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    « Two | Main | Equanimity »

    On Not Dating

    A lot of my clients seem to think dating is a good way to begin a prospective romantic relationship. I think trying to get to know someone by dating them is doing it the hard way. Dating someone too soon may actually get in the way of what could have been a good connection.

    Dating is too formal. There's too much pressure. People put on their best show of what they think you want instead of being themselves.

    I recommend not dating until you know the person fairly well. Meaning no formal "date." By all means, spend time with the person, get to know them, but do it in settings that are comfortable and familiar to both of you. Get together as much as possible in the contexts of your actual everyday life. Keep it relaxed and low key.

    Romance should feel spontaneous, natural, unforced. It cannot be a goal. It has to emerge naturally as a result of two people finding themselves liking and enjoying one another's company.The feelings that develop between the people should lead the actions, not the other way around.

    Get to know people. Find out if the two of you each have what the other is looking for. Qualify them, something like they do in sales: lead, prospect, candidate, customer, not in the sense that you're trying to convince or sell someone something. It's more that you're taking the time to find out if there is already a natural harmony, a natural fit.

    Failed connections are usually due to the fact that there was a mismatch, and no one picked up on it, and everyone's time got wasted. What makes failed dates damaging is the disappointment, the confusion, the discouragement.

    A good match matches you. Meaning, they understand you because they have similar values, experiences and interests, and you recognize something in each other that feels familiar.

    Someone being attractive, or impressive, or charming or sexy is nice, but it doesn't mean they are a good match. They should be all of those things in addition to being a good match.

    You're already a match or not, in that each of you is already whoever you are. You either line up with one another or you don't. We're not trying to make ourselves or anyone else over at this point.

    We match on things like family background, professional interests, values, temperament, libido, personal virtues like confidence or candor, conversational ability, humor, class, income, stuff like that. It's fairly obvious and specific. Someone being interesting or attractive to you is a liability if it makes you oblivious to the other more important parameters.

    Get to know people before you actively engage them in any kind of courtship behavior. Keep it friendly, open, curious, interested. Spend time with them in a non romantic context. Interview and get to know them. Share about yourself and notice their reactions. If there is a match, things will develop quite naturally. You can't force affection without incurring disaster.

    If you're just looking to do more than hook up, then have lots of conversation. And when the conversation repeatedly stalls, it's a bad sign.

    The whole point of prospecting for relationship is that you're looking to see if their is already an affinity and rapport with someone. Forget about strategically trying to make it happen. When you match with someone, it's a natural discovery of something that was there all alone. It isn't a bringing something into being. It has to already be there.

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