Dating Etiquette: How To Dial Down The Crazy
The landscape of dating has certainly changed over the last several years and while some changes have made things easier there are some changes that have complicated the terrain. I often talk with women who have story upon story of bad dates, perceived wrong doing and sometimes just comical commentary about their dating experience. The vast majority of these conversations begin with those I am speaking with pointing the finger at their date while glossing over any of their own personal patterns which play a role in the patterns they are experiencing in their dating experience.
There are some bad apples out there-I cannot deny that. But when we continue to attract those bad apples or when we continue to repeat patterns in our love lives over and over again its not enough to just point the finger at them. We must begin to look at our own behavior.
Those we date as well as the experiences we encounter during those dates are a reflection of where we are, who we are and what we are sending out there energetically.
While many articles focus on what to do here today I am hoping to highlight behaviors that when done can take a connection that holds potential and make it fall flat on its face.
What not to do:
1. Do not play passive aggressive
This is actually a rather manipulative ploy that many of us resort to when we feel that we are not getting what we want and rather than ask for it we try to illicit it. Making comments such as “well if seeing me is less important than work” or “he clearly isn’t interested if he would rather spend time with friends than me” are passive aggressive and while the list is endless many women make statements akin to this every day. If we feel we are not getting the attention we deserve then ask for it outright rather than making statements designed to make them feel bad, give us more or react in some way.
2. Don’t play games
Similar to being passive aggressive is playing games. Countless women will withhold communication, take forever to a respond to a message or mold their behavior in other ways in order to plant something in the mind of another. Deactivating your profile to see if they notice? Posting photos of you with someone around your arm? Making blanketed statements of indifference when in truth you are chomping at the bit to talk to them? Then pay attention. The problem with this behavior is that it is rooted in this need for instant gratification. We want to know NOW that this person values us and rather than 1) valuing ourselves and 2) telling them how we feel most valued we play games that only provide us with short term results. Games are fun but generally they have no place in a relationship. The focus should be on building something that may have long term potential and games are not the way to do that. Remove the ego of fear that being vulnerable and expressing what we need is a fault or something that someone else is responsible for taking care of despite having no idea of what we need. Most people of quality will sniff out a game and immediately walk in the other direction. Additionally, understand that you devalue yourself when you resort to game playing. If you do not value yourself why would they value, you?
3. Do not treat someone like you are exclusive when you are not.
Dating does not imply exclusivity so please stop expecting someone to behave like a boyfriend/girlfriend when they are not one. Getting upset because they may be dating someone else when you two have not labeled the connection is a warning sign for many. If you are upset because they are putting work before your dating that too is a warning sign. If you are bringing drama or discord to their doorstep when you have no commitment that is a red flag. It paints a vivid picture of what being in an actual, committed relationship with you is likely to entail and they will want none of it. We spend time with people who make us happy, feel supported and who we can have a good time with. If we fail to do that chances are people will not want to spend their time with us. Save the drama for your mama.
4. Do not social stalk
If you think there is any difference between parking your car down the street from their house and watching their social media sites several times a day, scrolling through years’ worth of photos or mining their friends list for possible competition then we need to sit down and have a very serous discussion. I grant you that online profiles are a very tempting way of keeping up on who we are spending our time with but its also a telltale sign that you have no respect for the boundaries of others. Keep your nose in your business and focus on yourself, not other people and every photo and individual they have connected with, online, over the last six months.
5. Do not project
Whomever you are dating is not responsible for your happiness. They are not responsible for making you feel good from sun up to sun down. They are not a void filler and they cannot bring you happiness when you fail at bringing it to yourself. We must own our feelings and the state of our lives as it is and work on fixing it ourselves. There is nothing and no one external to you who is going to be the fix to all that ails you. Relationships should always be something of an addition to an already full and whole life. They should not be used as a means of creating wholeness.
6. Do not be a coward
If you have an issue with someone deal with it directly. If someone you are dating has upset, you then here is where you show that you are someone who has skills capable of building a long term relationship by communicating to them openly and honestly. If you block them on Facebook but then turn around and blast them to friends or colleagues (I swear I’m not making this one up; sad but true) then you are being a coward. You are 1) showing that you lack even the most fundamental and basic relationship skill and 2) that you would must rather gossip and impugn another than to be an adult and face them direct. This does not a healthy relationship make.
The wonderful thing about realizing that healthy relationships are first an inside job is that it reminds us that the control resides solely in our hands. We can continue to repeat the same patterns and always blame them or we can understand that patterns in our relationships are not just the responsibility or fault of another. We must be brave enough to acknowledge when our own behavior is thwarting our relationships and then dig in to do the work healing those behaviors. Its easy to play the role of victim. Its easy to point the finger at someone else and say “YOU did this to me!!!” but it also is the easy way to ensure that healthy relationships never even have a chance to take root in our lives. Honor your right to have a healthy relationship by being a healthy partner. When we heal our past wounds, work on cultivating our self confidence and gain relational skills that are imperative to a healthy connection we set the bar on who can enter our lives. We will know our value and not need another to affirm it. We will understand that we do not gain healthy relationships by playing games that not only undermine ourselves but the individual we are involved with.