We’ve made it to what seems like the end (for now) of quarantining. Obviously, we’re not about to throw our masks away and start hugging again. But I’m seeing restaurants and bars open up across the country, even here in Los Angeles.
Stepping into the world after months of Zoom hangouts and lack of human contact is pretty overwhelming. Make sure to honor how that feels; it’s OK if you just want to run back home.
But now that things are seeming to change into a familiar life, I want to get back into the topic of dating. Because I put a pause on talking about dating for a bit, simply because a lot of people stopped it completely. If you’re someone that gave FaceTime dates a try, though, please reply and let me know how that went for you!
Two years ago, I went through a horrible bout of depression. It came at the cross path of losing my full-time job and a relationship. Though I don’t think either of them sparked the depression directly, I’m sure they didn’t help.
If you’ve ever struggled with your mental health, you know hitting rock bottom leaves you with a choice: live in it or fight your way out.
I’m pleased to say I chose the latter.
I sought help; through a great therapist who I’m grateful for and by doing hard work to understand why I felt so unhappy. Part of that healing process meant forgoing dating; I chose a year break. It seemed like a pretty solid amount of time, yet a realistic goal I could achieve.
During my break from dating, I did a lot of things. Dyed my hair pink, saw my friends more, journaled every thought that came into my mind, and started my writing career (of which, this newsletter was birthed from!)
I also peeled back the layers I’d built up to protect myself from love’s scary unknown. I peered behind all my excuses and lies I created over the years. My insecurities revealed themselves to me, and things started to make a lot of sense.
I lacked any sort of boundaries in dating; hell, it felt like I’d dated on autopilot, taking whatever was thrown my way. I had next to zero criteria for an ideal partner, which I would typically say is a good thing, but not when it involves zero boundaries.
I dated to date. But stepping back from the dating world made me realize that clearly wasn’t working.
My dating life lacked a few things: awareness, boundaries, and confidence that I’m worthy of love. Coming to those conclusions made dating a whole new ball game after that year break was up.
Later down the road, I read about the idea of Intuitive Dating. Though I didn’t label my newfound love process, I’d happened into this exact method without knowing it. And if there’s anything I’d call a happy accident, it would be this. Because Intuitive Dating drastically changed my love life and helped me form the amazing relationship I’m in today.
So let’s talk a bit more about what the heck Intuitive Dating even is…
Intuitive Dating: What, Why, How?
How would you describe your dating life? Exhaustive? Messy? Average? Discouraging?
Honestly, if any of the above words resonated with you, you’re not alone. Plenty of people don’t have positive outlooks on dating. Between dating apps and people being beyond flaky nowadays, dating is like venturing into a confusing game where no one knows the rules.
Intuitive Dating is like making up your own rules and still managing to win. I hate using an analogy of dating as a game (because I am ANTI-game-playing when it comes to dating) but bear with me. Intuitive Dating allows you to take more control of your dating life by merely putting more intention, awareness, and self-prioritization behind it.
This way of dating helps you not feel burnt-out and stay open-minded, even when dates don’t work out. I know the whole point of dating is to find a great partner, but trust me, you don’t want to be stuck with the wrong partner.
I feel like I’m on the verge of repeating myself. The best way to describe Inuitive Dating to you is to explain how to do it:
Create non-negotiable boundaries.
Before you go on your next date, I want you to take about an hour of your time to do a bit of thinking. Put your phone away, it’s time to reflect on your dating history thus far.
What qualities did you not like in people you dated? What did you like? What are your values in life? Your morals? How do you feel about intimacy on dates? How long do you prefer to wait?
These kinds of questions will help you determine your boundaries. The moment someone crosses these boundaries, it’s important to either speak up about the violation or move on to someone else.
Be clear on your intentions.
Are you dating to have a casual fling? An open relationship? Or do you want to find a serious partner?
Understanding what you want from dating will help you move forward in that direction. If you want a serious relationship, then someone only interested in something casual isn’t a person you want to get involved with. You might think it would be fun, but you’ll only cause yourself pain in the long run.
Meet in-person for a fun date.
You don’t need to message with someone on a dating app for weeks to know if there’s potential. A few questions to understand more about them will suffice. Once you’re interested, plan a date. Think of a dating app as simply an introduction, not the place to get to know someone.
And when you’re deciding what to do for your date, don’t think you have to default to dinner or drinks. Pick something you’d genuinely enjoy. Go to a museum or your local arcade. If dinner is a must, pick a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. Then, even if the date didn’t work out, you at least had a fun time.
Imagine you’re your best friend.
If you’re unsure about how someone is treating you, imagine your best friend is in your shoes. If they were talking about a guy that only texts them every other day and flakes on them constantly, what advice would you give them?
I know—as a dating and relationship writer— it’s hard to take our own advice sometimes (guilty). But when you change the perspective to, “what would I say if my best friend were in this position?” the answer becomes more apparent. Now, you just need to act on that revelation.
Don’t ignore red flags.
To enjoy the fruits of intuitive dating, you have to take off your rose-colored glasses. People present their real selves all the time; often, we choose to ignore the bad.
The moment someone does something that seems like a red flag, take it at face value. There’s no need to stick around and hope they change; people show you their best selves at the beginning of dating, things will only get worse from there.
The intuition part of Intuitive Dating comes into play at this point; trust that your gut can tell when something is off about someone.
Take breaks; don’t over-date.
You don’t have to fill several nights of your week with dates; you don’t even need to go on a date once a week. Take time to yourself to enjoy your life. Stay in and binge Netflix if that’s what you’re preferring; hang out with friends if you want.
Taking breaks when you feel overwhelmed by dating helps you not feel burnt out from the process. Because when you feel burnt out, you’re going to start to resent the whole idea of dating.
Plus, Intuitive Dating hopefully means you’ll be going on fewer dates. By having boundaries and being vigilant of red flags, you’ll most likely be vetting out more people.
Give second dates a chance.
I am a big believer in second dates. I don’t think the idea of “first date magic” is good advice at all.
If fireworks happen on a first date, I think they’re bound to fizzle out as quickly as they came. Any kind of great relationship needs time to build up trust and comfortability. If someone seemed kind and respectful but isn’t someone you felt a connection with, try going on a second date. It’s a chance to get to know them after all the small talk is out of the way.
If it’s any help, I didn’t connect with my boyfriend until the third or fourth date. And look at us now: celebrating our one-year anniversary in three days.
Care for yourself along the way.
What’s most important throughout dating is prioritizing yourself. In the end, you’re trying to find a great partner for you. If you’re not checking in with yourself mentally and taking care of yourself physically, chances are, your judgment will be off.
I know it’s a great feeling to have someone else treat or take care of you, but dating yourself is amazing, too. Treat yourself to the things you love and buy yourself flowers. Journal your thoughts until you have none left and make sure to keep doing the hobbies you love.
Some helpful content…
If you tend to date the same type of person, this guide could be helpful for you (it’s written for women, but it can apply to anyone). If you’re worried about red flags, here are ones to look out for. This is how mindfulness helps with dating. And I’ll leave you with this great story about online dating. Oh, and these books about dating as well.
Until next week... stay sane & healthy. And, justice for all.
All the love,
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