Navigating dating again, or for the first time can be hard. And nerve-wracking. And unsure. And confusing. And difficult. And (insert your stressor here) cause we all have one.
But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, I want to assert that it shouldn’t be. I’ve learned that when we add undue pressures, stress, expectations and conditions – we take the fun out of it ourselves. Once I had this revelation, I was able to take me (the overanalytical, unrealistic expectation having, rule reciting control freak me) out of it, and I freed me (the fun, energetic, belly laugh and do it often, optimistic, let’s see where this goes me) to actually enjoy the process.
After getting it wrong so many times, I’m determined to get it right this time. I want to share a few tips with you that helped me get out of my head, guard my heart and date in hope. Prayerfully, you gain the same insight that I did.
For the sake of this blog, I’m not talking about courtship – in the sense of ‘I’ve found the one that my soul loves and we are only waiting for COVID to go home, before we can share our love with the world in a horse drawn carriage ceremony’. Once you’ve found (or been found by, but don’t get me started on the misinterpretation of this scripture) the person that you’ve made a conscious and determined decision to do life together, you are out of the dating game – prayerfully for good. So this article might not directly apply to you, but you may still gain some reminders.
Dating should be informative
Look at dating as information gathering and that takes so much of the pressure off. You are free to be you and they are free to be themselves and your goal is to see if it’s a fit. This is an uncontrolled experience that isn’t manipulated to put your representative out there to get the girl, but then show up with a different presentation once you got her. This isn’t a time for us ladies to showcase our most perfect, supportive carefree imitation, when we know that we haven’t actually cultivated this personality. You have my permission to be you, boo. That’s it. Allow the person that has gained your interest to just be themselves. This gives you an opportunity to gather enough data pretty early to determine if this is worth your time or not. And remember, if you don’t fit doesn’t mean that the other person isn’t a good person, just that they’re not a good FIT for you, so no character assassination necessary. ‘We just aren’t a good fit’ – is a whole mood, explanation, and sentence. Then keep it moving.
Dating should be interactive
No one wants a penpal – unless that’s what you do want, and if that’s the case make that clear. We are all busy, and if you aren’t – where’s your life, bro? But that doesn’t mean that if you have willfully entered into the dating arena, that you use that as an excuse to prolong, i.e – waste someone’s time, when you know you have no intent of appropriately interacting with them. Now, what is appropriate? That’s the best part – you both get to determine the level of interactions that are comfortable and appropriate for you both. We all find time for the things that we make a priority, so if the person isn’t making time for you, and excited to do so – then refer to my appropriate exit line in the first tip, and keep it moving. There’s your information. But a word of caution that I recently had to swallow with my own humble pie: this person had a full life WITHOUT you, just a few days, weeks, months before they met you. It’s unrealistic and unfair to expect them to now rearrange everything or most things to give you all their free time. Set times to interact and be clear about the expectations that you have (returned texts, weekly dates, talking every other day, etc) to determine if this fits the other’s expectations and availability as well.
Dating should be intentional
Ain’t nobody got time for games. We are all grown, grown – so here’s the gut and heart check. MAKE. YOUR. INTENTIONS. KNOWN. And as soon as you know them. If you realize that this person isn’t a good fit, because they don’t meet certain characteristics that you would like to be present – tell them that and move on. No one deserves to be kept around as a ‘just maybe’ or if you’ve read ‘NOT Another Singles Book’ (and if you haven’t get it here!) as a potential – just in case you get bored or need your ego stroked by a person that likes you, but it’s a no for you. We don’t treat our brothers and sisters in Christ that way, and that’s what this person is – or at least, should be.
Dating should be interdependent
A relationship should be private, but it should never be a secret. I’m not saying tell everyone about every Tom, Mary, and Shawn that you are interested in, but you should definitely have some trusted friends that you can talk through your feelings and emotions with, as a sounding board and as sound advice. If you are doing or dating someone (I said what I said) and your best friends don’t know about it – there’s your data as well.
Dating should NOT be intense
Back to the whole premise of this blog. Ease up, hon. Take the pressure off and let whatever will develop, develop. Be patient in figuring it out, you don’t need to know his entire family and medical history in the first week, and fellas you don’t get a monopoly of her time because you decided to invest a bit of interest right off the bat. Dating is an adjustment period for both parties, so show grace. Things happen, plans change, emergencies come up – be ok with life getting in the way of some of the best intentions. Use this as data gathering too – Do I still feel like a priority (in a realistic, I just met you yesterday, bruh way) or does something always ‘come up’ when we are planning to interact? Does this person not have the amount of time that I would like to be dedicated to these interactions, and is it negotiable? Remember, no need to blame, shame or guilt a person into squeezing you into their life – just simply exercise your power to leave. That’s ok.
Ladies: show appreciation for what he is doing.
Men: do something to gain the appreciation.
It could all be so simple, don’t make it hard.
Slow down, Love (take your time getting to know someone, the real someone) to slow down love (don’t awaken feelings, emotions, desires and expectations for a relationship that hasn’t built the proper foundation for it).
Let’s journey together…