I’m a therapist and I don’t know how to date
So this is the longest stretch I’ve been single. For most of my life, I’ve been in relationships. A three year deal. A ten year deal. A two year deal. Another three year deal. Then a few few month deals. And I know I shouldn’t call them deals. It’s minimizing, strips away The Notebook trailer we see in our heads. But you are technically making a deal with someone when you choose to invest and build something. Right? And I think that’s why dating is so hard for me. Because what’s the deal? There really isn’t one. It’s a crapshoot. Throwing dice. Going with the flow, fingers crossed. It’s like driving to a place you don’t have an address to but you kinda know where it is. But you’ve never been there before but you think you know the area. And so you just go. I’m not used to that. I’m used to using Waze. Knowing there is a destination. And getting there fast.
I usually meet someone, feel chemistry, get on the same page, and suddenly I’m in a relationship. Boom. And all of them have expired. So this time, I made a promise to myself to just “date”. Don’t get into something so fast. Draw experiences with the entire box of Crayons, if that makes sense. But now that I’ve been dating for a while, I’m realizing that the Crayons are broken and shit (me excluded) and I have no idea how to draw. It’s the wild wild west out there. Man, I’ve been sheltered AF. Love isn’t a battlefield. Dating is. A crazy chaotic roller coaster with no safety bar to hold on to.
What does it even mean to date in today’s world? I’m not going to get into how people meet these days because that’s a whole other roll your eyes and shake your head hopelessly topic. I’m talking about as you meet people, the unfolding process. I guess in one word, exploring, right? Peeling layers. Getting to know each other. Asking someone to dance and seeing how much you’re stepping on each other’s shoes? Is it a good fit? Do you have things in common? Do you both have tools to build something? Then there’s chemistry and magic and all that stuff that isn’t covered in self help books or a webinar (beat). Leasing with an option to buy. That’s what dating is, simply put. Right? But people are leasing multiple cars. Some stealing them. Taking them for joy rides and leaving them on the side of the road. I don’t know. It’s just a shit show.
Anyway, add to this that I’m a therapist / relationship coach and now there’s added pressure. Because of what I do. I coach peoole with this stuff so I should be an “expert” at this. Real quick, I just want to say Phil Jackson can take the Lakers to the NBA Playoffs but that doesn’t mean he can throw three pointers all day like Kobe. Therapists have just as much if not more “issues” than our clients. So I got my share of shortcomings, triggers, and story like everyone else. Yeah, I’m fucked up. John Kim is impatient. Always wants to put things in a box. Doesn’t know how to explore. But I also put pressure on myself because of what I do. If you’re a fitness coach, your fitness standards are higher. If you’re a nutritionist, you’re probably not going through drive thurs at midnight. So because I’m a therapist / relationship coach, I judge myself. A lot. I know, poor me. I’m just saying it’s difficult for me to experience connection and intimacy, to really get to know someone on a deeper level in a pressure free space. So I’m in my head a lot. It blocks me from being present. And that’s the number one thing that will strip anyone of any experience.
It kinda sucks balls that I’m able to help others maneuver through their dating experience but struggle when it comes to my own.
But here’s what I’m leaning. About myself as well as the dating process.
1. Dating can actually be rewarding
No, that’s not a typo. What makes dating feel like Chinese water torture are expectations, timelines, outcomes, game playing, judgment, pressure, not communicating (leaving people in the dark), and checklists. If we approached dating without these things, and I’m not saying it’s easy, dating can actually be rewarding. By rewarding I mean meaningful to your growth. Because people are meant to collide and through these collisions, there is tremendous learning.
It’s all the attachments we paper clip to dating that prevents us from tasting the true nectar of human collisions. Instead we hold up shields, blame, get disappointed, triggered, react, and of course get hurt.
But there’s no way around the last one. The buy in to dating is risk of getting hurt. And this is a pill I’ve struggled to swallow. Because I don’t want to get hurt but I especially don’t want to hurt others. I don’t want people to be angry at me. Disappointed. Let down. Feel that I’m not who I portray online. And yes, there is ego there. But there is also heart. But I’ve learned that there’s no way around it. Hurt comes with any human exchange. Period.
I’ve gone on many dates over the last two years. Some lasting for a cup of coffee. Others a few weeks or a couple months. And looking back at all of them, I’ve realized there was learning in every collision. Every person I date doesn’t have to turn into a full blown relationship for it to be meaningful. When I look at it this way, I take the pressure off and leave room for it to be a human experience, possibly a spiritual one, and it’s easier to not make it about me, my ego, and how things should play out. Because at the end of the day, no one really knows. So rejection doesn’t have to be rejection. It just wasn’t a good fit. The value isn’t in the outcome. It’s in the experience. Like anything in life.
And that’s what I think we should put the weight on, experiences. Without judgement and expectations. Dating is two people having a shared experience. And that’s always a gift no matter how short lived, as long as your intentions are good and you are open to learning and growing.
If not, dating can harden you. Dating can discourage you. Dating can make you feel shitty about yourself. Because people judge. People project. People don’t communicate. People are scared. And scared people always punch first.
It is a choice to see dating as growth soil instead of a battlefield.
2. Try to take in someone’s essence, their soul
Yes we have types and preferences and we’re attracted to what we’re attracted to. Be open but stop fighting it. It’s okay to like what you like. But really focus on and take in someone’s essence, because that shit doesn’t change, the true core of who they are. Everything else can and probably will change.
Two souls are colliding, orchestrated by the universe, every soul with a story, and learning about oneself, others, and human connection. Without judgement and labels. Then dating can be a beautiful thing. It’s a choice to look at it this way. And if it doesn’t workout, to continue to throw love at them. You don’t have to be in their daily lives but there’s no need to treat people like they’re disposable. That’s why dating has become scary and dreadful. People are shitty to each other if things don’t work out. Just because it wasn’t meant to be doesn’t mean it wasn’t meant. Read that again. There is always meaning. You just have to find it.
When you seek someone’s soul, you’re getting a more accurate picture of who they really are and it’s easier to be kind if things don’t work out.
3. How they treat you is everything
If they don’t treat you well in the beginning, you shouldn’t even consider them. Remember, it’s the little things. Are they considerate? Do they return your calls / texts? Do they say thank you? Do they communicate? Are they thoughtful? Or is everything about them? These little things become huge when you’re in a relationship. If you’re getting treated like you’re a movie extra in a blockbuster film now, that’s probably how you’ll be treated in the relationship. Dating is foreshadowing. Because people don’t change until they have to and you don’t want to wait until someone has to change, because at that point, it’s usually too late.
4. Trust the universe
I struggle with this one because I want to control everything. But I’ve learned that sometimes, I needed the experience I received from that person and also vice versa, at that point in my / our lives. And maybe we needed that specific experience to shift our thinking, or learn something about ourselves, what we want, don’t want, or just needed it because we needed it without any reason. One can argue, well then you’re just using each other. I don’t choose to see it that way. Because if you feel used, there is pain there. As long as your intentions are in the right place and you’re communicating, no one is getting used.
At the end of the day, yes dating is difficult. I get it. It’s scary. But it’s a part of life. We’ve all been hurt, rejected, ignored, ghosted on. I encourage you to keep your heart open and continue to collide with people, knowing that there is learning and growth in each collision. And trust that one of them will turn into something more.
Life is all about your mindset.
If you stay closed due to fear, no one will know you. But more importantly, you will not know yourself.
Use dating as a way to know yourself.
That’s not selfish.
That’s the only way to look at it so it’s an enjoyable, meaningful, life changing experience.
I will continue to date.
I will continue to communicate.
I will continue to seek souls.
I will stop being responsible for other people’s feelings because we all know the risk is hurt.
I will start being easier on myself because of what I do.
And I will do my best to be fully present, creating a space to meet souls instead of going on “dates”.
And I will wash my car.