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7 Dating Rules That Are Eternal — No Lists Needed


Take your pick.

Do you always seem to pick the wrong guy or gal?  Do you tell yourself “I will not pick someone like that again”? I bet you make lists of traits you do and do not want in a partner.

Do you get blindsided by bad habits you had not put on your list?  This is the story of many daters who keep getting burned. Newsflash: You are making the wrong lists!

Your list need to be your how you want to feel.

7. Passion and connection are feelings that are  exaggerated inside you when you feel romantic

Although passion, connection and romance are important for long-term happiness, they're way too easy to feel when you are excited about a new relationship.

Romantic feelings are evolutionarily helpful to humans, because they lead us to be promiscuous; therefore, we make more babies. When we feel romantic, we do not be worry as much about the consequences of our behaviors.

True bonded feelings may make fewer babies, however those babies will be much better cared for. Different than most mammals, we have genetic directions for both; being promiscuous, and for long-term bonding.

Most mammals have one or the other set of directions. The first six months of being around someone you can be fooled by our promiscuous genes to not notice your fears.

6. Do not set up the next date on your current date

Go home.  Trust yourself and your date to establish a pace of getting to know one another which will honor the ideas stated here.

Even the fourth or fifth date can be strictly for having fun and learning to be around each other. Dating can be natural, not automatically taking on a momentum.

Avoid saying and responding to: “I would like to see you again.”  Truly wanting to see someone means you set up time to be together while you are living your separate lives.

5. If you feel unimportant or ignored, you're with the wrong person

Your values and beliefs will want you to be treated with respect. When you're alone the day after the date, look back at your time together and see if you felt respected and cared for.

4. You cannot ignore the importance of feeling safe

Although listed fourth, safety is mandatory.  Every dating involvement needs to feel completely safe to you.

3. You cannot be looking for someone less healthy than you are

We all put our best foot forward for as long as we can. You will find yourself about equal to "he-who-looks-way-too-healthy" for your dysfunctional self, when the dirty laundry gets uncovered.

If he looks a little less healthier han you (your brain tells you not to worry because you will help him get better), you will find some real problems.

2. Your search perimeters are too board.

You think you will have a better chance if you include more people? Wrong. You need practice dating with "no drama".  Creating a respectful ending is a skill needed in all healthy attachments.

Do not date people who want something different out of dating.  Only date like-minded people.

1. ‘Picker problem’ is what I call the ‘shopping list’ approach

It goes like this: “Here are a set of traits I want in a mate. Here are the set of traits and habits I do not want”.

As I said at he beginning, these lists need to be about feelings inside you, not about the habits the other person has.

Does your list include not smoking? You probably say to yourself, “I will not date a smoker”. I want you to say to yourself: “I would be grossed out being around tobacco smoke and its smell”. 

Sounds like the same thing, however it is very different to be thinking about your insides around things you find offensive. You can learn how you want to respond from your core values, rather than reacting to things external to you.

You will be clearer with what you want and more flexible with how you get it.

Say you want to be around a good conversationalist. What are the feelings you have when you are around a good conversationalist? Excited, stimulated, entertained, listen to, etc ... 

You are shopping for those feelings. Same with a sense of humor. You want to be looking inside yourself for what happens when being around someone humorous.

The shopping list of the other person’s trait is way too impersonal. You have the right and personal responsibility to be very specific about what you want and do not want.

You need to learn to get better and better at is recognizing how you feel in dating situations. Then you can base your actions on your values and beliefs. Your true values will have dating more nice, authentic people.

  • Make that shopping list about your gut and emotions  
  • Get good at saying, No” respectfully
  • Think about saying, “No thank you” to nine people you date. By the tenth person, you will more clearly know your internal check list

Bill Maier, LCSW is in private practice treating adults, youth, families and couples in downtown Portland, OR.  He is available for information, consultation and/or remote appointments about Attachment, Trauma and Neuroscience.


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