“Give me an experienced man. A man who has grown into a ready man, a cultured man, a worldly, confident man. A man that has discovered who he is in the world and what he wants. A man that has lived a healthy single life.” – Lita Lewis
We are living in a society where people are becoming more and more socially disengaged and disconnected. People have come to feel connected and validated through superficial means that don’t really exist. Quick hits of validation from social media or dating apps don’t satiate that yearning for passion. Dating has become inefficient as more and more people lack the social skills involved in initiating contact and building attraction with other singles. However, people still crave the excitement of romance. Women want to feel enticed and pursued in a meaningful way. Men want to feel the thrill of the hunt and deep, meaningful connection. Given these desires that we have, you’d imagine that dating would be more of an amusing experience.
When in life does dating stop feeling like fun and starts to feel so intensely serious? Does it happen in the late twenties, early or mid-thirties? For many singles, dating at 25 and 26 years-old still feels like fun. Too many singles tend to put too much pressure on dating and forget the purpose and rules for dating. During childhood, maybe two children that share a playdate will grow to become best friends, or maybe they’ll simply enjoy the playdate as an enjoyable time with another child. As adults, we tend to put too much pressure on dating. Interviewing potential partners as if each person that agrees to go on a date with you will become a long-term partner.
Dating is collecting data while having fun. Singles meet one another, feel some level of attraction, and decide to experiment with what the relationship may potentially become. During this time, you collect data on one another’s values, beliefs, interests, experiences, and life goals. All of this is not and should not be determined at first meeting or on a first date. However, what is learned or discovered on a first date can certainly rule out potential prospects. For example, when learning something that is a deal-breaker. Deal-breakers during early 20s tend to change as individuals age. And vice versa, what may have been acceptable during youth, may not be tolerable as you mature.
At times, singles tend to be enraptured by the fantasy of what they hope will happen on their date. They forget that they are still in an infatuation phase of the relationship that is fueled by physical attraction and passion. Let’s face it, physical attraction is usually the thing that makes the first impression when dating. Physical attraction and passion are not enough to build a healthy relationship, but it often feels like enough to become overly emotionally invested, even though the person has not proved themselves worthy of that level of emotional investment. Oxytocin and hormones feel wonderful, but cognitive judgment is not in play. People bypass some normal decision-making or even values when they’re being controlled by infatuation. People tend to ignore red flags that later prove to be deal-breakers.
As singles get to know one another, they are slowly building trust and intimacy, so some information is important to appropriately withhold. When caught up in the experience of a first date, or hoping to honor traditional values, people tend to become a bit careless with basic rules of dating in this millennium. Safety is always significant. It sounds chivalrous and romantic, but having a stranger pick you up from your home is dangerous. It may seem lovely, but when you don’t know the complexities of a person’s emotional stability, it’s hard to know what may happen if or when the person feels rejected or inappropriately overly invested. Meeting up works fine for first dates. For those that have had the painful experience of being stood up, there may be understandable anxiety about meeting up and being stood up in a public setting. But your ego isn’t worth your peace of mind or your life. Meet up in a public place and tell your friends where you’re going. Keeping it simple like coffee, lunch, or drinks is acceptable. But no marathon dates. First dates should be simple and quick, and its best to have plans immediately after… for a variety of reasons. By incorporating these safety behaviors, you are also establishing boundaries.
Everything done on a first date signals to that person how they can treat you. Set boundaries without feeling guilty. Setting boundaries is healthy. Learn to respect and take care of yourself. Boundaries on a first date maintains emotional integrity so that you can avoid becoming enamored through infatuation with a stranger on a first date. Being swept away by infatuation in the early stages of dating puts an unjustified amount of pressure on a budding relationship. Floods of oxytocin early in a relationship can be distracting, and allows for a level of physical intimacy, and ultimately, emotional overinvestment that may potentially be unwarranted during a time when each partner is slowly earning one another’s trust and slowly building intimacy. Ideally, the single is dating multiple partners to avoid becoming preoccupied and overly emotionally invested in one partner, because remember, this is a time of collecting data. Instant gratification, immediate pleasure, and shallow validation feel wonderful to satisfy wants in the short-term. Nevertheless, genuine connection, happiness, fulfillment, and emotional safety is required for long-term needs. And that takes time. Ultimately, choosing a partner that you can respect and admire and be respected and admired creates the continued possibility of love and romance…. That we all crave!
Are you struggling to navigate dating and singlehood? Would you like to find out how you can attract an emotionally available relationship into your life? Would you like tools to learn how to communicate better and increase your emotional and sexual intimacy in your relationship? Are you interested in Emotionally focused couples therapy? If you want to know more information about some of these questions, review this video and give us a call!