This week we are going to discuss dating. So, there was a tweet floating around on Twitter of a screenshot of a conversation. The conversation was between a woman and her prospect. The guy sent a message asking if she was still interested in getting to know each other. She replies, “I don’t go out with people that ask me if I’m interested.” Of course, Twitter bemoaned her. Of course, we were like ohhh brother. Folks told her she was doing too much. They were extremely annoyed by her, but I thought her conversation was something that highlighted an area of improvement for women who have been hurt.
I also thought this was a great case study that we could go through to ensure that you are enjoying the dating process, instead of trying and hoping to not get hurt.
So, let’s begin with the context. Per usual.
Dating is an elusive thing. Our caretakers give us vague instructions. Our friends are a product of their dysfunctional parents. We are too ashamed and refuse to talk about it. So, we go to the only space where folks are freely talking about their dating experiences…social media.
The problem with social media is that opinions can be created for shock value, for a performance, to sell a product, and that means that a lot of dating tips are often spewed with that purpose of performing, selling, and shocking. But rarely do you learn. We have an impressionable person online, with no real knowledge on how to date, who take on these performances and it becomes their personality and identity. This person ends up dating defensively, jaded, and most importantly awkward. Don't worry about this behavior because below we are going to discuss:
· Your relationship with yourself
· Your relationship with others
· Finally, we are going to discuss ways to protect yourself without being defensive.
Point 1. The self.
We’ve all inherited our parent’s trauma and belief systems. So, that means we are often grappling with how we view ourselves and how impactful/useful we see others. When you have an unhealthy relationship with yourself, your happiness is always out there. It’s always if you get, or be with it, or once you arrive (blank) you will finally be happy. You are constantly looking to be rescued, loved, and validated. and often, you don’t care who it is as long as they are rescuing you. The problem with that is that you take what is given-which is often low-hanging fruit. Or you stay with what you have-Because having someone there to try to rescue you is better than being alone and having to rescue yourself. Finally, when you look at others as a savior. You end up making a God out of anything. You take anything they do is a virtue and not the standard.
So, you have to look at yourself as the source. You are your rescuer. You have to get up every day and give your best. The changes you want, are the changes that you will have to make in your day-to-day life. The happiness you want has to come from you. When you have fun at brunch, no one is making that joy. It’s you deciding to place the people around you that you love, and deciding to be joyous. So, once again you create your happiness. Once you get that you can date with no worry, fear, shame, hurt, or embarrassment,
Point 2. Your relationship with others is solely an extension of your happiness and joy.
You are choosing to enhance, not replace, not supplant. Enhance. In order to enhance something, something already has to be there. So, ask yourself is your happiness already there? If not, what is stopping it? Is it a thought? Are you unhappy with a circumstance? Can you find the silver lining in your circumstance until you change it? What do you need to enhance your personal happiness? The point of this exercise is to remind yourself that whatever emotional yearning you have, you can do that for yourself. Also, let me make this statement. It is perfectly ok to want love and intimacy. However, if you are yearning to be poured in, and if your identity changes once you are partnered, then your tank is low and you need a little more loving from yourself.
The truth is…. Dating is hard, but it isn’t.
It is hard when you are holding your breath, secretly waiting to be saved, validated by friends and family because when you got a man it means something. It is hard when one negative or ugly comment from a prospect sends you into a spiral. It is hard when you move your boundaries because this guy is GREAT! Even though you have no real way of knowing.
It is especially hard when you feel that this is your only hope to happiness. However, It is easy when you’ve worked on yourself and know that this experience is for you. When you work on yourself, you don’t give weight to an opinion outside of yourself. When you know the experience is for you, you don’t audition instead you become the panel. So, how do we date? You date with the following in mind.
Point #1. This is your experience.
Meaning this is your time, energy, emotions, and body. You can be very picky on how you use all of these. You can also be as free as you want. It is all yours to dictate. You also should know that if anyone is misusing any of these things, remove yourself. You are here to be poured into and not chipped away.
Point #2. Just like you talk to your friends about what you need from a friendship, event, brunch, or happy hour, shopping date, etc., you can do the same here.
Your dates aren’t big bad wolves. They are people. So, just like you talk to associates, do the same to them. Ground your dating prospects, they are regular people.
Point #3 Defensiveness is no boundaries.
An overly defensive response or conversation is a big clue that you don’t trust yourself. For example, If I go into a store and state out loud I am not going to steal, everyone’s first instinct is to think I do steal. Then, I’ll be watched and treated like a thief all because I put that out there.When you constantly bragging or being defensive, you are me in a store announcing I won’t steal. You’re bringing attention to yourself. You are telling your date; here is where I am historically weak with my boundaries. Or you are saying, though I say I “don’t do” this, I clearly don’t truly believe it or I would not have announced it. Or you are saying, because I like you I am providing you with the cheat code to my heart. I am forewarning you of ways not to fuck up, so that I can continue liking you. Of course, you can say no, I’d prefer to, I am not used to, or I am used to……That is different from, “ I don’t know what type of girls you date, but I am fill in the blank.”Or “people I like don’t ask me if I am interested.”And it’s like that may be true, but a solid no could suffice.
Point #4. What are your actions? (p.s. this is not in regards to consent)
You may outline all the things you “don’t do,” but what is historically true, and what is a story you create in your head? Do you typically observe unruly behavior on a date and go on another date? Do you hear him lie, and say nothing or overlook it? Do you say you require respect, and beg a person who does not respect you to come back?Examine your historical truth.What you have done in the past from the point of view of a scientist. This helps you predict future behavior and protect yourself from behavior that sabotages you. Then, what is the story you created of yourself? Finally, When you think of the historical person and the person you have in your head. What boundaries/actions do you need to do to be the person you have in your head? And why do you feel like you need to do it? This gives you a game plan for future dates. That way you will know what your tendency is, prepare, remind yourself of your boundaries, and remind yourself why they were created.
Point #5 You are the judge. You are not auditioning.
Point #6-Have fun.
The purpose of dating is to have fun with a new person and get to know them while in the process. If they interrupt your fun on a date, you can leave or spice it up by shading them the whole time. If you aren’t having a fun date, stop. If your prospect leaves you confused, stop. If your partner keeps dimming your light, end it. Fun, joy, happiness are your number one priority.