Returning to the dating game as a single dad is confronting. Chances are, you’re woefully out of practice so your confidence isn’t exactly sky-high. You may still be reeling from the aftershocks of the relationship with the mother of your child. Plus your time is massively compromised because… well, you’re a dad and have kids.
“Many single dads are coming out of a long-term relationship and haven’t dated in a while,” admits Anthony Recenello, a dating and relationship coach. “So, their only experience for dating was when they were younger. And back then, it was a hobby. In our 20s, dating is often something we did as a way to prove how virile and attractive we are. Which is great fun. But when we’re older our needs change, yet our approach may have stayed the same.”
What Recenello teaches his clients is how to evolve their dating game (“think of him as a wingman for hire” saidThe New York Times). His focus: helping men who are ready to meet their dream woman and begin a long-term relationship. Here, he shares some of his tools to help single dads get back into dating and win.
1. Define what you’re really after
“The reality is that when it comes to your ideal partner, we don’t realize the difference betweenwhat we think we wantversuswhat we actually want,” Recenello says.
“Sit and write down the qualities in a woman that you actually are interested in. Your dating life will become that much easier. Why? You won’t waste nights going on dates with women you are sure willnotbe good for the future.
“The great gift you have as a single dad is you knowexactlywhat you don’t want in a woman. You already went through that mess, and now you can write down your deal-breakers. Remember, a deal-breaker is a quality where no matter how good everything else is, this one thing will break the deal. So when you notice red flags early on, you can quickly move on before any attachment is built later.”
2. Chat on the phone before meeting up
“This is probably the most simple, but most powerful tool you can use to make your dating process more efficient. Most people are online dating these days. And the problem with online dating? In terms of personality, you have no idea who you’re about to meet. And don’t give me that crap that you were able to get a good idea through your little texts. There’s a world of a difference between texting and actually talking to somebody. When I make this rule for my students, their dating success went up 10-fold just because of how many bad dates they avoided.”
“The other benefits are that you are breaking the ice before you even meet her. Consider this the unofficial first date. You can get all of the awkwardness out now and find your groove together. So when you two meet in person, you are both feeling relaxed and having fun. Don’t take this one lightly.”
3. The romantic / player myth
“It’s been a long-held idea that in order to successfully attract a woman, you needed to either come off as a too-cool-for-school player type or a candlelit-dinner-and-roses type. Those are exaggerations obviously, but most men are usually trying to fit into one of those roles.
“Guess what? Both of them are bullshit. It’s just stuff people learned from the movies that doesn’t actually apply in real life.
“A while back, I spent several years interviewing successful couples around the US, and I found something completely unexpected. How did most couples meet? At a bar? Through a succession of extravagant dates? Nope. About 75 per cent of the couples I interviewed started out as “good friends”.
“When I heard this, my own success in dating changed dramatically. It ends up that unless you are completely delusional, “The Friend Zone” is not a real thing. Women do not blacklist men who become friends with them. It’s actually quite the opposite. Beautiful women especially are more likely to want to date and get into a relationship with a man who is a good friend of hers.
“Further, when you approach a woman as a friend, all of the awkwardness and anxiety is replaced with easiness, wicked-hot chemistry, and fun. Friends are completely comfortable with each other. Friends aren’t entitled to each other. Friends get naked around each other (metaphorically speaking).”
4. Show your attraction early (very early)
“Did I say metaphorically speaking? I also meant literally. It’s been shown that beautiful women are on guard with strange men when it comes to getting intimate and compliments. They don’t like having sex when they feel they’ll be judged by a man she can’t trust. But men and women who are friends with each other are secretly copulating behind closed doors.
“But wait!” you might say, “You want me to become friends with and show my attraction to women at the same time?”
“Yup. I do. In fact, women welcome and appreciate men’s expression of interest and attraction when she knows it’s coming from a trustworthy source. The player or the romantic are telling her things just to get something from her—whether its love or sex. But a friend? That’s someone who has no ulterior motives. He’s a man who’s attracted to a beautiful woman. And he’s going to say it. You might say in passing how hot she looks in that dress, then shift back to talking about football, or whatever you were discussing. Throw in a silly double entendre here or there — make her giggle.
“When the sexual electricity is open between two friends, it’s going to be sooner rather than later that you’ll be watching a movie with a bottle of wine and, the next moment, making out on the couch.”
“I want men to get rid of the idea that ‘friend’ equals platonic. It doesn’t. I use the word ‘good friend’ to convey the vibe I want you to have with women. Goofiness, playfulness, and most of all: authenticity.”
5. 100% = 100%
“Often after a divorce or break-up, its easy to feel unloved, unattractive, and unhappy. Break-ups have the power to tear a person down, especially if there is a child custody battle. One’s self-esteem can plummet. And if it was a toxic relationship, it may be difficult to ever believe that something completely pure and positive can ever happen to you.
“Developing positive, healthy relationships with others only comes when you can develop a positive, healthy relationship with yourself. It’s important to spend time with people who love you and you love back. It’s important to treat yourself well—mentally and physically.
“Often, men suffering from a bad break-up tend to lose themselves in fruitless addictions. The main culprits: video games, porn, alcohol.
“One of the biggest things I work with students on is that if you want to meet a 100 per cent woman, you need to be a 100 per cent man. No, it doesn’t mean you need to wear velvet jackets and have a bust of yourself in your foyer. It simply means you need to love yourself, love what you do, and love life. When I teach men how to reach that level, amazing women start popping up in their lives out of nowhere.
“And when you can put it all together, your relationship is free of any negativity, disrespect, entitlement, or distrust. When you demand only positivity and happiness in your life, that’s when you’ll find that in your relationship as well.
“I know how it feels after a messy relationship to think that it’s hopeless. I’ve fell victim to the dark arts before. But I know you can and will find the right woman for you the moment you actually decide to commit to finding her. She’s out there right now waiting for you (going on dates with rather disappointing men). She is relying on you to go out and find her. Commit, believe, and get your woman.”
This article originally appeared on The Father Hood – the new online destination to help dads survive and thrive.