Erika Ettin: You Have To Play To Win

By Erika Ettin
Tribune News Service

In life, when we want something, we often have to take a risk. Want a new job? Better put together that resume and send it into the ether for your potential new employers to see. Want to be a success in business? Perhaps quit a job (as I did) or invest in something (or someone) you’re not 100 percent sure about. Want to meet the right partner? Join an online dating site, go to a speed-dating event, or even just tell friends you’re single and you’re willing to be set up.

Rarely do the things we want in life the most come to us neatly wrapped with a bow on top. Even the most successful people know this.

When dating, it’s important to put yourself out there to get what you want. Why do many of us think happiness will simply find us when we least expect it?

A client recently emailed me about a guy who, unfortunately, didn’t work out in the relationship department.

She wrote, “I just wanted the easy route, which was a guy who liked me to show up and be perfect, but I guess that has kind of a fairy tale ring to it. Oh well.” Sadly, as she’s starting to realize, that’s just not how it works.

In online dating, and dating in general, good things don’t often come to those who wait. Rather, good things come to the proactive.

Many people go online or go to a speed-dating event and expect to find their “one and only” simply by signing up or logging in. That’s the same as thinking you’ll get in better shape simply by paying for a gym membership. It takes a bit more energy than that. But don’t worry, all of the effort isn’t for naught. Let’s look at a few steps in the process:

Signing up for an online dating site or app for the first time
Remember, finding the love of your life takes time and work. Even on the apps like Tinder and Bumble, you have to text your matches to set up the date. Simply swiping right is not enough. As someone who likes to keep a clean inbox, I don’t recommend having more than five matches at a time before sending messages.

Going on a first date
While you always hope that each one may be your last first date, just go in looking for great conversation and some things in common. And if you know in the first few minutes that this person isn’t the right fit, remember that you can still have a positive experience. Many people shut down when they “know” their date isn’t what they want. I encourage you to learn from this person, share stories, and still try to have an open mind.

Going to a social event
It’s okay if your future significant other doesn’t sweep you off your feet at the event. Just go to have a good time and meet some new people.

Going to a wedding
I know they say weddings are a great place to meet people, and one of my friends moved across the country to be with a wonderful man she met at a wedding (and now they have a baby), but it’s rare that the circumstance works out as well as it did for them. If you’re going to a wedding solo, just enjoy the event, stuff your face with hors-d’oeuvres, and partake in the open bar if you so choose (but remember that too much may scare away that cutie or stud staring at you from across the dance floor).

It will likely take some effort to find the right person (and you may have to kiss a lot of frogs), but throughout the process, you learn what you like and what you don’t like. As Carrie once said on “Sex and the City,” “People go to casinos for the same reason they go on blind dates _ hoping to hit the jackpot. But mostly, you just wind up broke or alone in a bar.” Love is out there, but, just as the other important things you may want in life, it may take some grit and some risks to find it.
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(Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating)

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