Do you give your date grace?

GraceI mean grace in this sense: mercy, clemency, lenience, pardon, consideration, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, courteous goodwill.

At the beginning of any relationship, there are ups and downs. In “What’s your date’s score on the Delight/Disappointment Scale?” I discuss how you want to notice when your date delights and disappoints you. The point is not to jettison him the first time he disappoints, but to notice it and give him some grace. We all have off days. However, if your disappointments far outweigh the delight, ponder moving on.

I’ve been surprised when I’ve heard women’s stories of dumping a guy they’ve been seeing after the first miscommunication. I can understand if he’s lied or cheated. Those are zero-tolerance situations. But women have cut the cord on a guy the first time he is late, without giving him a chance to explain. That is cold. If it is a recurring pattern, then yes, something must be said and modified — either his lateness or her expectation of the time he’ll appear.

I tend to give any man I’m dating a lot of grace. Sometimes perhaps too much. I tend to forgive hiccups that I know other women would bail for. I work to live by that maxim about treating others as I would like to be treated. But there is a limit to my tolerance. If a man violates my trust a second time, he’s gone. Sometimes the first time, depending on how egregious the violation.

Luckily, I’ve only had a few arguments with men I’ve dated. In each instance, if he is angry at me it feels like he hasn’t given me any grace. From his comments, he allows me no slack to be human, nor any consideration that my motivation is different than his negative interpretation. No grace.

Can a relationship blossom without grace? I don’t think so. Humans make mistakes. We say insensitive things, have trouble hiding our less-than-positive feelings, choose the wrong words, and take things personally. If your budding relationship is grace deficient, it will wither and die soon.

The place to start is with your own grace behavior. Don’t expect it from him until you practice it yourself. If you need some reminders on how to do this, see “Turn your liabilities into assets” (apply the concept to his behaviors that drive you batty), “Ignore dating rule #1 at your peril,” and “Being ‘in wonder’ about your date’s behavior.”

In fact, you can begin to strengthen your grace muscle on strangers, family members and coworkers. Next time someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of honking, try taking a deep breath and saying grace. But instead of saying grace as you would at the start of a meal, try thinking “I give you grace” to that person who is obviously not fully present to how his/her behaviors affect others. Besides, honking won’t change their behavior (see Rule #1).

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