Was it a gift or a curse?
Either way it was a source of great amusement and wonder to the two veteran cops - both well-settled and happily married - who met most mornings for coffee with their young colleague "Dan" (who is a completely fictional creation of the authors' imagination and in no way represents any real person, living or dead. Yeah, that's the ticket...). Women liked Dan. A lot. And it took little more than a glance, a faux shy half-smile, or sometimes even the appearance of indifference, to draw them to the table for a closer look. Introductions would be made, numbers exchanged, and another budding romance would begin for Dan.
Here is the typical progression of said romance, as experienced by Dan:
- Stage 1 - I really like her! She is really sweet and a lot of fun, and seems open-minded, you know? This one is different than the others, I think.
- Stage 2 - It is going okay, I guess. She seems a little... intense. I think she feels a little more strongly about me than I do about her at this stage.
- Stage 3 - You know, you guys might have been right. I think she IS a little crazy.
- Stage 4 - Stop answering obsessive cell phone calls and text messages. Get new number if necessary. Get new house if necessary. Nervously scan the horizon in case she shows up unexpectedly. Formulate elaborate escape plans for when she does.
Usually, the time lapse from stage 1 to stage 4 was about ten days, and occasionally overlapped more than one woman. Dan led a colorful life in the company of many attractive - albeit perhaps a bit emotionally unstable - women. Although his stories - and related photos - were interesting, the veterans soon realized Dan wanted what they had... a stable, long-term relationship with someone to love.
Dan's gift was being able to easily attract and meet women. His curse was they were the WRONG women.
Dating can be hard for anyone. Finding someone to date who is the right person, in the place, and at the right time, is harder still. Throw in the unique variables of a law enforcement career and is it any wonder our relationships so often founder? So, in honor of the Dans of our LE world, whether you are looking for long-lasting love or just some temporary short-term like, we have put together a few dating tips for cops.
Create a Perfect Partner Profile
First, decide what your goals are for your potential relationship. Are you looking for casual, no-strings dating? Nothing wrong with that, just make sure it is understood by whomever you get involved with. Are you feeling ready to settle down, plant some roots, start a family? Good for you, but remain patient. For some reason, a lot of cops, when describing their first (or second, even) marriage, use some variation of We married too young or We moved way too fast. When you enter a relationship ready for commitment it is particularly important to make sure your head rules your heart.
Next, figure out who you want to date. Not the specific person, but what characteristics will that person have. Be detailed and go beyond the superficial. When looking for a new vehicle, we generally have a pretty good idea of the features we want, but enter the dating arena with only a vague idea of who we are looking for. What good is finding your exotic, smoking hot model if you forgot to rule out violent, self-loathing whackadoo?
And then, be flexible. You may find out your date is never going to be a lingerie model but more than makes up for it in fly fishing prowess. Be open to surprises.
Explore New Options
Almost any book or article on the topic of dating will tell you some variation on the same theme: If you want to meet someone, you have to go to where the available people are. Figure out what best reflects your interests and aptitudes and go where people with similar interests and aptitudes gather. And exploring new options means just that. Get out of your ruts, go someplace new, try something different, have a spirit of adventure. When you are doing something out of your comfort zone it gives you things to talk about with the others doing it with you.
Be careful, though. Not all hunting grounds are equally good. To illustrate, consider the following and why they may or may not be good places to meet attractive singles:
Local church - GOOD
N.A. 12-step group in basement of that church - MAYBE NOT SO GOOD
Health club - GOOD
Gentleman's club - BAD
Bookstores – YES
Booking - NO
Class at local college - VERY GOOD
Class at local high school - VERY, VERY BAD!!
(Unless you are an SRO and target subject is a teacher, then GOOD)
Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor convention - GOOD
Scrapbooking convention - YEA, LIKE YOU WOULD BE CAUGHT DEAD THERE
Be Sure It is YOU Being Dated, and Not Just the COP
Whether known as badge bunnies or cop groupies or some other name, certain people attracted predominantly to police officers and the law enforcement world are nothing new. There may not be anything wrong with women or men who desire a relationship with a cop, but it is still good to be sure whoever you date is dating you and not your badge, position, authority, or what they can gain from the relationship.
If possible, get to know each other and see if there is interest before even revealing what you do. Otherwise, work hard to put WHO you are into the relationship rather than WHAT you are. Sound easy? You may be surprised at how much your profession has become a part of you, so remaining multidimensional is all the more important. Staying well-rounded will help sustain a relationship when the work aspect of your life strains it.
Learn from Your Dating Mishaps
One technique cops use to stay alive is to be aware of the mistakes that have gotten other officers killed or injured. We recently spent two days at a survival seminar where we viewed video after video of officers making fatal missteps. It was painful and heart wrenching to watch, but what it teaches us is what not to do next time. Be firm in your commands, watch the hands, the safest place to secure someone is on the ground, always assume the plus one rule of another weapon, etc... Watching these tapes is a harsh dose of reality, but a needed one, especially for veteran officers so that they can evaluate bad habits they have developed that could give the bad guy the wrong opportunity.
For cops, evaluating skills as a police officer and their survival skills is routine because your number one job is to go home at the end of the day in the same condition you started your shift, however, do you do this in your life outside of the job? When was the last time you evaluated your dating skills? Are you crashing and burning? Having success? What are your bad habits and fatal flaws? Do you attract psychos and crazies or are they healthy and functional? Do they say yes to a second date or are they not returning calls, texts, and emails? If you want honest feedback, ask friends and coworkers about the people you date and they will tell you your dating mishaps that are keeping you single. Learn from your mistakes.
Dating can be hard. If you are single and searching, or some day may be, or you know someone who is, approaching dating intelligently and with insight will increase your odds of relational success.