Dating Advice: What Everybody Needs to Know

Dating is often painful because the person who loves the least has the most power. Are you overly generous? Listen to learn about relationships that are too lopsided.

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After almost 40 years of working to help couples, I offer a podcast of substance on what relationships require to last for the long haul. I use books & movies to illustrate the points I’m trying to make. I offer challenges of things you can actually do in your own relationship at the end of every podcast which is under 10 minutes.

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Dating Advice; What Everybody Needs to Know Episode #24

Dating is the very beginning of relationships. Dating is very hard. To keep up hope after years of trying to find the right partner can be oh, so difficult! Lots of people already in relationships have no idea how hard it can be to date. I know because I’ve listened to countless numbers of people describe their experiences.

Dating is often painful because the person who loves the least is the one who has the most power.

Dating is especially hard for those who are overly generous. People who are too easily forgiving are not paying enough attention to the warning signs that there is trouble ahead.

This is demonstrated really well in the 2014 movie Listen Up Phillip. I found myself yelling at the character Elizabeth Moss plays. She says good things like “Did you ask me here so you can talk about yourself?” “You stood in my way when I had so many opportunities.” But she only says them, she lets him get away without expressing any remorse. In the movie she gets a huge success & later admits “I couldn’t tell him anything good without him getting depressed & jealous.” She finally decides to “no longer invest in somebody who makes her feel terrible.” Congrats but honestly it took her way too long. Someone who gets jealous of your success & focuses constantly on themselves has narcissistic issues floating around which would make hanging out with them for 40 years pretty unbearable.

Why cater to lopsided relationships? Because you are lopsided yourself. So what is the opposite of being overly generous & too easily forgiving? Most people would respond Selfish. When we use that word nobody is interested in learning to be more selfish… that word is an obstacle to change all by itself! I like the idea that the opposite of overly generous is to become more self protective.

Self protective is a good thing. So it’s a first date & the other person has not asked you a single question about yourself. So consider saying a small truth, such as “we’ve been together for a couple of hours & you really haven’t asked me anything about me.” If they respond with concern, oh my gosh I didn’t realize it & they self correct their behavior it’s worth hanging in there. But YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE COURAGE TO SAY A SMALL TRUTH ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE!

It takes two people to make a mistake & if you ignore the voice in your head then you are setting yourself up to be invisible. Self protective is about being real about your concerns, not swallowing disagreement. Self protective means taking the risk to say who you are & what you want. If you are invisible to yourself you will be invisible to others. It’s your job to spend more time making yourself understood instead of focusing on he other person so much. The secret to life is greater balance within.

Self protective means knowing yourself & who you are. So if you find yourself feeling like your are always in the audience & your partner is always on the stage waiting for your applause, that’s a sign it is too lopsided. If you find yourself drinking too much when you are around the other person, then there is a problem to be addressed….There are many warning signals that go ignored.

Recently, there was a a book that said women have too high expectations & another book said women settle for two little. I think both books are true, but you have to have enough self awareness to know which one of these is your problem. I had a woman once who had a list of 33 things she was looking for…..that’s never going to happen even if the stars align. Many women put up with terrible relationships or have too many expectations; both are true. Which one are you? Here’s a quote from the wonderful book City of Fire: “What he meant when he said he loved her wasn’t what she meant when she imagined being loved” Dating is a very complicated business.

Just like I’m asking you to balance being overly generous with being self protective, I’m asking you to balance too many expectations or too few. Consider looking for someone with character. People with character volunteer, try volunteering.

Consider reading Jane Austen books to think about the value of character or at least watch the movies I have listed on my Single? Dating Tips page on my website therapy

I have listed 9 good things to watch out for like Do they say what they mean & mean what they say? thats number 1. I also have a list of 25 Bad things to watch out for…..#1on the danger list is Manipulation & Blame. How much do you allow yourself to be manipulated? Do you swallow Blame? Problems are almost always in between two people….blame is often just a simplistic power play. If the other person apologizes & also takes responsibilities for their part in the problem thats great… are dating a grown up. Just an empty apology & then the same bad behavior is repeated is a problem.

Problems are about patterns not occasional mistakes…..a lie can happen, it is a pattern of lies that is a big problem. An excuse that doesn’t ring true ok it can happen but a series of false excuses is a problem. One offs are forgivable, it’s the pattern of repeating without self reflection that is not something worth hanging around with for 20 years or more.

One of my messages is that the purpose of love in relationships is to teach you to be a better person. You want to be with someone who recognizes truth about bad behavior and allows you to influence them to improve. The ultimate test of respect is when you allow someone else to influence you.

It is my belief it is safer to date someone who respects you. It is safer to date someone who has self awareness. It is safer to date someone who cares enough to listen. It is safer to date someone who does not make you invisible. It is safer to date someone who is willing to learn from being with you. It is safer to date someone who doesn’t hide out in blaming you. It is safer to be with someone you don’t feel sorry for. It is safer to ask questions than to stay silent; for example one question my clients sometimes avoid (Are we sexually monogamous?)

My challenge for you today is to stop & consider whether or not you are lopsided in being too forgiving or generous? Do you need to work on being more self protective? Ask yourself how authentic is your voice when you are dating? How much do you people please others & do you balance this by knowing your own wants. If people pleasing is a problem then buy Harriet Braiker’s book The Disease to Please. Evaluate your boundaries, how good are they? If boundaries are a problem buy Ann Katherine’s book Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin.

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About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

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