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Why Dating Is a Discovery Phase To Work Out If You Want a Relationship (With Them)

Posted Aug 12 2010 10:45am
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I’ve been in enough pseudo, illusionary relationships to know that I have sometimes made assumptions about the state of play and engaged in behaviour that was counterproductive to me actually forging a healthy relationship with a chance of growing. This happens because the lines get blurred between ‘dating’ and a ‘relationship’ and we start building sandcastles in the sky and love and trust blindly even when there is real evidence to show that we should be rolling back.

I get asked a lot of questions about dating but I felt the easiest way to start a series of posts addressing dating was to say:

You need to go into dating with a reasonable level of trust and self-esteem. Let’s imagine that you go through life and engaging with people that you have just met and don’t know enough about them to know exactly how much you can trust them, it’s best to have reasonable level of trust and increase or roll back accordingly based on your interactions with them.

Dating is a discovery period. If you imagine that the idea of dating is about discovering other people and seeing how much you ‘click’ and whether you have enough going on to forge a relationship, this period is for you to learn about one another…even if what you learn is bad news.

This is why you shouldn’t be so committed to a relationship you don’t have yet because if the ‘feedback’ is ‘Abort mission! Back away from the target and abort mission’, if you’re too invested, you’ll think ‘Yeah..but I love him! I can change him! And this one time in bandcamp he said he was going to marry me and take me on a cruise!’

Unfortunately, we don’t all date for the same reasons.

Some people date because they are genuinely looking for a relationship.
Some people date to pass time.
Some people date to get laid and they pretend that they want more so that they don’t endanger the possibility of getting laid.
Some people date because they’re afraid to be alone.
Some people date because they want to see what’s out there – a bit like experimenting.
Some people date lots of people and treat it like a numbers game but don’t end up being close to anyone.
Some people date because even though they claim to want a relationship, they’re afraid of commitment and have no true genuine desire to forge a committed healthy relationship, but have not connected their actions with the results and assume it’s ‘everyone else’s fault’.
Some people will claim they want a relationship, but are afraid of commitment, but feel compelled to keep ‘trying’ placing the onus on some mystical person to come along and ‘change their mind’.

Many people date and have intentions to have a decent, healthy relationship but don’t always behave in ways that are productive for dating or a relationship making it you in the end, incompatible.

You just don’t know enough about someone immediately or even in the first few dates to know whether they are on the same page as you with their intentions, although if you say you’re looking for a relationship and sex is the primary thing being pushed on their agenda for example, you can rest assured that no matter what they say about looking for a relationship, they’re looking to get laid.

If you date someone and take the time to get to know them, you can work out whether you actually do want the same thing as opposed to saying that you do and something else resulting.

If you’re looking for a relationship and they’re looking for a relationship then you have a starting point.

LOOKING FOR A RELATIONSHIP + LOOKING TO PASS TIME = YOU BEING IN LIMBO WHILE THEY FLIP FLAP

LOOKING FOR A RELATIONSHIP + LOOKING FOR A SHAG = YOU BEING USED FOR A SHAG & BEING AN ‘ACCIDENTAL BOOTY CALL’

LOOKING FOR A SHAG + LOOKING FOR A SHAG = GOOD TIMES (but if you change your mind and start looking for a relationship, you’ll become an accidental booty call)

If you’ve had a history of being involved in dubious relationships or base a lot of your interactions around attraction, chemistry, and common interests, you are likely to need to address some of your beliefs about dating to have greater dating success, starting with remembering what dating is about:

Dating is a discovery period. It is a fact finding phase where when you get involved with someone, you go in with a reasonable level of trust and then use your discoveries like an internal system of checks and balances.

You go in with your eyes and ears open and your feet on the ground and as you engage and interact with them, using your boundaries , values , and awareness, you either increase your level of trust because their words and actions match up and you feel good within the relationship, or you decrease your level of trust because you get signals and evidence that show that the basic level of trust you date with is misplaced with this person. If you do these things as a basic, it won’t be a hardship to do and you’ll filter the information naturally and process the signals.

You cannot make the decision that you’re in a relationship until you’ve gone beyond the point of seeing past attraction, appearance, chemistry, and common interests , to whether you have shared values.

You’ll only find out if you have shared values and a foundation of care, trust, and respect that can lead to love in a loving relationship if you take the time to get to know the person in the reality for who they are. You cannot do this if you’re already in lala land building sandcastles in the sky betting on potential or building a fake future with someone in spite of the fact that they don’t back up their words with actions.

Dating is the beginning. There’s the initial dates where really, you’re finding out if you want to take the time to continue getting to know one another. This leads into the interim stage where you date some more and continue the discovery, which can lead into a loving relationship.

If you enter at the beginning, jump straight into bed or sexual contact and decide you’re in a loving relationship before it is a loving relationship, you will miss vital clues and information that tell you whether it can be a loving relationship in the first place.

The mistake that many people make in dating is assuming that because they find someone attractive, feel a chemistry with them, and share some common interests that it’s a match made in heaven because they make blind assumptions with these nuggets of information and correlate them to the rest of the person and assume they share the same values.

If you use dating as a discovery phase, even if you do feel attraction, chemistry and have common interests, you’ll seek to discover whether you have shared values.

If you miss the vital steps in dating and don’t take the time to lay the foundations, you’ll end up in a shady relationship built on little or no foundations wondering why the relationship isn’t working. It stands to reason that if the way that you have been dating isn’t working, to continue to repeat these behaviours would be relationship insanity. It’s time to get out of stuck and take your time.

Dating takes time. Take the time to get to know people you’re dating and don’t be too quick to give away all the goods, whether that’s sex, your full trust, or your commitment. There is no fire – do due diligence and you will reap the rewards.

Your thoughts?

Image source: SXC

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