Remember all of my hooting and hollering about having a growth mindset? Well, I’m still really into it.
Let me refresh your memories about what the heck a growth mindset is:
If you have a fixed mindset, you’re likely to think that talent is something you’re either born with or without, and you view challenges as opportunities to prove yourself. You don’t enjoy things that are difficult for you, and you shy away from learning new things because you’re afraid you’ll fail and embarrass yourself. You believe (no matter how much you may deny it) that effort is a sign of weakness, and that if someone is truly talented they won’t need to try so hard to succeed.
If you have a growth mindset, you believe that the skills you were born with are just a starting point. You feel strongly that you can change and grow, and you embrace challenges as opportunities for learning and growth. Failure doesn’t scare you because you see it as a chance to grow, and you’re less worried about proving yourself than with learning new things. Often, people have a fixed mindset in certain areas of life and a growth mindset in others.
The growth mindset has become a big thing in my apartment. Any time I don’t feel like doing something (like laundry or washing dishes or cleaning my filthy room, to name a few), whichever one of my roommates is in earshot will pop his head in and yell, “GROWTH MINDSET!” Sometimes it works. Sometimes I just yell obscenities. So, it’s a work in progress, you see.
The other day, I was whining to my roommates about how much I hate dating. I know I write a lot about dating here, which might lead you to believe that I’m some sort of expert dater who gleefully skips into first dates beaming with optimism. This is not the case. I write so much about dating because a) I think it’s important and fascinating, and b) it completely baffles me. I guess those who can’t do write?
In recent weeks, I’ve canceled the same first date no fewer than 3 times, with a range of excuses from visiting family to food poisoning to work events that have popped up out of nowhere. It’s shameful. I was in the midst of explaining to my roommates that I don’t mean to be such a flake, it’s just that I’m bad at dating, when one of them predictably shouted, “GROWTH MINDSET!”
He had a point.
Being good at dating isn’t a fixed quality; I wasn’t born being terrible at dating. If I’m going to have a growth mindset, I have to embrace these dating challenges as opportunities to become a better dater (and maybe a better person). This got me thinking about ways a growth mindset can make you a better date, lover, fling, and partner. Unsurprisingly, there are a quite a few.
How to Use Your Growth Mindset to Be Better at Dating
1. Forget the idea that you have a set “type.” So, you’ve never dated someone shorter than you? Someone who doesn’t speak your language? A Catholic? A brunette? Guess what, sucker. You’re closing yourself off to all sorts of fun by not being open to the multitudes of beautiful, brilliant people out there. You do not have a “type” because no one is actually a precise “type.” The first man I ever fell in love with was skinny, white, and blonde, three attributes I never thought I’d be into. But I totally was. Let people surprise you.
2. See every location and event as a place to meet a potential person-of-interest. I’m a major culprit of thinking, “Ugh, I never meet anyone at that bar, the crowd’s so gay/hipstery/boring/douchey,” and then slapping on my least flattering outfit and sitting in the corner looking like a mean hobo. Obviously I won’t meet anyone that way. I need to learn to view gay hipster bars as challenges, and see them as brimming with possible loves of my life. You should do that, too.
3. Be bold and laugh in the face of rejection. Say what you need to say. If you like someone, tell him/her. If you want someone, make a move. Rejection only lasts for a moment, it doesn’t define you. Step up to the plate and give it your best shot.
4. See people as they are: growing, changing, shifting works-in-progress. Stop trying to assign absolute traits to people. Someone who you’ve labeled as a bad communicator may very well be working to improve his/her communication skills. If you see him/her as being permanently bad at communicating, you’re less likely to facilitate his/her growth. Try to view the people you’re dating through the lens of a growth mindset. It will allow you to be more accepting of them, and give them ample space in which to become better people.
5. Try to cultivate in yourself the same qualities you want your partner to have. If you’re working actively on yourself, you’ll infuse your relationship with all of this growth-oriented energy and you’ll both thrive like beautiful flowers in love.
6. Stop thinking that a good relationship is an effortless relationship. I hate to break it to you, but all relationships have their problems. The ones that work are the ones in which both parties are able to learn and grow together.
7. Explore new things with your partner. Don’t get stuck in the trap of going to the same restaurant over and over, or deciding that you only like doing certain things. Make an effort to try new things and learn together; it will make your relationship stronger and more exciting.
8. Don’t expect the first time you have sex with someone to be mindblowing. Sometimes it will be, and that’s awesome. More often, sex is just like anything else—it grows and gets better and changes. Be open to that. Talk to your partner about what you like and want, and then actively work to make your sex life as exciting and fantastic as humanly possible. Hardly anyone is born being amazing in bed. It takes work. So, work it.
9. Know this: people will change, you will change, and your relationships will change. This is normal. All you can hope is that you find someone with whom you can grow gracefully and lovingly.
PS: This Lifehacker article called “What We Expect Is What We Get” is a testament to the power of mindset.
PPPS: I like it when you follow me on twitter.