May 25, 2010

Rethinking the Purpose of Dating

I have been on this odyssey of self-discovery and, at the same time, trying to understand how to navigate this tricky road of male-female relationships. Obviously what I have been doing isn't working. I have had several long-term relationships that lasted 2-3 years. Most of them lasted way too long, but by the time I figured out it wasn't going to work, I was too invested to just call it quits. It seemed easier to stay and try and work things out rather than start over with someone new. Of course, every time you are in a 2-3 year relationship that isn't going anywhere, that is 2-3 years you have put off meeting someone else that could be right for you.

So I started looking at how I had been dating. I was dating to marry. If I met a guy online or wherever, I would line him up with what I was looking for in a husband. He had to be stunningly handsome, a strong Christian, and financially secure. And if he had tattoos, a motorcycle, or played the guitar, it would be a bonus. If the guy wasn't any of those things, he was out of luck. If the man did make it through my gauntlet of requirements, I would meet him once and probably never hear from him again, as I treated each date like a job interview. I was going to screen out those unsuitables before I wasted any time on them.
The problem is, I wasn't getting very many dates. I also was missing out on the chance to just enjoy meeting someone for the pure joy of getting to know them. I have been reading this book called How to Get a Date Worth Keeping by Dr. Henry Cloud. He encourages singles to date just to date and not to marry. The reasons are:
1. Most of us may know what we want in a person, but not what we need 
2. Most of us only date someone who is our "type," and you miss out on the opportunity to meet a different type, which may fit you better 
3. In order to find a mate, you need to date a lot, and you can't do that if you are so picky that you never go on dates 
4. Dating itself is useful because it will help you identify things you like in a person and also what things you need to work on to become the best husband or wife possible (For instance, if you find you are talking to someone and you are afraid they will think you are boring, you need to work on your self-esteem issues)

May 05, 2010

Enabling: What's the Problem?

I remember when Dr. Phil first came out, one of his "hot words" was enabling. This is a word I know all too well. I am a recovering enabler, and I know many, as well. I am here to speak out against enabling, explain what it is, what's the problem, and what you can do about it.

What is it?
At the very basic level, enabling means that you don't allow someone to deal with the natural consequences of their behavior. Every time we make choices, there are consequences or effects of making those choices, whether positive or negative. Based on the consequences, we can then decide if we want to continue to make the same choices or choose something different. If you stick your finger in a light socket, you get a shock. More than likely, you won't choose to stick your finger in there again, unless you like pain. Enablers take the consequences of a loved one's choices upon themselves. Here are some examples:Your son tells you that he has homework, and he has to go to the library tonight to get some books. In talking with him, you discover he has known about this assignment for three weeks and is just now telling you. You had other plans for tonight, but instead, you cancel your plans and take your son to the library. Of course, you yell a lot and grumble all the way back and forth to the library, but you still do it. This is not the first time this has happened.
Your friend is always late when you have plans. You have asked her to arrive at 6 pm so that you can drive to the movie theater. You don't want to miss the previews. At 6 pm, your friend still hasn't arrived yet, so you wait, stewing the whole time about what a lousy friend she is. You can't wait to give her a piece of your mind.
Your husband had some of his buddies over last night for some beers. You made sure to ask him to please clean up the kitchen before he goes to bed, but you know he won't. The next morning, you get up half an hour early to clean up the dirty dishes and get rid of the bottles so that you can make him breakfast.
So what's the problem?