I’ve been emphasising something over the past few months that I feel it’s time to revisit: Dating is a discovery phase. Use the period from when you meet whether it starts out online or in the ‘real world’ as an opportunity for you both to discover the ‘facts’ about one another and assimilate whether you want to progress…or opt out.
Generally speaking, to get to the point of going on a date, there is some level of attraction there. However, unless you’re superficial or living in Lala Land, the point of dating is to build on the attraction, get to know the person, and ensure that whatever ideas and assumptions you have are grounded in reality. You need more than physical and sexual attraction – you should be getting an initial sense of their values and whether they treat you with care, trust and respect, and of course match words with actions.
If you’re not getting to know them or you are, and are experiencing things that are at the very least proceed with caution signals or at their worst, full on abort mission signals, this is because you’ve already decided to commit, regardless.
Maybe this is what scares me about some of the stories I hear – I know that dating can be tough, especially if you’re doing it online. I have a mother, friends, family, and of course many readers who are dating.
However, when I hear stories about disappointment, frustration, and insecurity about dates that haven’t worked out, there is a recurring theme:
The bulk of these people don’t miss the person they were dating; they miss the person they’d hoped they’d become or the relationship they were hoping they would get.
Do you know what this also means? – They were too far along in investment and illusions to have their feet in reality enough to be working out whether this person was someone that they actually should be with.
Many people who are dating, are assuming that because they’re dating someone, that they want a relationship from them, and that it is going to turn into a relationship.
Like the issue of common interests and sexual attraction, there is this dangerous assumption that someone who we find worthy of dating in the first place must be someone who is worthy of a relationship. That’s called giving yourself far too much credit for your powers of judgement.
Don’t believe me. Ask yourselves this: Why, if we’re dating, do we 1) act like we’re in a relationship or 2) not know when to fold and even if we see signs on day one that we should step away from the light, we try to work at dating?
Now I get it – many people do date because they want to find someone to share a relationship with. Ideally, I’d like to think they were all looking for a mutually fulfilling relationship with love, care, trust, and respect…but a lot of people don’t know what a relationship looks like, never mind a healthy one – they just know they want one. Badly.
So badly in fact, that I hear too many tales of people going into fixing/helping/healing/arguing/crisis management mode when they hardly know their dates.
Dating does require effort, but if you already have to work at dating someone, you’ve got issues.
I’m not saying that there might not be a hiccup here or there, but if you start dating someone and you’re already feeling like you have to ‘work’ at a relationship you don’t have, the rot will set in fast.
We’re not all in it for the same reasons and as we don’t live in an ideal world, people are 1) not always honest about their reasons or 2) overestimate their interest.
This is what dating is for! Let me say it again – Dating is a discovery phase.
Our job when we date, aside from hopefully enjoying ourselves, is to work out what and who we’re dealing with before we make a commitment to have an exclusive relationship and before we feel safe enough to put both feet in and invest ourselves.
Some of you, are meeting someone and thinking ‘Oh please let this be it because I really fancy the arse off them’ and then putting on a blindfold, tying your arms and legs together and diving in. Hell to the NO.
As everyone is not honest about their reasons, you can only discover what someone’s true intentions are by spending time around them with your eyes and ears 100% open and not letting your vagina or penis or your overactive imagination make your judgements for you.
If someone said ‘What I’m looking for is someone to have a whirlwind romance with and yet again, fantastise about a relationship I’m never going to be around to have, and then shag you a few times and then whip the rug from under your feet and leave’, they wouldn’t have much luck with dates or they’d only be with the desperate sort. By lying or ‘overstating’, they get to be with a better caliber of person, until their arses get turfed out.
And yes, you know what? Sometimes we think we’re more interested than we are. Sometimes it’s because we’re emotionally immature, but sometimes it’s because we’re human and we change our minds or something imperceptible or very obvious turns us off.
Dating is a discovery phase. You may be in it for one reason, but some are in it for a shag, or whatever. You may feel that you have a lot in common – you might, you might not and you will never know this unless you put in the time and discover.
This whole treating dating like a relationship not only sets you up for major disappointment because you’re going in too seriously, but you end up having an attitude like people should come with a dossier and a certificate giving them a clean bill of relationship health.
It’s your job to do the discovery work and you have to prepare yourself that sometimes you’ll make discoveries that mean you have to opt out. Yeah it’s a pain in the arse, but it’s better than the pain that comes with detracting from yourself or pursuing something past its sell by date.
You.Must.Put.Some.Time.In. There are no guarantees. But.You.Must.Know.When.To.Leave
Before you go on another date, evaluate your dating perspective. If you’re feeling very ‘date or die’, tough as it may be to hear, it’s time to have an honest conversation with yourself and get your personal security in order. Desperation and insecurity either draw in shady people or filter out decent people as it’s kind of exhausting.
As I said in my last post on Future Faking and Fast Forwarding, if you can’t handle the emotional consequences of making mistakes or being disappointed, aside from slowing down and rolling back your level of investment, I would address these areas so that you can date with a reasonable level of confidence and not feel like it’s a ride or die situation.
Manage your insecurities, address any limiting beliefs, and don’t make dating a vocation. Not every person can be ‘it’ – if you’re more eager to be off the market than you are to meet a quality partner, you will project a relationship and just keep trying to slot candidates into the hole in your relationship picture, instead of meeting someone, seeing how it goes, and letting the relationship picture evolve from there.
Image source SXC Tombre
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