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Serial "Of, forming, or arranged in a series."
Dating "An engagement to go out socially with another person, often out of romantic interest."
In the past month alone I have had over twenty emails from women who are seeking help with a dating history characterized by seeing men for two or three dates and then never hearing from them again. In some cases, there has been some email contact or the occasional phone call after the last date, but no mention of seeing each other again. These women want to know what they are doing wrong or if something is just wrong with them. In order to help them answer this, I ask them about their relationship readiness?
There are approximately 95.7 million single adults in the United States alone. Many are seeking long-term, committed relationships, but others are not. The key to successful relationship building, if this is your goal- is to learn how to tell the players from the people who want to play for keeps. It begins with having clear relationship goals and a plan for achieving them.
Begin by examining your own feelings and your true readiness for intimacy. Deciding it is time for this big step should not be due to your age, your friends' relationship/marital status or to the biological and societal pressures that often factor into choices that end in heartbreak and/or divorce. Instead, look at what you really want from your future partner and come up with a list of what you must have and another of what is not acceptable. Then take an inventory of your life as it is now. Ask yourself if you are generally happy, well-adjusted, financially and emotionally stable and ready to do the work that comes with a real relationship. This first step is the one that many people overlook and then wonder why they end up in a pattern of serial dating, in which they always seem to choose -or be chosen by the wrong kind of man/woman.
The next step is to get that plan in place. Get familiar with local and online resources that will bring you into contact with the kind of person you seek. This is an active process that requires time, energy and commitment on your part. Once you have identified some good resources, use them well. Sign up for activities, groups, sports, cultural events or whatever activities bring you pleasure and will help you to interact with others who share your interests and passions. Be realistic with your schedule and don't overbook, which could leave you exhausted and emotionally spent.
Most importantly, don't rush the process because you are in love with the IDEA of being in love. This is when you risk ending up in a pattern of serial dating, because the men women you choose to date don't want what you want- or don't want it now. There are many singles who are dating for fun, dating more than one person at a time and/or feel they are not ready for or interested in a serious relationship at the present time. While there is nothing wrong with this, if it is not what you want you could find yourself riding a roller coaster of repeated self-doubt, feelings of failure and insecurity, disappointment and/or heartbreak.
Remember also that it is important to honestly communicate what you are looking for and be consistent in setting comfortable and appropriate limits in your dating life. Pay attention to your instincts and learn to read what the other person doesn't say as well as what they say. People, just like things, are not always what they appear to be.
When you are truly ready and have the self-awareness and tools necessary, you will greatly increase your chances of finding and sustaining happy love.
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
© Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.
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