Being a Houston-based marriage and family therapist, I specialize in relationships in both a couple and individual setting. One of my favorite things to do is talk to singles about their dating experiences. Dating is another set of relationships that we have with people. In fact, the way that we date exposes more about the relationship we have with ourselves and not just the relationship with the people we date. For that reason, dating can be very difficult. Dating will highlight our flaws, our fears, test our abilities to communicate effectively, and could cause us to see if we really have healed from previous relationships.
With this article, I will list some of the more common do’s and don’t’s of dating that often comes up for clients that come to see me in therapy.
Don’t compromise on your integrity/who you are
This is important because one can only wear a mask for so long before it becomes a problem. It is best, to be honest with yourself upfront to know what it is that you want, and if the person (people) that you are dating are able and willing to give you that
Don’t lose yourself
This is something that gets tossed around when people speak about relationships, and it really can happen. The quickest way that one will tend to lose themselves Is by not being honest with themselves, not having boundaries, and not dating with their self-esteem or self-worth in mind.
Don’t date confused
What do you want? What is your purpose? Be clear with yourself on what you want to have with someone. Allow yourself to explore potential partners with your end goal in mind. If it is for fun, have fun! If it’s for finding a relationship, keep in mind the kind of person you are looking to be with.
Enjoy yourself! Dating does not have to be a daunting experience. I’ve heard so much about how “I don’t want to get to know new people and learn them”. But why? Chances are if you are bored with dating, then you can stand to change your approach. Shake things up! Make it fun! And make it about you, because at the end of the day, remember dating is more about you than the other person.
Treat yourself well
Do the things that make you feel the best about yourself. Wear your best outfits, get dressed to your favorite music, put on that cologne or perfume you have been saving. The better you feel about yourself, your date and others will recognize that energy. Also, you will be better for it! You’ll feel a certain energy shift and you will be able to exude more confidence.
I’ve probably mentioned this several times now, but it is true! When was the last time you enjoyed being around someone who was stiff in a social setting? Can’t recall? Me either (although I can be stiff from time to time, ha) Fun is the name of the game. Speaking of the game, turn the “getting to know you” portion of the date into a game, and make it your own. Ask off-the-wall questions relating to important qualities such as honesty. Ask your date about the last time they did things like getting naked in public or woke up somewhere they did not recognize (off the top of my head people, give me a break). The point is, ask them questions that no one else has in order to lighten the mood and to get to know certain things about them