How many dates does it take to make a decision about whether or not you want to pursue a relationship?
I've always been curious about this aspect of dating, because very few women have comparable experiences. With some dates, the knowledge is immediate and instinctual. With other dates, months may pass before the endearing nature of his laugh, his smile, his character becomes apparent.
I know that I am a slow warmer. I am wary when I meet a man for the first time. I am dubious of his intentions. I read innuendo where none was intended. It takes me time to let down my guard.
It's not because I'm naturally a suspicious person. It's because, in the realm of relationships, I've been burned enough by bad apples.
I'm representative of most women my age. By one's thirties, one has experienced enough bad relationships to associate the dualities of pain and pleasure with a man. One is never sure how much to trust.
But this isn't natural.
Twenty years ago, I loved all boys. I played with them innocently and full-heartedly. Boys were my playmates, my cohorts in crime, and my teammates for games. I could think no evil of boys. Their strange preferences for dirt, body odor, cars, and constrictive underpants were simply idiosyncrasies of fascinating playmates.
As I grew older, I realized that boys could no longer be trusted to play innocently with me. My first two male friends in college were cool--a jazz musician and an Apple Mac gamer--until I realized they "liked" me. I quickly dissolved the friendships. I wanted the innocent companionship and friendship of my childhood male schoolmates. I didn't realize that maturing would erase that possibility completely.
When do we women lose our innocence with men? And can we ever regain it?
In my line of work, one great danger is to take relationships and attraction too seriously. Many women feel that the potential of the man they are seeing is a matter of life or death. Instead of having fun playing with him (like a child with a favorite playmate), they evaluate his potential as a father. They situate any future relationship squarely in the realm of adulthood. The rest of their lives is at stake.
My flatmate tells me that the definition of compatibility as a couple is when his or her issues are compatible with your issues.
That's a pretty adult view of the situation.
I have a different view. I believe that you know a man is compatible with you if he likes to play the same "games" you like to play. Maybe you like to tease in a certain way; maybe there's a certain game in bed that you like to play. Maybe you like to go out; maybe you like to mountain bike. If he likes to enjoy himself and have fun and laugh in the same ways as you, you've found a potential soulmate.
We all knew back in childhood that there were some children that we could play with for ages, and there were others who liked games that didn't interest us. It's the same with men and women.
Yet in our attempt to find a suitable man, we often forget to look for one that we have fun with. One that makes the kinds of jokes we find funny (and laughs at our jokes). One that is up for any crazy scheme we propose. One that will make our life happy and light-hearted, not just important and successful.
Life is serious and dry enough. We don't need relationships to replicate those patterns.
Relationships should be a haven from life's dry seriousness. You should be able to feel like a child with your partner, unembarrassed at the silliest of games. Together, you will be responsible for forming a life, raising children, making a home ... but all this will only be enjoyable if you can laugh together.
I have been out on dates with many successful, intense, highly attractive men. I admire them, appreciate them, and learn much from conversations with them. These are the men who will shape the world. No woman can fail to respond to their power.
But as for myself ... in my little, humble world ... I envision my ideal future as one in which there is always laughter, in which I can return to childhood with my spouse and play those games that I didn't get to play enough before I grew "old." I want us to be able to chase one another around the room, have pillow fights, and wrestle. I want us to tease one another, share silly jokes, and dissolve the seriousness of a working day with the magical spell of humor.
So, I suppose, the answer to my question is that it takes exactly the number of dates you need to decide whether you've found a companion you can play with. Some kids find a game they can play with each other right off the bat. Other kids end up trying lopsided games that one but not the other likes until they either find a game they like in common or give up.
Trust your child-heart's instinct. Ask yourself ... if you were a kid, would you play with this guy? Or would he be one of those kids who tries to control the game, or change the rules, or cheat?
A partner who makes life more fun is a treasure indeed,
All the best in life and love,
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