September 13, 2021

One of the things I most commonly hear from mid-singles is, "I hate dating." Hey, I understand. Getting dressed nice and going out for a lovely meal at a restaurant with an attractive member of the opposite sex must be pure torture!

All kidding aside, why don't people like dating? (1) They don't like the pressure of being judged; (2) They feel inadequate; and (3) The people they like don't like them back; while they get the attention of people they don't want attention from.
I have heard a lot of men complain that all women want is someone with money. While I have not found that to be the case (though I think that does exist out there), it is fair to say that most women do not want to inherit someone else's financial problems. Who could blame them?

Conversely, I have heard many women say that all men want is a "trophy wife." While that is not true either (though it does exist out there), it is fair to say that men are attracted to physical beauty and want to be with someone who takes care of herself. Who could blame them?

These kinds of considerations are intimidating and exhausting. How many dates have you been on where you were stressed out the whole time about the impression you might be making on your partner? How hard have you grasped for something impressive to say? How many times have you spent more money on a date than you thought was prudent in order to impress or entice? Sometimes we can make ourselves a little crazy trying to impress someone with how great we are. The more interested we are in the person, the harder we try--and the more burdensome dating is.

I want to give you another dating strategy that I think is more effective, easier, and less stressful. I want you not to hate dating anymore.

The strategy is empathy. Instead of focusing on the impression you are making on your partner, focus on your partner. Listen--really listen. Try to understand your partner's deepest values, his or her hopes and dreams, and the things that have caused your partner pain. I'm not suggesting that you turn a date into a therapy session; just that you do your best to get to know him or her. Focus on getting to know your partner on a deeper level, rather than focusing on your plans to make more money in the future, how you are going on a diet starting tomorrow, or how you have a very important job or are striving to get one. Focusing on selling yourself to another person is exhausting and usually ineffective. Just focusing on the other person and getting to know him or her takes the pressure off and allows the other person to see you as a kind and empathetic human being.

That's my suggestion today friends. When you prepare for a date and when you go on one, think of the word empathy. Let it marinate your mind. In the end, it's not just a dating strategy. It's a life strategy. Paradoxically, you can become more than you are by thinking less about yourself and more about your partner.

We are tempted to wear masks in order to be seen as acceptable--an oppressive mask that you have to keep wearing to avoid detection as an impostor. That can never be the basis of a safe and secure relationship.

So be yourself and cultivate empathy. Try to be understanding of the other person and really listen. In the end, I think we all want to really be seen and accepted for who we are. So the best impression you can make is not in showing yourself as a high achiever. It is in being a safe place for your partner to confide and feel understood and accepted.
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