Being single and dating carry highly charged negative connotations. For many singles, dating is a harsh reminder of being a failed single. What follows from here is a bleak outlook and dread of dating.
There is the backlog of futility from endless fruitless first and only encounters, and those who have become resigned to seeing themselves as, ‘serial daters,’ who rarely, if ever, get to see someone a second time. Then there is the pervasive and inescapable pain of loneliness and isolation that morphs into a protracted state of defeatist depression and disconnection.
Unrealistic expectations are often problematic, and can become sabotaging mechanisms. For example, when there is urgency to “meet the one,” or hoping meet the one, “love at first sight,” just like in the movies. Usually unrealistic expectations mean a lack of understanding of the co-creative process, a lack of knowhow; nothing that some basic relationship training can’t rectify.
What most singles fail to realize is that when it come to meeting new people, there’s a lot “more than meets the eye.” Dating is a relationship training boot camp, an ideal training ground that affords you experience you can draw on when facing the same challenges that invariably occur during the course of any enduring intimate relationship. The challenges you face when you are dating as virtually the same ones that occur in later stages of relationships. For instance, when you’re dating, you’ll have to deal with difficult feelings, conflicts and differences, and if you deal with them effectively the first time you meet someone, chances are that you’ll deal with them effectively when there is a relationship established, when it’s actually more difficult because more is at stake than meeting someone one time and will never see again.
Another benefit of dating is the embracing an opportunistic philosophy, looking at each and every encounter as a “relating opportunity” unto itself. There must be a “fire in your belly,’ or hunger readies you to seize the opportunity when one presents itself.
There are four basic dating scenarios, each one posing very specific and unique challenges. The more experience you have dealing with all of them, the more you’ll learn and grow, and the better prepared you’ll be for relationship challenges up the road.
The challenges when there is a strong mutual sexual attraction are numerous: Your perceptions tend to get skewed or ‘selective,’ that is, you see what you want to see and screen out what you don’t want to see. Your behavior undergoes alteration as well. You might try harder to make a good impression, or you’ll be more flirtatious. Your judgment will be impaired and your decision-making ability will suffer. Usually idealization is followed by the crash of reality. There a tendency to lose oneself in anticipation and excitement, and jump to conclusions about who this other person is and how great you are together. There is no correlation between sexual attraction, or, for that matter, great sex, and the quality of the developing relationship, which is contrary to what many people would like to believe.
This is going to happen, guaranteed. Your respective interests will diverge. The challenge here is not to personalize when your interest or attraction is not mutual, not to feel personally rejected when the outcome doesn’t turn out how you would have liked. The challenge is to enter into your next relating encounter with a “clean slate,” ready for any one of the four basic dating scenariosto occur. Just because your interest wasn’t reciprocated last time doesn’t mean it will not be reciprocated the next time around.
You, too, will find yourself in this situation at some point, guaranteed. You’re going to meet someone who is interested in you, but you’re not so interested; who would like to get together again and you have no desire on your part. The same challenge applies – not to personalize how the other person responds. There is a tendency to take responsibility for how the other person feels, or sees you, and then judge yourself accordingly. Because many people don’t want to be perceived as insensitive, cold or aloof, they will compromise their truth in order to appear “nicer” than how they actually feel. They may say that they’d like to be friends when they’ve already decided, “Thumbs down.” A question to ask yourself is, do you feel safe enough to be yourself fully the first time you meet someone.
This is most common occurrence of all, and the main challenge is, again, to not let this experience contaminate your next relating encounter, that you enter into it in a “clean slate state of mind.” When you meet someone for the first time and there is no interest or connection to warrant further contact, the natural next step – to act and communicate accordingly – is much easier and simpler than in later stages of relationship, when there is much more at stake.
During the course of any relationship, there are going to be times, circumstances and conditions that are not conducive for intimate connection, when there are ill feelings and bad moods that sometimes cast a pall over everything you do or say in life and relationships. The challenge is to bring your charge down to neutral, and take some time to let them pass, so that you can perceive and respond in a fresh, new moment, and not be effected by the previous encounter or state.
The Benefits of Dating