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Ask Shari: Deciding to Move in, Offbeat Dates, and Dating Online

Q: I’ve been dating this guy for a bit over a year now. We’ve talked about moving in together, but I’m still a bit nervous about whether I’m ready or not. I know I’d love living with him, but I feel like I’m going over nightmare scenarios in my head about sharing my space! I’m in my mid-30’s and trying to not feel rushed. I really like this guy, but do you think I’m overthinking the situation or should I just bite the proverbial bullet and go for it?

A: Hi Need My Space, thanks for writing in and giving me an opportunity to help you shape your situation. I think it’s a healthy person that takes the time to think about their needs and how they may be impacted prior to going into a situation. I think it’s even smarter to be careful when you are going into these situations with your partner. To answer your question, No you are not over thinking it. I would be cautious though to make sure you have your finger on the pulse of what is really bothering you.

When there is such a strong fear and resistance to something that is so potentially great I would leave no stone unturned in the decision making process. If space is the issue, space can be created when households are combined. New homes can be obtained that account for the change in lifestyle, sometimes the process of choosing a new home as a team is a very important part of moving in together.

Space issues can be fixed or dealt with in a logistical way. I think there is a strong need to identify what you really are afraid of. This is the point in time where looking back at your early childhood memories of couples living together and discovering what you experienced might be important. For some of us who do not have positive memories of couples living together (especially our parents) co-habitation is totally terrifying. For others it may be the idea that once you move in together you can’t easily run or hide if you need to, also very scary. Plus, when you live together you get to see a real person, not their representative! And all your nasty habits may be revealed too!

It’s ok, don’t stop reading, there is also a huge upside to the situation. You get to be accepted and loved by the other person in your home, not your representative, you! Bad habits and all ☺

I think this is a matter of working through your fears, taking some care to figure out what is really there and move forward when and if you feel ready. I would also recommend that you talk to your Boyfriend about how you feel and you two work through it together. If he can be the one to help you get ready to do this, you guys have something good going on for sure! Best of luck to you, no time frames, no pressure ☺

Q: What do you think is the benefit of unconventional dating? My husband and I go out to dinner pretty often and love it, but we feel like maybe we should try being a bit more adventurous.

A: Hi Unconventional, I must say first and foremost, what a great problem to have! I love that you and your husband are enjoying each other and looking for ways to keep the fun going. Go you guys! I think that “unconventional dating” can mean a lot of different things for different couples. Are we talking about wine tasting living social deals, or sky diving groupons?

Regardless of what your idea of unconventional is, moving forward and trying new things can be fun, and scary. I would be careful to make sure you and the hubster are on the same page about what your idea of exciting is. No one and I mean NO ONE should be forced to jump out of a plane, or even have a couple massage if that is outside of your comfort zone. Practice an exercise in honesty with your Hubby, each of you can create a list of things you may want to try over the next 10 years, small and large. Interestingly enough, we all have a bucket list, or at least some bucket items, but not too many of us have the opportunity to share these items often.

For most of us, surviving marriage and the stress of everyday is the only goal we can pay attention to and the cool stuff gets put out there on the “never gonna happen” list. Share your lists with each other and discuss your thoughts. There may be a couple of shared items, or very different ideas. You can use internet resources such as Livingsocial.com, city adventure groups or Groupons to get an idea of what kind of trips and activities are out there and the cost. You exploration will at very least turn you on to some new and different restaurants. Have fun discovering your next level of dating, and try the smaller stuff first. ☺

Q: Hi Shari, I wanted to know if you’ve heard much about online dating for the older generation here. I’m in my early 60’s (divorced) and haven’t had much luck finding love via work connections or through social outings (city adventure groups, for example). I’ve been looking into online but I’m a bit nervous. Any tips for us nervous ones/resources?

A: Hi Nervous One, thanks for bringing this question up, I’m sure there are plenty of folks out there who can benefit from discussing this. I hear good things from my clients about internet dating and the various websites. I hesitate to mention websites by name because the ones that they have had success with may be correlated to our area, I wouldn’t want to steer you wrong.

I commend your efforts to get out there and make a personal connection, that’s really awesome. The benefit of using an internet dating site is that you have an opportunity to set the meeting up and customize it to what you think you would work for you and the person you are meeting.

I recommend that folks use the screening mechanisms on these sites and only respond to or pursue the people who seem interesting. Take some time to email and talk on the phone with any perspective dates in an effort to get a sense of the person prior to meeting. I really really recommend being as honest as possible when filling out your own profile, which DOES NOT mean that you need to put all your dark secrets and habits out there on the web, or the relationship drama/trauma you have had throughout your life. That stuff is on a need to know basis, and until you have a reason to invest in someone, they don’t need to know!

I recommend being very honest about your idea of fun, and your passions, what you are looking for, etc. Misrepresenting your wants or yourself is a pretty big pitfall in internet dating. I would go on each and every date with the idea of meeting someone interesting that can possibly add something great to your life, not necessarily be the love of your life. Lastly, always meet in a public place and be careful. I hope that helps, have fun exploring and go and your own pace. ☺

Shari Hardies, LCSW, is a social worker and contributor to Sono Bello Style, that has a true passion for improving the lives of others. She will be answering weekly user submitted questions on the topics of dating, relationships and live.