The Do’s and Don’ts of Healthy Dating for Recovering Sex Addicts
By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S
Dating seems to confound the even the most rational among us. Dan, a 31-year old sociology professor put it this way, “I don’t know what it is about me, I can teach classes about the meaning of relationships, but I can’t seem to actually get one of my own going. I go on a few dates; maybe it gets hot with women or another for a while, but eventually just end up right back where I started… single! Usually I give up in frustration for a while, just to start all over again. I can’t figure out why I haven’t gotten hitched. Is something wrong with me or are there just no good women out there?”
To clarify the concept, Wikipideia – the ultimate, hip online encyclopedia, offers the following definition of dating:
… An occasion when one socializes with a potential lover or spouse to communicate with and to understand each other better. The purpose of a date is to become acquainted with each other and decide whether to enter a relationship. During dates, people often explore each other’s personalities, to discover whether or not they would be compatible together in a relationship.
Dating experts advise that finding a suitable companion can take a lot of effort and easily be as time consuming and involved as a career move, not to mention hard on your self esteem. Dating is a numbers game, the more potential spouses you meet, the better chance you have of finding a good one. Unfortunately too many people give up looking too quickly. Common scenarios that lead to dating despair include the emotionally needful woman consistently getting her heart broken by getting serious or sexual too quickly with the wrong guys. Or just as problematic, the superficial or inexperienced dater who, using dating as a metaphor for casual sex, ultimately becomes more skilled with the Kama Sutra than in forming meaningful partnerships.
Make your peace with dating, because it can be a long haul. Gay or straight, male or female, those who are serious about the mating game can expect to date as many as 25 or more different people in any given year before the right one shows up. So put on your overcoat, you may be out there for a while. Below are some suggested dos and don’ts to help ease your way through the perilous maze of attraction and repulsion that we call finding a mate.
- Do date a lot. Let yourself be casual about the process and meet as many potential partners as you can.
- Do consider a personal card (like a business card) with your name, number and/or email address on it. They’re great for a quick introduction.
- Do try different ways of meeting potential dates. If you have never met someone online or attended a dating club– try it out. Let yourself go into a bar to meet someone, give it a shot. You never know where that someone might be just waiting to find you.
- Do let your friends and family know that you are looking.
- Do look at your dates as potential friends. Ultimately a having a solid friendship is how you build anything long-term.
- Do try to learn about the person you are dating. Find out their passions and interests. Make sure to focus on them as much as you share yourself.
- Don’t date a someone if they don’t turn you on physically. If he or she isn’t at least a 7 on your scale of 10, throw them back in the pool. No matter how good they look on paper you need feel turned-on by them.
- Don’t tell your date about other people you have loved, dated or screwed – at least not in the beginning. It’s not the place or time for your love history.
- Don’t be late for a date.
- Don’t go to bars alone looking for a date – you may get laid, but not likely loved.
- Don’t try to be someone that you’re not or try to show off just to keep them interested.
- Don’t call, email or text them daily, no matter how good it felt being together. Try to let the dating take its own course.
- Don’t push to have sex quickly or let yourself be pushed. If it is the right person, there will be plenty of time for that. Let it stay hot between you for a while before bedding down.
- Don’t talk about moving in, monogamy or bridal registries before at least 60 days of knowing each other – and even then only after first discussing this with a neutral friend.
And most meaningful of all, trust your feelings. Notice if you are being treated well and having fun. Notice if you feel respect for him or her and if you share similar values. If it isn’t working out, move on. Despite what all the songs tell us – there really are many people out there who could be THE ONE for each one of us. Good hunting.