Guidelines for Dating and Reconnecting For Singles
and Men and Women in Transition

Rita DeMaria, PhD - April 2003
(Do not copy or distribute without permission)

Dating and courtship is not a formal social process anymore. In fact many people think that dating isn’t very useful for today’s adults. However, dating is an important way to heal from hurtful relationships or the effects of divorce. These guidelines can provide a way to move from being single and alone to reconnecting and recommitting with a new partner.

Please be sure not to share these guidelines with a new dating partner, they won’t make sense to him or her. Many people believe that you ought to date one person at a time, get to know him or her and then if there isn’t a good match, then move on to the next person. Unfortunately, that kind of dating process can take years. Worse, you might spend too much time with one person rather than getting to know lots of people.

Think about your social life as a young adult. You probably met lots of people in a variety of social situations. You’d scan and check out if there was ‘chemistry’, if not, on to the next one. As adults, it is more difficult to have this kind of scanning and dating experience. Unfortunately, many people meet at work under circumstances that are often convenient but do not allow for a variety of relationships. So, I encourage using the internet as a constructive means for meeting many people.

Guideline # 1
Dating is getting to know someone, slowly. Dating does not include a sexual relationship. In fact a premature sexual relationship can undermine a potentially good relationship. Plan to date between 20 – 25 people during an 18-month period. Dating means you have taken a little time to get to know someone who is potentially a good partner for you.

So, you need to have a profile and clear expectations. 

Exercise: Develop an Ideal Partner Profile > Physical/chemistry, mental, social, emotional, financial, spiritual aspects of the person you are looking to meet.

Guideline #2
Date 3 people at a time! Since you are not having sex with any of them, you are not betraying anyone, right? Why 3 people at a time? Because we all have a tendency to compare, therefore if you are dating only two people you will be comparing them and you will have a tendency to go towards one or the other. With three dating partners you will be able to reflect more clearly on each one’s strengths. 

The challenge takes place when you meet a fourth person. Now you must eliminate someone. Dating more than three people at a time will unbalance your energy. Many people believe they cannot possible meet so many people at a time. However, during high school, college or trade school, or at work we meet many people all the time. If we are single during those times, then we are usually scanning the crowd to see if there are any interesting prospects around. Consequently, adults who are dating must be willing to go through a slightly more arduous and cumbersome process to create a similar experience. So, some people may actually meet more than 25 people during the 18 month dating period. Meeting more people is a good thing because you will begin to see your patterns repeating themselves.

If you have an extensive social network, use it. Immerse yourself in the singles network and activities that exists in your community. Join an on-line dating service like match.com. It is essential that the on-line service be reputable and that it have a very large database for your community. Eharmony.com is growing and so is Jdate.com (don’t ignore the possibilities of meeting someone in your own faith).  

Reminder: Date number 1 isn’t really a date; it’s a screening session! Does this person meet criteria? Is this a suspect or a potential partner? Chemistry is important, but it isn’t everything!

Guideline #3 
We all hope to meet our soul mate. How do we know when we have? We don’t, at first. What we do know is whether there is some physical chemistry and attraction. Since we know there is a biological basis for social attraction and that it can be very powerful, this is another reason for the three dating partners at a time. Sometimes our chemistry attracts us physically to someone who does not meet our varied expectations, which always go beyond the chemistry of falling in love.

Somewhere I read once that given current world population figures and the DNA basis of attraction, that there are possibly 70,000 great DNA matches for each of us. However, some are too young, some are too old, some live in Asia, others in Africa, so we can begin to narrow down the number of possible DNA matches who have the potential to become our soul mates. We are looking for those matches with similar social and personal characteristics to our own within our general age range. I like to think that we can get that 70,000 down to about 11 realistic matches that I can potentially meet in my lifetime. So, screening to look for these really good matches takes time and energy and we each must be prepared to look around and meet many prospects.

What is a prospect? Someone who meets the criteria we established in Guideline #1.  What is a suspect? Someone who is a DNA match who gets my attention, but is not one of the 11, because our life together would not fit my needs. Do not spend much time with suspects no matter how great the chemistry might seem. 

How does a prospect become a soul mate? By dating others and making sure that this one meets your needs emotionally, psychologically, and socially. It takes at least 8 - 12 months of dating to find this out. Premature exclusivity does not allow a relationship to develop in a natural way. There are natural stages to the dating process: attraction, uncertainty, exclusivity, intimacy and commitment. 

What About Sex?
A great sexual relationship takes practice over time with the same partner, not promiscuity. However, some people have had damaging sexual experiences that may need to be attended to and in those situations, a caring sex-buddy can be a healing experience. However, don’t expect your sex-buddy to become your soul mate.

Your soul mate will have all the qualities you are looking for, however, becoming soul mates is a process that takes place over a lifetime, with increasing levels of vulnerability and trust.  Sexual compatibility is an important ingredient in a loving relationship, but make sure to keep track of all the important aspects of the soul mate you are looking for!

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