Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Some Dating Advice: Make it About Them

I have several friends, male and female, who come to me for dating advice on a regular basis. What makes me some sort of expert? Nothing really. I'm no Patti Stanger from Matchmaker Millionaire. I'm certainly no Yenta (sadly I'm a Gentile) though I think being a nagging Jewish mother would be awesome! I have lived through several years-long "successful" relationships (in the sense that both myself and my partners were happy and in love for years even though things didn't last) and in my periods of male-drought I've been on TONS of dates. Currently, I'm dating a worthy guy with our future fate at status "unknown" but with some promise. So I guess I have something to say. And so does anyone who has been out there really.

When it comes down to it - I believe- take ANY and ALL the advice you can get. Try everything. Consider anything. Find out what you are comfortable with and what works for you. And sometimes take a risk and do what's uncomfortable too. Hey, if it ain't working, it ain't working! - time to change your tactics...

This brings us to my most recent dating advice bestowed on a singleton about to go on a first date with a girl, whom he'd met briefly but didn't know much about. This was our discourse:

The Dater: she may hate my guts when I speak

Me: Just try to be friendly, optimistic, talkative, even overly so. - Sometimes I think that you don't like me or are mad or not having a good time but really you're just calm/relaxed/easy going/aloofish. That's just your way.

The Dater: yes, I hope she doesn't think that

Me: You want her to feel warmed/welcomed like you are having a good time

The Dater: I want her to like me!!

Me: hahahha. Well -- then be LIKEABLE

The Dater: that's the hard bit

Me: Okay so I want you to pretend every second of this date EVEN IF YOU FIND out SHE'S NOT AS good looking as you remember or not nice or not cool or not fun or different than you thought I want you to use this date as PRACTICE -- practicing being THERE, being PRESENT, being NICE to another person. Your goal is to give HER the best DATE EXPERIENCE possible. Forget about yourself, your wants, your needs, your satisfaction -no matter what. Treat her the way you would treat THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE. But of course as if this is the first date with the love of your life. Be polite, chivalrous, enthusiastic. Smile, ask questions, etc. I think that you need to think of this as being a great date FOR YOUR DATE and the likeability part will come. Its not about you, its about her. Period. Just go out, meet a new person, and treat them great and you'll be fine.

Such, was my advice...

Unfortunately, as it turned out, the date did not go well. My dating friend described it as a "nightmare." But I do not think that all was not lost from this encounter. Because he was likely a better version of himself? Perhaps he improved himself as a dating prospect? Or maybe because he at least has the piece of mind that he did everything he could to make things go well on his end. After all, at the end of the day, what else can you do? And how bad can you feel?

Things in my relationship have been bumpy. Perhaps it is the three month bumps. Perhaps we are not a good fit. I don't know. Somehow though, I have a sense of calm about things despite the difficulties. Which as you know - is not my specialty. I am not calm. Instead, I am the storm to most calms. But lately - I am relaxed and self-assured in the role that I've been playing. Frankly, I am kicking ass as a girlfriend -- to put it plainly. Seriously. I am patient, I am kind, I am thoughtful. I am understanding and forgiving and giving. I meet his friends and wow his boss. I'm flexible on scheduling and activities. I care about him. Deeply. I try to make him happy. I try to be fun and positive and supportive. I don't act jealous (Even though I'm terribly jealous). I respect him, trust him and admire him. And I am the least selfish person I have ever been. Mostly, this transformation is from intentionally pushing myself every day to be the best version of myself because he deserves it. And because it feels good to be the best me I've ever been. So at the end of the day - if he doesn't know how great I am - or doesn't think I'm the woman of his dreams - there is nothing else that I can do. Ultimately however, giving love has been even greater than receiving love. I have made it about him, not me. Which may be the truest definition of love. Which is not to say...I'm not wanting and hoping to receive in return.

What are your thoughts dear readers? Good advice? Bad advice? Make it about them first? Or should it start with you?


Sarah said...

If it's not right for you, what's the point?

Toddy said...

Well I agree, if its not right for you whats the point true - but being your best self can bring you good things in return. Sometimes treating people well and thinking of others makes you better, happier, better received, better treated. Its all a cycle. I guess, when I stopped worrying about my wants, my needs, my every little thought and worry and requirement and starting thinking about others and treating others the way I wanted to be treated. I became happier and better and people responded better. That's the theory anyways - start with them, it'll end with you. And you happy. Just a thought.

Paulette said...

Good advice. But I'm curious as to why your friend's date was such a nightmare!

vvk said...

"Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own."
-Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein

That is the best definition of love that I've ever come across. The most interesting thing for me about that definition is that it is a one way definition. It places no requirements on the other person. They don't have to love you, or even like you.

What you've been doing fits this definition. The best couples I've seen feel this way about each other.

Someday I want to get there... :-\

Tricia said...

I think you already know where I stand on this topic. It goes without words since you already read my blog, especially after today's post. But yes, what was said in the quote above. I aim to please. And if I aim to please, but my pleasing just isn't enough, then it just wasn't meant to be.

Sarah said...

Toddy, I'd tend to agree with the above Sarah's post if I wasn't in the exact same position you are right now. Generally, I'm all "look out for number one" (and I still am, to a point), but I could have written this post. The way I see it, if you're the best person you can be in the relationship and towards the other person and it doesn't lead to eternal bliss (ahem, ends), you'll never blame yourself or wonder what you could have done differently. At best, you'll realize it wasn't a good fit. At worst, you'll blame them. But, ultimately, you'll still leave knowing you gave it your all.

Oh, and I second Paulette. I'd also like to hear more about the nightmare date.

Sarah said...

I was curious as to what your response would be. Thanks. But I guess I still am curious as to the other commenters. What if you don't like the person? Should you treat every encounter as a forever? It seems misleading and perhaps cruel in itself.

Clicking Frogs said...

Your post made me a little sad because it sounds like (and I may be reading it incorrectly) that you're not getting enough in return. It can't be all about them all the time. Unless both of you are doing your best to make it about the other person. If two people care about each, that is the end goal; it may not always be even-Steven because we all need different things at different times but there has to be giving on both sides.

Clicking Frogs said...

I agree with Sarah; it is disingenuous to treat a date (especially one classified as a nightmare) as the love of your life. Of course we should always strive to be nice and courteous, but honesty plays a part in that as well.

Anonymous said...

I think every relationship goes through a few bumps... that's part of getting to know each other. I'm glad you're trying to be the best person that you can, though- and things will fall into place however they're meant to.

Storm. Kat Storm. said...

People are always coming to me for advice, and I'm like... Because I'm such a success in the dating world? Haha.

You gave good advice though... Go you!

Getagirl said...

It's a good advice but it shouldn't be all about the other person. After all, love is a two-way street.

Anonymous said...

I had a friend who did exactly what you're doing now.

She got dumped after 4 year.

He never even got round to proposing.

My view: Men like a challenge. They only seem to value women who make them work, keep them on their toes, and make them earn her TIME.

It's a trophy thing. Especially for alpha males.

They want to feel like...against all the odds...they won.

A patient, submissive, overly giving woman loses her sparkle and becomes a bore.

So my tip is: stop accommodating his blasted busy schedule. Be unpredictable. If he calls to cancel or postpone a date, give him hell and even sometimes go as far as not even agreeing to reschedule.

What do I know though? I've only had every single guy I've dated for more than a year desperate to marry me and lock me down asap with many children. I always walk away tho, due to my issues with commitment.

I finally figured out why all these great guy think I'm perfect wife material. I'm a nice girl. Very loving. Very giving. Extremely faithful. Very few male friends, if any, and I never hang out with male friends one-on-one. But I seriously value my time, I'm commitment-phobic, and I don't take shit from anyone. Man turns up late for a date or tries to cancel or reschedule at last minute? I make him rue the day he was born.

Alpha men like that. Deep down, inspite of what they claim.

Alpha men enjoy the thrill of the hunt more than they do eating the kill, if they even get that far.