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Ask Dr. C: Summer of Love – Dating. 5 ways to make sure you don’t lose yourself

We talked about friendships (“The Summer of Love”) a few weeks ago, so I thought I would follow it up with some words about dating…

Dating relationships can be messy… and the path is usually strewn with broken hearts and unmet expectations. But here are some tips I want you to consider either before you start getting “closer” or when you wake up one morning and realize that things aren’t what you thought they’d be.

1. Keep your identity.

Somewhere along the way when you are dating – you lose your own identity. You become “his girlfriend” and he becomes “her boyfriend” – no longer the unique person with gifts and talents you are supposed to be developing – but now some weird hybrid of the both of you. Even after years of marriage – that’s not cool with me! When I talk with a girl (or wife) who is morphing into someone else’s identity – I try to help them see what is really being lost: their individual ability to express their gift to the world.

Walking hand-in-hand, side-by-side = good.
Becoming a pale version of someone else = not good.

2. Keep the relationship in perspective.

Don’t start to worship that person. Most people struggle with giving someone else more power in their lives than they should. We can even get to the point where we care more about their opinion than what we believe about ourselves. We put this dating person in a position where they have to meet all of our needs. Isn’t gonna happen. Shouldn’t let it happen.

3. Adjust your expectations.

Know what their expectations are and don’t ignore their expectations when you find out what they are. I know you may be thinking, “Why all the fuss? We’re just dating…” But you marry someone you’ve dated. And mindless dating – dating without a purpose – well, it’s just dumb. Only choose someone to date who would make a great mate – even if marriage isn’t on the radar for a few years. While questions about marriage, children, finances, careers, etc. are not something you lead a relationship with – it is important to know fairly early in the relationship if this person is someone who has the potential to be a spouse… It is easier to break up on friendly terms in four months than it is after four years.

I have talked with people who fell deeply in love with someone, but because they didn’t realize some major expectations that person had – were now in a difficult, painful situation. Their goals or dreams or ambitions were too diverse and it made a life together not possible.

4. Set physical boundaries.

(The more verbal, the better.) Even though this isn’t going to be a biology blog… we know we are created as sexual beings. You have to choose carefully who you are going to listen to and believe regarding your sexuality. If you haven’t already carefully stated what your standards are in this area – it’s very difficult in the heat of the moment to think about what IS best – not just what FEELS best.

5. Be compatible in your mission.

We are here for a reason. If you’re interested in someone who wants to live in China, but your heart is to stay and create a life in this town or country – that will be a problem. Knowing what you want to do with your life (not just your career, but also your purpose) is important. Date someone who can encourage you (and vice versa) in your dreams – and not compete with those dreams.

Just a few things to get you thinking… or re-thinking about the person you’re feeling attracted to.

Lovely as always,

Dr. C.