
Who would want me?
There is no one good-looking at my age
I don't know any single people
I have too much baggage
I'm not in a good place right now
I'm in school right now
I live with my parents
I'm consumed with addictions
I don't leave my house
I will soon
My best days are behind me
IF YOU ARE DATING
Let's get to the lowdown on why you are dating. What are your goals in a relationship? You may be saying, "Reba, who cares what my goals are? I just want someone to take me to the movies." But I'll tell you who should care: you. The men out there can sense what you are really looking for, and will respond to your wishes. They are like puppies: eager to please. The one who is looking for the same type of relationship will be the one who is attracted to you. But if you don't know what you are looking for, or why you are looking, you can cast your line all day and never get a nibble.
There are more reasons for dating than there are stars in the sky. When you were in your teens, you may have started dating by identifying the qualities that you like in other people (or to experiment with your budding sexuality). As you get older, after a divorce, or even during a busy time in your life, you may date simply for companionship. Are you looking for someone to spend the rest of your life with, or do you just want to sample what's out there? See if you can identify with any of the following descriptions. You might find that at different times in your life, you might have been many of these daters. But we're living in the present: look for where you want to be right now. Then I can show you how to get there.
Looking for long-term love and acceptance; wanting to find someone to explore deep feelings and emotions in a trusting environment. Welcome to Loyal Heart Village. If you find love here, you can look forward to a lifetime of memories, some good and some bad, but a committed partner to see you through it all.
THE BUSINESS PARTNER
Looking for someone to share domestic duties, expenses, and occasional sex. I now pronounce you Mr. and Mrs. Joint Venture. Combining domestic and career skills can make for a very productive relationship.
THE FAMILY PLANNER
Looking to fill the role of husband or parent. Required husband duties include car maintenance, lawn care, parenting, and additional income. In exchange, you need to be willing to provide hot meals, bedroom fun, and family vacations. Knowing exactly what you want in life is very prudent and can yield a relationship that ticks like clockwork.
REBA'S GOLDEN RULE:
It's Better to Date Well
Than to Date Often
There is a difference between dating and devouring. For me, the ground rule of dating is that you should meet people with the intention of giving and receiving. It's not enough to be constantly taking something from someone, which is why I do not consider hook-ups as dating. Hook-ups are all about what you can get, not what you can give.
The length of time you date someone is not important. Neither is the number of dates you have each week, or each month. The questions you need to answer for each relationship you enter are: Are you giving or taking? Is it all about a free dinner, or are you learning something new about yourself? Are you giving positive attention? Are you having fun?
If you approach each dating opportunity as a new chance to give, then you will feel good about dating, and you'll start having fun. You'll enjoy sharing the best parts of you. Plus, when we give we grow.
Looking for a pleasant evening and good company, taking one day at a time. Knowing that you have just one night with someone who could be so much more can be wonderfully adventurous and invigorating. The trick is to avoid the dreaded "walk of shame" by not getting too physical with someone you'll never date again.
THE AUTO PILOT
Looking for something, but not sure exactly what it is — there really is no motive or conscious thought when dating, just hoping to hook someone or get hooked. If this is your M.O., see if you are the apple that didn't fall far from the tree. Maybe dear ol' mom or dad was your role model for relationships. If you are on this path, at least you know exactly where it leads.
THE RECREATIONAL PARTNER
Looking for someone to have dinner or see a movie with, or take to a family wedding. Having a reliable date for events is highly underrated. If you find a good backup guy (let's call him Date #2), keep him on speed dial.
STOP LEAVING YOUR LOVE LIFE TO CHANCE
Are you in dating denial because you are hoping that you'll just bump into the perfect guy? Or are you trying to maximize your face time, getting out into the world and meeting as many people as you can? You may believe that you'll "run into" the man of your dreams, but don't be surprised if you are just doing a lot of running.
Dating is not governed by the laws of Las Vegas, though I do love Las Vegas. So don't peg your hopes on the gambler's fallacy. This unwritten rule is based on the fact that gamblers often believe that random events happen for a reason, such as "a run of (good or bad) luck," or a mistaken understanding of "the law of averages." It simply isn't true that a random event, like meeting the perfect guy by chance, can be affected by or predicted from other, independent events. It is not more likely to occur because it happened once before; nor is it more likely to occur because it has not happened recently.
The reality is that there is really no such thing as chance when it comes to dating. People who date well do more than create their own good luck: they make a conscious effort in choosing the right men to pursue, and choosing the best places to be to meet them. And even though it may seem like your dating life is like a spin of the roulette wheel, the truth is that we are all creatures of habit. Otherwise what are the odds that you would "just happen" to be meeting the same type of guy over and over again?
BUT HE SEEMED NICE WHEN I MET HIM
We all develop communication strategies early in life, and we stick with them. If we were given the same polite greeting from fifteen different people, we would most likely respond the same way each time. It's the difference between saying "What's up?" while others say, "Hey" or "How's it going?" We also have set patterns that direct our behaviors, especially in the ways we approach others, or allow ourselves to be approached. Our set behaviors will be attractive to a few types of people, just as their behaviors may or may not be attractive to you. But just because someone responds to your behaviors positively doesn't mean that you should pursue that person. While it is fun and very flattering to have a person show interest, it is not enough to roll the dice and hope we will not get hurt.
Many who are dating by chance are willing to place their bets as if they have nothing to lose. That's not true, either. While dating is not usually much of a monetary risk, you are putting yourself, and your heart, on the table. A broken heart will eventually heal, but the scars can last. Sometimes there is so much scar tissue that it keeps real affection from reaching us again.
ARE YOU IN DATING DENIAL?
On the other hand, we have to be reasonable about our dating choices. If you aren't dating because "there isn't anyone around worth dating," you may end up spending your whole life alone. Dating denial clouds our minds, and we soon begin to think that our mildest accomplishments or nominal good looks have us in line for a relationship with our favorite celebrity. If you are waiting for near perfection to knock on the door, think again: Matthew McConaughey is not dropping by. Instead, open yourself to the possibility that you might want to date the men who want to date you. Not that you should date anyone who wants to date you, but you can at least find someone you want that also wants you. You may want McConaughey but he wants Brazilian models, so that's not going to work.
Excerpted from The Rating Game by Reba Toney. Copyright © 2009 Reba Toney. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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