Friday, May 22, 2009

Dating Red Flag: Ya Lie Down with Dogs, Ya Get Up with Fleas

Did your mama ever tell you that? Did you ever have a questionable friend and your mama (or daddy) met them, and then later warned you against that friend?

My sister, while I was growing up, had many questionable friends. My mom would regularly remind her, "You lie down with dogs; you get up with fleas."

The Power of 'Company'
Basically, my mom was talking about the power of 'company'. Birds of a feather flock together and all that. We've all heard of people who were promising but 'fell in with a bad crowd', right? The power of the pack or mob mentality cannot be denied. And although we (mostly) become more resistant to it as we age, it is still true that we are likely to surround ourselves with people whose behaviors we, on the whole, approve of.

When you're dating someone, look at who their friends are and what the common theme of the prevailing attitudes among their friends are. This will tell you a lot about your potential partner's attitudes and beliefs.

Permissive Environments for Bad Behaviors/Choices
Be very careful if you detect sexism among your date's friends. And most especially be careful if his/her friends provide a 'permissive' environment. For example, do a lot of your date's friends seem to do drugs or not have jobs? That's a recipe for trouble. Those friends will definitely provide a permissive environment for drugs.

Permissive Environments for Dishonesty
Or perhaps you've noticed a permissive environment like this one: your date's friends cheat on their partners and have the attitude that whatever he/she doesn't know won't hurt him/her. Sure it won't. Until he or she finds out. Yep, that is usually when it hurts. Watch for this attitude among your date's friends.

Friends Who Are Usually 'Less than'
Another thing to watch for -- does your date surround him or herself with people who are perhaps less successful, attractive, or just generally people who would not be considered his or her equal in some way? Sure, we all have friends who perhaps are not as pretty or intelligent as us. But then it usually balances out in some way - perhaps we have one advantage over that person but they have another, different advantage over us. A healthy friendship is one in which friends consider themselves fellows, or another word for it would be equals.

Observation Gives You Information

Observing whom your date chooses to associate him or herself with will tell you a lot. As always, use your judgment. By staying observant and remaining rational about what you see, you can save yourself a lot of wasted time and heartache. As human beings, we have a desire to 'belong' or get the approval of others. For people who choose to cheat, lie, or do drugs, or have other bad behaviors, it is no different. They will seek to create an environment in which they feel accepted. That translates to choosing people who accept their cheating, lying, drug use, or other unacceptable behaviors. If you notice this about your date, feel it out a little bit and then trust your gut. Cut it off before you get sucked in too far.

As always, use your judgment and listen to your gut. Dating is part logic, part observation, and definitely part heart. But if your intuition is telling you something, never ignore it. More than ever, your boundaries are especially important.

Need some advice? Leave a comment and I'll answer you within the blog.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Not Your Usual Red Flags

Well folks here is a fun post. Today we're going to talk about red flags but not the obvious ones.

Everyone has different red flags in dating. Some people think treating the server either well or not well is a clue. Occasionally, yes. Some people think being miserly is. Yep, ok.

Today we're going to talk about verbal cues that let you know you've got a loser on your hands. When you're thinking about what to talk about on the first date, be sure to be also be thinking about listening on the first date.

Racism or classism dressed up as talking about 'reality'
Beware if your date ever talks excessively about one race or religion or anything being of lower standards. This indicates that your date needs someone to be superior to. Use your intuition, but if my date started talking in a way that let me know he/she thought an entire class or population of people was substandard, I'd be done. This person will say how they're just saying what others think but won't say, or they'll say that it's just reality and they're just giving voice to it, but that's not why they're saying it.

If your date is one of those folks who needs to have a reason to put down whole populations of people for any reason, it won't be long till you're hearing it about people you like, or even about you. This person needs to talk this way to feel better about him/herself. Stay far, far away.

This goes along with the first one up there about racism or classism. If your date even talks about their own gender disparagingly in a way that doesn't feel like just a joke or just something mild and nothing to worry about, then you've got the person described above on your hands.

If it's a man who talks about women like they're just looking for a meal ticket or is entirely too practical about male-female relations, or deems a woman as damaged goods dependent on how many folks she's slept with, run. You'll also want to be wary of guys who talk a lot about divorce courts favoring women. You don't want to deal with that later.

If it's a woman talking about men like they're all dogs, also run. 'Cause, umm, that means you're a dog too, or at least a dog until proven innocent. Fun times with insecurity. Woof woof.

Cheating is ok under certain circumstances, right?
Wrong-o. If you've got someone on your hands who thinks cheating is just about sex and unfulfilled sexual needs, then the case may be that you are chatting with someone who is blissfully unaware of how people tick or even how they tick themselves. This is someone who may someday justify cheating on you.

Rescue Alert
Watch out for someone who talks too much about rescuing women OR fixing others' problems.
If you've got a guy who talks a lot about rescuing women from difficult situations, and you feel it's a bit much, then it probably is. This person may be kind-hearted but if your intuition is ringing the alarm, then you are probably detecting their codependency.

I've had guys talk about how they're seeing red over their gal-friend's problems. Ok, that's fine, but why are you talking about this with me? It bothers you so much that you talk about it on dates with other chicks? Are you joking?

The same goes for guys whose date talks too much about fixing people. You'll know what's right and what isn't, and I'm encouraging you to listen to your gut. Want to be the next project? I didn't think so.

"Other people sometimes say I'm a jerk." "Sometimes I have a bad mouth. I don't mean anything though."
Oh really? This person probably is a jerk. This is one time when you should trust a stranger.

Don't ever discount it when someone volunteers this information. For one thing, they clearly believe it enough to repeat it and make it a part of whatever they think you should know about them. And secondly, people have called them a jerk that much for a reason.

I had one guy who told me that people had told him he was arrogant. I laughed it off. Guess what I soon thought of him? I thought he was arrogant. Duh.

What's important?
Remember, when someone's dating you, that's called courting. What is your immediate idea of courting? A person comes around trying to look as attractive as possible, trying to see if you and they could 'be' together. So, within reason, the things they are going to say to you on a date are going to be things they think are important - either just important, period, or these things will be what they think is important for you to know about them. So please pay attention.

The Point.

The main thrust of this post is this - listen to your gut. Don't discount those feelings like, 'umm, why is this person telling me this?' Those feelings are right. If something feels off, then it probably is off. Your gut knows better than you do. It's the honest part of you, the part that isn't blocked off by your motivations, fears, and rationalizations. So pay attention please.

You've got to use your judgment, but don't ever altogether ignore your gut. If you do, it'll be at your expense later.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dating and Boundaries: Figuring out What Your Boundaries Are

In my last article, I wrote about dating and boundaries, and why they are useful. In today's article, we are going to discuss how you can set boundaries.

First, remember that another word for boundaries is limits. You are going to decide in advance what limits you are will set in whatever areas are important you. Some areas that people consider important in dating are sex, time spent, and money spent. Another area is how fast you want things to go.
Some people think that setting boundaries is what you do once you're in a relationship. Wrong.
If you're one of those, you may be asking yourself constantly why you can't make a relationship work. It's because boundaries need to be set during dating. You need to know yourself well enough to know what will work for you and what won't.

One way to know that is also to figure out what your dating goal is. Are you looking for a life partner right now? Are you open to that? Are you just playing the field? For each situation, your boundaries will be different. They might be more stringent if you're in the market for a life partner and fast and loose if you're just playing the field. So, therefore, first figure out your object.

So let's get into the nitty gritty: how to figure out your boundaries.

In order to do this, you're going to need to ask yourself some questions and write down the answers. It's a process.

First, let's talk about sex.

Sex and Boundaries in Dating

Remember, sex isn't just the 'main event'. It's also everything leading up to it -- all physicality. It starts with hand holding, then might progress to a hug or a kiss, then making out and so on. So let's start at the beginning.
  • At what point do I hold hands?
  • At what point do I kiss someone?
  • Am I ok with kissing on the first date? If yes, under what circumstances?
  • Regarding kissing, what kind of kissing is ok the first time, what is ok the 2nd time?
  • What needs to happen before I'm willing to be alone with someone? At what point am I ok with someone coming over to my house? This is important because being alone, in true privacy, with someone you're highly attracted to often can lead to a sexual situation.
  • What is my position on birth control and STDs?
  • How do I feel about an unplanned pregnancy? What would I want to do in that situation?
  • Regarding unplanned pregnancy - what if my partner's ideas about the actions to take in that situation are different than mine? Do I stick to my original plan?
  • Do I keep dating someone who disagrees with my limits?
  • What is ok on the first date?
  • What is ok on the 2nd date and the third?
That should be enough food for thought for now.

General Dating Boundaries, Money, and Time Spent
  • What do I think about dating and finances - ie who pays? On the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd date?
  • How does my dating process work - do I meet someone for coffee first and then go on the 1st date later?
  • At what point do I decide to either keep dating someone or decline further dates?
  • What are my deal breakers - things that I cannot accept?
    For example, when I was dating, I could not deal with someone who was unemployed or lived with their parents. If they seemed shady or said anything condescending about women, then they were not for me. I knew that condescending statements about women indicated poor boundaries (who would ever say such things to someone they were trying to impress?) as well as attitudes that I might later have to deal with. No thanks.
  • How much time do I spend on dating? One evening a week? Two lunches? A lunch and a coffee? etc.
  • If I have children, when is it ok for this person to meet them?
You now have some food for thought. Now it's time to think about it. And write about it. Write down your thoughts and your boundaries. Writing something down like this helps clear your head and organize your thoughts.

Good luck!