It has become increasingly difficult to meet people. This is particularly true for the part of the population who is looking for a significant other.
Men and women tell me all the time that they would like to be in a significant relationship. Possibly that they would like to marry and possibly have children. However, society has changed so much that they don't know how to go about it.
Social Settings Are Changing
First of all, People don't gather the way that they once did. The internet has taken over. People join matching sites but generally complain that it is not useful.
People tell me that even if they can start a relationship on line, it winds up to be a long period of sending messages until one or the other drops off the board. Sometimes people tell me that the messaging culminated in a meeting and that the other person was not "as advertised". It is a discouraging business.
I also hear that a dating relationship may follow but the person talking to me "doesn't feel anything" or sense that the other person is really involved.
Here is my answer.
I believe that the habits of using the internet have interfered with our ability to experience intimacy. Further, there are some people who don't know what intimacy is. They have never experienced it. Without intimacy, "in to me see" there is no connection so people move on from each other.
Many people grew up in families where there was no intimacy. Intimacy requires a certain amount of trust. That is, if I let you in, you won't be disappointed in me. I can make mistakes-I can be imperfect. We will negotiate our differences. People who come from families where there is a good deal of criticism and conflict hide behind walls of silence for protection. Thus, lasting relationships are difficult for them.
I recommend that people looking for serious relationships make a list of the top five characteristics that they want to find in a partner. List these characteristics in rank order. Cross off the ones that get you into trouble. Then go to the place where you will find such a person.
I further believe that the best way to find someone is to have them watch you in the act of doing what you enjoy--things that turn you on. So, if you are into sports, join a team or go hiking. Look for volunteer work with a group for whom you have interest. When you go, act enthusiastically. Get involved. Be passionate.
If you want to use a dating site, keep your messaging short. Lots of people who go on these sites are not who they seem. Possibly they are using the site to experience some kind of safe experience. They don't want to take things further. You can weed these people out by suggesting a meeting after you exchange preliminaries. The preliminaries simply put people together who May have common interests and values. You can't know what is worthwhile without the live conversations.
So you set up your first meeting in a public place. Remember, dating is really an interview process. You need to be prepared to ask and answer questions. Asking where someone lives, what they do, where they went to school constitutes what I call preliminaries. What is really important is HOW people THINK about their choices. That is, HOW did you decide to study about geology? HOW did you decide to go to Western Ukraine University? What did you like there?
You progress to bigger questions. Tell me about your family. If you hear "divorce" which is certainly possible--HOW did that affect you? You are looking for how prospective relationship partners have experienced the world and you want to share how you experience the world. Certainly we hope you are asked questions also. If not, this is an indicator too as to the other person's ability to be interested in others-you-and how forthcoming they are.
It is important not to become discouraged. It takes many many encounters to find a good fit. I tell my clients that dating is like musical chairs. The music plays and people mingle. The music stops and everyone scrambles for a chair. Once positioned, the questions and explorations start. "Honesty" is very important to me. "Shared finances" is important to me. These are talked about as values. "My father was unfaithful to my mother" or "my mother bought things and hid them from my father". If you are looking for a set of values that make for long relationships, then honesty is at the top of the list. If I hear about tales of family dishonesty, then I want to know what the person sitting across from me thinks about that. "I was uncomfortable with it-I felt badly for my mom when dad cheated" or, "dad was a tyrant and she was right to hide her purchases". It's all a learning experience. I find that my clients stop with the data and never ask about the emotional field around the answers. That's where the connections are.
Did you see the movie-----------? what did you THINK about it? WHY?
Another Issue About Intimacy
You don't need to tell your most delicate thoughts on the first encounter. Relationships are like the medieval castles of Europe. When one visits them, the visitor is never admitted to the innermost sanctum of the castle. First the visitor approaches the castle. Then he crosses a moat. He gains entry on the ground level and progresses slowly to the interior. If the protectors of the castle spot hostility in any way, a button is pushed and the visitor, now an intruder, is dropped to the crocodiles below. There are trap doors and buttons all over.
Similarly, in relationships, we ask questions and answer them and based on how safe we feel, we move forward. If at any point as we are progressing in the relationship, we spot red flags, we pay attention to those flags and exit. This is very important. Often people moving in relationships have a hard time paying attention to the red flags. Those flags need to be attended to, negotiated, and watchfulness kept to see if the problems get altered. It is never too late to change direction if things aren't going well.
The very BEST a relationship is going to be is in the courtship. People tend to be on their best behavior. It has been said that the people who date and the people who marry have NOTHING to do with each other because after marriage the guard relaxes. Therefore, if the courtship contains dishonesty, the marriage surely will.
Ask questions, answer questions, and give behavior more weight than words. Words and behavior should match. If they don't, it is the behavior that matters.
So, have fun as you get to know lots of people and learn something new with every encounter you have.