I’m the kind of guy who likes a one-on-one date more than group experiences. I have a serious hearing problem that makes group conversation difficult and so I tend to feel lost in the chatter. Having someone to myself for a few hours is like a satisfying meal that nourishes my spirit.
I came out rather later in life and found asking someone I liked out for a date daunting. Often the other guy was too busy with other commitments or preferred to be with his little group of friends all the time. So after a few years of trying I gave up looking for dates. I took the advice of those who told me that once I stopped trying so hard the right guy would come around. Well, it worked! In June I met a wonderful man who actually pursued me! I’m pleased that we’re now in a loving, long term relationship. But I did learn some important ground rules about dating that I’d like to share with you.
1. I realized that I ought to date simply for the social opportunity and not out of a need to be “completed” by finding the perfect mate. I found it’s far too easy to become codependent in the dating scene, by trying too hard to please or expecting too much. Being tied to the outcome of one or two dates self-sabotage as an “all or nothing” perspective gets activated.
2. I will attract only those who are up to a level of emotional maturity similar to mine. If I’m struggling with basic coming out issues, with family of origin wounds, or with a recent break up, it’s going to show. I know that I tend to give off negative energy through my tone of voice, body language, or attitude that will turn off those who don’t wish to deal with my unresolved stuff.
3. I need to be working on my own personal life-challenges. If I’m not conscious of how my past affects my present then I’m doomed to repeat mistakes. Here I’m thinking of times of being bullied by narcissists, abused emotionally, or affected by substance abusers, domestic violence, or mental illness. Twelve step programs, support groups, self-help authors, spiritual advisors, life coaching, and therapy have all been extremely helpful in my own recovery making me more conscious and aware of how I approach relationships.
4. I have to be brutally honest about why I seek a date with a particular person. Sometimes I was looking for a meaningful intellectual encounter, or a chance to nullify my loneliness, or for physical affection. Knowing what I’m seeking up front helps me to be clear about my expectations and clears the way for further possibilities.
5. I need to identify my values. I value frugality, staying close to home, and quiet conversation. I don’t enjoy sporting events, noisy pets, or loud music. I look for people who are sober, emotionally stable, financially responsible and humorous.
Most important is I need to appreciate the friends I already have. Maybe I don’t need to be dating! Instead I might just need to reconnect with people I love and who already love me. When I have the emotional support I need dating takes on a different hue. With less anxiety and greater attention to my own needs I did attract the man I was looking for. And so will you!