Often I learn “through the grapevine” that someone in Real Love has been regularly dating although almost none of their Real Love friends are aware of it. Usually I smile and wince at the same time, because such experiences rarely turn out well. Why?
We are profoundly affected by what we experienced and what we learned in the past, especially during our childhood. These influences were so early that we rarely remember their origin, so we tend to be blind to them. As we begin relationships, therefore, we are blind to what we’re doing that might affect us in negative or even destructive ways.
Blindness is not a problem, but if we insist on remaining blind, THAT is a problem. We can effectively and quickly overcome blindness with the help of people who don’t share our disability.
In our earliest groups, which were composed of all men, we found that men tended to date particular women for all the wrong reasons: physical appearance, charm, breasts, physical appearance, and physical appearance. In their defense, men are generally handicapped emotionally and can’t help themselves when confronted with physical beauty—translation: physical pleasure.
Sometimes a man would come to the weekly group and announce that he’d been “seeing” a woman for several weeks. If more than half the men in the room fell on the floor laughing, that was a pretty good indication that the man who had spoken was probably not ready for a real relationship with a woman. I can’t remember a single instance where the group’s overall impression was wrong. Why? Because from the outside we tend to be able to see more clearly than someone who is buried in mud up to his nose.
We learned that if people were completely honest in their dating process, from the initial decision to date through the finalization of a committed relationship, they tended to be far, far wiser and happier than those who were not transparent about what they were doing. I have seen this pattern repeated so many times that I offer clear recommendations for those who are contemplating dating:
- Ask wise people if you’re even ready to date. You don’t have to be perfectly prepared, simply ready enough that you can begin the process—with the help of others, of course—with a reasonable chance of not being completely stupid.
- Bring to the group—or to individual wise people—word-for-word samples of the conversations you’re having with a potential partner.
- Share with wise people all the sexual urges, thoughts, discussions, or behaviors you experience with a potential partner.
People who follow these guidelines tend not to get blind-sided by the consequences of choices made in ignorance or from emptiness. There is safety and wisdom in being transparent with those who know and love you.
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