By Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD
Today’s dating scene can be very challenging for singles who are seeking a traditional, long
term relationship. The lack of structure and constantly changing social norms make it hard to
tell who shares your wish for a conventional relationship, and who could potentially wreak havoc
with your heart . The “10 Commandments” below are here to help you approach dating in a
steady, measured way that lets you get to know people before getting too vulnerable. Although
we’re calling them commandments, think of them more guidelines- of course we all know
someone who has met their life partner and slept with them on the first date, and 20 years later
they’re still happily married. But more often than not, clients come to me because they are
struggling to set healthy boundaries in today’s complicated dating world. The guidelines below
are to help you think about what’s best for you, and maybe try something different if you haven’t
yet had that “hooray moment” of finding your life partner using your current techniques.
Rule # 1: Briefly Done: Keep it brief.
Don’t spend more than 90 mins on a first date. Part of determining if it’s a good date is finding
out how the person handles follow up- why invest multiple hours on this before you even know
if they’re any good at follow up? I see many clients who have “incredible” first dates that last 5
hours, yet they never hear from the person again. Before you invest big blocks of time, confirm
if the person is actually any good at follow up (whether that means asking you out again, or
answering your request for a second date).
Rule # 2: Numbers for You: Hit your number!
Decide on a certain number of first dates you’ll have every week. The more quickly you hope to
find someone, the higher that number should be. If you’re not finding enough quality people,
then knowing you still have to meet your weekly number will motivate you to either find better
sources or confirm your expectations are reasonable- you don’t want to box yourself into a
corner! The best number for you depends on your goals and sense of timing. When I was 35
and hoping to find a husband in time to start a family, I often dated twice per day till I finally met
my wonderful husband! If you keep your dates brief, it’s easier to hit your number without
monopolizing your schedule.
Rule # 3: Diversity: Diversify your dating sources!
Just like job seekers don’t limit themselves to one employment search engine, you should not
limit yourself to one method of finding new dates. Use multiple dating apps, ask friends to set
you up, be open to new faces when you’re out with friends, try matchmakers, join the singles
group at your church or house of worship- do whatever it takes to make sure you go on a pre-
set number of first dates every week.
Rule # 4: Search for More: When you meet someone great, KEEP DATING OTHER PEOPLE.
I often see clients who quit dating others as soon as they meet someone with a “dazzle factor”
who immediately keeps asking them out on more and more dates, to the point where they’re
seeing that person 2-3 times per week and don’t have time to date others. They often end up
sorry about 6 weeks later once that fling runs its course. Don’t quit dating other people till
you’ve had an actual conversation with the person about exclusivity and seen if they know how
to SUSTAIN interest OVER TIME- do NOT just quit dating other people because your crush
asks you out frequently, since that doesn’t really tell you anything about their actual ability to
commit to more than a fling.
Rule # 5: Remember to Strive: If you’re serious about finding a partner, don’t date impulsively
We don’t grocery shop only when we’re experiencing hunger; and we shouldn’t think about
dating only when we’re having a yearning for partnership. Just like you grocery shop even
when you’re not particularly hungry because you KNOW that eventually you WILL want a good
meal, you should date regularly even if you’re feeling distracted by a busy week at work; because you
KNOW that eventually you WILL want to find the right person and settle down.
Rule # 6: Not in a Blitz: Be patient.
New Yorkers tend to be focused, driven people with high expectations; and they demand results
quickly. Remember that you’re a SPECIAL person, so why would you expect to find the right
partner within just a few months of searching? Specialized executives can take years to find the
right employment fit; finding a life partner is an even more important choice, so give yourself
time to find the right person. Commit to date in a deliberate and focused way for 12-18 months
before you have any real expectations of finding a potential life partner. If you find someone
sooner, that’s great- but setting your expectations for the long game will make the process less
frantic and stressful.
Rule 7: Hold for heaven: Know your body (i.e. how you respond to SEX):
Many people feel pressured to have sex early in dating- some people even have a “3rd date
rule”! The problem is, that a woman’s body responds to sex- especially sex that results in her
orgasm- by releasing oxytocin which actually BONDS you to the person more than what is
usually appropriate for having been on just a few dates. So if you have bad sex, it’s obviously
no good for the budding relationship, and if you have GREAT sex that could be a problem too
because of the premature bonding. Everyone is different, so do what’s best for you- but don’t be
afraid to say, “I really like you but I tend to get kind of emotional/bonded through sex so I don’t
feel ready yet.” The person’s response to that will tell you wonders!
Rule 8: Don’t take the bait!: Know the difference between WILLING and ABLE.
Many people are very willing to have a committed relationship- they love the idea! They say all
the right things about wanting a committed relationship. But are they ABLE to sustain one?
That’s another question. Do they stay in touch and make/keep plans even when stressed, or do
they “go invisible” and/or hide behind work when things get tough? Are they willing to accept a
few awkward surprises on the relationship road, or do they get stuck in perfectionism? Do they
have the courage to make a commitment, or do they shut down at the idea of defining a
relationship? Do they know how to say “I’m sorry” when they’ve made a mistake, and accept
your apology when you’ve dropped the ball? We don’t know the answers to these “ABLE”
questions till we’ve known someone for a PERIOD OF TIME, so please don’t “give your heart”
to someone after 2-3 lengthy hot dates. We need to see how they are in a variety of
interpersonal situations, and that takes TIME.
Rule # 9: Control your mind!: Be careful of daydreaming.
DON’T permit yourself to daydream for hours about someone you don’t know very well. If you
have a vivid imagination, your brain may not understand the difference, and you could develop a
distorted sense of trust for the person, as if you’ve ACTUALLY been spending hours of great
times and building trust with them when IN REALITY you hardly know them.
Rule #10: Find your zen: Don’t lose sleep over flakes.
If you go out with someone great and think you had a wonderful time, don’t lose sleep
wondering why they’ve disappeared or didn’t call you back- it could be any number of things (ie
they get scared when they meet someone great, they’re too busy with work to REALLY date,
they aren’t totally over their ex, etc). So don’t spend too much time trying to analyze someone
who isn’t there- just move on quickly. That’s why you need to be going on plenty of dates,
keeping first dates brief, not daydreaming too much, and keeping the physical passion in check:
so that you don’t get too focused on any one person till they demonstrate a willingness AND
ability to form a good reliable relationship.
Hopefully the guidelines above will serve as a reference point for you as you decide what
approach to dating best serves your needs. Feel free to take what works for you and tailor or
disregard the rest. Many people who are seeking a long term or lifelong partner struggle to find
the balance between being open-hearted yet also not becoming vulnerable too soon. The
guidelines above have helped many people at my practice, and I hope they help you as well!
You may check out the trailer of Dr. Chloe walking you through the 10 Commandments of Dating below.
Just $7 for 30 days of full access to this 28-minute video of Dr. Chloe personally walking you through her 10 Commandments of Dating. Watch every day for 30 days to shape your dating habits for success!