The dating plan A goal without a plan is just a wish a.d. Saint-Exupery
The Dating Plan Protect Yourself From the Narcissist
It is much easier to avoid the toxic relationship from the beginning than to try and free yourself later on. A dating plan can keep you from becoming trapped by an emotional predator such as the Narcissist. It is designed to define your dating goals and help you achieve them. One of the most important decisions we all make in life is choosing whom we are going to spend it with. When the wrong relationship decisions are made, the consequences can be devastating. We make financial plans, business plans, career plans; even diet plans, but very few make relationship plans.
It is important to acknowledge the power of attraction as to why few people ever consider a relationship plan. Chemicals that create intense desires for physical and emotional connection drive attraction. The dominant role hormones play in attraction cannot be denied, yet people are rarely taught how to manage these powerful feelings. It is just part of the “human experience, and we all accept this notion without question. No one thinks of planning when a gorgeous man or woman enters the room. Nevertheless, at some point you have to take responsibility for allowing these hormones to drive your critical thinking left-brain. You must learn to develop the discipline that allows your logical thinking voice to take control so that you can make better relationship choices. When the power of attraction overrides critical thinking, you run the risk of creating everything but a lasting relationship. This is especially true when the person you are now attached to is a narcissist. At first glance, this toxic personality may not be easy to identify, but their destructive nature makes them worth a closer look. You need to understand the enemy. With every encounter, you are forming unhealthy psychological attachments to the narcissist. These unsuspecting attachments will begin to inch the trap door closed, and once the door shuts tight it will be impossible to escape unharmed. It is all part of the narcissist's predatory plan, and you must not fall prey.
I recommend buying a small journal dedicated to your dating experiences. This “Dating Journal” will become a valuable tool in helping you to make decisive dating decisions. Once you've got the journal in hand, plan time where you can sit and carefully consider your dating criteria and goals. You've got to determine exactly what it is you're looking for in a partner and in a relationship. It's best to find a quiet place where you can close your eyes and imagine your ideal partner. The more detail you can visualize, the easier it will be to identify the attributes you most value. Imagine being together... it could be having dinner at your favorite restaurant or engaging in a favorite activity. Imagine how the two of you interact. What topics of conversation do you share? What kind of questions does he ask you? Is he compassionate? Does he have purpose? What do you have in common? Are you in agreement on politics and religion? What morals and values do you share? How does he end the evening? How do you feel when the date is over? Use the answers to these questions to help you develop a clear picture of your ideal partner. Once you have this in mind, make three columns with the headings: Must Have / Love to Have / Cannot Have. List all the character traits that are most important and those traits you will not compromise under "Must Have." Under “Love to Have," write the traits you love but do not consider absolute musts. The third column is for the behaviors you will not tolerate. You have to be willing to stand by the "Cannot Have" character traits without compromise, no matter how charming your date seems to be in the beginning. It is important to understand that if you become entangled with a narcissist, you will be forced to repeatedly compromise your "Cannot Have" list. Compromising your values deteriorates your self-esteem.
Once you have clearly visualized and completed your lists, formulate your dating goals. These goals should identify a specific type of person and relationship. Whatever your ideal relationship looks like complete a dating goal statement such as the example below:
My dating goal is to find a Christian man; a man with a rich character who acts with kindness towards those around him; a man who passionately loves and lives his life; a man who is active and health conscious; a man who desires a long-term relationship that leads to marriage.
The rest of your Dating Journal will be dedicated to high and low quality character observations while dating and how they make you feel. You will write these observations below your dating goal statement. Begin with the high quality behaviors. These behaviors should naturally reflect the character traits from your, "Must Have or Love to Have" lists. Consider the example below:
High Quality Behaviors - He always calls his 90-year-old mother and checks in throughout the week. My Impression - I was inspired by the dedication to his mother and admired his sense of loyalty, accountability and compassion.
After you've listed all the high quality behaviors begin the low quality list. Here you will enter what your date said or did that you considered to be a Red Flag. These are the behaviors that didn't sit right with your deeper-self; the traits reflected on your “Cannot Have,” list. Consider the example below:
Low Quality Behaviors - He said he hates answering the phone when his 90 year-old mother calls. My Impression - I was shocked at his attitude towards his mother. I felt uneasy and deeply concerned by his general lack of compassion and empathy.
It is important to re-read your Journal entries before subsequent dates. You want to identify patterns of behavior, and or character traits that are both positive and negative. At the end of each week review how each interaction made you feel and write a conclusion based on the positive and negative behavior patterns you identified. Our "gut feelings" are rarely wrong. Writing them down and then re-reading them will act to reinforce the facts and the feelings, making them harder for you to ignore. With practice it will become easier to quickly discern the quality of your date and decide whether you need to move away from trouble, or move forward with confidence.
In closing, I would like to re-emphasize the importance of knowing your enemy. Below is a list of common narcissistic character traits for you to review.
Narcissistic characteristics and behavioral patterns: Grandiose sense of self Exaggerations of success Reality distortions Association with only certain "groups” of people Superior sense of entitlement Arrogant and haughty attitudes Lack of empathy for others All-or-nothing patterns of thought Intense emotional reactions Extreme thinking, behaviors and language choices Long standing resentments and unresolved conflicts with others Chronic family conflicts Delusional thinking when "wronged” by others Outbursts of anger when criticized, rejected or given boundaries Use of love bombing and idealization to control others One-sided intimacy Broken relationship patterns Unfaithfulness Flirting extremes