Critical Dating Decisions

Being proactive in dating.

Choosing a spouse is a real challenge. Even if you’re generally good at making decisions, picking one person with whom you will spend your life may trip you up. Here are a few ideas on how to gain clarity and choose the one.

Too many choices
Are you a kid in a candy store when it comes to dating? Are there too many options for you to make any one person yours? Do you date endlessly, all the while wondering why you can’t find anyone?

If the whole world is at your feet and you just can’t figure out which one to choose, try narrowing your options. First, date one person at a time. This will keep you from comparing your dates to one another to see which one is best. Although one person may be more fun, intelligent, or witty than another, it is still possible that neither will be a fit for you. It’s better to compare yourself to your date, rather than comparing your Sunday morning date, to your Sunday afternoon date, to your Sunday evening date.

If you like what you see and feel, keep dating; if there is a deal breaker, move on. When in doubt, keep going out – until you see or feel something that absolutely convinces you this person is not for you. Was he rude to the waiter? Does she dismiss your opinion? Loving kindness does not extend to staying with people who make you uncomfortable. Keep dating until you have a clear answer either way. If the answer is no, say goodbye.

What if you are too distracted by other dating possibilities (like someone from your past or someone you’ve always wanted to date) while you’re in the middle of dating someone? Look within and see if this is a character flaw (are you a perfectionist or never satisfied with what you have?). If there is genuine interest in someone else, you may want to revisit that relationship. Perhaps you should be dating this other person. An honest self-evaluation will help you choose the right person to date.

Another question to consider: do you have a wandering eye, or the feeling that the grass is always greener somewhere else? Although the grass is greener from your vantage point, I’m confident that when you find a new pasture you’ll still be looking for a greener one. Work hard and train yourself to see your own pasture. And if the grass isn’t so green where you stand, tend to your own garden, and watch it grow. Focusing on the idea that there are better fish in the sea won’t get you the results you desire. If you desire a relationship, you may need to hit the reset button and create a new normal. Your new normal can be: I see the virtues in the person I am dating, I’m satisfied in my relationship, and I value building a closer bond with the person I have.

What is the difference between sincere interest in someone else and the general feeling of the grass being greener? Wanting to revisit a past relationship is quite different than feeling like there will always be something better out there. If the latter is true, that hints at a character flaw that can be rectified. It is not easy to be married to (or be the child of or be employed by) one who does not value what they have.

Be proactive
You need to choose someone. It may be picking someone out of a crowded room at whom to smile, or telling someone you are already dating how wonderful you think they are. Making a choice is vital. Your other option is to be indecisive and passively wait for someone else to choose you. However, by not making a decision and not vocalizing your feelings, you show the other person that you don’t care so much either way. Don’t wait for someone else to choose you, or you may miss a great opportunity that’s right in front of you.

By choosing someone on whom to focus your time, effort and attention, you can make yourself the chosen one for their affection. Showing interest to someone across the room may be all it takes for them to cross that room and strike up a conversation with you. Yes, putting your thoughts and feelings into actions puts you in a vulnerable position. It isn’t easy to be so real and let someone know you are interested without knowing how they feel first. It is possible you may be rejected and it may hurt. However, persistence pays. And persistence is a trait you’ll need in marriage. So if you are rejected, have a glass of wine, wait for the sting to wear off, and try again.

Reciprocate or move on
Okay, so someone chose you. What I want to know is: do you want them as much as they want you? Or even if you don’t want them as much, do you want them at all?

Sometimes being chosen is like the children’s game “Duck, duck, goose.” Someone taps you on the head and calls goose; do you run after them or just sit there wondering what you should do? This can be quite a challenging position to be in. Someone likes you, you kind of like them… kind of. Is it enough? Are you ready to be exclusive or get engaged? Can you really say no to the rest of the people out there and YES to this one?

At a certain point in your relationship, if someone chooses you and you don’t choose them back, they may burn out. They won’t believe in you or in the relationship anymore. And it’s not because they aren’t into you. It’s because you are demonstrating that you aren’t into them. don’t just let things fizzle. Take ownership of your feelings and make a decision. Get clear: either choose them or end the relationship.

When dating my husband, we asked each other what we liked and valued about the other. I decided to seize the moment and started rattling off a spontaneous list of the things I valued about him. Somewhere around the 20th thing, he said I could stop, but I couldn’t – I kept going on. By the end he was almost in tears. He knew that if I saw all that in him he would be a fool to miss marrying me. Of course after I opened up, he followed suit, and I heard his list too. Eleven years later, I can say I’m glad I chose him and that he chose me.

So go ahead: choose someone, don’t wait to be chosen. And don’t forget to share the good news!