|Have we really!?|
“The core of authenticity is the courage to be imperfect, vulnerable, and to set boundaries.” Brené Brown
After saying I'm not talking about dating anymore, I'm kinda talking about dating… Not dating, dating… I like to call it ‘THE SEARCH’ (I used capitals and everything to really drive home this concept). It’s mainly because if I’m not dating I am being encouraged to date. If I am in a relationship I am hearing about dating stories and really dating is a search… A search for a hook up, a search for a relationship, a search for friendship: there are a plethora of search outcomes. I believe we single peeps constantly think about whether we want a relationship and the dating process we’re eventually going to have to tackle. The reason we mainly think about this, because all our friends inevitably ask… ‘so are you seeing anyone yet?’
I want to scrap this way of thinking because as human beings looking for fulfilling partnerships we need to really think through this dating concept without pressure. Maybe it’s me as an over analytical person and potentially sometimes maybe a little overly conscientious about people I date. I am not trying to take the fun out of dating… Honest. But what we need to establish is why you are dating in the first place? Do you really know what you are looking for? Because I bloody don’t!
One thing I notice is that there is a lot of advice on dating... Or 'rules' you need to follow... Bless all friends in the world, they love you so much that they want you to meet someone amazing ASAP and you're being given their advice and pressure to 'get out there'. Let’s remove the terminology of dating and change it to ‘The Search’, and if that’s too confronting then why are you dating? Even if you don’t know what you are looking for then dating can be good to help you establish your search criteria (I am like a walking contradiction but I wasn’t sure what I was looking for so I went out dating, but I put on my profile I was looking for friendship and then see where things go from there so as not to mislead anyone).
Even qualified psychologists acknowledge that falling in love is a mystery. Remember that, as humans we are complex and slightly mysterious, and that chemistry we feel with someone else is something we can’t quantify or put any scientific structure behind (apart from knowing what chemicals get released into the body and what parts of the brain are activated).
It's not a bloody competition
Isn't it best that the formative part of any relationship sets the tone for how you would like any relationship to be? For example, most of us agree that a relationship should be a partnership and not a competition. So, as my mum said, who was the stupid person that when phones/smart phones were invented said 'thou shalt not text or call for three days'. Why? Honestly, why?
Oh you sent the last text... Oooo, no you definitely can't send one now. Is this because we are actually playing tennis and the ball hasn't been hit back to your side of the court? Are we back to game playing?
Relationship development is organic and all of the above comes from a pessimistic mind set of 'the person you dated probs didn't like you'. If you come from an optimistic mind set of 'that was a great date and I respect that person'... Then you'll find you don't worry about stupid 3 day rules and who text last. You will send that bloody text and then you will get a response of either ‘yay I would love to see you again’ or ‘sorry from my side I just wasn’t feeling it’ (because people this is how the world should work). I would love to eradicate ghosting but unfortunately those people exist and surely an indication they were not the right sort of person in the first place.
Boolean tips to finding the right person
Can you tell I am a recruiter? I spend all day searching and screening people, it’s what I do for a living. Do you know what we do as a first step? We do a job brief which captures what our hiring managers are looking for. That's right, before you embark on any form of search you need to think about some hard and fast facts and probably take a long hard look at yourself. Why are you dating? Who are you looking for?
‘The who’ part enables you to decide the sort of person you are looking to attract and the why part also helps you to decide where you look. Are you looking for a hook up? Tinder. Wapa. Grindr. Are you looking for a relationship? Then you need to know ‘the who’ part and hang out in the places the sort of person you are looking for will hangout (both in cyber space and real space). Sounds simple doesn't it?
I've not intentionally been single for two years, I’ve been figuring myself out over that time period… I’ve been doing some essential ‘uncoupling’ and ‘re-identification’ of myself. Then I started to formulate ‘the who I am’ part through reflection, counselling and reading. Now no matter the attraction I think through potential red flags… Let me give you an example, in all honesty I contemplated the second date with the married woman in an open relationship, but I took a week before messaging her back to reflect and also think through the consequences - that may sound boring but it saved me drama. Maybe that is where I am in life, I am approaching my 40’s and I do need to limit the drama. I take my time now, it sounds very unexciting but actually it's 100% the opposite. I think if she had been upfront from the start, then I would have gone in to the date with my eyes open as to me authenticity is more important than the situation at hand, and she probably would have got a second date.
Patience is a virtue
The main thing I learnt from my past relationship is that sex shouldn't be rushed into. Unless sex is your thing and that is your objective (just to hook up), as long as the other person is aware that is your motivation. Hormones play a massive part in poor decision making, we hear about infatuation and the sex part magnifies that infatuation part massively. Those hormones make you blind, it is what created the famous phrase ‘love is blind’.
Now it is incredibly hard when you are very physically attracted to someone to apply that restraint, and alcohol does not help! Get to know someone, make sure you are both comfortable with the way things are progressing and then if you are ready to make that step it is because you know (as much as you can) that this person is someone you can see things developing with. I may sound boring and methodical by saying that, but when it comes to long term decision making – it's honestly best. If you want the hook up, then ignore my advice as this is a completely different approach, so you can dive right in – respectfully and safely.
By the by, all my advice is based upon looking for a relationship. I have totes been down with having fun and I still am, but when I am looking for a full blown relationship my advice above is what I will always follow. Also, the longer the wait… the more mind blowing the moment is when it finally arrives! After all you have probably imagined it a thousand times in your head, so in theory if you’re considerate… It’s going to be pretty damn good.
The who is how a person’s values and the way they make you feel should tally. Pay attention to red flag behaviours (past relationships, friendships, work ethic etc), be self-aware to know the things that are important to you and then remember the best argument for your life partner selection... The urge to merge: we all end up taking on traits of our partner both emotionally and developmentally. Therefore your partner should be someone you look up to and respect, they should make you want to be the best version of yourself, someone you listen to that tells you about their life and about their values - should make you think, I want that and I want to be that. Then that urge to merge thing... Both of you will take on the best possible traits of each other.
Dating is a highly vulnerable and risky business. Respect is therefore very important, be honest and treat people how you want to be treated. No games. No bullshit. I have mentioned this before because I wish I could coach everyone on this. If you are not interested in going out again, be honest and let the person know nicely. If you are dating other people, be respectful and let the other person know. Just be honest and remember how vulnerable you feel and think through how you would like to be treated because everyone deserves that level of respect. It leads back to being the person you would love.
It's not just me, me, me
There are two people (or sometimes three or four) in a dating process and you must always assume that the other person has the best of intentions. What I mean by this is that everyone has lives outside of dating. Don't take things personally and always listen to your date.
Yes, unfortunately, there are douche bags
Sorry but we all know this part is true either through experience or by helping a friend through post-douchebag disorder. Don't let that scare you and don't think this is the norm. Most people do have the best intentions, the douches are the minority, so from that we can conclude that it's safer to be optimistic than pessimistic. It's better to act from a place of hope than a place of expectation. There is a difference.
Sense and sensibility
I know I am probably making dating sound a little boring and potentially a lot like an OHS conference. It's not, it is amazing and something we all should experience, but it's funny that one of the most important life skills and decisions we make is never taught. Is it because nobody knows what they are doing? Probably. But teaching ourselves to make decisions around who we enter into relationships with is important. We can't get it right 100% of the time, we make mistakes but we try to learn from them. There is no exact science to this madness of dating but if awareness is combined with patience, we may succeed. I hate dating, but my sensible head knows that to truly make a good long term partner decision then you need to date to sample what life has to offer.
All you can do is own your behaviour and be the type of person you would love. To be that person is through actions, if you love yourself then you attract the right person in. I keep coming back to the same point - words are who you want to be and your actions are who you are. If you can identify that in yourself then you can identify that in others. Lots of relationships fail through broken promises - a partner who says a lot but never does it. Identify that early, a person who says something and then does it are precious, hold on to that. I'm not saying we're all perfect and always deliver on our promises, but that should be the minority not the majority of time. The times where you can’t deliver on a promise you should be honest about it, but don’t say the words in the first place if you already know that you won’t be able to follow through with the action. So when conducting your search remember: a person will show you who they are, pay attention.
I’ve made this sound very analytical and serious, but really you should be out there having fun. We are on this planet once, so therefore laugh lots and create meaningful experiences. Meet lots of people, do something that scares you… Experience life!
I just think more people should be aware why they are dating and then they can approach it in a respectful way. Maybe that’s reflective of my own personal values, I think as humans we should treat each other honestly, respectfully and without hiding anything. The person you need to be truthful with the most is yourself, the person you need to hold in the highest esteem is yourself and then you get the outcomes you desire through the way people respond to the information and behaviours you exhibit. Search wisely my friends and may the force be with you.
Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author.