In the last installment of Dating without Drama – you learned about the importance of knowing what you are really looking for in a spouse.
Let’s learn how you can stretch on a date and how that will make your dating experience much more enjoyable and maybe even teach you how to get married faster. Wouldn’t that be nice?
We’ll start by looking at some of your prior dating experiences.
Learning from your worst dates (and reading our free marital counseling advice) will teach you how to get married
As you learned in secret #1 in Dating without Drama- you are unconsciously drawn to someone who feels familiar and who can recreate the emotional environment in which you need to best facilitate growth. If you are disinterested or don’t feel anything, then it very well may mean that he/she doesn’t feel familiar.
Even in an arranged marriage, where you are not the one who is doing the “picking”, you will STILL project or provoke the emotional environment of your childhood.
Projecting means you will make up a story. So, let’s say you never felt heard growing up. Your parents never listened to you. As marriage is a vehicle for growth and healing, you are going to look for a partner who will be able to really hear you. Let’s say you found Mr Right. After you get married, you begin to feel that he is not hearing you either.
While it could be you unconsciously picked him to help you heal your need to be heard as he is not a good listener either, it could very well be that he is a good listener.
Why don’t you feel heard? Because you are projecting, you are making up the story that he is not a good listener in order to recreate the environment for you to work through this and heal. Who would of thought this happens?
You may also provoke, meaning that if you don’t make up that your childhood is being replayed, you will make sure it happens by recreating it. You will complain to him so much about his listening skills (which are actually good) that he won’t want to listen to you.
Sounds pretty depressing, eh? The truth is that if you do it right, if you get conscious about what’s bothering you and that it is not all about your spouse or your partner, but is primarily an early memory being triggered, you can work through the issue together, hear each others’ story with compassion, and stretch to give each other what they need. Pretty good lesson in dating without drama and also how to behave while being married!
Now back to learning how to get married and dating…. I would like to tell you a very old story about stretching. I imagine you are all familiar with the Biblical story of Abraham bringing his son Isaac to be slaughtered. The Bible (Genesis 22:1) prefaces the story by saying that G-d tested Abraham. What about Isaac? Isaac was 37 years old. He was not a little child. He could have refused to partake and Abraham would not have been penalized!
The Kabbalah (Zohar) teaches us that the ultimate test was for Abraham as he needed to integrate the attribute of judgment/restraint, into his personality, for he did not possess this trait at all until this moment that he was about to sacrifice his son. In fact, Avraham did not become a complete person until this moment; for previously, he had been the epitome of loving-kindness. Thus, the test was that Avraham was compelled to act against his nature and, as a result, become a more whole and balanced person.
So what is stretching and how do I do it?
When we stretch out of our comfort zone, we grow and become more complete people. Dating is a practice for stretching. It can be uncomfortable but even on those unpleasant dates, it can give you an opportunity to act intentional in your relationships.
Use it to your advantage to learn about yourself and what makes you tick or get ticked off. This will be a valuable tool for all of your relationships.
How do you stretch out of your comfort zone? It may mean putting yourself out there more. For others, it may mean holding back and listening more. Stretching will make you more conscious and more willing to engage in relationships. It will open you up to new possibilities.
I want to challenge all of you with a really uncomfortable stretch. How do you act when you are going out on a date and you find the other person disinterested? How do you respond when you feel frustrated on a date? Do you have the answer? Your typical response is what we call an adaptation.
As we are all unconsciously protecting ourselves from threatening experiences, we have learned ways to cope when we feel ourselves in an uncomfortable situation. While this adaptation has protected us, it becomes less and less useful as we get older and want to learn more about dating without drama and enter a committed relationship. Let me tell you a little story from my friend Dr Harville Hendrix:
Once upon a time, a hailstorm and a turtle fell in love. “I can’t live without you!” thought the hailstorm. “I feel so complete with you!” exclaimed the turtle. The turtle didn’t notice the hailstorm’s hail, and the hailstorm didn’t see the turtle’s shell because they were both blissfully happy.
But one day the turtle got angry and withdrew into its shell. This made the hailstorm explode in fury. Another day, the hailstorm first exploded in fury, which pushed the turtle into its shell.
Over time, the hailstorm hailed and the turtle turtled on a regular basis. There were fewer days when the two connected, and more days when they found themselves isolated in their roles. This angered and disappointed both. And the space between them became empty and silent.
Each thought that the other was at fault and that the other should change.
In truth, both of their responses made sense as they both felt threatened. When hailstorms feel threatened they expand their energy outward, making everything into a crisis; a drama queen. Turtles, on the other hand, get safe by holding in and constricting their emotions or retreating into their shell. Things get hairy when they interact as that which makes one safe is what makes the other feel threatened. A hailstorm wants to be noticed so it hails, yet that triggers the turtle to retreat deeper into his shell. The turtle gets safe by holding back, but that makes the hailstorm feel even more unsafe.
While you may not experience such intensity on a date, you will notice yourself adapting more towards one extreme or the other when you feel uncomfortable on a date. Do you tend to shut down or do you do all the talking when you are feeling nervous or uncomfortable?
Whatever your typical response may be you may want to think about doing the opposite. Give it a try. How would it come across? What would be your stretch?
In a moment I am going to ask you to do another Dating without Drama exercise that will help you learn more about how you react when you are feeling uncomfortable on a date. If you complete the exercise, you’ll be so much more aware of yourself and be that much closer to learning more about dating without drama. Feel free to take out a pen and pencil or just think about it in your head.
I would like you to answer the following:
- I have experienced pain/anger/frustration/ in dating when my date ….
- I have interpreted this to mean ….
- And then I felt . . .
- At worst I have reacted by . . .
- To hide my fear of . . .
- When what I really desired was . . .
Take all the time you need.
To wrap up Dating without Drama
The Second Secret to Successful Dating is Stretching.
- Stretching helps you stand out from all the other fish in the sea because you have the ability to act intentionally in relationships.
- Every date is a learning experience and a practice for stretching in relationships, ultimately in your most important human relationship- with your spouse.
- We have developed adaptations to protect ourselves, turtle or hailstorm.
- Finally, stretching helps us change gears, do things differently, and experience surprisingly new results.
I look forward to bringing you the next Installment of Dating without Drama, 5 Secrets to Successful Dating.Return to Dating Without Drama Lesson Home Page