Hi! I am glad you are joining us as we have a high-level conversation related to how to date intentionally.
In our last blog, we discussed topics to consider processing before you start dating, like what your view of dating is. Then we suggested a few places to meet a potential partner. I highlighted how our own intentionality can not only benefit us but also the people we meet as well.
Our own intentionality might help us decide who we say “yes” to meeting up with, how long we continue to say “yes,” and our thoughtfulness of how we say “no thanks.” Part of dating that I think makes so many of us uncomfortable is the thought of telling someone we aren’t interested. But honestly, that is a huge part of dating, and there are ways that we can do this well. Hopefully you are noticing how being intentional with these things also impacts the other person.
It makes me think of a quote by C.S. Lewis:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Today, I want to take some time to discuss potential ways to avoid dating a jerk. (One of my favorite resources related to dating is How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk by John Van Epp, Ph.D. I’ll name it: cheesy title but helpful concepts.) I also want to talk about the value of dating-in-community.
Before we start dating, it can be important to take some time to name red flags and waving red flags. What I mean by red flags is something that might be a dealbreaker or a reason you say “no.” A waving red flag is like a “run now” sign.
How can you identify red flags or waving red flags?
One of the first things that can help you decide on your red flags is to take time to identify your own values; name what is important to you and decide how important that is to you in a partner. Then take some time to decide what are your negotiables and non-negotiables. For example, if you like to workout, do you believe that a potential partner needs to have the same level of fitness or are you open to someone who also values moving their body and caring for it.
I think one reason many of us can get stuck dating is we want to know how it will work out before we keep saying “yes,” or we want them to check the majority of things on our list. Keep this in mind: The majority of us are not fortune tellers and there is no way we are going to know how it will be until we actually give it a shot. And then, keep in mind that no one is perfect. As we date, most of us are going to have things that we notice about the other person that may lead to us reflecting on how big of a deal it is and whether we could see it impact our relationship moving forward.
A really helpful thing to keep in mind when dating is that trust is built over time and through a multitude of experiences. One of the most helpful pictures that I have heard and teach pretty much every single one of my clients to help explain trust is a marble jar. (Here is a short explanation.) As you continue going on dates, take notice how your own jar is filled or emptied by those who you are dating.
As I said, waving red flags are our “run now” signs. This may different for everyone, but here are a few examples of potential walk-away signs: patterns of lying, ways they treat others, isolation, secrecy, abuse, and lack of emotional control.
A helpful resource for our dating life and being able to sort out the duds and the keepers is dating-in-community.
Dating and debriefing with friends/community is helpful for many reasons. Our friends can help us recognize or notice patterns we may not be willing to admit or can’t see. Our friends can help hold us accountable to boundaries or limits that are important to us. Our friends can gauge if we act like ourselves around the person.
Many of us have different reasons for why we aren’t sharing about dating with our friends. It could be we don’t want them to know, we assume we know what they will think or say about the relationship, or we don’t want to make a “big deal” out of each date. Whatever the reason, this can impact how you process the date/how long you stay involved with the person, etc.
Tips to Build Your Dating Community:
Admit you need a good support system to help you grow in this area of your life.
Name who you listen to. The only rule for the team is that you must make yourself vulnerable to them, submit to them, put it all out there for them to see, and consider the wisdom/correction/feedback they give you (taken from How to Get a Date Worth Keeping, Henry Cloud, pg. 86.
Consider who you feel safe and comfortable sharing with.
Pick people to be in your date debrief group based on your level of experiencing them being “for you” and your level of respect for them.
We hope this helps as you continue to build a framework for dating intentionally! If you are interested in processing any of these thoughts, our team at Steady Hope would love to connect with you. Reach out here.