Don't Let A Bad Date Sour Your Quest For Love. Here's How To Remain Positive

If you have been unlucky in love and subject to more than your fair share of disastrous dating stories, it's understandable if you are tempted to give up on finding love altogether. Though getting your hopes up for a first date just for it to turn out to be another dead end can be discouraging, and being subject to a bad date after a bad date can leave you feeling like you will never fall in love or meet the right person, it's important not to lose faith. "Treat each date not really as good or bad dates, but as stepping stones towards what you want," says dating expert Daniel Packard, per Marie Claire. Every bad date brings you one step closer to finding your future partner and allows you to better zero in on what you are — and aren't — looking for in a mate.

If everyone around you seems to be in a happy, committed relationship while you seem to be attracting every emotionally unavailable, rude, or uninteresting single within a 100-mile radius, it can be comforting to know that everyone who has successfully found their perfect match likely also has their fair share of past dating mishaps as well. After all, bad dates are an inevitable part of life. Understanding how to recover from a less-than-ideal dating experience can help you move forward in your quest for love without throwing in the towel or waving your white flag.

Don't blame yourself

If a string of bad dates has discouraged your quest for love, it can be easy to blame yourself for the outcome. Whether it feels like you are attracting the wrong kind of person repeatedly or your Tinder love connections never seem to translate IRL, it's essential to understand that it isn't your fault. 

Instead of beating yourself up after every bad date or looking for the fault within yourself, remember that when first dates don't work out, it often simply comes down to issues with compatibility. While getting your hopes up just for the date to not go as planned can feel disappointing, it helps to remember that more often than not, if a date doesn't work out, it's simply because two people aren't compatible — and that's okay. If you lack compatibility with your date, know it isn't necessarily anyone's fault. In that case, try not to sweat it.

If you begin to blame yourself for your recent string of bad dates or wonder if you are doing something wrong, remember that dating never be easy or perfect – which makes it all the more worth it when you find the right partner. "It's about showing up and giving it your all," says professional matchmaker Alyssa Bunn, not expecting perfection from yourself. "When you bring that effort to every date, true love has the ability to fall into place," she says to Bustle.

Assess what went wrong and make note of it

If you find yourself on bad date after bad date, it may be helpful to begin noting what seems to be going wrong from your perspective. At the end of every bad date, marriage and family psychotherapist Christine Scott-Hudson recommends physically writing down your thoughts as to why you think the date was a dud. "What, specifically, did not work for you?" she says, per Bustle. "Was the date too pushy? Did you feel uncomfortable? Was there no chemistry?" Regardless of the reasoning behind each of your bad dates, writing down your feelings immediately helps you deeply reflect while freshly in the moment. Putting your thoughts to paper can help you better hone in on exactly what seems to be going wrong, allowing you to make adjustments.

Documenting your thoughts also allows you to be able to notice any potential patterns in the issues with the types of partners you are choosing. "There is some good in every situation, and that includes bad dates," says dating and relationship expert Celia Schweyer (via Bustle). "Evaluating yourself can help you find out the things you need to shift when it comes to dating." For example, maybe your preferences need to shift, or perhaps your expectations are set unrealistically high, and you need to cut some of your dates more slack on unimportant things. Looking back on your post-date thoughts can help you reassess your approach to the dating game.

Don't put yourself under pressure to find the one

While it's great to go on dates and meet new people, putting all your time and effort into finding "the one" can be exhausting and can make any bad dates that you have all the more upsetting and disappointing when they happen. "A lot of people approach dating like a part time job," says matchmaker Michela Hattabaugh, via Bustle. Constantly checking dating apps or feeling like you need to have a date every weekend can lead to burnout and ruin the fun of dating altogether — and what's the point of dating if you aren't able to have fun?

Many people, women especially, tend to put themselves under additional pressure to find love by a certain age out of fear that their biological clock is ticking. Being single and subject to bad date after bad date while all your friends seem to be getting married and having children can make it seem like you are somehow behind schedule. Constantly feeling like you need to catch up or being worried that you may never find "the one" puts you under unnecessary and unfair pressure. "Fear and scarcity don't tend to be healthy internal drivers when it comes to partner selection," says relationship coach and author Jordan Gray (via Brides). "Some people get married and have children at 20, some people get married and have children in their 40s or 50s. So, who knows what life has in store for us?" 

Practice gratitude

As simple as it sounds, practicing gratitude and being mindful in recognizing all the wonderful things and people you already have in your life can keep bad dates from getting your spirits down. Because let's face it, you will find your soulmate eventually, so don't miss out on enjoying your life as-is in the meantime. "Gratitude not only helps us feel more confident, but it's scientifically-proven to help us win new relationships," says Alyssa Bunn to Bustle.

While it can be easy to feel discouraged in your pursuit of love after a couple of bad dates, having a positive and encouraging relationship with yourself and with friends and family can prevent you from getting too down on yourself or the situation should a date not work out. "Researchers that study happiness are pretty clear that happiness is more about how you spend your time ... than if you are in a relationship or not," says certified clinical psychologist Jennifer Taitz, Well + Good

Matchmaker Michal Naisteter recommends writing in a gratitude journal and using it to reflect on all that is going well for you in your life or all the good things that happened to you that day or that week. "These positive ripples will slowly affect your week and your dating life," she says (via Bustle). Acknowledging gratitude while allowing yourself to enjoy life in the present will make it all the more meaningful when the right person comes along and joins the equation.

Understand that you're in the driver's seat

If you are striking out on finding love, it can be easy to question whether or not you have what it takes to score a high-quality partner — to which the answer is yes, of course, you do. Instead of allowing a history of bad dates to make you question your own value and wonder whether or not you are good enough for someone else, start to question whether or not a date is good enough for you. "It takes two to tango," says Michela Hattabaugh (via Bustle). "You should approach dates with confidence. Always remember that you're a catch and approach the date with that mindset."

Instead of spending your date questioning every move you make and worrying that you just said something weird or wondering if your date likes your outfit, use the one-on-one time to assess whether or not they have the qualities you are looking for in a partner. If your date's joke wasn't funny, you don't have to laugh, and it's okay if they don't like your outfit, as long as you do. What's more, if they are disrespectful or you know right away that they aren't the kind of person you are interested in spending time with, don't be afraid to decide to end the date early. You are in control of how you spend your time and who you spend it with, so it's important to be selective in what you allow. 

Date yourself

Putting all your time and energy into trying to date someone else makes it very easy to forget to date yourself, which is the most important pursuit of all. While being persistent in pursuing love is a noble cause, make sure you have enough time and energy at the end of the day to do the things you enjoy doing and take care of yourself. Whether you take yourself on a date every week to your favorite coffee shop or spend a few hours meditating, reading, or journaling, make sure you are the priority. "Self-compassion and self-awareness are the first steps in attracting and developing a positive relationship," says relationship expert Melanie Schilling, via HuffPost. Loving yourself helps prevent you from falling into the trap of thinking your level of value or worthiness comes from having a partner, which can help you shrug off a dating disaster more easily.

Dating yourself is particularly important if you have had too many bad dates to count recently. "Too many bad dates add up and accumulate," says women's breakup and dating coach Cherlyn Chong (per Bustle). "When you feel like vomiting or are terrified at the thought of yet another date, stop. Take a break with as much self-care as possible. Then, regroup, reframe, and get back out there again."

Don't let your past dictate your future

When you have faced enough dating disappointment, putting yourself back out there by continuing to date can feel like the last thing you want to do. "Often when people have been emotionally scarred — and let's face it, who hasn't — it's common to be self-protective, says Melanie Schilling (per HuffPost). "But there is a difference between being healthily skeptical and undermining your happiness." Taking yourself out of the dating game entirely based on bad experiences and not giving anyone a chance to get to know you may prevent you from being hurt or disappointed. Still, it also stops you from meeting someone you could potentially love and who could add something great to your life.

Holding onto past feelings of hurt, anger, and resentment while on a date with someone new can cloud your judgment and may prevent you from being open-minded enough to recognize a great potential partner when they do finally come your way. "If you're going to date, you've got to stay optimistic and go into each date with an open mind," says Rachel Sussman, psychotherapist and author of The Breakup Bible (per Refinery 29). "If you can't do that, you might have to give yourself some time to heal."