I once had a philosophy professor who was a fascinating fellow. As a monk, he had kept a vow of silence for about a decade. By the time he was teaching us, he had things to say. I remember, at lunch, he once advised a couple of us young guys (I would have been about 18 or 19) not to ask a woman for a date – at least, not directly. Instead, he said, plan a great outing and then let her know that you’re going to do that and you’d be happy to have her along.
I’ve come to think that this is apt advice for any relationship. Work first on creating an extraordinary life, a great outing, if you will. And then invite people along. If you are going to see a beautiful sunset or painting, or walking through a great park, or eating at an extraordinary restaurant or any number of wonderful things, people will probably want to come along. They may even invite themselves. If you create a great life – one that is engaging, enjoyable, and meaningful - you’re likely to bring along others in your wake. They’ll be compelled to come along.
And even if you don’t bring along certain people on your trip to extraordinary, you still get to go to extraordinary. If you plan an extraordinary evening and get it right, it’ll be extraordinary whether or not the date you’d like to bring is with you. Given you can’t control other people, it’s probably best to make your commitment first to extraordinary. That’s not a bad environment for any relationship to unfold.
If you commit to a relationship first, you might find yourself compromising on extraordinary. and if you commit to extraordinary first, it is the rare person who - particularly if they are already in a relationship with you - won't want to come along.