Nothing can bring all of our vulnerabilities and fears to the surface quite as dating can. It’s challenging to stay open and honest, and easy to get discouraged.
It sometimes feels as though you’re a contestant on some cheesy reality TV show. It’s as though you’re serving yourself up on a platter and asking others to judge you. You forget that you’re looking for an ideal romantic partner, and that’s all.
Too often we’re overwhelmed with messages from potential matches we’re just not that into, or they’re flat-out jerks. We go on date after date after date, and many of them end disastrously. We reject, or we have to reject, which is soul-crushing. Through it all is one common thread: all of those things feel awful.
But things don’t have to be that way! You can boil things back down to why you’re dating in the first place. Love will often come your way if you dig a little deeper, stop changing your expectations of your desired relationship, give things some time, have fun, and above all, just be yourself. In simpler terms, you must love yourself in order to find someone to love you.
Ultimately, loving yourself is about believing that you’re worthy just as you are. Dating with self-love is believing that there’s someone (or possibly several someones!) out there with whom you can and will connect.
Here are five ways to date from a place of self-love, which will give you much better odds of finding the true love you’re been looking for:
- Identify your core values, then look for matches based on them.
You want to enjoy the time you spend with your partner. That’s normal. But contrary to popular belief, it’s not necessary for your partner to be your best friend, too. You don’t have to do everything together. It’s more important for you to have similar values. Interests can change, but generally, core values don’t. Here are several simple questions you can ask yourself to help you identify your core values:
- What behavioral patterns and personality traits are most important?
- What do you unwaveringly believe in?
- What issues tug at your heartstrings?
- What would you be willing to stand up and fight for?
- What if somebody does not share your values?
Take your time to delve down into your depths. Then you’ll be ready to start looking for matches. Shared values make for richer conversations, and will draw you back together when times get tough.
- Don’t date to impress. Date to find somebody for the real you.
Dating isn’t a job interview. It’s an opportunity for two people to discover if they like each other enough to keep discovering. They’re checking you out as carefully as you’re checking them out. Each of you has a decision to make, and neither of you holds a position of authority over the other. So, don’t spend the whole date pouring your efforts into trying to impress the other person.
- The relationship should feel relatively effortless.
Relationships don’t have to feel challenging. You shouldn’t feel as though you need to “work on” them all the time. Are your friendships like that? Of course, there are ups and downs involved. There are misunderstandings and difficult times. But ultimately, friends genuinely enjoy each other’s company and can rely on one other.
Likewise, the best romantic relationships should feel fairly easy. If they’re difficult when nothing challenging is happening, how will they stand the test of time when something really hard is happening?
There are situations that are expected to be fun, but also end up fraught with stress, such as moving in together. When we invest in somebody enough to combine our households together, there’s serious weight involved. But if you’re only on your third date together and you already feel pressured, awkward, combative, and uncomfortable, defensive, or controlled, this partner probably is not “the one” for you.
- Don’t restrict “fun” to the other person’s experience.
Everyone has a role they play. Are you so adept at showing others a good time that you stop caring if you’re enjoying yourself, too? If this is your role, then you need to ease up and see what would happen if you weren’t being relied upon to make the other person feel good. Try one of these approaches:
- Stay quiet during awkward silences.
- Analyze if you’re listened to, asked questions, or drawn into conversations as often as you do these things.
- Offer a dissenting opinion and see what happens.
Are things going poorly? Then maybe this person isn’t “the one” for you. Count yourself lucky that you discovered this early on.
- Stop performing.
Dating isn’t a game of probability. You don’t have to make a certain number of matches to hit the love jackpot. You need to match with fewer folks who really understand you and think you’re cute, funny, smart, and interesting, even when you’re annoying or exasperating them.
While out on dates, many of us suppress behaviors we think may be perceived as stupid, boring, or weird. It becomes normal to appear as a cooler, more curated version of yourself. You want to put your best foot forward, but sometimes you’re so careful that your true self is completely concealed.
You’re special and unique. This includes all of your quirks and faults. We form romantic relationships with genuine people, not fake ones. If somebody can’t love the real version of you, you shouldn’t be with them. It’s far better to be cherished when you’re not the fictitious version of yourself.
Romantic relationships aren’t only about being in love. They’re also about loving somebody else. If you’re dating from a place of self-love, you’ll ultimately run the gauntlet with vulnerability, self-respect, and kindness. You deserve a life with somebody who loves and respects you as much as you love and respect them.