The Politics Of Dating
"Those marriages generally abound most with love and constancy that are preceded by a long courtship." Joseph Addison
Whether you are single, widowed, divorced or about to be, pursuing love can be more fruitful when you are open to the many exciting opportunities it offers. In our society people date for two reasons: Either you are looking for love or you are seeking companionship or sex. If you are interested in finding a partner, think of dating as an opportunity to spend time with someone that kindles your hope for finding you soul-mate, where joint activities are enjoyable. Think of yourself as interviewing for the most important opening in your life – a partner. It's a time to gain new knowledge, experiment with new activities, have fun and learn more about who you are. What sort of people do you truly respect? What sort of people enhance the quality of your life? What do you want from a relationship, and what is fair to expect from it? How do you drop a person you are dating when you discover s/he’s Mr./Ms. Wrong? My advice is to enjoy the process, focus on having a good time, and in time the prize will present itself.
In order to assist you in deciding what your goal is – what kind of partner you are seeking I recommend that you first need to be truthful with yourself about where you find yourself in the present, right now. The future cannot occur in a vacuum, without a firm acceptance of the present state you are in. For example, if you wished to travel to Duluth, Minnesota you would get lost without first knowing your starting point. Because from San Jose, California the direction to Duluth is east, whereas, you would travel west coming from Washington, D.C. So only when you know where you are, will you be able to get to where you wish to go.
Chances are pretty good that you are already doing some of the very things that will help reach your goal of getting married and staying married. I would like to suggest that your ability to expand on these existing, and perhaps hidden, inner resources requires that you be aware of what they are. The following "I AM..." exercise will reveal to you exactly what your present status is in life, and in love.
The THE "I AM" FOR SELF-DISCOVERY task consists of repeatedly completing this phrase for about 10-15 minutes without stopping. Please begin by finding an uninterrupted, quiet time and place. Take a blank sheet of paper and pen. Sit for a few minutes without writing, taking some deep, relaxing breaths, clearing your mind of any extraneous thoughts or feelings. Let your body be loose. When you are ready you can begin. Just let your mind follow as your hand leads you through your unconscious mind as you write, over and over again, I am...I am... I am... and let the words come to describe yourself.

Natalie Gould, self-described loser at 34, felt that she had to make some changes in her dealings with men, and surprised herself with these self-revealing results.

I am my mother's daughter
I am a talented interior designer
I am scared that I'll never get married and will disappoint Mommy
I am upset that I let my mother run my life
I am a little girl inside
I am a beautiful, desirable woman
I am not so confident about being a beautiful, desirable woman
I am basically shy around men who interest me
I am attracted to powerful, gorgeous men who abuse me
I am afraid I'm never going to be with someone that I want to be
I am more secure with men who are less desirable
I am most comfortable with men who other women would reject
I am more comfortable when men pursue me
I am someone who ends up with men I can't truly respect
I am disgusted with my choice of men
I am frustrated with the types of relationships I end up with
I am usually someone who gets attached to men who aren't good for
I am getting depressed
I am not all bad
I am confident about my skills as a communicator
I am friendly, warm and have many good friends
I am confident about my ability to make money
I am scared about spending too much
I am a woman who soothes herself with shopping
I am a shopaholic
I am going to mend my ways and take control of my spending
I am proud of myself when I can shop discount
I am embarrassed about my materialistic orientation
I am someone who appreciates art
I am closest to god when I am at the ocean
I am someone who enjoys sailing
I am a woman who loves hot weather and hot men
I am afraid of getting married and getting stuck
I am afraid of giving too much and getting lost
I am a woman who perhaps could be alone forever
I am afraid that marriage will obliterate my autonomy
I am frightened that marriage will compromise my values
I am sexually frustrated
I am worried that exciting men create anxiety for me
I am giving myself permission to masturbate more often
I am at my best when my body when is lean and tight
I am most happy when I am working out
I am proud of myself when I can stand up to my parents

Once Natalie witnessed the wisdom and insight of her unconscious mind, she gained clarity and appreciation about the many assets she possessed, as well as identifying the work she still needed to accomplish. Her strengths which had previously gone unrecognized, were impressive.
In order to succeed in making changes we need to build on our successes – use them as a foundation so that we don't need to build on thin air. Looking at our liabilities without acknowledging our assets is similar to worrying about death without appreciating life.
In analyzing the results of Natalie's "I AM" exercise, we first grouped together all of her strengths and then categorized the ones we could surmise: Natalie had an unusual amount of confidence related to her career, her social skills, her love for art, aesthetics, and sports. In addition, she validated the difficult psychological work that she was already carrying out – becoming more separate from her parents' influence over her, learning how to take a stand – by living her life for herself, rather than for them. The analysis of the "I AM" exercise continued with attention to what areas in her life Natalie needed to repair. She recognized that it was essential that she continue to gain independence from her parents and also that she needed to grow up a little more.
Another of Natalie's strengths was her willingness to be honest with herself. This was a distinct advantage as it allowed her to address, and subsequently control, her out-of-control spending sprees – compulsive shopping habits which left her in debt and in trouble, which Natalie attributed to feelings of emptiness. She compared herself to an alcoholic who used drugs to manage unacceptable feelings.
Perceiving her real self as primarily positive and viable, yet admitting the need for some changes, was the way that Natalie enabled herself to list some steps that she could begin to take. Among them, constructing a reasonable budget, outlining the necessary steps to adhere to it, reading self-help books on the subject, beginning psychotherapy, and joining Debtor's Anonymous, a twelve step program, that is free and assists individuals in learning to manage their finances.
After a close evaluation of her own flaws and flairs, Natalie Gould found her attitudes toward men and relationships could begin to alter. She tallied her strengths and weaknesses in this area and concluded that she needed to develop a style of relating to men that was comfortable for her, while also healthy. It was also important that she accept the fact that up until now, she had done the best she could with men, considering her difficult family, the flawed relationships that were her role models, and her unwillingness to truly grow up. The impact of her dysfunctional family had influenced Natalie's sense of self-esteem, self-confidence, assertiveness, and her style of conducting intimate relationships.

There is nothing to be gained by beating yourself up. Instead, it is your job to treat yourself with loving kindness and respect when you assess your operating style in the world of love. For instance, taking notice of the viable and healthy ways in which you are already conducting your life will be of tremendous help to you in determining which behaviors and beliefs come easier to you since you are already doing them. Sometimes we just need to notice what our existing strengths are, so that we can build up on them – you never have to start from scratch. B then again you may have to scratch the surface to uncover the good things that help you find your way.
When you perform THE "I AM" FOR SELF-DISCOVERY task be sure to explore what you bring to the party, as well as what you want from a relationship – rather than dwelling on the types of partnerships you have sought to date. When you are finished you will be ready to do your:

1) Group together the list of your assets, noting the obvious as well as the inferred strengths that you already possess. Then on a separate sheet, 2) List the areas that still need work. 3) Rate each one on a scale of 1-10, so that you can decide 4)Which baby step to take next, and 5) Bring yourself up one notch at a time. Repeating this process periodically will also give you a way of 6) Measuring your progress as you go along.

Women like Natalie have to wake up and stop saying yes to men who are unavailable, inappropriate and undesirable, and begin to say yes to what they really want, need and deserve. Yes, I mean deserve – when you start to appreciate your natural assets, your beautiful inner self, you'll have good reason to face up to your self-sabotaging techniques, and learn to get out of your own way. If you want love and marriage, then it's time to get honest with yourself. Recognize the track that you've been on, do what's needed to get off of it when it doesn't work, while holding onto and amplifying what does. With this sort of a balanced view of yourself, you will be able to bear up. You might be lonely for a while as you take your time, but once you are on the look-out for available men or women who are willing to commit, and stay focused on your goal –you will succeed! Soon wedding plans will be in the making and you will need my book.

Please call me for further information and visit my website.

Rita Bigel-Casher LCSW, Ph.D.
Psychotherapist, Clinical Hypnotherapist
Practitioner of Mind/Body Medicine
http://www.ritacanhelp.comUpper East Side of Manhattan

Author's Bio: 

Rita Bigel-Casher, LCSW, Ph.D.
211 East 70th Street, Suite 16G, New York, N.Y. 10021
Telephone: (212) 532 - 0032

For over twenty-five years, I have been an Individual, Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in Manhattan. My orientation is "Self-Relational Solution-Focus" which is a "camera lens" through which I work to understand personal and health issues. I assist clients to heal and take positive action in their lives. I treat relationship issues – with self and others, and view myself as a coach for better living. I specialize in Trauma Therapy whereby I help individuals and couples to manage stress, anxiety, pain management, and trauma-recovery utilizing (EMDR) Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing – a cutting edge approach combining the best from traditional and holistic practice; Hypnotherapy – a highly effective road map to unconscious and hidden inner resources, EFT (Emotionally Focused Marital Therapy) –
healing relationships from the inside out; Cognitive Schema Focused Therapy – transforming hidden beliefs about the self and others; Meditation Instruction – a significant means toward achieving good mental and physical health . My preference always, is to work as briefly as possible. I utilize these techniques judiciously, no differently than the laser beam for the eye surgeon – in the right hands, these are powerful tools.

State licensure in Clinical Social Work and Ph.D. in Industrial Psychology. Clinical member of: American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), Association for Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH), New York Milton H. Erickson Society for Psychotherapy and Hypnosis (NYSEPH), EMDR International Society (EMDRIA), National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and Author's Guild. Educator at Hunter College School of Social Work, The Postgraduate Center for Mental Health; former Director of in-house treatment for family violence at Scarsdale Family Counseling Service; Supervise mental health professionals.

Skillful psychotherapy offered with individuals, couples, families, and groups: Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Sexual Abuse & Violence; Chronic Illness & Pain Management; Sleep disorders; Anxiety & Phobias; Loneliness; Parenting and Step-Parenting Issues; ACOA, Substance Abuse; Codependency; Career Transitions; Helping people to get married, survive engagement, and stay happily married; Communication Training with partners, family, parents, children, co-workers and bosses; Divorce Counseling, Separation and Grief Work; Sexual Difficulties, Eroticism & Intimacy Enhancement. Long lasting results can be achieved by anyone who is making significant personal or professional changes, or is at a point of transition on their life path, or wants to accelerate the rate of his or her emotional development, or improve their relationships.

I am happily married, have six children and six grandchildren. I enjoy good health, and spend my leisure time (of which there is never enough) with my family. I also relish writing, reading, yoga, playing piano, golf and tennis, gardening, walking and hiking, seeing lots of theater, a few good friends and just being lazy.

Author: BRIDE'S GUIDE TO EMOTIONAL SURVIVAL, Prima Publishing, January 1996 & AuthorHouse, November 2003. Media: CNN, OPRAH, Donahue, Joan Hamburg, ABC Cyberplex, Good Day New York, Fox News, Eyewitness News; New York Times, Newsday, Chicago Tribune, NJ Star Ledger, Bride, Madmoiselle, Cosmopolitan, Modern Bride, and many more. Reprints and Reel available.