In 2005, I watched the news in disbelief as Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters overwhelmed New Orleans. Wikipedia tells us there were over 50 failures of levees and walls protecting New Orleans. As a result, 80% of the city flooded, and devastation followed.
On April 5, 2006, the Corp of Engineers admitted that the levees didn’t fail due to natural forces beyond the intended strength, but rather because “we had problems with the design of the structure.”
Wading into the adventure of dating, hoping to find love, requires a sound foundation.
In this article, I’m going to share two key parts of a strong dating foundation. Put these bricks in place before you try to find love.
Pick Up Artists Don’t Want You To Read This Article
Pick up artists prey on (women, mainly), teaching men who are insecure, lack confidence, to “pick up” women in hopes of a “one nighter.”
(Kirsten Lindsmith wrote an in-depth exploration of the mostly bad, but some good, about the Pick Up Artist community in her article, Clueless: Autism and the PUA Community )
Pick up artists don’t want you to read this article, because when you do, you’ll have two key protective barriers in place to avoid becoming a victim of a pick up artist.
These next two questions will protect you from the wrong partner and prepare you to find love with the right person.
Susan Page and Dr. Duana Welch both talk about the prerequisite of having your List.
Your list represents what characteristics you’re looking for in a partner.
Why the list? It’s going to save you headache and heartache in the long run.
For example, if veganism is tantamount to you, you’re going to be in for trouble if you fall in love with a carnivore. At first, you may tell yourself that maybe he’ll change after you show him all the PETA material.
But alas, after years of dating, you may find out you can’t commit to a carnivore.
That’s a bit exaggerated of an example, but I think you get the point.
Write down your list and keep it handy.
It’ll help you meet the right person, not just any person.
After you’ve written your list, divide into Must Haves and Wants.
For example, a Must Have might include respect for others.
Dr. Welch tells of a story of one date she went on with a man.
As soon as she started asking him about his life, he launched into a rant against his ex-wife and how terrible she is. When Dr. Welch asked him how long it’d been since the divorce, he told her ten years!
If a potential partner is angry and bitter, and talks bitterly about others, how long will it be until he disrespects you?
Wants are qualities you’d like, but that you’re willing to compromise on.
A lot of women want a really tall partner.
But if a shorter man has all the Must Have qualities you’re looking for, you may want to compromise on height.
We can’t attract a loving, caring, confident, respectful, and faithful mate into our lives if we struggle with loving, caring for others, low self-confidence, disrespect, and addictions in our own lives.
I’ve personally struggled with a number of difficult character flaws, from my early twenties until now.
But, by God’s grace (yes, He’s a huge part of it), and because of people I reached out to in my life, I was able to tell my story.
As I told my story, both the good, the bad, and the ugly, and was accepted and loved by people who accepted me and held me accountable to change my life, I started to change.
At the end of three of the most difficult years of my life is when I met Vicki, my now wife. And I wouldn’t have been ready for her if I hadn’t begun the difficult journey of personal growth almost four years earlier.
Do you love yourself?
If not, here are some suggestions for you.
1. Let yourself be seen –
Dr. Brene Brown has spoken about the importance of being able to tell someone else about yourself, including the parts of your life you may be embarrassed about.
A) Get into counseling. Yes, I’m the counselor telling you to get into counseling. I’ve been in counseling since 1995, and I still go. Maybe not often as I used to, but I still go, because I know I need to continue to learn and grow. My wife and kids deserve a husband and father who is willing to talk in depth about himself, the good, the bad, and the ugly, to another person who can help him learn.
B) Autism, Aspergers, and Shame?
I’ve quoted M. Kelter, from Invisible Strings blog, before, and I repeat his insight here because it’s so powerful to me:
When you are young and traits that are part of who you are receive negative reactions from people- especially from parents and teachers- it can very quickly erode your sense of confidence and well-being. This, in turn, creates a perfect storm for self-loathing and depression.
Unfortunately, the mixed message society gives out about autism can lead to shame about your neurology, and in turn, you may form unconscious beliefs that you are not worthy of love.
“When you grown up hearing that autism is a disease, how else can you feel about yourself?”
I’m not on the autism spectrum, but I’ve heard and read this statement from others.
The antidote to this specific type of shame is to connect with others who accept, understand, and empower you.
Join the Thrive with Aspergers community, our closed Facebook group. Or find a different one, if you need to.
Follow autism/Aspergers men and women bloggers who uplift and empower: SRSalas, Cynthia Kim, Shawna, John Elder Robison, Gavin Ballard, and Amy Sequenzia are just a few who come to mind.
C) Begin to tell your story to those you trust.
Perhaps you can start your own blog, writing about your experiences, like M Kelter and Invisible Strings. Or write your story in a journal and share it with a trusted friend, or with a counselor. Don’t share your story with just anyone, but rather with someone who will understand.
Shame diminishes as we tell our story to those who will listen to and affirm us.
2. Use the Notice, Redirect, and Repeat Technique.
Again, I’m borrowing from Dr. Duana Welch, PhD, from her chapter called, Love Yourself Into a Great Relationship.
Start paying attention to the negative things you may think about or say to yourself.
Notice, rather than beat yourself up about having the thoughts.
For example, suppose a person grew up being called a loser and idiot by his parents. Now, in the present, he notices himself berating himself if he makes even the smallest mistake at work.
Having read about this method, he works to Redirect his inner critic by saying, “I did make a mistake, but I can learn from it and correct it. I’m human, and I can have space to grow.”
Repeat. Every time self-defeating and derogatory thoughts come up, notice them, redirect them, and repeat. Over time, you’ll be treating yourself as the worthwhile person you are.
3. Go To Work On Your Own Character
Are you looking for someone who is loving, loyal, kind, and reasonably intelligent?
Dr. Duana Welch quotes a study by Dr. David Buss, in which he and his colleagues surveyed people in 37 different countries, then rank ordered the top character traits they wanted in a partner.
Guess what they were? Loving, loyal, kind, and reasonably intelligent!
So, put those qualities on your List.
But then, go to work on yourself, to make sure that you practice being loving to yourself and others, loyal to yourself and others, kind to yourself and others, and constantly learning.
New Orleans In 2005: What Could Have Been
If the engineers who had worked on the New Orleans levees had asked themselves key questions about the design and structure of the levees, then worked to make sure that they were constructed properly, I wonder what would have happened in 2005.
I’d like to think that hundreds of thousands of people would have remained dry in their homes, preventing the heartache and huge costs that New Orleans sustained from 80% of the city being flooded.
In the same way, make sure you have the right foundation for dating in place.
Create your List of characteristics you want in your potential mate/partner (see question 1).
Get to work on loving yourself (question 2).
And you will be well on your way to finding love in a way that protects and affirms you.
Most of the information in this article, I’ve taken from the book, Love Factually, by Dr. Duana Welch.
I highly recommend it to you!
photo credit: Picture 1 – Charlie Foster @ Unsplash
photo credit: Picture 2 – Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo
photo credit: Picture 3 – License: (license)