Online Dating

Love You, and He'll Follow Suit

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Years ago I made a commitment to myself to buy as much Organic food as possible. Even though I felt the pain as I looked at my grocery bill, I considered it a long-term investment in health. My housemate watches me eat Organic food day after day, so the other day when I asked her to grab me a spice from the store, she comes back with the top of the line Organic version.

At first I thought how nice of her not to skimp and come back with the cheapest one. Then it occurred to me that since she sees me buying Organic food all the time, she just followed suit and got the kind she assumed I’d buy for myself.

I thought about how this concept works when it comes to dating and relationships too.

The truth is we are informing people all the time about how to treat us, by the way we treat ourselves. And this is never more obvious than in the process of dating.

Let’s say you’re out with a guy and it’s getting late. You have to get up early the next day for a work meeting. You told him that you need to be in bed at 11pm. It’s 10:30pm, he asks you if you’d be up for catching a last drink at a great place just down the block.

How do you handle this? - Do you stick to your own curfew knowing that you’ll feel much better the next day? Or do you notice how excited he is to show you this other place and cave into his energy, telling yourself that you’ll just let your curfew slide this time?

The thing is, that if you already mentioned earlier in the date that you want to be in bed by 11pm, it can feel like he’s rude because he’s inviting you to something after the time you said you needed to go home. But the fact is many times men will test a woman early on in the dating process, whether consciously or subconsciously.

He’s testing her to see how she sticks to her own boundaries. He’s finding out what she will allow him to get away with and what she won’t. He’s watching you to inform him how to treat you.

So I wanted to share a few key areas that you can focus on practically loving yourself during (or in preparation for) the dating process:

  1. Share your honest Preferences - You may want to be an easy “go with the flow” kind of woman and there are times that is a valuable trait. But if he’s inviting you to go 4 wheeling in a mud field and it seems like something that would give you a panic attack, by all means, tell him that and communicate that you’d love to spend time with him, but that you’d feel better with X, Y, Z kind of activity. He will learn to consider what you enjoy and want to make you happy.

  2. Speak Up About Your Feelings - Did he shut down something you said in front of your friends that made you feel hurt? If it’s bothering you and getting in the way of relating with him, you should speak up! At an appropriate time, share how what he did impacted you and how you felt. Sometimes people in our lives unintentionally hurt us and they get to know how they can love us by sharing how their actions impact us. He will learn to respect and care for your feelings.

  3. Don’t Give All of Your Time and Energy Away Too Soon - Let him earn a place in your life. It can be tempting when you find someone that you are very attracted to or could talk with all night, to want to spend hours and days with them right away. But the fact is you give trust to every other person in your life over time. Make it no different with a guy you just met. He will learn to honor your time and value your sharing from your heart.

  4. Guard Time for Yourself - Often the activities you love are part of what draws a man to you. Whether it’s an afternoon coloring with a warm cup of tea or traveling to the beach with your best friend each year. Don’t let the whirl of emotions in getting to know a new man keep you from the things you love. He will learn to cherish your differences and encourage you in what makes you shine.

Making choices like these to love yourself—-even minor choices like honoring your own bedtime—will challenge him to step up to treat you well. Also, when you treat yourself well certain men you date will not be up for the task (because they’re operating as self-centered/low-value/disinterested) and they’ll quickly show themselves the exit when they realize you won’t tolerate bad treatment. And that’s one less man you need to filter out yourself!

If you find it challenging to honor yourself in certain areas of the dating process and would like another person in your court, I’m glad to set up a time for a conversation here.

Advantages to Slowing Dating Down

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“Jeff just liked you. Send him a note.”

I open this email and look at his picture. I like the color of his olive skin. It stirs my interest to read his profile. “Kayaking, coffee shops, days out with his daughter, hiking, looking for something serious. Love to travel and would like to have you with me?” I see a picture of him and his daughter, she is cute and he looks tender. He reports to share my faith and likes drama movies too. So I click the pink heart.

He asks me how I’m doing.

I tell him.

He wonders if I’d like to have coffee.

We have a good conversation, he leans in for a kiss after walking me to my car.

I’ve just opened my time, energy, heart and lips to a complete stranger and after we say goodbye there is a 50/50 chance that I’ll see him again. And this, my friends, has become a common experience in modern dating.

With many people using online dating to find a relationship, it can be a lot of pressure to figure out if someone is for you from a profile and a 60-90 minute visit. If you were to meet someone in the workplace or at an acting class every week, you’d have the chance to observe how a person interacts with his cube mate or how they express their creativity, without necessarily sizing them up for romantic potential right away. Maybe you’d have a few conversations with them over time and sense romantic tension building. The question of whether or not you’d go out with them may be a slow build towards that moment when he nervously asks you at the water fountain if you’d like to continue talking over dinner Friday evening.

I think online dating can be a great tool for finding a relationship, but the nature of it tends to speed things up. So if your goal is to create a lasting relationship, built on a good foundation, then one tip I’d give is to find ways that you can “slow things down” and mimic some of the real life dynamics that have been happening for centuries in offline dating.

Here are five ideas for how this could look:

1. Avoid Stream of Conscious Texting - If you met online and exchanged numbers, it can sometimes be easy to start an ongoing chain of texting with this person throughout the day. So you can end up giving a large chunk of your concentration and energy to someone who hasn’t yet proved to you they’re worthy of your time. You can always get back to him later. Let them wait for an answer. Or tell them you only like texting to firm up plans. Everyone has their texting style, but consider avoiding on-going texting.

2. Spread out Your Dates (especially at the beginning) If you have a full life, this one will probably happen naturally. But if your weekend happens to be wide open on the Friday you meet, consider waiting a while to meet again. Give yourself sometime to feel into how you felt with the person. Give them space to contact you again, so that you can really gauge what their interest level is when you’re not around.

3. Do Different Kinds of Dates and Sometimes Include Others As you know it’s good to get to know a person in a variety of settings; out kayaking together, watching them give a presentation, going out with their friend group, visiting your grandma, a walk on the beach. etc. Mix it up and see if the the way they interact with you is consistent with how they treat others. Anyone can put on an act to treat you well if the two of you are always alone watching Netflix.

4. Choose a Person Who Has Their Own Life Too If you or the guy you’re dating is always available because they are still looking for a job or they have very few outside interests, it can be hard to slow things down. This happens because if nothing else in your life is making you “light up!” then it can be very easy at the beginning of a relationship to want to be around this person all the time, because the attraction to them makes you feel alive. Be filling your life with things that light you up and find a person who does that in their own life too.

5. Communicate Your Boundaries When you know what will or won’t work for you in the dating process, especially early on, it can grow attraction with the right person and it can filter out those who aren’t for you. As you communicate what time you are available until, how much you will or won’t talk about your Ex, or what your physical boundaries are—that person is getting to know the real you and you are setting a precedent for your own value in the relationship.

The reason I believe there are advantages to slowing down the dating process, is that I’ve seen many relationships go South when they started fast and furious. In the heat of physical attractions our brains tend to go offline. In not communicating our boundaries in an effort to be easy to be with, people take advantage. Those who are seeking a relationship, right NOW!, are often coming from a more desperate place—-maybe struggling with co-dependency, trying to forget an ex, or wrestling with addictions. So with a slower build towards something serious and lasting, you are more likely to rule out those who won’t respect you and vet those who are able to sustain a relationship for the long haul.

If you’re at the beginning stages of dating right now—consider taking a few actions to slow things down—and meanwhile keep focusing on your own life. Let me know how it goes!

If you struggle to slow things down or would like support navigating any stage of your relationship journey, reach out here for a complimentary session where I’m happy to support you with an outside perspective and new insights for the process.