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Dating With Your Mind Wide Open – Basic Male Watching

For those of us in the Single Sisterhood, looking for “Mr. Right” is as unconscious as breathing. Whether we are “new to the game,” or well-seasoned survivors, when we are sweating at the gym, sipping cappuccinos at Starbucks, stopped at the red light, or making strained conversation on the first – and last – date with “Mr. Wrong,” we females silently scan the space we’re in, searching for that one perfect specimen who catches our eye. When we actually spy such a stunning one, and those bright sparks fly, our wishful heart tramples all sense of logic as we charge forth in a primal rush to Fantasyland, with our little girl illusions of “And, they all lived happily ever after.” Never mind trying to change this. It’s a survival thing.

Through eons of evolutionary programming, the relationship bar was set pretty low for females, needing only to ensure protection for themselves and their offspring.

Unfortunately, our relationship bar is set quite a bit higher these days, so if you are still depending on such an unconscious and impulsive approach to dating, the “Happily ever after” ending is a rare, if ever, outcome. Why?

Because how he looks doesn’t guarantee how he loves. And, how he loves you is the ultimate question.

Maybe you’re OK with investing precious time as your biological clock tick tocks through a never ending saga of cuckoos, setting yourself up to repeat, ad nauseum, the “But, he’s so nice / cute / rich / available” dead end. Maybe you get a rush charging head first into another brick wall, only to discover, once again, that you’ve wasted your time and tears on a man who offers you no future.

I call this the Pasta Principle, because you’ve convinced yourself, “If I just throw enough spaghetti on the wall, surely one of them will stick.”

But, if a slightly more enlightened approach interests you, read on.

Before you get burned again boiling any more pasta, would it be worth a bit of your time to turn off the stove, turn on your mind and take control of your love quest? Would it be worth taking a “time out” from mindless dating, and instead take a “time in” to open your mind, and learn what you need to know to have what you want?

Unlike our Neanderthal sisters, when considering your potential mate, your evolved brain is capable of more complex priorities than simply assessing body mass and hunting to kill anything that moves. Ironically, in either era, female observes male. The difference is that for Cate the Cave Girl, dating and mating pretty much involved “What you see is what you get.” End of story.

For you, what you see is a mere smidgeon of what you might get if you leap before you really look. And, if what you are looking for is love to last a lifetime, learning to open your mind’s eye to see past the surface into what lies beneath would be a good thing.

Thankfully, it’s also not difficult. That is, if you are wiling to shift from the prehistoric approach of “I see male, I grab male,” to “I see that male and I will watch him for a while to see what kind of man he is.””

Benefits of Dating with your MIND WIDE OPEN:

* Cuts down on time trying to make the slipper fit when it won’t, and never will.

* Cuts down on those uncomfortable times finally building up the courage to say “You’re a very nice man, and I really enjoyed meeting you, BUT…”(fill in the blank with whatever little white lie works).

* Saves your tears as you bypass the mediocre for the magic of finding a man who can and will love you.


Your childhood is fertile ground to learn the skill of Basic Male Watching, as little girl impressions were not tainted by big girl desperation. When you are little, feelings are pure. All you need is to be loved because you are.

So, for better or for worse, the men you’ve watched all your life, like your dad, brothers, uncles, neighbors, teachers, coaches, even the nostalgia of your Silver Screen favorites, taught you everything you need to know to discern frog from prince. Who knew?

Exercise #1 –Back to Your Past to Find Your Future:
What you will need:
A large notebook, a pen, privacy, and your heart’s desire for something more.
Time Required: At least an hour, probably more.

Step 1: List the name of each significant male (men and boys) of your childhood, each on the top line of his own page.

Step 2: Below each name, write several words that describe his personality traits, one word per line and skipping a line between each word.

Examples: Funny, serious, punctual, generous, stingy, unreliable, compassionate, busy, rigid, honest, available, grumpy, boring, predictable, extroverted, intense, laid back, angry, patient, polite, crude, respectful, scary, fair, controlling, vulgar, kind, gentle, hurried, rude, generous, etc.
Step 3: Next to each trait, rate your childhood response to it by writing one of these symbols: for positive, – for negative, or 0 for neutral.

Note: Some traits are more obviously positive or negative, like grumpy or fun. However, in the context of your childhood relationships, rating traits such as predictable or laid back depends on how you responded as a child when he displayed that trait.

Step 4: On the next lines, write examples of how he demonstrated these traits through his ACTIONS, FACIAL EXPRESSIONS, or WORDS, and what FEELINGS you had in response. For example, for Available, you might write When my dad came to my school events, I felt encouraged; or for Angry, When my brother yelled at me, I felt rejected or scared.

For some names, you may only write a couple of sentences. For others, there’s not enough paper in the world! So, trust your intuition, buy another notebook, and write it ALL!

Note: Learning to connect a man’s actions, facial expressions and words to your emotional response is THE KEY for taking control of your dating life. Please give yourself time on this one!

Step 5: On the top line of a fresh page, write the same symbols, , – and 0, with equal space between each symbol. Review your traits for each name, then copy each trait under the corresponding symbol on your new page, making three columns of traits. This list is known as Rate the Traits, and you will be referring to it often in the coming weeks.

Step 6: Compare your columns to recognize patterns. Note what traits are consistently positive, negative, or neutral. Which males share which traits? Were your feelings the same for all, or did you feel differently about each of them? Do your childhood feelings match how you feel towards him now?

You now have a list that defines your original positive, negative, and neutral emotions to particular traits in males. The following steps further refine these traits, and expand your self understanding. They may take more time, but are definitely worth your investment.

Extra Credit Questions: As a child, who nurtured you? Scared you? Made you feel safe? Who adored you, ignored you or shamed you? Who kept his promises? Who anticipated your needs? Who met your needs, if you asked? Who did you know not to bother asking? Who made time to listen to you? Who walked away? Who could you count on to always be there? Which men shared the same quality, such as being in control, but you felt differently about each one. How do you explain the differences, then and now?

CONGRATULATIONS! You have successfully completed BASIC MALE WATCHING! With this skill, you are ready to shift childhood into the NOW, and that’s exactly where you’re headed in the next article. In the meantime, take some time for yourself and your inner child. New thoughts will come to you, and dreams may even reveal memories your conscious mind has forgotten. Trust your intuition, and write, write, write!

relationship expert, consultant, and educator, morgan delaney, ms, empowers single women with the real secrets about dating and relationships, based on a decade of research in the fields of developmental psychology, brain-based gender differences, and the fascinating mysteries of the male psyche. to learn more about ms. delaney’s relationship research, and forthcoming books, visit single sisterhood.

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Listed: September 1, 2008 1:53 pm