Dating & The Empowered Woman
I’m writing you because I’m a 48 year old woman, I’ve been a divorced single mom for the last six years and I’m ready to find a person to fall in love with and spend the rest of my life with. The problem I keep running into is the speed of dating these days. Things have definitely changed since I last dated on a serious level, which was years ago. It seems like people now get sexual with each other pretty quickly and that’s the “new normal.” Do I need to sleep with potential partners quickly, or do men now just move on to the next person if you don’t. I’m feeling pressure to move faster sexually than I am comfortable with when it comes to the men I meet. I’m feeling like maybe I’m being old-fashioned, but is that really the new way?
Feeling so frustrated and confused with dating and finding my person.
Dear feeling so frustrated and confused,
This is such a great question, and it comes up often with my single clients with dating being the way it is these days. Things have changed, and it can be hard to know what to do and how far to go and how fast to go when getting to know someone. People do quickly jump into bed thinking that sex is a way to get to know someone. I feel that each individual person has a right to do whatever feels good to them, and ultimately there is not a wrong or right in what they choose. It ultimately comes down to what you are looking for and what you want.
The dating scene absolutely has changed. Dating apps like Tinder and Bumble allow you to swipe right or left quickly as if it’s a vending machine. In fact, a recent poll stated that 48% of millennials thinks it is okay to have sex even before they go on their first date.
I can absolutely empathize with your frustration and concerns. But this is the deal – we all have free will and we all can make choices that are aligned with what we want. As fully empowered women, we choose how we want to show up and how we want things to go.
And even though it may look that way, not all men want to jump right in bed before they get to know someone. But for the one’s that do, it’s very simple – you can quickly cross them off your list and move on. You do not need to sleep with a man quickly to find your person. On the contrary, I truly believe in the opposite. I truly believe that there are crucial steps that need to happen before we are sexually Intimate with someone.
Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that if that’s what someone chooses to do. I’m talking about REALLY getting to know someone and build trust and reliance with them. It takes time to achieve that level of intimacy with another human being. And if someone is looking for their life partner, someone to spend the whole rest of their life with, then that is time well spent.
The problem is that “attraction” temporarily changes how your brain works. When you are attracted to someone and intimate and sleep with another person, your brain releases dopamine, your serotonin levels increase and oxytocin is produced. Oxytocin is called the love hormone because it causes you to feel a surge of positive feelings and completely interrupts critical thinking for a time. Scientists have found that these hormones can be released for up to 18 months, until the brain goes back to normal functioning. This is the most important time getting to know your potential life partner.
This is the time you get to know the person and see how they treat you over time. This is the phase when you get to find out who they really are and ultimately if they are a person you want to spend life with. I always suggest if you’re looking for a life partner, don’t skip getting to know that person. Take your time and allow the beauty of courtship to happen. This is when you embark on different adventures and get to see how that person interacts with you and with other people.
This is the time you ask all the questions and spend time in conversation, asking each other about your dreams, how you grew up and how that shaped you, what you like and what you don’t. The list goes on. This is the time to truly get to know them. In the beginning everyone shows up their best. That’s the way it works. So time allows the truth about the person to come through. As time goes by you have a clear sense of who they are and it’s not being hijacked by all the love hormones that quickly get activated when we are intimate. You allow room to clearly see any red flags and whatever else you need to see.
When we wait to be intimate it opens up so many different possibilities. Often, however, couples concentrate more on the short-term chemistry rather than their overall long-term compatibility. Although both things are very important, it’s compatibility that makes for a long lasting relationship. And 95% of the success of a relationship is selection and who you choose to spend life with.
I teach a method in my practice called the Relationship Attachment Model, developed by Dr. John Van Epp. It’s a process of how relationship bonds are formed and how to get to know someone in the proper order. It’s Know, Trust, Rely, Commit , and Touch. When we take the time to get to know someone then we can trust them, and when we trust them then we can begin to rely on them. When we rely on them we can commit to them, and when we commit to someone we then trust them with physical intimacy.
The beautiful part is there are many men out there that honor and respect this process. If you are falling for someone, take your time until you are comfortable being intimate with them. Intimacy and sex with another person can be a special bond. And there is no need to rush that process. Rather, enjoy the beauty of courtship and finding out if that truly is a person you trust and want to be intimate with.
No one can tell you how long to wait to be intimate with someone. That decision all comes down to what you feel comfortable with. What I do know is there is no need to rush if you find yourself attracted to the person. This is the time you can get to know them before you share that intimacy with them.
Just as you wouldn’t go into business with someone unless you knew and trusted them, it’s perfectly okay to take the same precaution when it comes to sexual intimacy. And for women, that’s the ultimate intimacy and we need to feel safe to allow intimacy into our life.
You hold all the power. You get to choose who you want to sleep with – and on your schedule, not theirs – and who you don’t. As I always say, it’s the man’s job to chase, and the woman’s job to set the pace. You set the pace. You’re in control of what you want and how fast or slow you get there. That’s why it’s so important to listen to your gut, your own intuition, because it’s there to guide you.
Thank you for such an awesome question. I hope that was helpful for you and I hope that you follow whatever it is that you desire.