Life Advice



What you're doing wrong in dating... and how to fix it

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

As we enter the summer and all of the fun date ideas that present themselves (picnics, ferry rides, outdoor breweries—oh my!), many people reflect on the fact that they are single and don't necessarily want to be. While we obviously can't control chemistry (or the longevity of relationships), we can certainly control our approach to finding someone.

Let’s look at a few reasons why you might be single and how you can take the steps to change that. Nothing is promised, of course, but let’s at least give you the best odds.

1. You complain about dating a lot.

Yes, dating can be frustrating. I get it. But talking about how frustrating it is all the time (especially on the dates themselves!) is not a turn-on. Try to stay positive, and if you can't, take a break from dating until you can enter again with the belief that you can meet someone.

2. You're not using dating sites effectively.

Almost daily, clients (and friends) complain about being single, yet when I ask what they’re doing to put themselves out there, I’m often met with a shrug, a blush or a response of “not much, I guess.” Dating takes work. We can’t rely on serendipity. We can count on hard work… and even then, there’s no guarantee. What does "work" mean as it relates to dating? Once you have a profile up, you have to reach out to people... and then actually set up the dates. Swiping endlessly with no conversation will get you nowhere.

3. You're not holding yourself to the standard of the person you're looking for.

Are you looking for someone fit and active? Then it will help to be fit and active yourself. Someone who reads 15 books a year? Then you better get cracking on that reading list! I see clients all the time who have a wish-list, but they don't look inward to see what they have to offer to a partner. Ask yourself, "Would I want to date me?" If the answer is no, then it's time for some self-improvement.

4. You're not putting your best foot forward.


I meet with clients over Zoom. When I see how they present themselves, I sometimes ask, "Is that what you'd wear on a date?" or "Would you be chewing gum like that on a date?" (I definitely practice tough love.) I'm often met with, "No—I knew I wasn't planning on seeing anyone today who I'm trying to impress." Wow. We are always presenting ourselves. Whether at a coffee shop, at the grocery store, or on a date. It’s worth giving some thought to how people are perceiving you.

5. You have unrealistic expectations of how first dates should go/feel.

I know everyone wants the fireworks or the elusive "spark," but when nerves come into play, it's often hard to gauge how well you might get along with someone. The first date should not determine whether you can spend your future with someone. Rather, it should be a chance to see if you have some rapport. Think about these questions: Did you laugh? Did you feel good about yourself? Did you feel attractive? Attracted? And the criteria I advise for a second date is, "Do I want to have one more conversation with this person?" If the answer is yes, or even maybe, then I encourage a second date. Take some pressure off yourself to "feel it" immediately. It’s just a date.

6. You're not expanding your social circles.

Meeting new people often requires stepping outside your comfort zone. Join clubs, attend events or take up new hobbies that interest you.

7. You're not being proactive.

Waiting for someone to come to you rarely works... unless your Uber Eats delivery person is really cute. And single. Be proactive in your search. If you see someone interesting, don't be afraid to start a conversation. It can be as simple as, “I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Erika.” Take the initiative to ask someone out rather than waiting to be asked. Being proactive can open up many new possibilities.

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