Dating Advice for an Emotionally Healthy Relationship

I picked up a rental car on a recent trip and signed the paperwork that clearly laid out all the dents and kinks attributed to the previous renter. I knew what issues I was dealing with before I drove off into the sunset.

Why can’t dating be that easy? I asked this question to a group of singles who managed to find each other at what I like to call a “Noah’s Ark” event where everyone seemed too perfectly paired.

Before sharing our insights into the world of dating, we played “Can you top this?” I thought I was going to be crowned the clear winner but it was oddly satisfying to learn that others have had similar challenging dating experiences. As one woman put it, “I think I’m part squirrel. I seem to attract nuts.” Our “top this” game was a close call, which included a woman being taken home to meet a man’s mother, who was in an urn on the mantel.

You would think after our discussion that I would immediately go out and purchase comfortable shoes, adopt a dozen cats, reinstate my library card and search for the Hallmark channel but I did not. I am a chronic optimist. Even though Cupid REALLY needs to improve his aim, I refuse to throw in the towel. In fact, the evening proved to be very beneficial. I walked away with a few insights, that although not medically proven, are certainly road tested and worth mentioning.

Wave the red flag if you experience the following:

The elbow squeezer

If someone is physically attempting to move or not move you physically beware. One woman shared that the “elbow squeezer” she dated became more and more intense. Considering this CDC infographic reports 20 people per minute are victims of abuse by an intimate partner, ask yourself if he or she is holding onto you as an affectionate gesture or to control.

The cheapskate

The group agreed that it is important to contribute or offer to share expenses when dating but do you really want to go through life being told you owe $3.78 for your half of a turkey Reuben?

The addict

The group agreed that dating someone who has successfully been in recovery for an extended amount of time shouldn’t stop you from exploring a potential relationship. Ask the tough questions. Do you think you can save them if they are not taking steps to save themselves? Do you really want to bring what is in their world into yours?

The whiner

The world can be a scary place. Do you want to surround yourself with those who seek out the positive or someone who reminds you that the sun hasn’t shone for 124 hours and 25 minutes?

The constant texter

Being texted every ten minutes may seem like that special someone just can’t get enough of you. One woman shared, “At first I thought it was romantic that he constantly wanted to know where I was. I discovered that he was with someone else and wanted to know my location so I wouldn’t find his.”

Oh God

The group, consisting of many faithful followers of various religions, felt worshiping together can be very meaningful but advised to be cautious of someone who forces their beliefs on you or feels that what you are doing in regards to your faith is not “enough”. One person shared that the man she was dating continually tried to make her feel guilty for not being more diligent in her faith, perhaps a cover up for some of the skeletons in his own closet.

The stalker

If a man or woman comes to your house or drives by at any hour uninvited, and/or does not respect established boundaries, we will chip in and buy you sneakers—RUN.

For those of you that are “singled out”, I hope you find the collective thoughts from a spontaneous gathering of seasoned singles useful and it does not deter you from opening your heart to love.

Love can be foolish. As one single said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, you must be incredibly good looking.” We sometimes love the wrong people but I haven’t given up on finding a non-elbow-squeezing, generous, faithful man with a positive attitude. I know I have a few “dents and scratches” like my rental car, but there is always hope to find someone with similar mileage to share the drive toward the setting sun.

MaryMary Helen Darah is an award-winning columnist who has appeared in numerous publications in the Toledo area and beyond. Her column, The Mother of Mayhem, publishes on ProMedica HealthConnect each month.