Dating Tips for Singles:
How to Create a Good Relationship This Time

by Suzanne E. Harrill    

Is it time to start dating?  First, be honest with yourself about your readiness. Ask yourself some important questions about your previous relationship(s); such as, “What did I learn about myself while in these relationships? Why did I match up with the people in these relationships in the first place? What beliefs about relationships do I have that are false and need updating? What patterns did I repeat from my parents? What do I wish I could have done differently, before, during, or after these relationships?”

These and many more questions, which focus on your part in the relationship, need to be answered if you wish to create a better relationship in the future. We walk blindly into similar situations when we do not take the time to learn from our less aware choices. Let us begin with a look at how many relationships start before we look at dating tips.

Many relationships just “happen,” without much thought, going for what easily shows up. That in itself is not bad; however, what gets people in trouble is not being aware. Unaware people usually do not look very hard or very long at their prior relationships, nor do they discriminate among their choices. The easiest way to choose a partner is based on such things as physical attraction, wanting closeness, needing affection, sex, or love with the feeling of “falling in love.” If you were buying a new car, wouldn’t you want to know everything possible about the car before purchasing it? Think about dating this time as screening for a potential partner that scores high in compatibility, values, and interests. You will want to know all sides of a person before even considering marriage, which takes going beyond the romantic first stage of a relationship. People put on their best behavior for a long time, especially out in public. It takes a while to figure out if someone is aware of their public mask and is able to take it off in private, so you can get to know them on a deeper, more intimate level. People that do not know themselves do not know they have a true self.  In essence they hide out by wearing masks even with themselves. You need time to use your thinking side when you find someone you are attracted to.  This will help you determine if there is potential for the relationship for the long run.

 It is common for people to know nothing about flirting and playfulness and to take dating too seriously.  Now let’s look at dating tips to help you get back in circulation.

Dating Tips

1.      Let dating be a process to screen people, so you can eventually choose the best partner with whom to create a lasting relationship.

2.      Do not focus on marriage until you have dated a long time. The first date is to determine whether or not you want a second one with this person.

3.      Physical attraction and romantic love are not predictive of lasting love. Enjoy the attraction and the pleasant emotions of being “in love.” It is usually not a wise time to make a life decision though. Curb impulsive decisions until you can think again.

4.   Do not get caught up in the idea that this relationship is different, meaning perfect.  All relationships eventually bring up issues that need healing and  resolution. Also everyone has a shadow side, which takes a while to see.  Give yourself time to figure out if you can live with the issues that come up and the negative side of the partner’s personality.

5.      Learn to “chit chat” even if you prefer deep intimate conversations.  Effective small talk helps you meet people and screen them.  Use this time to be a “detective” to find out if the other person’s real personality, values, goals, and potential are in alignment with yours.  Notice their body language and tone of voice, as well as what their words are, to gather clues about them.

6.      Balance talking and listening.  Notice how the other person responds to your listening and your talking.

7.      If you see potential in a person notice how they speak and treat their family members.  Do they have a good relationship with their mother? father?  siblings? children? ex-spouses?  What are their family-of-origin patterns relating to communication, anger, affection, etc.

8.      You may have to be the one to get things started.  Many people who would like to meet you may be shy.  They simply do not have the courage to flirt or to ask someone out, so you may have to do it.  In this day and age women have social permission to ask men out, so, if you are a woman, take advantage of the times.

9.      Avoid being sexually frustrated and needy when you go out so that you can honor your value system.  How?  Exercise, get a massage, or masturbate before you leave for your date; and limit your alcohol intake or avoid alcohol all together.

10.       To play the dating game, pretend you have a hand of cards.  Each of these cards represents something about you.  Show only one card at a time.  If this is matched with one from the other person, share another of yours.  It is a  common mistake to either show your whole hand of cards or none at all.

Let me go into more detail about the last tip. Some people never learned how to differentiate between an acquaintance and an intimate friend and do not have appropriate emotional boundaries.  As a counselor I have seen people go to two different extremes in dating. They either let someone new into their emotional and physical space too quickly or not at all. I use the following analogy of a tree with rings to help people determine whether someone is a potential intimate partner or simply an acquaintance.

Tree Analogy:  Your heart and inner self is at the center of the tree and each of the concentric rings outward represent levels of closeness to your center.  Let’s say for simplicity that there are ten rings around your center which is an open heart, soft and vulnerable. The world sees the outer, rough, protective bark at first, which allows you to protect yourself as needed. All encounters begin here. If you are not interested or have nothing in common with a person, keep them outside of your bark. When you are interested in someone, you next let them in to ring ten, and only ring ten.  People with weak boundaries let people come too close to the heart too fast without discriminating. People with overly strong boundaries never let others get past the outer five rings.
What is the process in letting people get closer into the inner rings of your boundaries?  After chit-chatting you decide to play a card from your hand, sharing something about yourself, maybe where you are from, went to school, that you have children.  It is still not too deep a conversation.  If that person shows interest and asks you to share more, then you open ring number nine.  Now you look for a clue that they are willing to share with you details about themselves.  If they do, then you open ring eight. As you notice the flow of conversation you can stop there or open ring seven.  This would be enough for most people on first meeting someone.
You usually need several encounters with this person to determine whether to let them know you at a deeper level. The person needs to pass some “tests” before you open the last five rings. You look for verbal and nonverbal clues to determine whether you have enough in common to open closer rings. You look for such things as having ideas in common, living similar life styles, values, goals, interests, educational backgrounds, and being at similar places along the spiritual journey. You use your intuition, as well as, your five senses to feel this person out. The outer five rings are more for acquaintances at different degrees of social contact, the inner rings for close, intimate friends. Not many people make it all the way to your heart. Discrimination is important here and it takes time to access enough information to decide whether you want an intimate relationship with another or not. You need to go through a process slowly to let a person through the boundaries of your rings before you can determine whether there is potential or not. The above analogy does not talk about sex. Having sex with someone can be at an intimate level or it can be without emotional attachment.

One last topic, where do you meet people when you are ready to start dating? One of the best ways to meet people is through friends who already know you. When you are ready, let your friends know.

It is very common for people to go out to clubs, pubs, or bars to meet people, especially the younger generation.  This may work for some; however, many people do not like to go to these places because it so superficial, there is alcohol, and it requires one to be a night person, just to name a few.  So where can you meet people?  The best way is to pursue your interests, whether it is tennis, reading, working out in a gym, taking a class, or going to lecture.  Here you meet people with common interests to you.  If you like lectures, for example, many bookstores, churches, and libraries have speakers. This is a good place to meet others.  Consider taking a leisure learning class. If you are the athletic type, joining a health club or a sports team is a good choice.  If you are the religious type of person, many churches have singles groups.  If you are service oriented, consider volunteering in your city. Using the internet and dating sites are popular with some. However, this has more risk involved. If you have only emailed or talked on the phone, you miss a lot of the nonverbal cues. Use your smart self when meeting people in person and remember the rings of the tree.

Take responsibility for your next relationship. Remember dating is a game and it takes time to determine whether someone is a good match for you.  If you are ready to start dating, spend time thinking about who the other person is, which ring they fit into in your tree, and what you want.  Remember to stay aware and remember the importance of knowing yourself.




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