Dating for the purpose of finding a long-term partner is challenging. There are many reasons for this.
One significant reason is that when we date we know we are being evaluated at the same time we are evaluating our date. That’s like selling and shopping at the same time. That’s a confusing situation.
When we know we are being evaluated, we tend to let that influence our behavior. We get nervous and tend to put on a bit of a show. We know that pretending to be someone we aren’t ultimately fails, but it’s tempting to try to please our date. We want to be liked and desired.
Our suggestion: Just be yourself!
Because it’s easier!
You’ve been being you all your life, and you’ve got the role down pat. Put your best foot forward, but just be you. If your date doesn’t like you when you are just being you, what good things could you possibly expect from a long term relationship with this person? (Warning: This doesn’t mean you must expose your date to your quirkiest traits on your first date.)
And it allows you to do what you need to be doing, shopping.
If you are paying too much attention to putting on a show for your date, you can’t pay attention to learning about your date. It’s hard to figure people out, but it sure doesn’t get easier by not paying attention. Hopefully, your date shares this wisdom. You should have your attention focused on your date, and your date should be focused on you.
So, turn down the marketing effort, and let your product sell itself. Turn your attention to being a careful and discriminating shopper. Listen, observe, and then listen more carefully.
“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” Ernest Hemingway
Dating (even in our teens or young adult years) can be fraught with angst and confusion.
How do I get started?
So, here you are wondering if there is a map of this territory or even basic rules of the road. Most of us have had similar thoughts when we found ourselves at this crossroads. But, you don’t have to drive off blindly, there are maps that have been drawn from the experiences of others who have gone down these roads before you.
Be assured there are maps. We are here to help with your maps, but before you can employ the maps you need to provide the most important things for your trip:
- Your starting place, in other words, who are you? (Not an easy question nor a simple answer)
- Your destination, or what kind of relationship(s) you are seeking? (again, challenging)
- Your baggage, some of which you love (kids, pets, home, job, etc) and some of which you just just have to lug around (kids, pets, home, job, …. no, just kidding)
- Your resources, all those great things about yourself that you have to offer. (most have more to offer than they think)
Wanna get lucky?
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Seneca
When we want something we tend to want it as soon as possible. Maybe we want to skip the preparation and move right on to the opportunity. When you start dating, preparation is very helpful.
Sometimes the best place to start with preparation is simply to clarify the goal. Ask yourself one simple question and take the time to think about it.
What do I want?
Knowing what you want gives you the benefits of having a goal. With a goal you can devise a strategy for accomplishing it. With a goal you can know when you are off track. With a goal you will know when you have succeeded.
Be forewarned by Yogi Berra – “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
We suggest that the key to answering that question is to start with answering:
What type of relationship am I looking for? (casual, great friends, partner, spouse, etc)
If you can write a clear paragraph (or at least a good sentence) about the relationship that you believe will work for you at this point in your life and possibly beyond, you are well on your way to getting lucky.
“There are two types of people in this world – those who believe you can divide people into two types and those who don’t.” Dave the astrophysicist and camera repairman
Let’s say you could divide the reasons for dating into two types, just for fun dating and serious goal dating.
1. Dating for the pleasure of dating
You do fun things and meet interesting people. You get companionship without commitment. It gets you out of the house.
2. Dating to find a more permanent relationship
You may be dating as means to accomplishing something else, like finding someone to settle down with. This type of dating makes the date itself secondary to the desired future relationship.
What if you go on a date for the second reason and you realize it isn’t going to work on that level with the person? Why not shift gears into the first type and just have some fun! Everyone can enjoy some casual companionship. You may end up making a good friend. It’s also a great way to learn how to relate better to someone new and different. That’s a skill everyone can refine and benefit from. Practice makes perfect. Have fun!
It probably goes without saying that if you are just dating for fun, and you meet your dream-come-true soul-mate, you might be inclined to let ideas of a long term relationship drift into your consciousness.
There are benefits to being open minded. We encourage you to find pleasure and fulfillment in dating regardless of your goals.
“There are two kinds of people in this world : those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better.” Tom Robbins
Maybe you can’t really divide dates into two types?