The Dating Game

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Recently, I caught up with a client who’d taken the brave decision to divorce her husband and begin her life again as a forty something singleton.  Asking her if she’d fallen in love again, she threw her head back, laughed and said “Oh God no, haven’t got time for that, too busy being married to myself!” This was music to my ears, she was completely embracing and loving herself; she didn’t “need” anyone else to make her feel loved.

Author of The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, said “Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but looking outward together in the same direction”.  My interpretation of this is that if we look to another person for our needs, then it’s not unconditional love; unconditional love wants or needs nothing at all.

Yet all too often I hear phrases such as “but I can’t live without him”, or “I need someone in my life to make me happy”; to me, these all indicate unhealthy relationships, bringing only eventual unhappiness and loneliness.

Peoples’ behaviour towards us is a reflection of who we are.  If we want to be loved and respected, trusted and cared for, we must first show the world that we love, respect, trust and care for ourselves. Thus we give a off a vibe that we wouldn’t settle for anything less, which encourages our outer world and the people in it, to act accordingly.

Many women find themselves single half way through their lives, and for some it’s a huge shock being “out there” again. Things have changed dramatically in the last 20 years, particularly the rules of dating - and with 1 in 5 people finding a partner through on-line mean, finding a partner these days can be a bit of a minefield.

The days of meeting someone at a dinner party or a bar seem to be long gone. Pheromones sending out signals, the exciting flirting process, getting to know someone through what they say - and their body language, much less the way we do it.  Now you’re a two-dimensional photo’, one you’ve no doubt forensically studied before posting - and that has to say so much!

Advertising yourself in this way can actually encourage feelings of vulnerability - even in the strongest of women. The unnatural guessing and waiting to see if someone ‘approves’ in itself can take us right back to childhood, to a feeling of “am I good enough?”  Then, if “matched”, the risks and dangers for women increase, as we embark on getting to know these on-line strangers.

Most of us probably know someone who’s been lucky and met their soul-mate this way - and are currently living happily ever after. During my work with clients and talking to single friends though, I’ve now heard far too many distressing stories and have had to help pick up the pieces from these dangerous liaisons.  

Learning to navigate your way through this new on-line world isn’t impossible, but there are certainly rules  which’ll keep you safe - and help you find the “one”.

Here are my top tips for on-line dating (in fact all dating!)

  1. Don’t offer too much detail; make sure your photo doesn’t show your whole back-story, particularly where you live and work.
     
  2. No matter how nice they sound, remember they could be lying.   Cat-fishing, where someone takes on a new, artificial persona to get what they want, is rife.  You can never be sure until you’re sure; look to validate the information they’re giving you - your safety and well-being is a non negotiable!
     
  3. Don’t give out your number or address unless you’re certain that you know enough. Being introduced to a friend or family member is a rule-of–thumb guideline that this relationship might be going somewhere.
     
  4. Always give someone close to you detail about who you’re meeting and where you’re going - until the relationship is fully established.
     
  5. If the alarm bell rings, leave.  In other words, if you don’t like something they’ve said or done, trust your instincts. Every time a client comes to me at the end of a relationship, they always say that they knew very early that something was wrong: but they ignored it and hoped it would change.
     
  6. Your body is your body.  Yes you’re a grown up, but don’t live to regret that night of passion.  Take your time.
     
  7. Put yourself first.  Look back on past mistakes and let them stop you making the same mistakes again.
     
  8. If you have children, no matter how old they are, you ‘re still their mother and they don’t need to know every gory detail.  I’ve worked with people who’ve been very damaged by their parents introducing them to a string of different partners. It’s deeply confusing and can be very upsetting for a host of reasons. Wait until your relationship is well established.