How he can learn to pick better matches
by Kristin "KC" Casey
Dear KC, I must be a hopeless romantic, because when I like a woman I fall head over heels fast. To be honest, I dig that part—infatuation is a turn-on for me (and makes for great sex). The problem is it blinds me to glaring flaws and incompatibilities. My breakups tend to be dramatic and explosive. Afterward I look back and pinpoint danger signs I'd blithely ignored at the time, but how can I do better in the moment? I want to date only women who meet my standards.
Conscious dating sometimes involves putting pen to paper.
When I was 30, on the advice of a wise mentor, I wrote out a long list of character traits I thought my ideal future mate should have. The idea was, if I started to fall for a man who was missing one or more of these traits, perhaps I shouldn't consider him at all. My "Ideals List" proceeded to save me time and heartache by guiding me away from men who would surely prove incompatible in the long run. Whenever I met someone I was drawn to in a romantic relationship way (versus casual fling way), I pulled out my list to see how he measured up. Better to spot potential conflicts early on and bail, versus get my heart broken or break someone else's.
Putting pen to paper was vital. Infatuation and lust have a way of scrambling my brain, and so making a mental list would be a fairly useless endeavor. When caught up in the early stages of dating a (seemingly) amazing guy, I could easily forget how important a few of his missing traits would be down the road. Once in a great while I'd discover the object of my affection possessed every trait on my list ...only to later realize my list was too short, that I'd left off some other (darn important) ones.
As soon as you start feeling a spark, pull out your list (or maybe wait until you get home, if you don't want to humiliate or enrage your partner). Then ask yourself:
1) Does this person match my list and therefore meet my standards?
If not, the next question would be:
2) Am I going to pursue her anyway?
If so, then:
3) Why would I allow myself to date someone who doesn't meet my standards?
One answer might be that you don't quite love yourself enough yet. Which is perfectly normal! An active dating life (when done right) provides many opportunities to feel attractive and appreciated, which helps us grow to love ourselves more. By the same token, dating (particularly when it doesn't go well) illuminates our shortcomings, those areas we need to work on where we don't quite measure up. Dating failures and broken relationships are prime opportunities for inner reflection. A time to examine our own character traits and where there's room for improvement.
To ask ourselves:
4) Which of these ideal character traits do I myself lack?
I had a client once who couldn't understand why all his past girlfriends were either drama queens or conniving bitches. I pointed out that nowhere on his "Ideals List" were the words "self-reliant, emotionally stable, and rigorously honest." Funny enough, "kind-hearted and loving" was on his list, however, the sexier, bustier, and more beautiful his dates were, the less he referred to it at all. I also pointed out the glaring fact that by dating women of lesser character, he wasn't living up to his own standards. Where was his discernment and self-respect? How could he blame his dates for their shortcomings if he wasn't bringing his best self to the table?
A great place to start your self-assessment is with the ideal character traits you listed for your dates. Everything that attracts you, fulfills you, and lends compatibility to your relationships should be there in black and white. Things like self-awareness, compassion, empathy, ambition, humility, patience, warmth, integrity, curiosity, open-mindedness, emotional intelligence, the capacity for forgiveness, and the ability to admit to their mistakes. There's nothing wrong with being (or dating) a work in progress, as along as you're striving to be a better man and partnering with women who behave similarly. I recommend inventorying your character traits and flaws regularly. The more you do it, the easier it will be to spot women who do it too.
Kristin Casey is a Certified Intimacy Coach based in Austin, Texas. She is also an IPSA trained Surrogate Partner. Her first book, a memoir Rock Monster: My Life with Joe Walsh, was released by Rare Bird Books in March, 2018.