In the past few weeks, Amy and I have seen so many examples of dating foibles and relationship failures that probably could have been avoided with the right kind of pacing. In one instance, a couple had about fifteen dates, a break up, a reunion, and another break up all in the span of roughly three weeks. In a totally opposite situation, one couple never managed to meet at all because they started to play phone tag like increasingly adversarial business associates. And several other relationships just got off track as a result of two people moving at completely different speeds. We all know the importance of pacing ourselves with work, with exercise, with food, and even with family; if you binge you make yourself sick. And if you don’t pay attention to your needs, you can starve in all sorts of ways. Here are some of the ways in which the team at Linx thinks pacing is absolutely key:
When Planning Dates:
Start small. We know plenty of guys who are very eager to prove how serious they are about being in a relationship, so they book first dates at restaurants with tasting menus, show up in suits and order Krug, and on the following morning, they send a huge bouquet of roses. In theory, it seems like a great idea (and a romantic one) but here’s the problem… if you set the bar that high initially, how do you go up from there? If your first date is at Meadowood, where do you have your second? Or your third? Or your fifteenth? How do you signal an increasing level of interest and investment when you start with such a strong opening move? A relationship should build gradually, and your date choices should reflect that; it lets a woman see that you’re not just serious about being in a relationship, but that you’re serious about being in a relationship with her. You can certainly still be a romantic (and we encourage that) but start with someplace like Chapeau! or South Park Café instead of Coi, wear a good pair of jeans and a loafer with a great blazer, and if you must send her roses the next day, send her just one. Imagine how much more meaningful it will be when you can finally send her a dozen. 😉
When Having a Conversation:
We know; this is a hard one. There are few things more nerve-wracking that talking to a complete stranger for the first time… especially when you throw in some hope, excitement, and attraction. We really do get it. It’s hard. But when opening up for the first time in a conversation, you need to go slowly. If you have a tendency to bulldoze your way through a first meeting (ask a good friend if you do this) then feel free to say to say something to your date like “I sometimes get a little bit nervous around handsome men and start talking too much. Feel free to tell me if I start doing that.” With that statement you do three really useful things: you stop worrying about the problem because you’ve admitted it, you pay your date a very nice compliment, and you allow him to be partly responsible for making sure that it doesn’t happen!
If your problem is more one of divulging too much rather than saying too much (i.e. talking about your last bad relationship vs. blabbering about your dog) simply ask yourself “Would I want to know this about another person on a first date?” and “Do I know this person well enough to feel comfortable with them having this knowledge about me?” Some of us have had some really rough experiences – whether it’s a hard surgery or illness, a difficult divorce, or a rocky employment history, for example. And we sometimes get really worried about being rejected for this part of our past. Here’s a tip to keep that in check: if you’re on a date with the right person, they’re really only interested in connecting with you in the present to see if the two of you might have a future. We all have a past, so leave it behind you unless and until a discussion of that topic becomes absolutely necessary.
When Moving Ahead:
As adults who are serious about relationships, we can sometimes let the idea of ending up with someone become more powerful than the reality of dating them. It can be so easy to project and plan, to anticipate and forecast. We are so anxious about finding the missing pieces to the puzzles of our lives that we sometimes try to force a fit that should never happen. Lots of people look good on paper and great in person, but that doesn’t mean they look right when cast in the movies of our lives. We don’t get to script our relationships. We don’t get to decide what other people should feel and when they should feel it. All we can do is focus on ourselves; we can listen with our hearts, but hear with our heads. And we should never let the way we feel about someone and the way we think about them become too discordant. You can’t really have a healthy relationship with someone you don’t respect. You can’t respect someone you don’t trust. And whether we like to admit it or not, learning to truly trust someone takes time.
Too often, we hear clients say that they can’t wait to be done with dating and “get to the good stuff.” Guess what? Dating IS the good stuff. So start small and aim high, but tread slowly at first. Take bigger steps as your connection deepens, but pace yourself; in the best relationships, the happiest married couples continue to actively date each other for the rest of their lives!
If you are interested in our private date coaching sessions, we would be delighted to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org