Mixed Signals in Dating: No Life Context

January 24th, 2007 by Nina Atwood

Another common dating mistake is trying to read someone’s behavior with no context to refer to. The context I’m talking about is “life context,” meaning the person’s personal relationship history. How do you find out someone’s “life context”? By asking lots of personal, even intrusive, questions.

Dating is personal. Sometimes people say, “but that’s so personal! How can I ask that on a second or third date?” My answer is: dating is personal! Dating is about deciding who to bond with, invest with emotionally, and ultimately, who to marry. It doesn’t get any more personal than that.

Making powerful decisions requires understanding. In dating, that means creating open, honest dialog for the purpose of opening a window into one another’s values, life direction, goals, and future behavior. Yes, that’s right, future behavior. While you can’t know for certain how someone will behave with you, you can make good assumptions based on past behavior. Or, you can leverage your understanding of past behavior into the current relationship.

When Kristen started dating Alan, she discovered that he had a history of dating women for long periods of time without making a commitment. He admitted that those were “settle for” relationships which he dragged out because he didn’t want to go through a breakup. Her response? She pressed for a strong agreement with him: if you decide at any point that I’m not a candidate for marriage, tell me immediately. By adamantly assuring him that she wasn’t in this to play games and waste her time, she changed his mindset. His respect for her elevated; he made the agreement. Eight months later, he proposed and they’re now happily married.

Entry Filed under: Communication,Dating

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