How To Keep Your “Cab Light On” When It Comes To Dating


I think for many of us, dating comes as an afterthought – something we’d like to avoid or rather not engage in when we’re consumed with the “busy-ness” of our lives. It’s understandable to want to pour all your energy into your friends, your job, and even the gym over something as much of a crapshoot like dating. However, I believe that someone who is truly earnest about meeting someone has to be in the right mental space to date. I’ve deemed this my “cab light” theory (modified from the SATC reference to be more gender-neutral as well as focused on dating in general, and not just commitment): people who date have to want to date. Seems simple and relatively straightforward, but in my opinion, more intricate than it seems.

With today’s online dating platforms, where options are virtually endless and there’s a pervasive mentality of “on to the next one,” it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s also easy to get jaded from watching friends/acquaintances undergo divorce or see couples separate after years of being together. While the dissolution of these relationships may be brought about by unrealistic expectations on what a partner can and should provide (to be addressed in a separate article), dating these days seems to have reached its peak of “dating around” and exploring your options. As such, I think it’s imperative to keep the following in mind to keep your own “cab light on” and help navigate this new age of dating.

1. Pace yourself with online dating.

I think most people who are new to online dating suffer the mistake of going hard and “all-out” in the first month of trying out or Tinder, scheduling multiple dates per week and corresponding/texting with multiple people at a time –they then inevitably hit a wall and come to screeching halt due to sheer exhaustion. Dating, like food, should be treated with moderation, and instead of burning yourself out and feeling like you are conducting your own personal season of “The Bachelor” (sans Chris Harrison), you should deliberately only accept a few date invitations per month. Remember that new batches of members come in every month, and you shouldn’t think that right then and there is your only shot to find someone.

2. Stay on these sites, regardless of how dismal your dating outlook appears.

Patience is not a virtue of mine, as my friends can attest – and in times of frustration with online dating, I have taken measures to deactivate my profile. However, the more “dating maturity” I gained, I realized my own attempt to have my “cab light on” meant that I had to (cringe) “put myself out there” somehow – and that, to me, meant keeping my profile up and active. While I vowed that I would not spend hours consumed with looking on these sites like I did during my initial sign-up month, I did make it a goal to log-in to check my messages and suggested matches a few times a week.

3. Laugh through your bad dates.

I like to think of bad dates like long Chicago winters – if you didn’t have them, you wouldn’t appreciate when it’s good. Think of them as reference points for what you’re not looking for and you can use these stories to regale your girlfriends with laughing fodder on your next girls’ night out. Don’t let a string of bad dates discourage you and cause you to go to the extremes of taking a dating detox – if you focus all your energy on the bad, your cab light will dim for sure.

4. Be open to set-ups.

As I referenced here
, using your personal networks is a great way to meet like-minded people who may be compatible with you. Letting your circles know that you would be open to set-ups is a way you can proactively (yet relatively passively) keep your cab light on. Here, you leverage your friends to be the “brokers” of your love lives. Just make sure to preemptively work out contingency plans/kinks of awkwardness if it’s not a match.

5. Treat dating as a learning experience/self-discovery process.

Through dating, you get to hone in on what you are really looking for. Whereas you might have a mile-long checklist of all the qualities you are look for at the onset of your dating adventures, you might realize that when you meet guys/girls that fit that checklist, that’s not what you’re really looking for at all. Your checklist might need to be updated, revised, modified, and made into a Version 2 – but eventually, you’ll likely be able to choose one to two characteristics that matter to you the most. It’s an exciting feeling once it clicks in your head on the two core essential qualities you’re looking for, and you put it out there that you’re looking for someone with those two core traits (as the universe has a funny way of abiding by the platitude “ask, and ye shall receive”).

6. Remember that it only takes one.

Don’t get yourself into a tizzy because it didn’t work out with the last guy you dated. Things AREN’T supposed to work out with everyone, so that you can free yourself up for the one that it does work out with. Instead of focusing on the “failed” nature of the relationship, re-shift your mental gears to understand that this is part of the story that leads to the next chapter, where you meet someone who’s better and more well-suited for you.