Suzanne E. Harrill
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
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.
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.
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
Let dating be a process to screen people, so you can
eventually choose the best partner with whom to create a
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.
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.
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.
time to figure out if you can live with the issues that come
up and the negative
side of the partner’s personality.
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.
Balance talking and listening.
Notice how the other person responds to your listening and your talking.
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?
children? ex-spouses? What
are their family-of-origin patterns
relating to communication, anger, affection, etc.
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.
Avoid being sexually frustrated and needy when you go
out so that you can honor your value system.
get a massage, or masturbate before you leave for your date; and limit your alcohol intake or
avoid alcohol all together.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.