“I used to go on a date, have sex, then be like, ‘Ok, now I’m in a relationship.’ It was insane! That was the whole extent of my relationship skills.”
I paid a therapist $170 per 50 minutes to (among other things) teach me what dating was. A quick google search would’ve turned up the info I needed for way less coin, but it was a question I didn’t even know that I needed to ask. I was completely oblivious. If you are currently living this way, I hope this post grabs you by the shoulders and shakes the bullshit out of you. Falling into a relationship genitals-first is not a strategy for success.
What Dating Isn’t
In order to understand what dating is, let’s first take a look at what dating isn’t. Dating is NOT a lusty game of hormone hockey with no helmets and pads. Dating is NOT a cure for the hole in your soul. Dating is NOT trauma bonding with someone whose broken pieces match your broken pieces. Dating is NOT spending every waking moment with someone you just met like a Netflix binge with human collateral. Dating is NOT a hostage situation. Dating is NOT sending nudes. Dating is NOT an obstacle course with a happy ending. Dating is NOT an exercise in pretending to be a bunch of shit you’re not so you can somehow feel validated when they fall in love with the complete fucking lie you’ve presented to them, knowing damn well that it’s dishonest, unsustainable and ultimately responsible for the relationship’s inevitable destruction.
What Dating Is
Dating is literally just getting to know someone. Dating is sharing your reality with another and allowing them to do likewise without judgment, denial or trying to change them. Dating is listening intently. Dating is believing someone when they show you who they are. Dating is slow, healthy, boundaried and methodical. Dating is an intentional vetting process that is most effective prior to the tsunami of sexual euphoria that wipes out entire villages of logic, reason, good judgment, inhibition and executive function in the frontal lobes. Dating is the foundation of true intimacy, and if properly done, will stop a shitty relationship before it starts. So if you keep finding yourself in shitty relationships, it’s time to learn how to date.
Obviously you’re free to date however you want. But if your dating toolbox has nothing in it but belly-button lint, duct tape and a hatchet, I recommend using these guidelines instead of what hasn’t worked for you in the past. These guidelines may feel uncomfortable, contrived and even unenjoyable to you at first, especially if you’re a love addict who craves the insane rollercoaster of full-blown enmeshment. But remember, a 20-year cocaine addict will get clean and think everything in life is boring for a while. Recovery takes time and consistent effort as you are literally rewiring your brain to take pleasure in healthy behaviors.
10 Tips for Healthy Dating
1) First, get the Fix Your Picker Downloadable Guidebook and find out exactly what you’re looking for in a partner and what’s been standing in your way.
2) Try to meet someone in real life (not a dating app). If you’re swiping their face, you’ve already objectified them. Meeting “naturally” has many benefits.
3) If you meet on an app, don’t have long text conversations. Those are often fake, manicured, impression-management strategies. No one actually benefits from these. Move swiftly to a phone number exchange. You can get a free GoogleVoice number if you’re worried about sharing your real number. Then use actual voice communication to determine if they’re a sociopath or not and book a coffee or lunch date in a public place. Boom.
4) Even while dating, don’t become text-pals. The cell phone is great at administering metered dopamine hits to you all day and truly turning you into a damn junky. If you wanna talk, call. Otherwise limit text messages to just a couple a day at most. You’re not fifteen years old.
5) Dating means going out on dates. A date is something with a predetermined beginning, end and public location (i.e. not “your place”).
6) Keep your dates to 2 or 3 hours long and fill them with mostly talking and getting to know each other (i.e. not a movie).
7) Ask lots of questions and listen to the answers. Take genuine interest in the other person. Don’t treat them as a means to an end. Presumably this is someone you want to share your life with. You should gather some serious data before you start exchanging bodily fluids.
8) See each other 1 or 2 times a week like healthy, functioning adults. Seeing each other every day is high school, love addict, microwave relationship stuff.
9) Use your friends and family to help size them up. Explicitly ask people who know you best what they honestly think of your date and what they think of you when you’re with them. They may be able see things you are oblivious to.
10) Don’t jump in the sack for a month or more. Be upfront about your desire to wait, too. If the other person can’t handle waiting, they’re not in it for the relationship. They just want somethin you got. And if you can’t wait that long, now’s a good time to question your motives.
These are just a few basic guidelines for people like me who didn’t know dating from a bag of hammer handles. There is a LOT more that goes into showing up as a whole human being in a healthy and loving relationship. This is the bare bones minimum starting point for not being a degenerate.
Have questions? Ask in the comments below.