Living a life that respects you and follows the path of the values you claim to have means you shouldn’t be trying to ‘strike up a deal’ with any ‘ole person. Unfortunately, this is what many people are attempting to do with dating. Before you’ve even sussed out the person, you’ve already put yourself under pressure that you’ve got to close the deal! But you don’t know the deal; not enough has happened to indicate the deal possibilities.

Dating is a discovery phase for you both to find out the facts about one another and determine whether you can strike up a mutually beneficial co-piloted relationship.

Note: I don’t factor casual relationships (oxymoron alert) into the discovery phase. If an involvement has already been defined as ‘casual’, whoop, there it is; there’s no discovery.

Someone claiming they’re dating but they’re doing it with the purpose of lining someone up for a shag, an ego stroke and a shoulder to lean on is shady. They’re calling it ‘dating’ to get their foot through the door like one of those dodgy salespeople. Imagine they said they would sell you a busted-up vacuum cleaner or insurance you don’t need. Um, you wouldn’t let them in. It’s easier to market their availability as something better and then leave it to you to either discover the truth when they’re long gone or be like, “Oops, I did it again. Let’s just go with the flow/my fish died/I’m not ready for a relationship.”

If you date without a person-shaped void, with your eyes and ears open and your feet in reality, it makes you aware of who they are.

It stops it from being about what they can give you to ‘make’ you whole. You’ll begin to discover the facts about them (and they you). Part of this is recognising what the facts mean, even if it signals the end. Sometimes, in your eagerness to be in a ‘deal’, you forget a few things:

  • Somebody asking for your number is an expression of interest, not entering them into a contract for a relationship or date.
  • Going on a date or few is an expression of initial interest. However, it’s also not representative of them entering into a contract for a relationship.
  • Having sex or being sexually intimate isn’t an ‘action contract’ that locks you both into a relationship. Unless you’ve both verbally agreed on it, it’s not even an automatic precursor to exclusivity.

Experience has taught me that whether it’s in personal or business relationships, many people will talk the talk and appear to be walking the walk in the run-up to closing and confirming the deal. Then, when it comes to putting their proverbial money where their mouth is, they disappear, raise ‘sudden’ objections’, or withdraw what they’ve been offering and leave you with an inferior replacement deal.

Having self-esteem, which includes your boundaries and values, plus being knowledgeable about code amber and red behaviour, helps you work out your deal breakers, the things you cannot accept and overlook that will render your relationship over.

Dating is like courting each other to strike a deal.

Some of you are trying to strike a relationship deal without due diligence.

Some of you think you’re doing due diligence. However, you are looking at the wrong things and then wondering why you’re not in the right relationship. Good sense of humour, a shared love of bungee jumping and sleeping at a 17-degree angle and whatever else – no indication of values, or at least not those fundamental to you.

Ultimately, someone’s character will make or break their participation in a relationship with you.

Some of you are trying to strike a relationship deal by signing on the dotted line with people not out of contract on their previous deal.

Some people are courting a few deals and avoiding signing any.

Hell, some have no interest in or capacity to strike a relationship deal.

Some of you are trying to strike a relationship deal with someone who wants to be a silent partner. Relationship deals, though, can only be made with joint stakeholders putting in 100:100 effort.

Some of you are trying to strike a relationship deal with everyone you date, which is like throwing crap at a wall and hoping it’ll stick. Or like those companies that are sold for £1 with a view that the buyers will take on the debt, fix the problems, and turn them around. Yes, I’m looking at you Renovators.

In fantasy La La Land, some of you are trying to strike a relationship deal from a sandcastle in the sky.

You cannot strike a deal with everyone; you’re just not that desperate. When you indiscriminately attempt to strike dating deals or get into bed with shady partners, you’re eroding your own value in the process.

Before committing to the idea of being in a long-term relationship with someone, maintain the commitment you should have to yourself that requires you to act in your best interests. Always. Then, commit to using the dating phase to evaluate the potential of moving into a relationship while enjoying yourself. Did you know you can date and even have sex without losing your mind, yourself, and your ability to judge a situation? That said, if you’re the type of person who can’t mix sex with getting to know someone, it’s best not to ‘get down’ until you can.

Remember, dating doesn’t automatically sign you into a relationship deal, a mentality, incidentally, that many people who don’t value themselves enough seem to have.

It’s like (and this is mainly for the ladies), “Jaysus, someone’s giving me the time of day! I should want a relationship with them just because. This could be my last chance saloon. Right, I’m in! They’re interested in me, so I’m gonna draw up some papers. Either way, this is a done deal.” Say what?

You get to choose, too, and you can walk away. When I listen to people talk about their dating angst, often with people they’ve known a hot minute, they sound like they’re shackled for all eternity to what, in essence, are strangers. Dating isn’t a hostage situation! It’s a discovery situation, mutual discovery at that. To treat it as anything else is to act like they’re automatically OK for a relationship deal regardless, it’s just you that has to prove yourself, which is bullshit.

Even credit card companies do a bit of homework before pre-approving you for a card. I’d like to think you’d put far more effort into choosing a potential relationship partner.

Why are you so committed to something that’s not even a relationship?

Dating certainly isn’t easy, but it’s certainly easier when you remove the pressure of trying to make every date work out, and only try to move forward with the ones that show some actual promise. Relationships have the potential to go through five stages. Dating is stage 1. When you try to strike a relationship deal at stage 0 or 1 without due diligence, you’re trying to skip to 2 and beyond. Slow your roll so you stop overriding your (and possibly their) boundaries.

Not every person you date has the potential for the relationship you envision. When you’re already acting attached, it begs the question of whether you do this with everyone. You might argue that you do it because they’re so special. But over-investing in people you hardly know with your betting on potential goggles and even ditching your own life for them sends the wrong message. You’re just not that desperate.

Dating is a discovery phase. You can walk away at any time. Equally, you have the power to opt into what you want. Own your power and use it wisely. Stop walking around with a handy contract in your pocket, ready to hand out to the next person who shows you a whiff of interest.

Your thoughts?

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