The pre-dating checklist: 4 simple questions to help you to enjoy dating and do it well - Christian Connection dating advice

The pre-dating checklist: 4 simple questions to help you to enjoy dating and do it well

How can we ensure we have a positive experience when dating? That we feel hopeful about the process and willing to continue our search for love, rather than feel depressed, down and ready to give up? Asking yourself some simple questions – a handy pre-dating checklist – can help. These questions are designed to support you to create a virtuous circle in your dating life so that you remain upbeat and enthusiastic, as opposed to being in a painful vicious cycle that leads you to stop dating. Ready to start?

Here’s a four question, pre-dating checklist to work through before your next date.

Have you built healthy foundations?

The pre-dating checklist: 4 simple questions to help you to enjoy dating and do it well - Christian Connection dating adviceFor me, this is the most important question of all. If we have healthy foundations of self-love, self-care, self-esteem and self-worth and if we have a reasonable understanding of our relationship fears and patterns – the things that make us behave as we do in romantic situations – then we can create a virtuous circle.

We can enjoy dating and stay hopeful about our romantic future, even if we don’t want to see the individual again. We can come away from a date thinking, “That was a positive experience. I felt good about myself. I took care of myself. I expressed my needs and wants. I had an interesting conversation. I can do this dating thing.”

Alternatively, if we go dating with low self-esteem and with unresolved wounds that lead us to stay silent about our needs and wants or give too much of ourselves because we crave love and affection, we will have a negative experience.

We will make poor choices. We will get hurt. We will become demoralised. Our self-esteem will shrink. And we’ll become disillusioned with dating. This is the vicious cycle, to be avoided at all costs if we want to find healthy love.

What foundations do you need to build to create a virtuous circle?

Are you clear on your dating boundaries?

Before you go dating, it’s important to spend some time getting clear on our wants and needs for the date. How long do we want the encounter to last? Where do we want to meet? Do we want to drink alcohol on the date and how much alcohol? How much do we want to share about ourselves (remember, when we over-share or get into deep conversations with someone we’ve just met, this creates a false sense of intimacy and intensity). Do we know what time we want to leave and how we’ll get home?

Boundaries provide us with a sense of safety and are especially important in romantic encounters because many of us lose sight of ourselves when in the presence of someone we find attractive. Boundaries can be flexible – they don’t have to be rigid rules – but they give us some guidelines to follow.

When we don’t follow our guidelines, we can ask ourselves what was going on: did we stay out later than planned because we felt safe and were having a good time or because we were people-pleasing or craving connection? The more we respect our own boundaries, the easier it is to set and maintain boundaries with others.

What boundaries would you like to set for your next date?

Do you feel in a good physical and emotional place?

I know from my own experience that it’s easy to go dating when we’re not in the best physical or emotional place. We want to meet a partner and it’s taken effort to arrange this date. We don’t want to back out now, let the person down or miss out on what could be a golden opportunity to find love.

Yet our body is sending us signs and signals that we need to rest or take care of ourselves in another way. Maybe we feel exhausted or unwell, angry or sad, or vulnerable and emotionally shaky. What would you advise your best friend if they said they were going dating in this condition?

When we don’t feel our best, physically or emotionally, it’s hard to take care of ourselves in romantic relationships.

How can you plan ahead so that you’re in a good place to go on a date – well rested and as emotionally stable as possible? And how can you get the support you might need to postpone a date if that feels like God’s will for you (see the next question!)?

Has somebody got your back?

The pre-dating checklist: 4 simple questions to help you to enjoy dating and do it well - Christian Connection dating adviceIn the big picture, God has our back, but many of us need practical, readily available support when we go dating. We need friends or professionals on hand with whom to check in and share our boundaries. I certainly did because I had a habit of over-stepping my boundaries and abandoning myself when in close proximity with somebody I liked.

If we have support – for example, a friend at the end of the phone, someone who understands us, an accountability buddy or a dating buddy – we are more likely to act in our best interests.

Whom can you enlist to support you when you go dating?

Ask yourself these four questions, answer them honestly and put everything you need in place to create a virtuous circle so that dating feels fun rather than a drag, uplifting rather than depressing and joyful instead of painful. This, I believe, is the path to finding healthy love.

What’s on your pre-dating checklist?

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