Here’s a harsh truth: The way that most people date provides the worst possible foundation upon which to build a healthy long-term relationship.
We often forget that the real purpose of dating is to discover another person’s nature.
“People tend to date unconsciously,” explains Dr. Robert Glover, renown marriage and family therapist and the author of Dating Essentials for Men. “They try and get their new crush to like them, they seduce, they fuse, they rush into sex, they ignore all sorts of red flags. They often live in a fantasy world about what a relationship with someone would be like. Time and time again, I’ve seen first-hand how people begin their relationships and what they end up with months or years later. I’ve also experienced this myself in my first two marriages.”
Given how most of us approach dating, it’s no wonder that nearly all relationships go down the drain that half of all marriages end in divorce, and that only a small fraction of married couples report being happy. The way you date determines the kind of relationship you end up with. And the typical man approaches dating like this:
He doesn’t have a plan. Nor does he have any idea what he wants. He just knows he’s lonely. And he believes that a woman is the remedy for what ails him.
Maybe he gets lucky and meets a woman who shows interest – probably on a dating app. She isn’t all that terrible looking, so he works up the nerve to ask her out. He does his best to make a great first impression. If they hit it off, he starts texting and calling her regularly.
He then gives up most of the things that are important to him to spend as much time with her as possible. If she’s willing, they start having sex. All the while, he turns the other cheek at every warning sign that comes up. The relationship inevitably starts to go south, but he does everything he can to keep it together.
He becomes needy. He panics. He’s riddled with anxiety.
He can’t imagine feeling lonely and having to start the dating process all over again.
If you’ve been down this road, or you’re currently stranded alongside it with no help in sight, then you know how frustrating it is. Most of the time, your approach to dating probably leads to heartbreak, or it leads to getting stuck with someone who either disappoints you or drives you crazy.
But you can reengineer your dating life by taking a more conscious approach. And you can start by reminding yourself of the real purpose of dating.
DATING AS A VEHICLE FOR PERSONAL GROWTH
There’s no denying that modern dating can be an infuriating, time-wasting, mind-boggling endeavor. If done consciously, however, dating can be a vehicle for profound personal growth.
“Conscious dating is kind of like standing naked, completely exposed in front of every woman in the world and asking if they find you interesting enough to spend time with – and maybe get naked with – despite all your visible and invisible flaws,” describes Dr. Glover.
“But this doesn’t mean it’s about being judged. It’s about making yourself vulnerable and challenging your self-limiting beliefs. If you set the tone, take the lead, and date with consciousness, you’ll increase your odds of meeting an amazing partner.
When it comes to dating, most of us need to learn to slow things down. Again, the purpose of dating is to get to know another person’s nature. This means you must keep your mind and your eyes open.
Much like Dr. Glover, I have seen and experienced first-hand how both men and women date unconsciously and then end up in the middle of a disaster months or years later. I’ve worked with far too many clients whose lives are in shambles all because they got involved with the wrong person.
DATING TO DISCOVER A PERSON’S NATURE
Because many men – especially Nice Guys – date unconsciously and forget the real purpose of dating, they have set the bar fairly low. Many men seem to have just three criteria when evaluating a woman:
- She’s not bad looking
- She seems to like me.
- She’s willing to have sex with me.
But even if a woman meets all these criteria, you can still end up living in some version of relationship hell. Again, the purpose of dating is to discover another person’s nature.
Being attractive and wanting to have sex with you may seem like nice qualities, but they are far from the only qualities that make someone worth dating long-term. Instead of trying solely to determine whether or not a woman will spread her legs for you, you’ll be much better off trying to find out the answers to questions like:
- Is she cool?
- Does she share your values?
- Does she come from a good family?
- Does she have the characteristics you are looking for in a partner?
- Do you enjoy spending time with her?
- Is she a good communicator?
- Does she have a sense of humor?
- Are there any red or yellow flags?
This is not to discourage you from having fun. If you are looking purely for sex, there are plenty of women out there who are looking for the same thing. But even a casual sex partner can upend up your life if you’re not mindful. (Just watch Fatal Attraction).
Let’s assume, though, that you are looking for a relationship with an amazing partner – someone who blesses your life, who brings out the best in you, who is emotionally sound with good values. If you want to find your amazing partner, you must do something different than what you’ve been doing.
You must leave behind your old criteria and date more consciously. As Dr. Glover like to say, “you must go as slowly as possible to find out as quickly as possible what a woman’s nature is.”
WAYS TO DISCOVER A PERSON’S NATURE
Put anyone you date into a variety of situations that allow you to discover their nature. Do this consciously. Observe them to determine if they have the characteristics of someone who could bless your life.
“To discover a person’s nature,” asserts Dr. Glover, “you need to see how they behave in a lot of different scenarios. Have them ride a bus with you. Take a short trip together. Cook together. Run errands together. Do a lot of different things together in a lot of different settings. You have to do this if you want to find out if someone is going to make a quality long-term partner.”
Here are several other ways you can go as slowly as possible to find out as quickly as possible what a person’s nature is:
- Always be working on your Great Cake of a Life. Invite someone to be the icing on your cake. Welcome them into your world to do the things you love to do. See how they respond. Don’t get caught up in doing things they like to do. Keep living your life.
- Introduce them to your friends and family and spend time with their friends and family. Pay attention to how she interacts with them and how they interact with her. How she acts with them is eventually how she will act with you.
- Stay off the phone. Don’t chit-chat, don’t text. These are forms of pseudo-communication that create an intense bond without you really getting to know each other. Use the phone (and that includes texting) only to set up in-person dates.
- Always pay attention to what someone does and not what they say. “A potential mate may tell you who she perceives herself to be or who she wants you to perceive her to be,” explains Dr. Glover, “but what she tells you may not match who she really is.”
- Resist any temptation to fuse, to become enmeshed, to get really close really quickly. The temptation to fuse is generally a feminine trait, but many men want to fuse just as much as women. Don’t fuse with someone who you don’t actually know very well.
Much of this may dampen your love-at-first-sight fantasies of whirlwind romance. Admittedly, there are few things in life as exhilarating as meeting someone with whom you feel an instant and indescribable chemistry. But love-at-first-sight is often just lust-at-first-sight, and almost never leads to happily-ever-after.
When you go slowly – when you remember the real purpose of dating – you will dramatically increase your odds of meeting a truly amazing partner.
Tony Endelman is an author, blogger, entrepreneur, certified transformational life coach, certified No More Mr. Nice Guy Coach and the founder of The Integrated Man Cave.