The Most Successful Dating Strategy

the best dating strategy“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Perhaps the simplest dating method of all is one that focuses on yourself. Specifically, it’s a method that focuses on the actions you take each day.

To understand this principle, consider the life of Jana Briggs.

Jana is in a relationship with a man she likes very much. It is a casual dating relationship, and her love interest is currently dividing his attention between two women.

Jana is frustrated with this situation. She wants the relationship to grow, and she feels like the other woman is holding her man back, preventing him from making a decision to move toward a more serious relationship with her.

Which of the following two approaches would you advise Jana to take?

(Option A) Each day, Jana contemplates whether her love interest (Frank) has shown signs of getting more serious about the relationship. She writes about it in her journal. She talks about it with her friends. If he goes more than three days without contacting her, she texts him to ask if something is wrong. When she spends time with Frank, she tries to get him to open up about his thoughts and feelings regarding the future they could have together. She makes comments to put down the other woman, acting like Frank is crazy for having an interest in her.

(Option B) Jana starts each day by contemplating one small action she could take to enrich Frank’s life and share her world with him. Then she puts him out of her mind and goes to the gym for fifteen minutes of interval cardio training. Though her heart is not in it, she makes herself reach out each day to at least one person who has shown interest on her online dating profile. Checking off exercise and online messaging from her daily goals checklist, she moves back to the first item, finding a way to share more of her world with Frank. She relaxes in the bath, thinking about the coming weekend. She remembers Frank’s comments about enjoying orchards and begins to formulate a plan to check if apples will be ripe for picking this weekend.

the best dating strategyThe difference here has to do with a focus on the harvest versus a focus on planting seeds. If you think like me, you’ll agree that Jana is more likely to succeed with option B. In the long run, persistent focus on the small things can lead to big results. In contrast, focusing only on results leaves us feeling powerless to change reality as we find it.

Have you identified specific actions you can take to move forward in your dating life? If not, you might be missing out on opportunities for taking back control in your dating life. It is frustrating to feel your romantic hopes are at the mercy of the whims of someone else.

Take back some control. Focus on planting seeds.

It may not seem like much, but one day you’ll have plenty of apples to pick.

James Bauer

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48 thoughts on “The Most Successful Dating Strategy

  1. Tracey said:

    The same was for me I was Jana and the other woman was the first one to pick him up after his divorce … He knows and says she is not for him but is a dear friend and was there for him…. I regretfully told him I was happy that he had her in his life I then bid my goodbyes…. I’m worthy to be the only woman

    • Katy said:

      I think you should take out the word, “regretfully” Tracey. I think you did the right thing. I have it in my online profile that I am terrible at sharing and would make a lousy Mormon wife.

      • Lana said:


        You are so funny by saying it “I am terrible at sharing (my man) and would make a lousy Mormon wife.” Great cense of humor is always helping us at any life circumstances.

  2. Maria T. said:

    I agree completely with this second option.. learning to wait for things to come and giving each day a step to get what you want is very intelligent. Which is better than only imagining things to happen and crushing with the cruel actual reality.

  3. Elizabeth McGreevy said:

    In other words, it’s about the journey, not the destination.

  4. Grace said:

    Hi James,

    I have been reading your works and I really like your approach, especially the awaking femininity. So I met this man four years ago and i liked him, but he doesn’t seem to click and i had an intimacy early on with him and i kinda initiated… I thought I could have moved on but unfortunately i didn’t, i got back in contact with him a year ago and he kinda responded better than before, but he told me that he was also seeing someone he wasn’t sure of, so i was really sad and i left the country, I thought i could forget him, but i find myself still think of him now it has been almost two month. So as i am ready this article of yours, I wonder if it is a good idea to be back in contact with him and be his friend… Please note that he has changed his status online that he is seeing someone.

    Many thanks


    • James Bauer said:

      Yes, Grace, I think planting seeds is a good way to go in this type of situation. Also, use your intuitive insights since you have gone through the Feminine Intuition course.

      • KAREN BIS said:

        He changed his status to ‘seeing someone’ so sorry, but doesn’t that tell you something? I would forget the pillock and move on.

        • Katy said:

          I think we need to remember that attrition plays a big role in all of this. Men have many, many more options online than women do. I have learned the hard way that if you try to ‘win’ someone you can lose a bit of your self-worth. Now (against all odds) I look for situations where he does the seed planting and works at least as hard as I do. If he doesn’t want me, I don’t want him. No. Just… no. If this sounds negative, it really isn’t. I am actually having quite a lot of fun now that I am letting the Universe send men to me. It really is working!

          • Ellee said:

            oh! I fully agree! If someone doesn’t want me, I certainly wouldn’t want him! He should have to work a bit too…to prove that he is into me. No way would I put myself out there, just to have him reject me! You also need to be careful in that situation. Certainly don’t want to be in a love triangle, with him at the helm, CHOOSING between the two of you. I have been there, it’s NOT fun! Although he did end up wanting to be with me, and letting her know, my self esteem did suffer a bit while he was “deciding”. Why did I give him so much power, to basically decide my life FOR me…

  5. James, this advice goes far beyond dating. Just spoke at 2 events and was really disappointed with the “results” at the first event. I realized I needed to do just what you advised here, focus on planting seeds, and emotionally letting the results be whatever they were going to be.

    This completely freed me up to give it my all and to feel great about me as a result. Whatever comes out of it business-wise, I’ll be happy with me which affects everything I do in life.

    As always, getting lots out of your newsletters. Hmmm, you up for being on my radio show?

  6. Kerrie said:

    Hi James, For the past 7 weeks I have been doing exactly what Jana has been doing. I was seeing someone for about a year we became good friends and had some great times together that I cherish. Each time any talk or hint towards becoming exclusive he ran to the hills. I would stop all contact, a couple weeks would pass and he would text or call me. We kept on repeating this pattern over the year. 7 weeks ago I told him not to call or text me again this wasn’t working for me and being ‘just friends’ as he calls it isn’t working. He respected my wishes…2 weeks ago I decided to join a dating site, and noticed him on there…I didn’t click on his profile im trying my hardest not to be interested. But him on the other hand has been looking at mine, and now 2 days ago he messaged me. I kept my response short and friendly. What does he want? I adore this man, we never fought, we had fun, it was easy with him. He has said that I would make the best wife and that he thinks im the most caring, kindest and thoughtful person he has ever met..This was said to friends not to me..He is afraid of commitment and im at a loss of what to do!!!

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Kerrie. What would planting seeds mean in the context of your particular situation and relationship? What can you do to build toward more interaction with this guy?

      • KAREN BIS said:

        He wants his cake and to eat it!

  7. Kerrie said:

    James I have been thinking about how I could plant seeds to gain more interaction with Mr Ex.. I know Mr Ex very well we had alot in common, I know what he likes and what would interest him. My issue is how do I go about planting the seed without it looking like im chasing him. He likes to do the chasing.
    I never take this approach with guys, Im the girl if they show no interest or become distant I give up. I don’t want to give up this time on what we had but as time moves on I am starting to feel as if I should.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Kerrie. If I interpreted your message correctly, it sounds like you are willing to bend the rule about not chasing him? I wasn’t sure if that’s what you meant, or if you meant you only want to plant seeds without giving the appearance of pursuing something with him. For a spark to happen, you need propinquity (opportunities to interact). He just might decide to pursue you again if you show up in his life again. Are any of you “seed planting” methods the kinds of ideas that could put you back on his radar? If so, start with those. As they say in sports circles, “You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Don’t be afraid to show a little interest if you’re going to lose him anyway by doing nothing.

      • Jan said:

        Hi Kerrie, An idea to consider might be to let him know you are going to a particular event (one you know he enjoys) with a group of friends and that “it would be great to see you there”. You haven’t asked him out, and he then has the opportunity to still do the chasing though you initiated the meeting.

        • KAREN BIS said:

          It still looks like chasing because she has ‘let him know.’ Why doesn’t he ‘let HER know?’ about an event, instead? (If he’s worth his salt?!

          • Johanan said:

            Karen, I have seen you post a few very negative responses to people. You may want to give less advice and speak from your experiences instead.

          • chris said:

            i agree with Johanan below.

      • Katy said:

        Make sure the shots you take are sincerely of interest to you so you come out with something. If you like to cook sign up for a really fun cooking class in NYC and invite him. I promise you will enjoy yourself and having an activity keeps the whole thing light. You will laugh too which is really important. Just keep moving forward. Nurture yourself as much as you nurture the seeds for someone else. It makes you much more fun to be with. Ultimately, you will be a more interesting person with stories to tell. Never let someone else take your joy and hope away.

  8. James, I REALLY like this post – In Business as well as in Dating!! And as Tracy said: “Focus on planting seeds and emotionally letting the results be whatever they’re going to be”…Good Advice for me, a new business owner (& hopeless romantic)…I’m going to hang it on my bathroom mirror to remind me every day!!! 🙂 Thanks!

  9. Lyudmila said:

    HI James,

    Have read your articles and book really helped me in a way.
    I have this problem with a man I can’t take of my head. We have seen each other 2 month, he was eager to marry me and we were crasy in love. Then he back off and dissapeared but we have still texted and emailed each other. He still said he love me but he was afraid of commitment.More than 2 years now I would give my life for him and I have admitted that I still love him but all he want just to be friends. I said No so he said Ok the bye. 2 months now I didn’t call him or texted him so he is. I love him to death but I decided not to get in touch now until he do, if he do. I have been chasing him for 2,5 years but time to let him know I am taking control of me.He is one of the ” bad boys” so have big ego and pride.
    Please advice what should I do, I really need your help.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Lyudmila. There is a time to invest and there is a time to let go. When you let go of someone it opens a space in your heart for someone who is a better match. I know it’s not easy to let go when you heart is attached to someone, but this man would not be a good focus for your attention. Please invest your love and energy in someone new and you will find the process helps your heart to heal. Wishing you all the best.

      • Lyudmila said:

        Thank you James, I am so happy to hear your advice . All my friends told me to leave him and let him go no matter how much I invested in him and no matter how much I love him. It is very hard but I have to find strengths to walk away with my dignity.
        You just helped me to realize once and for all that it is not worth it to wait for someone who took me for granted and give nothing back.
        Thank you.

        • Lana said:

          Dear Lyudmila,

          You are so lucky to realize that this man is not worth it, your time any longer. James gave you a perfect advise, so stick with it and try to open a space in your heart for a new man a better person and greater lover for you.


  10. KAREN BIS said:

    I like the idea of letting go to leave a space for a better match in your heart. I have done this just before a milestone birthday at 50, after 12 ‘on-off’ years.

  11. Cindy said:

    Hi James

    I dated a guy for 2 months then he broke up with me cause he started picking on my past mistakes. 2 months later I invited him to meet and see if anything had changed. He said he hasn’t changed his mind about us and he was seeing someone, bt that it was very hard to let me go and he was depressed for a month after. The next day things ended with this girl and a week later he invites me to a dinner at his place along with our mutual friends. I declined and then the following week he invites me to a games eve at his place again with our mutual friends. I then didn’t reply as I wasn’t sure why he wanted me there and I felt too awkward. What does it mean though. Did he want to reconnect? Why nt just invite me out alone?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Cindy. There’s a good chance he believes he is doing the “right thing” by a woman he likes but doesn’t want to date. He thinks he should maintain a friendship with you. Is he perhaps wishing on some level that something would happen between you two if he spent time with you? Maybe, but it would likely end the same way so I think you are doing the right thing by staying clear.


  12. sashalee said:

    Probably sounds old fashioned or “Queen Bee” of me, but I would skip all the drama and potential heartache by refusing to continue to date someone who is not exclusive. I don’t think it’s healthy (or enjoyable) to compete for a man’s affections, so if I felt myself wanting more than friendship, I’d be honest and tell him so, and then I’d ask him to call me when he is “free” … but only if he feels ready to be in a relationship with only me.

    • Penelope said:

      I agree about competing for a man’s attention. If they are the kind of proud man that you know they are, intelligent, can be charming when he wants but you just never certain where you stand with him and it’s very frustrating for a woman that loves him very much. It’s taking a toll on me. It’s been this way since the time I met him…always the unavailable emotionally man, non communicative with me, No matter what I do I just can’t seem to get to a space where we can talk without secrets (which are driving me nuts). I do care deeply about this man but now wonder how he really feels about me. I can’t go forever in limbo like this. Maybe he is trying to get out of contacting me because he has other women that I don’t know about (I’m sure he does) All I ask is to a f’ing real relationship or just please let it go. I have known him a long time and I have very special feelings for him. I loved him deeply. Perhaps he deep down does not trust me. Well I’ll tell you, if he would do the right thing and be more honest with me…whether he sees no hope or future for us or want’s us to work and have happiness and joy together I JUST WANT HIM COMMUNICATE WITH ME ABOUT IT. How long does he think I want to play games. I detest men who do that. What means the most to me is heartfelt, honest feelings even if it means that he is not really into developing a more honest relationship. I’m a grown woman I can take it.
      When he does communicate with me it isn’t often and certainly not enough to nurture a great partnership. Right now I feel like everything is going down the damn toilet. If I didn’t care I wouldn’t be pouring my heart out like this. I’m in tears a lot because I am so upset…it feels me feel hopeless. I think he may trying to tell me …I’m ok but he has more worldly (phony) women to keep him company. I’m afraid to express this to him but I know I’m a damn good woman who has always tried to be a decent person. But my real feeling could turn him off because he thinks I lack any confidence. Sure don’t we all have times when we lack confidence…we are all human. And yes, I do tend to be a little sensitive but when I love someone it’s all the way. But back to him not being sure about me…yes, I cry…yes, I get sad. But I do have confidence…way more than he realizes because he hasn’t spent enough time with me. Never lets me close enough to him to look in his eyes and communicate so that I can see his true feelings…realise what his fears are and anything that bothers him. And maybe he never will. Yes, In the past I saw that when he became disinterested he could be damn cold about it. But I’m a grown woman now. I can take it. I want to know the man, without BS but maybe I should just back off with some class and he would be happier. I’m not expecting a marriage proposal, I know he’s been through a lot of relationship problems…so have I…just honesty.

      • Jen said:

        Let him go and move on.
        I did and I fee wonderful.
        No more questioning or wondering.
        You would like a beautiful and loving woman (like me) wrapped up about a selfish man. When one door closes another opens. Trust me. You’ll have men lining up for you.

  13. sashalee said:

    Great article James, I completely agree about maintaining a healthy emotional garden by “planting positive seeds” in life and in ALL relationships. I think when you also allow plenty of space for those little seeds to grow, it’s a great way to release the need to always be in control of the outcome. =)

  14. Mieko Louise said:

    Great article James! There’s something I have to add and that’s – get busy having an amazingly good life and stop obsessing over men, the right man will appear when you’re loving your life and yourself and you know what values are important to you!

  15. Joyceline said:

    I love reading your articles and always look forward to your mails..

    • James Bauer said:

      Thanks, Joyceline. It’s good to have you as a reader.


  16. lynsey said:

    Dear James. I have been following many of your words of wisdom and would like to thanknow you upfront. However, I know find myself falling in love with a man I met in November last year; 3 months after his separation from his wife (his wife left him for another man after 10 years of marriage). his divorce was finalised in January and I too have been divorceso now for 4 years. When we met we had an immediate, intense connection. We felt like it was the first time ever that we both found someone who just ‘gets’ each other. We dated for 2 months and then he suddenly reclused. We are still good friends; as well as our daughters. I still have hope that we will again one day be a couple. He is not ready for that, which I understand, but when he is ready, I may still not be his choice. He does not want to even date other women for now. We get along so well and he still turns to me when he feels great joy or sadness in his life. However…I love him and am not sure if he feels the same; we definitely can’t talk about deep emotions like love as he will run for the hills. So, I am prepared to keep being here for him as a friend with the hope of one day being a couple. Am I wrong in doing so?

    • lynsey said:

      Excuse the typos. ..predictive texting

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Lynsey. You’re not wrong and you can certainly do what your heart tells you is best, but I will offer a perspective you may find useful.

      His reaction to discussing deeper issues suggests he has a distorted perspective about what might happen if he explores that topic openly with you. He needs to receive messages from you that shift his belief system. I’m talking about shifting him toward the belief system that says it’s okay for him to want something different from what you want and it’s okay if he’s in not even exactly sure what he wants. He needs to become okay with the fact that it’s possible for ambiguity to be an openly acknowledged aspect of a relationship. It would help you to know how you should focus your relationship energy if he came to a point of being okay with talking about what kind of relationship the two of you share.

  17. Mels said:

    I would do Option C: let him have the other woman he is dating. I play second fiddle to no one. If some man was ‘dividing his time’ between myself and another woman he’s not the man for me. I like your advice usually, but telling a woman she should do option B, carefully thinking of how she can please a man who is not willing to commit himself to her and shares himself with another woman? Never. Bypass. There are plenty of other men who would be more than happy to make her their priority.

    • James Bauer said:

      Okay, Mels, I can respect that position.

    • Penelope said:

      Mels…maybe your opinion is right on. I know other men are attracted to me because I can tell…I just haven’t gone out of my way to flirt back because of a lot of reasons. Of course I don’t like playing second fiddle to another woman either because I know that If a certain man isn’t really into having a relationship with me, I’d NEVER do silly, needy things just to hold onto him. He’s perfectly free to move on. No hard feelings. Really. I had a long marriage and have children, a career, and all of the wonderful things a person could possibly hope for in life…a lot of people never have had what I have had. I do count the blessings I have been lucky enough to have had.

  18. Nina said:

    Hi James,

    thank you for your emails. I really need an advice and would be very grateful to hear your opinion. I met this guy a year ago and there was an instant connection. However he had a girlfriend and even though the relationship wasn’t going well and we really liked each other, I didn’t want to put myself in this situation and kind of accepted that it was bad timing. Plus I really didn’t want that he leaves his girlfriend because of me an so on. Fast forward to two months ago when he contacted me again and said that his relationship is over (partially because of his feelings for me). We met and we still really like each other. But we aren’t dating regularly or texting/speaking on the phone daily. He said that he needs time to sort things out (he was with his ex for 6 years), what I really understand. I’m trying to plant seeds right now as you said and do stuff with him, but I’m definitely the more active one in the pursuing part than he. We have great time together, but I don’t want to chase him or to lose him if I’m too active…. or should I leave him alone and wait what happens? I’m confused and unfortunately not a patient person.

    I know you have a lot of mails, but I would be happy to hear your opinion.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Nina. You say you’re not a patient person. But your story suggests otherwise. It was your patience that allowed the relationship to grow into what it is today.

      There is a danger in pursuing him too much. There needs to be balance. If you pursue too much, it will reduce the “romantic tension” that is needed for a relationship to thrive in this early stage of your interactions.

  19. Lou said:

    Thanks for sharing.i read all the comments.oh wow relationships are complex. I have learned alot and downloaded a number of the books.i have been divorced 19 years, am considered, intelligent,beautiful, sucessful… but i have very specific common interests that are a must, namely a man who is committed to Christian principals,including celibacy before marriage.. and a man who wants to do ministry together. Did I mention I am 56? I met such a man 2 years ago…He was definitely “Godly, hot”, intelligent funny, and we had an amazing,exciting,spirtual,fun relationship ,full of laughter and serving God together helping people in troubled Middle East country…we often talked and prayed about getting married …sounds like a romance novel …and it was!!!….until little by little he pulled farther and farther away. It became a
    LDR across continents…He told me I should pray hard to find some one if I wanted to be married, that he had too many things to take care of financially,l told him it was hurtful that Checked me in and He should apologize. No more contact after 4 months… I think about himALOT it seems a once in a lifetime connection ,and wonder what happened??? I am trying to date …but the picking are extremely thin. Thanks for listening…it was cathartic to write. Your advice does bless others.keep doing what your doing .i and many others are being helped .

    • Barbara said:

      What a story Lou. You sound like a wonderful person and I’m sorry you went through that. I feel confidant that you will meet someone else who will really come through for you, and be the strong Christian husband you need.
      I don’t doubt that for a minute. For whatever reason your ex believes he can’t be there for you, maybe not even confidant in himself it sounds, and it’s a blessing in disguise, because God’s got someone else in mind. I too am a Christian, divorced for 19 years, 56 years old, but there’s a difference between you and me.
      I’ve been disabled and bedridden for several years and cannot work abroad like you, let alone meet a like minded man. Well, maybe if one came tapping at my window. : ) You are very blessed, being able bodied, active, ministering in a foreign country, lovable! Remember what James said about propinquity? You can go out there amongst other Christian men and at least start to share your interesting stories with them about your experiences abroad.
      I know it’s probably extremely hard to do, especially when you can’t get closure with your ex fiancée. Take little steps if talking about where you were (reminding you of ex) seems too much right now. If you go to church or bible study, smile at someone who looks friendly to you. And like James said, putting your energy towards another man will help lift you out of the pain of the past.
      Thank you for the ministry work you have done in such a difficult environment, the world needs more people like you. I will pray that you find that special man you deserve. God Bless

  20. Barbara said:

    Just reread your post Lou, and saw you date. Yes, the pickings are thin, slim, few and far between, as my daughters say as well.
    I personally believe that God wouldn’t put it on your heart, wanting a husband and soulmate,
    if it were not something He didn’t want for you as well. If it’s meant to happen, it will happen. And it looks like you’ve done a lot of homework with James material, so you’ll be ready when it does.

  21. Rebecca J. Brock said:

    She should be focusing all her thoughts and efforts towards HERSELF. Her health, her goals and dreams, her hobbies and friends. Love yourself FIRST, then everything else falls into place…

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