Paula Hall, Parship's dating expert offers advice to a woman obsessing about dates.
I’m single and have been for about four years but not out of personal choice. Over the last few years I’ve been on numerous dates but they never seem to go anywhere. This in itself is very demoralising, but over the last year I’ve found myself becoming completely obsessed by the people I date. I don’t know what would be a normal amount of time to spend thinking about a date, getting ready for it and analysing it. I would estimate that I invest around 60 or 70 hours in the first date.
Before I go on a first date I like to free up at least five hours so that I can be sure I look my absolute best. You may think this a little extreme. The real problem however, is the amount of time spend contemplating the date. I obsess about how I should behave, what if he doesn’t like me and then I spend hours analysing the date afterwards. I’m so distracted that I sometimes can’t concentrate at work, I have stopped socialising as much with friends and I’ve lost 1 stone over the last year. What can I do to stop this constant obsessing?
The simple solution is to stop going on dates. If one date is interfering with your ability to work and it takes you five hours to get ready, this really does seem excessive. But naturally, if you want to have a relationship, it’s unrealistic to stop dating forever.
You've recognised that this obsessing is making you miserable and is getting in the way of other things, but what you’re not seeing is that it’s actually jeopardising your chances of a relationship developing.
When you go on a date, it’s nice to make an effort with your appearance – men appreciate it and it makes you feel more confident – but if you try too hard, it just comes across as desperate. I really believe men can small desperation a mile off. If you’ve spent five hours getting ready, you’ll be self-conscious and you're likely to spend the whole evening fussing and preening. Looking too perfect in itself can even be off putting. It says “look but don’t touch".
The other thing I'm really interested to know is whether you obsess about other things to the same extent or is it just confined to dating? If you're regularly taking hours to get ready before leaving the house (for example, when you go to work), if you're meticulous about tidiness and order or checking things multiple times, you could have a form of obsessive compulsive disorder. Many people are a little obsessive as part of their normal personalities so you only need to seek professional advice from your doctor if these routines are taking up a large amount of time every day and significantly interfering with your quality of life and you find it distressing.
Why not have a break with dating for a few months? Whatever you’ve been doing so far isn’t working. Surveys show more men are looking to date in January and February anyway (something to do with New Years’ resolutions I think).
Use the next couple of months to distract yourself with other things and improve your self-esteem – relax, go on holiday, spend time with friends and family, do some exercise, take up a hobby, even do some voluntary work - whatever interests you. If you have plenty to occupy you, you'll feel more fulfilled while you're single then you won't have such a sense of urgency about starting a relationship and you won't put so much pressure on yourself when you go on dates.
When you do go on your next date, distract yourself before and after so you don't spend so long thinking about it. Schedule something in beforehand so you're busy - meet up with friends, watch a film or go to the gym. Secondly don't start getting ready until an hour or even half an hour before you need to leave the house. Surely, any more than one hour getting ready for a first date is going to be spent doing things that your date won't even notice. Lengthy preparations will certainly add to your anxiety. If you do have to think about the date, concentrate on enjoying yourself rather than worrying about how you're going to behave.