The other day I stumbled upon an article about dating to marry.
The title resonated with me because I’m not the kind of girl to casually date.
I tried in the past. I acted like the “cool girl” that’s chill going with the flow; convincing myself I was ok with dating just for fun.
And it always went terribly.
So I clicked on the article to feel validated, I guess. Or perhaps understood. But as I read more, I couldn’t help but cringe a bit. I felt the old me, the anxious me, creeping up.
After my most recent failed relationship, my best friend gave me a slap of reality. He exclaimed that I don’t allow new relationships time to naturally blossom. I expect them to be end game from the get-go. And if the guy deviates from those feelings, anxiety runs rampant in my mind.
That notion baffled me. How could I expect someone to know within two months of meeting me if they wanted to spend the rest of their life with me? It definitely happens in some cases. But it doesn’t have to happen.
Since then, I’ve been on a mission. I’m dating someone new, who’s amazing. My boyfriend is the epitome of a “nice guy” while also being a partner-in-crime type.
But this time, I want to squash my old dating anxiety. Yes, I’m looking for someone that will one day be my husband. But I’m also allowing room for feelings to blossom. I’m allowing room to decide, maturely, if this relationship is right for both of us.
As a hopeful romantic, this is hard AF, though. If I’m not careful, I quickly slip back into my irrational, anxious way of thinking.
But I’m fighting that; I’m being conscious of my old ways. This time, I’m choosing to date slowly.
And this is how I’m doing it:
Choosing The Right Person
If you’re quick to jump into all-or-nothing thinking, you’re going to have to consider the kinds of people you’re choosing to date.
You may think this issue has to do with you, and in a way it does, but there’s more to it. Wanting to be very serious from the get-go could be a sign of some insecurities you have. Maybe you have a fear of abandonment. Perhaps you seek validation through the people you date.
Whatever the reason may be though, considering the type of people you date won’t hurt.
Think of a relationship like building a house. You need a solid foundation.
A solid foundation does not consist of:
Making you question your worth
Not wanting “something serious”
Bringing out your worst insecurities
Taking you for granted
Long periods of silence
What you want is stability. If you’re in this for the long run, then someone who makes you feel cared for and comforted is essential. Forget the rollercoaster, instant fireworks bullshit. That’s an idea perpetuated by the media.
A solid foundation is someone who chooses you.
And yes, that might be the “nice” guy/girl. You may have to question your reaction to pull back or run away when you date someone drastically different than what you’re used to.
Let their actions guide your decisions. Pick people that treat you right and create a solid foundation.
Change Your Perspective
The process is simple: when you change beliefs, you change your way of thinking. When you change your way of thinking, you change your actions. And changing your actions creates a new life.
Consider what your beliefs are on these three topics and watch your perspective on dating change:
“My partner should be in the same emotional place as me.”
Two people will never be in the same emotional place. There will always be one person that likes the other more. Most of the time that will fluctuate between the partners throughout the relationship.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. I know it feels scary to come to terms with the idea of being a bit more invested in the relationship, but I assure you it’s natural. It doesn’t mean your partner isn’t invested and it doesn’t mean they won’t get to where you’re at.
“If I question if I want to be with them, the relationship isn’t meant to be.”
Dating is all about questioning if you want to be with the other person. You’re supposed to get to know them. Figure out their interests. Find out that they paint action figures in their spare time and then consider if you could date someone who paints action figures in their spare time.
And more so, small deviations from what we thought a “perfect” partner looks like isn’t a sign it couldn’t work out in the long run. It’s a sign that maybe our idea of an ideal partner wasn’t right.
“Wanting to spend the rest of their life with me should be their goal.”
I am so completely guilty of this one.
This whole article is about dating slowly. Chances are, if you’re with a secure human being, they’re going to be doing exactly that; taking things slowly.
If your significant other isn’t thinking about the long-term from the get-go, that doesn’t mean they’ll never consider it. It means they’re focused on getting to know you; deepening your bond to see if there could be something more.
Keep Your Head Steady
I would get so caught up in the Romantic Drama I created in my head that I ignored reality. That’s why I dated a lot of assholes, and my relationships ended badly.
When you’re in your new relationship, make sure to check-in with yourself. Take note of what all is going on in the relationship and how you’re feeling.
For many people, standing up for ourselves is hard. We know what we need from our partner, but we’re too scared to say so.
If you want to date slowly, boundaries are crucial. You can’t be spending every night at your significant other’s house if it’s detrimental to your career. Your needs can’t be put on the back-burner for theirs.
Create healthy boundaries from the get-go. That way, you’re not caught up in the relationship in a way that’s detrimental to your well-being.
Don’t ignore red flags
I one time dated a guy with the following red flags:
Broke up with me once before via text message
Made sexist jokes
12 years my senior and loved to brag about dating a younger girl
Discharged from the military
Couldn’t go one night without drinking.
Oh, and the time he choked me
But I ignored them all for the love story I conjured up in my head.
Red flags from the beginning of the relationships are signs that you need to find someone else; not issues you just need to work on your partner with.
Slowly Allow Things To Blossom
Back to the metaphor of the house.
A contractor doesn’t take all the material of a house, through it up in the air, and have a perfectly built craftsman home plop down.
Each part of the house is built slowly. First, the foundation, then the frame, windows, doors, plumbing, electrical, drywall, etc.
A relationship is the same way. You get to know one another. Find out if you’re compatible. Get involved with their life and them in yours. You spend time doing things each other loves. And through all these experiences, a deeper bond forms (or not).
A rushed relationship doesn’t last because the initial thrill eventually wears off; a spark can only last for so long.
Allow you and your partner time to become friends, fall in love, and consider forever together. If a long-term relationship is your goal, then there’s no need to get to the end as quick as you can.
After all, you can’t rush something you want to last forever.
Why I Despise The Term “Hopeless Romantic”
I first used the term in my original guide, The Hopeless Romantic’s Survival Guide To Being Ghosted.
I didn’t question my wording at the time. But when I went to create another article with the term, something inside me was like.. woah woah woah.. hold up! Hopeless?
Let’s break this down:
feeling or causing despair about something.
I know dating sucks sometimes, but damn. Despair? Nah brah.
Trying to find that special someone shouldn’t cause such deep negative emotions. I understand that it can happen, especially when your heart is broken.
But in the general pursuit of love? There’s any room for “despair.”
If you feel like you’re in this emotional state, I implore you to turn inward.
My articles/newsletters are always centered around one principle: self-authenticity. Even when it comes to dating, you need to be true to yourself. That means checking in with yourself and, more importantly, taking care of yourself.
Like my friend once said: “No one is going to do number one like number one.”
When we venture into the world, whether it be dating or trying to make friends, you’ll find yourself much happier and that things come easier when you’re coming from an authentic place.
People are attracted to that vibe and we tend to find people better suited for us when we do so.
Despair is one step away from desperate, and while I hate that word as well, I don’t want you to accept any kind of love.
Hopeful is my word of choice. Though the journey isn’t a clear one, let dating and finding love inspire you. Try to rest assured that the kind of connection and love you need will find you in the end.
And it will do so when you’re walking through life from a place of authenticity, not despair.
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