Monday, November 23, 2009

What to do...what to do?

Are you standing there wondering what to do for your next date? Take the pressure off!
Agree that for your next date you'll get together just to plan something...something you can wrap several future dates around together...something that will require pooling your talents and skills to accomplish...something you'll both remember well into the future!

Of course we all know every dating event has a built-in goal and an agenda of some kind that serves the goal.

Dating agendas can be simple or complex. They can also be constructive or destructive. Constructive agendas tend to support friendship--whether the relationship goes anywhere long-term or not. Destructive agendas are often predatory and manipulative. They predict short-term relationships that don't end happily or with any kind of warmly memorable or meaningful friendship.

For starters, and as a general rule, people like to talk about themselves. Somebody once told me that the author and journalist Earnest Hemingway put that fact into practice. He never missed an opportunity to get some good biographical information. That's to say, if a person had the good fortune to casually meet Mr. Hemingway, whether on a street corner waiting for the traffic light to change or waiting for an elevator to pass the time otherwise counting down the floors, he would warmly and curiously ask some biographical questions. He asked about their business, about where they grew up...maybe questions like, "Tell me about your family, do you have brothers and sisters, what are your favorite diversions, skills, interests, dreams, and your greatest successes or disappointments...", etc? I understand he'd interject things about himself throughout the conversation, too.
Hemingway had a constructive people-agenda. His comfortable familiarity--and his informal style with the people around him--won many friends and acquaintances.

Through the first few dates with the same person, let me encourage you to tailor your agenda in the Hemingway style. I expect you'll be doing more than just standing on the street corner or in an elevator, so build your "Hemingway" posture around these four thoughts:
  1. Friendship is built on mutual respect. A feeling of mutual respect opens the door to interpersonal communication and mutual sharing.
  2. Friendship is built on a sense of genuineness. In new relationships, genuineness is felt, then it's confirmed or dis-affirmed over time.
  3. Mutual respect and felt genuineness (sincerity) contribute to openness and self-disclosure and they build a sense of commonality. People feel the most comfortable with and are attracted to others with whom they sense they share common experiences, interests, and desires--Aha, closeness!
  4. A growing sense of closeness is good, but closeness for closeness sake is a dead end...and it can be relationally dangerous! So, the best way to determine the appropriateness in a developing sense of male-female closeness is to plan together and then do some cooperative projects. Projects done collaboratively will tell you whether or not growing your closeness is a good idea. Some examples of simple projects might include volunteering your cooperative time...planning a surprise birthday party for a mutual friend...planning and cooking a meal for some mutual friends...cooperatively "dog sitting" a friends pet.
When your next few dates are focused around some project you've decided to do together you won't have any difficulty deciding how you should spend your time, figuring what to do next, or considering how to pay for it. You've already made that decision easy and you're well on your way to having some great and relationally informative fun!

Till next time...Be yourself. Have fun & be smart.