One of my favorite topics of discussion is dating. In addition to women asking me about dating men, I am also contacted fairly regularly by men who want to experience more fulfilling dating experiences. While the dating industry is booming with books and coaches, as I have noticed and personally experienced in my own dating life, there are important points to consider before swiping right on another app.
What do you want?
This is such an important, often-overlooked question to ask yourself. It is sort of like driving directions: If you don’t know where you are headed, how do you know if you are on the right route?
While it may be obvious to say that people date for different reasons, we tend to operate from the assumption that our reasons are aligned with everyone else’s. From here, we have expectations that can easily fall short and then affirm our beliefs that “dating sucks,” “there are no good men/women,” “people are flaky,” or any other number of things. Why do people date? Some date seeking to find a long-term partner, others date to “see what’s out there,” and yes, some date to just have sex or to get free meals and drinks.
Unfortunately, there can be so much judgment around dating, and our different motivations, that many of us do not feel safe enough to be honest about our intentions. I will say that I have dated to meet women and learn more about myself and them, I have dated to test the relationship waters and I have dated in search of a long-term partner. To my surprise and relief, there were willing participants in each of these categories; as long as we were both honest about our intentions, things went very smoothly.
How do you want to be as a dater?
What are the values that are important to you and what do you want the people you date to experience? This one, for me, is kind of a big deal as there is quite a bit of personal responsibility involved. I know, from most of the women I have talked to, both personally and professionally, that their experience of dating men has been pretty awful. I also know, as a man who has dated women and has friends who are emotionally-available men, that our experience can be pretty frustrating as well. We all kind of bounce around with our own unresolved issues, insecurities, expectations, and desires, and then trigger those things in each other.
The question I have had to ask myself, especially when there are times to have the tough conversations, such as: if we are going to go out again, is “who do I choose to be and how do I want her to experience me?” Critics of this type of approach might think that this is people-pleasing or “beta-male” behavior, but what I am talking about goes much deeper. Do I want her to experience another man who has her feel unsafe and ready to never go on another date again, or do I want her to experience what a man of integrity and honor is like—which may even help her to align with the man who is “right” for her? It can be as simple as “don’t be a jerk,” but what if instead, we came from the place of, “whatever happens, my desire is that my date feels honored and respected for however long we are together?”
What do you stand for?
What if you were dating from a larger purpose? What if every date and interaction was an opportunity to heal and restore our faith in each other? Does this mean we go through dates acting like the Dalai Lama? No, but it does mean that we spend some time considering what the highest version of ourselves is, and lead with that. I know you may be reading this and thinking: “what is with all this ‘higher purpose’ stuff? I just want to go on some dates!” If that is the case, I totally get it and there is nothing at all wrong with that. Knowing what you want, how you want to be and what you are standing for, makes it all easier, even though it may seem to add more potential complications. The quality coaches and books on this topic all point to doing your inner work first so that you can more quickly and easily attract and align with that partner. The “inner work” is being able to answer these questions for yourself so that you can move on from any person or situation that does not fit, and move towards the ones that do.
From my own personal experience, and when I have coached others on this, I can say that 100% of the time, things go much better when I know what I am standing for, what I want and who I choose to be. This does not mean that every date goes perfectly, or that I have not made mistakes, but handling the imperfections and mistakes with honor and respect, is what becomes available; in addition to finding that awesome partner to share your life with…if that’s what you want.
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