I haven’t tried online dating. I almost did once but then I started to look at the profile and I panicked. I couldn’t think how I’d respond to some of the questions and I was worried that what I would write would be too boring for anyone to be interested in me. Isn’t that awful?
I’m about halfway through my dating advice coaching program, Fit4Love and I’m already feeling much better about this. Listing my strengths helped and this week’s task of identifying my values was very bolstering.
Identifying Your Values
My coach, Sheila Paxton had given me a list of over seventy value descriptions, words like, ambition, beauty, integrity, spirituality. My task was to distill these down to my ten most important values. I don’t think I’ve ever done this before and I have to say, by the end of it, I felt stronger, more empowered, taller for being able to say these are my values and this is why.
Seventy is an overwhelming number but it’s good to have so many to choose from and it’s also much easier to cut from a list than to come up with ten values from scratch. First go through, it was pretty easy to eliminate ones that weren’t important to me, like celebrity or wealth. Then there were some words I thought were pretty close in meaning like ingenuity and creativity so I was able to cross off one and keep another. Then I found some words that to me embraced several values. For example, integrity to me means loyalty, reliability, dependability, honesty and trust.
I did have to cut a couple that I was hesitant about – sense of humor was one of them. I decided that although I felt that was important, the term was not specific enough to add value. There are lots of different types of humor and some I don’t care for.
Sheila and I then spent a long time (this was our longest coaching session yet) talking about what each value meant to me – it really doesn’t matter what the dictionary says, what’s important is what it means to you. We also talked about how I would know if a date had these values. This was very helpful because I hadn’t really considered this beyond knowing that a questionnaire wouldn’t work.
For example, one of my values is gracious which includes courtesy and humility. Beyond what I would consider to be common courtesies of holding a door open, asking me to order first and so on, I said I would look to see how my date treated wait staff. Was he polite and respectful to them? Sheila also said to watch for flirting with waitresses as this could be a red flag for boundary issues, too easily familiar.
Although it’s not part of my assignment I’m going to give this more thought and come up with more ways to check for my values.
Relationship Support System
This coming week I’m to put together my Relationship Support System – that’s my dating advice team. It’s five people with whom I’m to share my values and details of my dates – notice I didn’t say “any dates” which carries with it uncertainty. These five people are to help spot red flags, subtle signs that a date may not meet my values. They’re there to watch my back so they have to be prepared to ask the hard questions or say the things I’m discounting or ignoring. It’s not just post-date insight but dating advice in general – when to say no to dates, when to ask more questions, spotting potentially bad date venues and so on. Sheila said she could be one of the five and I definitely want her on my side. I have two friends who’ve already agreed, and I know two other people I’m going to ask, just haven’t done it yet.
Ways to Meet Singles
The goal of this program is to get me ready to date and for me to even get started. I’m still practicing smiling and initiating conversations but Sheila says it’s time to take a little bigger step. This week I’m to go on the Meetup website and search for groups near me, identifying groups I’d be interested in. Again, it’s baby steps, I don’t have to join or go out on an activity. I just have to do the research.
When Sheila and I were talking about this, she suggested I put in the search term “over 45s, Boulder.” I immediately laughed and said I thought “45″ was a little young. After all, I’m now 54 (just celebrated my birthday!). I don’t think I’ve ever dated a younger man and I can’t imagine dating someone ten years my junior. Sheila chuckled and said to go with over 50. I’m OK with that but she warned me we’d talk more about age. I feel I should really keep an open mind but it just feels odd. I think I should trust my instincts and see what happens.
Would you or have you dated a younger man? Did you do so intentionally? Why do I feel so uncomfortable with the idea?
In an earlier session Sheila and I talked about I how I still,even after four years, felt responsible for my divorce and blamed myself. I still couldn’t forgive myself. I know I was being irrational but despite all the advice I’ve had and all the stories that my guests have shared with me, I still felt that way. Well, I’ve had a major breakthrough, thanks to Sheila. In the session where we talked about what I bring to a relationship, I shared that I valued my financial independence. For clarity that doesn’t mean being independently wealthy, it means capable of supporting myself. I said it was one of my core values and I’ve just always really since I went to university supported myself. As I thought about that I realized that that was the missing piece to my forgiveness. Sure, I’d enabled my husband becoming increasingly dependent on me but at the same time, he didn’t see any reason why not. He had no self-drive to support himself. Our fundamental core values were radically different.
I can’t tell you how liberating it is to finally forgive myself.