Ready to Date, Relate and Connect
Whenever you’re about to meet someone for the first time, ask yourself, are you ready for this?
Being “ready” has to do with your ‘mindset.’ “Ready” means ‘ready to play,’ being focused, motivated, having a ‘game-plan’ to adhere to, and going all out the game is over – until the date is over. ‘Ready’ also means being ready for whatever happens.
There is such a thing as a dating mindset that allows you to enter into an initial encounter with confidence, “attitude,” and clear understanding of your basic objectives. Regardless of whether you win or not, you love the game and can’t wait for the next one.
You are in touch with your purpose – what is it you are ultimately after – that elusive connection!
The ‘Clean Slate’ State of Mind Enter into any relating encounter in a “clean slate state of mind.” “Clean slate” implies openness without any expectation or wish for a desired outcome, entering the encounter in the spirit of discovering whatever you create together, and staying focused on whatever is happening here and now. A clean slate is one of the intangibles, a subtle adjustment, and is a precursor to building rapport. You have no idea what’s going to happen, which is what makes the process exciting. The first time two people are together, a new play is about to unfold, one that has never been acted before. The dialogue and drama are unfolding right then and there. More often than not, when two people are meeting for the first time, the relationship stage has already been set, the dialogue scripted. They’re doomed before they even began. Tip #2 Have a Strategy in Place Having a strategy in place before meeting someone for the first time presumes that you know what you are getting yourself into and your are prepared, that you have a game-plan, a primary objective, which we’ll refer to as the first order of business. When meeting someone for the first time, the first order of business is to set up a time to meet in-person. Not having a plan in place is an all too common pitfall. No strategy, no map, no directions, “catchers catch can.” When you don’t have a strategy, you’ll be much more prone to get knocked off track. Texting, emailing or phone contact are, by their nature, communication for expedience sake, provide a false sense of safety, are not reliable indicators of connection, and not conducive for personal, real and meaningful exchanges. They are not a replacement for face to face, live and in-person contact. Relationships in which the predominant mode of exchange is texting and/or e-mail are doomed. There are no short cuts when it comes to building a relationship. Texting and e-mail lend themselves to imagining a relationship developing in your mind, a desired outcome, building excitement, anticipation and titillation; which is a far cry from being in reality, relating in a real-live setting. By the time you meet in person, reality takes the wind out of your sails. Suddenly you’re on your own, and you don’t know what to do or how to make a connection. Having a strategy in place is also what makes you an efficient manager of your time and energy. Tip #3 The Most Reliable Criteria for Assessing Your Dating Experience When you’re meeting someone for the first time, you have one shot, a sample of what it’s like being with this person and at some point, you must decide whether or not you would like to get together again. How do you assess your experience? What do you base your decision on? The most common criteria to base your decision on whether you want to have a second date, have more contact or pursue someone is, sexual attraction, and how the other looks to them is second. Not surprisingly, attraction and looks are not reliable criteria, and they are not accurate predictors of the quality of the potential developing relationship. There is no correlation. Not only are sexual attraction not a reliable predictor of relationship potential, your perception tends to get skewed by the physical and emotional excitement that occurs. You’re not going to be making good decisions when they are based on faulty criteria. You will be at far greater risk of “striking out” and getting into a ‘bad’ relationship. The most reliable criteria for assessing your dating experience and determining whether or not to pursue further contact is the quality of rapport, or lack thereof. Rapport has to do with how you felt being together. How connected did you feel? How open were you with each other? How honest and real were you? How interested in each other were you? How safe did you feel? How engaged did you feel? Tip #4 What is Rapport? How do you Generate Rapport? Now that we’ve established how you felt being together and the quality of connection are the most reliable criteria for assessing your dating experience, let’s talk more about what rapport is and how to generate rapport. The ability to generate rapport the most reliable indicator of relationship potential, if a relationship, in fact, materializes. If there is a strong rapport the first time you meet, chances are good that it will extend into subsequent encounters. The irony is that most people are oblivious to rapport, what rapport is, or feels like, or how to generate it. The better you understand what rapport is, the better ‘generator’ of rapport you will be. Rapport is when two people are engaged in conversation. They are listening and responding freely and spontaneously, neither self-monitoring nor anticipating what is going to happen next. Rapport is a natural unfolding process, untainted by a wish for a desired outcome. Rapport springs out of sharing what you are thinking and feeling at any given moment so that your dating partner can respond in kind, spontaneously, what s/he is thinking and feeling. Then you respond and your partner responds, and so on. Rapport feels good, real good. Rapport is characterized by mutual interest, honesty and understanding. Rapport is the seed that grows into intimacy. Remember, you are always assessing the quality of rapport. Tip #5 What and how much information should you disclose? I’ve encountered much confusion regarding the issue of self-disclosure when meeting someone the first time.What and how much information should you disclose and when should you disclose? The answers to these questions, what, how much, and when to disclose all depend on the context of the conversation – how connected you feel and the quality of rapport. The more connected you felt, the more open and forthcoming you’re likely to be. The less connected, you’ll be less inclined to share more personally. When you’re feeling uncertain, the least bit uncomfortable, exposed or unsafe, you might decide to be more general, less personal or share less info. You can also put getting into more depth and detail on hold until you get to know each other better or feel safer. You can also shift the focus on yourself to the other person by asking questions that would require him or her to open up more to you, and see what happens. If you are not paying attention to the quality of rapport, you will be at far greater risk of sharing “too much too soon,” and thereby not represent yourself accurately and being seen in an unfavorable light, judged and rejected. Subsequent contact will be far less likely. General rule of thumb: Don’t share about all the dark shameful details of your life with someone you’ve just met! And, you probably don’t want to hear about those things from someone you’ve just met. Tip #6 Your Warning Signals In order to navigate the treacherous terrain of intimate (emotionally nourishing) relationships, you need your warning signals to be on high alert. When you have a relationship with your Self, you’ll have the awareness to keep a close eye on, and heed, your warning signals. Your warning signals is your radar or defense system you can access when warranted. They provide vital information, i.e. when something is awry or going against the grain, when you’re unsafe or in some kind of danger. They scan the environment let you know when to begin mobilizing your defenses, to act, i.e. to pull back, keep your distance and be wary, or run for your life and don’t come back, or slow way down. Your warning signals also let you know when you are being lied to, or there is a deception – when your “bullshit” detector” kicks in. When you are out of touch with your warning signals, you won’t be able to heed any alert or act, and therefore be unable to protect yourself. Not being in touch with them puts you at increased risk of getting involved with the wrong person, in a bad relationship, or situation you don’t want to be in. These same signals let you know when you are safe, clearing the way for you to act, i.e. open more, move closer or get more involved or invest more emotionally (depends on what you’re getting back). Sometimes your warning signals are subtle, and sometimes they are blaring. You have to be paying attention. When you are in touch with and heeding your warning signals, you will have the ability to act or communicate and take care of yourself, taking responsibility for your own self-care and wellbeing. Visualization of when your warning signals are set off and you take action and communicate accordingly. Recall times you felt uncomfortable, or there was something that made you feel unsafe, or something that was getting your attention, and imagine saying something. Tip #7 What is the Biggest Obstacle Singles Face? The biggest problem facing singles is lack of knowhow. Most people never learned that “a relationship is a ‘joint-effort” creation. “Joint-effort creation” implies that dating, relating and intimacy are art forms, as is the case with any art form, basic principles apply and specific skills and oftentimes, training, is required. They are inherently challenging for everyone. As is the case with any other art form, you get back what you put in. You have to understand and be engaged in the process, that dating and relating are like games you have to know how to play. When you are passively going through the motions, i.e. expecting there to automatically be a connection or one to just happen by itself (or not), you’re leaving it up to chance, when you could have a hand in the outcome. Over time, your confidence and sense of competence takes a hit too. For many people, dating and relating pose monumental problems given how painful their family of origin relationships were, and more challenging due to the lack of healthy role models. They are operating in the dark, flying by the seat of their pants. However, no matter what you’ve been through in your life – trauma, abuse, addiction, ‘bad’ relationships, it’s not too late. You can always learn, or be trained, as to how to make deeper connections and create more intimacy in your life. Tip #8 Emotional Baggage that Leads to Personalizing Outcomes Let’s think of ‘emotional baggage’ as: unconscious unmet emotional needs, that float around in our unconscious, drives our behavior and distorts our perceptions. Perceptual distortion has tremendous sabotaging potential, that it renders you susceptible to misread or “personalize” either the outcome of an encounter or how the other responds, does or says to you. You’d be relating though a filter of emotional hunger. Emotional hunger often becomes internalized, causing negative self-feelings to backlog over time, which is a contributing factor to an inner a core of unworthiness, which can make one (unconsciously) desperate for validation from outside sources that you are okay, you matter, are valued, special and loved. In this way, your wellbeing and sense of self-worth becomes externally based, that is, on how other people respond to you. You will be at far greater risk of ‘personalizing,’ misinterpreting, or ‘subjectifiying,’ i.e. “That means he likes me, or, “That means he doesn’t like me. Or feeling rejected when your interest or attraction are not reciprocated, or when you see differences or disagree; or mistaking much needed attention for interest in you personally; and making a decision to pursue further contact, or get more involved, based on misperception. Emotional baggage becomes problematic when it is unconscious or denied. As you become more mindful and conscious of your unmet emotional needs and unresolved issues, you’ll be able to be more objective when assessing how you feel during any relating encounter and whether to pursue further contact. Tip #9 Being Prepared for the Best and Worst that Can Happen “Ready to relate” means being prepared for the four basic dating scenarios, for the best and worst that can happen. There are four basic scenarios that can happen, each one poses unique and formidable challenges.
When you are mutually attracted and interested, and would like to get together again.
You’re interested in the other person, but he/she is not interested in you.
The other person is interested in you, but you’re not.
Neither of you were not interested or attracted.
When there is a mutual attraction, there is the risk of getting caught up in the excitement and losing objectivity. When this perceptual distortion occurs, your ability to assess your experience gets compromised, and therefore your judgment gets impaired. In this ‘excited’ state, you tend to lose sight of your ultimate purpose and what you are ultimately after. The challenges posed are:
Being mindful enough to discern when you are interpreting what is happening through the lens of excitement and intensity.
To let whatever unfolds to unfold naturally and organically by taking it ‘one date at a time’ and growing the relationship, ‘one encounter at a time,’ rather than altering your responses to force a specific outcome.
To not act impulsively or get involved prematurely; rather to stay focused on getting together again, without getting sexual, falling in love or future tripping.
The biggest challenge when you’re interested but the other is not, is to not feel personally rejected, but rather see it as just what happened when youand so and so met, that you just didn’t “click.” When you are prepared for when you’re interested but the other is not, your self-esteem would be internally based, remain constant and not riding on the outcome of any one date. From a purely statistical vantage point, this scenario is going to happen one quarter of the time.
The challenge when the other person is interested in you, but you’re not, is to not personalize its meaning; and not to feel responsible for how the other reacts or how personally (rejected) he or she feels.
When two people are together for the first time and they are mutually disinterested or weren’t a ‘fit’ either way, the challenge is again, to not personalize the outcome and making sure to enter into your next encounter ready to go, in a “clean slate” state of mind.
Being Mindful Enough to Discern When your Imagination is Activated Sexual desire, sexual involvement, and the backlog of frustration from unconscious unmet emotional needs find expression through our imagination. Oftentimes our imagination is activated and we are not aware in that moment that when our imagination is projected into our thought, perceptions, behavior and communication. Imagination is God’s gift to us for which we can be forever grateful, as long as we aware that our experience and perception is imagination-based. Our imagination can serve as a healthy expression of our sexuality, as well as a healthy way to relieve frustration, and is considered safe and inconsequential as it doesn’t involve contact with another person. But the moment we act on our imagination, the “party is over,” and reality is a bitter pill we have to swallow. When stepping from our imagination into reality, there’s no way to undo it. If we are not aware that it is our imagination that is operating, we’ll be unable to distinguish bet fantasy and reality, which would sorely impair our judgment. When swept up in excitement, we’re much more at risk of getting involved too fast with the wrong person and left stunned when the fizzle is gone. But if we are mindful of our imagination, we would then be able to enjoy the show without the damage of impaired judgment and bad decisions. We’d be able to shift our experience in the present moment. We might determine that there is not much else beyond the attraction (or sex, great sex), and decide not to get together again. The best course of action is to create some emotional distance, to buy some more time together before determining the direction you want to go. Another option is to enjoy the intense connection w/out getting further involved, emotionally, sexually or otherwise, until you’ve established a more solid base of rel.