Today’s post is an article written by my friend, colleague and mentor Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. Tina and I met a few years ago after I cited one of her articles in a blog post. I had searched the web for hours looking for someone brilliant to support a point I was making, and I stumbled upon Tina’s website. I knew she was a kindred spirit.
The strange part is that, after finding her on the web, we found out we lived in the same town. Now that was bashert! Fast forward and we are now writing a book together. And we are dear friends. I love you Tina!
Here is her article. I’m posting it as she wrote it because it’s perfect. I think you’ll see why she and I click. Let me know what you think!
As I was swimming last week, a young couple came into the pool. Instead of doing laps or walking, like most of the gym members, they were just enjoying themselves. He started splashing her, and she said “Joey, stop it!” but she said it in a placating, whiney voice. He just kept splashing her. I bit my tongue, because what I wanted to do was tell her she was teaching him to ignore her and push past her boundaries. For all I know, he was a nice guy, and I worried for nothing—but I do know that this is how abuse begins—with small incursions over boundaries. When a potential abuser (male or female) learns that the victim won’t oppose his or her actions, he or she then assumes it’s OK to become more pushy and demanding, and perhaps abusive.
When you’re dealing with a new relationship, it’s important to notice if the other person is not being considerate, or being disrespectful, or being too selfish. While anyone can make a mistake or fall short of perfect behavior, someone who repeatedly is rude, inconsiderate or obnoxious, and who won’t take “stop” or “no” for an answer, is showing signs of narcissism and emotional immaturity. This is the kind of person who can turn out to be a problem or a jerk.
Keep in mind that any person you’re in a new relationship with is on their best behavior—courting behavior. It is not going to get better as you get closer. The more a disrespectful person feels there’s some power to be gained, the more he or she will push.
Here are some ways to notice if a new date has a chance of becoming a problem.
• Pay Attention!!! You Have Things to Learn Here!
The most important aspect of a 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 person, listening to what your date says, watching what your date does and understanding how your date feels are still your primary objectives.
• 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.
• 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.
Also, 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. 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.
• Know the signs of emotional blackmail:
1. A demand. Your date won’t take “no” for an answer, and requests are really demands.
2. Resistance. When every discussion turns into an argument.
3. Pressure. Your date pressures you to go along.
4. 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) © Tina Tessina 2012
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction (New Page); How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free (New Page); The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again (Wiley) and The Real 13th Step: Discovering Self-Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve Step Programs (New Page); Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage and her newest, Lovestyles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She publishes “Happiness Tips from Tina”, an e-mail newsletter, and the “Dr. Romance Blog.” Online, she is “Dr. Romance” with columns at Divorce360.com, Wellsphere.com, and Yahoo!Personals, as well as a Redbook Love Network expert. Dr. Tessina guests frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC news. She tweets @tinatessina and is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tinatessina and http://www.facebook.com/#!/DrRomanceBlog