Dating and Relationships
Why do we date?
Usually, it is because…
We want to get to know someone
We want a close or closer relationship with them
It is our way of showing we are investing in someone
We enjoy spending time with them, and
We want to feel connected
So how come we usually stop dating each other once we are in a serious relationships?
And how come we don’t have dates with our kids?
We tend to stop dating our partners once things are stable because we SO want predictability and certainty, that we create it where it doesn’t exist. When we get just enough information about a person to feel we can anticipate and predict how they would react in most situations, we make assumptions about the rest and loose interest in dating.
The truth is that people are CHANGING ALL THE TIME, especially children!
So how come we keep assuming we know them? What about our best friends? We tend to fall into this trap with them too! In all of these examples, our interactions become about doing day-to-day activities, getting things done or doing side-by-side activities like watching Netflix or You Tube – activities that don’t require us to actually engage.
“Love is spelled TIME ” – Anonymous
So what do we do if we have fallen into this habit?
1. We SCHEDULE time with our loved ones, we DATE
If we don’t make time for our kids or our partners to talk about the small stuff (even if it is things we have no interest in), they are less likely to come to us about the big stuff!
2. It is important that our dates are REGULARLY SCHEDULED
If we are starving, we tolerate our hunger a lot better when we KNOW
It is similar with our relationships, if our partners or children don’t know when the next time they might get a moment of our time is, they will experience the waiting with a lot more distress and suffering (children become more likely to act out when they don’t know)
With children in particular, I strongly recommend having WEEKLY, REGULARLY SCHEDULED DATES. Even if it is only for 30 min with each child of having 1:1 time with each parent. If that isn’t possible, make it 15 min or make it every other week, but then stick with it!
Many families choose to allow free screen time or have special colouring of crafts to occupy any children who aren’t on a date. If there are two parents and two kids, then if it is done at the same time, both kids will always be occupied.
TIPS: It is important that this is not something that can be taken away as a punishment, we want to send the message that they are worth getting to know and spending time with unconditionally.
If dates have to be rescheduled, it should be discussed in advance and done as rarely as possible, as it is actually damaging to say you will prioritize someone and then repeatedly fail to do so. This is equally true if we are a child or adult.
3. We ACTIVELY TAKE AN IN INTEREST IN THEM
It comes down to ARE WE WILLING TO SEE and HEAR the people in our lives, and let them feel like what they say MATTERS, on their terms, not only when it is convenient or interesting to us.
When we do this consistently, it fosters emotional safety, it models having good boundaries because it is a way of acknowledging that they are different people AND still deserving of our time and attention.It also sends the meta-message that they are someone who is worthy of time and attention, and whose opinions matter.
For children in particular, dates with parents, especially
This means you may learn to play Pokemon, D & D, Magic the card game, or you may be playing horsie, basketball, barbies, or getting your hair done by an 8 yo or your nails painted. A small price to pay for the life-long benefits it imparts to our kids!
4. We ACTIVELY SHARE our opinions, experiences and feelings
People feel more comfortable sharing meaningful things about
Intimacy is a two-way investment of being present with another person, seeing things from their perspective AND sharing our own.
We can’t feel connected if we don’t share who we are
If we are not sharing who WE are in our relationships, not only do our loved ones never get to know US, but we also DON’T GET TO FEEL SEEN, HEARD or like we MATTER
Enjoy Dating! Have a great week!
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