Imagine being online, creating a profile that seems right for you and getting feedback that it is effective. Someone writes to you, saying they like you and your profile and you write back. Crickets. Okay, so they initiated it, then ghosted you. It happens. It is not a big investment.
Someone else says they cannot wait to meet you, after two exchanges, then stop writing back.
Someone else says that you did not act fast enough. As if they are entitled to your response and that you must go out with them. My perspective is that at this stage, people are still seeing if they are compatible. If they have not requested to call or meet in person, there is a reason. Go back to the “hell yeah” philosophy. Unless the person can emphatically say “hell, yeah” to wanting to go on a date, do you really want to date the person?
Imagine you trade a few emails and ask to meet in person. They say they’d love to meet. They can’t meet today or tomorrow, or all next week for whatever reason.
They also can’t talk and the communication is at a minimum via text/email etc. Is it over at this point? It was not a big investment of time. They were kinda interested, but not really if they are not follow through.
My take on this is that if they cannot match you with effort, then chances are they will not in the future.
If it is a one time thing, that is okay, but we are talking a pattern. Imagine asking someone out four times in a row.
You have never met in person. “If they really liked me, they would keep asking me out,” has been the reply. They don’t know you well enough to know if they like you because you have not met. I think it is unrealistic to ask someone to pursue that strongly at this stage.
I jokingly refer to this part as bare minimum. You want to see what you can get with the bare minimum. That is unlikely a conscious thought, but they are putting in just enough to warrant an email.
At this point, do you continue reaching out to them? Do you have “the talk”? Are they just letting you down gently? or do you take your ball and go play elsewhere? I have heard people refer to this as ghosting. That is not my perspective. If the person wanted to have a relationship, they would have done what is necessary to have a relationship. If they are too busy, simply saying that they are busy and cannot do it right now would suffice.
Most of us have really good intentions. Maybe it just is that the person is too busy. They cannot admit that to themselves and that is okay, but at some level that is their responsibility to know themselves well enough. If your prospective partner cannot see you, then it should probably be a deal breaker, right?
Dating is not a science. If it feels wrong and I override my intuition, bad things usually happen. It might feel great one day and then the lack of contact, the lack of matching makes itself known. They might want to connect and not have the time, or the ability. If they are on the fence, then it is their job to get off the fence.
Someone asked me how I would approach dating online in 2021 and here is my reply:
The best dating advice I ever read was the “Hell yeah or no” concept by Silver.
When I read someone’s online profile, this is the feeling that I’m looking for.
If i think it might be there, i text a bunch to get to that point.
The purpose of texting, for me, is to see if i still have the feelings that accompany “hell yeah.” If so, I call and indicate that I’m interested in a date. If it is not a “hell yeah,” then I owe it to both of us to bow out. That is self love. That takes courage and honesty and a degree of integrity to say no.
If I’m not excited to see you, then you’re better off with someone else, as am i. I owe it to you to be honest, with tact. I owe it to myself to know myself well enough, too.
My belief is that i owe it to you to know what relationship I want and look out for my best interests and yours in making that decision. If I know both what I’m looking for, and what does not work, I have done a good amount of screening.
That strategy is going to get us the highest possible win- win.
Yes, I’m highly analytical and I am a marriage counselor, so I can cite research. I know why I approach it this way, because I’ve studied what makes relationships work and what makes them fail.
In my experience, many people over-commit very early on and begin talking about sexual compatibility. If we do that, we’ve skipped a few stages that are necessary. That will not serve us well. Flirting is fun and being playful along the way helps.
For me, the purpose of date one is to feel the vibe of the person, to determine how their style of communication fits with mine and how attracted i am. If I’m very attracted but the other things are not in place, I can tell you it won’t work out and the pain of forcing it will have been a mistake.
In the past, my gut has said, “ this person is wonderful and deserving. They would be a great partner for the right person, and that is not you.” Can you imagine saying “Go ahead and make it work,” even though you know that the cards are stacked against you?
In dating, we are trying to determine if we fit.
We first exclude people that don’t fit us well. That is not selfish or defensive.
This minimizes the pain of rejection. Both parties would rather not be involved in a relationship that’s clearly not going to work.
If you know that it won’t work ahead of time, don’t get into it. Right?
It’s similar to trying on clothing or taking a test drive or buying a house. You know what you’re looking for, and in order to make a good decision, you have to be true to yourself (and be kind to the other person, if dating).
I know who I don’t work well with in relationships. Sometimes in the profile it jumps out.
Sometimes that information or feeling does not come until the texting or a phone call.
Despite all that, the in-person meeting might have information and a vibe that it is clearly not going to work. You know your dealbreakers and don’t have to defend those.
I can really like the person and be highly compatible on several levels and not be compatible on necessary further levels and I know it won’t work.
This is not a romantic, but a very pragmatic, approach.
This approach might not be your cup of tea, yet it works well for me. If it doesn’t work well for you, that is good information for your decision. Don’t date me, if I don’t work for you.
Someone told me that my Standards are too high. Could be true.
I think of it as responsible dating. If I know i need a certain style and you don’t have it, that’s clearly not going to work.
When someone starts fighting before we’ve met, that makes it clear for me.
You’re seeing if i fit you and I’m trying you on.
Afraid of committing to someone who won’t work out? You should feel that. Don’t commit so early. Go on more dates and have the difficult conversations.
Another option is to Go out with everyone. I don’t see the merits of that approach.
I’ve heard others insinuate that “You have to date me if you talk to, or text, me. “
I had someone say, “How dare you not want to date me?” As I listened more closely, they were telling me that I would be lucky to date them because they are better looking than i am.
Sometimes, people say, “What do you mean we’re not a fit?” What might be implied is “I am a good person and I feel rejected.”
Along those lines, if someone tells you “We are not a good fit,” they have just spared you time and hurt feelings. Say “ Thank you. Good luck out there. “
They are not actually rejecting you (they don’t know you well enough to reject you personally. If you take it personally, that’s probably a mistake). They are saying that your styles don’t play well together.
Please, don’t then try to persuade them or pressure them or insult them. It isn’t easy to say no to people (for most of us). It was hard to say no and please assume the motivation was to spare feelings, not hurt them. It will hurt now or hurt worse later after investing time and energy.
You can’t pressure me into dating you. I am allowed to make that decision without your input.
I’m allowed to say to myself, “this person doesn’t fit and I don’t have to date them.”
This approach won't work for everyone, but if I put myself in their shoes, this is how I would approach it.
I am not saying to bury your head in the sand or dismiss the negative.
The negative exists, as does the positive, in pretty much every situation.
Practice looking for the positive or practice not focusing on the negative by not complaining for a full hour, upon awakening, this week.
Imagine doing both- Look for that which is positive and practice holding your tongue when you experience something that does not satisfy you.
Have you ever had one of those relationships? The person says they love you and then you pay attention to the behavior.
When the two don't match, I pay more attention to behavior.
"Do you love me?" is a great question to ask, if you follow it up with what your definition of love is and how they demonstrate their love.
Before you blame the other person, please take your own inventory. Is it within the realm of possibility that you have a hard time accepting and receiving love? Is it possible that your self love is not quite as strong as you would like it to be?
What if the person does love you, but is using a different love language?
I ask these questions of myself and of my clients, when they are debating a break up. By the way, breaking up is really hard to do for some people. Check out the book "Attached" to learn why or take the quiz on that book's website.
Is it possible that you are a people pleaser or codependent and that is getting in the way of accepting love?
What is the acceptable level of criticism in a relationship? If someone is beating you down with criticism and simultaneously telling you that they love you, that is a fairly mixed message. If you love me, why do you feel comfortable telling me all these things you do not like about me? Are you hoping that I will change for you? Do you simply want me to know what is wrong with me for, perhaps, another reason? The reason you are criticizing might need to be explored. I will work on my sensitivity to criticism to make sure I am not hypersensitive.
Add this to the equation- Instead of criticizing and defending, what if we both related? What if we chose to say, "When you ____ I feel___" and built our relationship (how we relate to one another's words and behavior) on that foundation.
Things were not going well, as you read from the previous post.
Let's fast forward to Valentine's Day. No cards or gifts, absolutely challenging communication about the previous day and the decision was made to watch some humor on YouTube and on Netflix.
We both consciiously and unconsciously agreed to not confront the issue, to let it lie.
More awkward conversation before bedtime. Once horizontal, the communication was nonverbal and not ambiguous.
Caressing feels good and you can tell when someone is faking touch.
After this type of intimacy, the subject was broached, surprisingly. "I think you would be better off with someone who fits you. I clearly am not fitting the bill and I want to give you an out." Imagine the surprise after such closeness. Yet, there was relief. The guesswork had ended. She told him what she liked about him, despite the breaking up. He told her the same. They laughed and talked until 4 am about the memories, the loss of future, the sadness, grieving what was good and acknowledging that it was not all bad. They clarified what was the breaking point and what led up to the breaking point. Was it fixable? What had to line up for a relationship to actually work and despite tears, the acknowledgement that this was not going to be repaired.
There were still lingering feelings of sadness at the end of this part of the process. There was healing and talking and acknowledgement of what it had meant to each- not trying to get back together, just honoring what it was.
May you have that in your relationships that end. It feels affirmative and life giving. Not all relationships were meant to last forever.
I had a weird experience and I want to put myself in this person's place. Stories are helpful illustrators
Need versus complaint means that you do not give examples. The example invites re litigation of a past event. You cannot change the past. You cannot even recall it perfectly. Asking for a need to be met has multiple advantages. We have no beef in the future because it has not yet occurred. We don’t have an argument, just a hope that in the future we do something. End of conversation.
With an example, there is the sense of blame, of defensiveness, of making certain the other person doesn’t think we are a bad person. If I can disprove the event, then I do not have to have those feelings that I do not like. Having said that, the person asking for needs to be met in the future has to be articulate enough that the listener understands them, perhaps with a couple minor clarifications.
She “Don, you’re being quiet. Is there something wrong?”
Me “Yes. I am feeling hurt. I don’t want to give examples because that generally means I have to prove that I was hurt and justify it to you. I would prefer not to do that. You would prefer that I give an example. Can I ask you to not disprove it, but use the clarifying and validating within the Talker/listener?”
“You said something about my car that didn’t sit well with me. It got under my skin. I am trying to think it through. Is it worth bringing up or do I keep it to myself?”
What is the response you would prefer to receive?
Here’s where we focus on systems of communication. What the response was to my statement sets the tone for the next few minutes, as my statement of complaint set the tone. I thought I was doing a good job with softened startup, mostly focusing on how I felt rather than telling her what I thought she did wrong.
A little about me. I am super sensitive to criticism (years of therapy have helped this, but I am highly sensitive and try to do the right thing. I am earnest.) and in this case it was one more thing that I was doing wrong and the story in my head is that she does not like me. If you like me, then why are you holding me in contempt for so many different areas of my life.
Immediately thereafter, she asked me, “Why are you still here? What do you like about me?” I told you it felt weird to be telling what I like about her after just telling her “ I feel like you do not like me. That is not how those conversations normally go.”
When that happened, I thought to myself, “This is my issue, you just made it about you and want me to open up and I am feeling unloved, highly criticized (you, in the past few weeks, criticized my job, my writing, my leisure time, my parenting, the money I make and I how I spend it on groceries for my kids, my house, the way I dress). In this conversation, I now have to take care of you and your feelings and then compliment you? At what point does the fact that what you said hurt me come into play? At what point does it get to be about me? You have encouraged me to gently, with tact, tell you how your behavior affects me. I am unlikely to do that again with you. It felt like I was to blame because I was the one who brought it up. I am finding it hard to not go into pity party mode or overthinking.”
So, me talking about it made it significantly worse. It highlights that we do not communicate well. I question whether it is worth it to have those conversations or if that will guarantee the death of the relationship. If we do not have the conversations, then we will die a slower death. I have had relationships with people in the past who had these conversations very easily and my preference is to be able to say “ouch” when something hurts and then resolve it quickly.
Compatibility in Relationship
How do you know if you are compatible (enough) with someone to continue dating?
Let’s say you reached the first 6 weeks or so and you are debating making it more long term. This is the window of opportunity. Do the soul searching and relationship searching rather than ignoring things right now.
Gottman talks about deal breakers and how that is usually how we determine whether we stay or go. There are many people we could work out with, but if someone is doing something that is a deal breaker for you, you exclude them from the pool of potential partners.
What are your deal breakers? List them and hold true to them. Don’t move them or adjust them at all, because, by definition they are deal breakers. Don’t forget that they can be cumulative as well. They have to make sense to you, not the other person.
Get to know and love yourself better than you do right now and watch what happens with your intuition. It will “feel right” to people who know themselves well. You will not accept subpar behavior from someone because you are better off single.
Some people do the Enneagram, 5 languages of love book or the myers-briggs. All those help you understand yourself and your motivation. That can help if both people are interested in knowing themselves and being able to share their “owner’s manual” with a potential match.
Consider what you do for fun in the winter and in the summer. Does that match your partner in a way that is complementary? Can you each learn from one another or do you hold your differences in contempt and judge one another? That is huge with compatibility.
How well do you communicate? If you are constantly bickering, is it based on communication which can be learned or is it based on power plays and trust or is it stylistic or is it based on your core values? Each one of those needs a different response. Be honest with yourself and them. Is one of you direct and the other indirect (very common)? If so, learn the other person’s style and make necessary adjustments both ways and both people. IF you disagree on basic values, like different political parties, it is possible that you will not get through that without excellent communication skills. You are likely going to repeat the same gridlocked conversations if you each care about it strongly. If one of you is power playing, it will warp the overall system of communication. Go see a counselor to see if they can help level the playing field and get both parties to a better, more effective level of communication.
Sometimes one person is more interested in processing information, feelings and sharing deeply from within, able to be vulnerable and intimate. If the other person doesn’t match at all, think of the long term consequences of that.
Are you talking about future plans, not committing but at least knowing about 5-10 years from now some ideas.
Things change all the time but if one of you is a definite, is the other willing to accommodate? Are you able to negotiate the changes in a way that works for you? When you disagree, are you able to do conflict in a way that works for both of you? As long as you match one another, that is the goal.
Does your humor match? IF you enjoy sarcasm, does your partner? Do you like puns or hate them and try to make them stop? Are you a Monty Python fan and your partner doesn’t get the jokes or doesn’t think they are funny? Those things matter later on. Pay attention.
Do you match one another’s intensity of spirituality or religiosity? Don’t necessarily have to be the same religion but if one of you is devout, the other person being atheist might not work for you.
Do you have feelings about people who have feelings? IF you consistently tell them they are wrong for feeling intensely… IF you are going to be on them for not having feelings and they remind you that they were this way when you met them…
How about someone who does not trust themselves to make a decision. Where would you like to go to dinner? I don’t know, where do you want to go? Trusting yourself and your decisions is a big deal to some people.
Are you a sex drive match? IF one of you is really interested in being sexually active on a regular basis and the other person does not have it as a priority, that tends to go poorly after awhile. Can you both easily talk about sexuality and preferences? Are your styles and preferences compatible? Would you be willing to do the sexual style inventory in the book Hot Monogamy?
Money, attitudes about money, how to spend and save and how much to make and what place does it have in your life- big conversations and potentially dealbreakers for people. There are interesting codes and “tells” that people use. Imagine someone talking incessantly about their travels and they are signaling that they only go to the best places, the best countries, the best restaurants and hotels, the best airlines, then say they don’t really focus on money much. Ummm
Or the person who says that each person can make the amount of money they want by just adjusting some choices, as if there is no system, just individual choice. That says a ton about their relationship with money and power. Imagine someone telling you how you should do your money within a few dates…
How much do you trust yourself and other people? Do you easily attach and reach out? Do you hide from people and why? Do you know your attachment style (read the book “Attached” and the quiz within) and the style of your partner and the implications of that interaction?
Do you feel physically and emotionally safe with your partner? Would they stand up for you if you were in trouble? Do they take advantage of people or tell stories of how they use and abuse people? They will do it with you eventually, if that is their style. Do they believe in transactions or relationships?
How well do they reassure themselves when needed?
How well do they reassure you? Do you ask them to reassure you about a certain thing- like where were they when… or am I imagining things or did I notice…
If they cannot reassure you at this point, you might be hesitant to continue. Go ahead and teach them and see if they can learn it.
Political differences right now, especially, say a lot about people. Our politics tells others what we hold dear and what we fight for and what we vote for, what kind of place we would like to leave to our children. Go for multiple issues, not just one to learn more about them
With conflict, are you loud and in one another’s face (both of you) and if so, are you comfortable with that style? OR are you avoidant and both comfortable with avoiding? Each has significant drawbacks, right? Ultimately, what is your comfort zone and are you constantly expanding your comfort zone? Do you both have the skills, ability and willingness to do healthy conflict when it is obviously necessary?
How much do you like to process things and ideas and feelings? Do you match on this and if not, can you not match and not judge one another?
Travel- define it first. How much? How much, time, money, effort, resources spent in preparation and actually doing it? National, local, international? What is the motivation? Self guided or tours? Learn about one another and really see if you synch up. Some people would travel all the time and others would never travel outside their town. Do you match or are you close enough to learn from one another?
Anxiety and depression and other mental illness- most people have stress or sadness and many also raise to the level of it being clinically significant. It interrupts a part of their life or makes their life a little harder because they deal with it. Be honest with yourself about needing help and outside assistance, maybe counseling and self help, maybe medication or non medication treatment. If you have anxiety, please know that it definitely affects your partner. IT is contagious, they can feel it and they will like it better if you get it treated. Same for the other mental health concerns.
Sleep schedule is important- when and how do you sleep. Do you snore? Do you address issues when you find that you have issues or do you ignore them? IF you snore, did you get a sleep study? Do you snore loudly enough that your partner will avoid you?
Weight- if you just gained 10-20 lbs with no sign of addressing it, that is considered not fair to many people. You are not taking care of your health and that is not okay in healthy relationships. Any aspect of your health affects this other person.
How you eat can affect others- not just slurping food, but being a vegetarian, a healthy eater, a vegan, keto diet etc affects others around you. I’m not saying you have to stop, but you might want to have some conversation about this before you go much further. Ask the motivation and how it might impact the two of you.
How active are you? Describe it rather than label it. Some people are very active in the summer and when the winter depression comes, they gain weight, eat unhealthy and never leave the couch. Some are never active and others are sports enthusiasts on several teams and in perfect shape. What impact does this have on your relationship?
What might it have long term?
How open are you with secrets and your past? Yes, you can be too open and over share information, as well. If you do not share at all, that can be an issue for the other person. Talk about why you do what you do so the other person can understand you better.
What are you expectations for relationships? In general and this one… Be specific so that there are fewer surprises and no guesswork, if possible.
Are you able to be vulnerable with yourself and with others? What does that look like to you? What about your partner’s style?
Lastly, if you are trying to change your partner, get yourself into counseling now. Stop doing it. Changing someone is not your job and it makes for lasting resentment. Accept yourself for who you are and accept them for who they are.
They will change and we cannot predict in which direction. If you do not like who they are now, it is time to leave the relationship not hope they can change enough to please you. That is not usually how that works.
Post Date Survey (Satire)
Rationale: You went on a date or several. You got a good vibe. You thought it went well and the other person ended it. Or maybe you ended it, surprising them. You ever wish you could give them feedback that might really be helpful to them? Like, you think they are great, but because they are missing so many teeth, they are not your type. Here is a chance to help that person. Written by a man seeking a woman…
Consider the format for your feedback:
Grading- Pass/Fail with option for an A
Meets Realistic Expectations
Does not meet expectations- area of concern
Scared me a little bit
Rank how important these are on a scale of 1-10
1 being the most important and likely a deal breaker
why get married
You are expected to grow and develop and mature
How are you living, compared to how your values line up?
What do you really want to know after the date?
What would make you stay or leave?
The whole goal of the first date is to get a second date and see if there is chemistry or a connection.
A dealbreaker on date one is not the same thing as a dealbreaker on date two or beyond.
BREAK UP SECTION
Just not my type- chemistry was not there (easy out?) ___True ___False
Photo matched the person (as opposed to the bait and switch photo- hey that’s you ten years ago) ___True ___False
Don’t like age of kids ___ True ___False
Too pushy ___True ___False
Communication issues ie Indirect communication/Direct communication
Gender differences got in the way ___True ___False
Too compliant ___True ___False He always did what I wanted to do.
Too messy or too clean ___True ___False
Too friendly ___True ___False
Too forward, moved too fast (for example) ___True ___False
Too passive, didn’t make the first move ___True ___False (please explain)
My friends would not approve or like my date
My parents would not approve
Waited too long to kiss me
Did not contact early enough in the week for me to have the day free ___True ___False
Too spontaneous ___True ___False
I assumed too much and did not clarify with him ___True ___False
I expect way too much from a date (it is unrealistic that I will ever get all those qualities in one human being, but I would keep trying) ___True ___False
I felt rejected by certain behavior (be specific) ___True ___False
Didn’t pay enough attention to me ___True ___False
Wanted too much attention from me (for example, men only want sex) ___True ___False
Mixed messages ___True ___False
An event happened that triggered me- nothing to do with person ___True ___False
Sense of humor did not line up ___True ___False
Creative dates were offered ___True ___False
Appropriate level of affection for how well we know each other ___True ___False
Flexibility with talking on phone vs text vs in person ___True ___False
Not enough time to date each week ___True ___False
Just stopped communication (ghosting) ___True ___False
Too focused on sex ___True ___False
Not enough flirting ___True ___False
It would not work until we really knew each other well and were able to hang out more, including kids ___True ___False
Too “out there” with belief system ___True ___False
Too stingy ___True ___False
Attended to me ___True ___False
Not enough teasing or banter ___True ___False
Trying too hard to impress ___True ___False
Not trying hard enough (be specific) ___True ___False
Bragging ___True ___False
Able to Emotionally connect ___True ___False
Bad job and potential for future ___True ___False
Talked about ex too much ___True ___False
Family is too messed up ___True ___False
Intimacy issues ___True ___False (Be specific)
Good listener ___True ___False
Responsive texter ___True ___False
Would be a good friend (consider listing the qualities of a friend that jumped out at you) ___True ___False
On line dating just isn’t the right thing because we couldn’t get to know one another well enough ___True ___False
I don’t like having to pursue him, I want him to do the work of pursuing ___True ___False
This did not work for me because (the deal breaker was )
This area is a dealbreaker for me with anyone I have dated
Questions not asked on this survey that should be asked:
What I really liked about this situation and person:
What I thought were the top 3 areas of improvement (what I would change about you if I could):
Lessons about myself from this dating process:
Not a cuddler
Assuming my motivation without asking
Able and willing to do my love language
Not available for getting together at the time I can
Not able /willing to look inside self
Not able to take responsibility for own issues
Not having my back
Political party differences
Inability to listen
Stop talking without processing
Want to change me
No sex drive
"I hate sex"
"I hate men"
Inability to learn how to clarify and validate
If deal breakers then break the deal otherwise say it once and only once
She said, “You rubbed my back, cooked my favorite food, spoiled me in every way possible. The sex was mind-blowing. I have never experienced even close to that level of intimacy and I love it. You not only listen, you’re kind to me and you remember what i said and act on it. I’m not used to this. This is the most connected I’ve ever felt. No one has ever done this for me. I love you. I am the luckiest person on the planet to have you. I am so glad you are in my life. I have never been treated this well or had sex this amazing. You are one of a kind.”
The very next day, she broke up.
What I wish she said, “I can’t take it in. I have trouble with feeling worthy of such things. I feel guilty for not reciprocating. I can’t process it. I need to push you away while I figure out what I need /want. I don’t want to get used to this and have it taken away from me. I can’t breathe. I’m not used to this. This is too many good things at once. Too many compliments, too much doting- therefore I need to push you away. It is just too much of everything that i said I wanted. I struggle to receive this much joy, bliss and ecstasy. And, while I have not complained about things I did not like or appreciate, there were those, too. I get that it is unfair to you to lead you to believe you were doing the right things. I should have told you what was wrong, all along. It sucks that it came to this and you are second guessing everything yet again. I wanted you to be my rock and when I realized that you also had needs, it freaked me out. And yet, that makes no sense because I want someone to be vulnerable with me. You get hurt easily and were more sensitive than I realized. I did not want to hurt you and realized I would hurt you a lot. You were too fast, too intense and it didn’t work for me. I thought I asked you to slow down in a way that you understood. I still want to be in your life, just not like we were.”
Can you imagine the difference for this couple if the person dropping had said the second paragraph instead of the first?