How I Won the Man Lottery

by Dana Boyle on June 14, 2011

(I drew this in a series of cartoons for our wedding reception video.  It loosely resembles my husband’s online dating profile.)

I often tell people that when I met my husband, David, I won the man lottery.  It’s fitting to post this on the week of our “matchiversary,” four years after eHarmony decided that we were compatible on 29 dimensions.  He’s everything that I imagined I wanted in a mate, and more.  It sounds cliché, but after more than a decade of being in the dating world and spending time with people who I wasn’t into, people who weren’t into me, people who didn’t want what I want in life, or in meaningless or toxic relationships, when I set out to meet my husband, I decided I was done with default dating mode.  There had to be a better way and there had to be better men out there for me.

As I healed my heart and soul and convinced myself that there only had to be one good one out there who would find me, and that there are plenty of nice guys who are single, I began to read everything I could on dating, break-ups, how guys’ minds work, and how to easily spot the bad eggs.  I knew that when I entered into my previous relationship, I had been in a negative state of mind about my life in general and I wasn’t feeling particularly good about myself.  I knew I was already in a better place by then or I would not have been able to get out of the relationship I had left, but I wanted to make sure I was in a place of self-love and respect before I even started dating seriously again.  I wanted to make sure I’d date me if the shoe were on the other foot.

I did start dating, but I intended to learn from my dating experiences and not take them too seriously.  I wasn’t out to get myself into a relationship.  I just wanted to hone my dating skills.  I began to take note of what it was I didn’t like about my dates, what I did like, and I categorized things on lists.  I literally made the “list” of what I wanted in a mate.  I added to it every time I found something I liked, and I added to it every time I found something I didn’t like.  If I didn’t like that a guy didn’t call me after he said he would, for example, I added to my list that my ideal mate was honest, did what he said he was going to do and said what he meant.

I also learned to create a set of dating rules that helped me to navigate dates so that I wouldn’t get caught up in liking someone’s smile or resume so much that I put up with unacceptable behavior or personality traits.  I created deal-breakers and red flags that would guide me through the process, allowing me to keep my own boundaries and values top of mind, and more and more effortlessly stop seeing people who didn’t meet my standards – without apologies.

As I continued to refine my lists, the deal breakers, the red flags and the ideal traits, I dated better and better prospects.  I got very good at seeing things early on, and I even had a few laughs when guys I thought were perfect for me turned out to be married, or when someone I thought was great for me turned out to expect me to simply parallel park into his life rather than having my own alongside him.

Another thing I did was date a lot of people, not exclusively, at the same time.  I used to think that ladies don’t do that.  That’s why I spent several years at a time stuck with someone who I put up with, instead of playing the field until I found a good one in the past.  I decided if men can do it, I could too!  How else are you going to try different personalities out and know what you like and don’t like?

My point is, you can’t do the same thing every day and expect different results.  If you want to find the mate of your dreams, you have to be willing to try new things, change up your game, and get clear about what you want.  You have to enforce your own boundaries and uphold your values.  When you are true to yourself, you are the person you’d want to date, and you really put yourself out there they will come along.  They’re looking for you, too!

I am a relationship coach.  I offer several courses on dating, including one on one dating coaching if you could use some help or support.  I’m rolling out my course that is modeled after the dating model I used to find my husband, Winning the Love Lottery.  The class is Tuesdays – August 30- November 15.  I also offer a Dating Playbook course every now and then for those who need help with the basics of creating boundaries and rules before they get back in the dating game.

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