How are you dating?

Apr 17, 2024
How are you dating?

Self-assessment while searching for a partner

A while back, I wrote about how to pick a partner, with a focus on allowing your true personality and authentic self to rule out people who aren’t right for you. This time, I’m going to turn things around, and encourage you to consider how you can be more relational while you’re in the pursuit of a new partner. 

Here are some questions to ponder:

How do you react to disagreement? Last time, I asked you to consider how the person you’re dating handles differences of opinion. The same question is relevant to you. When it emerges that you and the person you’re seeing might have a significant difference of opinion, how do you handle it? Do you shut down? Flare up? Go into “debate me” mode?

Consider this: in the early stages of a new relationship, most people are trying to impress and please. If your goal is to learn as much as you can in order to determine whether or not this person is right for you, it’s in your best interest to encourage them to be as honest as possible. If you tend to freak out when differences arise, it’s likely that they’ll end up sweeping those differences under the rug… and you won’t really find out about them until much later. 

Being warm, kind, and curious when disagreements arise is a solid strategic choice. When you create a soft landing-place for vulnerable disclosures, you encourage honesty. It’s not about giving up your own opinion–it’s about supporting a productive conversation, where you can both be heard.

Are you comfortable saying no? Do you have a tendency to ghost (aka, stop replying to a potential partner’s messages, rather than telling them outright that you’re not interested)? Oftentimes, ghosting isn’t really a conscious decision; rather, we feel some kind of “ick” or some uncertainty that leads us to not want to respond right away, and then as time goes by, it becomes a rejection by silence.

If you tend to ghost, this is a great opportunity for you to practice discerning what you want and communicating with integrity and kindness about it. Most of us struggle to tell people things they don’t want to hear–but, like any other skill, we get better with practice. Rejecting potential partners is a perfect testing ground for this challenging skill.

Yes, it’s not super fun–but getting your practice in will be very worthwhile in the long run, because when you find someone you really want to stick with, you’ll still need to communicate with them about things they don’t want to hear. Now is a great time to get some practice melding honesty with kindness, while the stakes are a little lower. 

Do you have a sense of what you’re seeking? Ultimately, I think a lot of people in the dating world don’t have a lot of clarity about their own discernment process. They might have a long list of “no’s” based on their exes, but they don’t have a strong positive sense of what they’re seeking.  

Consider: Do you get bowled over when someone’s attracted to you, and lose sight of whether you really like them? Put aside the checklist for a moment – when you’re with them, are you having the kind of feelings you want to experience? Do you feel lit up? Excited? Comfortable? Engaged? Seen, heard, and respected? Your feelings are always going to be a better guide than a checklist. When you’re tapped into your most centered, solid self, what does your gut tell you?

Originally published on Psychology Today.

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