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    This TikTok Therapist Gave Us 13 Incredible Tips On How To Make Dating Less Painful And Awkward

    "If I could stress anything, it's getting back to humanity."

    I've spent most of my 20s single. While my single years led to a ton of personal growth, sexual exploration, and exhilarating experiences, they were also ~Stressful~ (with a capital S).

    If you're someone who wants an amazing long-term romantic partner, it can feel like finding a needle in a haystack in the current dating landscape. It seems like everyone is either afraid of commitment, ghosting people left and right, dishonest about their relationship status, or always on the hunt for a "better" option.

    BUT, there's hope. If that annoying girl you went to high school with can find a husband, you sure as hell can too (if that's what you want, LOL). The point is that there are millions of people in the world, and if you're patient, reframe your thinking, and use just a LITTLE bit of strategy, there's a good chance you'll find someone really special.

    How do we do this, you ask? Well, that's where Lisa Smith comes in — aka So My Mom's a Therapist on TikTok. She's a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) trained trauma specialist, with a private practice based in LA. When Lisa isn't helping her clients, she's stitching users on TikTok with incredible advice pertaining to their dating and relationship struggles. I've often seen people in her comments say that they're grateful for her account because they can't afford therapy, and I honestly think we need more people like Lisa!!!

    Lisa talking on her podcast

    I came up with a whole bunch of questions (and crowdsourced a few from my single besties) for Lisa about navigating the 2022 dating world. Here are 13 pieces of advice that anyone who's on the market should keep with them at all times:

    1. If you're feeling down, or hopeless in your dating journey, try not to succumb to the big sweeping statements (and judgments) about yourself in your head. "The biggest challenge there is when we stay macro, we get stuck," Lisa told BuzzFeed. "So when I stay with this conclusion where 'I’m 20 or 25 and never had a boyfriend,' or 'I’ve been single for this long' — when we stick with these big macro ideas, they’re conclusions that you can’t change in the moment."

    a person awake at night

    2. Make your world smaller. "You need to get in small communities, so that you don’t feel like such a little fish in such a massive, massive big pond," Lisa said.

    "So what does it mean to make your pond or your world smaller? Get around some people who you have something in common with... You wanted to learn tennis? Get yourself not an individual lesson; get yourself in a group lesson. Join a hikers group. Find a gardening co-op. You need something to get into smaller worlds — making your world a little bit smaller, so you can build community."

    3. If you are using the dating apps, try only talking to a few people at a time, so that you don't feel inundated by all the profiles. "When people have too many choices they get overwhelmed, and when you get overwhelmed you stall out," Lisa said. "We wanna make dating apps so that we imagine our pond having a gate to it, and I open up the gate, I let a few in, and then I close the gate and hide my profile, so that I’m only talking to a few."

    4. Try not to ask loaded questions on the first couple dates with a person. "Stop asking so many loaded questions upfront, because you’re building your idea of the person around these answers they’re giving you, rather than watching them organically live," Lisa said. "So much of what you learn about someone isn’t in the answers they’re giving you. It isn’t even in the conversation. It’s watching how they interact with the waitress when she comes up, or somebody messes up an order, or getting cut off in the car."

    5. In a similar vein, try not to text too much before meeting someone for the first time. "You’re developing these feelings — really strong feelings — from talking with somebody for a long time," Lisa said. "So it may feel emotionally like you’ve been with them for three months, and yet you may not have even met that person."

    6. For those who want a relationship but have never had one before, there's HOPE. "I always have at least one that I’m working with, and I love working with them because I feel like I really can help them, and I can get them to that place that feels better. Particularly, the part I focus on is getting them out of this idea of the person they want, into a real person and real engagement," Lisa said. She's had multiple clients (who had never been in a relationship before) find partners through making their worlds smaller (see tip #2) and adjusting their long list of requirements.

    7. My straight cis-women friends and I have all had experiences where we felt frustrated while dating men...for a multitude of reasons. Whether it's their fear of commitment or inability to make/follow through with plans, we can't wrap our heads around why dating them can be such a struggle! Thankfully, Lisa provided some fascinating insights on that. "Some guys don’t know whether they should take a step forward or a step back, and I think sometimes they don’t know if there’s a woman there that’s gonna want to have them step up, take the lead, be more of I’d say a 'traditional male,' or if that would be insulting if they tried to open the door. So I think sometimes they don’t know how to figure it out. But also, that's not defending," she said.

    8. Try not to have a long, non-negotiable checklist for your type. "This is a lot of the work I do when I have my clients in person who would really like to be in a relationship — trying to get them to expand their box," Lisa said. "I’m not a big fan of writing down all the qualities that you want in a person. Because most of those qualities, I think half the universe would at least concur, we all want those qualities. But that’s an idea of somebody. A type is an ideal, and if we're really sifting so strongly on things, I really encourage people to open or expand the box a little bit."

    9. But that doesn't mean you should settle for someone you don't find attractive! Lisa gave a great personal anecdote for this one. "I remember being young in my marriage and thinking, I’m pissed at you, but I still think you’re super hot. And that’s what I want. I want to be in the middle of a fight, and be like, can we just make up so we can get to the good sex part. So I think that attraction, it needs to be there."

    10. If you are "filtering" your dates, you should base it off conversation chemistry. "You wanna make sure your dates are good? Get on the phone with them and see if they can at least hold a conversation," Lisa said. "If you can’t do that, what makes you think it’s gonna be a good date? And if they can’t get on the phone with you, thank you for letting me know you’re probably not a good fit for me anyway."

    11. Lisa said she thinks the biggest takeaway from our conversation should be "getting back to humanity. I know that sounds a little cliché, but just enjoying people for people. Where I think we’ve gone, where our trajectory has gotten off with dating, is we’ve gotten too in our head and we’re over-rotating. We’re overthinking about it. We’re thinking too much about it..."

    12. There is no perfect equation to meeting your person, so just live your life to the fullest until it happens. "When I’m traveling and chatting to people in airports I always ask, 'How did you meet?' And they’re all different," Lisa said. "I think that’s what frustrates a lot of people. You can’t give them a recipe that says, 'This is how you can get what you want.' Which is why it’s so important that we build out a life we like, a life that’s enjoyable, a life that’s saying, I’ve got this really rich enjoyable life, and would I love to share it with someone? Yes, I would. I’m not holding out on this life that I love waiting for them, and at the same time I’m also not saying I don’t need them, I’m all good. No, I wanna share my life with somebody. But I’m doing what’s in my control to put myself in situations that are out there and engaging, because you just don’t who’s gonna walk into Trader Joe’s — you just don’t."

    13. So what happens if you do finally meet someone, but you're wondering if they're the RIGHT person for you? The first step is to try not to compare your relationship to other people's on social media. "Keep blinders on, like race horses. Where we end up running into trouble is looking at these images, particularly on Instagram, what this couple’s doing, or what this guy’s doing for this girl, and we get this idea in our head of what we think it should be — and we’re seeing a snapshot," Lisa said. "We are not seeing a full circle; we are not seeing behind closed doors."

    Want more advice from Lisa? Check out her Instagram, TikTok, and Stan Store!