Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Recaps from Sunday night's chat with Expert Emily

"Expert Emily" Shupert led a chat on Sunday night on boundaries in dating. Other questions came up too, for which she is always game. Here are some highlights that may be helpful to you:

Chatter: how does one handle the "do you have a job?" question when one doesn't have one at the moment...life still goes on... I mean, really, if that's a deal breaker, then it must be all about the money to the other person!

Emily: I think $$$ (finances) is a legit question once the relationship is moving towards exclusive. I think that you can use this as an opportunity to share your journey and what your hopes are, what you are doing to get a job, etc. Life has so many ups and downs and it is important that you are with someone who will accept you and encourage you at both ends of the spectrum. However, if one doesn't have a job and hasn't done anything towards getting one, isn't interviewing, and hasn't had a job for a while, then that is something that might be a red flag for potential dates.

Chatter: can't people think of other things to talk about than one's profession? I know it occupies about 1/3 of our awake hours during the week, and it Is important. not trying to be a pessimist, just realistic. I agree on the red flag.

Emily: Yes, but talking about work is an easy surface conversation that can open into other discussion points. However, if one can only talk about a job and nothing else, than the person might be preoccupied only in work and nothing else....shows a lack of balance in life.

Chatter: so unemployed people probably ought to refrain from dating until they get a job???

Emily: Nope, but they can highlight other areas of their life such as hobbies, faith, family, etc. While jobs take up 1/3 of one's day or more, there is an opportunity to not focus only on jobs (or lack of one) by focusing on other aspects of your life. While it is a wonderful discussion on a date, it is important to not focus only on jobs and show other parts of yourself. Many times we talk about what we feel most comfortable revealing, many times if you are confident in your work yet feeling uncomfortable on a date, it is easy to resort to talking only on work.

Emily: Lets think of other things that we can talk about on a date..... or things you don't talk about :)

Chatter: One of the most important things I like to ask is for the person to share their salvation experience. I need to know that they have a relationship with Christ and not just religion.

Emily:  That is a great point. While some might not go that deep on a first date, what you said is insightful because it allows the other person to talk.

Chatter: so many people talk when they feel uncomfortable but what do you think it feels like for that other person when they feel like they can't get a word in?
everyone would do well to learn to be a >good listener<

Emily: Just as important as it is for sharing about you, it is important to ask insightful questions that make the other person feel valued. It is sometimes easier to think about what we might say, how to respond, etc, we forget to really still everything inside of us to listen and simply be with the other person.

Chatter: that's a good strategy to be genuinely interested in the other person, and it takes some of the pressure off of yourself!

Emily: Instead of thinking of what you would say (i.e. "me too, I had a similar situation where, blah blah blah") think of asking another question that shows you are listening and care to learn more.

Chatter: A person should feel valued. They should also sense that you're listening...when a person is listening to someone talk, and thinking of what they're gonna say next, they haven't truly listened.

Chatter: that's a challenge to actively listen, yet have a question ready after they are done speaking, but that's what "doing one's homework" beforehand is for!

Emily: Regardless of whether you are meant to be together or not, you are able to give the person the privilege of feeling heard and understood...is there a better experience we can give another person? I don't think so :)

Yes, focusing on the other person and listening to them means that we give direct eye contact and care enough to listen to them, it shows that you are engaged in what they have to say, verbally and non verbally. Plus, looking someone in the eye, shows that you have confidence.

Yes, being able to communicate at the beginning is key! Communicating on a first date is an opportunity to show the individual that you can connect with them through talking as well as engaging through listening. but be sure that your communication reflects the True you or the person whom you project will be the object of the others affections, not you. That is important to remember because many people fall in love with the image put forth versus the actual person....communicate authentically who you are from the beginning.

Emily (on what to talk about on a date) Things on past relationships, income, deep spiritual topics, etc might not be the best for a first date...maybe worth saving more intimate topics for when trust is more established.

Chatter: Dating is getting to know each other but if specifics are all that is discussed then it is not a date but an interview...

Emily: Yes, an interview which is why it is so important to listen!!!! When we are quick to listen, the person is more likely to feel safe and open up.

Chatter: How long does it usually take before you should try to enter into an exclusive relationship? How do you move it in that direction?

Emily: Hmmm...that is a mutual decision based upon where both people are feeling comfortable with at the time. If you feel like going deeper in the relationship, I would suggest that you share your feelings and desire to go deeper. Use that communication as an opportunity to have the other person share where she is and what she wants as well. I definitely know that you can't take it super deep on the first and second date....that is premature for sure! There isn't much research I've seen on when it is best to have an exclusive relationship.

However, there is research that marriages are most successful when dating has occurred for 6 months or more prior to engagement. Getting engaged before 6 months of dating shows negative long term effects...just fyi :) Happy dating folks, you were a great discussion group tonight!

Emily Shupert leads a discussion monthly at Cache' Connections. CLICK HERE for scheduled events and chats.

~ Linda
Cache' Connections

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