She Said, He Said: Getting back out in the dating game? Stay true to yourself
She Said, He Said
Dear Lori and Jeff,
I was in a relationship for longer than I should have been — mostly because I was dreading the idea of dating. When I first became single again, there was definitely a part of me that was excited by the idea of having the opportunity to meet attractive, single women. But actually having to date has been really frustrating and disappointing. I hate the idea of having to sell myself, and dating apps and sites seem so superficial and fake. I’m also past the bar-hopping phase in my life and am not looking for drunken one-night stands. I want a relationship. I’ve worked hard to establish a good life with a job I love, and am ready to share my passions and adventures with someone special. Where do I start?
Signed, Hating Dating
Lori and Jeff: We’ve both been there.
Jeff: One of the biggest challenges in moving forward after the end of a relationship is taking the time to reassess where you are in your life as an individual. Often, in a relationship, the focus is on the “we” aspect of our lives and not the “me” aspect. While this is important to health of the bond, it can also stifle each partner’s self-growth and self-care. It’s important to reconnect with your authentic self — the parts of you that feel passion, believe strongly in things, and live with intention — and care for and nurture those parts.
Lori: Many women are attracted to confidence, warmth, authenticity and openness. The right woman is not someone you have to compete for but to show up for. Meaning, the person who will want to be with you will be drawn to who you authentically are. You have to make yourself present and available for her to see you. It’s easy to get lost in your head about how you want others to perceive you, or who else is in the room that may appear more confident, attractive or successful. When we compare ourselves to others (or even to who we think we should be) we are no longer connected in the moment. We also appear less present and engaging to those around.
Lori and Jeff: Dating apps and sites can give you more visibility, and allow you to see more prospects. But if meeting through technology is really not your forte, then just don’t. Stay true to who you are. If you decide to explore digital dating, be aware of some of the common pitfalls:
• Online daters are often painting a seemingly flawless self portrait on their profiles. There is a sense of having to stand out above the others in order to be noticed. You will also likely do it to some degree. Be aware of how and when you’re “filtering.” The more you airbrush about your life, success and personality, the more explaining you have to do later.
• Allow for some flexibility and grace, knowing everyone is human. Know ahead of time what your list of 5-7 main traits are in an ideal partner. The “perfect” woman (or man) will have flaws. If the flaws are outside of the list, accept and adapt.
• With the ease of swiping right to the next prospect, singles are hastily looking for instant fireworks. Many great connections are build over time, as individuals slowly let one another deeper into their worlds. Allow for the time needed to let curiosity and intrigue grow. Remember, no one is really at their best on a first date.
Looking for love offline also still exists. Analog dating has worked for many singles we know, but again, there needs to be some effort and intention invested in order to maximize the rewards.
• Peek outside of the box. Singles tend to limit themselves regarding who they want to date and where or how they want to meet them. They create distinctions in their daily activities between those in which they are “seeking” and those in which they’re not. For example, going out for après, a show, or most social nightlife events often falls into the realm of seeking — dress up, fix your hair, smell good, and keep your eyes peeled. But how many activities do you engage in every day without a tenth of the effort to present your best self? The right girl could be at the dentist, grocery store or gas station, so stay open to the possibility of meeting a partner anywhere. Carry yourself with dignity, share a smile, and be curious about others.
• Keep doing what you love to do — if you find someone while you’re doing it, you’ve already got something in common. Get involved with community organizations, volunteer, say yes to service opportunities, and find groups that share your interests and passions.
Lori and Jeff are married, licensed psychotherapists and couple-to-couple coaches at Aspen Relationship Institute. Submit your relationship questions to info@AspenRelationshipCoaching.com and your query may be selected for a future column.
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