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UntitledWelcome to Day 2 of 30 Days of Dating Advice for Intellectual Badasses! Today will continue with the importance of mindset in dating. Day 1 was about attitude; today is about another important component of mindset: knowing what you want out of dating.

Okay, so you’re single. And dating. You talk to some Potentials at the coffee joint, hoping for a date. You go to your friend’s Harry Potter Movie Marathon Party, hoping some Hermione/Harry lookalikes show up. You fork over your credit card and post a profile on an online dating site. Great – you’re out there! The question is, why?

If I asked you, right now, to tell me in one or two sentences what you want out of dating, could you tell me? It’s harder than you think. When most people are asked this question, they offer a vague answer like, “I want companionship,” or they list qualities they want in someone. But if you aren’t super clear about what you want out of dating, you’re far less likely to get it.

I can’t think of a more fitting analogy than that of the Olympic games, which happen to be going on right now. When successful athletes train for the Olympics, they do so knowing exactly what they want. They know exactly what events they’ll train for and exactly what their end goal is.

Likewise, being an Intellectual Badass, you probably know something about goal-setting and achievement in your particular area of badassness. Yes, you can apply that to your dating life!

NO matter what your age or situation, you date because you want one of four types of relationships:

  1. No Strings Attached (NSA). This includes a one-nighter or some other short-term, sexually-based interaction.
  2. Casual dating. Here, you want more than sex. You want to date, but not necessarily settle down with one person.
  3. Relationship. This is when you want a one-on-one gig, a girlfriend or boyfriend.
  4. Marriage. You want to legalize your relationship, and perhaps start a family.

If you get clear on what of these four you want, your mind will start automatically steering you toward people who want what you want, and steering you away from situations that don’t fulfill that goal. And that’s good, because dating people who don’t want the same thing you do never works.

Of all the good feedback I’ve gotten on Changing Your Game, the thing men mentioned the most was the chapter on figuring out what you want. For some reason, no one teaches us to do this!

Given this, here are a few guidelines when choosing what you want:

Don’t worry about the future. What you want “someday” is fine to keep in mind, but it’s what you want NOW that should dictate how you date.

You can only want one thing (at a time). I’ve heard people say, “What I want depends on the person.” In other words, some people would make good flings, others good partners. Perhaps… but deep down your psyche wants only one of them. And wasting time with the wrong thing will derail your dating success.

“What if I don’t know what I want?” I often advise people who aren’t sure to start with casual dating (#2). There’s no harm in that, and you can always up- or down-level if you need to. But in some cases, people are confused about what they want because they want something that others may disapprove of. This is often the case with NSA or even casual dating, which many people don’t approve of. Nearly everyone has at least some period in their lives when they want levels 1 and 2; but, often, women are made to feel like sluts – and men like jerks – for wanting these things. But you want what you want and there’s no denying that, and pretending otherwise only causes problems. Which leads me to my last point…

Have the conversation. Yes, it’s okay to convey what you’re looking for to people you meet, and to find out what they’re looking for. When to do this depends on what you want and on the situation; bring it up when you sense the time is right. The more serious your goal, the more it’s good to wait until you’ve gotten to know one another.

And, as always, feel free to comment or talk with each other here!