The Dating Game…


the dating gameI know what you are thinking. How is a guy who has been married for almost 38 years going to give you some advice on dating? Great question. So, instead of thinking of this as advice, refer to it rather as the inner musings of a guy who likes to write and to think and to question things as they exist and consider their veracity. I mean, are you sure you have this dating thing figured out? Can dating be figured out? Are you carrying around unrealistic expectations for that perfect someone, whom I imagine if they exist, have lots of competition for their interest? Or are you just a guy trying to get a girl to love him and the converse, of course.  If you find yourself playing the dating game, are you winning? Is dating even a game you want to win? It’s time to further investigate the dating game together.

When I think back to those early years when I was involved in the universal game of girl chasing, I wasn’t old enough or mature enough or maybe even smart enough to have really thought any of it through, at least not to any great extent. I didn’t have a list of things I wanted in a woman. I hadn’t considered whether or not the person I was looking for had common interests with me. I didn’t entertain a bunch of physical must haves other than wanting to be with someone that I thought was attractive; attractive in the sense of attracting me. And sadly, or maybe happily, that was about it. As a poor college student, I didn’t really have enough dough to plan extravagant dates that would impress my would be future companion. Instead, I found myself looking for someone that seemed like they might be looking for me. Chalk it up to naivety or youth or probably both, but that was about the extent of it. Now, as I reflect back, so many years later, I think I was blessed with not knowing enough or maybe not doubting enough to complicate the whole process. Dating shouldn’t be so damn complicated, should it? At the end of the day, I like you and you like me seems to encompass most important questions.

I believe the problem with dating today is all of the complexity people have added to it. The world and social media and reality shows have succeeded in portraying an image of romantic relationships that are not based in reality. There are so many expectations both obvious and implied that serve only to severely limit the options for the would be ‘dater’ or ‘datee.’ Dating, if your end game is marriage or a lifelong partner, is not trying to find the perfect compliment to yourself, but rather the person who seems to offer the most potential to be that person. People, like anything that has free agency and unlimited capacity for change, are always to be observed in light of their potential. When I got married, long before the internet was invented, my wife married me for my pure potential. I didn’t have it together by any stretch. I didn’t have any money. I chose fun above all responsibility, a trait that persists to this day, though to a much lesser degree. I didn’t have a 5 year plan or 10 year plan or honestly any plans at all. I was a science project in pure potential. Yet somehow, incredulously, she saw something in me that was good and fought for it until something good appeared. Do you see what I’m trying to say? Here we are some 37+ years later, still loving each other; still committed to one another. Early on we made some decisions, trusted God and went for it. That’s not to say we didn’t have any struggles or obstacles, on the contrary. We had lots of things to navigate and still do at times, but the bet we made is still paying off in each new season of life. We are not done growing yet and throughout it all we are growing together.

Maybe you aren’t 21 years old anymore. Maybe you figured out many things you didn’t know when you were so young. Maybe you already have a career and increased expectations for yourself and for your future. That’s wonderful for sure, but don’t let that trick you into adding complexity where no complexity exists. The conundrum of choosing the wrong person and subsequent unhappiness exists for every potential relationship. But, by the same token, sublime happiness and fulfillment are also a possibility. There’s just no guarantee as the variable will always be yourself and that other person. You don’t need someone who is perfect in every way as the measure isn’t where you start, but where you end up. If you are going to pick someone, pick them based on their commitment to you and their willingness to fight through the challenges of life with you. No matter how much like a fairytale your beginning is, the honeymoon will eventually end and you will find yourself with this person who has annoying traits similar to your own annoying traits. You are going to see them both at their best and at their worst. No matter who you choose and how much you vet them out, they are going to be a person, a human being, with all that goes along with that. Relationships aren’t about finding the perfect match, but finding the person willing to adjust and adapt and change themselves, by their own free will,  to better enable a perfect match because they love you.

As I travel back in time, I can honestly say that in the early days, I did not give one iota of thought regarding whether or not my parents or my siblings would like the person I chose. I wasn’t marrying for them, I was marrying for myself. Oh sure, she was super pretty (smile) and still is, but I always figured that the person I loved, they would love also for my sake, if for nothing else. Once, when we were feuding, my mom said she didn’t think my wife was the one for me. Once, (or twice) her mom said the same. Yet, it wasn’t their choice to make, it was ours. Save yourself some difficulty by trusting your own heart, not someone else’s. When it comes to relationships, there will always be something you don’t like. Don’t let that influence your ultimate decision. Doing so adds pressure and presumes something that isn’t a real indicator of anything of substance. I think sometimes people treat dating like a job interview where you try to get a sense of the person’s character, but all you really get is a sense of how well they have learned to present themselves to get something they want. Most job interviews are over minutes after they begin as your energy greets their energy and decisions are made. Dating is like that. It isn’t really how polished they are or whether you can relate to everything they say. It’s more the uncomplicated, I like you, do you like me?

My advice or musings if you prefer, is to get yourself out there and meet people. Have fun, have experiences, go and do the things you like to do. The person you are looking for is looking for you as well. You are trying to find them and they are trying to find you. The reason you haven’t met yet or maybe met and haven’t recognized it yet, is because one of you or both of you are assigning too much analysis to the process. You are overthinking it. You are seeking to apply your rational thought to matters of the heart. You are afraid of it not working out for you which is delaying it from working out for you. I know it seems like a lot is at stake, but really what is at stake is your happiness in the moments called now. And above all, share your love and goodness with people. Love the people you encounter in a day. Open your heart to them when it’s right and extend your kindness to whomever you meet. Be the best version of yourself, not with worldly standards and expectations, but with the love you have inside that you are willing to share with other people. Nothing is as attractive to people as love is and the more you are willing to share it, the more you will receive it in turn. Don’t thwart love with too many expectations, but instead love without condition and see who amazingly shows up. My wife obviously took a chance on me, bless her heart. Why don’t you take a chance as well? You don’t win the dating game, instead you find love to share with someone else. There is nothing sweeter than that… Nothing.

Just some good thoughts…

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A Beautiful Mess…


beautiful-messI was talking to a family friend not too long ago and he was asking me about relationships. Long story short, he was looking for the secret. The secret is, there is no secret. In fact, instead of spending another moment seeking out the “perfect” person, find someone you like! The highly publicized media version of a true love relationship isn’t true. What’s true is that every relationship is really a hybrid, unique mess; a beautiful mess.

Jason Mraz, musician, singer, performer, explored the subject quite profoundly with his song, from which I named this blog. And, every time I hear it, it touches something deep inside of me that, for the life of me, I cannot put into words. But, it’s worth the attempt.

Every person you meet is a complex combination of a million variables, all meeting together at a certain point in time. All have a degree of strength and all have elements of weakness. Sometimes the weakness is the strength and often the strength is also the weakness. Some love to touch and be touched, others abhor touching except for those times they need to touch. A few are silly in their seriousness and a few are serious in their silliness. Extraverts become introverted and introverts show extraversion. The pure get corrupted and the corrupted find purity. It’s called being a human being. And, the only way that two human beings can come together is by accepting and learning to love the unique combination that “is” the other person. Undesirable characteristics are as much to be expected as having one ear slightly lower than the other, or certain hairs that refuse to move in a uniform direction, or a random assortment of moles. To foolishly assume that your future life partner will hit all 50 of your desired characteristics is to seek after an image that doesn’t exist.

A relationship with another person is really about the other person. Your mistake is making it all about you. You have to take the good with the bad (I guess). That person you’re seeking that represents everything you want in a companion is doing just that, representing (smile). If you stick with them long enough you’ll begin to see stuff you don’t like. So what, love them anyway. Everything about a person that makes them undesirable can also make them desirable. Those million variables we came from are a combination of good and bad. The good should be encouraged and the bad can be overcome. If my wife really knew who I was while I was “representing” she never would have said yes. But, she did say yes and I’m as far from that guy as the east is from the west.

Quit complicating the thing and find someone you like. Find someone whose ways bypass your mind and touch something in your heart. Find a person whose company you enjoy. Don’t go on a date with your evaluation checklist in hand. Don’t look for the qualities you seek in a marriage partner. That’s like trying to turn your old clunker into a Mercedes. It takes time, effort and quite a bit of cash to get the Mercedes and right now you’re still clunking around (haha)! Love always has been and always will be a decision. You don’t fall in love, you just get enamored by some high priority checklist items. To love another person is to accept (not like) all that they are and love them anyway.

When you get older (and you will) you will discover that your A-List items weren’t really your A-List at all. I mean who doesn’t want hot and sexy and gorgeous and handsome? But, and trust me on this one, it’s hard to stay hot and sexy and handsome! 😉 Age finds a way of doing that to you… Instead, what you really want is companionship. You want someone who gets you and whom you get. And, how in the hell do you ever expect someone to “get you” at the beginning? Shoot, I don’t even “get myself” at times and I’ve been around for awhile! A good relationship requires a lot of work, but out of that mess in the beginning, emerges a beautiful mess if you’ll just stick with it. Couples don’t split up because of the things that go wrong, they split up because somewhere along the way one or both “decided” to stop loving and especially forgiving the other person. What’s the ultimate sin to you is not the ultimate sin to me and they’re all the same to God, anyway… Sin means simply missing the bullseye and which of you hasn’t missed the bullseye?

You see my friends, the ultimate goal of a relationship is companionship. Someone who knows that you will become hostile and insecure when you’re afraid and loves you anyway. Someone who sees the love behind your verbal barbs. Someone who feels your sadness when you are sad and rejoices with you when you rejoice. Someone who endures your lengthy discourse about how your day went and someone who expects you to do the same. Someone who not only knows your hot buttons, but even pushes them on occasion, only to promise (again) not to push them anymore. Someone that just loves you for you and could care less about your receding hairline or the size of your butt! Someone whose presence you require, though no words are being spoken. Someone who, with you, took the time to make the mess…beautiful!

You want to enjoy a great relationship? Find someone you like and get to work. Who is to say that your mess won’t one day turn out beautiful as well? Indeed, who is to say???

Just some good thoughts…

How to Get a Man (By… a Man)!


reality-potentialBefore you get suspicious about and endless stream of sexism involving high heels, lipstick and bedroom antics, rest assured I’m not going there. Instead I was pondering what I think are some common mistakes women make in dating. Of course, I’m no expert but I am a man old enough to get past the usual sex-crazed silliness. I got married at the tender age of 22 while my bride was only 18 and while I wouldn’t recommend getting married that early (i.e. starving college kids have no cash), I did learn some valuable insights.

If you had the fortune or misfortune of meeting me when I was 22 you would have immediately discovered that I was a work in progress; in fact, a huge work in progress. I had no job; no ambition and no clear plans about who I wanted to be. (Funny, I look back on that with fondness) I digress… If my wife’s goal was financial stability, she got the wrong dude (then anyway). If she was looking for a guy who had his stuff together and was going places, she would have to wait awhile to do that. Instead she got a bundle of raw potential and of course, stunning good looks (Hey, it’s my blog!). My actual proposal was laughable (read former description). My plans, nonexistent. But doggone it, she married me anyway. She must have seen something that I couldn’t see.That brings me to the point!

It seems like many women nowadays are looking for the perfect guy. You may have seen him on the Bachelor or on a reality show or somewhere else, compliments of the media. But sadly, unless you are actually marrying Jesus, he doesn’t exist. The TV and movies present this mythical creature that is non-existent; he’s smart, funny, brilliant, successful, accomplished, chiseled and hot. He adores you, even worships you and still has time for business acumen, poetry, playing the guitar and romantic pursuits. Sadly, that’s not the reality of us dudes. At least, not in the beginning.

Finding a good man is sort of like making a business investment. Your betting heavily on something you believe in with the grand hope it pays out later. But trust me on this one, if he’s not all the things you want now, try giving him a minute. Womenkind is sometimes neglectful of the impact they have on us dudes. You know, you can actually get him to stop doing behaviors you don’t like. You can gently nudge him into something called ambition by simply expressing your belief in him. Now obviously you can’t change the total loser, but sometimes, oh sometimes you can. I should add that I’m not saying us guys are like some sort of trainable horse that can eventually be made to do anything. What I’m saying is that you have to look for potential. Look for a kind heart. Look for what can be, over what is. Look for, as my daughter aptly says, love!

I’m reminded of a friend I had on the east coast who was part of our Bible fellowships. She was having trouble dating guys and it never seemed to work out. One day she told me about her last date. She said, “He was trying to talk to me and get to know me and so I told him, (loud voice inserted here) I’m all about the Word of God and if you want to be with me you better be about the Word!” Gasp….LOL Can you imagine? When I met my wife I was already about the Word (foolish, but loved God) and she was already my girlfriend before I brought that up. Us dudes are easily freaked out and that statement would have sent me running as well! Again LOL.

My advice to you, though I know it’s not always this simple, is stop looking for the perfect guy. Sometimes manners and respect still need to be learned. Maybe, just maybe that guy you like who, as the saying goes, aint doing sh*t, just hasn’t gotten started yet. Possibly there is something you see there that no-one else could see. You can’t trust your parents or your friends on this one. What you can trust is your heart, so listen to it even when the circumstances strongly disagree. Treasures of gold aren’t found without much digging.

Enough on us bumblers… How about you women? What should you do? Be yourself, be yourself, be yourself. If you don’t like sports, you don’t have to. Who made up the rule that good couples have to have everything in common? How absurd! My wife and I have lots of things in common, but we didn’t always. You couldn’t bribe my wife to watch a football game when we first got married. Now she not only watches them, but even gets it! (She has the t-shirt to prove it) What I’m getting at is that lots of things change as time moves forward and just because he does something today that annoys you doesn’t mean he always will. And here’s the bonus thought ~ even though I have a lot of my sh*t together now, I still have absurdities that would require a saint to look past. Yeah, I think I married a saint!

Do yourselves a favor and don’t make it harder than it really is. Even after you get married and have been married for many years, you’re still going to hate his ass at times! LOL That’s just how life is. Just find yourself someone that floats your boat and has at least, the potential to one day add a motor!

Disclaimer: That one guy who is hell bent on making your life a misery aint the one!

Just some good thoughts…