Dating? What is it? Why is it so confusing? Dating is a form of courtship that focuses mostly on social activities between two people for the sole reason of accessing whether they are suitable for each other as an intimate partner or potential mate. Dating as an institution is a relatively recent phenomenon which emerged in the last few centuries.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, weddings were seen as business arrangements between families.  While romance was something that happened before and outside of marriage, discreetly in covert meetings.  Can you imagine being in a loveless marriage that was a business transaction?  The only way that people were able to pursue love and intimacy was by having affairs.   A 12th-century book, The Art of Courtly Love, advised that “True love can have no place between husband and wife”.  Can you imagine?  I think that we are still at that place given the number of divorces we are experiencing in this time.

Dating is two people together in public, exploring if they should become romantically involved. Each person is in chorus evaluating the other as a possible future partner, and at the same time is being evaluated. Dating is stressful. Some of what happens on a date is guided by a mutual understanding of societies rules. In my opinion, dating becomes scary because of a set of mythological rules from our reptilian brains and how its effect on our emotions.  Dating is not based on logic.  It turns smart successful people into confused bumbling idiots.

What is dating anyway? Why does it catch us off guard? Why do we have all of these negative conversations surrounding dating, most of which we make up in our heads?  What is it that has so many people confused, frightened and upset?   I’ll tell you what I think. It’s because we are all trying very hard to avoid the experience of being vulnerable.  We do not want to be responsible for what we really want in relationship and we have a fear of rejection.

We believe that being vulnerable is a weakness, when being vulnerable is actually one of our strengths.  Being vulnerable allows us to be truthful with ourselves and our feelings. Vulnerability does not operate on the side of logic.

My personal experience with being vulnerable was when I was trying avoid my feelings.  I was feeling anxious, worried and outside of myself.  I do not like these feelings.   So, I do not dwell in them for a long time.  The moment I shared my vulnerability and what I was afraid of, I felt like I rebalanced myself.  I experienced a sense of relief.  It gave me power and the self-awareness of how I was shutting myself down and not being open to my feelings.  I found out I was resisting my emotions by constantly complaining to anyone who would listen.   I discovered that I was creating the same problems in every relationship that I encountered.  I didn’t express my feelings and wasn’t vulnerable, then I became distant or resentful.

When you are considering dating, it is important to know what it is that you want to create for yourself.  What is the intention of dating? Be honest and clear with yourself.  Take nothing personally.  Accept that your date is having their own variation of what it is you are going through.   After you gain clarity about your needs, wants, and expectations, be courageous enough to share them, knowing that not every person who wants to date might be on the same page as you.

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