Thanks to lock-down, I have been provided with sufficient time to question some of my opinions and beliefs such as my attitude towards dating.
I was always convinced, that the goal of dating was to end up in a relationship. Full stop.
As a result of that belief I felt unhappy and disappointed every time a date didn’t turn into more. Even if the date itself was nice, I couldn’t appreciate the experience after it was clear that we wouldn’t continue seeing each other. It felt like I had wasted my time.
Having reflected on my most recent dates I came to the conclusion that I’ve in fact learned a lot from all those experiences.
So suddenly I wondered: Could I possibly change something in the way I approach dating and actually start enjoying it, even if it doesn’t lead to a relationship?
The power of perspective
Have you ever thought about the answer you would give, if someone asked you how your dating life was going?
Let me try and show you something by using two simple scenarios.
Person A: Hey, how is dating going?
Person B: Not well at all! It’s so frustrating, I just can’t seem to find the right one. Every time I meet someone we have a really good time and then it just isn’t going anywhere.
See — that was definitely me.
I’ve been on an online dating app for probably a bit over a year and I’ve gone on many dates. ‘How exciting’, I thought in the beginning ‘I’ll get to meet cool people and let’s see what happens’.
But I ignored the fact, that I was turning up to each date with a number of expectations.
One of them being, that a date should lead to a relationship. It so happened, that I would envision a future with someone I had barely met and that I would idealise someone to be the perfect match for me without knowing enough about them.
And because it didn’t happen the way I had wanted to, I automatically started to associate dating with a frustrating experience!
But then — let’s see what happens when we slightly change the scenario.
Person A: Hey, how is dating going?
Person C: Hey, very well, thank you! I’m having a really good time! I’ve met up with a bunch of people and some of them I got along really well with! It’s been so interesting to meet different types and hear their stories. I’m really enjoying myself.
Similar to Person B, Person C is meeting up with a number of people, so it seems their overall circumstances are not too different.
But can you see how varied their perspectives are?
Person C doesn’t seem to beat themselves up about not having ended up in a relationship, but seems to have enjoyed going on a couple of dates, meeting new people.
Perspective is the key to see the same scenario from a slightly different angle.
Relationships as the ultimate goal of dating
Let me tell you, that for a very long time I couldn’t let go of that thought, that my dating life was a mess and that I really massively failed at it. And that only, because I didn’t end up in a relationship.
I would beat myself up after every date, that didn’t lead to more. I thought I had failed, each time someone told me they didn’t want to see me again. I felt so much shame.
It helps however not to treat dating as a ‘passed’ or ‘failed’ scenario.
Understanding the power of perspective encouraged me to unravel my core belief about dating. For me personally it has always been a ‘no-brainer’ that having a relationship was my goal. Why else would I date?
Now I see how someone, who has such a firm belief, is more likely to get frustrated when their expectations aren’t met. We tend to put a specific label on our experiences and it so happens that many of us would describe dating as ‘something that just doesn’t work’.
This brings up the question of how important our own judgment and beliefs are when it comes to evaluating how ‘well’ our dating life is going.
Thinking about it now I can say, that my dates weren’t awful at all. All the people I met were really nice, there wasn’t even a total dating disaster!
We can choose to regard every date as an important opportunity to learn a little bit more about ourselves.
If you allow yourself to challenge your beliefs, a date doesn’t have to lead to a relationship in order to be ‘successful’.
The secret of conscious dating
Dating has felt like a journey for me, but it never felt like I had arrived anywhere.
Being more conscious helped me to unpack those expectations I had and I am now trying to adapt to the new belief, that dating isn’t just a tool to get into a relationship. Dating is so much more than that.
Take a moment now to challenge your own convictions!
The one thing you should ask yourself is: What is my attitude towards dating?
And if you’re not happy with your current dating life also ask yourself: is there anything I can change to make the experience a little more positive?
I am sure we all can.
And in reality, there is no such thing as ‘arriving’. We all are where we need to be in life, which is where we can make the most valuable experiences.
Previously published on Medium.com.
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