by Sarah West
There is a quote by Earl Nightingale that reads,
“People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.”
I have found that many people choose to plan after they get concerned about where things are headed. Do you find yourself struggling, wishing you could do things differently in your life, yet you continue in the same patterns making the same mistakes? Wishing is not a strategy. So once again, you find yourself in a compromising situation on a date, even after you swore you would not do it again. Or maybe it is a friendship that continues to influence you negatively. Whatever the culprit, you can change it but it requires new skills.
Before making decisions in your dating relationships, think about what your essential goal is and make a plan to execute it. Here are a few things to consider:
You need a G.O.A.L
Go in with a game plan
Clear boundaries must be set and communicated with your partner. The goal of dating is to get to know each other, have fun together, discover similarities, and learn about life expectations, goals, and dreams. Focusing on seeking pleasure instead could cloud judgment. The time to have a talk about your limits is not in the middle of a heated make-out session. Set your limits and use your brain. If your goal is to refrain from sexual intimacy, it will require you to learn to balance how you think, where you go and with whom. Instead of going out alone with your date, consider group dating. When your parents are not at home, don’t be alone with your boyfriend or girlfriend in the house. Be aware of how much physical contact you and your partner have and understand that too much physical affection can easily get out of hand. Knowing that your partner has the same goals can also help you keep yours!
Only seek relationships that share like-minded goals
Healthy relationships take time. What is the hurry? Slow it down, enjoy the ride and be intentional. Healthy relationships and marriages are based on similar backgrounds, personalities, goals, dreams and values. Just like oil and water will not mix, neither do individuals that do not have the same core values. Taking it slow will allow you to really get to know the other person. If you find during your time together that the balance of power has become one-sided, that control is not shared, that there is disrespect or even bullying, the relationship needs to end. Too many relationships are verbally, emotionally, physically, and even financially abusive. Respect and the level of commitment both people have to the relationship need to be discussed. Studies show that women that live with their partner before they are married are more likely to experience domestic violence. Couples should always be respectful and engage in healthy conflict resolution. Abuse of any type is never acceptable or deserved.
Arrange time with friends and for yourself
Ensuring you have a strong support system is vital. One of the biggest mistakes young couples make in relationships is they disconnect from everything that does not pertain to that relationship. It can be difficult to balance the social and romantic aspects of life but it is so important. You need time away from your significant other to keep your life in perspective. You need time for yourself so you can learn who you are and what your personal goals are outside of that relationship. Your friends can help you keep your goals intact and help you avoid risky behavior that could jeopardize your future by providing support and accountability in your life.
Live out your commitment
If you date and then marry the wrong person, you will live with significant, negative and lasting consequences of that decision for the rest of your life. Setting your goals and sticking to its commitments can be difficult. Sometimes it requires us to sacrifice short term desires for ultimate long term success. This can be difficult, but when you have goals set clearly in place, your dating experience can be one you can look back on and be proud to say you successfully navigated without regret!