How a Lack of Confidence in Dating Can Hinder You

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "How to Not Die Alone" by Logan Ury. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you lack confidence in dating? Why is it a bad idea to delay serious dating?

Some people want to date, but they don’t feel confident enough to start doing it. They repeatedly insist that they’ll start dating when X or Y happens—whether X is financial stability or a better haircut. Dating coach Logan Ury refers to such people as “hesitators.”

Here’s why delaying dating is a bad idea, according to Logan Ury.

How Hesitators Behave

If you’re a hesitator, you want a relationship but don’t take any steps toward finding a long-term partner because you lack confidence in dating. However, Ury contends that hesitators fare poorly in the long run because they forfeit two big learning opportunities.

First, serious dating involves a particular skill set—such as an ability to communicate well. If you delay dating seriously, you never develop these skills, so you never learn how to date effectively.

Second, you can only learn what you prefer in a long-term partner by dating several different people: For example, someone intrigued by non-monogamy may discover that they don’t enjoy it as much as they expected. If you don’t date, you don’t discover what you actually want.

When Delaying Dating Works Out

Although Ury focuses primarily on the problems with delaying dating, other relationship experts focus on the positives. For example, in Models, Mark Manson argues that heterosexual men living with their parents rarely have luck with women. He, therefore, recommends that such men wait until they move out before trying to meet any women. Otherwise, they won’t be able to attract a woman to go out with—so they won’t go out on dates and thus won’t develop the skills necessary to date

effectively.  Delaying dating may also help you figure out what you want in a partner. Unlike Ury, some relationship experts argue that dating without a clear idea of who you want is a waste of time—you’ll settle for incompatible partners who temporarily ease your loneliness instead of continuing to search for compatible partners who meet your needs. To discover what you want and help clarify what you’re seeking in a partner, journal about your ideal relationship.

So if you’re a hesitator, Ury recommends that you just start dating. This may be difficult since humans suffer from what behavioral scientists call an “intention-action gap”—a disconnect between what we want to do and what we do in reality. One main strategy to overcome this disconnect is to set a deadline to start dating—one that’s short enough to spur you into action but far enough away that you can prepare. Ury recommends setting a deadline three weeks from today.

(Shortform note: Some psychologists theorize that we suffer from an intention-action gap because we prefer immediate rewards to long-term benefits. In other words, we don’t date—even though we know it will benefit our future selves—because it requires a lot of short-term work. So how can you motivate yourself to do this short-term work? Like Ury, experts recommend setting short deadlines, but they suggest adjusting the lengths based on what motivates you. If big goals motivate you, a three-week deadline to “start dating” works great. But if big goals intimidate you, break down “start dating in three weeks” into smaller goals with even shorter deadlines, like “create a Tinder profile in two days.”) 

How a Lack of Confidence in Dating Can Hinder You

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Here's what you'll find in our full How to Not Die Alone summary:

  • A science-backed approach for finding the true love you’ve always wanted
  • How your patterns may be sabotaging your quest for true love
  • How to effectively navigate the twists and turns of a relationship

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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