Dating in the age of Tinder and online dating can seem daunting. The ‘market’ of available partners is massive and overwhelming. The possibilities of meeting many casual partners one after the other does not make it very easy for relationships to develop gradually and slowly over time. From the first date there is the pressure ‘do we have chemistry’ ‘am I attracted’. Very often we do not take the time to really get to know the person we are dating. Any little thing that goes wrong or rubs us the wrong way on the first date and the person is out. Dumping someone is very easy and can happen simply by text message or worse: you never hear from the person again. They have already moved on to the next potential Mr. or Miss Right. This is part of the dating game, that everybody is looking for someone to give them love, acceptance, security, status, acceptance. This gets in the way of getting to know someone where there is no vested interest from the start. We are very focused on ‘getting’ something and in many ways we are consumers in the dating game. If the ‘goods’ do not meet our wants and expectations we do not waste time. We move on to the next prospect.
Meaningful interactions consist of mutual understanding and curiosity. A sense of respect and validation for the other. This can be difficult to obtain in only one or a few dates. And so often we judge each other based on first impressions. This means that people who are more confident and extrovert and risk takers have a better chance at appearing attractive on a first date. However this does not mean you are compatible as a couple or that the person is a decent and honest person. Often I hear people talk about ‘chemistry’ as the main ingredient on a first date. People do not take the time with someone if the chemistry is not there right away, so they move on quickly. But in many cases chemistry actually builds over time along with mutual understanding and human interaction. More than a few dates are necessary for you to get to know someone on a deeper level. It is important to take time to get to know someone beyond first impressions.
If you are committed to meeting a partner you have to take the time to get to know your prospects. First impressions and ‘chemistry’ can be based on our projections upon the other. This means we see in the other either what we fear or desire. Culturally we have been taught to equate attraction with love, so we look for ‘chemistry’ instead of a long term investment.
In order to see beyond our own projections we need to take time to inquire into the other person and get to know them. This is not always easy because we might think we want a relationship for all the good experiences we dream about, but we might be reluctant to have negative experiences, risk rejection, getting hurt or having our hearts broken.
If you have become used to being single you might have issues around commitment. They might manifest as high standards, comparing with prospects with your ex or always looking for someone ‘better’. It might also manifest as a push-pull with the other person. When you are available the other person is unavailable and then the roles switch. This way the relationship never goes deeper or gets more committed. Behind the fear of commitment can be fear of rejection, fear of intimacy or low self-esteem. Not committing is a way of staying safe and not get hurt.
So before you start looking for a partner you need to examine whether you are willing to commit to the process of getting close to someone new. To be vulnerable and open. To communicate your needs and feelings. You have to be willing to be disappointed or hurt in order to find a partner. You have to take the time to remove the barriers you might have erected against a partner in the name of freedom or ‘I have not met the right person yet’.
If you can commit to this you have a chance at finding and being in a relationship. It might not be perfect and it might not be ideal, but you might get to know yourself better and have someone to share life experiences with.