September 21, 2017

Carrie Bradshaw said it best: “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And, if you find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”

It sounds great. Insightful even. But as college-aged women, we haven’t had the same life experiences the main character of Sex in the City. We haven’t figured it out. There is no guide to relationships for us. No candid advice on how to have healthy relationships while we’re still figuring ourselves out.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to chat with David Coleman, The Dating Doctor™, an award-winning relationship consultant. I asked him a few questions hoping to shed some light on how college-aged women can initiate, identify and balance a healthy love life.

Q: You said the first thing you say when you walk onto the stage is, “You will not find the right person until you become the right person.” So how do you become the person you would want to date?

A: First and foremost, by looking for a partner who complements you, not one who completes you. You need to feel and be complete all on your own and find someone who makes life a bit more fun, a bit more meaningful and challenges yet supports you. I always encourage my clients and audiences to be in the best mental, physical, emotional and spiritual shape as possible before beginning to date anyone seriously. You should be an equal partner for someone, not a reclamation project.

Q: What are some red flags women (and/or men) who are in relationships should look for? As in, signals they may not be in a healthy relationship?

A: There are five major red flags I share with my clients and audiences to make yourself aware of that someone or a situation may not be right for you. (1) They want to get too physical, too quickly. This makes you a conquest, not a potential companion. (2) They are mentally, physically or emotionally abusive. If they are, get out and seek help and guidance immediately. (3) They live an unhealthy lifestyle. They fail to eat well, exercise, practice proper hygiene, use manners, etc. (4) They have a spotty relationship history either full of cheating or fighting, breaking up, getting back together, breaking up again…or their exes are all still in the picture and their relationship with them is cloudy at best. (5) They are “human Teflon™.”  No blame sticks to them. Every problem with you or the relationship is not their fault and has nothing to do with them.

Q: Branching off that, what exactly makes a healthy relationship?

A: In a healthy relationship, the stronger person (all-around health) takes care of the weaker person until that person no longer needs help remaining healthy. In an unhealthy relationship, the stronger person takes advantage of the weaker person to keep them down, in need and under control. The five characteristics found in tremendously healthy relationships are trust, respect, intimacy (includes communication), passion and commitment.

Q: In the age of Tinder, Bumble and other dating apps, how does a college-aged woman date smart?

A: By vetting people whom you meet on apps WELL before you meet them in person, especially alone. Quite a few people look at those apps as “pick up apps” and with that comes an unhealthy “assumption” that a physical relationship will ensue. Make your boundaries and intentions clear and known up front and be extremely careful of the social situations you place yourself in when you are meeting someone for the first time. Meet in public for a specified amount of time. Let several friends know your schedule and have at least one friend call to ensure you are safe and having the healthy and safe time you’d hope for.

Q: How does a woman get over a bad breakup and maintain her mental, physical and emotional wellness?

A: You D.A.T.E. your way out of a bad breakup. This stands for Distance, Activity, Time and Exit on your own terms. Distance: once they break up with you, they no longer get access to you. That means in person, via phone, texting and all forms of social media. Activity means keeping yourself busy so that your ex and the breakup does not monopolize your every thought and keep you down mentally and emotionally. Time: It took you time to fall for that person, so it will take you time to get over them. My rule of thumb is it will take, at a minimum, two weeks for every month you were a couple (or two months for every year) before you begin to fully heal and move forward following a bad break, especially one you did not see coming. And finally, exit on your own terms. The person who ends the relationship gets closure. When we are broken up with, we may feel hurt, depressed, confused, etc. You may need to express how you feel to the breaker, BUT what you express cannot be full of horribly negative intentions. All that does is make your former partner think you can’t get over them, never will and that they “won”—which could not be further from the truth.

Q: What relationship advice would you offer different types of college-aged women, such as:

Q1: The independent woman who has trouble relying on another person?

A: Independent women often worry about engaging in relationships because they fear it will negatively impact their life movement pattern and inhibit the success they have developed on their own. Simply being clear up front about what you are and are not looking for can help you avoid this. Establish a few mutually inclusive minimum standards to live by as a couple and it should help tremendously.

Q2: The woman who feels she needs to be in a relationship?

A: You need to be complete all on your own and that means KNOWING you are worthwhile with or without a dating partner.

Q3: The woman who can’t seem to find the right one and maybe feels insecure?

A: Maybe she hasn’t found the right person. Let me share this, I call it “The Five Minute Find” or “The ABC’s of Initial Interest.” It’s what to look for in the first few minutes of meeting someone for the first time. Look for attraction, believability, chemistry, desire and energy. Attraction is physical. It’s either there or it’s not. Believability occurs when you believe what is coming out of their mouth as they talk and share about themselves, what they do and what they know. Are they sincere and genuine or exposing falsehoods? Chemistry is every type of attraction except physical. Did you feel a sense of closeness with them and to them? Desire: After meeting them do you have a desire to get to know them better and more deeply? Energy: After meeting them, did you feel a spike in your energy or did they steal it away or have no impact? By using this simple method, anyone can better vet whom to date seriously and on whom to take a pass.

Q: Is there a key to balancing love, life and a career? Does the order of which you find them matter?

A: I am a firm believer that students should work hard on their studies and earn their degree first. That is what will sustain and carry you throughout their lives. If you happen to meet a fabulous person along the way, great. If not, there will be many more opportunities for that to happen in their future. Earn great grades and work hard on your major. Look for a quality internship that allows you to gain skills and confidence, and a great love life and daily life will surely follow.

About David Coleman:
David Coleman is known worldwide as The Dating Doctor.™ He has been honored 14 times as The National Speaker of the Year— 11 times by Campus Activities Magazine and 3 times by The National Association for Campus Activities. He is the only speaker ever to win the National Entertainer of the Year Award.  The Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities (APCA) honored him with their Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Entertainment. David is a highly sought after coach, speaker, entertainer, radio and television personality and product endorser.  He was recently a featured speaker for TEDx. For more information on David, click here.