Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Trusting Your Gut While Dating
Photo credit: earl53 from morguefile.com
For a variety of reasons, we often fail to listen to our guts, intuition, or what have you. Sometimes, it's giving in to the competing circus of voices in our heads. Other times, it's the allure of the person in front of us. Adding a few or more drinks to the equation is another common method of blurring out awareness. And let's face it, most of us live in a society that doesn't value deep listening, and truly following our hearts.
So, we end up making mistakes. Sometimes repeatedly. And when it comes to dating, those repeated mistakes can drain your energy, make you jaded, and press you into a corner, desiring to give up or settle for being with someone you really shouldn't be with.
That's why paying attention from the beginning is so important.
I eventually trained myself to listen and pay attention closely - both to myself and whomever I am on a date with. If something felt off or sounded off, I would really cue in on that to see what's going on. Sometimes, it ended up being me reading a situation falsely, and sometimes it was a recognition that something was actually off. Regardless of what any given gut level feeling was, it wasn't enough anymore if someone had similar interests to me, a similar approach to life, or if there was some kind of "chemistry" there. The connection needed to pass the gut level test before I'd move into more seriousness about it. And I've been all the more happier since. Not only did I finally find an amazing partner, but also before that, I learned to trust my gut enough to end a few short term relationships that I would have stuck with (and suffered in) much longer in the past.
This bare attention can take some practice before you're able to do it well while during a date. However, even if you never get to the point where you're flowing between noting your reactions and engaging in conversation or activity with a date, you can still benefit from the practice. After the date, you can sit down and watch the various reactions that come up. Just watching them, not taking a side or trying to rationalize or apply a fixed meaning to them. Give it 10-15 minutes, just allowing yourself to have thoughts and feelings about the date come and go, and then note or write down anyone overall themes.
In the past, I would frequently override signs that indicated coming discord or simply a bad match because of one or more of those qualities. I'd notice dysfunctional behavior, but think "oh, but she loves to do the same things as me." Or I'd see that she was responding erratically to my calls or e-mails to get together again, and I'd rationalize that she was busy, or that things were just "moving slowly."
Why did I do this? Well, you know, endless rounds of dating get old. I hadn't learned how to be alone and actually enjoy it yet. And I also really liked some of the women who displayed red flags, and truly hoped that my gut was wrong.
Hope itself is a trouble spot. It's a story about a "better future" that frequently is built on a house of cards. Politicians often play on the hopes of the people they end up supposedly representing. Marketers play on the hopes of the populace as well, saying that whatever product they are selling will cure all our ills and make us happy. And while there are also a small percentage of people who deliberately play on others' hopes in the dating world, more often than not, we let our own hope stories play each of us. The person we are dating might spark the story to surface again, but he or she is simply today's version of the leading role, the current star of the love narrative we can't seem to shake.
Dating and building a relationship are hard enough as it is. Why add in a failure to trust your gut responses? Your thoughts?