Monday, June 30, 2008

Looking for Mr. or Ms. Right?

Recently, in counseling situations, I've had to deal with several people who've been actively searching for partners.

Many of them had turned to online match-making services, trying to 'advertise' themselves, so to speak. Regrettably, many such services seem more interested in taking desperate people's money than in ensuring a truly compatible match. (Yes, I know there are some reputable services out there, and I've conducted weddings for people who've met through them: but the good ones appear to be outnumbered at least ten-to-one by the less scrupulous.)

Others have used social networking services such as MySpace, Facebook and others, relying on their 'friends' to introduce them to eligible partners. Again, in the absence of careful screening and investigation, most such attempts appear to have done more harm than good. Besides, the 'online persona' that many people create for themselves appears to have little to do with reality on many occasions. (After all, when a social networking site exists even for computer avatars, just how much realism can one expect?)

I've developed a few general rules for such situations, which I try to explain to those who seek my advice. I think of them as prerequisites to success in looking for a partner. If they aren't in place, success is doubtful. I'd like to lay them out here, and ask for your comments. What do you think? Do these strike you as reasonable, realistic, and useful?

  • Before you put out a long 'wish list' of what you want in a partner, how about stopping to ask yourself, "What do I have to offer that a partner would want?" If you can't answer that question, maybe you need to spend a lot more time finding out about yourself, before you look for someone to share your life. In particular, you need to be comfortable with yourself, and in your own company. If you aren't comfortable unless you're with others, that's a danger sign.
  • Beware of looking for what you want in a partner. What you want may not be what you need. I'm constantly amazed to hear people describe traits they want in a partner, when from my own knowledge of them, such attributes would only make their own problems worse!
  • Don't rush things. Today it's regrettably common for relationships to progress to sexual intimacy before there's any real mental or spiritual intimacy between the partners. This is seldom productive. Indeed, it can be inimical to really deep communication. It's far too easy to shut off discussion, particularly over a point that causes dissension, and jump into bed. In that sense, sexual intimacy actually blocks communication, rather than enhances it.
  • If you're desperate, it shows. There are people out there who can spot that, and who will take advantage of it without hesitation.
  • It's better to have quality time alone, or with platonic friends, rather than waste it on an allegedly romantic or sexual relationship that isn't going anywhere.
  • If you constantly give yourself to others in an intimate way, without receiving genuine intimacy and an equal 'gift' in return, why are you surprised when you feel empty, lost, a mere shell of your former self? You can't empty yourself without suffering the consequences. A good, healthy relationship will fill you, not empty you: and you can't build such a relationship by jumping straight into the giving. Hold back until you're more sure.

Of course, there are spiritual aspects to this as well, and I talk about them with those who share my approach to God and faith. Since this blog is an open forum, and I know I have readers ranging from profoundly religious right through to hard-line atheists, I won't bring those points into the discussion. I'll leave it at those human insights.

What say you, readers?



Alison said...

I have personally tried a couple of "dates" over the internet.(Yahoo personals, etc.) They included online talking, an exchange of photos, talking on the phone for a week or so, before even meeting the person. I did not find it to be an enjoyable experience. I found that even though we had a lot of things in common, and could talk for hours on the phone, when it came time to meet, one of the following things would happen:

1. There was no doubt what their intent was. (sexual)They could really care less about a relationship and would say/do anything to get what they wanted.
2. There was a huge discrepancy in what was presented online and what was presented in real life. (Even the photos were out-dated).
3. No physical chemistry existed or in other words, no matter how much we liked each other over the phone, it was just a big dud when we met face to face. (Even after the second date).

I am in no way an expert on this subject, and like you, have friends and family that met online and developed sucessfull relationships. I think you've got a good grasp on what someone should/shouldn't do/expect. It is however, a deeply personal choice to try to "sell" oneself in that way. It didn't work for me though. I figure if it was meant to be, it will be. You have to make your own happiness!

FlutePrayer said...

Your advice to avoid on line matchmaking services is wise. A close family member discovered her spouse had registered on several on line dating services as a "widower" only after one of the women he was "dating" became suspicious when she found his wife's birth certificate but couldn't find a death certificate and contacted the my relative. It turned out he was "dating" 21 women at once while carrying on the facade of loving husband and father. Wait for someone you know and trust to introduce you to someone they know and trust. It's better that way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this and for the people who have left comments. I'm going through a divorce and am in no hurry to jump back in the dating pool (agreeing with the point that I need to know who I am before I get involved with someone else), but had been curious about the online match services. I'm thinking that being cautious and being introduced through mutal friends is the way to go(when the time comes)!