At 19 years old, I had an idea for a book about happiness. I was gonna call the book “The Happiness Formula” and break down a bunch of different variables that impact human happiness. Then, I realized I wasn’t qualified to write such a book at all; I wasn’t really a happy person.
I only wrote about ten pages of the book – and this was over a decade ago now – but one of my ideas still rings true with me today. I wrote:
Happiness = Reality – Expectations
So let’s say your reality is awesome by most people’s standards. You’ve got tons of money, people love you, blah blah blah. But you’re a spoiled little bitch. You always want more. In that case, your reality is not as good as your expectations; you’re not happy.
Then there’s the opposite. You could have a really shitty reality. You could be living in abject poverty, struggling to eat every day. But maybe you’re humble and you never expected anything. Even in such an awful situation, you can be happier than the rich brat if your reality exceeds your expectations.
Expectations in Dating and Relationships
In general, people like to think about things in black and white. It’s easier. Eating meat is bad or good. Abortion is bad or good. Immigration is bad or good. But if you talk to a real expert who has studied those topics with an open mind, they’ll tell you that the reality is far more complicated. Eating meat isn’t objectively bad or good. It’s bad IF x, y, z. It’s good IF x, y, z.
If you think about dating and relationships in a simple, black and white way and have simple, black and white expectations, you’re setting yourself up for failure. I’ve met so many people who think that relationships between two individuals MUST fall into one of the following categories:
- Hookup/One Night Stand
- Friend with Benefits
I’ve had people ask me to label some of my relationships and I just refuse to do it. My relationships are not that simple. If they were, they would bore the fuck out of me.
And no, I don’t get excited when a girl says “I’m looking for a Hookup” or “I’m looking for a Friend with Benefits.” On the contrary; I think she’s kinda stupid.
The Consequences of Expectations in Dating
Why is it bad to look for a “Friend with Benefits?” I guess, on the surface, it’s not bad. It’s good to know what you want. From my perspective, though, looking for a specific type of relationship is setting your expectations on a goal that might not be realistic. In general, you’ll be happier when you lower your expectations or eliminate them entirely. Why?
Let’s say you match with a hot guy on Tinder. He asks that famous question: “What are you looking for on here?” You’re a little shy, so you say, “Can I be honest and direct?” He sees your message and his dick is already getting hard. “Yes, please,” he says. “I’m looking for a friend with benefits.” Obviously, he’s down. Everything’s perfect. Until…
- The sex isn’t as good as you thought it would be.
- You actually can’t stand talking to him before or after.
- He develops feelings.
- You develop feelings.
- He treats you like shit because he only sees you as a sex object.
Yeah. So there’s a lot of things that can go wrong and they might really piss you off. All you wanted was a FWB! Why is that so hard to find? Paradoxically, it’s hard to find because you’re looking for it. If you met the guy with an open mind and didn’t try to put your relationship with him in a box before it even formed, you probably wouldn’t have ended up disappointed.
“So, what are you looking for?”
Conversation. Laughter. Stories. Sex. Information. Perspective. Love. Friendship. But here’s a more important question: “What can you offer?”
I’ve been dating for a while. Maybe this will sound fucked up, but I can break down the types of girls I’ve met statistically. Whether I like it or not, I’m only gonna have really genuine connections with like 5% of the girls I meet. If I “was looking for” a really genuine connection, I would be disappointed about 95% of the time. And yes, I am looking for a genuine connection – but not ONLY a genuine connection. I’ve learned to be more open than that.
So, what is the perfect first date mindset?
We’ve all seen girls and guys getting ready for first dates in movies. They put their best clothes on, do their hair just right, and practice what to say in front of their mirror. They hope everything goes well. They’re nervous. They’re nervous because their expectations are high. They’re also trying too hard to present the perfect image of themselves. Fuck that. People going into first dates with high expectations are bound to be disappointed.
But what if you went into your next first date with an open mind and no expectations? What if you weren’t looking for anything, but instead willing to accept whatever your date could offer? What if there was no downside – only upside? It would be impossible to disappoint you and any positivity at all would surpass your expectations. In my opinion, that would be the perfect first date mindset.