So, he finally asked you out! And you said Yes. Congratulations:)
He might be someone you’ve had your eye on for a while. Someone who makes your heart flutter.
Or, he might have taken you by surprise. Perhaps you hadn’t even noticed his existence until now.
Whatever the case may be, the dating game has begun. Things are rosy for a while from the freshness and excitement of having someone new in your life. He is Charm personified. He makes you feel like a Queen. He wines and dines you. There is a spring in your step and a song on your lips.
Slowly and sneakily certain habits creep begin to creep into this dance of romance.
You begin to build castles in the air. You begin to think he is The One. You imagine a glorious future with him, 2.5 kids, picket fence and all. Filled with happiness, love and laughter. You wonder what kind of wedding dress will good on you. You begin to get attached.
And suddenly the dream ends. Just like that. He disappears. He stops calling. He hurts you. You find something about him that you cannot accept, like another girlfriend. The castles were all sand and they have collapsed.
Perhaps you are not one to daydream. You like to keep things real. Too real. Even pessimistic. You don’t want to expose your tender heart and have it ‘manhandled’. You are cautious, fearful and withholding. You are suspicious and analyze his every word and movement. What if he is just like all the others who broke your heart? What if he is a jerk, womanizer, escaped convict or all of the above? He could be gay and may not know it yet. Yes, there are a million misgivings and you guard your heart fiercely. He senses the walls you have built around yourself. He wonders why you are so cold to him. He worries that perhaps you do not like him as much as he likes you.
And suddenly the dream ends. You push him away. He disappears.
Or maybe he does stick around. Only he doesn’t dance exactly to your tunes. When you are with him, you are on a high. On the other hand, each moment that separates you feels like an eternity in hell. When you don’t hear from him, you feel anxious. Has he lost interest? Is there someone else? Is he alright? When he is good to you, you are on top of the world. If he doesn’t compliment your new haircut you are crushed. Perhaps he is a little inconsistent. Maybe he isn’t sure. But even if he is constant in his affections, you feel like it is a roller coaster ride. You are not sure if this is love or a cocaine addiction. You feel like you are his puppet and he is pulling all the strings.
You torture yourself. You fight. He disappears. And then the dream ends.
So you see, no matter what you do, the dream ends and he disappears. And once again you are left wondering what the hell happened.
Dating is frustrating isn’t it?
Well, what is dating then?
It is about getting to know another person in a romantic context.
It is an opportunity to see if you are the yin to someone’s yang. That’s it.
It is not a foreshadowing of all the bad things that might happen to you.
It is not the promise of a lifetime of romance.
It is not a roller coaster ride.
It doesn’t have to be.
To date successfully, I believe we must develop an attitude of curious observation. What is that, you ask?
Well, do you remember looking through a microscope at bacteria in biology lab? Do you remember watching ants swim in puddles of water after a brief rain shower? Do you remember how you paid attention with great curiosity and interest? Perhaps some fascination or even mild amusement? What was it like to observe a creature like that? Did you judge the ant for behaving a certain way? Did you take it personally when some bug jumped on a leaf? Did you become excessively invested in what the ant would eat? Did you care if you would ever see the same ant again? In the larger scheme of things, did the ant’s actions matter that much?
What if you brought the same sense of curious observation to men and dating? Fascinating creatures aren’t they? What funny things they do! So predictably unpredictable.
So he cancelled your date at the last minute or stood you up? Instead of feeling depressed, neglected or angry or any other kind of reaction…. why not just say…hmmm, that’s interesting. Point duly noted in your guy-data-base under his file name.
How does that feel?
Remember, you are just dating. He is not your boyfriend and doesn’t owe you anything. You have wonderful opportunity to gather data on a unique creature of the opposite sex! Now you know something about him. You might find that he had a really good reason. You might find that he really is a jerk. So what?! All important information. You are no longer under his spell.
This is not to say that you have to be a robot-scientist. Dispassionate, detached, mechanical scrutiny. No! That’s so unnatural! This is not an experiment, it is romance….
Feel the excitement of the new romance. Feel it in the fun you have together. Enjoy yourself being wined and dined for its own sake. Feel your attraction to him. Feel the fear. Where is it coming from?
Instead of withdrawing or rushing ahead, take a step back, center yourself and watch. And wait. And watch some more.
See who he really is. Find out all you can about him. His dreams, his past, his story. Leave aside your judgments and expectations and just observe, curiously. Watch yourself, as you watch him.
Try it and see what happens.