As a divorced single dad, I have learned a lot from my varied dating experiences. I love discussing relationships with anyone at any time so I have gained tremendous additional insights from my many male and female friends who have had very different experiences in dating. The world of dating is scary, exciting, challenging, difficult and fun all at the same time. Most people are dating because they are trying to find that “love connection” with the right person in the right way at the right time. However, for many people, it is a very challenging process.
In my book “Intelligent Influence,” I explain why all people “do what they do, think the way they think and accomplish what they accomplish because of influence.” This understanding of influence has taught me that every person has three “selves” and there are two levels of dating driven by influence. The first “self” is their “Emotional Self” which controls how they feel. The second self is their “Rational Self” which controls how they think. Finally, the third self is the “Physical Self” which controls how they envision using or actually use their body. Everything we do is influenced by one or more of these selves. The secret of successful dating is controlling the order in which you utilize these selves in the two levels of dating.
I call the first level of dating “Superficial Dating.” Most people utilize our three selves in the same order in a healthy way in “Level One Superficial Dating”. We typically start with the “Superficial Physical Self.” We begin the superficial dating process by identifying someone in-person or online that we are attracted to physically. This attraction is subconsciously based on whether or not we can see ourselves kissing or being intimate with that person. It is important to remember that who we find attractive is largely based on our prior influences. We then move to the “Superficial Rational Self” and determine whether that person is intelligent and interesting to talk to. After that self is revealed we move to the “Superficial Emotional Self” and determine whether we feel good with them and enjoy spending time with them. This process is normal and healthy.
As daters, we begin to make mistakes when we move to Level Two of dating. In the second or “Serious Dating” level, we should begin with our “Serious Rational Self.” It is essential that we take significant time to think whether or not this person is someone whom we can develop a serious relationship with for a long time before we “fall” for them. If they pass this test, then we should move to the “Serious Emotional Self” and open ourselves up to falling in love with this person. If this happens, then we can open ourselves up to allow the “Serious Physical Self” to take control and develop a deep physical intimacy with them. Couples that have followed this pattern are likely to have a more successful relationship than others who use the wrong order of “selves.”
Unfortunately, many of us make the mistake in Level Two dating of starting with our Serious Emotional or Physical Self before we use the Serious Rational Self. We therefore fall in love with or have sex with someone who is wrong for us. We then move to the Serious Physical or Emotional Self and fall deeper in love physically or emotionally with the wrong person. When the relationship is not working out we begin to release our Serious Rational Self. Unfortunately, it is often too late because we are deeply involved with the wrong person and it becomes painful and difficult to extract ourselves from the relationship.
The best way to successfully date is to utilize the Superficial Physical, Rational and Emotional selves in that order in Level One Superficial Dating. We are the only ones who can determine when we are ready to move to Level Two Serious Dating. Once we make that determination, we must resist the temptation to release our Serious Emotional or Physical Self and, instead, use our Serious Rational Self to assess whether there is a realistic future for this relationship. We need to honestly determine, regardless of how beautiful or handsome this person is, if they are too controlling, selfish, needy, inconsiderate, etc. Once we determine that this relationship has a serious chance of succeeding we can move to the Emotional and Physical selves and enjoy the ride.
I provide a simple summary below of healthy and unhealthy dating. I hope that this is helpful as you embark on the dating journey. Good luck finding the man or woman of your dreams.