Quite often, while coaching or chatting with singles, the conversation topic is heavily about the dreads of "dating".
The numerous questions that go unanswered is maddening for them as they bounce around with what they know, what they feel, what they "think" God says about it all....again, maddening. I'm certainly not impatient or unsympathetic to their frustrations as I've been there and not to long ago.
Interestingly, with men, the concern of their mind and heart is about "missing out". If they choose one woman, how do they know it's the right one. If they don't choose the one that is actually choosing them in return, will they miss out on what could be a meaningful relationship.
I don't understand the whole dating thing. I know right off the bat if I'm interested in someone, and I don't want them to waste their money on me and take me out to eat if I know I'm not interested in that person. ~Britney Spears
The women put all kind of labels on this, mostly out of internal resentments from not getting their needs met or unmet expectations. Understandable as that is, the men don't have the confidence to continue, commit or even step into the arena with all the judgments and assumptions that are made and seems to govern the game.
Women, make their choice fairly quickly in men, resolved to the notion that they've chosen correctly knowing in their minds that they can weather anything, good or bad as long as the storm is weathered together. "In the fight, back to back" I often hear with great emotion.
Men are totally cool with this because loyalty is a strong value to most of us. So, once we, as men, are even halfway confident with our decision to date, occupy space, see, court, pursue (whatever you want to call it) only one women, forsaking all the rest (part of our future vows) then we're on board.
But just how do we go forward? Expectations, needs, what's right, what's wrong, baggage from the past, kids, in-laws....Holy Cow....it's a road with no map because it's different for every person as we're all so unique.
Welcome to what I like to call, "The Dating Dance".
Dancing is fun, it's a skill, one that can be learned, where we step on each others toes and laugh at each other and seems to set the heart free from the pragmatic, processing mind to simply explore with a child-like curiosity.
There's rhythm and pace and if we are not really that good of a dancer, nobody minds and you'll still get asked to the next dance party. Each partner is expected to get close to each other when breaking the touch barrier is often the hardest thing for a Gentleman (notice I said Gentleman) to do without sending mixed signals.
I say to men, "ask them to dance." Not literally, but that's not a bad idea either! What girl won't agree to a coffee experience at Starbucks. Ahhh....Starbucks....the perfect date place! It can last 10 min if there is zero chemistry or you can sit there for 3 hours and your conversation is not paced by the course of a meal and a looming, impatient waiter looking to turn the table and pay the tab. It's also cost around $3-5 which means, going dutch or treating is never a big deal. (By the way guys, get a Starbucks Gold Card...totally worth the investment)
So the Starbucks experience went well. Great! The charm of a next day follow up call or text acknowledging the experience is always well received. Let's dance some more....
Let's alter the time of day we dance. How about meeting at an outdoor place with a fun crowd and a signature cocktail? Sure, why not! Listen....we must learn to ENGAGE, not PURSUE each other. Girls talk about their "Prince" and that's great, but this is 2011 and it's just not reality anymore, but that doesn't mean that our chivalry and manners can't be well received and displayed, even affirmed. (Ladies, occasionally affirm us please)
Where can all this go? We don't need her to meet your parents, spend Christmas/Thanksgiving together or have each others pictures on the refrigerator. And if that IS the expectation from one party and not the other, a gentle but clear reset of boundaries is appropriate and usually accepted from the other. Trust me ladies....we DO want to hear audibly what you like and what you don't.
No need to correct or worse, shame us....just tell us with out annoyance or frustration and throw in a follow up wink. Squeeze our biceps at the end and tell us how masculine and viral we are, and you'll OWN us! (just kidding, girls....kinda)
Dance, Dance, Dance....keep it light. Loose all the questions of your mind, just for now. Chose to know and be known on a safe level and chose, with spoken clarity your intentions to engage further if both agree. The dating experience doesn't have to be a shallow mud puddle of space, but rather a playground of friendships, self discovery, improvement and a pathway of peace, preparing you for your Prince or Princess.
Still scared? My wife and I'll dance with both of you. That's right, we love to double date with singles and are great at breaking those unspoken, usually unseen barriers so you can get to know the other person and see their true personality.
Let's Dance! We'll even show you a few steps!
Oh and a big PS: Yes, I did quote Britney Spears