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Who Took the Romance Out of Dating?

Do you know how to date? I’m not talking about calling up someone and asking them out. I’m talking about really dating. Romancing the other person. Whoever took it out needs to put it back in! We need it.

Dating … we set a date for a doctor’s appointment, a tennis game, a court hearing, a wedding. Ah hah! It implies intention; that something important enough is going to happen that you’ve put in on your calendar, and not just penciled in.

Dating rituals seem to be falling by the wayside, and I’m not sure it’s for the best. The purpose of dating hasn’t changed, has it? To meet someone of the other sex? Well that’s what we say, but we’re hoping it will work out, meaning we’ll get along, hit it off, become a couple, enjoy time and kisses together, eventually marrying.

It’s all about possibility. It’s all about mystery. Expectations, met or dashed. Dreams coming true. Love. Romance.

So what are the elements needing to be present?

The first is the time-thing. After all it’s datING, meaning it’s going to go on for a while. I’m reminded of a conversation I heard between a friend of mine, Carrie, and her younger sister. We were listening to some song on the radio about anticipation … getting faint at the thought of making love with someone, dying of longing, that sort of thing.

“How come that never happened to me?” said Carrie.

“It’s because you always jumped right into bed with them,” said her older sister.

There’s something to be said for letting the tension mount, about letting the other person fantasize for a while.

Meanwhile, build a little illusion. Back in my college days, we actually had co-ed dorms. The guys never saw us with our hair in rollers or without our makeup. They never saw our messy rooms. No, it wasn’t realistic, but that’s sort of what it’s all about … something nearly perfect, something staged, something special.

After all, there’s a time to experience your knight in shining armor unshaven, with bad breath, farting under the sheets, but it can wait. You have to fall in love with him before you can tolerate these things!

There's no need to worry about realism showing up. There will always be plenty of floors to mop, dirty diapers to change, and spreadsheets to type. It's the fantasy-moments that are in short supply.

A little illusion is part of it. I don’t mean lying about your alcoholism or marital status. I mean making it a little bigger than life. Once you’ve chosen a good candidate, take the time and effort to make something out of it; this mirrors the energy you’d be willing to put into a commitment, a marriage. Dress up, put on the cologne or after-shave, buy a new pair of shoes. Be on time. It shows you think it’s important.

Use your emotional intelligence. Let the anxiety and excitement be a part of it. Don’t jump the gun. We want what we can’t have. We appreciate what we have to work for. We devalue something that comes easy. We ignore what’s plentiful.

Be willing to endure – in fact learn to enjoy – the uneasy feelings. Will he like me as much as I like him? What will she be like in bed? He hasn’t called in 2 days, 3 hours, 4 minutes; is it over? Will she go away with me for a weekend if I ask?

Rushing into bed, demanding early commitments, whining for reassurance, and revealing the blemishes before the blushes is wishing it all away. That’s why people have affairs after all – for the newness, the intrigue, the mystery, the suspense and the wooing. Buckingham and Clifton call WOOing, Winning Others Over. We act like we don’t like it, but there’s no greater thrill than working to win someone else over and having a little trouble with it. After all, think about an arranged marriage: “Here, Matthew. Here is your bride.” You miss the hunt, but with the hunt comes the uncertainty.

Men need to go through the drill. They need to pursue and be thwarted and then to win. And we women? We need to be courted. Why? Because we’re that way.

I was listening to two other dating friends the other day. One of them was in high angst! “He hasn’t called this week,” Anne was saying. “I’m afraid he’s gone back to his ex-wife. I adored him. We had a great time. I hate this. I HATE IT!”

“Enjoy it,” said Melanie, who’s been married a year now. “It’s the good part.”

Hundreds of books have been written about dating, and thousands of songs have been written about falling in love. It’s a delicious craziness, if done right. We meet, the chemistry good and the magic starts. We put on the rose-colored glasses. Our bodies are pumped full of dopamine, or whatever it is, and we grin, look starry-eyes, love everyone and love life, love ourselves, love … love … love.

Don’t get so focused on the goal, you forget to enjoy the process. Yes you will eventually get her to bed. Yes he will eventually marry you. In the meantime, remember some of the fundamentals, and have a good time!

1.Flowers, candy, candles, sunsets – add all the beautiful touches
2.Talk romantic. Read some poetry for some ideas. No woman will complain if you tell her she’s always on your mind and in your heart.
3.If you’re serious, make it a date, pick her up, be on time, and you pay. If you’re not serious, don’t call me! Meeting her at the theater, or planning to run into her at the club are NOT the same thing. Going dutch treat signals either friendship, or confusion, which is worse.
4.Give each other small, meaningful gifts. Booking a restaurant just for the two of you and filling the room with fresh roses is for movies. Fortunately most of us can’t afford it, because it’s “protesting too much.” It smacks of low self-esteem. A single red rose, given with confidence and a deep look into her eyes goes a lot further.
5.Be you, but be the best you. Clean up your car, your stinky socks, your language and your behavior. You know what I mean! If not, read Emily Post or get some coaching.
6.Give your date your full attention. There is nothing we crave more. I’ve asked to be taken home when the guy answered his cell phone at dinner. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has.
7.Use manners. If you’re the guy, open the door for her, pull out her chair at the restaurant, hold out your arm and usher her into a room. If you’re the woman, let him do this and then show your appreciation.
8.Don’t be easy. Don’t be easy falling into bed, of course, but also don’t be easy about revealing everything about yourself. Allow some mystery and some waiting. It will mean more in the end. We value what is scarce, what is hard to get.
9.If you’re a woman, put him through his traces. If you don’t expect anything special from him, you won’t get it when dating, and it will be worse once you’re married. Make it clear nothing about you is to be taken for granted.
10.What shouldn’t be taken for granted? Not who you are, that’s a constant, but I mean the special things you do to honor someone else. That you open the door for her should never be taken for granted. That you cook a delicious meal at your home and set a romantic table for him is not your “role,” it’s you being good to him, and should be appreciated.

In sum, it’s about time, and art. Take your time, and also take THE time. Time is our scarcest commodity and how you parcel it out shows what you value. Give your time and full attention to all the elements of dating and to the person.

It’s an art. Set the stage. You now how when a jeweler wants to sell you a diamond, he carefully takes out a small square of black velvet with a flourish, then places it under beautiful lighting, and gently lays the ring on it? Every gesture, and every part of the presentation is about this is a very valuable thing I am going to show you. I value it and I’m showing you this by how I treat it. Watch me. So don’t leave out the flourishes, the special touches, the single rose, the coy peck on the cheek with a promise of more and better to come. Whatever your ultimate goal in dating, make the process long and memorable.

And P.S. Keep it up after your married.

©Susan Dunn, MA, Life & EQ Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc . Ms Dunn is a recognized expert in emotional intelligence and offers individual and executive coaching, Internet courses and ebooks for your personal and professional development. She trains and certifies EQ Coaches. Mailto:sdunn@susandunn.cc for info on this No residency requirement. Email for FREE ezine. Visit ebook library - http://www.webstrategies.cc/ebooklibrary.html .

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