If you’ve been single for a longer-than-desired length of time, you may have a common problem with your relationship vision: You see the opposite sex as pieces of matrimony meat.
When we see people as a means to an end, we fail to respect their humanness.
Here are a few ways to know if you’re a selfist dater:
- When you come in contact with a moderately attractive person of the opposite sex, your eyes instinctively bounce down to their left hand to see if they’ve been claimed.
- In conversation, you go through your lists of “must haves” and “deal breakers” to see how they measure up.
- Sitting across the coffee shop table from your date, you can’t help but filter everything they say and do through the lens of whether or not they’re your soul mate.
- When the person in line behind you starts a conversation, your demeanor is determined by whether or not you’re attracted to them.
- When laying eyes on a blind date for the first time and not liking what you see, you try to determine how long you have to stay before it’s not considered rude to leave.
Would you want to spend the rest of your life with someone who doesn’t see you as fully human, but only sees you as a means to an end to achieve relationship goals? I sure wouldn’t.
4 Ways to Respect the Humanness of Your Date
- Treat people as people. Regardless of age, relationship status, religious orientation, sexual orientation, gender orientation, political affiliation, or where they fall on the spectrum of herbivore/omnivore/carnivore, etc., practice treating everyone as a human and all the respect that accords them.
- Listen. Even if you don’t agree with or like anything about them, make an effort to listen to their context, hear their story, and empathize with their situation. Empathy is what allows us to walk alongside a fellow human, even if just for a short time. We are at our best when we respect the experiences and acknowledge the feelings of the person in front of us.
- Put others at ease. If you frequently have awkward silences in your conversations, you owe it to yourself and those around you to learn the art of conversation. Conversationally Speaking by Alan Garner is a helpful resource.
- Remember: it’s not all about you. Even if you’re genuinely embarrassed to be seen with the blind date sitting across from you, it still isn’t all about you. In fact, you have a responsibility to draw the person out to discover what makes them tick, what makes them awesome, where their passion lies. There is an incredible person somewhere in there. Find them.
I encourage my clients to go on at least three dates—even if the first two are painfully mundane with zero chemistry. Doing so allows them to learn, understand and respect their date’s experience. Maybe they had a bad day at work. Maybe they were exceptionally nervous. Maybe you were off your game, raising the awkwardness to dreadful levels. Unless there are too many legitimate red flags, three dates will allow chemistry to grow and will allow you to really get to know and appreciate the person as a fellow human being.
An added bonus to losing the dating selfishness? As you date more and more mindfully, you become more fully human yourself.
[photo: via ansel edwards photography on flickr]