These were the words that my mother told me when I told her I was planning to host dating events and become a dating coach. To be fair, I have had a chequered dating history and my mum has issued more hugs to me as I cried over the male population than I care to think about. But, as the path of true love hasn’t run smoothly for me, it makes me the PERFECT dating coach. Here’s my story.
Having done the ‘inner work’ on myself, I can see that the fundamental issue in my 20+ years of dating was because I didn’t have enough confidence in myself and I didn’t love myself enough to stop the bad behaviour. I’ve been in situations that felt a bit ‘ick’ to me, but because I was simply desperate to be loved, I didn’t listen to my intuition and see what was really going on.
As I write this, I’m six weeks away from a milestone birthday (starts with a 4) and I’m as single AF. The perfect time to launch an in-person dating club in my local area. Here’s some of the things that have happened to me in the last 20 years:
- I’ve been lied to continually
- I’ve been in a relationship with a covert narcissist (the covert part is important)
- My on-off boyfriend managed to get his on-off girlfriend pregnant
- Had a near miss with a male stripper. Luckily, I chose NOT to meet him at a hotel for a dance on our first date (with a friend – as if!)
- Been stalked and harassed by a (now ex) boyfriend’s estranged wife, resulting in police action against her
- Had numerous conversations with married men on dating apps about how they cheat on their wives and how they feel about it (this was all for research purposes)
- Honed my bullsh*t radar to a point that I knew a real life spy wouldn’t tell me all about his secret missions, but called him out on the fact that he worked in a different location to his wife and three children and he just wanted a bit on the side during the week. Funny enough, he text me the next day to say that ‘I wasn’t the one for him.’
So, as you can see, I’ve been through it all and at some points, I’ve been resilient enough to cope. At other times, less so. But despite all of this, I’m a romantic at heart. I deserve my happy ending, worthy of a Richard Curtis film plot. Not the type of happy endings that the guys want on Tinder when they text you late at night.
In the four years since my divorce, I’ve seen it all. And quite frankly, I don’t want to see it again. I’ve had enough of all the apps. Don’t get me wrong, for single mothers like me (I also work from home), it’s difficult to meet people and I don’t get many free evenings to go out, so being able to swipe my way through potential suiters on my sofa is brilliant. But it’s a breeding ground for creepy predators whose intentions are far from honourable.
On some levels (bear with me on this one), I have respect for the guys who say on their profile that they are married and looking for a bit on the side. Or the guys who say they simply want NSA. As somebody who wants neither of those things, I just swipe on by. What they are doing is wrong if they are in a relationship and they are doing this behind their partner’s back. But, for the guys who say they are married or only want NSA, at least they are being honest from the outset. It’s the people who pretend otherwise; that say they do want a relationship, only to do a 360 or disappear when it gets to become ‘serious.’ Basically, I hate all the lying and deceit that goes with the dating apps, which is why I don’t feel they work for me anymore. Too easy to hide. Too easy to lie.
Dating apps are a bit like highly addictive drugs. Well, what I imagine a highly addictive drug to be like. That’s not my bag. It’s really easy, as one relationship ends, to jump straight back on the apps and start the whole thing again. With barely any time to breathe or heal in between. I did this discovering that my boyfriend of two years (Tinder) was cheating on me the entire time. A matter of weeks later, I was back on the apps (I saw my cheating ex on there), and bagged myself a new guy within TWO HOURS of reactivating my account and we dated for a couple of months. I ended that relationship (great guy, not for me) and was back to swiping again a WEEK later. This was after I promised myself some time to heal.
This time, I was presented with two guys and I felt (for some reason) that I had to choose a winner straight away. Did I pick guy no1, who was taking his time to get to know people, not rushing and trying to avoid making bad decisions? Did I pick him? Of course not, I chose the guy who I had the immediate chemistry with, who funnily enough was emotionally unavailable and dumped me a couple of months later (leaving me completely heartbroken actually).
So, I’ve learned to be kind to myself when I’m dating. It’s really tough. It’s exhausting. Last summer (before I met the boyfriend who’s estranged wife stalked me), I went on what I can only describe as a dating frenzy. My weekends would be packed full of dates, one night after the other and this frenzy of activity didn’t do my wellbeing any good. For me, multiple dating creates heightened anxiety but through the apps, it’s easy to have a bunch of guys in your ‘pipeline’ ready to go.
But, no matter what I do with internet dating, I always do it with integrity. I always treat others as I would like to be treated, yet I know that doesn’t always work both ways. The only thing I can do is be comfortable with the way I conduct myself. Stay high, even when others go low. Any mistakes I have made, have generally been made with good intention; because I’m committed to finding my happily ever after. I know I deserve to get it. And I want to help others who deserve it too.*
*If you don’t deserve a happy ever after, there’s no place for you in my dating club. I want only lovely people who know how to behave!
I believe it’s a vicious circle. People behave badly. People then lower their expectations accordingly because they don’t want to be alone. Because being in A relationship is better than being in NO relationship. Sod, that. I’ve lowered my expectations and the only result was that I’ve ended up hurt and disappointed. I want to change that. I believe that being happy on your own, but open to a relationship and making active, positive steps towards it, is the best way to be.
How can I raise the standards of dating? I can’t control other people’s sh*tty behaviour, but I can help people who come to my club to tune in to what it is that’s acceptable to them and NOT PUT UP with any behaviour that is sub-standard. I want my dating club members to be good on their own, and stay that way until they meet somebody worthy of them.
As I write this, some recent events did not meet my standards. The old me would accept a flimsy excuse and put up with the sub-standard behaviour. Not me. Not now. I have boundaries about what is acceptable and what isn’t and I know the type of relationship I deserve. And I’ll wait until I get it.
I believe that it’s this attitude that will make me a successful dating coach.
Faith Fox is a blogger and author. She is a trained confidence coach and her mission is to help people who want a genuine, committed long-term relationship. Faith writes regularly about living alone, dating and narcissism. Find out more about Faith at www.facebook.com/FAFAuthor and Instagram @faithfoxauthor