THE BLOG
12/15/2014 09:45 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How a Dating Buddy Can Transform Your Search for Love

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What brings wisdom and pleasure, is free, and can change your entire romantic future? A dating buddy. A dating buddy is a friend and co-coach in one of the most defining tasks of your life: your search for a mate. If you follow no other suggestion than this one from my entries, your dating life will change. And you'll have an enriching new addition to your social life.

Here is the short video that captures the heart of the learning partner concept.

Quantum physics, the great sages, and practical experience all teach the same lesson: When we touch any part of our lives with compassion and non-judgmental attention, that part of our lives can blossom. When it comes to changing unhelpful behavior patterns, willpower has surprisingly little leverage. As I explain in my book Deeper Dating, what we need is a wiser angle on things and the presence of authentic support. If you feel that your dating life isn't progressing in the way you wish it would, try a dating buddy. In the presence of this relationship, you'll probably begin to see the changes you're hoping for.

I once got lost in the woods and decided I'd try to find my way back without using a compass. I thought I'd just trust my best judgment and see how well that worked. My little experiment turned out to be a disaster. I spent hours thinking I was making headway, yet I ended up at approximately at the same place I started from! So I admitted defeat and pulled out my compass. It directed me down paths that felt completely unfamiliar. But it got me right out of the woods.

In our search for intimacy, most of us fall into patterns that just don't work. And that's where we need an outside eye. Our closest friends can tell us -- in about a minute -- what blocks us from finding real love. But do we ask? And do we listen? The rules of the dating buddy relationship are different from the common rules of friendship. Of course, when you and your dating buddy get together, you'll eat, drink, laugh and bemoan the dearth of available mates, but you'll do other things as well. You'll be honest about the patterns you keep replaying, and you'll get help in avoiding the pursuit of unhealthy attractions, and guidance in cultivating healthy ones. You'll also talk about sex -- not in a superficial way, but with a sense of exploration, because sex is like an X-ray into our intimacy gifts and struggles. And you'll open yourself to advice. That's strong medicine, I know, but aren't we really looking for that? It's an enriching experience to be both student and teacher with the same person, and that's what you'll have with the right dating buddy.

In my decades as a therapist, I've seen this again and again: Clients who ask for -- and listen to -- the advice of wise, loving friends have more successful lives. Dating may be a lonely journey, but you don't have to take it alone. Having a dating buddy will definitely make it more fun.

This will be an important relationship for you, so choose well. As with a therapist, it makes a huge difference whom you choose. It must be someone who will keep your secrets secret. Someone who will bring a sense of hope to your journey. Someone emotionally safe, and insightful.

How do you find such a person? Here's my suggestion. Look at your address book from the past few years, and ask yourself these questions:

• Who is kind?
• Who has wisdom?
• Who is essentially reliable, and really cares about you?

Highlight each person's name. Dating buddy or not, they are your dream team. Wherever they live, whatever they are doing in their lives, they are the people to focus on. And any one of them who is single can be your dating buddy.

When you find your dating buddy and agree to take this journey together, you can use my blog entries and exercises as a workbook for your exploration. I can virtually promise you two things: You will enjoy having a dating buddy, and your dating life will change and grow in ways that you probably couldn't have achieved on your own.

Exercise 1: First meeting

Get together with your dating buddy, either in person (preferably) or by phone. Make a plan to meet or talk on a regular basis, based upon the realities of your schedules. At your first meeting, allow each partner to answer these simple questions:

What's going on in your dating life at this time? Are there problems or challenges you keep hitting up against? Are you noticing any areas of growth?

How do you wish to grow and change in your intimacy journey? What new behaviors do you think would be helpful or empowering?

After that, just allow your conversation to develop naturally. Enjoy your first meeting with your dating buddy, and keep us posted!

If you'd like to receive information on Ken's classes, events and writings, or learn more about his upcoming free teleseminar, "A New Map of the Path to Love," please click here.

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© 2014 Ken Page,LCSW. All Rights Reserved
Originally Appeared in Psychology Today