Modern birth control changed bonding relationships profoundly.  Universal internet connections to practically everyone in the world has been another game changer.  For many of us our beliefs and expectations about relationships has lagged behind the reality of modern relationships.

familyBefore Birth Control (BBC)
In the times before modern birth control intimate relationships between men and women normally produced babies. Mothers nursed infants and cared for the kids and the nest.  Men worked outside the home. Couples exhausted the remainder of their youth and all their middle age raising their families.  Mostly, couples bonded for life. Religions and laws supported this lifestyle.  Couples committed to the relationship once and then made it work as best they could “til death do you part.” Divorce was rarely an acceptable choice. It wasn’t a perfect arrangement, but it lasted centuries.

After Birth Control (ABC)6155_O'Connor_Sandra Day O'Connor being sworn in as US Supreme Court Justice, 1981_with credit_Collection of the Supreme Court_crop2
Birth control affects women more profoundly than men. For men, birth control has allowed the control of taking on the responsibilities of being a provider for a family under the old family model.  For women, it meant they could have relationships and at the same time  be a provider.  Women are no longer expected to be limited to the role of “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.”

Fluidity of Relationships
Divorce – Since women started entering the career world divorce rates have skyrocketed.  In the BBC way of thinking this has been a shocking reality, but in the ABC world it’s not really so negative. While there are substantial negatives to divorce, particularly with children, divorce is more manageable when both spouses can work and support themselves, as is often the case today. Divorce also allows escape from bad marriages.  The old stigma of divorce is melting away.

Unmarried or late marriages – Statistics show a great increase in men and women who are choosing to remain unmarried or postpone marriage. With birth control they can have careers and relationships without the challenges of raising kids.

Child Care – Career women who wanted children but didn’t want to abandon their careers created a need for child care to take care of their precious little ones during working hours.  Some husbands split or assume all the responsibility for work time child care. Though sometimes reluctantly,  many husbands today are sharing other domestic chores more equally with their wives.

Internet Dating and App Dating
The ease of finding a compatible mate is remarkable when compared to the profoundly limited choices of just a decade or two ago. It’s fast, easy and cheap.

Uncommitted? Relationships
Are humans naturally monogamous?

Is a lifetime commitment the goal of bonded relationships?

When is divorce the right answer for a marriage?

Are religious ideas of marriage keeping up with changing science and cultures?

How do overpopulation and lower mortality rates relate to making families?

Are expectations of having a home like Beaver, or even Bart, becoming obsolete?

If you can answer these questions with intelligence and sensitivity, you need to have a voice that is heard.  For many people the answers to these questions have changes radically over the past few decades.  Our observation is that marriage age people today generally have very different thoughts about marriage than their parents.

 

 

We all hate to be wrong, but in reality we are wrong often.  We just don’t want to admit it to ourselves or others.  That holds us back from successful dating.  When we can admit we were wrong, we can learn from our experiences.

mr_handSchool taught us wrongly
In school getting a wrong answer generally meant you were either not very smart or you didn’t work hard enough.  Either way, you were not enough, inadequate, and that’s a feeling we try to avoid. We tend to carry this way of thinking into all matters of our lives, and that may be our biggest mistake.  We should be able to be wrong without shame.

heatseekerHeat seeking missile
The simple but effective intelligence of heat seeking missiles comes from the ability to know when it is wrong. It changes course regularly to find its moving target. When its heat sensor says that any move has resulted in less heat, the missile knows it’s wrong and its guidance system moves away from the cool and back toward the heat. Simple but effective.

Be a match seeking missile
Missiles learn a simple lesson from being wrong, how to correct themselves. If you are going off course and not finding a match, correct that.  It’s simple. (not really)

Missiles feel no shame from being wrong.  Don’t get hung up on your so-called “failures.”  You can call them your “direction corrections” instead.   Expect that direction corrections will be an important part of your dating process. Recognized mistakes are not just excusable, they are desirable!

Missiles make many corrections before finding their target. Your chances of finding the right person increase dramatically if you are willing to cull through a wide group of wrong people.  If your match-seeking sensor is on, you’ll learn something with each wrong move.

“Your best teacher is your last mistake”    Ralph Nader

So, get out there, make some mistakes, learn some things, and find your target!

I remember when I first started bicycle touring.wind2 I was training along the coast of North Carolina when I joined up with a seasoned rider.  We were cruising along easily, and I noted to him that this biking thing wasn’t really so hard. He grinned and replied, “Yeah, with a tailwind.” I hadn’t noticed.  I did when I turned around to go home. The headwind beat me up.

Finding your Tailwind

Albert#1 Use great photos online
Your first photo viewed and all the others are the most important online facts about you that will get you dates.  To understand this better see our post on window shopping. Don’t discount the importance of your image. It may be true that you are so much more than what you look like, but we all make snap judgments about people based on their looks.

#2 Don’t confuse selling with buyingmarket
Your online profile has one function, to sell you out in the marketplace for dates. It’s an advertisement for you. It’s your 30 second ad during the Superbowl.  Make it work for you. Know your product, and know your target audience. Advertisements don’t say “I want xyz from you.” They say “I’ve got what you want.” The desire for you is out there. Your job is grab the attention of the people with that desire.

You get to do “buying” when you check out their profiles and pay close attention to them on dates. This is equally as important as selling. Know what you are looking for. Hint: if you think it is mostly about looks, you are way off course. Looks are very important to begin with and way less important for a relationship.

pinocchio#3 Be Yourself
You ask, “What else could I be?” Well, people pretend to be all sorts of things they aren’t because they think that is what will get them the most attention. Talk about creating a headwind.  Sooner or later faking wears thin and you’ll just be you. You might as well make it easier by being you to begin with.  Be proud of who you are. People respect that, and studies show it leads to better dating success.

Know your strengths. Work on your weaknesses. Be happy.  Those three things aren’t so easy to do, but it you work at them a little bit at a time, you will be amazed at the tailwind you will develop.

No, not in bed. I’m talking about a lover in the sense of a person who brings love to a relationship.

Love for this purpose is multi-dimensional. To name a small set of love’s positive attributes, love is about – care, truth, respect, gentleness, commitment, understanding, intimacy, generosity, industry, sincerity, cooperation, communication, responsibility, unselfishness, support, faithfulness, forgiving, reliability, gratefulness, receptivity, and, of course, affection and passion. I’m sure I’ve missed a dozen or more other attributes. True love is a very, very good thing.

A hand holding a yellow pencil filling in a computer checked answer sheet on an examination. Education concept

Objective testing
I’m willing to bet you have not been tested by some “independent laboratory” to determine your lover index quotient. Unlike admissions to college there is no standardized admissions test to be admitted to a relationship.

thinkingSelf-evaluation
Research shows that healthy humans tend to significantly over-rate themselves for attributes that are valued, and the attributes of love fit into that category. People think they are better at driving, friendliness, leadership, healing, etc. than they actually are. We are biased toward ourselves as part of our fundamental self-esteem.  So, we generally believe we are better lovers than we actually are.

75/25 rulebalanced
I heard this one as advice from a dad to his son, the groom, right before his wedding. “If you want to be giving 50/50 to the marriage, give 75% because you will tend to over-rate your contribution and under-rate hers.”  Ah, the joy of wisdom.

The best way to be a great lover is to presume you are not.
avisAnswer the title question “no,” work at loving better, and you are more likely to be a great lover.

Being single means you have more control over your life than when you are in a relationship. While you gain the benefits of being with someone, you lose control over other parts of your life. What are you willing to give up to have a great relationship?

old-watch-patekGive up your TIME for a great relationship
Some of “your time” becomes “our time.”  Hopefully most of the time you spend together is enjoyable for the various reasons that people want to be together.  Some of the time together will not be for things that you like at all.  Family time might need to be split between two families.  Same with splitting friends time.  What about those season tickets or the weekly mah jongg game?  Some people like (need) to have some alone time.

Stack of One Hundred Dollar Bills U.S.Give up your MONEY for a great relationship
There may be a net gain or loss of money when you get into a relationship.  Know what you want. Money is a big issue, often the biggest issue, in relationships. If you are the one contributing more, do you both know your limits?  If you are the one contributing less, do you both know the limits?

CaboGive up your HOME for a great relationship
People sometimes get attached to their homes.  That’s natural. So there may be compromises about where you two bunk down. Where are you going to live? His place? Her place? A new place? There are also many issues with sharing space with someone. Can you agree on home size, neighborhood, decor, cleanliness, climate control, pets, noise, bedtime, mealtime, guests, parking, jelly beans (just checking if you’re paying attention), yard work, bath room time, closet space, snoring, holiday decoration, etc?  I’ve heard people argue seriously about the use of paper plates. Jeez!

Give up your SEX for a great relationship
Let’s hope that’s not an issue!

“The first duty of love is to listen”      Paul Tillich

If you have read many of our posts, you have figured out that we believe that the foundation of solid dating and relationship success is in giving to your loved one.   Each of us starts our lives and grows up wanting things given to us – a bottle, a toy, a smart phone, a car, whatever.  Kids are selfish.  That’s no criticism.  It’s nature.  As we grow into adults we realize that we are just wasting air if we don’t contribute while we take. We give and we take.  Hopefully, we give more than we take so that the world is better off by our being here.  One powerful way to give that costs us nothing is listening to another person.  Real listening.

students-paying-attention.150610Listening with full attention
I can be good at listening, but often I’m not. I know some pretty good listeners but few who are great at listening with full attention all the time.  It’s human nature for our brains to start processing and thinking about what we’re hearing so that we distract ourselves from our focus on listening.  We are mentally, and often verbally, responding to what we are hearing before the other person is finished speaking.

Active Listening
One old trick to be a better listener is to mimic back what the speaker is saying, to summarize what you heard.  Instead of our brains running down our own rabbit trails, we attempt to stay with the speaker’s trail.  It works because it gives our brain the task that supports listening instead of speaking our response.  This trick also contributes greatly to better communication because, in addition to better listening, it gives the speaker feedback that allows refinement of the thoughts being communicated.

Interrupting
The easiest way to listen better is to stop talking.  Nuf said.

If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear.”  Mark Twain.

Win Friends and Influence People
My biggest take-away from Dale Carnegie’s classic self-help book is that people find good listeners to be fascinating, interesting people. Why? Because everyone wants to be heard and appreciated, and listeners achieve that and create a bond with the speaker.

Listen with your eyescouple-having-conversation
Watch the speaker and you will pick up all the non-verbal communication that is often more important than the words being uttered.  Also, the speaker will know you are paying attention, and it will help you keep your mind from being distracted.  If you are looking at your phone or TV while listening, you give the message that what the person is saying is no more important than your other distractions.  Not good.

Use your memory (or forget it)
When I hear something that stimulates a strong idea in my brain, like when I disagree, I have a tendency to jump into the conversation.  What if instead I held the thought for later or just let it go?   What would I lose? Is it really so important for me to blurt out my thoughts?

listen2Get Smarter
You learn a lot more listening than you do talking.

Listening is loving
When you listen well you are communicating a powerful message.  You are telling the speaker that what they have to say is valuable to you.  Most of us don’t get a lot of that.  Listening should be appreciated.

Don’t you want somebody to love
Don’t you need somebody to love
Wouldn’t you love somebody to love
You better find somebody to love
             Jefferson Airplane

giveloveIt is in our nature to want to be loved.  We want it, we need it, we love it, we try to find it. There is no confusion about that.  It is the clear, yet often unspoken, drive behind dating.

Oddly, we don’t generally recognize a similarly strong desire to participate in the active side of loving, the powerful need to love.

The Joy of LovingAunt Joan
Take a minute and think about the most loving people who you know personally.  I bet they are not unhappy people.  I think of my Aunt Joan. The church at her funeral was overflowing with appreciative recipients of her love, and I can only remember her with a smile on her face. Giving love creates joy in both the giver and receiver.

Mutual Love Giving
Now imagine your relationship with the person with whom you share the desire to give your love more and more every day. Your joy in the relationship comes from the other’s joy, and your loved one feels the same way about you! It’s like a snowball rolling downhill and gathering mass.  You love more, so they love more, so you love more, so they love ….  It happens.  And it can happen to you.

xmas2Mature Loving
How old were you when you noticed that receiving Christmas presents wasn’t as much fun as giving them?  Kids are all gimme gimme. Nothing pleases a parent more than seeing their kid light up with happiness when opening the well-chosen present.  It’s the same with love when we learned that the giving is the best part. ( We all need to be good receivers too.  When the other gives love, take it in with gratitude)

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make             The Beatles

Settling is not a bad word.
For some picky people there is a need to accept some deviations from the long list of date requirements.  For some who don’t expect much there may be a need to be more selective.  For most of us both settling and selecting will help us find the best mate.

Organic Applesapples_2327493b
Organic may or may not be your thing, but it’s pretty clear that they are better for you than conventionally raised apples. The conventional apples will probably be bigger and have amazingly perfect skin. As to which taste better, the organics may hold an edge. What kind of apples do you buy? You are both settling and selecting when you choose.

With your dating you have similar choices. Are you looking for the pristine conventional red delicious or the sweet, slightly-flawed organic fuji. There are always trade-offs. Always.

Consider the importance of your Date Criteria
Being a lawyer (and maybe just too damn picky), I can get hung up about grammar. Rose is very intelligent, but she hasn’t lived in a world where the precision of grammatically correct speech is as highly valued.  If we weren’t together because of that mismatch, I’d be a fool of the first order.  We have other mismatches that we consider relatively insignificant because the areas where we do match are so nice.  For example,  healthy eating was a criteria for my dating, but I had no idea how wonderful it would be to find someone who really loves to feed me better than I ever expected to be fed.  And with love!

selectingOverly tight requirements may overly eliminate
Maybe height is a big hangup for some people, but if you found the perfect person for you and booted them for a few inches of altitude, in my book, you would be foolish. A graduate degree may generally indicate more intellectual firepower. So what? There are plenty of really bright college drop-outs.

Some traits are very important
Simple matching criteria like height, income, and education may generally help get matches in the ballpark, but the important things for really good fit with couples are primarily about personality; things like kindness, generosity, sense of adventure, attentiveness, and the like.

Rule for selection criteria
Those criteria that are easily measured and stated like multiple choice questions for online profiles are generally less important than the criteria that can not be easily stated or observed.   Example – height vs honesty.  You have to get to know someone before you can have an idea if you two are a good match.

Settle with little stuff  –  Select for the big stuff!

We all have been around the block a few times (or a few thousand times).  That will be a good thing for your dating future if you gain wisdom and insight from where you have been.

Learn from your past
“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
George Santayana

pina-colada-yolo-rum-beachWhat worked? Why did it work?
I could probably have a good time with just about anyone if I was sitting on a beautiful beach getting a little hazy on pina coladas, but those kind of times don’t define relationships that work. Relationships that work do it day in day out through the sun and the rain. Good relationships make the hard stuff more bearable and the good stuff more fun. Who has done that for you? What was it about them that made it happen?

What didn’t work? Why didn’t it work?
Flip the coin over and consider what was messed up about parts of your experiences with past partners.  Try to be as specific as possible.  Merely concluding the other person was a jerk doesn’t help you much.  Maybe that person was self-absorbed and had very little interest in your well-being.  Maybe you want a more intimate relationship than you would have settled for in the past?  Maybe just the opposite?

bright futureStay in the present on first dates
Your past is a big part of who you are today, but keep in mind that dating for long-term relationships is acted out in the present with some focus on the future. You will eventually need to know each other’s past to know what to expect from each other, but work into that gradually, particularly with past relationships.  Focus on the present experience of your date. Observe, and know you are being observed. Enjoy the time together as best you can.  Some people fall easily into griping about past relationships.  Eek! Please don’t, and don’t encourage your date to do so.  Stay present and positive to develop the expectation that the future is bright.

No one knows you as well as you know yourself (presuming basic mental health). You know where you’ve been, what you’ve done, how you feel about things, what you dream about, etc. elizabethanYet, we all find it challenging to classify ourselves into personality types with confidence.

Know Yourself
As you get involved in the dating game there are definite benefits to knowing generally what kind of person you are.
Know what you are offering
Not everyone wants the same things from a mate.  Haven’t you noticed that with some happy couples one is a talker and the other tends to be less talkative. The less talkative one probably likes it that the talker brings that to the table. Do you like to touch? Listen? Debate? Cook?

Know what you want
Do you want someone to exercise with you? Or to leave you alone while you exercise?  How much time do you want to be alone, with your mate, or with friends? Do you want your mate to structure your vacations for you? Do you want to do it? Do you like unstructured vacations?

distortedjpgHow to learn about yourself
Sorry, but while introspection is helpful, it will rarely give you a clear picture of yourself. We all have biases about ourselves that make it difficult to see ourselves. You are trying to get past that cloudy thinking, not accentuate it.

Counseling
Counseling can be a great way to learn about yourself. Sure, it takes time and money, but a good counselor (not one who just tells you what feels good) can open your eyes to see yourself in amazing ways.

Personality Systems
An easy way to start seeing yourself better is personality test like the Myers-Briggs 16 personality types.  Google “personality test” and you will find a bunch.  Some folks like the Enneagram personality typing scheme.  Look for yourself.

baby_in_mirrorDon’t be Afraid to See Yourself
You are who you are, warts and all.  You are an amazing product of nature and nurture; a complex, wonderful human being. The more you know about yourself, the more you can appreciate yourself.