Home People The Dangers of Deadlines in Dating

The Dangers of Deadlines in Dating

By Heather Dugan, Connection Coach, for SouthFloridaReporter.com, Sept. 16, 2015 – Many adult singles in today’s dating world keep an eye on the clock. They may feel they’ve wasted or missed a past relationship opportunity and don’t want to lose a “last chance” for love. Unfortunately, this panicked thinking can lead some to impose undue pressures on developing connections.

“Lisa” has consulted me periodically over the past year regarding her dating decisions. An early dating error tended to bring her quick, but unintended results.

Lisa blew it all up in typical fashion, pressing him to supply answers to hidden questions. Lisa needed—Warning: overused relationship buzzword directly ahead—Clarity.

“I need to know if I’m just wasting my time,” she texted The Guy. Subtext: “Are you in love with me yet?” 

 His answer was unsatisfactory. Distant. Just the sort of vapor she needed for detonation.

The whole drama—from first flirty phone call to final verbal shove—fit tidily within a two-month span, but the damage to her confidence would last much longer. Lisa agonized in the aftermath. He hadn’t responded to subsequent texts and hadn’t respected her need for—Hang on, here’s another one—Closure. Lisa was left, quite simply with a closed—and probably dead-bolted—door.

I heard about it later. If she had called me first, I’d have asked her to double check the start time on that countdown clock. “Why do you need to know?” and “Why do you need to know at this moment?” 

Many times we say need because the want is so big. We’re uncomfortable with the space created by a question mark and feel an urgency to quickly fill it with an answer. Any answer. Preferably the one we’re angling for, but scrolling ahead to prove a negative fear somehow looks easier than live with looming uncertainty. Lisa was so fearful of being disrespected by The Guy that she disrespected him first. Not surprisingly, he pushed her away.

Invariably, false urgency will narrow a range of potential outcomes to simply the one that will fit the random chosen moment. Lisa got her answer—not the one she wanted, but, not surprisingly, one she frequently received.

Defining a relationship isn’t a bad thing! In proper time, this is an essential step for the relationship-seeker—but don’t allow an overwhelming desire to skip ahead to the end of the next chapter to inadvertently end the whole story.

Countdown clocks end with ultimatums, but Time can be your ally if used effectively. Be efficient in screening initial dating candidates, but aim to be more expansive with a potential relationship. You need that time to enjoy, grow and better evaluate the friendship. Give it space to develop naturally, and it will reveal its ultimate place in your life.

Heather Dugan is a columnist, speaker and author with a focus on human connection. Her latest book, Date Like A Grownup: Anecdotes, Admissions of Guilt & Advice Between Friends, examines the impact of loneliness and social obsolescence on men and women in their second single lives and provides strategies for better living after divorce.