10 Things I’ve Learned About Dating- Part One

Ok, so while I don’t necessarily feel yet qualified to talk about the 10 Things that I have learned about Marriage- I do have a pretty good list for dating.  I’ve done a lot dating very poorly, and occasionally did well.  And well, this last time finally took, cause I got married :0)  Big shout out to the girl that said yes, Mrs/Dr Penny Mulberry.  Admittedly, this list is slanted way more for the guys, but that’s ok, it’s really my only perspective.  Another thing too, every relationship is unique to itself, its organic, and that’s what’s beautiful about relationships.  This list is just what I learned from mine, and they seem pretty universal to me.  So without further adieu- Here’s my 10 Things I’ve Learned About Dating-

0) Being the Leader in the relationship is a lot more than just being the guardian of purity in the relationship

OK, so I know this is kind of cheating- to put in a zero and make it eleven things, but really, the other ten pretty much flow from this one, so its sort of the over arching theme.  This was something that I was absolutely floored by when I was dating Penny, and it was totally unexpected on my part.  Here, let me say a quick thanks to Michael Wedding and Megan Bliss who were our leaders during this strange and wacky time.  They did a good job though, huh?

1) It’s YOUR job to pursue her.

Way back in the day, I used to sit back against the wall and just pray for her to come talk to me.  It was the nineties, right?  Women’s Lib was in.  Why shouldn’t she show me that she was interested by asking me out.  Little surprise that my dating life then was pretty much nil.  After all, what girl wants to date a spineless chicken who couldn’t muster up the stones to walk across the room and ask her out?

And don’t be mistaken, once she agrees to a date doesn’t mean you’ve caught her.  In fact, even in marriage, I’m realizing that you will never catch her.  You will always been pursuing her.  But what does it mean once she says “Yes”?  Simply, be romantic.  You should always been trying to impress her, to win her over, to take her on new and exciting adventure.  Do stuff for her.  Get her flowers.  Get her a gift.  Spend down time with her.  Don’t assume that she will just accompany you.  If something big is coming up, go ahead and ask her to go with you.

2) Be incredibly open and clear about where you are in the relationship.

I never forget sitting in Michael’s office/garage in June of 2008 at 1:30 AM telling him there was this girl who I was really into.  He went over to the white board, erased everything off it except for some Cebuano words, and drew a graph.  It was this graph that would change my life.  It was simple.  The bottom line represented time.  The vertical line represented stages of relationship.  At the top was marriage.  At the bottom was acquaintances.  There were 4 stages in between: Friends, More than Friends, Dating, and Engagement.

Now granted, most relationships will stick to the bottom 2 levels of this graph, but in any relationship, both people want to be clear which direction you are heading.  If you’re heading towards marriage and pointed in that direction, great.  If you’re pulling back and heading back down toward the friend zone, great- tell each other that.  Cause all that happens when one person is headed up and the other person is headed down is you are growing further and further apart.

3) Even if you know where you are, make it ok for her to not be there just yet.

This is quite different from above.  As I said, most relationships with people of the opposite sex will hang out in the bottom two levels.  And they should.  But anytime it gets to More Than Friends, you want to be absolutely clear that that’s where you are.  And this is a two-way street- usually I find that the guy is usually there before the girl, but if the girl is here first, she needs to be clear too.

So you’re at that point where you are feeling an emotional investment in the person (here’s how to tell, if you saw her at Starbucks doing with someone else what you are doing with her, and it sends you to a bad place, you’re emotionally invested).  You think she might like you too, and you want to explore that.  Great- sit her down and tell her.  It doesn’t mean you’re jumping straight to “Dating” just yet.  You’re just being very very clear of where you are so that there is no confusion.  Hint: It’s ok to go on a date with someone and not be dating them.

I remember having this conversation with Penny.  I was sweating bullets.  But I had to tell her.  I didn’t know her very well, but there definitely seemed to be a connection.  So I sat her down and told her, “I’m interested.  I’m not asking you out just yet, but I do want to get to know you better, because I’m interested to see where this could go.”  She said, “Great, I’d love to be your friend.  I’m not interested in dating anyone just yet, I just got out of relationship like 2 weeks ago.”   AHHH- so glad I didn’t skip that stage- and she was abundantly clear that she wasn’t ready for it just yet, and truthfully neither was I.  We didn’t know each other that well yet.  But I got to hang out with her a lot.  And the more we hung out, the more we liked hanging out.

But in the end- just know that when you’re ready to go on to the next stage- whether that’s from Friends to More than Friends, More than Friends to Dating, or Dating to Engaged, freakin’ tell her- and be really ok with the fact that she might not be there yet- and give her permission to not be there yet.  And for heaven’s sake, don’t start acting like you’ve moved on to the next level until you have both verbally said to each other that you’re ready.  You may feel stupid, but you’ll be glad you did.

…to be continued

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