You walk around confidently, thinking in your mind that you know exactly what you are looking for. You have been in relationships before and you may have already been married. You read articles in magazines, on the internet, and you see happy couples finding what they were searching for. The one thing you know is you have is determination to meet the right “partner”.
The key to dating is very simple when broken down into steps and when you’re able to identify what you want vs what you don’t. There are many different moving pieces that are so important. First off dating is very simple. All we need is two people who like each other to meet, get to know each another, one date turns into 3, then a month and a year. We also know it is not that simple because like clothes or shoes we need to try on many different dates before one fits. Still this not complicated, it is mostly timely.
Meeting all different people is actually the adventurous part. (There are 54,250,000 singles in the United States 2015, Statistic Brain Research Institute) Sometimes you can make a business connection or even a lifelong friend. Also, there are those dates that give you that funny story to tell for a lifetime. For those of you with anxiety, it’s changing the ideas and thoughts in your brain about dating to create a more positive view point such as “I’m going out to dinner to learn and share new ideas with a new person and I’m going to have a great time if we fit or not, because people are all different and all really interesting”. One needs to remember this is not a business arrangement or even a lock-in scenario. Please be relaxed and open minded.
Also if you’re still in a relationship that is on the way out, or if you’re still in love with another person, or for whatever reason the “door” is not closed, then you must not put yourself out there as available. One of the simplest keys to dating and starting a relationship is to be “emotionally available”.
Being available means you are living an amazing life or close to it, and you’re looking to share it with someone. How would one define an amazing life? This is yet another key to dating. An amazing life means you are genuinely happy and you have learned what makes you happy and how to keep yourself happy. This can be done once you put your focus on yourself. One may need some support such as a friend or a professional to assist you. Your life will become positive and wonderful. Remember no one can be responsible for another’s person’s happiness. You need to focus on you and then on the people and things around you after. Also this does not change when you meet someone. You will need to continue to do those activities that create your happiness to stay happy and healthy. Sometimes we find a partner with the same interests and we can do these activities together. (ie: running, biking, dance, gym, walking, traveling etc.)
When meeting prospective dates there are no rules as to what may work best for you and your schedule. Some people like to meet for a dinner and some may just want to meet for a coffee. (In 2012 the Huffington Post called these coffee meetings mini dates) You may also want to meet several people at one time because dating is meeting more than one person, in order to see if you have a connection or if you have common interests. Meeting people out, on-line or through a friend are all great ways to open the door for opportunity. (40 million Americans use on-line dating in 2015, Statistic Brain Research Institute) Try to take your time when getting to know people and remember to look for red flags.
Red flags are another key to dating. We all have patterns from our childhood that can affect our partner choices. Be aware of what they are and walk away from those characteristics such as addiction, abuse, controlling, not available or fearing commitment. People hide their flags, but they come out in time, so keep your eyes and ears open. People slip when you’re least expect. As I wrote earlier, you may be 100% emotionally available and ready to meet someone, but are they?
Playing games is another talked about obstacle in dating, and yet is another key to dating. Remember I mentioned earlier that you need to find what makes you happy? Well, with that comes self-love and respect. Having self-love and respect is yet another Key to dating. You need to love and respect yourself before you can have a healthy relationship. When dating, people will test you to see what they can get away with. It may be sex on the first date, taking up all your time, wanting to stay at your place, asking for naked pictures of you, for gifts or meals, or maybe wanting an introduction to your boss, clients or your friends. Saying no will set the boundaries for self-respect and will ensure a better opportunity for a healthy relationship.
Game playing can be that an individual has boundary/codependent issues. This could make him/her aggressive, fast paced, calling, texting, overly making plans and maybe even inconsistent, if you’re not giving them what they want. They may discuss commitment right away or at least talk about the future. Or they may be completely independent or have fears of commitment issues. This looks slow paced. They may not call or text are all few often, leaving you wondering. Dates are 1x a week or less. There is no future talks or commitment conversations.
Then there are the individuals that just want to have intercourse with as many people as possible and will tell you anything you need to hear until they get it. (Some may be sex addicts or very hurt people from prior relationships.) The last issue I call the Cinderella/prince charming complex. This is when individuals think they can always find a hotter, better, smarter and sexier date around the corner. With internet dating, it’s much easier to find dates and many people feel that if one fails there is always another’s where that came from.
The keys of dating are simple, when broken down to the simplest steps. Once you’re living your amazing life, you know what you’re looking for and you are aware of the red flags, then you can get out there. Be emotionally available, be confident, be happy and most of all have fun.
© Marlisse Testa MPS, LMHC, CCS
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