So I’ve recently entered back into the dating scene after a very loooooong hiatus. And this time it feels very different.
I don’t know if it’s down to my age, past experience and feeling a lot wiser than I once was, or whether it’s the work I’ve done within, the mindfulness and self love practice I’ve been cultivating, or wether it’s the combination of all of these things – but this time around the dating game has changed for me.
Gone are the “will he like me?” thoughts, and to replace them has come “will he be a good match for me?” and “Is this someone that I want to make space for in my life?”. It’s been a lot less about me, my insecurities, or getting my needs met, and much more focused on – shared values, outlook on life, passions, intellectual stimulation, life goals and a shared vision for the future.
Of course, being human, the doubts do creep in; the past hurts, the fears and the vulnerability – but they seem to be playing a smaller, supporting role, instead of being the star of the show.
Dating in today’s world can be complicated. With more and more dating sites and limited opportunities to meet someone on-the-go, the whole situation can feel a little overwhelming, even exhausting. With the ability to connect with so many different people on so many different platforms, it can feel easy to lose yourself in the process. Take a deep breath, slow down, and stay true to your values as you make new connections.
– Traci Porterfield
The mindfulness I’m bringing to my dating life is simple – noticing how I feel in every moment. What’s my breath doing? What is going on inside my body – do I feel open and comfortable, or do I feel closed and guarded? Do I have butterflies in my stomach? It comes down to reading between the lines, focusing on the feelings and energy instead of just what’s being said. Mindfulness also comes down to deep listening, and holding space for someone else. In short, really being present with another to allow a deep connection.
This time around I feel really comfortable and confident to stand in my skin, strong on my own two feet and say – “World this is me! This is who I am, what I’m about, and how I operate in the world. I love me, and I am open to being loved by another.” I am authentic in how I present myself to others. I really do wear my heart on my sleeve in that respect, I am an open book – take it or leave it, but I will put it all out on the table.
I’ve also become a lot more comfortable in saying NO. I used to meet people, and although deep down if I listened, my intuition was probably telling me he probably wasn’t the right fit for me, I would try and make them fit into my life anyway. Shape them, mould them (well to be honest, it was ME that was doing the shape-shifting to accommodate them, as we all know – you can’t change anyone else but yourself). So I would cater to them, to their needs, to their wants, and in doing so, forget about me in the process. That can be a very unfulfilling and empty experience.
This time around I refuse to do that. I’m looking for true equality, for commitment, for someone who is both feet in and a big HELL YES to what we can create together.
Now, if the connection’s not there, or I don’t see a future together, then it’s a no, and I can lovingly and confidently communicate that – without guilt, without the fear of hurting their feelings, without worrying about what they will think of me. I’ve let go of trying to please everyone else, and am focusing on pleasing myself instead.
And you know what I’ve discovered (and it’s really no surprise at all). But it’s SELF LOVE that is the corner stone of all of this. If my relationship with myself is full of love, respect, compassion and care, then I’m not frantically searching for all that from someone else. I think the idea that someone else will fulfil ALL of my needs is a lovely one, but also very unrealistic. I need to know how to get my own needs met first and foremost, so that someone else can add to that, contribute to that, enrich that of course, but not be the sole bearer of that responsibility.
How freeing is that? Both for me, and for them.
I’ve always said that relationships are our biggest personal growth tool. They hold a mirror up to ourselves; so that we can see our insecurities, our limiting beliefs, our judgements, our bad habits and our shadow self all reflected back to us. This feels bloody uncomfortable, it can be challenging, and you can feel extremely exposed and vulnerable in that fragility.
But you know what? It’s also an opportunity for deep and transformational self work. You get insights in a relationship that you may not receive alone. Your buttons get pushed, you get triggered, someone else calls you out on your sh*t. You can’t hide in a relationship. It’s a real life, real time personal development workshop – and it never ends.
Yes it’s safer to stay within your comfort zone (wether that’s within a relationship, or alone) where your heart has no chance of being butchered – but will that fulfil you? Will that challenge you? Will that encourage you to grow and expand into the best version of yourself?
I’m the kind of person that is always seeking the growth, the learning, being curious as to what my own boundaries are, and exploring what’s possible for me beyond them. I’m a big believer in taking the path of most resistance. And I truly belief it’s the most rewarding.
So I’m celebrating this shift in energy within me. Celebrating the fact that I’m putting myself back out there, and being open to new people entering my life. I’m celebrating the excitement, the nervousness, the starry eyed day dreaming, the spark of connection, AND also the anxiousness, the fear, the second-guessing-myself, the not-knowing the outcome – because this is ALL part of the dating journey too.
So wether you are in a relationship, or flying solo right now – have a think about when the last time was you got clear on your needs?
Here’s some prompters to get you started, you may want to journal down your answers.
WHAT ARE MY NEEDS?
- What do you need to be the best version of yourself?
- What do you need to feel fully loved, supported and connected?
- What do you need to make you feel safe and secure?
- How can you get those needs met?
- What are you relying on yourself for?
- What are you relying on a partner for?
- How can you ensure these are met consistently?
- What are your partners needs? Have they communicated those to you?
- What role do you play in helping them meet their own needs?
I’d love to hear how you meet your own needs, share with me below.
And if you’re keen to explore this topic further, I came across this great article that you may like about mindful dating.
I love myself, and I naturally attract
loving relationships into my life.
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