Dear Luv Doc,
I have had three first dates now who have all made up really lame excuses to leave early. Why can’t men just be honest and say they don’t find me attractive? I am a grown-up. I can take it. They don’t need to tell me how they have to go home and feed their dogs or pick up a prescription for their moms or get up early for work ON SATURDAY. How about just being honest and telling the truth?
—Not Buying It

I will admit that nothing beats brutal honesty. Unless maybe it’s merciful dishonesty. As tempting as it is to be a moral absolutist, absolute honesty is a bit of a challenge in the real world. We all have little lies we tell ourselves, and without those lies our mental stability would be at best questionable.

For instance: We all like to believe that we have control over our environment and circumstances, but we don’t. Yes, we get to pull a few switches and turn some knobs on a micro level, but in a cosmic sense it could all come crashing down any minute. We could be swallowed up by a huge black hole, engulfed in a massive solar superstorm, buried by a huge volcano from the Yellowstone caldera, or very simply hit by a bus.

Seriously. People are hit by busses all the time. Google it. I haven’t actually worked out the statistical probability, but my guess is that you’re probably more likely to get hit by a bus than to get swallowed up by a black hole. The point is, we’re never really in control no matter how many times we look both ways.

Now, I am not saying we should just wander into the street whenever we feel like it; I am simply saying that if we have to process all the ways we are not in control of our destiny, it can be a little maddening. Mentally, it’s healthier to put a fairytale ending on our storylines than to contemplate some horrific demise, such as being devoured by a pack of ravenous weasels.

It seems to me you are putting a negative spin on your perceived rejections without having any substantiating evidence. Sometimes people do have to go home and feed their dogs or pick up a prescription or get up early for work on Saturday. What’s the harm in actually taking those excuses at face value? It is equally possible that so far you have gone on a date with a caring pet owner, a loving son, and a dedicated, punctual employee. Not too shabby.

The allure of negativity is that it allows us to feel like we’re in control by disallowing for the possibility of positive outcomes. It’s a self-defense mechanism against disappointment and rejection, but just because it makes us feel secure doesn’t make it real. Good things happen all the time to negative people, but they can’t recognize them because they’re too busy looking for the darkness to see the light.

My suggestion to you is to open your mind to the possibility of a positive outcome—not just on the next date but permanently—as a habit … in every aspect of your life. I am not saying you won’t be disappointed. You will. Regularly. But at least you will be open to all the good things that will happen in your life, and my bet is there will be plenty … unless you get eaten by a pack of ravenous weasels.