Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone—we find it with another.        -Thomas Merton

For many, dating is a dirty word. It brings back memories of struggling to get someone’s attention in bars and other singles scenes.  Or thoughts of struggling to write that wonderful profile for the Internet dating site that will make you stand out from all of the others trying to do the same thing.

Perhaps dating means getting all the complications of romance, dinners, movies, and sex. This kind of pressure conjures up physical, emotional, and maybe even financial commitments that feel too scary.

For some people, the thought of reentering the dating game after a long relationship that ended sounds too foreign. Perhaps they are thinking,  “It’s been years since I dated, I wouldn’t know where to begin, or “I have to heal first.”    And many feel that if the marriage didn’t work, there is something wrong with them, “I’ve got to get fixed before I start.”

If you are one of those who have given up on dating, I invite you to consider a new perspective.  Go beyond dating and start relating!

What is relating and how is it different from dating?

Dating is about making yourself attractive for another.  It seeks to make you something that others would be interested in.  It sets in motion the feelings that you must somehow pass the test and in turn you must judge others to see if they are good enough for you.

Relating takes a different approach.  It asks that you are simply curious about another.

Most of us have amazing stories of challenges and opportunities in our lives. Sharing these stories with another, listening with curiosity about another’s journey and sharing your own with passion enriches both lives.

Have compassion for yourself and those who come into your lives. Let that critical judge of yourself and others take a separate vacation this summer.  Let genuine curiosity speak louder than your critical judge. When we focus on being curious about others rather than judging if they will like us, our relationships change.

When you approach someone with relating in mind, it will help you uncover essential values and needs.  What could you ask that would help you find out about someone’s character? What do you want to share that represents who you are?

Asking, “What are your passions in life?” will give you a closer look at someone’s soul than “So what do you do?”  Relating allows you to discover the treasure in all of those you meet, regardless of their looks, job titles, and initial impressions.

This reframes the idea of dating as something for those with a lot of time, energy, and resources, into sometime spent discovering the gifts of another person.

How do you find a relating opportunity? That’s easy, you simply live life.  Standing in line at the grocery store or smiling and thanking someone for opening a door for you. Browsing the aisles of your favorite store and asking for suggestions on a “Gift” for your brother/sister (or yourself). Join a class or Meetup that sounds like fun and truly interests you.

In short relating opportunities are all around you.  SHOW UP!  All you have to do is reach out to someone with new curiosity. Enter each “relating” opportunity as an act of wonder.  As one of my teachers used to say, “To be discovered”.

What if you approached life like that in every moment? 

Who can you be curious about today?