Tara was absolutely certain her divorce status would prevent the man of her dreams from ever truly embracing her. For her certainties, an embrace never occurred.
Emily was scared to share the fact she had children with anyone she went on a date with. Her fear was not tied to the safety of her children but to her belief that people would turn and run in the other direction when hearing it.
In the emotional intelligence world, there is a competency called reality testing and it refers to our ability to see things as they are instead of creating stories around them. It is very possible that Emily has met some men that lost interest in her when they found out she had children and thus she would note that she was not creating stories. I would disagree. Some men losing interest for this reason does not mean that all men will lose interest for this reason.
Another competency in the emotional intelligence space is emotional expression and it refers to how we express our emotions. Pretty cut and dry, eh? Not necessarily. How and when we express ourselves is the real sign of emotional intelligence here. One of the most common things we do as humans is go straight from reality testing to emotional expression thus missing out on perspective and opportunities.
Renee is 39 years old and divorced with no children. She was cheated on by Ben and it has affected her confidence and faith. As in, she has lost a little bit of confidence in herself and a lot of faith in men. On top of this, Renee believes that being 39 with no children will affect a man’s view of her. To hear her explain it, a lot of men will see a woman her age and wonder what is wrong with her that led her to go this long without having children. And she’s a divorcee to boot. Now, single and ready to mingle, Renee has a problem. In her reality testing space, she sees all of these negative thoughts as facts and it shows in how she expresses herself.
Here is what Renee, or any divorced person in her shoes, should be doing:
Impulse Control: W.A.I.T. as in What Am I Thinking? Are my thoughts defensible or am I in self-limiting beliefs mode? Before I do anything else, can I control my impulses while I go through this necessary reflection?
Reality Testing: So I controlled my desire to react right away. Now I need to ask myself if what I see as facts are actually facts. Or, am I taking a couple of examples and creating overall impressions based on them?
Empathy: I have been put through the ringer, this much is true. But, does this person on the other side of the table deserve to be painted with a broad brush? Why am I questioning their intentions? Why am I judging them so harshly? Instead, can I see things from their perspective and allow my actions and words to be based on that alone?
Optimism: Now that I have practiced some impulse control and reality testing, can I see that finding a meaningful relationship is possible? Now that I have allowed myself to be empathetic to these people I go on dates with, can I now see them for the good people they are? Or, if some of them really are not good people, can I go back to reality testing to make sure I do not paint everyone with a negative brush?
Emotional Expression: Having gone through these important emotional intelligence competencies, will the emotions I express put me in a better place to find a meaningful relationship?
Of course, the answer to that last question is yes. And I hope you can see that when someone goes from their own version of reality, without the benefit of impulse control, empathy and optimism, the end-state is generally going to be bad. It is human nature to allow singular experiences, especially big ones like being cheated on, to guide our perceptions of the overall reality. We must resist the urge to do this. We must be emotionally intelligent in the dating world.
I will end this with one more example that is all too common. Terri goes out with men and it is almost always casual. Sure there’s sex and sure there are fun date nights but the whole P.I.E. (physical, intellectual and emotional) is almost never there. Why? Because Terri, deep down inside, does not believe that she will find love. She has confidence (internal) and faith (external) issues that prevent her from taking the steps to get close enough to someone that would allow a more meaningful relationship to blossom. In the world of impulse control, Terri jumps right into bed and fun without the benefit of the W.A.I.T. principle. With regards to empathy, she just doesn’t practice it. In fact, there have been a couple of really nice men that wanted more than Terri was willing to commit to. Finally, optimism, or lack thereof, is her biggest showstopper. What Terri does not realize however, is her lack of optimism comes from her inability to practice any of the preceding emotional intelligence competencies.
Find your emotional intelligence and find an authentic and meaningful relationship.