Are you out there dating and simply taking things as they come? Or are you setting some dating and relationship boundaries and rules so you can take care of yourself and have as much control of the process as possible?
Have you ever asked yourself questions like: What do I need to make me happy? How must I act in order to retain my self-respect and dignity? What will I not tolerate in myself or in others? What can I do to keep myself safe and happy?
Too often I talk to women who stayed in unfulfilling relationships or have a history of dating the wrong men. When I ask questions and get their story, it is usually because the man was interested so they went along. He picked her, so she said “yes.”
She thought that he was “all she could get,” she didn’t want to hurt his feelings or she just wanted a man in their life. And he was there.
I’ve heard many reasons for why women entered and stayed in relationships that didn’t bring them happiness.
These women all have one thing in common: they lack self awareness. Months and sometimes years went by without paying attention to their own needs. They never considered what they bring to the table and what they expect from their partner. They just went along.
One of my coaching clients, Tania, is a perfect example. She is 56, beautiful, successful and wonderfully kind. She jumped very quickly into a relationship with a man who picked her. He was very controlling. It lasted 2 years. A year ago she found the strength to end it.
Tania wants to find a good man and fall in love, but her search has gone nowhere. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised: she has no clarity about herself or her expectations. She has no idea how to meet men or date in any way other than the way she’s been doing it. She also doesn’t know what she’s looking for. Yet she keeps looking.
It’s like she’s playing a board game with a big You Win! Box at the end, but there are no rules to tell her how to get to the dang box…and she has no idea what she wins when she gets there. Yet she keeps playing.
Tania just completed step 3 of my 6-step Find Hope and Find Him program. This is where we define expectations and rules. We answer the question: “I’m So Fabulous What’s the Damn Problem?” We discover what’s standing in your way, what patterns need breaking and what you will do to get past your barriers.
Then we take what you learn and create your ground rules. And here’s the important part: These aren’t the rules for him; they are for yourself.
It’s about setting yourself up for dating success by creating a foundation that assures you get to that You Win! Box with grace, dignity and with a good man by your side.
Tania did a spectacular job on this step of my program. Here are her rules:
- I will take my time getting to know a man. I will not allow him to rush me into a relationship, rush me into being sexual or anything else.
- I will “be present” on dates by listening to what he says, asking questions or commenting on what I hear, and not be afraid to do so. I will be open about myself (within reason) and my interests.
- I will not allow a man to snap at me or be judgmental towards me without me calling him on his behavior.
- I will not retract into my shell if he disagrees with what I have to say or want to do. I will no longer go along to get along. I won’t disagree disagreeably but I won’t be silent either.
- I will think about whether I like him and use that conclusion to decide whether I want to see him again. I will no longer focus entirely upon whether he likes me and be insecure about him breaking up with me.
- I will not be afraid of disagreements or feel threatened by the idea that he won’t like me if I don’t do what he says or don’t agree with him.
- I will no longer be afraid if the relationship does not work out at any stage and I will feel free to end it if I don’t feel it is working for me.
There you go. Tania rocked it. These are clear rules that she can now use to guide her actions, feelings and decisions.
Now it’s your turn. Take control of your dating life. What are your dating and relationship rules?