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Woman Blowing on Flower

Dating

My dating thoughts which are informed by this part funny, and often irreverent (but spot on) book: "Dating Makes You Want to Die: But You Have to Do It Anyway" by Daniel Holloway & Dorothy Robinson

 

MAKING CONTACT

Eyes - catch someone looking at you?  If you are interested, hold their gaze briefly and smile.  Let them know you're interested too.


Touching - If someone is comfortable enough to touch, they like you at least a little.  It takes time and trust to shrink personal space, but a touch is a good sign.

Laughing - This also means good.  If someone is laughing at your jokes--they're into you.

WARNING SIGNS THAT FIRST CONTACT ISN'T GOING WELL

Your at party and they end the conversation.  Not a good sign, but you can wait and try again later.  If it happens again, they're not interested.

They drift away while at a gathering - this may mean they have to attend to other friends/family.  But if they never return, they're not interested.

They won't give out their phone number.  People give out their phone number to people they like.  If you don't get their number, they don't like you.

EYE TO EYE

Restaurant not coffee.  Unless it's an online dating contact, no coffee first dates.  Coffee isn't dating, it's seeing if he's a serial killer.  And yes, you're the man and you're buying.  Get over it.

Culture is changing, but not completely; and not before you get too old that dating won't matter anymore--meaning for the next 50 years at least.  So just accept that the polite and mature thing is to pick up the tab on the first date if you're the man.

WHERE TO FIND A DATE

Friend's parties.  You know your friend and they know you.  Trust they'll have a good mix and that you might get to know someone new.

After work.  If your work mates have nothing better to do than to hang out after work, then you can be sure they are (mostly) single.  Coffee, a beer, or ice tea; finding singles at work is a place to start.  You often will find singles from other employers hanging out at these water holes as well.

Sports.  Church leagues, work leagues, community leagues.  Bowling, golf, softball, pool.  There are other singles there and you're all doing something fun.

Weddings.  Obvious isn't it?  Everyone looks nice, a party is about to begin, and lots of other singles there too.

Night School.  Grad school, community college, extension classes at your old high school.  All of these are putting similar people together with similar interests.  Some are single.  See after work for more clues.

Blind dates.  Being Zen is helpful on these excursions; want nothing be in the moment, desire is an illusion.  With this in mind, you might be pleasantly surprised.

INTERNET

Internet.  There are two big areas here.
Meetup.com and dating networks.  Meetup.com is a wonderful site that promotes people getting together offline by using the Internet to find one another.  The Toledo area has many Meetup groups that have a wide range of interests.  Some are focused on singles and having fun.  It is not a dating site, but you can join groups with structured activities with the goal of having fun.  That's a start.

Online Dating.  This can range from
Craigslist.org that has no structure or oversight where even illegal activities are advertised to eHarmony where the procedure is tightly controlled, hundreds of questions to be answered, and marriage must be your goal.

Fee-based sites/do-it-yourself. 
Match.com is the granddaddy of these types of sites.  The idea behind pay sites is that at least those serious about getting a date are willing to pay.  You sort through the profiles on your own.

Fee-based sites/we-do-all-the-work-for-you sites. 
Chemistry.com and eHarmony.com are the big players here.  They use psychological instruments to place you in categories and match you up with those who are similar.  Chemestry.com uses the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and eHarmony is secretive about their own proprietary version.  You should know that eHarmony has struggled to give gays and lesbians a chance at their system.  They've agreed to have a separate site that they will now link to eharmony site.

Free Sites. 
OKCupid.com and Plenty of Fish at POf.com are a couple of the better known sites.  The fear is that it's the wild west, but even Match.com was involved in a federal lawsuit so buyer beware free or not.
 
AFTER A FEW DATES

Some decisions will have to be made.

First up you'll need to start dropping barriers.   Maybe your childhood, or college days.  You're not getting closer unless you know more about each other.  But this shouldn't be a confessional or a therapy session.  Revealing you troubled past or dark fears may be a bit too much right now.

Avoid talking about dysfunctional relatives, or your parent's marital problems.

Ex-talk is dangerous. Avoid if you can.  Move the conversation to something you'll both enjoy and won't regret later.

Your date may really want to hear about your ex's, but it'll be like slowing down to look at a car wreak.  They'll know they shouldn't, but they can't help it.  And now they'll never get those images out of their mind.

If you've gotten this far, it means you have a bit more than superficial interest.  And they seem to be feeling it too.
 

FROM "YOU & ME TO "WE & US"


So without realizing it you've become a couple in a relationship.  If you're washing their dishes or spakiling a hole in the bathroom wall; you;ve reached that point.  If you didn't know it you will when they intorduce you as their girlfriend/boyfriend. 

Be prepared.


Meeting the parents.  Remember, their parents know more about your partner than you do and are just happy they're happy
 
SIGNS YOUR RELATIONSHIP ISN'T HEADING FOR MARRIAGE


You don't touch anymore.

Texting and phone calls dwindle.

You're fighting--a lot.

If you’re thinking of marriage, the engaement is as good as it gets.  It will only get harder with marriage, work, children, and all the responsibilities of life together.  So if you’re struggling, see someone who can help you lean ways to communicate, fight fair, and problem solve.  If that doesn't work, be careful about your next step in the relationship.

Know when to call it quits.  Be prepared to end it before you tie the knot and you'll save yourself a bigger struggle later on.

Have a little class when you break up.  First tell them.  Don't let them slowly twist in the wind of your dissatisfaction and feigned interest in them.  If it's over for you, then end it.  It requires the courage of a Roman Legion, but do it.

Tell them in person.  Give yourself a few days apart before you do this.  Do not end the relationship in either of your apartments.  Or in a place where you can't gracefully get up if things become ugly, and walk out and exit safely.

No one wants to go through the agony of breaking up, but if you are going to date, you will.  You recognize you'll need time to hurt and make sure you get the support you need and then move on as best you can.

Be sure to check out,
"Dating Makes You Want to Die: But You Have to Do It Anyway"
by Daniel Holloway & Dorothy Robinson for more on dating and suriving as a single at any age!

DATING & ROMANCE

Relationships are often the result of dating.  For many that's the driving goal.  Once there, it can be another story if left unattended. "Falling In Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose" by Ayala Malach-Pines and, "Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love" by Helen Fisher are two books I find both detailed and clear when it comes to explaining dating and partnerships.

 

DR. FISHER FINDS RESEARCH ON

Keeping Romance Alive:

Do novel things together - variety, variety, variety.

Sexual intimacy.

Review antidepressant medication.

Be gender-specific - face-to-face (female) vs. side-by-side (male).

Space or time apart increases anticipation and pleasure of the reward (to a point).

Date and stay romantic.


Making yourself fall in love:


Do novel and exciting things together.

Banish other romantic distractions.

Open yourself up to love.

Making a relationship last:

Novelity.

Commit to one another.

Have engaging life projects - keep growing intellectually.

Regular sexual intimacy.

Listen to each other: Ask questions--Give answers. 

Appreciate one another.

Stay attractive.
 

For men, include your partner.

For women, give him space.

Be honest and trustworthy.

Tell your mate what you need.

Accept your mate's shortcomings.

Be respectful.

Mind your manners.

Have a sense of humor and use it.

Compromise.

Argue constructively.

Never threaten to depart.

Forget the past.

Avoid affairs.

Don't assume the relationship will last forever.

Build and work on the relationship every day.

Take relationship problems as a chance to grow.

 

DR. AYALA MALACH-PINES DELVES INTO RESEARCH & THEORY

 
 Trying again--How to make use of past long-term relationships in the next one.

Intimate relationships can be the best way to help resolve childhood issues and create meaning for your life. So even if you’ve been in a long-term relationship and it has ended, it doesn’t mean you can never be in another one.

Your old relationship gives you a chance to see where you’ve grown and how you might change things in your new relationship.

The choice to fall in love is unconscious/unintentional and so is often illogical/emotional.  The reasoning part of the brain is called the cerebral cortex-the outer most layer of the brain; and falling in love is decided by the limbic system—where emotions rule in the deeper parts of the brain.  

While illogical and emotional; the choice does seem purposeful in that it provides you a partner best suited to deal with your own obstacles to growth.

However, the risk is that the first thing that attracts you to your partner may be the thing that causes the most problems later on. 

Here are some examples:

Attraction:  He pursued you and you felt desirable. 
Problem:     You feel smothered and can’t breathe.

Attraction:  She was perfect and your ideal in a partner.
Problem:     You never get the feeling she desires me.

Attraction:  You always felt secure with him.
Problem:     He is boring.

Attraction:  She has a mysterious air about her.
Problem:     She isn’t really there; no emotional intimacy.

Attraction:  He was ambitions and looked to be a success.
Problem:    He’s gone all the time on business; never home.

Attraction: She looked to be a great homemaker.
Problem:    She is not exciting; no interest outside the home.

Attraction: He looks to be very easy-going.
Problem:    He won’t stand up for himself.

Attraction: She was energetic, very active and exciting.
Problem:    She blow up over little things; has temper tantrums.

Attraction: He was very smart and assertive man.
Problem:    He makes me feel incompetent and stupid.

Attraction: She respects me and you feel appreciated.
Problem:    She is insecure and blames me for everything.

 

Obviously, the attraction is meeting a need in your own life.  When you’ve begun to grow in that area, you may no longer need what it was about them that attracted you.  Now, the trait feels more like a problem than something positive and you’re at risk for relationship burnout.

Some may fall in love, start a long-term relationship, get married and never feel the need to end the relationship.  Others find themselves repeating the process over and over again—recognizing they’re repeating the same pattern in their relationships.

Sometimes, in an effort to not repeat the same pattern, you may try to find the opposite kind of person.  If in the past your partner was demanding and controlling, you’ll chose someone who is laid back and is indecisive.  Unfortunately, this opposite is just the other side of the same coin and you’re faced with a similar dilemma.

By recognizing the issue resides within you, you can begin to address it and see your partner as the individual –flawed and imperfect—and not as a projection of your childhood experiences or own self-image.  As you learn to accept yourself, you begin to accept your partner as well.

This doesn’t mean you must stay in your relationship.  You can leave a relationship for any reason in most states.  And no family court in the county is going force you to stay married to your partner if you don’t want to be married anymore.

My role as a mental health professional is not to put a value judgment on your decision to stay or leave.  But to help you look at the risks and benefits of your decisions and support you in moving in directions you feel are in line with your values.
The fact is that making long-term commitments usually involve investment of time, energy, and resources.  And each time you end and begin again in a long-term relationship, you have costs emotionally and physically; and at times in terms of opportunities. 

Most people recognize this and don’t typically even acknowledge their desire to leave a marriage or other long-term relationship unless they’ve become quite unhappy.

Make sure to check out "Falling In Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose" by Ayala Malach-Pines and, "Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love" by Helen Fisher for solid information, research, and theory on falling in love and relationships.

Call 419.215.4567 or schedule an appointment today!

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