Alex Rennie

Dating success; breaking out of your comfort zone

Succeeding in the dating game takes grit and determination. One of the biggest barriers people face when trying to meet someone new originates from not being able to break out of their comfort zone. Here we get up close and personal with some useful techniques to grow your confidence.

Comfort zone; a psychological state  

At some stage in your life you’ve likely spotted one of those ghastly motivational posters, the kind that sports a generic landscape underscored by some nebulous phrase championing the merits of “success” (or something similar). Indeed, this is an image that’s often summoned when we think of the comfort zone, that state of psychic solace.

But like most mainstays of human experience, there’s a pretty straightforward scientific explanation as to why we seek the safety of our comfort zone. And it’s down to familiarity. As far back as the beginning of the 20th century, intellectuals were already starting to think about why we’re creatures of habit.

In 1908 two American psychologists set out forge a more thoroughgoing understanding of motivation. Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson - the two researchers behind the self-titled ‘Yerkes-Dodson law’ – came up with a simple yet savvy way of explaining the correlation between arousal and performance. 

The stateside duo proposed that when placed in a position of relative comfort, human beings generally tend to produce a steady level of performance (if you wanted to be especially scathing, you could replace ‘steady’ with monotonous). However, Yerkes and Dodson argued that in order to deliver the best results, people need to experience a bit of anxiety – something the pair termed ‘Optimal Anxiety’.

You might think that this phrase is an oxymoron; how can there ever be such a thing as ‘optimal’ anxiety! Well, if you’ve ever pushed yourself to achieve something you’ll know that a bit of stress can pay dividends. 

Importantly, Yerkes and Dodson were careful to note that too much anxiety can be hazardous and will eventually have a negative effect on performance – a good thing to bear in mind if you’re a workaholic!

Dating outside your comfort zone

Just like that push for promotion or gaining an extra qualification, finding yourself that special someone involves breaking with the ennui of your comfort zone and putting yourself out there. Indeed, if Yerkes and Dodson’s postulate is anything to go by, why would you choose to settle for a mediocre partner when you can strive for the best? 

Though things might see daunting at first, you’ll be surprised at how easily you can instil positive change into your love life once you start trying – indeed, joining a dating site could be a good place to start!

Make the plunge

Once you’ve made the decision to explore the world that exists outside your comfort zone, the first challenge is to see what’s on offer. If you’re feeling a bit cautious you don’t necessarily have to dive in head first, dipping your toes is also a step in the right direction. Mustering the courage to ask someone out for a drink or deciding what to include in your first message both fall into this bracket.

Don’t fear failure

Life’s too short to worry about things going wrong and it’s important not to be afraid of failure. Yes, getting over a break-up or dealing with lost love can be a painful experience, but it’s definitely much more saddening in the long run not to experience these things. The general gist of this slice of advice is that you should always try and see failure in a positive light. When things go wrong, we grow and we become stronger people. Rolling with the punches is all part and parcel of living a life that’s full to the brim!

Take risks 

Risk taking is fundamental when it comes to shaking up the peace and quiet of your comfort zone (it also goes hand in hand with the former point!). There’s always going to be a substantial amount of risk built into dating; you have to be willing to put your neck on the line and potentially face up to being rejected. But by being courageous and confident you’ll only boost your chances of finding love

Act a fool

It’s a pretty well known fact that having a sense of humour is a desirable characteristic. Not taking yourself too seriously is a technique for escaping your comfort zone. The less you care about what people think about you, the more self-confidence you’ll grow. Don’t confuse this with arrogance; being able to laugh at your slip-ups is a plus point. Also, try not to ham it up too much, clowning about isn’t always constructive for your love life.

Getting to grips with the unknown

If in doubt, ask questions! Being inquisitive is an integral part of the dating game, whether you’re looking to test you and your partner’s compatibility, or just in need of something to get the conversation started on a first date. To be sure, the art of getting a boyfriend or a girlfriend is all about investigating the unknown. You’ll be surprised how a few seconds of scariness can give way to a lifetime of joy!  

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