Serious Dating Advice
by Diane Linsley

This article isn't just for dating. The concepts can also be applied
to relationships with friends and family members. The best advice I
can give you is to know yourself. Here are some articles to help you
get started:

Voice Dialogue - Are you familiar with your subpersonalities or
primary selves? In this video, Hal Stone talks about the importance
of knowing your primary selves and those of your potential partner.

Values Process - When you know and can articulate your values,
you will more easily attract someone who shares your values.

Enneagram Typing - Your Enneagram type determines to a large
extent how you interact with other people. I consider this to be an
essential part of understanding yourself and others.

Cognitive Development - If you enjoy personal growth, the last thing
you want is a partner who scoffs at your spiritual life. Do you know your level of cognitive development, and can you identify another person's level of development?

Secrets of Self-Care - Hungry people make poor shoppers. Fill up your cup of love before you go on a date. Desperation is a turn-off for healthy people and a magnet for abusers. "Men love women who love themselves." ~Pat Allen

More Things to Know About Yourself

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment - Attachment style is one of the most important factors in the happiness of your relationship.

Personality Type - Take the free test on the 16 Personalities website. You will also learn which personalities go best with yours. Some researchers believe that sensor (S) or intuitor (N) is the most important thing to have in common with your partner. Others believe that extrovert (E) or introvert (I) is the most important.

As an INFP, I chose a partner who is an INTJ, and we are very happy together. My ex-husband was an ESTJ, and I was miserable because we were opposites in every way. After my divorce, I tried dating an INFP, but I was equally miserable. Differences bring balance to a relationship.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain. This book helped me love myself as an introvert. Then I stopped trying to make extroverts understand me. Mixed introvert/extrovert relationships are common, and they can work. But they can also be painful. Be aware of the challenges.

The 5 Love Languages - Do you recognize how your partner is trying to love you, and does he recognize your love language?

How Your Child is Smart by Dawna Markova describes the six learning patterns involving different combinations of visual (V), auditory (A) and kinesthetic (K). Our learning patterns influence everything we do from our careers and hobbies to how we interact with other people.

Does he love you by writing emails, love letters or poetry? Does he teach you things? He may be a VAK (enjoys reading, writing and teaching). Does he love you by drawing pictures, taking photos or creating works of art? He may be a VKA (visually oriented and artistically creative).

Does he love you by talking, telling stories or giving you compliments? Does he have a beautiful or resonant voice? He may be auditory first (AVK or AKV). Does he love you by doing physical activities with you? Is he athletic or interested in building things? He may be kinesthetic first (KAV or KVA).

Writing a Dating Profile

When I was doing online dating after my divorce, I read more than 1400 men's profiles on, and I rewrote my own profile many times in an attempt to make it as clear and accurate as possible. Here are some things I learned from this experience:

State your intentions at the beginning. Out of the 1400 profiles I read, only about 20 made their intentions clear. Are you ultimately looking for marriage or a long-term relationship? Don't be afraid to say so. Otherwise, you could end up with someone who doesn't want it. That hurts later on.

If you are looking for a short-term fling, then admit it! There are plenty of people looking for the same thing. Why waste time flirting with people who want something different?

I've heard that there is a correlation between intelligence and the length of a person's profile. People with a higher education tend to write longer profiles. They are also more likely to include a book list. This is helpful to know if you are looking for mental compatibility.

The more pictures you have, the more attention you will get. The more questions you answer, the more trustworthy you will appear. The more information you provide, the less people will project their own fantasies (positive or negative) onto you and misunderstand you. Think of it as truth in advertising.

Include things you've learned about yourself, such as your personality type, love language and values.

Dating Tips

When starting out, date several people at the same time for comparison. It's like shopping for clothes. You don't walk into the store and buy the first shirt you see. Or if you do, I suggest that you don't use that strategy as a dating template.

When I went back to dating after a bad experience, I tried dating three men at the same time. That wasn't natural for me as an introvert, so I got stressed. But it prevented me from getting attached to the first person I met. Eventually, I realized that none of them were right, so I said goodbye to all of them. Shortly thereafter, someone more compatible came along.

Be aware of the pendulum effect. For example, many people swing from an avoidant and withdrawn partner to an emotionally volatile sex addict. Another common polarity is extrovert to introvert. I did this when I divorced my ESTJ husband and found an INFP boyfriend. I did it again after I quit dating an ESFP man and started dating an INTJ man. It's uncanny how the universe brings us opposites to help us understand things. In Law of Attraction coaching, we call it Clarity Through Contrast.

How clear are you about what you want? Clarity comes from experience. After dating someone, make a list of what you like and don't like about them. Rather than feeling discouraged by a poor match, congratulate yourself for making progress. This process is called Celebrate the Closeness of the Match. As John Gray says in Mars and Venus on a Date, "Even the wrong person becomes the right person to help us self-correct and move on."

How do you feel when you are with your date? Your feelings may be more accurate than your thoughts. I once dated someone for 18 months, even though it didn't feel right, because I thought it should be right. My rational mind couldn't figure out why I felt so unhappy around him. I disregarded my feelings as I tried to "think positive." In the end, my feelings were right, and I regretted not listening to them. Don't try to force yourself to feel positive! Feelings are a source of information.

On what level can you communicate with your date? In The Seven Levels of Intimacy, Matthew Kelly describes seven levels of communication. You can control the level of intimacy in your relationship by how you communicate.

Warning Signs

"It's better to be scared than sorry." ~Christiane Northrup, Dodging Energy Vampires

You don't have to trust anyone. One narcissist I dated tried to convince me that it was wrong for me to be wary at the beginning of our relationship. He spent an excessive amount of time lecturing me and shaming me for not trusting. Does your date respect your need for caution, or does he bully you and try to overcome your resistance?

Don't confuse love with pity. You become like the people you hang out with. Do you admire your date, or are you trying to fix him? Does he have to change in some way for you to be happy? Do you imagine a future in which you can be happy together because he has changed in some way? This can be an indication of codependency.

Past history is a predictor of future behavior. Ask lots of questions about your date's past relationships, including his relationships with parents, siblings, friends and coworkers. When he gets over idealizing you, he will treat you the same way he treats everyone else in his life.

Read How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk by John Van Epp. This book is full of good advice - all of it scientifically validated. For example, knowing someone for more than 2 years before getting married can cut your risk of divorce in half.

Enlist the help of your unconscious mind as an early warning system. I had four dreams about a guy I was dating - all with the same theme of abandonment and heartbreak. Once I quit seeing him, the nightmares stopped. I could have spent months learning the hard way, but my dreaming mind already knew he wasn't right. Read The Complete Dream Book of Love and Relationships by Gillian Holloway.

If you are wasting time in a relationship that doesn't make you happy, you are missing out on a better one. Aim high and believe that you deserve to be loved.

Attracting Your Shadow

I have coached many women who told me they couldn't help being attracted to narcissists. They thought it was because the narcissist had some sort of power over them, or they attributed it to some other magical idea (the New Age is full of magical thinking). They often told me that good men were boring or unattractive. This simply isn't true.

The reason why they were fatally attracted to narcissists was because those men represented their shadow material. Your shadow is a powerful attractant. You will unconsciously attract what you have disowned in yourself until you have integrated your shadow material.

I had the same problem until I did my shadow work. Then my attractions changed. Instead of falling in love with narcissists, I experienced them as boring and unattractive. Then I began to feel attracted to men who were good for me. Voice Dialogue is my favorite process for doing shadow work.

Stages of Relationship

According to Patricia Allen, author of Getting to 'I Do', the first year of a relationship has four stages. The first three months is the Perfect Phase - when you think that your partner is the perfect soulmate. It helps to understand the psychology of infatuation.

The second three months is the Imperfect Phase - when you start seeing their bad traits. Most relationships end in this stage, especially if one of the partners has a fear of intimacy (an avoidant attachment style).

The third three months is the Negotiable Phase. If you are still together at this point, you will start to negotiate about money, space, time and activities. The last three months is the Commitment Phase. If negotiations go well, then you move into a committed, long-term relationship or engagement.

A Good Attitude

My final piece of dating advice is to enjoy the process. Don't get so attached to the outcome that you forget to live in the present moment. It helps to have a goal that keeps you grounded in the Now. For example, my goal was to learn something new from every person I met.

Each person is a new world to explore. I enjoy the process of getting to know someone and trying to understand them. I know that I will never understand them in all of their magnificent complexity, but I can have fun trying.

Dating is more fun when you approach it with an attitude of curiosity, a sense of adventure, and a feeling of gratitude for the opportunity to learn more about yourself and others.

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it." ~Rumi

Watch the guided meditation for attracting a soulmate.

Be well,
Diane Linsley

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