What It Really Means To 'Put Yourself Out There'

by Lindsay Tigar

Of all the dating advice I receive as a single woman, the most frustrating one is ‘you should really put yourself out there more.” As cliche and tired of an analogy as it is, as soon as someone gives me that (unhelpful) wisdom, I think about the Sex & the City episode when Carrie defends Charlotte from the rude dating coach. I feel her grievance and often want to whine: Trust me, I am putting myself out there. All. The. Time. But what does it mean to put yourself out there really?

But when I have a few glasses of vino, do some meditation or yoga and get myself in the right headspace to approach dating, the image that often comes to my mind (and I’m sure to yours) is that ‘being out there’ means constantly swiping, bar hopping, going to singles events and always ready to meet the right person. If that’s what it means, it’s no wonder we’re all exhausted of the whole shebang. Luckily, that’s the wrong to look at it, according to dating experts and coaches.

“We’ve all heard the phrase “put yourself out there.” It’s a phrase that conjures an image of the opposite: an individual sitting around on their couch every night with no life and no friends to speak of — how insulting!” empowerment and dating coach, Melinda Lane Fisher tells Bustle. “Anyway, where, exactly, is ‘there?’ Assuming you have a life and a job, family members and friendships, you’re already out ‘there,’ whether that means at work, having dinner with friends or seeing a show. Right? So how do you meet someone ‘out there’ that you want to include in your already great life?”

To figure out how I can actually get the most return from the work I put into dating, I asked them to explain what ‘being out there’ entails. Here’s what they said:

1. Putting Yourself Out There Means You’ve Let Go Of the Past

“Examine your heart and mind and ask yourself honestly if you’re really ready to meet someone. Is it possible there is residual grief or resentment from past relationships? If so, maybe your first order of business is forgiveness. Find a way to let go of the past so you can clear space for your present,” says Fisher. “Now that you’ve let go and you’ve set an intention, you have to communicate it. The people you’re closest to probably already know that you’re interested in meeting someone. But what about your acquaintances? Friends of friends? Co-workers? Use conversations about dating or upcoming events to mention that you want to meet someone. Don’t be shy about admitting that you’re looking for a relationship; we’ve all been there and can relate.”

2. Putting Yourself Out There Means You’re Honest About How You Feel

“Putting oneself ‘out there’ simply means being open and honest about who you are and how you feel. It’s a key step in creating a deep connection with someone else,” life and dating coach Elaine Beth Cohen tells Bustle. “To do this, one needs to communicate ‘their truth’, which could be uncomfortable but it’s a brave and essential effort! Communicating in this way is a deeply rewarding challenge and is a necessary step towards building deep intimacy and love in one’s life.”

3. Putting Yourself Out There Means You Make Dating A Priority

“Putting yourself out there is about making the dating process a priority instead of an afterthought. Just having a profile on a dating site or hitting happy hour on Friday isn't putting yourself out there,” author of The Man Puzzle, Phillip Petree, tells Bustle. “Creating the time to date; being open to opportunities, no matter where they come from; accepting invitations from men who ‘aren't normally my type’ — that is putting yourself out there."

4. Putting Yourself Out There Means You’re OK Going On Bad Dates

“Putting yourself out there means you that you not only accept but you expect to go on bad dates. You expect that people will ghost,” matchmaker and dating expert Stef Safran tells Bustle. “Very few people have no dating war stories. Expect that you will too, but remember, those who try and fail are usually the people who end up succeeding!”

5. Putting Yourself Out There Means You’re Able To Be Vulnerable

“Being vulnerable in a relationship oftentimes means being genuine, even if it exposes you for potential hurts. Relationships are rough and it's so easy to get defensive and build up a ton of walls to protect your feelings. But the more separate you are from your feelings, the easier it is to miss if you're happy, if you like the person, if there are red flags you should be seeing, or if you just aren't compatible,” life and dating coach Gabrielle Loehr tells Bustle. “Putting yourself out there definitely makes you feel vulnerable, but it also makes you stronger emotionally and helps you learn how to be more present.”

6. Putting Yourself Out There Means You Are Present In the Moment

“Put away your phone! Be present in the moment and focus on what’s in front of you instead of staring at social media,” dating coach and matchmaker, Sarah Patt tells Bustle. “If you’re looking at your phone instead of the people around you, you could miss catching someone’s eye!"

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