Finding love from a place of self-love is about meeting a person you REALLY want (and who truly deserves to be) in your life.
‘Just be yourself’ says everyone, but in reality it’s far more complex than that.
Dating can mess with even the most self-confident person.
It’s a minefield of weird behaviours, rejection, unfamiliar signs, dreams turned into nightmares and can have anyone digging out the bottom of the ice cream container in despair.
It’s so easy to lose sight of who ‘yourself’ even is, the basics of what you want, when you’re IN the minefield just surviving.
Or even worse: settling.
Here are 16 ways to bring you back to the WHY of why you are OUT THERE in the first place and debunk a whole bunch of dating myths along the way.
1) You are dating to find someone for YOU, not just to impress
This isn’t a job interview or a house-hunting excursion: dating is an opportunity for two people to find out if they like each other enough to keep finding out. No one is in a position of power-over. You don’t need to spend the whole date putting 90% of your energy into impressing the other person. Remember that you are ‘interviewing’ them as much as they are ‘interviewing’ you (actually maybe it IS like a job interview- future blog post ideeeeaaaa).
2) Don’t be a slob but don’t spend hours and hours getting ready
Basically just be you. Perhaps not you on a Sunday morning with a killer hangover and bad breath, but you on a normal day or night. If you spent forever getting ready, it just adds to the disappointment if it’s not a great date.
3) Have high expectations and don’t adjust them
Look: it’s wonderful to be open-minded, but it’s quite a bit less wonderful to adjust everything (or something significant) you’re looking for just because you feel attracted to someone or you’ve got a case of the lonelies. If you’ve got a list 3 pages long then you’re probably being unrealistic, but if you’ve got some basics around what you want from your life and a partner within that, what is important to you, and most especially: how you want to FEEL when you’re around that person, then those things really shouldn’t be adjusted. Coz you’re worth so much more than a second-rate mate.
4) Figure out what you want from a date (and this person)
Sound too clinical for a first date? It’s not. Sure, don’t heap loads of fantasies onto a human you’ve only just met. But if you’re just looking for sex or something casual, then at some point you need to be honest about that (with yourself and the other person) and if you’re looking for a baby-parent (eventually) be honest about THAT.
Someone who’s going to lose their mind over a date who matter-of-factly mentions some ideas of what they want isn’t the right match for you. And if you want to engage in some respectful grown-up fun, or you’ve got a felt sense of a ‘ticking clock’ then you really don’t have energy or time to waste on immature folks who can’t even handle the conversation let alone the reality.
BTW: If YOU are the person full of hope who doesn’t listen to what they don’t want to hear: it’s a whole lot kinder to yourself to take it on the chin now, and move on, rather than 5 years later when you’re in something that doesn’t fulfil any of your needs.
5) When someone SHOWS you who they are, listen
A lot of people are amazing at telling you who they are. Some people are amazing at telling you who they are in the context of what you want to hear. Some people are so amazing at telling you who they are (or you’re so attracted to them) that when they SHOW you who they are, you ignore it. This is a big mistake a lot of us make. Actions speak far louder than words.
6) Figure out your own values and then look for a match based on those instead of just shared interests
Sure, you want to be able to enjoy spending time with your partner, but contrary to popular opinion, your partner doesn’t need to be your best friend or your main ‘doing stuff’ buddy. It’s far more important that you have similar core values. Interests can change, but values at their very core generally hold.
What is most important to you? What do you believe in? Is there anything contradictory in what you say you believe in VS how you live? Do you need to work on some stuff? How will you know and feel if someone shares your values (without asking super stiff questions)?
Spend some time with YOURSELF to drill down into the deeper stuff and then look for those kinds of connections. Shared values will make for rich conversation and bring you back together when times are tough: not the fact that you both like AFL or RuPaul’s Drag Race.
7) Think about your lifestyle
Where do you want to live? What are your dreams? What do you believe life is all about? And… money, money, money. Aside from infidelity, one of the core issues that bring couples to counselling is around money. Who is spending it, who is not, what you believe it should be spent on…
Who does what around the house is another issue.
You are going to struggle and potentially build up a lot of resentment in a long-term relationship with someone who has wildly different ideas from you on what the meaning of life is. Being with someone different and complementary to you is a good thing of course, but when you don’t have anything in common around HOW TO LIVE huge problems can arise.
As Dan Savage says: “What is the price of admission you’re willing to pay to be with this person?” Reflect on this BEFORE you’re too deeply involved.
Ps: If you can afford it, get a cleaner.
8) Treat EVERYONE with respect
I’m talking to YOU the person who thinks someone you fuck VS someone you marry are deserving of different levels of respect. They are not. Someone you don’t even like on a date is deserving of common decency. While you may be investing less emotional energy in someone who you don’t see as being ‘forever’ there’s no need to be rude, to lie, to treat them like a dogsbody or a sextoy. You definitely don’t need to hang out for hours with someone who doesn’t float your boat or explain yourself to them, but honesty doesn’t equal cruelty or slackness.
(FYI: Kindness doesn’t mean having lengthy conversations with folks you’ve been on 2 dates with about why you don’t want to see them anymore. Honestly? Ghosting is flat-out shit, but it’s fine to send a decently worded text or an email if it’s very early on. Personally I think many of us would prefer that to an in-person rejection).
9) A special note to the fish guys and the pout mouth gals
To all ya’ll with dating profile profile pics of yourselves holding giant fish or doing the pouty mouth: seriously, THINK about who you want to partner with rather than ‘a person who thinks I’m sexy, and/or who likes [insert thing I like doing]’.
Ask yourself: ‘Am I willing to get into any number of interests that I don’t enjoy right now’? Am I thinking about anything beyond ‘I want everyone to see how hot I am’? No? Then perhaps reflect a little deeper about what your core values and beliefs are. Look and feel for someone from THAT place.
Then change your profile pic IMMEDIATELY to just you, not blurry or with an ex, looking reasonably nice, enjoying yourself, not doing anything in particular. There is no excuse in 2018 not to have a picture of yourself like that.
10) Have fun
11) Don’t interpret ‘fun’ as just the other person having fun
Fun is a two-way street. But sometimes we’re so fantastic at helping other people relax that we forget to actually notice if WE are having fun. We all have roles we tend to play in life, and if yours is making people feel good, then I’d encourage you to bite that back a little and see what happens when you don’t leap into ‘make them feel good’ mode.
Live with an awkward silence. Notice if you’re being asked questions, listened to, or engaged in conversation on a similar level to what you’re putting in. Spout an opinion or two. Not going well? Then it maybe this one isn’t for you.
FYI: ‘Fun’ for those who have forgotten (because you’ve been in the minefield for way too long) is having a bit of a laugh and feeling relatively at ease.
12) Yep. It should be easy
Where does this idea come from that relationships should be ‘hard’ and that we need to ‘work’ on them all the time? Are your friendships like that? My guess is that the good ones are not. Sure, they have ups and downs. There are fights. There’s distance. There are misunderstandings. But ultimately, you simply like each others company. You can rely on each other.
The best relationships are fairly easy. They need to be to stand the test of time. If it’s hard when nothing hard is going on, then that’s not ideal.
Oh- and there are times when things that are ‘supposed’ to be fun are not (like moving in together) but if you really think about it, moving into a house with a partner has some major gravitas and it makes sense that it’s complicated. But if you’re on date 4 and it’s like pulling teeth, or you’re fighting, or the person is trying to control you? Nuh.
13) Stop performing a version of you
Do you have a ‘character’ or a ‘curation’ that you think is more meaningful or more interesting or ‘better’ than you? If YOU loves collecting vintage fabric but can’t sew, devours weird podcasts (and foods) by the bucketload, laughs loudly at cat videos, is obsessed with at least one reality TV show, and has an interest in social justice but isn’t especially an active member of the community, then that’s YOU.
And my bet is that YOU are pretty unique and special with all your faults and quirks: we fall in love with those real people, not the pretend ones.
14) When you are rejected, try to refrain from piling a heap of meaning onto it.
This is all about your Inner Critic going wild with the ‘it’s because I was shit in XYZ ways. It’s because I did THIS wrong or that. It’s because I was fat/stupid/crazy/bad in bed/clumsy/boring etc etc etc’.
We can all benefit from a little healthy self-reflection and insight, but beating yourself up is more likely to have you hating yourself. Hating yourself isn’t going to help you look at yourself in loving-kindness if there is something you would like to change, and it sure as hell isn’t going to help if it’s something you can’t or don’t want to change.
And honey: you’re having this conversation in your own head!! I’m gobsmacked by the amount of women who believe they were rejected after a date because they were ugly in some way. YOU are fabulous. If someone rejects you, well, there just wasn’t enough fancying going on and that is all you need to know. Everyone has been done a massive favour by letting this go. Now you can move on all the more quickly and find someone who is into YOU just as you are. Thank god!!
Ps: This works in REVERSE too. If you HATE rejecting people, just remember: the sooner you let go of someone you just know is not right for you, the sooner they can move onto someone who they ARE right for (even if it stings in the moment).
15) If someone tells you on the first date that their ex was crazy: RUN FOR THE HILLS.
Seriously. Even if their ex was *ahem crazy, why are they telling you about it when you’ve just met? What is their motivation? When you’re younger or vulnerable, you tend to take that as a compliment (“they mean I’m not crazy- not like the ex! I’m the cool girl”).
Here’s a question back for that person: ‘what did you do to make them crazy?’ Coz I don’t actually know that many ‘crazy’ people and I’m a COUNSELLOR. When you’re banging on about your mad ex, I reckon if we get together then I’m next on the shitlist. I’m not up for that. NEXT.
16) Fuck or don’t fuck on the first date
With a right person it makes absolutely no difference. And let’s face it: sex is very important. If you’re completely incompatible it’s good to find that out earlier in the piece.
Disclaimer: If fucking people when you meet them is not coming from a place of self-love, then it’s worth changing it up, waiting, and seeing how that feels. This is about finding love from a place of self-love after all, and not pushing yourself to be someone who isn’t you. Equally if you’re holding back because of ‘the rules’ then throw that book away and go with your heart n body. Have fun and protect yourself!
Ultimately dating is really just being available to meet someone who might be a partner of some sort for you. But it’s messier than that in reality. Being OUT there pushes all our buttons and has us doing all sorts of things we can be surprised about.
To be lovely to yourself in the midst of all that is just plain hard!
But it takes a HUGE amount of your very precious energy to adjust yourself, to change your expectations, to try and figure out how other people are feeling or thinking, to pretend to be a version of yourself, to only go out with people who won’t reject you because you don’t want to risk rejection or avoid dating entirely because it hurts too much to reject others.
Finding love from a place of self-love is tough sometimes. It can hurt more and it can make you feel more vulnerable. But it makes more sense to date from there than to date from any other place doesn’t it? To be able to have fun and notice when the REAL thing is heading your way is, after all, a priceless and exceptional gift.
Did you enjoy this post? It started as a live video on my online counselling Facebook page if you’re curious to see. Also Jump on my list here to get occasional posts on a variety of themes around self-acceptance, relationships, and unique ways to discover your own wonderful skills. If you’re looking for counselling here’s how to reach me. Finally: Please do share your own tips for self-love while finding love in the comment below. Love Nicole
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