This article isn’t about the landscape of dating. We all know filters and dating apps are a double edged sword. We all know
This is about something deeper.
Because hearts are buried deep in the aftermath of what happened (traumatic experiences from the past). Because we see potential instead of what’s in front of us, and that always makes us controlling whether we are aware of it or not. Because we still have our checklists. Because we don’t communicate. Because the stove is still hot. Because we are insecure. Because we hold up shields. Because we are afraid. Because we compare to the old and that makes it nearly impossible to appreciate and see value in the new. Because we live in a world of filters.
I struggle with all of the above.
The greatest difference between dating and being in a relationship is that when we’re dating, we make it about us. As we should. Because we’ve learned from past experiences and have drawn lines. Because we finally believe we deserve to be with someone we actually like and want to be with, someone who will treat us with respect and support our journey. We make it about us, as we should. We use a lot of “I’ and “me” in our questions. What do I want? How do they make me feel? How do they treat me? Because we’ve all been through shit and hopefully learned some stuff on what works and doesn’t work for us. We want to make better choices, healthier ones, ones that lead to building something sustainable. So we become “picky”. This narrows the room but more importantly experiences.
But when you’re invested in a relationship, two people are building something outside of themselves. So ego subsides. It’s no longer about you. It’s about us. Now there’s room to grow. Look at yourself. We become more understanding. Choose to be more self aware. We put in more effort. Not wanting it to be like the last time and making a decision to not go back to who you were becomes the fuel to love harder. And that will always be 92 octane. So we try. But before any of this, we still have to go through the dark tunnel known as dating.
So how do we date then? Are we doomed?
I’ll be honest. I’m not the best dater in the world. But for me, it starts at awareness. That’s always the beginning of everything. Trying to be aware of everything as much as possible, what’s happening inside you, what feels honest and what feels forced, observing how people respond and cope and why, and if that works for you and what you feel you want, need, deserve, and learning, adjusting, and growing. But more importantly, trusting that it will all play out so not worrying so much about the outcome but rather making an effort to be present and sensitive to people’s feelings as well as your own. And if you fuck up, taking ownership. That’s huge. Becasuse you will need that skill in building any relationship or you will be doomed.
Dating is dynamic. It’s not a stationary thing. It’s a living breathing thing. That means it is always changing as circumstances and feelings change. As you peel layers. As you get to really know someone, all sides of someone, as you begin to build trust. And I think there is beauty in that. And it’s important you see that too. So you can turn that dark tunnel into a bright field. Or an shiny ocean. Or whatever feels light and open and has life. So what can we do? We can date by holding instead of grabbing. We can date with appreciation instead of judgment. We can be grateful for every collision, no matter how it ends. We can give by showing ourselves instead of protecting ourselves. Again, not just for them. But for you. Because whether something works out or not, you will always be dating yourself.
See dating as a practice to connecting to you.
So what can we do?
Change our mindset.
Maybe dating isn’t about what you want. Maybe dating is a way to grow.
Okay, that’s cute. How?
Basically do the opposite of everything in the first paragraph of this article.
Toss your check list.
Put your shield down.
Tell people what you want / need.
Touch the stove.
Because maybe it’s not hot anymore.