Contributed by Thomas B. Holman
Dealing with Problematic Sending/Receiving Cues and Issues with your Dating Style
The way to deal with how to send and receive appropriate interest cues or dating styles have some things in common. Here are several things you can consider doing to overcome them to jumpstart your dating life.
- Thoughtfully Evaluate Your Situation and Think about What You Can Do. You are your first source of change, and ultimately, you are where the change must happen even if you use the resources we discuss below. If you are a Come Walk with Me dating type, you may be able to make the needed changes mostly on your own, although you will want to turn to others such as clergy, friends, family, and Heavenly Father for help as needed. Unfortunately, if you are mostly in one of the other styles, you will have trouble doing all of it on your own or using others appropriately to help you. If you have a Save Me style, you tend to get so emotional you have trouble thinking rationally about what you need to do, and even when you try to do what you know is better, you easily slip back to your old hyper-anxious style.
If you are a Get Away from Me dating type, you won’t see that you are doing anything wrong (except in your most unguarded, insightful moments) or you will resist change because “letting go” and trusting someone to help you has disappointed you so many times in the past. So you are going to need help.
- Find a Mentor, a Friend, maybe a Therapist, and Certainly Heavenly Father, to Help You. Like I said in the last article, this needs to be someone you trust, someone you feel safe with. This can be a parent, a sibling, a close friend, clergy, a teacher, etc. The people you watch, talk to, and listen to should be very trustworthy and if it is a peer, the person must have the Come Walk with Me dating style, since these tend to be well-grounded individuals whose dating style works and whose receiving/sending interest cues skills are good.
If your experiences in relationships in the past or the present are overwhelming you, you should consider visiting with a professional counselor or therapist. Just a few sessions is often enough to help you start to figure out what you are doing wrong and how past relationship experiences are impacting you. I recommend you find a therapist with a background in what is called emotionally-focused therapy.
Of course, your best, most trustworthy friend is your Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. In the next article we will go into more detail about how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is actually your best means of changing your dating style. But these other means we are discussing are helpful and will help point you to finding greater help from God.
- Share Your Fears, Frustrations, Concerns, Questions—and Successes—with Your Friend, Mentor, and God. A therapist may allow and even encourage you to do a “core dump”, but with most friends it needs to come slowly and in stages. Don’t overwhelm them but do allow them to respond and offer insights and counsel. Be patient with yourself as you learn how to share these concerns. This may be very difficult for many of you. Keep at it, answer your friend’s questions when they don’t understand, and express yourself as best you can until your friend understands. If/When they offer suggestions, don’t belittle or disparage their suggestions. Thank them for listening and for their friendship. If you are unsure about whether to implement their suggestions, run them by another friend or mentor to get a confirmation. Be careful you don’t wear them out and overwhelm them. If you have a Save Me dating style you may have a tendency to do just that.
- Act on the Counsel You Receive. Ponder what they said to you, and then counsel with God in prayer about doing what your friend said. Follow the example of a man in the scriptures. He listened to the words of direction from his mentor—his father—but he needed and wanted to know for himself that it was the right thing to do since two “untrustworthy mentors”—his two oldest brothers—ridiculed what his father had said. He said; “I cried unto the Lord; and behold he visited me and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father.” He then put his faith into action and did what his father asked him to do. Even when it wasn’t easy, and didn’t work right at first, he didn’t give up. He thought each attempt over, and then tried to do what his father told him to do in a different way. Eventually it worked and he accomplished what his trusted mentor (and the Lord) wanted him to accomplish. The same will happen for you.
To help you do this I have created this Learning Activity and recommend you use it:
Write down the things you can share with God, with a trusted mentor, parent, friend, Church leader, etc.
First, what are painful dating experiences, destructive ways of dealing with hurts you’ve used, and maladaptive beliefs and behaviors you want and need to talk about and maybe get rid of?______________________________________________________________________________________
Second, talk to this person about how you currently relate to people you are interested in dating or whom you do date and share the consequences of your pattern of relating to others. Don’t place blame—on the other person or yourself—simply describe the consequences. __________________________________________________________________
Then listen carefully to what your friend has to say about the experience(s). What did your friend (or Heavenly Father) help you see or understand that you hadn’t understood before?______________________________________________________________________________________
Third, after listening to your friend’s response (and Heavenly Father’s inspiration), note what changes you need to make in how you think about yourself and about (potential) dating partners, and in what you do in meeting, dating, and relationship situations. Write those down. ______________________________________________________________________________________
Fourth, recognize that you are likely to transfer your feelings about how good, trustworthy, responsive, and caring people are in general to your friend or God. So if you have a Save Me style of seeing people you may find yourself “clinging” to or becoming overly demanding of help from your friend. This is often followed by becoming quickly disillusioned and even angry with them if they don’t live up to your unrealistic expectations that they can or should solve all your problems. Stick with them. Be patient. “Exercise a particle of faith” in them, even if you “can no more than desire to believe”, and then “let this desire work in you.” Then if your friend’s (or the Spirit’s) counsel “begins to swell within you” and “enlighten [your] understanding” you will know you can trust the counsel from God or your friend. On the other hand, if you are a Get Away from Me type, you may not be willing to even do this Learning Activity, believing it won’t do you any good, it’s hopeless, God or your friend can’t/won’t help anyway, etc., etc., etc. Make yourself do it! Follow the principles we note above. Give it a chance. Write down how you are going to deal with your inevitable fears, distrust, and probably unrealistic expectations of your friend and God. Write down how you feel about the counsel you were given and how you can “go and do” even if it is difficult. ______________________________________________________________________________________
Fifth, go and do. Try it out, adjust it as needed. Depend fully on the Lord, even if it involves stepping out of your comfort zone. Write about what you plan to do, how you’ll do it and when you will do it. ______________________________________________________________________________________
Sixth, write down what happened and what you learned from the experience. If appropriate, share it with your friend and mentor and certainly share it with the Lord so He knows of your gratitude and ongoing concern, and can help. ______________________________________________________________________________________
This article is one of a series. For others in the series, see: