This week’s theme on the SinglesCoach blog is Smart Dating: Using tools and structure to greatly increase positive outcomes. Unconscious dating means dating without any structure, plan, or awareness of the impact of your choices on your life. Unconscious = making lots of big mistakes; yes, you can eventually learn that way, but the price tag in divorce and multiple break-ups is high. Smart dating = being conscious and aware, making choices with some idea of future impact on your life. Again, you’ll learn along the way but with a much smaller price tag.
The term “dating” almost represents a forgotten dynamic. In today’s world of “hook-ups” and other ill-defined relationships terms, it seems out of date to talk about dating. But that’s the problem: the “lost art of dating” has left us drifting and floundering in an ocean of confusion. If you want something new, something clear-cut and empowering, then it’s time to get back to some basics that work.
Human beings don’t do well without structure. It’s become such a huge issue in our public schools, with high drop-out rates, low test scores and inability to qualify for college, that many schools are insituting school uniforms as a way to bring back structure. So far, the results are positive: many schools report a decrease in tardiness and crime and increase in focus on school work. Whether you agree with the method or not, one thing is clear: structure works. Studies show that with structure anxiety goes down, while focus and productivity go up. Structure enables a sense of greater emotional safety.
Structure in dating: creating emotional safety. Implementing structure in your dating process works as well. With it, your focus is on discovering compatility and common values, as well as being more emotionally present minus too much fantasy thinking. What are the basics? I encourage a focus on structure for the first three dates. Below are the basic guildelines. You’ll find a more complete discussion of dating structure in Be Your Own Dating Service .
First date (with someone you don’t already know well). 1.) Meet there - restaurant or coffee place. [Women: arrive early and leave last so he can’t see your car license plates. This is for your protection.] 2.) Plan for a short time frame of no more than an hour; you can always extend if you want, but I discourage “marathon dates” in the beginning because of the high degree of fantasy that develops. 3.) NO ALCOHOL on the first date: again, illusion develops quickly with alcohol.
Second date. 1.) Meet there - restaurant or other public venue. Again, you still need to protect your safety. Don’t be afraid to do a background check or ask for references when you’re dating someone you met on the internet. Absent the person’s social context [which you get when you are introduced by someone who knows both of you well], you have to be smart about this.
Third date. More of the same, although if you’ve done your background checking, you can probably have a glass of wine by now. But no getting intoxicated! That leads to big mistakes in judgment and behavior.
Hopefully you’re getting the picture by now. Slow down, take the time to “interview” someone [see later blog post this week], and be smart about it. Later this week, you’ll get tips on the purpose of the first few dates and how to manage them for maximum insight.