I have a buddy. He’s been single as long as I’ve been divorced. The other day we were having coffee and talking about life and he was talking about spending a significant amount of the summer in New York. We talked about online dating, and the challenges overall. He talked about how he just “wasn’t into the Austin-type women.” Hmm.
Is It Them or Me?
I wanted to ask him the question above, but we got onto a different subject, music, and we never came back to dating.
Is my friend’s problem
- lack of available women
- southern women
- lack of time and commitment from my friend
- more inspired by the East Coast well-educated women in NYC
Or, as I might imagine something more fundamental
- going beyond the online dating world into activities and passions where he might meet someone
- spending time with casual partners
- not willing to risk a relationship with someone less than 110% perfect
- not committing his attention to seeking a long-term partner
- staying involved with someone who is not a candidate (“fooling around and stuff, but not really relationship material.”)
The Magic of Trying
In my 13 years of in-between-time, I only found my way forward by trying relationships with several women. Each time, I learned something fundamental about myself. With each failure, I learned more about what I wanted. If my friend is staying in the “dating” and “fooling around” mode, he’s not going to gain any long-term insights. If you stay casual about sex or dating you will probably not evolve beyond “dating.” My friend does not want to date. He wants a partner.
“Someone to share my life with.”
Yes, that’s the focus. So, how would I advise my buddy about getting serious in his quest for a partner?
- Serial dating – one person at a time.
- Serious dating – when a partner shows red flags or dysfunction you move along.
- Giving time – planning and experiencing dates and events begins to build connections.
- Focus on the goal – long-term partnership over fun or entertainment
- Fooling around – is for fools who don’t want a long-term relationship
- Flexibility – swiping left too quickly may eliminate some fantastic candidates
- Economy – spend time wisely, go deeper or move along
The real magic of trying becomes your evolution. I’d tell my friend he has not given any quality women the opportunity to love and be loved by him. Love is frightening. It takes a risk to commit to a relationship. Casual dating is like social media, it’s okay, it’s entertaining, but there’s not much substance. The change needed is within my friend. He needs to reset his goals and quit fooling around with women just for fun.
I don’t think it’s NYC vs Austin. My friend has not had a “relationship” in the 13 years since my divorce. Not one. He’s had some women. But he’s not allowed himself to fall in love. Or, hasn’t put the time in to find someone worthy of falling in love with? Only then, by learning to stay in the process of a relationship with one person, can he evolve and grow. The stakes are higher when you commit. You’ve made it through the dating phase and both of you are now willing to buckle down and do some work together. If you don’t risk that commitment, you’re never going to grow.
Only in a relationship can you work on the skills of relationship-building. My friend is stuck in dating. He can’t seem to commit to a big “R” relationship. And thus, his narrative is more about the women and the location rather than what he can do differently. What can he do better to find a compatible woman and start a relationship?
In my experience, only through my first FIVE relationships was I able to find the SIXTH that is my best long-term partnership so far. And only by committing to this partnership am I able to work on my own relationship skills, my own flexibility, and begin building long-term goals with my partner.
If Love Is a Priority
Give time and energy to a potential partner until they show themselves to no longer be a candidate. Don’t waste a lot of time with swiping and DMing. And don’t count out someone before you’ve had a chance to talk to them.
My friend is his own problem. I’m not sure if he’s expecting the perfect woman to show up (perhaps she’s in NYC) and court him. But I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works. You’ve got to put in the time and effort to build a real relationship. Dating is STEP ONE. Relationship-building is STEP infinity.
- Five Reasons to Slow Your Roll when Dating: Sex and Dating
- Patience, Mindfulness, and the Slow Road to a Healthy Relationship
- Mind the Gap: Listening for the Signals from Your Lover
- When Things Go Right, I Mean Really Right: Dating a Single Dad
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