Single people number in the millions. Dating is on the rise. With 50% of all first marriages ending in divorce and a dismal 65% of second marriages failing, there are a lot of people that hold a single status. Everyone is searching for that special someone who clicks on many levels. They’re trying to find that perfect match—someone with whom they can create a meaningful life. The process isn’t easy, and you DO have to kiss a lot of frogs while waiting on that prince or princess to finally arrive. Look at Hollywood. Look at the rich and famous.
If I list any of those hook-ups by the time this goes to press they’ll be in the category of break-ups. But that doesn’t mean they don’t keep trying. The rest of us regular folks need to keep trying, too. In the beginning, when you’re first starting out it can set the tone for what is to come.
Dating deals with matters of the head and the heart. It is no exact science but certain elements remain a given throughout the years. As far as we’ve come in so many areas of our existence, the art of dating and finding a partner—with few techno additions—remains the same. The needs of men and women to share their love and their life with another is probably more important now, than at any other time in the history of mankind. How do they go about making that happen? Some people are looking in the wrong places. Some people are making bad choices over and over and ending up with the same unhappy result.
Dating is a ritual, a dance, like playing a game of tennis or chess. There are moves and strategies and decisions and foresight and a bit of patience and luck tossed in. The only difference is, in the end, all you want is for both players to win—no checkmate, but a real, enduring love match.
POINTERS THAT MIGHT HELP YOUR DATING EXPERIENCE:
To sleep with or not
Sex and intimacy sometimes go hand in hand. Sometimes they don’t. You can have one with the other. You can also have one without the other. Seems confusing? Not really. Both can be a beautiful thing depending on what you’re hoping to get from your partner and get for yourself. That is where some of us get tripped up. There is never the perfect time to sleep with someone new. There is, however, the perfect time when not to sleep with someone new. I have what I call the “not on the first date” rule.
Beyond this, if you take it a step further, play it by ear, and give it some time, you may wait a while longer before you have sex with a potential partner. It’s the waiting part to this rule that applies to men as well as women. This might sound old fashion and not particularly popular on the face of it. Even if the chemistry is undeniable and you’re sure you have fallen madly in love, waiting to have sex will be worth it. I have a friend who totally disagrees with my philosophy.
She feels sleeping with a guy right off the bat lets her know if she wants to get to know him at all. Her thinking goes like this, “What’s the point in going any further if the sex isn’t good? I want to know up front so I don’t waste my time.” My thinking goes like this, “What’s the point in having sex with a person I don’t even know and who may not be for me?
I want to know someone better before I waste my time.” Indiscriminate sex is easy. Anyone can do it. It doesn’t take much thought and absolutely no investment on either end from either participant. It’s the whole immediate gratification thing—something we’ve gotten pretty good at in this society. Intimacy isn’t so easy. It requires both parties to have some sense of each other and can be a far more rewarding payoff. So, what’s the hurry? A little patience, a little mystery, and a little romance can take you from dating to forming a truly loving, lasting relationship.
Watch the booze
I know, I know, we like to drink. We’re a drinking society. We drink when we’re happy. We drink when we’re sad. We drink at meals and parties. We drink at events and celebrations. We drink to relax. We drink to escape. We drink to get courage. We drink to belong. Booze is at the heart of so much of what we do. We drink when we date—mostly, we drink a lot.
Alcohol is part of our activities and traditions. It’s a given. Think about it. Remove alcohol from the dating equation and many folks wouldn’t know what to do or what to say or how to act. They are entertained by booze and can end up being entertaining because of booze. Too many drinks can alter a person and the situation in a false sense. It can make you lose yourself and do things you may regret in the morning. Get to know someone first, through sober eyes. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy a few cocktails, but don’t get drunk, just yet anyway!
Keep texting to a minimum
Texting, although a way of life for many, is still a relatively new way of communicating. Our parents and grandparents didn’t have this technology when they were dating, and it’s but one sign of how some things have changed. Still, we can take it too far if we’re not careful. I’m always mindful of posting anything in writing that you can’t take back.
In the case of texting, it is an instant record of your thoughts. Those thoughts don’t always come out like you intended and can get lost in translation. Text messages can hurt feelings or create suspicion or embarrassment or misunderstandings or even result in violence. Take the recent Chris Brown and Rihanna incident. Reports state that the whole horrid scene began with Chris receiving a “booty call” text, while others characterize the message as merely “flirty.”
Regardless, texting can be a powerful tool and serves a great purpose but should be used with some restraint and lots of common sense. Whether you’re sending or receiving messages—think before you send and think before you open. Be more discerning. We shouldn’t be in 24/7 texting mode. Too much of a good thing can be just that—too much.
Too much information
The tendency at the start is to share our personal history with someone new. Before long you’ve given up far more information than your date needs to know at this early stage. Information should be doled out discriminately only as the relationship progresses. Sharing all there is to know about you straight away is never a good idea.
Women are especially guilty of this. Men aren’t going to care any more any quicker just because you’ve told them about your childhood issues, your failed relationships, your dysfunctional family, and your strategically placed tattoos— all in one evening.
Only looking for a good time
Don’t misunderstand when a person is looking to hook up and has nothing more than sex on their minds. They’re not interested in you, getting to know you, or putting your needs above theirs. They don’t want a relationship. They don’t want to date you, and they only want what you can offer them in terms of sexual pleasure for the moment.
If you know this going in and you are in agreement, then, I guess everybody gets what they want. Operating on this level is not deep or complicated. This used to be a position common to men. Those days are over. Women can be shallow, too. When you aren’t investing your feelings, just your body, nobody gets hurt, right?
Love being in love
Lots of people do better in a relationship than they do living single and alone. They love the idea of being in love and make less than smart choices in order to have someone—anyone—in their lives. Being in love is the most magnificent feeling ever created for mankind to experience. Being loved in return helps give life meaning and purpose.
It’s something each of us desire. With the right person, nothing compares. With the wrong person, nothing could be worse. Dating someone new is a new chance at love. Don’t let the idea of being in love cloud reality. Make sure it’s the person you are falling for and not the fantasy surrounding being in love.
Make them feel important
Be aware of your date and make them feel significant. Do or say small things to make them feel like they matter. If this is someone worth dating it shouldn’t be hard to do. Everyone likes to deem themselves worthy and valuable. Don’t make the evening all about you. Steer the conversation to a positive place where your date is the center of attention. Genuine praise and acknowledgment go a long way.
Relationships end for many reasons. Most people, therefore, have an ex or two or three. Don’t bring the current ex or any of your past relationships along on the date. If your date asks any specific questions of you keep your responses short and simple.
Don’t go off on a pity party or victim tangent. Don’t ask them a lot of questions about their past either. Should the date turn into anything worth pursuing there will be plenty of time later on down the road to divulge all the juicy details about the past.
Be present in the moment
The only thing we can be sure of is the present—this very moment in time. When out with your date be in the moment. Be with them. Be totally there. Don’t be off in your mind someplace else. Don’t take calls or texts and, short of a true emergency, don’t call or text anyone—please!
Communication is and always will be key
You are not a mind reader. Your date isn’t either. Be sure and communicate what it is you need to say at any given point. Be conscious that what you communicate isn’t hurtful or sarcastic or could be misconstrued. Nobody is perfect and if you make a mistake or error in judgment apologize. Don’t be too proud or let your ego interfere.
Don’t shove the problem under the rug. Face it and fix it so you can move on. If you establish a positive pattern of open and honest communication it will help strengthen the bond and bring you closer to each other.
Don’t fall for internet serial daters
We meet people to date in a variety of places and circumstances. The one avenue available now that wasn’t in the distant past is via the internet. The first internet dating service was launched in 1995. Currently, there are over 9 million online dating sites and services vying for your attention. (That’s pretty insane.)
Many of these are legitimate, many are not. Some compete for the same members and many of the same members appear on multitudes of sites. The motives of the internet serial dater are not always clear, but what is clear is if you choose this route for dating, then, always proceed with caution. Like a Vegas buffet, some members juggle their online dates with gluttonous abandon.
The naïve or needy are ripe for the pickings, and the results can end in misery, depression, disappointment, or disaster.
Everybody has a past
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have a past. We all do. For some, that past is more checkered or colorful than others. Don’t judge on it either. If friends and family want to throw in their negative three cents ignore them. Unless someone has done something violent, heinous, or unconscionable, let their past stay their past and help them live for the present and build new memories for the future.
Look for future predictors—Is your date punctual? Are they considerate? Are they generous? Are they attentive? Are they opinionated or argumentative? Do they flirt with others during the date? Are they complimentary? Are they drinking too much? Are they appropriate in public? Do they seem authentic?
Behaviors noticed early on are good predictors of what to expect in the future. Not that some people can’t fool you—they can. It’s really important not to dismiss behaviors that effect or bother you. It’s smart to trust your gut and instincts as you’re making your assessment of your date. Give the date another shot only if you honestly believe it’s in the best interest of both of you to go forward together.
Hold on to your heart
If this new person is the person for you, it will show itself in due time. Don’t be so quick to give your heart away right away. Not that you can’t get excited and thrilled and cherish the butterflies in your stomach and the perpetual smile on your face. Not that you can’t feel the joy that only grows and swells as you date this person again and again.
Your heart is the most precious gift you have to give. When you give it, give it wisely when it is ready. Give it freely and completely knowing it will be the last time you ever do.