You’re fresh out of a disaster, and you are terrified of the thought of dating again, but you’re going to try anyway. Good for you! Here are some guidelines to help you avoid repeating old mistakes:
1. Pay Attention!
You Have Things to Learn Here! The most important aspect of this date, in addition to having a good time, is to get to know each other better. No matter how excited, turned on or thrilled you may be about this date, listening to what your date says, watching what your date does and understanding how your date feels are still your primary objectives.
2. What Your Date Thinks of You Is Not Your Business.
Your Business Is What You Think of Your Date. One of the easiest ways to lose your objectivity and balance in this is to worry about what your date thinks about you. If you spend your time essentially trying to look at yourself through your date's eyes, guessing what he or she is seeing when looking at you, or hearing when listening to you, you'll miss what's really happening. You're supposed to be evaluating the other person, not pretending to look at yourself through his or her eyes. Pay attention so you know what YOU think of your date. 3. Look for Integrity.
Make sure your date walks his or her talk. Anyone can talk big. Actually, some of the best people don’t present themselves well — don’t overlook someone who is not gorgeous, charming and glib, but has all the qualities you really need in a partner. 4. Be very consistent and careful about your sexual safety.
Until the relationship progresses to the point that you become monogamous, and both have been tested for STD’s, be careful. The nicest people can be infected with a disease and not even know they have it. If you have had unprotected sex, have your doctor do a screening for STD’s. Don’t assume your partner is monogamous — especially if you haven’t discussed it in detail. 5. Know the signs of emotional blackmail:
A demand: Your date won’t take “no” for an answer, and requests are really demands.
Resistance: When every discussion turns into an argument.
Pressure: Your date pressures you to go along.
Threats: Your date uses threatening or coercing tactics: threatening to end the relationship, tears, rage, badgering. Hopefully, because you've thought about the serious issues in advance, you'll still be able to relax and have a good time — so good, that you decide to keep dating each other. Then, you'll need a whole new set of skills.
(From the "The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again," Wiley 2002.) Tina Tessina, Ph.D., has been a licensed California psychotherapist for more than 30 years. She has authored more than 11 books, including "Money, Sex and Kids"; “The Commuter Marriage: Keeping your Relationship Close While you’re Far Apart”; "How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free"; "The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again"; and, “It Ends with You: Grow Up and Grow Out of Dysfunction.” Tina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.