Dating: In Search of Your One and Only
by Reverend Charles Bidwell, Ph.D.
Unless you are in a relationship or are a confirmed singularity, you are probably open to meeting someone who could become more than a friend - you are actively searching for a partner. So here are two tools for the hunt. [If you have other strategies, please share them with us, so we can all benefit from your wisdom and experience.]
Let's start with a date. Your first meeting (after responding to the personal ad or after exchanging phone numbers at some event) should be in public, even if it's only for a walk. Going to the home of either of you is for the second date ("Let me show you my den or lair.") because it can be tempting to get physical and that can blur your vision.
Tool #1 - Your Date Rater
1. Go on a date. Take along a reasonable set of insecurities.
2. After the date, recall what happened and rate each of the following behaviours (with 10 representing the maximum level of element display).
3. Tally your rating scores and compare them with 130 (a perfect score, but no one's that good).
[There is also the possibility that, if you want to give serious attention to your next date, you could display some of these behaviours. After all, dating and relationships are two-way encounters and engagements.]
You'll know it's a good (serious) date when there is:
Empathy Quotient: Leans forward while listening to you.
Hypnotic Capability: Maintains eye contact with you, even in the presence of other good-looking people.
Disregard of Personal Advantage: Asks your opinion.
Consideration Quotient: Lets you finish sentences before agreeing or expanding on what you just said.
Suspension of Self-inflation: Listens to your opinions, experiences, relationships, or jobs without comparing them to theirs.
Self-healing Capacity: Avoids discussing last partner, especially in terms suggesting vengeance or personal physical anguish.
Fiscal Probity: Displays evidence of employment and figures appropriate tip in head.
Display Behavior: Fluffs hair; stretches (arching shoulders for chest display); fingers tie, scarf, ring, necklace, clothing.
Tactile Enthusiasm: Touches your arm while talking to you or your shoulder while walking behind you.
Libidinal Restraint: Avoids below-the-waist touching, weird suggestive stories, or anatomical discourses.
Product Reliability: Mentions that they walk, jog, cycle, swim, or have other fitness-related interests.
Civility Imprints: Opens and holds door ahead of you, handles introductions well.
Tolerance for Extended Discomfort: Suggests a future encounter.
So now that you've had your first date and you've given them a score of better than 50, it's time to get more serious. You're both worth the investment of time and it's time to get out your shopping list.
Tool #2 - Your Shopping List
If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up somewhere else. If you don't know what kind of person you're looking for, you'll end up with the first one who gets turned on by you.
Shopper beware! We probably check out a potential roommate more carefully than we do a potential lover. Find out about Potential Lover's past relationships. Talk to their "ex(s)" or close friends. You can sometimes tell something about a person by the friends they keep. Would you like to have them in your home, as your friends?
Assess their spirit, not their body. I know we're first attracted by their body, but face it, every body is going to change for the worse with time (it's called aging and it only improves wine and cheese) so get on to what will last and focus on that.
What seems to be their dominant attitude toward life?
What values do they hold as essential to their happiness?
What do they think are the top essentials in a partnership relationship (what are yours and do they match)?
What would they say their friends would respond, if you asked their friends "What makes Potential Lover a good friend of yours?"
What is Potential Lover proud of; what achievements has PL made? (We all should be proud of something we've done so far in our lives; what are you proud of achieving?)
Make a list of the attributes or characteristics that you want in a Potential Lover. You'll never find one person who will meet them all, but coming "close" counts in this imperfect world. Someone who meets 75% of your list is better than someone who doesn't rate that high. Just how low will you go?
What are the ten top characteristics you require?
Then, what are the ten you'd like, but that are negotiable?
What are the top ten characteristics that you demonstrate (live) and think others appreciate about you (ask a friend or two, if you haven't a clue). Write these all down and be prepared to subject each Potential Lover to that checklist.
Above all, work at being the kind of person you are looking for; be your own "Best Friend". Nothing scares off a potential lover more than encountering someone who feels that they NEED one. God, spare me from needy people as partners. I'm looking for someone who considers himself or herself to be whole, but would like to share their life (they have a life!) with someone else.
Happy hunting. Make it fun and an adventure. You might as well enjoy yourself on the journey.
Resources: [Orlando Books 432-7633 can order these or look for them in the GLCCE library]
Gay Relationships for Men and Women: How to find them, how to improve them and how to make them last by Tina Tessina (Tarcher, 1989)
The Principles: the gay man's guide to getting (and keeping) Mr. Right by Orland Outland (Kensington, 1998)
The Lesbian Couples' Guide: Finding the Right Woman and Creating a Life Together by Judith McDaniel (HarperPerennial, 1995)