Whether it’s my clients or my friends, I constantly hear people talking about who they’re dating, and I often wonder if they're just wish dating. You know wish dating, when you wish the person you’re dating lived up to that list you made in your head. When they don’t you work extra hard to try and make them - before you know it your relationship consists of nothing but wishing and working. That's why I usually stop people as they tell me about their significant others and the problems they’re having. I have to ask them, “are you dating the person or the idea of who you wish they were?” For some people, this question can hit a little bit too hard because they're not ready, but I figured since you clicked this blog, you’re ready.
I’m sure you already have an idea of what it is that you want out of a relationship. Whether you created that relationship script through something you saw on TV, with your parents, or your friends - you pretty much know what your ideal relationship looks like. That’s amazing and more than half the work! You have a big vision of who your soulmate is what life will be like. Your goal may be to get married, have kids, and live in a nice house with the white picket fence. HOWEVER, (no tea, no shade, no lemonde) that desire can make you so desperate to find “the one” so that you can start living that dream, that you start dating anyone to fill the role. It stops being about the person in front of you and starts being about making the dream come true. That’s not fair to you or them.
When you're too strong and focused on your wish dating list and just trying to fill the quota, it prevents you from appreciating what the person in front of you has going on, because you don't see them as an individual, just a body to fulfill your desires. The thing is though, just like some of us have done, if they are really feeling you, they’ll stop being who they are and start being who you want them to be.
Like our own pasts have taught us, I’m sure you can guess that this won’t lead to a long lasting healthy relationship. Time will pass and before you know it, you’ll no longer be in that honeymoon phase of a relationship and you’ll realize that this wish you made is just a farce. Once the genie is gone and you’re on your own, you’ll realize your relationship might have been a mistake. And some people say, “oh, that's hurtful, that's wrong, and that's that's fucked up.” But I say, that realization is great! Learn the lesson from Aladdin and tell the fucking truth. Tell your truth. Tell your truth about what it is that you're looking for, recognizing how badly you want to be in a relationship, and then open your eyes and your ears to the truth of what's in front of you.
I want you to take a minute or two, think about the person you are trying to date (or are in a relationship with) and ask yourself:
- Who is the person you are dating? What do they like and dislike? What do you like about them?
- Do you want to be with them? What do you see regarding a future with them?
- Are they someone who falls short of what you actually desire, but that you think you can mold to be who you want?
- Do you like them as they are or the potential of who you could mold them to be?
If you really like or even love who you’re with, then good for you, I’m happy for you! But if you just realized that you might be wish dating them, then I have a few tips to help prevent this from happening again.
1. Think about what it is that you actually want out of a relationship and not just the superficial things like their height, their hair, their physique because those things can change. I’m not saying settle on what you’re attracted to, I’m just saying don’t make that your priority as you reflect on what you want. Instead think about the essence of what it is that you're looking for. Within the context of your relationship, what would it mean for you to be with someone that is compassionate? Kind? Ambitious? What does it look like in practice? What is it about those things that you want and how do you know that is going to work? Basically, what do you value and hope that a partner would also value?
This exercise makes me think about a Different World when Whitley said that she wanted a man who is educated, ambitious and enterprising. Dwayne seemed surprised that she did not ask for a rich man. And she told him that kind of man, an educated, enterprising and ambitious man, is never poor. (If you never seen that scene, make sure you find it on YouTube)
Whitley took the things that she values, figured out what it looks like within the context of a relationship and then decided that that was the thing she wanted to go for.
Like Whitley, take the time to look at the values that you have as an individual and think about how those values would match up or look in a relationship? What values will your partner need to have to compliment you?
2. Use your ears and your mouth in accordance to their number, we listen twice and we speak once. Listen to what your partner (or potential partner) has to say. Also try to listen for the things that they don't say because it will help you learn who this person is. By truly listening and getting to know a person for who they really are, you can determine if they have values that match up to anything that you've got going.
3.Now that you've done your listening, it’s time to do your talking. Keeping what you want out of the relationship and how you want to feel in a relationship is a secret that doesn't need to be kept. Tell whoever you’re dating what you are looking for, because those who aren’t meant for you will simply eliminate themselves because they know they can’t or don’t want to give you what you need. And while it may hurt at the time, in the end you’ll be grateful that you didn’t spend weeks, months, or years with someone who wasn’t for you.
4. Finally, watch them. What folk say and what they do are not always aligned. Make sure that after you have listened to them, to get to know them, after you have told them what you are looking for, that you are also watching to be sure they are that person.
By doing these 4 things, which can be easier said than done, you can set yourself up to find someone that is an actual fit, rather than spending your time working on someone who will never meet your expectations, no matter how hard you try to change them.
Soundoff below. Have you ever found yourself wish dating?