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What You Need to Learn About Relationships, How Online Dating Helps

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Don’t get complacent about online dating. Don’t think that browsing and swiping is all you need to do to find a new partner.

What You Need To Learn About Dating

Dating is 50% about who you’d like to be with and 50% about who you are bringing to the party. Do you know what you want? Do you know what you will never put up with again? Do you have a few “must haves?” Online dating is a great training ground for getting your relationship ducks in a row.

When you are first confronted with being alone again, it’s easy to see how online dating might appear to be an easy solution. It’s not that easy to find a healthy partner. Finding a person willing to share a hello date on a random weeknight is not too difficult. But after your second or third, “what am I doing here” moments, you’re going to learn that first dates take a lot of time and effort. And *most* of them are going to be misses.

Here is a lesson I learned. Always have a phone call before meeting for a first date. In one or two minutes you can have a sense of how this person of potential will match up. Conversational flow is really important. Showing interest and listening well, are also big clues about what’s to come. Once you’ve gotten over the novelty of “first dates” you’re going to hopefully move toward good first dates.

Okay, so what are you bringing to the potential partnership? Here’s my list about me.

  • semi-cute, semi-fit, and hilarious
  • articulate and inquisitive
  • fascinated by women
  • appreciative and respectful (good Southern manners)
  • enthusiastic kisser
  • seeking honesty in all my interactions
  • seeking another joyful person to match my style

And what, then, do I want from my partner?

  • cute and fit enough
  • educated and literate
  • has their own passions and inner mojo
  • shares honest insights about past failures
  • expresses affection easily (touch, words, and deeds)
  • shows an appreciation for my humor and style
  • gives a slight flutter to my heart
  • joy

The last one, I think, is the pivotal character. Find someone who is joyful. Even when things are hard, there is an inner light that says, “I’ll never give up.”

Matching Joy

Perhaps my ex-wife and I never really had a love language match. (There wasn’t a book yet, so we didn’t know.) We definitely had ideas about happiness and the responsibility of our partners in our own path to happiness. I always knew that I alone was responsible for my happiness. I think my then-wife, expected me to figure it out when she was unhappy. She tended to blame me in therapy to the point where we talked about nothing else. How was I disappointing my then-wife? It was a recipe for disaster.

In my years of dating since the divorce, I have learned that joy is an inner quality. It’s probably a setpoint or a mindset. Some of us wake up each day happy and ready for what’s next. Others, wake up with a chip on their shoulder. Someone, something, some part of their life, is not giving them the joy they demand. But, you’ll learn, joy and happiness come from within. When someone else is cramping your joy, you have two choices: 1. lump it, or 2. leave it.

When you find and match up well with someone else’s joy, it’s going to make things easier. I don’t know if OCD or hyper-stressed people get along better with others more like them. I do know, that My experience with OCD-challenged women did not prove fruitful. I needed a woman who was more easygoing. A woman who could let me be myself and then loved me just as I am.

If You’re Waiting For Another Person to Change

The change that needs to happen is within yourself. You cannot make another person change. Not for any reason. Take alcoholics for example. They may want to change. You may beg them to change. And we know with 100% certainty, that they will only change when they want to change. It’s the same in a relationship. Let’s say you like to plan for vacations, save money, and make plans well in advance. If your partner is always overspending, and blowing money on treats and surprises, it might be hard for you to curb their enthusiasm for splurges to make way for your well-regulated planning.

If you’re hoping your partner will become more interested in saving money, meal planning, gardening, tennis, sex, not drinking, etc. you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. A joyful person, who loves you as you are, is more likely to love you in spite of your differences. It’s when the differences are creating conflicts that problems arise.

Drinking is the easy target for this one. When you’re dating a drinker and you begin to feel that their habit is impacting your partnership with them, guess what? It’s time to move on. It’s time to realize that only the alcoholic can change their habits. But there are simple issues that can become huge when they irk either partner. Messiness vs. hyper-cleanliness. Relaxed weekend scheduling with downtime and resting vs. planning and go-go-going all the time.

Online dating is a place where you can figure out a lot of these things without it taking years. When you are dating the stakes are fairly low. It’s easy to move on when things aren’t feeling great. As you begin building a relationship the stakes get a bit higher and the negotiations need to be upfront and clear. It’s best to work out any of these hurdles before deepening the commitment because if things can’t find a compromise, the result is a breakup.

Restarting With Online Dating

Keep three things in mind when restarting your dating quest:

  1. Know what you want, don’t want, and must have
  2. Be clear if you are dating or looking for a partner
  3. Clear up any of your own issues from the last relationship before getting into a new one

Only through learning from past mistakes will you be able to evolve into the dating partner you want to become. Hopefully, you will find someone else who’s “done the work” on themselves to be in a healthy place as well. It’s easy to get involved with incompatible people. Make sure you’re walking away from the “maybe” and “nah” partners. Focus on finding someone you don’t immediately need to change.

Always Love,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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