How many of you recognise yourself in the following scenario? After a first date, you repeatedly arrive at any one or more of the following “conclusions” to justify why you do not want to see your date again. They may range from identifying qualities such as they were just too; boring, shy, full of themselves, mean, self-centred or, not funny enough” to physical characteristics such as; “he was just too small”, to the ultimate deal breaker for many, “he didn’t even pick up the bill!” It is extremely important to distinguish whether the person you are dating can potentially meet your needs in a relationship but do not overlook the fact that your fear of intimacy may lurk behind some of your assumptions, especially if you find yourself drawing the same “conclusions” after every first date. Personal characteristics shine through over time and to make a decision on who a person may be based on a couple of hours in their company is a mistake.
Fearing intimacy can also show up in an intimate relationship when one supresses their feelings towards themself and others. This is demonstrated when one doesn’t express their true emotions and views themselves and their partner more as an object than as a person. Clients describe their need to let off steam about their partner to friends rather than turning towards their partner to directly communicate what is troubling them. This style of indirect communication is very common for people who have difficulties relating on a personal basis to the person they have chosen as their partner.
Some of the following suggestions can help you build more intimacy;
- Make a list of the most common “conclusions” you draw after a first date and ask yourself which of these deal breakers are most important to you. List them in order of importance and have no more than five.
- Become aware when you are seeking approval from friends or family regarding how right you are in drawing “conclusions” about your latest date. Instead, develop your curiosity and go on more dates to learn who your date really is.
- During the date, stop drawing conclusions or judgements and tap into how you feel in this persons company.
- If you do not feel fireworks on date one but really liked the person you met continue to date them for a period of time until you get to know them a little better. Then make a decision.
With Your Partner
- If you feel upset, ask yourself what is the source of it? For example are you upset that your partner criticises you or, upset that they don't try to understand you.
- Instead of turning to a friend or family member to discuss your partner, consider turning towards your partner to explain how they are not meeting your needs.
- Share how you feel using the following formula. When you ___________, I feel_____________. I would prefer if you _____________. Notice, when you use this formula, you are not criticising only stating how you feel and what you would prefer your partner does or does not do. This method does not demand but offers a suggestion to overcome the issue as you see it. At the very least it gives you a template to begin discussing problems with your partner in a loving way.