WISELY DATING By Alison Baine In my later college years, I lived in Malibu, CA, and worked with a woman who owned a consulting business and non-profit homeless ministry. I was amazed by how wise and confident she was - wise in working with difficult situations, wise with boundaries, and wise with relationships. I really craved wisdom, but didn’t understand that it comes through experience - learning about how others think, working on boundaries, and then inevitably picking yourself back up, learning from your mistakes and moving on. I once had a professor who said that almost any mistake can be fixed prior to your 30s. If that’s the case, then I am royally messed up. I got married at 27, started a new career at 31 and then was filing for divorce at 32 with a precious little girl in tow. I had been through hell. Looking back, there were signs when we were dating that things weren’t quite right, but I didn’t have the experience or knowledge to pinpoint those red flags. So, through a long process, I have gained and continue to gain wisdom - not in the way that I had imagined in my early 20s, but nevertheless something I wouldn’t trade back for anything. Wisdom is priceless. I am still learning, but here are a few nuggets of knowledge that I have gained along the way that I use to guide my healthy dating: ASSESS YOURSELF Think about your past relationships, your family history and why you are the way you are. See a counselor if you need to - understand who you are, your weaknesses, needs and strengths. Safe People by Cloud & Townsend does a great job of going through this. WORK ON YOUR BOUNDARIES Know how to deal with people who cross your boundaries – in dating, at work, with family and friends. You will have a healthier, happier life because of it. Read Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend. CONSIDER FAITH If your faith is important to you and the person you are dating claims that it’s important to him, ask him if he would be looking to date someone of the same faith if he was not dating you. Faith is one of those things in which you want to be on the same page. KNOW THE SIGNS OF ABUSE Look up the signs of abusive relationships, gaslighting, and more extreme personality disorders (like narcissism and sociopathy). If you see any signs in your own relationship – safely run the other way. Abuse often cycles and will go through stages: relationship tensions building (victim becomes fearful and tries to placate the abuser), an incident (verbal, emotional or physical abuse), reconciliation (abuser apologizes, minimizes event, claims it never happened, or blames the victim), calm (incident is “forgotten” or called the “honeymoon phase”), and then the cycle repeats itself. The nonprofit, One Love Foundation, does an excellent job of creating awareness campaigns and sharing others stories. If you read this and rea lize it’s happening to you, find a safe person (like a counselor) to talk to and come up with an action plan. REVEAL | Q3 2017 29 PREVIOUS RELATIONSHIPS If the person you are dating has been married before or was in a serious relationship, find out what he did to heal from the dissolving of the relationship. Did he go to counseling? Does he know why the relationship ended? Does he know what his role was in the failure of the relationship? How does he talk about the previous relationship - is it with resentment or does he sound like he has taken the good and the bad and moved on? There are so many things you should consider when entering a serious relationship (personality, job motivation, interests, etc) but it’s never too early (or late!) to start to think wisely about what would be a healthy relationship for you. As a native Atlantan, Alison grew up in Brookhaven where she attended Greater Atlanta Christian School. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Communication from Pepperdine and her Bachelors of Fine Arts from SCAD Atlanta. She began her second career in interior design in 2013. After working in hotel design, she went on her own full-time with her residential design firm, Alison Baine Design, LLC. She currently lives in Buckhead with her five-year old girl and twelve-year old Maltese, Apple. She loves discovering new restaurants, volunteering with her church, meeting dog and child moms for playdates, and participating in the design community in Atlanta.