Are you single and frustrated with your dating efforts? Tired of spending all your hard-earned cash at the local coffee shop for what seems like the millionth blind date? Or maybe things have been going smashingly with your new guy until he pulls the rug out from under you just as you’ve started to open your heart to him. The scenarios are endless in the gay metropolis of dating, but the one thing that’s for certain is that there’s no magic formula on how to snag your Mr. Right.
There are lots of things you can do to promote your chances of success, however. And this article will elaborate on one such secret that might help clear the confusion and point you in the right direction as you continue your quest for a compatible boyfriend. Sometimes pure luck is at play in meeting a quality man, like being in the right place at the right time. But more often than not, a lot of preparation is needed to date smartly.
A good mixture of self-awareness and interpersonal skills is just what the doctor ordered, as you would be wise not to be led solely by your physical attraction meter when screening for potential dating prospects. Your first step before you ever set foot into the dating jungle is to have a solid sense of identity—to know who you are and what you’re looking for. Without this knowledge, you’ll likely wander and connect aimlessly with men crowding the dating pool who have little in common with you except being single as well (and sometimes not even that!).Your time and heart are too precious; so don’t waste them in a pursuit that’s not armed with some kind of map or guidepost to help lead the way. And that’s where your values come in!
Values are the things that are most important to you in your life, what you hold most dear. They give your life meaning and they are the essence of who you are and what you believe in. They are a core piece of your identity, the filler for your sense of self—your internal nucleus of sorts. Without values, life would feel empty, depressing, and stale. There would be no sense of purpose or motivation.
Values act as guiding principles for our behavior. Ideally, you will behave and make decisions based on what you believe in. They help to keep us on track and define a sense of integrity. For example, if you value family, you will likely be proactive in your participation in family functions and in being a solid support person for them in times of need.
So what are your values? An important tip about values first: When we are born, we are raised being taught all kinds of “shoulds” for how we ought to live our lives from our caregivers, school, peers, media, church, and society. When we become adults, however, we are now able to choose which values really fit who we are. As gay men, we’ve all been shamed for our same-sex feelings and it is actually through the coming-out process that we are able to assimilate a more positive identity through our own choosing and hard work, rejecting the homophobic values that all individuals in our society internalize initially.
Coming-out is an example of the value you place in taking pride of your true self. So in identifying your values, it will be important for you to distinguish between what’s truly something you believe in versus what could potentially be someone else’s expectations of you. Whose voice do you hear? Your own? Mom or Dad? Church?
Another bonus tip about values: Typically, when we suffer from guilt or low self-esteem, we have likely compromised a value. When we don’t act in accordance with our values, when our behavior is not in alignment with what we hold golden, our self-esteem suffers. When our behavior and values match, we feel good about ourselves and have achieved integrity and responsibility.
Assignment: Take out a sheet of paper and make an exhaustive list of your personal values. Once you’ve completed them, go back over your list and make sure they are genuinely your values and not somebody else’s “shoulds” that you’re still carrying with you. It might also be helpful to prioritize them in order of importance to you. Examples of values might include: monogamy, honesty, passion, spirituality, justice, contribution, forgiveness, freedom, education, personal growth, etc.
[ continued tomorrow ]
© Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, The Gay Love Coach
The suggestions and feedback offered in this column are but one perspective of multiple approaches to dealing with problems or challenges. Information provided in articles and advice columns should not be used as a substitute for coaching or therapy when these services are needed. None of this information should be your only source when making important life decisions. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a particular problem, nor should it take the place of a consultation with a trained professional. It is your responsibility to consult a professional prior to making any life decisions.
Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, contributing author to GAYTWOGETHER, is one of the leading love coaches for the gay community. As a licensed dating and relationship coach, Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, DHS, MSW has over 18 years experience as a psychotherapist and life coach specializing in helping GLBT individuals and couples develop and maintain successful and fulfilling intimate relationships. He holds a doctorate degree in human sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Western Michigan University. He also runs a successful private therapy practice, Personal Victory Counseling, Inc. http://thegaylovecoach.com