BY JENENE MITCHELL-BLACKWOOD
One could easily review some articles and find various opinions on how someone can know when they are ready for dating. However, I quite like speaking from my heart and sharing from my own experiences as well as that of others, so that is the approach I will take in providing my opinion on this topic.
I have personally adopted a quote from an article which says:
“…a relationship is only as stable and healthy as the people in it.”
This very profound statement reflects the pointers I had in mind to share as I thought about the topic. So let us get to it.
How do you know when you are ready to start dating or what are the prerequisites to start dating? Here goes:
- When you are whole. This I believe is one of the most important factor. How do you know when you are whole? Some indicators for me were (a) when my childhood experiences and trauma stop having a negative influence on my emotions and the way I viewed people’s actions (b) when I stop depending on others to constantly validate me and make me feel good about myself.
- When you love yourself. The Bible says love your neighbour as you love yourself. It is a profound truth that if you take care of your body, health and mind you are able to extend this same care to others without breaking down. Some persons love others more than themselves and neglect themselves. I Corinthians 13 describes the healthiest kind of love and if you extend it to others, make sure you extend it to yourself first.
- When you know yourself. Do you know what your weaknesses, strengths, pet peeves, moods and deal breakers are? If you don’t know yourself, how can you describe it to someone else while dating. A big part of dating is getting to know each other so you need to take the time out to understand yourself first. This comes through interactions and experiences with others. Get to know how you behave when you are sad, upset, disappointed, happy, excited, anxious so that you can communicate it and in the same breath you can identify these things in a potential partner. In knowing yourself you should also be aware of your talents, hobbies and interests so you can develop a clearer picture of the type of person best suited for you. For example, if you are a person who loves adventure you will know right away that a person who loves to stay at home might not be the person for you. Be mindful that we are always learning about ourselves and sometimes there are. changes in us as well so self-awareness is important.
- Have clear and established standards, beliefs, vision & goals for your life. If you are planning to partner with someone it is good to know what you are all about and where you want to go in life. In this way you can identify whether or not the person you are dating is a prospective that would fit into your lifestyle. It saves time in dating as you can quickly decide to move on especially if you are not willing to compromise. I have often seen couples announce, years after marriage, that they have decided to separate because their goals are taking them in different directions. Oftentimes, they feel that remaining in the relationship will hinder their pursuit. If, on the other hand, you value a life partner and is willing to compromise a dream to have one, then by all means. You will know what questions to ask during dating based on where you stand.
- Having an understanding of the opposite sex through your platonic friendships/relations with them as well as through reading and various forums. It can be stressful relating to the opposite sex if you don’t understand their biological and psycho-social make up. For example, men are logical rather than emotional beings so sometimes if you express a situation rather than saying like your girlfriends “OHHHH NOOO I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU”, he will probably say “So why don’t you just do this or that to solve the problem?”. And if a male doesn’t realize that women sometimes have mood swings due to hormonal changes, he may see her as miserable and become frustrated. In order to improve the quality of your relationships, it is important that you have a basic understanding of the opposite sex.
- Have an innate desire to contribute to the enhancement of someone else’s life. The truth is some of us enter relationships with the aim of fulfilling our own desires. We have to be unselfish mindset so that our relationships will be mutually beneficial where both parties are unfulfilled. Honestly evaluate why you desire a relationship, and if they are all selfish reasons to make me happy, to take care of me, purchase things for me- then you need to rethink entering a relationship.
- Know your worth. As a female there are certain expectations you may have of a man, like to be a gentleman – open the door for you; assist you with carrying your load; speak to you in a respectful manner; never raise their hands to hit etc. If you communicate and hold these expectations in high regard you will not accept any substandard treatment. If you respect yourself others will respect you. Its funny how a female can get certain responses out of aman and another female has a challenge getting that same response out of him. That is because the way you operate can command respect and it is important not to come across as desperate. Persons can detect when you have low self-esteem. Celebrate your strengths and accept while working on your weaknesses so you have a balanced view of yourself. You have as much value as the guy you will be dating. Do not feel as if you are important because this person likes you or because of your status in life cause all of that can change. You come to the table with beauty, intelligence, skills, talents, ideas, personality and the list goes on.Remember Jesus shed his blood for you, you were bought with a price, so you are a very significant individual in this world. Be confident in your worth!
I hope these tips were helpful in identifying where you need to position yourself so that you can have a fulfilling dating experience. I leave another quote I heard in a movie that I want to leave with you: “Love doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be honest.” Don’t let people fall in love with a version of you that doesn’t exist. There is no perfect person out there, neither are you. As you go into the dating world: RELAX! ENJOY! And JUST BE YOU!!! - JENENE MITCHELL-BLACKWOOD