Ask Dr. Tracy

Are You Looking or Waiting?

Many single people who say they're ready to get married and settle down aren't. They're not psychologically prepared or they're hanging back, passively waiting for Mr. or Ms. Right to pop into their lives. This might describe you without you being aware of it. How can you know?

Not Prepared?

Here's how to tell if you're prepared. Try to visualize success in finding someone. Close your eyes and picture yourself on your own wedding day. Imagine yourself all dressed up (or dressed in a toga or whatever if you're a non-traditionalist). See your family and friends. Hear the wedding music. See your bride or groom. Try to picture that person. Imagine yourself saying "I do." Imagine how you would feel.

Are you having problems with the visualization? Sure, no one knows exactly what their bride or groom is going to look like before they've met them, but if the visualization of a marriage or commitment ceremony makes you squirm, you may have a mental block about commitment.

If you do have a mental block, repeating this simple exercise may help you get past it. In most aspects of life, from sports to business, those who succeed say they repeatedly visualize their success. If you can't even picture yourself hitting the ball or pulling off a killer business presentation, you're probably not going to be able to actually do it. The same applies to achieving a long- term committed relationship.

Hanging Back?

Here's how to tell if you're hanging back and passively waiting, even if it doesn't seem like you are.

Are you forcing yourself to endure the boring rituals of dating services or singles clubs? Have you tried any new way of meeting people recently? If you're only looking in ways you're already comfortable with, you're not stretching. Unless you're willing to try something new, at the risk being a little uncomfortable, you may be slipping into passivity.

For example, are you willing to go out alone to parties and social events? It's always easier to meet someone, and for them to meet you, if you're not clustered together with buddies or girlfriends, or worrying about what they'll think if you strike up a conversation with someone who looks interesting but not movie-star attractive.

If you have trouble talking to people and making new friends, push yourself to follow the Nike ad -- "just do it." See "Flirting and Meeting 101" for some practical advice on the subject.

Try new ways of being open to meeting new people. Smile at strangers (as long as you're in a safe setting). Let the world know you're ready to have a real relationship. Ask friends to fix you up. Don't be shy about admitting you're really serious and want a relationship.

Don't let the stigma attached to personal ads keep you from trying them. And despite "The Pitfalls of CyberLove", online dating and matchmaking services are also worth a shot. However, per my article "Going beyond E-mail", I urge you to be very careful about how and where you get together with someone you've met either online or through a personal ad.

Expose yourself to a lot of "possibles," and continue to refine your criteria for a life partner (see "Developing Realistic Criteria"). By meeting more people, you'll also get better at evaluating them for their marriage or long term relationship potential. Even if you believe you're already expert at sizing someone up, please read "Qualifying Someone" before getting carried away with a new person you've met.

Related Keywords: Meeting People, Your Requirements

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