The world of dating can be confusing at the best of times, but with a decent approach you can find someone who you like, and stick with them for long enough to get to know them in a meaningful way.
When it comes to dating, I'll take advice off just about anyone who is willing to offer it. Doesn't mean I'll take it onboard, but what the heck? It's always worth listening. Dating lessons can come from anywhere, and one of the most inspirational sources I've found of late is from poker players who claim their profession relates to the game of dating. Poker players are, after all, risk takers, and dating requires risk to reap the rewards.
Poker players must manage their emotional and mental state if they are to succeed at the tables. Otherwise, bad decisions would be made and the player would self-destruct. The same is true if you want to get an edge in dating. We all have hang-ups and problems, preferences and pet-hates. We have to be able to cast all of that aside in favor of enjoying the process of getting to know someone.
It also helps to have a bit of a poker face, at least for the first stages of dating. You don't want to be pronouncing your undying love to someone over your first coffee, and equally you don't want a slight feeling of doubt to escalate before you have even given yourself a chance to feel attraction. If you can control your nerves and excitement a little you will be able to take a measured approach to dating.
At the same time, it helps to be able to read other people. At the poker table, this means being able to read someone's body language and facial expressions to help determine what hand they might be holding. In dating, you will need to apply this same reading of body language to see if your date is having a good time. Is the conversation going well? What does that smile imply? And the all-in moment – should you prepare for the kiss? If your date tends to make prolonged eye-contact (or glance away nervously), lean in closer and face you often, and make excuses to touch you whenever they can, you might be in there!
It's not often that you'll know straight away if you like someone, and whether they like you. That is why you need to develop patience. Poker players need patience to be able to play tournaments for many hours without losing their zen or to deal with the online poker world over long periods of time. Patience is needed in dating because, let's face it, the process is not always smooth. You might have to deal with struggling to meet someone, getting rejected, with severe mismatches, and even when you meet someone who has potential you need to let it play out at its own pace.
Another life lesson that poker players tend to understand, is that you can't control all of the factors. A good proportion of life happens beyond your control. There is the other person to think about and their situation in life, as well as your own. When the stars align, you win big, but don't beat yourself up too hard in the meantime. Be patient and focus on being true to yourself and making yourself open and available.
One of the most important aspects of poker is knowing when you have a winning hand and, equally, knowing when to fold. This also happens to be the absolute key to dating. Yes, you need to go out there and meet people, but you also must start getting a sense for who is right and who is wrong for you... and letting go of the wrong ones can be the hardest.
Of course, dating is not statistical or analytical, nor is it cold and unemotional. The parallels between poker and dating are not absolute, and dating should by no means be approached as a game. But like I said, I'll take advice from anyone, and this advice happens to ring true. When you meet someone you really like, you have to be willing to put all of your chips in the middle!