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The First Question You Should Ask Before Dating: Can You Treat The Other Person As They Deserve?

12/03/2012

Have you recently broken up with someone? Has there been a death in your family? Are you so overwhelmed with school and work its hard to find time to eat dinner let alone do your homework? It sounds like you have a lot on your plate. Are you sure that you’re in a good place right now to start a relationship?

By relationship, I don’t mean dating. Dating is a fun (stressful for me) way to unwind. You get to meet new people, spend a little time with them, and do something fun. You may go out with the same person a few times, but I’m really referring to dating around. By my definition, a relationship is being monogomous and emotionally committed to another person (unless you’re in an open relationship, in which case the monogomous part of my definition is moot).

The main reason for my concern is the fact that relationships don’t seem to work when they only go one way. The obvious example would be a brutal case of domestic abuse bcause clearly one person gets more out of that relationship than the other, but that way too commn occurrence is way too extreme of an example for what I mean. I’m talking about the little things, like being able to listen to your lover’s problems without becoming swamped in your own issues or being able to give your lover the patience and kindness they deserve. Can you show them that you appreciate them? Are you able to listen to them? Be kind? Do nice things? Give and not just recieve? Reciprocate the love, affection, and attention that is given to you? Not always be in a dower mood?

Sometimes we get so enmeshed in our lives and our problems that we can’t find our ways out of the holes we’ve dug for ourselves. Sometimes another person can help us find our ways out of this bad places. Not to sound like a Sour Sally, but that sounds like an awfuly cheesey Hallmark movie; not too likely to actually work out.

Here’s an example: me. The first guy I ever dated I only dated him because I wanted to have a boyfriend. I wasn’t in it for the connection or to share my life or because I even really cared for him. I was just 19 and ready to say that I hadn’t been single for my whole life. Good thing the other guy wasn’t that into me, either, or our breakup would have been much worse than it was. It would have been messy!

For another example, take my best friend. She’s dated a lot of people and has had quite a few relationships with peole who were bad for her (a subject for a future post: How to Tell if Someone is Good For You). Most have ended badly, including her last one. She keeps herself crazy busy between work and school and a social life, there’s drama in her family and between a few of her friends (which is more than two different sets of drama) and recently her grandfather was diagnosed with a terminal case of cancer. That’s a lot on her plate, and sometimes its almost like she’s struggling to keep her head above water. She’s a strong girl and most of the time she’s fine, but emotionally she’s in no position to be trying to have a relationship right now. Her stuff will bog her and her relationship down until it sinks.

Admittedly, that was also a fairly extreme example. My boyfiend’s frind is also in a bad place right now. I don’t know why – I’m not close enough to him to be privileged with that information – but he said that it was some pretty bad stuff. He had a chance to get together with a girl that he’s liked for a long time, but she was also in a bad place. They had one day together, and it’s been mostly incommunicado since then. He and I spoke for a while, and he pretty much decided that once she’s over her ex and he’s in a better place he’ll try and give it another shot. There’s always a possibility of later.

Of course, it is rough on both sides. I’ve been on the other end of a relationship where the other person wasn’t in a good place. My ex (a different ex than in the first example) had a real fear of commitment. He came by it honestly; his ex before me made him so scared that he put four locks on his bedroom door. But still, I wanted a give/take relationship with him. It took him yelling at me because I asked him for a ride home before I broke up with him. It’s not my job to take care of him when he can’t or won’t do anything for me.

So, you’re not in a good (or even decent) place to date right now, but you like someone. What do you do about it? I suggest not doing anything. Try to be friends. Out of friendship blossoms the strongest relationships. Then, when you are ready to ramp it up to the next level, she/he will be there with you. Or, through the friendship you’ll realize that they’re only good as friends and not as a significant other. Or they may be in an even worse emotional state than you are. That way you’ll know. And if your attention strays… then maybe it wouldn’t have worked out anyways.

Please remember that a romance doesn’t have to work out. As my mom says: “They’re all asses until you meet the right one.” So far, she seems to be right. I hope everything works out for you!

So, did this advice help or hinder you? Feel free to post any questions you may have!

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From → Romance

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