Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Navigating the Gray Zone: Dating with Assertiveness and Compassion - A Workshop

"When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt" - Honore de Balzac
"What a curious power words have" - Tadeusz Borowski


It has never been a more confusing time for dating, connection, and sex as cultural norms continue to change. Navigating the Gray Zone: Dating with Assertiveness and Compassion is a workshop intended to promote self-awareness, improve assertiveness skills, and prevent regrettable sexual encounters.

Improving self-awareness and assertiveness are ways to exert the power you have in your life. Like getting vaccinated, seeking awareness and assertiveness skills, counter some of life's maladies. Honing these skills prevents some unwanted situations; and like vaccines not all conditions are blocked.


We live in a world where we are responsible for ourselves when it comes to dating, connection, and sex.  Therefore, the more we know our preferences, the easier it will be for us to make informed choices about our behavior.

Consider that you will live with yourself longer than anyone else in your life, and live with the consequences of your actions.  The way you think about yourself, others, dating, hooking up, and relationships all influence how you act.

There are many factors to consider around knowing another person intimately.  Not only does it take time, but understanding that there is a range of awareness each person has along many spectrums helps explain why there are so many misunderstandings, some of them are listed below.  A spectrum, in this case, is used to classify something in terms of its position on a scale between two extreme or opposite points.

Every person is on a spectrum of awareness and/or ability regarding the traits below:


Knowledge of Self
Communication Skills
Desire to be known by others
Openness to trying new things
Confidence
Assertiveness

Dating Experience
Sexual Experiences
Willingness to Harm Others
Consideration for Others

Gender Identity
Sexual Orientation
Gender Bias


People's sense of entitlement to feeling pleasure & having their preferences met related to dating, connection, and sex is greatly influenced by their culture and social norms. Figuring out what you want in these areas may be confusing due to the messages, some of them conflicting, from family, partners, and media around sexual expression and relationships.  Spending time thinking about your preferences before a date or intimate encounter will offer you a better understanding of yourself.

Being assertive and standing up for yourself, thinking about the possibility of getting hurt, or facing harms you caused others might feel really uncomfortable.  Managing the discomfort of thinking about these topics, will lead to better outcomes around dating, sex, and connection going forward.

This workshop aims to move the conversation beyond the acknowledgement of consent, a legal standard, into the realm of fulfillment and satisfaction. Embracing the fact that we all have some level of power when it comes to our friendships, dating partners, colleagues, and classmates in this country. Consenting adults have equal power and the right to speak up for themselves.  When we don’t speak firmly, our passivity may be perceived as permission. Sometimes we are not aware of our communication style and patterns.  Some styles of communication are effective in certain situations and ineffective in others. Effective communication strategies can be learned.  Awareness and assertiveness prevent some regrettable happenings, but they do not stop all unwelcome situations.

Living in a good society, a caring community, means all individuals must take responsibility for themselves, their actions, and consider how their actions impact others.