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Date ... or Soul Mate?How to Know If Someone Is Worth Pursuing in Two Dates or Less
By Neil Clark Warren
Nelson BooksCopyright © 2002 Neil Clark Warren
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWinning at the Dating Game
A distressed woman pulled me aside after a speaking engagement for singles.
"I'm Christy, and I need your help," she announced.
"What seems to be the problem?" I asked.
"I've been dating my boyfriend, Steve, for a year, but now I'm convinced we're not right for each other."
I asked how she'd come to that conclusion.
"Lately, all kinds of things have started coming up. Like, Steve is really bad at managing his money. Last month, he lost three hundred dollars betting on football, and then he had to borrow the money from me to cover his rent. Things like that are always happening."
"You're right-if that's a pattern, it could be trouble," I said. "Anything else?"
"Oh, all kinds of things. Steve loves to talk about himself, but he never asks about me-my job or friends or anything. It's like our relationship is totally focused on him. I need someone who shows at least a little interest in me."
"You say you've been dating for a year?" I asked. "Did you notice these things before?"
"I guess I wasn't really looking for them. But as timewent on, I've seen how incompatible we are. And I have to admit, it seems like I've wasted a year when I could have been dating other people or pursuing other goals."
Christy's dilemma is a common one. I've talked with hundreds of single men and women who stick with dead-end relationships month after month even though it's clear the couple is ill-suited. By persisting with a relationship that's going nowhere, they waste valuable time, fan false expectations, and create unnecessary heartache and hurt.
The truth is, millions of American singles would love to get married-but only if they could live happily and forever with their partner. The vast majority of single men and women, however, are fed up with the dating game. The whole frustrating, exhilarating, maddening, crazy process leaves them feeling confused, baffled, and hopeless.
Are you one of them?
Does a happy marriage seem light-years away because of the impossible challenges of dating?
Have you found dating a painful, sometimes frightening, endlessly puzzling pursuit?
Would you like to cut down on the hassle, seriously reduce the confusion, and move efficiently and smoothly through the process?
Let me tell you how I think this book can help:
First, I'll help you analyze dating for exactly what it is. Sure, it's a frustrating, bewildering process for most people, but you can clear away all the haze and move into the dating arena with more self-assurance than ever before. We will look squarely at the three fundamental challenges of dating-and we'll simplify, clarify, and make it 100 percent more manageable. You'll learn to steer clear of all the quagmires and traps. You will encounter easy-to-apply guidelines that will move you like a rocket toward that person with whom you can be happy for the rest of your life.
Second, we'll get down to the nitty-gritty, practical aspects of dating. I'll show you exactly how to take charge of the critical, early phases of a relationship-how to make a quick and accurate decision about whether or not to invest more time, effort, and energy in another person. This will bolster your confidence and maximize your ability to handle every challenge dating brings.
For instance, if a member of the opposite sex asks you out, you will know early on if he or she is "in the ballpark" for what you want in a lifetime companion. By the end of the second date, you will know precisely if you want to devote additional time and emotion to this person.
If you don't want to, you will have the confidence to end the relationship kindly and efficiently, treating the individual with dignity, but getting on with your effort to find the "right" person. If you conclude, somewhere between the first five minutes of the first encounter and the end of the second date, that this person has real promise for you, your decision will be bold and obvious ... because it will be built on time-proven principles and a carefully honed methodology.
How Do You Know If someone Is "Right" for You?
It is absolutely critical that you get your thinking straight about the type of person you want to marry. Sometimes singles fail to think strategically about potential mates simply because they don't have a wide range of candidates to choose from. They don't believe they'll ever be fortunate enough to evaluate-and eventually select from-a number of possible partners.
As one twenty-nine-year-old, never-married woman told me recently, "Let's be honest, the phone isn't ringing off the hook with persistent suitors, so I'm not exactly in a position to be selective or choosy."
Like this woman, many singles wrongly assume that if there is only one choice, they don't need to make a determination-much less make an early-on decision. Since there is no need for efficiency, they falsely infer that they can just bide their time, go with the flow, and see where the relationship ends up. But with this kind of thinking, you'll end up without a well-defined image of your ideal mate ... and you may end up stuck in an unhappy, unsatisfying marriage for the rest of your life.
We'll discuss all of this in detail later, but for now, let me lead you in what I believe to be a significant direction. In an effort to get your thinking straightened out, I want you to imagine that your list of candidates is long. Suppose that your calendar is filled with upcoming dates, singles events, and parties where you'll become acquainted with several eligible people. What's more, assume you already have two or three relationships that could develop into something serious. (I suspect you like this exercise!)
Now your challenge is simple: You need to be able to make an accurate and rapid-fire decision about the best person for you to marry, someone with whom you could be happy for a lifetime. When you're able to do this, you will be on your way to mastering the entire dating process.
I was sitting at a baseball game the other night with my friend Steve, who has never married. He has all kinds of attractive qualities, and he is genuinely liked and pursued by members of the opposite sex. We were chatting about the excitement and the perils of dating. I eventually posed an imaginary dilemma for him that I've been pondering and researching for months. It went like this:
"Steve, assume that I found ten women in your age category who are all single and willing to date you. They are equally good-looking, equally intelligent, and they have equally attractive personalities. But let's say that I have determined ahead of time that marriage to five of these persons will prove to be disastrous. They perhaps are emotionally unhealthy or in some other way incapable of a long-term, unselfish, and committed relationship. The other five of these persons are unusually healthy, and marriage to any one of them would have great potential for success."
I knew I had Steve's attention, so I continued. "Now let's say that you can date each of these ten women two times. And then it is your task to determine which five would be the 'good' choices and which would be the 'bad' choices. Do you think you could identify those persons with whom marriage would likely be disastrous and those with whom marriage would likely be wonderfully positive?"
Steve thought for a while and then said: "Well, I think I'd be right more often than I'd be wrong."
"Steve, this is your future we're talking about!" I chided. "What if you're fooled? What if you just happen to be wrong instead of right for this crucial decision? Are you going to leave the most important decision of your life to chance?"
Steve laughed. "All right, all right, Neil. Get to the point."
"Okay," I said, "what if I told you that based on my research and years of experience as a psychologist, I've come up with a simple, clearly defined process for determining with certainty which of those five would be worth pursuing and which would not? Not only that, but what if you could achieve this in two dates or less? Would you be interested in learning these techniques?"
"You bet I would!" Steve said.
So how about you? Would you like to learn to identify-within the span of two dates-if someone is a good marriage candidate or not? If so, stick with me.
Be Smarter So You Can Be Happier
Hardly anyone on earth would argue with me when I say that your choice of a marriage partner is an overwhelmingly important decision in your life. But listen to my further assertion: You not only want to make a brilliant final decision about the person you marry, but you also want to be able to make smaller decisions along the way, quickly and wisely. We'll talk about why "quickly" is so important a little later, but I want to tell you what both "quickly" and "wisely" require of you.
In short, you have to be smarter in order to be quicker and wiser. Being smarter involves a deep understanding of who you are, what you need from another person in order to be truly fulfilled, and how you can read critical cues in other people so you will rapidly know whether they are right for you. This book is designed to help you get fifty IQ points smarter about these three subjects.
If both you and the person you're dating agree that your relationship is casual, informal, and not at all likely to lead to anything serious and committed, a decision about continuing to go out together becomes less critical. But if either of you is eager to find a lifelong partner, and if you want to avoid nettlesome entanglements in "going-nowhere" relationships, an early decision about whether to "continue the pursuit" becomes far more important.
A decision to stop dating someone is hard to make, but it should be made as early in the process as possible. In other words, if a new relationship is likely to evolve in a negative direction, the earlier you can end it and move on the better. There are three reasons for this:
First, any developing relationship creates expectations and raises hopes. These hopes and expectations contribute to a significant amount of emotional bonding. When a dating relationship goes on for very long, it often produces in one or both persons strong feelings. Should the relationship end, the person who holds these feelings will be deeply wounded. If a decision to discontinue a dating relationship is eventually going to be made, it is best to make it early on, when emotional ties are not so advanced and complicated.
Second, a relationship that is going nowhere should be ended so both individuals can move on to better prospects. I have seen many relationships prolonged that should have ended far earlier-because the two persons didn't have the courage to stop the relationship when it was obviously heading toward stagnation or catastrophe. As time passes, these relationships become more and more difficult to terminate. They become like quicksand: the deeper you sink, the tougher it is to get out. Far too often, these unacknowledged or unfaced difficulties are never corrected, and the couple end up getting married. Many unhappily married couples have told me that they knew early in the dating relationship it made no sense for them to continue, but they just couldn't bring themselves to hurt the other person or to deny their own desperate desire to be married.
Third, ending a relationship sooner rather than later saves precious time. This is a vital issue for both men and women, particularly as age becomes a factor. I find that women are especially sensitive to wasting time and letting their biological clock tick. Why fritter away valuable weeks, months, or even years in a relationship that will end at some point anyway? It's far better to move on in order to provide maximal opportunity to find someone with whom your chances for marriage are greater.
A Decision to Continue Dating Also Has Advantages
Just as there are critical implications for ending a relationship, deciding to move forward also holds important considerations. First, making a conscious decision to continue-rather than just drifting on from week to week-contributes significantly to your positive attitude and demeanor. And, equally important, nothing is quite as attractive to your dating partner as knowing you have carefully weighed the information at hand and have chosen to pursue the relationship.
Obviously, this kind of decision must be the result of a disciplined, purposeful, fully informed process. When the choice to move forward is well thought out and authentic, it has a powerful effect on both persons. And when both the man and the woman detect the same level of thoughtful "positiveness" in each other, the relationship is infused with energy. For instance, the man who forthrightly asks a woman for a third date and hears a hearty "Yes, I'd be delighted" will be as powerfully impacted by her response as she is by his. Their mutual enthusiasm will multiply the bonding effect.
The second positive result of an early, deliberate decision to proceed has to do with momentum. In virtually every relationship, there are complex dynamics. The woman has mixed observations about the man she's dating: "He talks too much, but he's very bright. His life revolves around sports, but he makes me laugh a lot. He is a little more emotionally distant than I would prefer, but he's tender when he talks about his family."
Likewise, the man has both positive and negative impressions of the woman: "She wasn't ready when I came by for her, but she was worth the wait-she looked terrific. She seems a little too eager to find out about my education and employment, but she's easy to be around, and her 'credentials' are impressive. She tries too hard to zero in on my feelings and my 'deep, inner meanings,' but she seems willing to lighten up when I send her signals to back off a little."
So when this fellow asks the woman for a third date and she happily accepts, the two of them implicitly decide to focus on the positive impressions they have of each other rather than the negative. Whether they know it or not, two things will almost surely result: Their decision will evoke more of these positive attributes in the other person by reinforcing them; and even more important, both partners will establish a tendency within themselves to concentrate on the perceived assets of their partner rather than the perceived deficits.
Excerpted from Date ... or Soul Mate? by Neil Clark Warren Copyright © 2002 by Neil Clark Warren. Excerpted by permission.
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