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Dating Has a New Definition

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By Terry Heggy

Dating can mean many things, from a casual meeting between two new friends to a secluded rendezvous between lovers. In fact, dating is anything two people do to spend time with each other.

Examine your preconceptions about dating. What are your beliefs? What is the purpose? What is supposed to happen during the dating process? "Actually, it may make sense to simply discard all your preconceptions of dating and start over," explains Terry Heggy, author of "The Shy Man's Guide to Success with Women" (Performance Press, $12.95 at www.ShyPerson.com).

Before you plan a date, think about why you want to date this person. Be honest with yourself. Dating is something you should want to do, not just something your parents or peers think you should be doing. Do it for yourself, or don't do it at all. Make sure that your motivation is clear, and that it is consistent with your goals and values.

Don't restrict yourself. There's nothing wrong with dating just because you want to get away from your apartment and don't want to do it by yourself. It's okay to have a date just because you like spending time with a person, even if you have no desire for that relationship to grow into romance. And, of course, it's also acceptable to date to get to know each other well enough to fall in love and get married.

Other reasons for dating include the following:

• To have fun with another person: To see a movie, eat out, explore a museum or take in a show. Just to enjoy sharing an experience.

• For companionship: To have human contact, to have someone to talk to and to care about, to avoid loneliness.

• To share physical contact: To be close to someone, to touch and hold.

• To explore the potentials of a relationship: To increase familiarity with a special person, to learn more about that person and share information about yourself, to move closer together.

• To love: To have romance and commitment, to share the feeling of togetherness.

You may have even more reasons for dating, and they may change as situations evolve. Just make sure that your reasons are yours. Don't get hung up on traditional ways of thinking. Don't limit yourself by using someone else's standards of who is "dating material." In fact, don't limit yourself at all. The possible variations of dating are limitless.

"If you understand your own motivations, you'll have a much better idea of what constitutes an appropriate date for the situation," explains Heggy. "You'll also have a better way to assess whether the date was successful and a better chance of achieving that success again." So think about it. What are you going to get out of dating? Once you know the answer, you're ready to start dating.

Editor's Note: Terry Heggy teaches techniques to transform the dating experience from something dreadful to something painless and successful. Visit www.ShyPerson.com for your free report, "The ABC Plan for Becoming a Great Conversationalist" or to get a copy of his book, "The Shy Man's Guide to Success with Women: A Handbook for Overcoming Fears and Learning Skills for Success in Dating and Relationships."

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