Five Radical Shifts to Consider Before Your Next Date!
by: Frankie Pérez
After many nights and countless hours of tossing, turning, and soul-searching, I have decided to reveal a secret: that I am fascinated with reality TV dating shows. I can’t help myself. It is like driving past the scene of a train wreck and trying not to look! I’ve sat through more episodes of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Hooking-Up, than I care to admit. I watch in disbelief as I’m constantly dumbfounded by what people say within ten minutes of meeting one another. For instance, in Hooking-Up a 28 year-old woman on a first date informs her companion that: “I’m not looking for fun. I’m done with all that…I’m looking for the father of my children.” How sad! To be only 28 years-old and be done with having fun! I honestly do not know what true entertainment value or real merit reality TV dating shows may or may not have. What I do know is that if these shows reflect even a smidgen of truth about how we are approaching relationships, we are in big trouble!
When we consider that more than half of all relationships end up in separation or divorce, it is clear that there is something terribly off-kilter in the way we are approaching them. We keep doing the same things over and over expecting a different result – the very definition of insanity! If we are to set ourselves up for the possibility of healthy, happy, and functioning relationships, we must adopt a new relationship paradigm. It is time for a dramatic and radical shift in our outmoded ideas about love!
Following are five ideas that will help to make extraordinary relationship a reality in your life: clarifying purpose, demanding greatness, values-centered connection, healthy is sexy, and from games to authenticity.
The first shift is about clarifying the true purpose of relationship. Most people are unclear as to what a healthy relationship is really about. The purpose of relationship is not about finding someone to play house with. It is not about satisfying a social agenda of adulthood and getting a ring on your finger because it is what is expected of you. It is not about hoping to find that mythical someone who will show up to fix everything that is wrong in your life. It is not even about avoiding loneliness. It is about finding someone you can truly relate to, grow with, make mistakes with, communicate with, share common values and ideals with, and love unconditionally. The word relationship implies the ability to relate to one another. Relatedness is built on commonalities of shared inner and outer qualities more so than on differences. Before you even consider going on your next date honestly assess that your reasons are about seeking true relatedness – finding a life partner and not about fulfilling an expected social agenda.
The universe is not set up so that some few, lucky people get to experience greatness while the rest live a life of mediocrity. In A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson states that the problem is not that we ask God for too much, the problem is that we ask for too little. The same applies to relationships. Most people think that they have this unrealistic list of qualities that no one will ever fulfill. In reality, that list goes out the window the moment we feel attracted to someone. Instead of holding out for the extraordinary relationship we deserve, we allow our fear of being alone, our fear of being unworthy or of never finding the person we are looking for to weaken our resolve and we end up settling for someone…anyone! Our prayers go from “please God help me find someone extraordinary” to “please God help me find someone with a pulse.” The problem is that we get what we wager for. If you bargain with Life for a penny then Life will pay no more. Do not believe for one moment that settling for a mediocre relationship is simply being realistic, that even the best relationship is fraught with disappointment, pain, and struggle. Extraordinary relationship exists and it is your birthright – you need only dare to claim it!
It seems that few people take the time to find out what complete set of inner qualities or values are important to them in a relationship. Often it is easier to list external qualities than internal one. You hear people saying: “he must be tall”, “dark eyes”, “good body”, “drive a nice car”, “make good money”, etc. And while there isn’t anything wrong with having an external list of attributes we would prefer, external qualities are not enough to make up a relationship. A relationship is built on inner qualities that won’t fade. We must be clear about what values are important to us and seek out a partner that shares our relationship values. It is this compatibility of values that foster the foundation for true connection and relatedness. So before you find out what brand and model of car your next date drives, think of finding out how they like to spend their free time, what their idea of a romantic evening is, if they are kind, or honest, or compassionate, what they hold as sacred, or what they envision for the future of their ideal relationship.
HEALTHY IS SEXY
Betty Berzon is a psychotherapist and author of many books on relationship. During a lecture she was asked what she thought was the secret of her 25 year-old relationship. She answered “getting into a relationship with someone healthier than I am”. A relationship is only as healthy as its least healthy component. We make the mistake of falling in love with the potential we see in another and we set out to change them to fit our idea of who they ought to be. We think we can fix them or mold them into who and what we want. We ignore all kind or red flags vying for time until we can work our transformational magic. Or, we give in to a co-dependent tendency to put their needs before ours, thinking that we will be the one who’ll save them from themselves. Somehow we’ve bought into the idea that someone healthy is not fun, exciting, or sexy. We equate healthy with dull and boring. Nothing could be further from the truth! It is a fallacy to think that a healthy partner will be lacking in excitement. Healthy is sexy! Once we begin to get healthier ourselves, we will begin to choose partners that are healthier as well. Do not make the mistake of falling for the untapped potential you may see in another. It is not your job to help them achieve it. Your job is to find someone who is healthy now – and that includes finding the healthy you!
FROM GAMES TO AUTHENTICITY
Since 2001 I’ve been conducting a one-day seminar titled If Dating Is A Game, There Are The Rules! Rule#1 is Don’t Play Games! A lot of the dating advice out there centers around manipulating others into behaving the way we want them to. One such book is The Rules and it includes advice such as: “Don’t talk to a man first”, “Don’t call him and rarely return his calls”, “Always end phone calls first”, and my personal favorite “Don’t discuss The Rules with your therapist”! The list of games that people play during dates is endless. While there is no guarantee that being authentic and avoiding games will in turn foster the same treatment, we owe it to ourselves to be honest, free of manipulation, and authentic. After all, if we have to trick someone into being with us, how will we ever know they truly want our company? Being authentic means being straight-forward, communicating exactly what is going on with you, and having the willingness to operate with transparency. So if you feel like calling, call! If the other person doesn’t respond to the authentic you, then it is most likely a good indication that this person is not the right match for you to begin with.
May you find the greatness that lies within and the extraordinary love you so richly deserve.
Frankie Pérez, LMFT
Frankie Pérez, LMFT, is a relationship specialist, soul-centered psychotherapist, and Franklin Covey Certified Personal Life Coach. He is the founder of MindGym, LLC, a psycho-educational service offering counseling and/or coaching to individuals, couples, and groups.
Frankie also presents workshops on Couples Communication, Dating, Mindfulness Meditation & Soul-Centered Psychotherapy, Sports Related Communication Excellence, and Peak Performance using Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Time Line Therapy. He may be reached by phone at:(214) 289-7995 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org .