If Good Advice from a Matchmaker is Hard to Follow, Then Therapy Holds the Key.
Recently, I went to a short talk given by a matchmaker, who gave great, practical advice that she said, for some reason, some of her clients had trouble following. And in every case, from my perspective, the problem behavior is not going away, and in fact follows her clients on dates, because it is driven by an emotional mechanism that needs to be, could have been, and still can be healed–by psychotherapy.
1. MATCHMAKER ADVICE: “Be realistic!”
Being realistic is great advice for dating. Nobody wants to grow old alone while waiting for a ship that’s never coming in. But what do you do with your foolish and stubborn heart that wants what it can’t have or what doesn’t exist? The stubborn and foolish heart won’t listen to logic. It needs a corrective emotional experience that only therapy can provide on demand. So, if you or someone you know is stuck with unrealistic expectations about love and relationships, then perhaps you are swimming denial–which is not a river in Egypt. It is a stage of grief, which means this foolish and, perhaps, long-suffering heart is stuck grieving a loss or a trauma from the past. And that sounds like a great segue to “Please have a seat on the couch.”
2. MATCHMAKER ADVICE: “Be a mensch (don’t be a jerk)!”
Dating can be rough. Sometimes people say things even on the first date that manage to hurt the other person’s feeling. How can things go so wrong so quickly? Well, people bring a lot of emotional baggage with them to the first date. Sometimes, people say hurtful things intentionally. Sometimes, people say hurtful things without being aware of it. And sometimes, people say neutral things that just wind up hurting another person who’s vulnerable. Obviously, I don’t expect the jerks and the narcissists to be rushing in, pounding their chest and asking to be made into a kinder and gentler version of themselves. But if you are not a jerk or a narcissist, and you notice that it happens a lot that your relationships, short or long, end in a fight or hurt feelings for you or for your mate, then maybe there’s something going on under the surface worth looking at. It may be that your unconscious is trying to tell you it’s hurting. “So, how’s next Tuesday at 6 sound to you?”
3. MATCHMAKER ADVICE: “Don’t look for an identical twin!”
Woody Allen said in his standup act in the 1960’s, “My first marriage ended in divorce due to religious differences: She was atheist, and I was an agnostic. We couldn’t agree on which religion not to bring the children up in.” It’s tempting to look for a twin. It is such a great excuse to turn people down. You don’t need to be vulnerable, to make an effort, to open your heart, to take a risk, to wear your heart on your sleeve. It’s so warm and safe to be alone with your fantasies of your ideal mate (stated or unstated), that you don’t notice how alone you really are. But if you do get glimpses of the silence and chill in your life, then you need to be talking to your therapist about romantic prospects you are rejecting out of your world. After all, “If you like the beach, and you [the other you] like the mountains, then both of you like the outdoors.”
4. MATCHMAKER ADVICE: “Dress romantic/sharp for dates!”
If your matchmaker has to tell you that you are not dressing right for dates, or if you are doing other passive-aggressive stuff like showing up late or doing other things to sabotage any chance of love sprouting in your life, then your unconscious is jumping up and down, asking for help, and trying to tell you something, and you will do well to engage the services of a therapist to help you start listening.
5. MATCHMAKER ADVICE: “Save serious subjects like serious life problems you are experiencing for the third date!”
A couple of thoughts here. First, if you have a sob story to tell, tell it to someone who cares. Literally! Wait until you see that your new love interest cares about you, and then tell them. This could be the third date, or the first date, or the tenth date, or never, if they don’t give a damn. This advice is harder to apply than the third date rule of thumb because you have to figure if they care about you, and that takes Emotional Intelligence. But this is the real thing. The third date rule is only an approximation, but the rule to tell them only if and when you see that they care about you, this rule is how you make the Cupid’s arrow hit the bull’s eye. Therapy can help you train and improve your Emotional Intelligence, which is a big help in dating. Second, if you feel an irresistible urge to spill your life’s trauma and drama on the first date, then let’s not worry about the date. You’re living with jarring emotional pain. You’ve got trauma that needs to be dealt with and healed. It’s like if you are limping on dates because you’ve got a bullet in your thigh, let’s not worry about how to hide the limp. Let’s get the bullet out, so the thigh can heal, and you can go dancing. That’s what therapy is about.
ALIK’S COMMENT: Why you should never talk trash about the Ex
On the first date, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to make your date dream about romance with you. To do that, you can set the mood by talking about what’s romantic to you. if your date has the same sense of what’s romantic, your date will swoon. Divorce battles are not romantic to anyone. They are the absolute opposite of “romantic”. Let me illustrate. If you are on a date, and you are just Prince(ss) Charming. Your date is laughing at your jokes. His/her eyes glisten with interest and maybe indecent thoughts. Suddenly, a couple both of you know shows up, starts talking about the romantic wedding they are planning, and then the couple leaves. Is the level of romance between you and your date now higher or lower? It is higher. What if a mutual acquaintance shows up, starts talking about how his/her life is being ruined by the evil ex-spouse and ex’s evil lawyer, and then the acquaintance leaves? Is the level of romance between you and your date now higher or lower? It’s lower now. It’s like the bomb went off. The romantic landscape now is that you and your date are now sitting in a 12-foot bomb crater wearing shreds of what used to be your sharp/romantic attire. But if you hate your ex so much that you can’t stop talking on dates about how they ruined your life, you’ve got trauma, and you should get that looked at.