My nearly divorced 48-year-old neighbor said she was inspired by my philosophy expressed in this blog. She asked how I could still be positive and upbeat after going out with 68 men, none of whom was “the one.”
I told her my philosophy is “never a wasted evening.” In my dating journey, I’ve met some wonderful men, had some great times, lots of laugher, and some memorable activities. I’ve experienced some close connections. I reawakened some feelings I thought were buried from the painful divorce. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about men.
And even the less-than-stellar dates — and the very few bad dates — had a lesson attached. From one, the posting “Signs he won’t be asking for a second date” was spawned, which is one of my most looked at entries. Even “Date was a losing bet” birthed a funny story which amuses my friends and was a good lesson for me and others. Many first dates end in ambivalence, thus a posting on that. And I’ve learned to spot deal breakers quickly, so wrote “First-date red flags that this guy isn’t for you.”
My friend pointed out that these lessons took consciousness on my part. They weren’t merely funny stories where I could easily bash men and label the guy a loser. (She noted that I don’t use that term, even with the guy who dumped me after 10 minutes, or other examples of uncouth behaviors.)
She said she was amazed how present I am during the date to notice what’s happening, my feelings about it, and analyze what is or isn’t working. This is what psychologists call a “participant observer” perspective. It’s the ability to take note of what’s going on with and around you while you’re in the activity, then articulate and analyze it afterward, melding subjectivity with objectivity. It’s a skill I honed studying psychology and social psychology in college.
To me, this is a key to dating positively. Dating is a vehicle to explore what I want and don’t want, what I do that makes a date a success or not, what a man does or doesn’t do that draws me to him or pushes me away. Without the presence to see the lessons, I just walk away feeling, “I like him” or not. No discernment about what I like or don’t, so no way to look for the traits I like in a future guy, or avoid what I don’t like.
Look for the gifts — the presents — in all your encounters during the dating process. Starting with the first contact, emails, phone calls, face-to-face meetings, touching, kissing, etc., just notice how you feel and what’s going on. You may want to log what works for you and what doesn’t, and add these items to your boyfriend job description.