There are more unmarried people now than ever before in the United States. True, some people are committed and just not tying the knot, but many just haven't found their special someone. That's despite the growing number of dating apps like Hinge, Match, Tinder, Bumble and OK Cupid.
So how can you increase your chances of finding a mate? Two dating coaches -- one in Atlanta, the other near San Diego -- spoke about their approach to finding love for their clients.
Check your inner dialogue
These dating coaches say the biggest obstacle is their clients' own attitudes.
"It's the story they tell themselves: 'There are no good people out there. I'm too picky. Nobody's really looking for a relationship,' " said Traci Porterfield, founder of Love By Design in La Costa, California.
"You attract what you are. They bring that low energy, low vibration to that date because they are expecting it to be awful."
Dating coach Karla Moore if NineGPS in Atlanta agrees.
"Without a doubt, it is the client that is really, really stuck in a negative thought pattern. Learning how to pivot from that mentality is really a tall order for some singles, especially if you have a track record of disappointment," Moore said.
"Make it a habit to constantly notice what you're thinking, because a lot of people think, 'I'm too fat. I'm a bad dater.' Those are the kinds of things, whether you're aware of it or not, that you're putting out to the other person. That is what the message is. The first step is being aware of it and switching that."
Porterfield recommends replacing that inner dialogue with positive self talk.
"I have people find phrases, whether it's creating a mantra or a song that makes you feel great. If you tell yourself 'dating is fun. I can make a new friend,' that's a whole lot different than 'there's nobody out there. All the good people are taken.' "
Porterfield has her clients write a list of what they want in a mate. In many cases, her clients have several pages of traits, from physical to spiritual to what type of job they have. She has them narrow that list down to their top five characteristics and ultimately to their top three.
She says it's easier to keep those things top of mind when the list is whittled down.
"Those are things that you think of every day," Porterfield said.
"These are the nonnegotiables -- and I don't mean physical traits. What kind of person do you want? What's important to you? We talk about core values."
Porterfield cautions that some clients use their lists to build up walls and prevent intimacy. She says that's often due to fear from failed relationships and heartbreak. So, she says, clients need to really strip away the layers.
"Ask yourself, is that (trait) really important to you? 'Is that fear talking to me, or is that truly a dealbreaker?' "
Moore says she still sees women who think finding a mate isn't romantic unless it's spontaneous.
"We have been programmed by Disney, especially women, to feel like Prince Charming is just going to pop out of the sky. This is not rational. We handle our our education, our aspirations in other areas very methodically, thoughtfully and strategically. It's really about giving yourself permission to say, 'you know, I do want to be married. I do want to have a family.' "
We all know women who reject short guys and men who refuse to date women who are over 40 or are fuller-figured. Porterfield says people who want to find a successful relationship need to be more open about who might be a good match -- especially when it comes to surface stuff.
"People tell me all the time they have to be this tall or this color hair. Those kinds of things just put limitations on you. You can have a preference, but if you're open to how that person shows up, you're going to see who they are as a person," Porterfield said.
Being open also means not immediately judging the person you're on a date with.
"It's not a job interview. A lot of people go in with a mindset of, 'do they meet all the things on my checklist?' You should actually be listening more than you're speaking," Porterfield. said
Do something different
"Go to a different coffee shop in the morning. Go grocery shopping at a different store than you normally go to. Wear a different color," Porterfield said. "It doesn't have to be something huge. I tell people just to get yourself in a different mindset."
"It really is about us as singles to force ourselves to do something different. We have to take small steps. If that means you force yourself to a strategic event once every two weeks with other people who also may have anxiety about being out with strangers, that will let them see, 'yeah. i can do this,' " Moore said.
"It could be anything: a mixer, a networking event, it could be going out with friends after work to get drinks. There are opportunities for all of us to be out in the world."