HOUSTON - If you’re like many, you may have postponed dating during the pandemic. Now more and more friends may be encouraging you to date with caution, and you like the idea of meeting someone you can talk to and share your life with again. As you set your sights on starting to date again, your memory of disastrous dates may dampen your enthusiasm to get back out there. You try to evaluate which is worse: being alone or dating someone who later ghosts or breadcrumbs you. There is a third option you may not have explored. You can date someone who is emotionally mature and dates like an adult. Although you may question if that type is out there, I can assure you they do exist. However, to attract an emotionally mature person, you have to date like one.
If it has been a long time since you’ve put yourself out there as a confident and emotionally mature person, I have some tips for you.
1. Mind your manners. The phrase may seem old fashioned, but an authentic "thank you" to express gratitude or avoiding looking at your cell phone while at the table are just two examples that go a long way. Good manners require emotional maturity. Being a jerk leaves an impression of looking socially insecure and immature.
2. Be in control of your emotions. Losing control of your anger, whether in the car with road rage or at a server, does not make you look confident or emotionally mature. If you’re not in control of how you feel, who is? Your date sees through you and will not be impressed.
3. Be open with your values and be curious about your partner’s. Shared conversation where both partners have equal time to talk and listen to each other helps you know each other. It opens an opportunity for friendship, which is the glue of a healthy relationship. Egomaniacs are boring.
4. Don’t rush. When one partner rushes the process or wants to do everything together, or is overly possessive, it’s a warning sign of trouble. A healthy relationship takes time to grow. Friendships and relationships must be nurtured slowly. This means that out of sight is not out of mind. Emotionally mature individuals understand the idea of being attentive but not pushy.
5. Value your intuition. When you’re emotionally mature, you trust yourself. That means that if you feel uncomfortable around your date, you check in with yourself and talk to someone about it. You don’t allow your date to control your feelings. Dating like an adult means that you have firm boundaries around your values and the self-respect to honor them.
Telling your friends or yourself that there are no good men or women out there is a defense mechanism. If you don’t want to be hurt by someone who uses ghosting when they can’t express their truth, you will need to stop allowing yourself to date individuals who aren’t emotionally mature. The only way to stop this pattern from happening again is to change how you date. You must show up with the words and actions of an emotionally mature adult. When you’re ready for a committed and healthy relationship, then you’ll make room for the emotionally mature daters who, like you, are ready to date like an adult.