By Lauren Berger, MSW, RSW
It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Perhaps this is why most of my clients say that dating makes them crazy! They go out with a suitor, eat a meal, try to get to know each other, get their hopes up, and soon find themselves with a broken heart for one reason or another. And then they do it all over again with another person. Insane? Not really. When looking for companionship and romance, the act of dating is typically part of the package. You don’t meet The One by hiding under your covers and streaming YouTube videos alone. How does a person carry on with dating after being disappointed time and time again? I’ve noticed that after a while, people start to put walls up. This is a natural reaction to protect ourselves, however it does not do us many favours. It leads to a hardness, a closemindedness, that is often readable on our faces, in our body language, and in our verbal communication. This is typically not described as a particularly attractive quality, but more importantly it makes us feel depressed and anxious… To put it plainly, it’s downright lousy. How can we keep putting ourselves through the act of dating without feeling like we’re insane? It’s important to maintain a sense of resilience (getting back on the proverbial horse when we fall off) and vulnerability (meeting each new mate with an open heart instead of a brick wall). After what may be years of dating, maintaining these two qualities can seem like a challenge. How do you keep putting yourself out there after multiple disappointments? #LaurensTopTips are here to guide you in the right direction:
- We’ve all been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. Pretty much anyone who has found their life partner has gone through a lot of dating to meet that right person. It’s incredibly rare to marry the first person you set your googly eyes on. If this was typical, we’d all be in committed relationships from the age of 14 (which was the age of both Romeo and Juliet… and we all know how that turned out). Knowing that you’re not alone can be very helpful in maintaining your resilience. It’s not “just you.” We all struggle through the dating game, get discouraged along the way, and suffer a bit of heartache. There is nothing wrong with you. Look at all the relationships around you that you respect. Ask those people if they had to kiss a few frogs before they met. I bet they did. Don’t worry; we’re all in the same boat. Hop aboard.
- Store that data! The bonus to going on many dates, having many relationships (long or short), and yes even the occasional one-night-stand is that you are getting so much valuable information at each encounter. If you’ve ever had a session with me and we’ve chatted about dating, you know my mantra: Every dating-esque encounter gives you data on what you like, what you don’t like, and what to look for/avoid the next time around. Bonus: you also learn something about yourself. This stuff is like pure relationship gold. If you listen to yourself and make the mental notes, you will be far less likely to repeat mistakes and will be more likely to seek out the awesome qualities you love. This leads you to become a more confident dater and will help you spend more time with the people that stand a chance. See ya, time-wasters!
- Go on, have some fun. When did dating become a terrible chore rather than a fun night out with a cutie? It’s time to bring back the excitement factor! If your dates are feeling like grueling job interviews, it’s time to revisit the thought process behind your dating. Companionship, romance, and (when ready) great sex are just a few of the benefits of dating. Perhaps it’s a chance to get creative or test the limits of your comfort zone by going on adventurous dates. Having experiences with a new person is a fantastic way to feel close; you often feel like you’ve shared something special. Chuck your checklist and find something cool to explore. When you remove the expectations, the fun returns and you can truly see if you click.
Letting yourself go in the vulnerable world of dating is a real challenge, but if you can do it, you’ll find yourself more open to opportunities and have a lot more enjoyment along the way. If a relationship doesn’t work out, you need to dust yourself off and get back on the horse. You’re more resilient than you think you are. You can hang out with Ben and Jerry if you really want to, but I’d suggest taking a chance on a Ben or Jerry that doesn’t fit in a bowl – far more satisfying in the long run.
Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW, or sneak a peek at her Instagram: laurenberger_msw.