April 24, 2018
Dating changes from decade to decade; as you age, so does how you date.
In your 20s you usually date through social circles, school and activities because, let’s face it, you have time. But when you hit your 30s, more people are career-focused and a lot of people have settled into partnership so your social circles are divided between single and married and are probably smaller. In your 40s it switches again with divorce, kids, career changes, etc.
Dating is a deeply personal experience and can be quite triggering depending on how well you know yourself, but there are universal do’s and don’ts for all ages.
Date online: In your 30s and 40s this is a must, even if you have a large social circle, go out all the time, and hate the idea. Keeping the on-line door open makes way for miracles. I have a client who met a cute guy online but it fizzled before they actually met. About a month later they were at the same place at the same time and because he knew she was single he approached her and the rest is history. Now they are dating toward a committed relationship. Online dating is super fun with the right perspective and a few tools.
Practice dating: Duty dating is a term coined by Dr. Pat Allen, author of "Getting to 'I Do,'” to describe the practice of dating to nurture and develop your skills. It’s not based on chemistry. Dating without chemistry is a great way to clarify what you want and who you are. Who knows, you might be surprised by what you discover. By getting to know two to three people at the same time you are more likely to stay balanced and focused on your own life even when you do find chemistry with someone.
Know your attachment style: "Attached" by Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A., has become my client’s dating bible. It’s an easy read (I read it in a day) and is key to unlocking the mysteries of dating and relationships. By discovering your attachment style you’ll bring an awareness to dating and will suffer less.
Know what you want: The first question I ask all my clients is, what are you looking for? Often we are dating in a haze, hoping we’ll be shown what we want when the right person comes along, but it doesn’t work that way. I’m not asking about the obvious things like are they funny or do they like to travel? I’m looking for morals and values so that once you’re in a relationship a shared vision can be created. This will be the foundation for a great relationship.
Work on yourself: All dates are an opportunity for you to learn more about you. Instead of looking for someone to "save" you or be "the one," begin to cultivate a life you’d want to share with someone. When I was single, I thought, when I meet someone, then I’ll go camping and get a dog. But why put my life on hold? So I bought a tent, took my son camping, and eventually adopted a dog. By doing what you love, you are already more attractive but don’t do what you love in hopes of meeting someone. Just do it because YOU love it. Being single is a great time to look within to see what you have to offer a person in a relationship and what you hope to learn about yourself in a committed relationship.
Support: Get together with other people who are dating and share stories. I recently started Coaching Circles just for people who are dating and it’s so fun.
Keep going: This might be the most important of the do’s. Often, we’ll date, have a bad experience and give up deciding we need "to work on ourselves." If you want relationship, keep dating. There is no better way to work on your self. Before I met my partner I was dating a guy for about a month. We broke up and I thought, I’ll take a break but then I thought, no, I want relationship, I’m going to keep going, and the next week I met my now-boyfriend.
Stay in fantasy: Get very real about what you are looking for. If you are a woman in your mid-30s and wanting a child, put it out there. Sure, you’ll turn off some guys but better to have them turn away now then date them for six months and then hear they don’t really want kids. Listen to what your dates are telling you. Often we hear what we want to hear instead of what is actually being said, because we believe we have the power to change someone.
Misrepresent yourself: If you are looking for a real relationship make sure your words and pictures tell that story. Too often my clients tell me what they want from a committed partner and then I take a look at their profile and they are totally misrepresenting themselves. It then becomes obvious why they haven’t found what they are looking for. They are attracting the wrong people based on their profile. Often, we present who we wish we were rather than who we truly are. Who you truly are is beautiful.
Be a pressure cooker: This is a buzz kill. It puts too much pressure on you and your date. This often happens out of desperation and fantasy. Stay present to each date as being an opportunity to meet someone new, have fun and explore different ways of communicating. Don’t put too much heart into anyone until they truly show up in a way that feels real.
Hook up in hope: Instant chemistry is awesome and can make you feel you’ve known the person your entire life, but be careful, I’ve witnessed much heartbreak from that instant connection without communication. Take your time to get to know someone. Especially, in the frontier of online dating, there are tons of possibility, too many choices, which leads to fantasy. Show up real and you will find real.
Lose yourself: Dating is just one aspect of your life. Remember happiness is found in balance. If you find yourself picking up your phone to see who’s reached out or to swipe to see who’s out there more than being out with friends, exercising or taking care of you, than maybe limit yourself to a determined daily time.
Lie to yourself: Have you ever had this experience? You meet a really cute guy or beautiful woman, there’s an instant spark and you have a great date. You say a long goodbye,and as you walk away you look back to see them lighting a cigarette. Your heart drops but instead of moving on, you start telling yourself, it’s OK, maybe it’s only social smoking, etc. The truth is you are disappointed and probably need to move on. The lie is you can get over it. Know yourself and move on.
Everyone has something to offer another person.
Dating is about finding that someone special to share your already awesome life with. Why be single and sad when you could be single, cultivating a unique and bountiful life while dating? Date without attachment to outcome and it will be fun.
Make it an adventure.
Stacey J. Warner is a certified life coach, equus coach and yoga teacher. She received her bachelor of arts in drama from the University of Washington and currently resides in Los Angeles. She is the founder of The Intensives for Radical Healing, Consciousness, and Grace. Her one passion in life is to lessen the suffering of others through deep inner work and laughter. To learn more, visit: www.staceyjwarner.com.