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Those of you who have read past Living PowerLife blog posts know that toward the end of 2012, I decided to date again after several years. When I made this decision, I also made the commitment to use my Living PowerLife approach as a guide to deciding when and who to date. At the same time, I started the process of identifying some of the attributes that make me attractive. Consequently, this post covers more things to consider while making conscious choices about dating.
Once I took the time to heal and reclaim myself, recognizing that I was ready to reach out to new people was the logical next step. At first, my goal was to meet people, have fun and possibly start a few friendships. This is when I started taking tango lessons, singing with a chorus, and attending social events that looked interesting.
Moving from meeting a few potential friends and deciding who to date, however, was more complicated. Even further, identifying some of my attributes that someone would find attractive was a new challenge that I took on with trepidation. I was challenged in new ways because of several reasons. Perhaps you will identify with some or all of the following.
- I had never really taken the time to think about the kind of person—beyond the superficial— I wanted in my life as a lover/partner/spouse.
- Because I had no concrete idea of who would be a good match for me, most of my adult life was spent recovering from break-ups rather than building a life with someone based on love, passion, compatibility, respect and trust.
- I had little awareness of what made me a good lover/partner/spouse for another.
- Because I had little understanding of what made me a good match for someone, my ability to make informed choices regarding dating was limited even more.
Start the way you want to end. Not wanting to simply recreate another version of my past with someone new meant that preparing to date again included following my mother’s advice. Growing up as a kid in Detroit, I have many memories of my mother advising me on how to have good relationships with people. She often told me that the best way to start a friendship is to begin the relationship the way I wanted to continue.
I understood her to mean that I should start my relationships the way I wanted them to continue once the freshness was gone. With her words in mind, I began my search for more insight on dating by starting where I wanted to be. In other words, I began by defining the type of person and life I ultimately wanted. I did this in three layers:
First layer: I claimed my non-negotiable, unalterable terms (NUTs). During my daily reading, I ran across this acronym. NUTs are made up of the things that I either absolutely need to have, or absolutely cannot have in life to be happy. They are my personal code of ethics, creature comfort needs, culture, attitudes and basic beliefs. An example of one small creature comfort that I included here is that I need live plants in my home.
Second layer: informed by my NUTs, I completed this statement—the person I find attractive will… Here, I included concerns about type of lifestyle, day to day responsibilities, personal attitudes/beliefs, expectations, level of intimacy, etc. Here’s one way that I completed the statement. The person I find attractive will value honesty as much as I do.
Third layer: along with identifying my NUTs and the attributes of my ideal mate, I made a list of the things about me that I think are attractive to others. In other words, what makes me a compatible companion? One example from my list is that I strive to be honest with myself so that I can be honest with others.
You may wonder why it is important to consciously list the attributes that make you a good match for someone. There are several but the main reason is to gain useful information. With a basic understanding of what another would find charming about you, the information you have can be used while deciding when to date or keep dating a particular person.
For instance, while I do not have anything against one night stands or casual sex between consenting adults, this is not something that I want. Consequently, I would not consider myself attractive or a good date match for someone who wants to hook up. At the same time, I would be a good match for a person who wants a long-term, monogamous relationship ultimately.
In time, your lists will become more and more important as you make decisions about whether to date, start a friendship, or continue to date a particular person. Indeed, using your lists may even save you from heartache in the future. Just keep in mind to:
- Remember who you are.
- Accept who you are not.
- Be authentic.
- Have patience (with self and others).
- Keep it classy.
- Understand that a single life does not have to be a cursed life.
- Do not rush yourself or another.
- Never settle.
A WORD ABOUT HEARTACHE
If while completing your lists you find that your ex or someone you once loved keeps coming to mind, this is a sign to go back and take more time to heal from old heartaches. Also, if you realize that you keep comparing potential dates to someone from your past, you are still carrying a torch for that person. Take more time to extinguish that flame before you try to ignite another. This may include finding a good therapist. If so, you may be discouraged, but respect your process. In the long run, you will be glad because potential lovers will not be hurt by your rebound and future relationships will be stronger.
Always remember that just a confidential email separates us. I am here for you.
From my PowerLife to yours,
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