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  • paulinethepsychologist

Dating Simplified

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

Although the dating series is technically “over,” I just couldn’t resist another one! I was talking to a client recently and all of this hit me like a ton of bricks and I had to share.

We were discussing how stressful dating can be (yes, this isn’t new … see my previous blogs about this) and how the apps operate and the pressure they feel to be “ready” to engage in this draining process and how much energy it seems to take.

This conversation brought up the many, many conversations I have had with clients over the years along the same vein. The prep work can be exhausting.

I remember a client of mine stating that she wasn’t ready to date until she became more interesting - “should I enroll in a language class or learn to play an instrument?”She needed to be the best possible version of herself. Another client echoed these sentiments. He needed to be settled in his job. He didn’t feel right dating when he didn’t know if he would be getting a promotion or needing to look for another job. Another client talked about wanting to lose 20 pounds before she even thought about “getting into the dating world.”

The dating world … this fascinated me. What world is the dating world? Does it somehow exist outside the regular world we all live in .. the regular world full of its messiness. 

Why is it that when people begin thinking of dating, they begin thinking of how to prepare for this very unique and official process.

The cycle goes: Get ready to date. Bite the bullet. Get tossed about in the waves. Feel drained. Stop dating.
Or: Get on the apps. Oo this is fun. God this is a lot. Ah,make it stop. Get off the apps.

For a second, let’s substitute friending for dating. “Friending” (my made-up word) is the process of trying to find friends in adulthood. There are even apps now for friendship so the substitution can fit.

  • So imagine if before we were open to friending, we thought we needed to lose weight, master hobbies, and get settled in our jobs.

  • Imagine that we thought about needing to be a different version of ourselves before we could make a connection.

  • Imagine if we became so overwhelmed by whether we would be good enough or have enough to talk about or be liked or be a fit that we didn’t even want to begin until we could conquer and work through all of this in our minds.

  • And then imagine that each time we met someone who could be a potential friend, we felt so overwhelmed by the very prospect of getting rejected that we didn’t even want to engage.

  • And imagine that each time a friendship didn’t blossom, we beat ourselves up or thought about how exhausting this process was that maybe we shouldn’t be doing it at all.

This all sounds a bit unlikely, right?

We make friends or broadly, meet people, at all times and in all ways of our life. We meet them in different seasons, in happy times and in trying times.

We are built for connection. It is often happening in many different ways in our everyday lives - saying hello to your mail carrier, having small talk with a neighbor, meeting a friend of a friend, conversing with a coworker.

My epiphany? What if dating were simply...
just. another. connection.

It is not a legitimate, official start to the Hunger Games where only the strong survive. It’s not something to be prepared for. It’s not something to be perfectly timed and efficiently managed.

The more it becomes like this, the more exhausting it is and the quicker people seem to burn out.

We live in a society who thrives off convincing us that we are not enough and thus need the newest product, outfit, procedure, experience, and app.

Well let me tell you: YOU ARE ENOUGH. You don’t need to be any different than you are now to be worthy of connection. You might not be ready to be deeply involved with someone, but that does not mean that you cannot meet people, make friends, and develop connections. There are many roads to love and some of the strongest ones are paved in friendships or work relationships (shout-out to my hubs who I met at work!)

When we begin to see dating as just another form of connection, the very thing we are hardwired to do and can learn skills to do well, it can become less overwhelming. It’s not the SAT. You don’t need to study. You just need to be willing to show up and to be available for the various forms of connection possible in your life.

Hope my ah-ha helps give you a different perspective - one where you are more than worthy and where the process can feel more natural as it taps into your innate ability to connect. For that frame, it doesn’t matter whether you meet at a party, the library, or an app.

Next blog series topic? SEX!

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