Some Great Dating Advice: Don’t Forget To Learn’s advice column, Since You Asked, featured a question last week from a woman who has made a conscious choice to only date nice guys. With a history of choosing jerks –some who were even emotionally abusive — she went to therapy and worked on herself, sorted out her family history, and now finds herself dating a really good dude, who she is afraid may be too boring for her. After the jump, the advice that Cary Tennis gave her that I found very enlightening. Related: Girl Talk: I Want To Date A Good Guy

My guess is that each of you is at a turning point. At a certain stage in life we’re trying to nail things down. We want to meet the right person, have the right sex, get squared away. So we tend to see each person as a potential lifetime mate and that’s that. But if you look back over your life, you see that many people in what you might call “failed relationships” actually taught you something. This mean friend you had. Your critical mother. Your dad. Your therapist. You were learning in all those situations and you’re learning now. So use this opportunity to learn.

He may not be the one who becomes your lover and satisfies you sexually and sticks with you. He may not become your husband or long-term mate. But you are trying to do life in a new way and he’s your first attempt. You’re trying to live not as a doormat, not as a sidekick but as your own evolving person, full of self-respect and dignity.

I think this is really important to remember and a nice companion to Dater X’s advice to challenge yourself to ask the bigger questions and Amelia’s observation about the importance of trying to balance abandon and skepticism when getting to know someone. Sometimes you’re not in a place to ask the really big questions. Sometimes you’re just trying to do life in a new way and it’s more important to ask yourself smaller questions like, Does this person treat me with respect and kindness?

If the answer is yes, than you have achieved your milestone, however small. No matter what happens in the end with that person, the experience is worthwhile because it gets you closer to where you want to be ultimately and gives you a chance to practice doing things differently. You may not even know where you want to be ultimately, but you can take baby steps in that direction. It’s all about the intention to get there. My point being; we’re not always ready to find love, even if we think we are, and even if we are ready, we have little control over when our match will come along. In the meantime, we are growing as people and trying to better ourselves. Sometimes we are dating simply to learn more about who we are and what we want.

As a person who tends to see relationships that don’t work out as “failures,” it’s important for me to remember to focus on what I learned about myself. I consider that to be one of the most important questions of all when it comes to dating. If you can answer it, then your dating experience was a success.

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