couple sunset nature

Doing fun things together isn’t enough for me to feel connected. Being good-looking doesn’t mean we’ll have a meaningful relationship. Having a lot of money doesn’t mean I’ll want to grow with you. In the dating world, there’s emphasis on who your partner is and what you’ll do together. There’s a smaller, almost non-existent, emphasis on what kind of relationship you’ll create together.

I don’t date for the activities, food or coffee

The other morning at church (Unitarian Universalist, highly recommend it for all intuitive types), the minister said, “We don’t attend fellowship for the minister, the music or the coffee. We go for the meaningful connections.”

I thought, it’s the same with dating. I don’t go to be in the presence of a man, for the bike rides, dinners or the coffee. I go in the hope of striking a connection during the conversation. I go to see if this man is someone I could build a relationship with. To me, it’s not all about how much fun we have together. It’s about how well we work together. How we could grow together.

I love fun, sex, dining, cooking, traveling, talking, dancing, etc. I want to share those things with another, but if there is no intimate connection and foundational relationship, then those activities are hollow. Energy will not fill me. I will be depleted. I won’t have love and light to offer my partner. Uh oh. Not good.

I’ve dated men who are easy to converse with and share vulnerabilities, but have no idea how to maintain a consistent relationship. I’ve dated men who want a solid stable relationship but have no idea how to be emotionally intimate.

The questions arise, “Could I teach them how to maintain a consistent relationship? Could I show them a safe haven and therefore encourage their emotional intimacy?” It depends if other positive signs are there.

Three fundamentals of healthy intimate relationships

In his webinar,The 7 Fundamentals of an Intimate Relationship, couples therapist, Jayson Gaddis, states that three of the fundamentals for a healthy relationship are: 1. Self-care 2. Other-care and 3. Relationship-care.

I’ve worked a lot on self-care over the years. By learning about the gifts and pitfalls of introversion and high sensitivity, I’ve discovered how to manage my energy and promote my highest self. I know how vital boundaries are and how to implement them within a relationship.

I realize my partner is in my care. I believe their concerns are my concerns. Their well-being is important to our relationship. This is a work in progress for me. As an intuitive introvert, I am protective of my time and energy. I know the consequences of too much outgoing energy and people pleasing. I know how sensitive I am to other’s emotions. But I wholeheartedly want to be there for a loved one. I want to help them with their kids, work, home, health, joy. I realize how important responsiveness is within a relationship.

To paraphrase, couples therapy doctor and researcher, Stan Tatkin, when dating we should think about what kind of relationship we will have with someone as much as what personal traits they have. The relationship becomes a separate entity to honor and respect.

Qualities of a masterful relationships via John Gottman

Drs. John and Julie Gottman

Drs. Julie and John Gottman

The music director at church read a quote from relationship expert, John Gottman, last week during services. In the quote from The Atlantic article, Masters of Love, Gottman mentioned two requirements for a master (vs. disaster) relationship: 1. Responsiveness. Master partners scan the environment and their partner for things to appreciate and say thank you for versus things to criticize. They ‘turn toward’ their partner when the partner sends out a request (bid) for a response. Ex. If a husband says, “Look there’s a beautiful goldfinch in the yard”, a responsive wife would turn and make a positive, supportive comment about the goldfinch. The finch is not all that important but the response to the husband’s request for connection is. 2. Assumption your partner has good intentions. Disaster couples take everything personally, feeling their partner is intentionally trying to hurt or anger them. Master couples assume the best of their partners. Ex. Husband leaves the toilet seat up. A disaster wife assumes her husband doesn’t respect her and isn’t considerate. Master wife assumes her husband is a little absent-minded and must have just forgotten to put the seat down.

So no, I don’t date for the muscles, the facial hair, the flirting, the dancing, the kissing, the free meal, the music, the bowling, the cocktails or the coffee. I go to see what kind of meaningful connection we have. To see if we could consistently be there for each other and create a master relationship.

sunset-couple in mist

Are activities and external gifts enough for you? Do you want more than just dating? Do you have a master or disaster relationship? Do you know many couples with master relationships?