Having good relationships with others makes life happier. What if we date mindfully? Dating is about getting to know other people and ourselves. In any relationship, appreciation is the key to better communication while complaint stops communication. In other words, relationships will be strengthened when we focus on the good. And vise versa. This is the essence and easier said than done.
I read two books, Wire for dating and Wired for love, by Stan Tatkin who is a marriage and family therapist. These two books share the same concept: understand yourself and your partner well in terms of the attachment style (anchor, wave or island) and build the couple bubble together.
Secure Anchor “Anchors are secure as individuals, willing to commit and fully share with another, generally happy people and adapt easily to the needs of the moment.”
Anxious Wave “Waves are generous and giving, focused on the care of others, happiest when around other people and able to see both sides of an issue.”
Avoidant Island “Islands are independent and self-reliant, take good care of themselves, productive and creative, especially when given space and low maintenance.”
I’m an island. But I find myself being wave and anchor sometimes. It doesn’t matter what attachment style we belong to. Most importantly, we can communicate with others in a way that fosters understanding when we are aware of each other’s attachment style.
How to date wisely?
I’m curious to know how would Stan Tatkin suggest people to date wisely. I’ve summed up some key points for you and take myself as an example to get the big picture.
Clear about what you want
First of all, let me try to create an imaginary ideal partner and be clear about what I want. My ideal partner is good looking, taller than me, fit and stylish. It’s most likely to meet him in the gym, cafe, bookshops, beach, and mountains. He is caring, generous and reliable. He has some long-term relationships in the past. He is financially stable and a long-term investor. He is an architect/entrepreneur/programmer/another professional. He loves reading, traveling, surfing, tennis, gym, yoga, photography, art, and design.
The fog of infatuation
It seems there is nothing we can do about the infatuation or the rosy filter we have for others when meeting new people. So simply be mindful of the infatuation and be aware of the chemicals or hormones in our body when we are dating. It might help us not fall for someone who is so charming too soon.
When I try to develop an awareness of my dating pattern. I notice that I like to date people who are narcissistic or egotistic. I guess this is because I am a self-centered person too. I also have a tendency to like people who don’t care about me and I tend to reject people who do care. Not being treated well feels familiar and I have misunderstood that’s love. It’s important to notice what feels familiar. A familiar but sick dating pattern can hinder me from finding true love. After noticing the old dating pattern, it’s time to create a new pattern ‐ dating people who are generous and caring. With repeated exposure to generosity and care, that will become familiar and attractive to me soon. Remember to focus on people who pay efforts to get to know each other.
Start the process of vetting
The screening I do myself may be good or bad so I need the deeper vetting from my friends and family. In the past, I skipped this step, which is a mistake. I will need at least 3 vetters suggested by Stan Tatkin: a family member, a female friend, and a male friend. What’s more, I will also need an ongoing assessment to see if the partner is a good match.
How to build a couple bubble or a long-lasting relationship?
Building a couple bubble is like having a social contract between two people. The couple has a consensus to commit to making sure each other feel secure and fix any hurt feelings immediately. Creative negotiation and positive communication play an important role here.
And happy dating!