The Four Cornerstones to Successful Dating

Photo by Don DeBold on Flikr

Photo by Don DeBold on Flikr

I recently got a lovely comment from a reader describing how she had been working to reclaim her body as beautiful, lovely, wonderful … sexual … filled with glorious desire … created good.  Not dangerous, to be doubted, feared, stuffed, shamed, damned, hidden, apologized for.  She went on to say that now she was venturing into the world of dating … learning to take this newly claimed beloved body, mind, soul into the world to meet other beloved people and learn what and who stirred her heart.  This post is for her and for all folks who want to learn the art of dating – of learning about self and learning about fit – what you like and don’t like; learning about you in the context of romantic partnership; and learning about a beloved other.  In a romantic partnership you are knitting yourself into the canvas of another and they into you.  This close weave will mean that much more of the nuances of each other’s character and nature will affect and influence the other.  Because of this, it is important to pay close attention to qualities at the core of a person – values, beliefs, character and consistency.  It is important to really listen to your gut with open curiosity to what you are seeing and hearing.  Here are some key ingredients in the recipe of successful dating –

One – Remember that You are Beloved.  This needs to guide how you treat yourself and how you allow others to treat you.  This is ingredient #1 . You are God’s beloved. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  A Stradivarius – capable of incredible music. And in need of care.  What is highly valuable we take excellent care of and we require others to take care of it as well.  It is important to also realize that others are beloved as well. Your belief in belovedness will also guide you to watch how others treat themselves.  Do they treat themselves as valuable?  Do you they take care of themselves?  Do they treat others as beloved?  Do they demonstrate their sense of value in themselves and others?  Watching for this tells you a lot about a person’s intrinsic sense of value.  When a person values you, themselves and others with consistency, you can have confidence that this is part of their core character and not just a positive mask they sometimes put on.

This leads me to Ingredient Two … Keep the Jury Out.  It takes time to test actions against words.  One of the traps I see many women fall in is dating Mr Charming with a sparkling smile and laughing eyes who sweeps them off their feet.  Within two weeks, she is “in love” and planning their future.  The jury is no longer out on this guy – she has decided ‘he is it!’.  They often move in quick and BAM – in less than 6 months – guess what?! – he is not what he appeared in the beginning.  Keep the jury out – it takes time to see if actions and words match up.  Don’t be charmed off your feet.  Enjoy the charm … let it swirl around your head … have fun with it for sure! … but keep your feet firmly planted on the ground and your heart firmly in your body.  I often say – no major decisions (no living together, no engagement) in less than a year.   It may sound ridiculous to some … but you’d be surprised how many important issues emerge in that second six months.  Having some space and distance to evaluate an issue, work it out or decide it is too big, leaves you with important options and important perspective.  If you still have no doubt this is someone you can resolve anything with, and love right on through, you’ll only grow more convinced as you work through a couple of the more challenging issues that may emerge.  It just takes time.  Just about anything can wait. Every day the jury is out, you are still working your relationship and learning … nothing is lost … wisdom is gained … and no cliffs have been jumped off.

Third ingredient … and related … No Future Think – be in the now.  Girls especially can tend to jump to thinking about the future too soon – planning for what is next for the relationship.  Guys tend to think about relationships less and in less detail than women do.  Women are socialized to think about relationship dynamics and their brains tend to be wired a bit more toward understanding this complex part of the human experience.  If left to the pace of the girls – girls end up running the relationship show.  This hurts the development of a relationship in the dating phase in two ways.  One, guys are denied their feelings of desire and want.  Since the girl is the one texting the next plan and calling … he never gets to miss her or feel his desire for her.  She becomes ‘easy’ … low hanging fruit.  She is always right there – her text is there, her phone call is there, her idea is there, her plan is there.  In addition, girls, on the reverse side of this, never get to marinate in the luscious feeling of being wanted or desired by him.  When a girl lets the guy feel his desire, by letting him come to his desire and want on his timing – by not always being right there – she gets to feel him pursue her.  She gets to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he wants her and is willing to go through all kinds of trouble to spend time with her.  He gets to feel himself want this too.  He loves this alive feeling.  Who doesn’t??  She gets to feel pursued.  Who doesn’t love that feeling??  In fact, research shows the one thing that all women no matter their persuasion get turned on by is being hotly desired and pursued by someone they want.  Being desired will get her every time. But women so often keep themselves from feeling desired because they are jumping the start line on the relationship by leaving no space for the guy to miss her and go looking for her. Space drives the desire, want, love deeper instead of it feeling easy and on the surface.

This leads me to my last key ingredient Date One Date at a Time – by this I mean look at each date as a time of new evaluation.  Ask yourself, Am I inspired by this person?  Am I attracted to them – physically, emotionally, spiritually? Am I intrigued to learn more? Are there still no red flags?  If, one date at a time, there are yes’ to these questions, agree to one more date.  One date at a time.  This helps you to keep the jury out, not to future think, stay present, not make excuses, honor your and their belovedness … go at it one step at a time.  If the answers are NO … be honest with yourself and with them … rather than making excuses for them or for you.  Decide what kind of dating this can be?  If you are dating to find a lifetime partner and you do not want to date for fun or learning, gracefully back out.  Don’t drag out the inevitable or prolong the heartache. Let them know they are a great person in many wonderful ways however you are looking for a particular fit and it is not there with them. But thank you anyway.  If you want to date for fun and learning, (and see this person as someone you can learn with), then let yourself know this and let them know as well.  Decide what that means emotionally, spiritually and physically so you and they feel clear.   Still evaluate one date at a time to make sure you are keeping yourself, the relationship and learning in a place that feels positive and growth producing.

So there you have it … 4 key ingredients in the mindful recipe of successful dating.  There is a ton to learn in this process … a ton about yourself and a ton about other people.  Romantic partnerships stir up all kinds of issues from our past … it is where our inner work lies … and we stir it up in each other.  It is our place to learn what it really means to love.  Dating is the first step in this process.  That is why these ingredients and mindfulness help!  Have fun!!



Thank you for this post. I think what I struggle with right now is seeing myself as beloved. I want to be accepted and loved as I am – good, bad and ugly. How do I get to this place of seeing myself as beloved so that I can begin to treat myself as such? I tend to rush the physical progression of the dating process.

Tina Schermer Sellers, PhD

Hi Cate – Thanks for your comment! It’s a bit of a process to work ourselves back to seeing ourselves as beloved. Chances are we had lots of people in our lives and lots of advertisers helping us feel anything but beloved, valuable, lovable, precious! Just the other day I was talking with a brilliant woman who told me that her dad used to say repeatedly throughout her growing up years, “Who do you think you are?!” And she would have to say, “Nothing”. Whether it is overt, as it was for her, or covert as it is for most everyone else, we learn deep down, the deepest of all lies … that we are worthless. Henri Nouwen says this, “Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the Beloved. Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence.” The best thing you can do, is begin to affirm your belovedness – listen to the voices in your life who value and affirm you, see your gifts and strengths, support your growing edges, encourage you and value you. Begin to pay attention to your self talk and re-route all negative self-talk to loving and affirming self-talk. Clean house inside your head and in your support system – until the voices inside and outside affirm your belovedness and support your growth and well-being. Then … when you date, your inside thoughts and your inner circle of friends will align to support you in going slow to make sure this person you are dating is the kind of awesome that can love and nourish your belovedness as you can nourish theirs. Someone else cannot fill the hole of our fear of our worthlessness … we have to fill it back up with the truth of our belovedness. We were created that way … it has never changed. xo

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