“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.

People are window shopping on your dating site. Some may pause for a moment to glance and then move on. Some will take a little more time to look at your display in the window to consider whether they want to enter your shop.  Make your display get attention and interest from the type of shoppers who might buy what you are offering.
eyeglass-window-womenretroCapture Attention
Online daters are out shopping for dates.  They are looking in the various shop windows to see what appeals.  Why should they focus on your display?

Dating sites tend to arrange potential dates with thumbnail pictures and simple bios. If your likely dates won’t click your pic, you are doomed.  Make that image draw shoppers to the window. Be eye-catching!

Inspire Interest
It is essential that you have a basic understanding of what interests your shopper.  Yes, your shopper is interested in finding a person like you, but why would your shopper want you?  What needs of that person can you satisfy?  If your profile gives your shopper the idea that you will satisfy those needs, then you have inspired interest.  (Hint – the greatest need to be satisfied is companionship.)

No Price Tags
Window displays don’t show prices.  Prices scare people away.  fabioOne of the biggest mistakes we see with online profiles is showing the price.  Do you wonder how you might be showing your price?  You display it when your profile creates high expectations of what you require from your potential mate.  Profiles do it explicitly and implicitly.  Do you really require your mate to be tall, lean, athletic, rich, and possess a graduate degree or are you just in fantasy land? Your shoppers aren’t perfect and, most importantly, they are not likely to be altogether confident in themselves.  Remember, your display is there to appeal to the shoppers needs, not to over-state your needs (real or not) that may scare off buyers.

window shoppingIt’s Not Facebook
Window displays work best with simple and powerful images. You don’t need to put the whole store in the window.  You want to create a positive feeling about you that inspires a further look. Yes, your store has a diversity of items, but you have to get the shopper in the door before the real shopping begins.

Most people feel insecure about creating a profile for the world to see. We sure did. One way many of us compensate for that insecurity is to try to create a profile that makes us look good.  Well, that is OK as long as it also serves our purpose of communicating our abilities to satisfy the needs of the desirable shoppers.  That is often not the case.  Too much about where we have been and what we’ve done may turn off some shoppers. Don’t let your profile seem like bragging about yourself.  With your profile you should be exposing yourself in a manner that makes you desirable to the people you want.  No more, no less.

Playing hard to get can be attractive, but it may also turn off a potential mate.

2877-Blowing-Out-The-CandleInterest must balance Disinterest
Don’t let your appearance of disinterest outweigh the other’s interest in you. If the date’s interest in you is just beginning to burn, don’t blow it out with hopes that it will re-ignite.  If the interest is a raging bonfire, you would have to do something bold to extinguish the interest.

Don’t Get Burned
Playing hard to get can make someone desire you more, but it can also make them like you less. We don’t think you want to set up a situation where your date pursues you passionately, finally catches you, then doesn’t like you much afterwards.

Playing Games
There is power in playing hard to get. But we all know that power corrupts. Messing with people’s minds sounds like a bad thing to do.  There is a difference between playing games and just plain playing. Stick with the latter.

I’m a good girl because I really believe in love, integrity, and respect. I’m a bad girl because I like to tease.”    Katy Perry

Care about what is important
We encourage you to care about what’s important in your life. This is not hard to do. Care about your friends and family, care about those who are suffering, care about doing a good job, and care about so many more important things.

shaken-not-stirredIt’s also good to care about a few things that are special to you. Wine. Baseball. Crochet. Even martinis, shaken not stirred. Having refined sensibilities in an area of special interest makes a person interesting.

Don’t care about what is not important
This precept sound a little odd and very easy to do, but often it’s harder to do than you think.  It’s commonly expressed as, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”  In relationships, the benefit of not caring too much about too many things is that you will be easier to get along with. For example, sometimes having discriminating tastes about every little thing crosses the line from interesting into being just plain picky.

How does not caring help relationships?
We have all heard the conversation that goes something like this:
Want to go out to dinner?  Sure, where? How about Chinese? Not feeling it. Italian? Had it yesterday. That new restaurant on Broadway? I read a so-so review. How about our favorite place? It’s wearing thin on me. Hamburgers?  Yuck.      et cetera ad nauseam
spoiled
Wouldn’t it work better as a respectful exchange:
Want to go out to dinner?  Sure, where? How about Chinese? That new place on Broadway? Sure, let’s go!

Or even:  Want to go out to dinner?  Sure, you pick a place, just not XYZ, I ate there at lunch.

While the first couple is getting close to blowing up the others are on their way to an enjoyable evening.

Don’t be a pushover.  Stand up for what is important to you, but don’t make too big a deal over all the little things. Most of the time, when nothing critical is being decided, it will serve you better to be compliant, easy-going, laid-back, chill, mellow, and undemanding.  Your date will appreciate it and with any luck will return the favor.

It can be a challenge to separate what is truly important to you from what you can easily let go, but it is worth doing.

Just say yes!

cool_pictures_of_love_heartsLOVE
Many would say we most want love in our close relationships.  We can’t argue with that.  The problem with looking for love is that love is so hard to define. What does it look like? How do you know you’ve got it?  How do you know when you are giving it?  Love is complicated, multi-faceted, and really hard to nail down.

Because love is so amorphous you may want to start any evaluation of your relationships with something more easily recognized even though it may be somewhat less important.

RESPECT
Respect is easier to identify. Most people don’t have a hard time coming up with clear examples of respectful behaviors. Listening attentively to someone. Trying to understand and consider another person’s needs.  Showing up on time.  And numerous others.  Some say respect is the fundamental attribute of love.  How can you love someone if you don’t respect them?

The essence of respect in a relationship is recognizing that another person is important and honoring that.  Each of us believes deeply that our own life is important, and it feels wonderful when someone else shares the recognition of our importance.

Act With Respect
In a relationship respect is shown through action.  To respect someone is act appropriately, to treat them with respect. If you believe you respect someone, but you don’t show it in your behavior, we would argue that what you have is not respect at all. Show respect when you are dating.  If you date doesn’t want respect, that’s a little spooky.

Expect RespectRespectful
You deserve it. It will be powerful positive force in your relationship. Look for respectful behavior when you are dating.

Respect Yourself
In some ways this can be the hardest part. Many of us have not yet learned to fully respect ourselves for one reason or another.  We wish there was an easy answer to this challenge, but there probably isn’t. Work at it. Own your self-respect when you are dating and in every other aspect of your life.  Your life is important, honor it.

Aretha Franklin knew what she was singing about. Listen to Aretha sing it!

If you’re dating to find a long term mate, how do you know when you have succeeded?  When do you know?  Do you have to live out the rest of your life to judge the relationship as it ages?

holding-hands-1024_108142k

We all want to be able to say, “I’ve found the person of my dreams.”  I think we can all agree that after your first date it may be premature to say that. In the beginning of a relationship we reasonably say, “I’m starting to think this may be the one.”

Know what success looks like.
There has been plenty of good brainpower applied to figuring the attributes of a good relationship. It’s not a precise science, but there are some strong indicators. For a pretty good list of successful relationship indications click this link.

Take the time to evaluate.
It takes time.  Let’s say that again. It takes time. How do you know if someone is dependable? They do what they say they are going to do on a regular basis, not just once.  How do you know someone is honest? Tough question, but not one you can answer after only a few dates.  It takes time to get to know someone. You need to measure this period in months, not days or weeks.

Rose-Colored-GlassesDon’t fool, yourself.
We all know about the tendency to put on rose-colored glasses when we are romantically smitten and “in love.”  Have fun wearing the glasses! They’re wonderful, but please take them off when you can get serious about decided about committing to a relationship. We’ve all seen the friend and their love interest who had the “in love” attributes including “we were meant for each other” and “no one understands us the way we do” … and then they broke up.  We don’t see things clearly when we are crazy in love.  It’s natural.

Hear Louis Armstrong’s great performance of La Vie en Rose –  the French expression for living with rose colored glasses.

We wish you great success!

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!

Be-yourself-5

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

Active-Listening-3

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.

Road Maps

Success-Map

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:

  1. Your starting place, in other words, who are you?  (Not an easy question nor a simple answer)
  2. Your destination, or what kind of relationship(s) you are seeking?  (again, challenging)
  3. 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)
  4. Your resources, all those great things about yourself that you have to offer.  (most have more to offer than they think)

Bon voyage!

“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.

datemature1. 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!

DatingIt 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?

Enjoy!