When you think of dating happily, you may think of spending time with an interesting and neat person, doing lots of fun and exciting things together, and connecting intimately. Yet those are only a few of the things that go into a groovy dating experience.
Here are ten more things that, although they may not pop immediately to mind, are also keys to having rewarding and fun dating experiences:
Be realistic: If you’re looking for the perfect date or mate or state, you’re in trouble for two reasons: First, perfection is unlikely, if not impossible. Second, if a perfect person were to exist, he or she would most likely be looking for a perfect person, too.
So ask yourself about your expectations: Are you being reasonable? Are you asking too much of yourself, too much of your date, or too much of the situation? Best friends are really helpful in the reality check department, so when in doubt, it’s okay to say, “Am I being realistic here, or have I overdosed on romance pills?”
Be specific: Often, when people talk about the opposite sex, they either go all gooey and soft focus or become harsh and judgmental. Neither stance is particularly helpful. Look carefully at the details. Being specific is one of the best ways not only to problem-solve but to be realistic as well.
Take responsibility: All of us make mistakes — sometimes because we’re thoughtless, sometimes because we’re clueless, often out of ignorance. But when it’s clear you blew it, even though every instinct is saying play dumb, accept responsibility.
Be active: Don’t wait for someone to call you. Either make the call, take a walk, scrub the floor, scrape gum off your shoes, or jog. Don’t wait for someone else to make your day or make you happy or get the ball rolling. This is your life, not a dress rehearsal.
Don’t settle: A life is a series of compromises. There’s nothing bad or wrong about being flexible. The trick is knowing when to compromise and when to go for it.
To do that, you have to know what’s really important to you, and once you know that, don’t settle. If you don’t have what you want, make sure you do know what you want — being both realistic and specific — and then go for it. You can always reevaluate. What most people regret is not the mistakes they made but the chances they didn’t take.
Reevaluate often: Something that made you happy or behavior that pleased you or someone who rang your chimes once may or may not be in for the long haul. The only way of knowing the short term from the long term is to be willing to take your own emotional pulse from time to time.
Write stuff down: A feelings log can be really useful and helpful to pinpoint important times, beginnings of issues, and changes in the relationship.
It’s a great way to keep us honest and focused, and as long as you don’t leave it around for someone to find and read, there is no downside here. A log also is a way of taking responsibility privately so we can practice before we take it publicly.
Be creative: You’re not like anybody else on the planet, and neither is your date, so why do the two of you have to follow anybody else’s rules or precedents about what you want, how you act, where you go, or how you communicate? If it’s okay with the two of you — and it’s not illegal — then why not?
Be aware: Pay attention to your date and to your own responses. You don’t have to constantly monitor as though your date were in dating ICU and liable to expire at any moment, but be willing every once in a while to step out a bit and see what’s going on.
How are you? How does the date seem to be doing? Are you happy? Is it fun? Are you being attentive? Do you need more sleep? Are your senses being dulled?
Being dense is a tough way to lead your life and dangerous when you’re dealing with someone else who wants you tuned in.
Analyze fear: It is impossible to be completely without fear, and that’s okay: Fear warns us. After all, it would be stupid to cross the street without looking.
We can look at our fear, our assumptions, our anger, our patterns and decide to try to do something different. The moment we do that, our fear no longer controls us. We’re in charge of our own life, and paradoxically, these moments are most likely to happen when we let another person into our intimate life.