Dating is tough. We all can agree that looking for the one you wish to spend your life with can be draining and exhausting. This is why, it is best that you put all that focus and effort into loving and finding yourself.
It’s easy to see why dating gets a bad rap.
Dating can be intimidating. It can be exhausting. It can be overwhelming if you’re unfamiliar with the latest dating app, or you’re simply not interested in “swiping right”. It might feel superficial and vacuous, or like it’s just a numbers game.
Maybe you’re healing from a breakup, or you’re realizing it’s time to “get back out there”, but you have a certain level of resistance or feeling of dread. You’re not alone.
Oftentimes, when the clients I work with have a hard time reentering the dating world, what’s happening, perhaps unconsciously, is that they are placing a whole lot of pressure onto themselves, the other person, and the whole process, making it a miserable experience.
What I see is that many of my clients have an unspoken hope that they meet a Magic Person who will solve a problem for them, or fix their lives in some way. They have donned their rucksack and walking stick and are on the Hero’s quest to find The One.
The sole purpose of dating when approached through this angle is to find that person to spend the rest of their lives with. And at one level this mindset is completely valid —why else would you be dating if not to meet that special person?
The downside of this approach is it sets up a dynamic where 99% are going to fail, and that kind of zero-sum game might feel debilitating after a while. It may begin to feel like a Herculean task to sift through a mound of people to find the One and Only. It’s easy to see how one might lose hope or throw in the towel.
Another downside of viewing dating through that lens is that you’re probably not being totally yourself if you’ve got your binoculars out, looking for the One. With all the vetting and judging, checking boxes, and analyzing you might be doing, you are also likely bringing along your own Representative, in hopes that you make the best of impressions and meet the criteria you think the other person has for you. And that in itself can be a tough and exhausting charade to keep up.
But here is where I’d like to introduce a new way of looking at the whole thing of dating, where maybe it’s possible to find some enjoyment in the process instead of suffering through it.
What If You Stop Looking For The One?
So, let’s start with this simple question: What if you drop the idea that you’re dating to find the One?
What if you use dating as a practice to finally be yourself?
What if, instead of thinking about it from a goal-oriented perspective, you think instead about how you would like the process to feel? What are some emotions you would like to replace the dread with? Excitement? Curiosity? Openness?
Then, what would your intention with dating have to be if you wanted to feel this way or create those feelings?
What if your intention was just to go out and have fun? Can you switch the underlying question from “is this my person?” to “how can I have fun?” How can you come away from this experience with a good story, or some new insight or a widened perspective?
Or, what if we used the dating process as an opportunity to work on our communication skills? A date is a wonderful and low-risk arena to practice boundaries, communicate your feelings, or work on keeping the dialogue alive. So at the end of the day, a second or third date actually doesn’t matter. As long as the time was interesting, it was a win.