First and foremost, and I mean this sincerely: sign up for the NEVERsettle Singles program at The Option Institute (http://www.option.org/programs:neversettle-singles,22 ). Whenever you learn a new sport, hobby, job, etc., you want to take lessons. If you’re taking up golf, you don’t just grab a set of clubs and start whacking away. If you do, you’ll end up tired, frustrated, out of balls, and with the groundskeeper chasing you around in one of those little green carts! No, you start with a lesson to learn the fundamentals, preferably from the best golf pro you can find. I can tell you right now, learning dating and relationships from The Option Institute is like learning golf from Tiger Woods (and don’t mix those up, it’s not like learning relationships from Tiger Woods!) or basketball from Michael Jordan. This is the BEST gift you could ever give yourself.
If you choose to go against my advice above, or you want to get started now, before the program happens, here are the steps in the best order I can think of:
1. Understand that EVERYTHING you think, feel, and do, comes from WITHIN you. No one can make you think, feel, or do, anything. When you look at things this way, it will allow you to stop, slow down, and ask yourself this question, NOT with a sense of frustration towards yourself, but with a sense of curiosity: “gee, I wonder why I’m CHOOSING to feel (or think, or do) this right now?” When you learn to stop yourself right in the moment that you feel angry, frustrated, fearful, sad, etc. and get curious with yourself, even asking that simple question can easily lead to you stopping that feeling right in that moment. What this does in your dating and relationship pursuit is a HUGE key: it will allow you to learn to feel comfortable with rejection or being broken up with, in addition to rejecting someone you are not interested in, or breaking up with someone you have found is not a match for you. Other than fights within a relationship, these four things tend to be the biggest things that lead to discomfort and unhappiness in your process. If you become comfortable with them, you will become FEARLESS about approaching someone you are interested in dating, and COMFORTABLE in moving on when you are not a match with someone!
2. When you have practiced this for a little bit, doesn’t have to be a long time, it’s time to set down your “Want’s List”. Here are the posts that show you how to do this, it’s very important to read these through BEFORE you launch into writing yours down:
3. Start your search! There are a couple of things I ask and do immediately upon embarking into a new dating relationship. First, I ask the person for complete authenticity. The minute something comes up that I do that bothers them for any reason, bring it up immediately so that we can talk about it and be done with it. If it’s not a deal-breaker, then it’s solved right away, if it IS a deal-breaker, then we go our separate ways without wasting any more of each others’ time. PLUS, if both people do this, it means that you will essentially NEVER have anything but great relationships, whether they last 1 day or the rest of your life. Second, I share, right up front, all of the worst things I can think about myself so that the person gets to know the COMPLETE me and not just an IMAGE of me. Again, this serves two very well-defined purposes: 1) if there are any deal-breakers amongst my “dirty laundry”, then we know right up front and we can both move on with our search with no further time wasted, and 2) it totally gives the other person space to share openly about themselves. I can’t tell you how often I heard this after doing my “dirty laundry” talk: “wow, I’ve never heard a guy be that open and honest before. I guess if you could share that, I could share this____.” Actually, I just thought of something else to add to this stage: create and hold the belief that no one is out of your league. I don’t care if they’re movie stars, magazine models, CEO’s, ask for what you want and if they aren’t interested, let THEM be the one to tell you. People who knew me couldn’t believe some of the people I dated on my search, simply because I chose not to see anyone as out of my league.
Here’s a post that goes a little more in depth about the first impression B.S. that most so-called “experts” tell you to do, and how to handle things if you want a truly GREAT relationship instead:
4. Unless you’re dating a clone of yourself, disagreements are going to happen–arguments or fights NEVER have to! From point 1 above, remember that when you are uncomfortable or angry with someone, it’s YOU doing it, not them. Mary and I have never once BLAMED each other for how we feel, although we will often ask each other to help us work through WHY we are feeling that way. So whenever you start to feel the desire to argue or fight, go right back to that question for YOURSELF (not for the other person): “why am I feeling _____ right now?” Solve your own mystery and the issue dissolves! Once you both get good at this, you can start asking the other person to ask you the questions to help you find your answers. In addition, if you both disagree on what you want to buy, plan, or do, etc., you can use the technique of a “happy negotiation”, another tool from The Option Institute’s Couples Course (http://www.option.org/programs:couples-course,7 ). Essentially, if one person wants something and the other doesn’t, you both put yourselves in a place of loving and accepting the other person, and then you start a negotiation. Let’s say Mary want’s me to mow the lawn and I don’t want to. I think of something I want, like a new convertible. She feels like that’s too much, so she offers to make me a cup of coffee. I feel the lawn is worth more, so I ask for a massage. This continues until the exchange balances out for both people. Not only does it mean that each person gets what they want, the process itself is actually a true delight!
5. Move on if you’re not a match. From the beginning, encourage the other person to break up with you the minute they know that you are not a match for them. This sets both of you free to continue on with your search! Here are a couple of blogs about how to handle things if you’re already IN a relationship, and a great one about breaking up (and there are more details about dealing with potential fights and happy negotiations in the first two):
6. When a relationship ends, it means you’re one person closer to the one you’re looking for, so get back at it! You can also debrief yourself after the end of a relationship and see if there are things to add or remove from your Wants List. Remember, if there are things that you learned are “not wants” from your recent relationship, change them over to be “wants” instead (ie: not want is someone who is intense and angry, change it to a WANT of someone who is laid back).
And finally, please use Mary and I as a resource! Our relationship is full of love, joy, goofyness, fun, comfort, excitement, and constant inspiration for each other. Bring your hardest questions and scenarios so that we can give you solutions!
May you create each moment of your day with happiness and comfort!