According to Statistic Brain, as of June 2013, there are over 54 million single people in the United States and 40 million who have tried online dating. It is almost daunting to think about so many people who may be dating or interested in finding a long-term partner.
Having been divorced in my late 30s, I was an ‘active dater’ for almost 15 years before remarrying. Once, upon learning that I was single, a colleague quipped, “That is obviously by choice.” This took me aback until I finally realized that the comment was intended to be a compliment; and it was also true. People assumed that I did not want to marry again, but the heart of the matter was that I did not want to be divorced again.
While I certainly made mistakes along my dating path, I continued to learn from each experience; practically becoming a scholar in the field. My intention was to continue to work on myself and understand my issues, so that when the right person came along, I could recognize him and be capable of being in a healthy, loving, life partner relationship. Whole person wellness after all, must apply to all aspects of our lives. Below I offer you five guidelines that are essential to help bring balance to all aspects of your life as well as to crystallize the dating experience, so that you can navigate through the dating process with calm, confidence and ease.
1. Let’s Be Honest. This sounds so obvious, doesn’t it? But how many times do we feel we need to give our dating persona a boost by being just a little misleading if not downright fictitious about ourselves? Part of this candor has to begin with the question, “Are you really ready to start dating?” Have you healed from your last relationship? Do you even know who you are or what you hope to accomplish by dating? Maybe you are not ready for a long-term relationship or even short-term monogamy. On the other hand, maybe that is exactly what you know you want. Whatever it is – its ok…as long as you are truthful with your potential dates.
Candidness is critical in every aspect of your dating experience. Identify those things about yourself that may be deal breakers for a potential partner and be upfront about them. This could range from religious or political preferences to health issues, to whether or not you want to have children. Taking the time to explore who you are and what you are looking for in a relationship will save you and your dates a lot of time and misery.
2. Don’t Play Games. For as long as I can remember, little girls were taught “how to catch a beau” and little boys were taught “all is fair in love and war”. But the fact is, we are talking about real people who have real lives and real feelings. Our actions and behavior reflect the kind of person we are and what we can bring to a relationship. Game playing is manipulative and scheming. No one wants to be in a relationship with this kind of person. You can save a lot of mental anguish and fatigue simply by being straightforward.
3. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Aretha spelled it out. Everyone wants and deserves to be respected. In the dating process we do that by showing consideration for the other person in our actions and our words. This can be as simple as being on time, or doing something you say you will do. It can also be as complicated as respecting differences of opinion, belief systems, or personal history. Unfortunately, too often it involves an even more complex issue of respecting yourself; honoring who you are and your needs as an individual as well as in the context of the relationship. In the words of the Staple Singers, “If you don’t respect yourself, ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot.”
4.Trust. Trust is the other side of honesty. We have to have a foundation of honesty in order to earn trust in a relationship. We must also have the security, confidence and integrity to trust others. When we project a distrusting attitude, we are in fact fostering dishonesty. The people in our lives don’t feel safe with this attitude and will tend to want to hide or become secretive. This in turn causes more distrust, leading to more concealment. It is a downward spiral and no good can come of it. Instead, nurture a culture of honesty and trust. This will allow the best in each of you to emerge.
5. Expectation Management. Often both in dating as well as in long-term relationships we tend to become bold, maybe even audacious, in our expectations of the other person. Truly, in order to avoid disappointment as well as to maintain the integrity of the relationship, the most healthful and beneficial expectations you can have are to be treated according to these five tips: honestly, straightforwardly, respectfully, with trust and mutual expectation of the same.
Dr. Mary Jayne Rogers is an Exercise Physiologist specializing in whole-person wellness and fitness education and instruction. As an educator, Mary Jayne brings multi-dimensional wellness and fitness experiences along with a welcoming and genuine teaching style to inspire students and wellness enthusiasts of all ages. Dr. Rogers is the owner of Profound Wellness LLC.