Dating is a multi-stage process: first we get to know someone, and then we explore what it’s like being intimate with them. (This article is part of a continuing series for GAYTWOGETHER authored by John R. Ballew, M.S., a licensed private practice professional in Atlanta - specializing in issues related to coming out, sexuality, relationships and spirituality.) The problem is, everyone wants to skip the first step and get on with the second. It’s a mistake to gloss over the getting-to-know-you process just because "your new guy" is a good catch.
One of the best ways to get to know the person you’re dating is to help him get to know you. To know the other, you must be known yourself. You get valuable information from how he responds to you and you begin the dance of intimacy together. But letting someone get to know you implies that you know something about yourself in the first place. Do you? If you’re looking for employment, you’ve probably heard (and dreaded!) the universal question, “Tell me about yourself.” If your date asked you a question like that, what would you tell him?
What do you value? Do you have a sense of what’s most important to you in life? For some people it’s having a good time right now. For others, now isn’t as important as later – maybe even the afterlife! What about you? What is most important to you?
What makes you unique? What are your gifts? Maybe you’ve got a big heart. Maybe you’ve got the ability to rewire a house. The world would be boring if we were all the same. What do you bring to a relationship with someone?
What’s happened to you in your life? Each of us has had unique experiences in life. Think about some of the ones that you’ve had that have been unlike those of your friends. These experiences may be good or bad; both shape us.
A caution here. If you’ve had truly awful experiences in your life, you may feel like you are hiding a secret that no one else could bear. Keeping secrets makes it difficult for others to get to know us. Don’t be afraid of your individuality. Always remember that you are unique – just like everyone else is, too.
What do you friends say about you? Would they say that you are easy to get to know? Dependable? Fun to be around? Do they know about your passions and your daydreams, your hobbies and your eccentricities? Consider asking the people who know you best what they think. It might be interesting to find out what five words they would use to describe you to someone meeting you for the first time.
What are you like when the little boy inside of you comes out to play? Relationships require us to act like adults most of the time – but not all of the time. In healthy relationships, the little kid in you gets to come out to play with the other guy’s little kid. Relationships where these boys are in charge all the time don’t last long, but if they don’t get out from time to time, the relationship will die of boredom. What do you do for fun? When do you just let yourself be silly?
If part of dating is getting to know someone, then an important part of getting ready for a relationship is getting to know yourself.
John R. Ballew, M.S. an author and contributor to GAYTWOGETHER, is a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Atlanta. He specializes in issues related to coming out, sexuality, relationships and spirituality. If you have any questions or comments you can submit them directly to GAYTWOGETHER or John R. Ballew, M.S. - www.bodymindsoul.org.