Tools for Your Dating Journey


“That’s it, I give up!” How many times have you said this about dating? I know you’re tired of feeling frustrated and disillusioned with dating because I have experienced it myself. Trying to find a partner can seem like an endless roller coaster of excitement and disappointment, connection and heartbreak. Well, read on because it IS possible to date without hating it. Look, we all need to take breaks and I absolutely support that. But giving up? No way!

Here’s are some questions for you before we get started:

What are the possibilities that could arise if you approach dating with true curiosity and interest instead of focusing on the outcome of a committed, long-term relationship?

What is the worst that could happen if you spent time shifting your perspective and approach to dating AND spent more time getting to know the person you’re dating?

Are you willing to take an opportunity for growth and self-discovery in order to protect yourself from frustration and loneliness?

If these questions have piqued your curiosity and given you some hope, read on.

I’m sharing these 10 Foundation Frames to help you navigate the world of dating with more ease, curiosity and confidence, so that you don’t make yourself miserable and give up. They might even lead you to finding an excellent match for a partner! At the very least, you’ll be learning more about yourself and you are worth it, I promise.

1. Slow down!

Even if you’ve been alone a long time and you’ve been dating for a while, you still need to go slowly. View each person you are dating separately and as individuals. Don’t focus on the totality of the time you’ve been single. Each time you’re dating someone, you need to slow down and learn about THEM. A single person is not representative of all the single people.

If you’re rolling your eyes while reading this, I get it! But how many times have you pushed common sense out of the car and into the ditch while you’re driving down the freeway of unfettered hormones and hopes? I certainly have. I know that little voice that is telling you to stop doing the exact thing you are doing and I have ignored her too. Awareness is the first step. Common sense is your co-pilot, your ride-or-die so no more throwing her out the door of a speeding car!

Where does this mad sense of urgency come from? There are three major motivators behind urgency: a scarcity mindset; a need or desire to share resources; and loneliness and touch hunger.

First, the mindset of scarcity. While in a scarcity mindset, when it comes to dating, it’s easy to rush into relationships without taking the time to truly get to know someone. First the unfettered hormones and hope trying to take over, then good old scarcity joins in to render you completely unable to control yourself. You feel like you need to nail them down before someone else does. You fear that you’ll miss an opportunity to partner up, that this might be your best and last chance. You see this person as a great (or good enough) catch and you don’t want to lose out on a partner. So you enter into a relationship before you even know who they truly are or before they know you. Or, sometimes even worse, they detect this urgency and hunger and they opt out before it gets started. They sense that you want to nail them down and buh-bye! What you thought was a strategic move, or what your subconscious thought, was anything but. No one is worthy of you jumping all in immediately and most people don’t want to face that kind of energy. It reveals a lack of maturity.

Second, there is a need for security and I mean resource security. Feeling insecurity and stress in daily life is so common and can result in falling easily for the idea of a secure relationship. Having someone there to help out with finances, kids and home can be very enticing. The real truth is, that if you’re rushing into a relationship, that is not establishing security. That is building a house on a shaky foundation. Partnering up for security may make sense in the short run but long term it can be incredibly difficult to disentangle resources. Beyond housing and belongings, how about sharing children and beloved pets? Keep this in mind when you find yourself rushing into a relationship: “Am I willing to risk disentangling our lives in the future with a person I barely know? Am I willing to share custody of my kids or fur babies with someone I haven’t seen in stressful situations yet?”

Still with me? I know some of this can feel heavy and negative but a good dose of facts is a good reminder: The American Psychological Association (APA) estimates that the probability of a first marriage ending in divorce within the first 10 years is approximately 33% in 2023. Interestingly, it is women who predominantly initiate divorce in the U.S. and around half of children experience divorce of their parents. Even though most primary child custody typically is awarded to the mother, there are a lot of kids spending time in two different households.

Third, we have loneliness and it is a real challenge for folks. Being a single mom for 12 years gave me a lot of insight into loneliness. Our society is experiencing an epidemic of loneliness and that can also drive our desire to partner up. I don’t think many long-term happily married people really understand the deep sense of loneliness that one can experience in being single. It is a real issue that can feel absolutely soul-crushing. I ask you to consider this though: what if you had a similar sense of loneliness in a relationship? What if you couple up with someone and eventually you become so disconnected that you feel even worse? That can happen, I’ve been there and, honestly, I would choose be alone and lonely than being partnered and lonely.

So what do you do when you’re lonely and craving to be held? Well, you gotta get creative! Here’s another eye roll moment: Connection doesn’t solely occur in romantic relationships! I know you know this but how much do you truly invest in friendships? Do you spend as much time investing in friends as you do your romantic relationships? What would it look like if you did? Cultivating deeper friendships can ease some of the loneliness. Find and nurture your go-to friends with whom you can be vulnerable. Focus on those who have the bandwidth and have already shown up for you in tough times. Ask how you can deepen your relationship with them and if they are on board.

Now a lot of you are going to get weirded out by this one but hear me out: Touch is available to you even if it isn’t through a romantic partner. We’ve been conditioned to believe that it is only appropriate to receive touch through romantic partnerships. I call B.S. on this as it is harmful and short-sighted. I realized, after years of having casual sex, that what I truly craved was touch. I was touch hungry and casual sex often made me feel even lonelier and craving more touch. So, how do you get your touch needs met? Well, there is a thing called “platonic cuddling.” I’m actually a certified professional cuddler and I have facilitated group cuddles. Imagine a space where you can practice asking for what you want, establishing and holding boundaries AND getting some nurturing touch. That’s what happens at a good group cuddle. Cuddlist, Cuddle Sanctuary and many other businesses offer more information on these services. I invite you to think outside the box and give it a whirl. For me, it was life changing.

2. Track Your Feelings and Your Nervous System

Making contact with someone new in dating, can bring a rush of excitement. The first texts or phone calls will afford first impressions of what the person is about. In these crucial moments, from the very beginning, I recommend getting into the habit of paying attention to how they make you feel in addition to what they’re saying. Check in with your body and see if it is becoming dysregulated while talking to them and, if so, begin to ask yourself why that might be. Even before you meet someone in person for a date, it’s important to pay attention to how you feel while chatting with them. I’ve created a free resource called a Feelings Tracker to help you do this. Grab it here:

The excitement of a match and possible date can overwhelm our brains and we often lose sight of clues that pop up. These clues can be evident in conversation, apparent contradictions and gut feelings but they often get glossed over by the feel good hormones we get from someone matching and connecting with us. Pay attention to how you feel during interactions with potential dates and partners. Trust your intuition and listen to your gut instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Tracking your feelings can help you make more informed decisions about who you choose to pursue a relationship with. It doesn’t mean to disconnect immediately, unless you feel you are in danger, but it is important to keep these clues top of mind instead of pushing them to the side. If common sense is your co-pilot, your feelings are your engine. Maintain your engine and watch for warning signals.

Ultimately, being in partnership should be a balm to our nervous systems not a burden. If you have experienced trauma, are overwhelmed or stressed out, I encourage you to ask yourself if now is a good time to be dating. Take care of yourself first and learn how to tune into your nervous system. Use the Feelings Tracker to teach yourself to pay attention to how you feel with people you are dating.

3. Practice Boundaries

Another key tool for dating is boundaries. Talk about boundaries is everywhere, and that’s great, but do you really have the tools to know what your boundaries are, the confidence to state them and the ability to hold them? It’s clear that setting boundaries is essential for healthy relationships but before you can do that, you have to be aware of what your needs are and have an ability to advocate for yourself.

Boundaries are not a thing that come about out of nowhere nor are they just a way to cancel someone and cut them out of your life. They are a pathway to deeper connection and they are a practice. I have a free resource to jumpstart you on this practice and you can get it here:

The practice is so much more than stating a boundary and holding it. It is about knowing yourself, your potential stress responses and how to navigate them. Be clear about what you will and will not tolerate in a relationship, and communicate your boundaries to potential partners. Gather information about people by how they react to your boundaries. Be prepared to disengage if they are not open to discussing boundaries or cannot hear and take your boundaries on board. It’s easier to walk away sooner rather than disregard the information and build resentment later.

4. Cultivate Your Curiosity

Lean in and approach dating with a sense of curiosity and openness. Treat it as your own personal laboratory to discover things about yourself and the person you are getting to know. Ask questions, listen actively and see if they truly spark interest to get to know them more. If you are not curious about them, perhaps you are just not that interested. You cannot possibly know them already so if you are not inclined to be curious, that tells you something.

Conversely, you want to feel like they are curious about you too, right? If they’re not asking questions about your life, that gives you information too. Rather than downloading everything about yourself, give some information and see if they inquire further. Find ways to connect and relate while exploring beyond common interests. Nervousness or excitement can contribute to dominating a conversation so try to pay attention to a give-and-take dynamic by being curious.

5. On the Other Hand, Be Skeptical

While it’s important to be open-minded, it’s also crucial to approach dating with a healthy dose of skepticism. This may sound negative, and I’m all about giving people the benefit of the doubt, but you also need to have your eyes open. Being skeptical means also interrogating your own feelings and patterns. If you know that you fall in love too quickly, be skeptical of the feelings coming up for you. Take the information they are sharing on board and give yourself time to process it.

While dating, most people are on their best behavior. A desire to be liked, people pleasing and a need for safety can obscure authenticity. Give people time to reveal themselves. It may take time, even if they are not trying to manipulate or hide something. That’s why slowing down is so important and in the meantime, be skeptical.

6. The Slow Build of Trust

In the development of healthy relationships, the importance of trust cannot be overstated. Trust is key but it is also earned. Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship. Be honest and authentic in your interactions with potential partners, and expect the same from them.

However, something we don’t often talk about with regards to trust is creating the environment for honesty and vulnerability. In order to develop trust, one must be a safe receiver of information. Judging, overreacting or disgust will erode trust. In contrast, treating each other with care, respect and compassion builds trust. Cultivating a safe space authenticity will allow vulnerability to come forth. If what they share is upsetting to you, you can be honest about that without shaming them. Take care of your feelings without disrespecting or shaming.

Sharing vulnerable things yourself can also develop that trust but know that some risk exists when you share. Be prepared for negative reactions and make sure you are able to care for yourself.

7. Know and Show Yourself

A foundation of self-awareness is a great place to begin when dating. If you don’t have a good sense of who you are, getting more clarity before dating would be beneficial. Developing confidence around who you are and knowing yourself can also be very attractive. Confidence can be magnetic. Take the time to explore your own values, interests, and goals. Be proud of who you are, and don’t be afraid to show your true self to others.

Self-growth continues, even after partnering. Be curious about yourself as much as a potential partner and see where it takes you.

8. Resist Future Casting

Future casting can be a great strategy to achieve goals, but if you tend to future cast about specific people you’re dating, it can be a huge pitfall. Avoid the desire to dream about how they will fit into your life or you into theirs and getting too attached to an outcome that is unknown. It can be helpful to table the idea of a future while focusing on enjoying the present moment and getting to know the other person. It doesn’t mean ignore everything, however. If you are dating someone who plans to move to another city, and you have no intention of ever moving, pay attention to that. Future casting, in the sense of creating a fantasy future, is what should be avoided. Let things unfold naturally without putting undue pressure on yourself or your partner.

When we future cast and start daydreaming about what a great spouse or parent they would be, or what it would be like to entwine your lives, we can also put unwanted pressure on them. Even if it is unspoken, a fervent or desperate energy can show up, even if you think you’re hiding it well. Be excited but really try to contain the excitement to the present and not the future.

9. Define, Refine, and Redefine

Your preferences and priorities may change over time, and that’s okay. Take the time to regularly evaluate what you’re looking for in a partner and in a relationship. But as you are getting to know someone new, define what you want, refine your criteria as needed, and be open to redefining your expectations as you grow and evolve.

Our society is conditioned to a certain degree of compliance and normativity like monogamy, heterosexuality and religious values. Do not assume that you are on the same page with someone else if you haven’t had specific conversations. This goes back to being curious. Even if monogamy is desired by both parties, define what that means to both of you. Everyone has a different approach and unspoken assumptions can create conflict down the road. Be ready to share when the time is ready and ask them to share their expectations, beliefs and values. When deciding if a committed relationship is desired by both parties, having specific conversations about defining your relationship styles and expectations can save a lot of pain later on. Revisit these expectations as the relationship grows too in order to stay clear and offer opportunities to connect more deeply.

10. Go Slow When You Go Below!

This isn’t about a “body count” but it is about sexual intelligence and knowing yourself. What are your requirements for safer sex practices? Are you well-versed in consent conversations and do you feel comfortable having them with this person?

What do you know about your own pleasure and desire? Do you have spontaneous desire that arises seemingly out of nowhere? Do you take initiative for intimacy or do you require the other person to take initiative? Is your desire more “responsive” where you need more to get aroused?

Does feeling desired by this person feel important to you? How do they identify and how well do they know themselves? If they don’t have sexual desire, are they asexual? If they are highly sexual, is their spontaneous desire too much for you? Feeling out the intimacy terrain also takes time.

Taking your time in dating also gives you time to focus on cultivating your own pleasure. Invest in things that arouse you like erotica, sexy clothes, music and toys. Have a play date with yourself and discover the variety of pleasure your body can experience. Intimacy is something we can curate and experience for the rest of life. It is key to a healthy relationship, even if it isn’t sexual.


There are so many ways to sabotage the dating experiences and end up in a place of “I give up. I’ll just be alone forever!” These 10 Foundational Frames hopefully inspire you to stop blindly careening down the freeway of unfettered hormones and hope and start developing a deep awareness and curiosity. The experience of dating can be immensely enjoyable and a discovery process. By slowing down, tracking your feelings, and setting boundaries, dating can be enjoyed with clarity and confidence. By being curious, skeptical, and authentic, you can increase the probability that you’re making genuine connections with the right people. And by prioritizing self-care and emotional well-being, as well as getting specific about intimacy and needs, you can protect yourself from the pitfalls of dating and emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before.

In conclusion, dating doesn’t have to be a hot mess of frustration and disappointment. By incorporating these 10 Foundational Frames into your approach to dating, you can ride the roller coaster of dating feeling exhilarated instead of nauseous, all while gaining knowledge and confidence. And who knows? With a shift in mindset and following these frames, you might just find the perfect partner for you.