As the New Year approaches I've been reflecting on the nature of dating and the demoralizing and distressing effect it often plays in people's lives.
The article's title is not a final proclamation. It's meant to encourage you to take a short hard look at just a few of the key factors that impact the dating process and how to make it less stressful and more enjoyable.
Here's a four part question to reflect upon.
Who defines you? Who do you let define you? Who do you think should define you? Who do you want to define you?
One cause of dating unhappiness is that we frequently look at ourselves through the eyes of others... often those of the opposite sex. We want their approval to make us feel good. What we need first is self-approval to help us feel great!
You are the sum total of all your life experiences. No one has your DNA. You're a complex human being and nobody knows what goes on in the vast labyrinth of your mind. There are lots of ways to go exploring to find self-truths.
Mind Acrobatic™ exercises were designed to help you engage in introspection, unlock and explore what lies near the surface as well as deep in your subconscious. If you're interested in trying a few dating ones you'll find them in the article links at the end of this piece.
Here are a few pretty universal truths. See if any of them resonate with you.
The younger you are the more likely you'll have lots of questions, concerns and stress. It takes time to get to know yourself. You have to live and experience things on your own. The problem is well meaning friends and even family often project their values and perceptions on you. This traps and represses your own thoughts making it hard to reflect and discover yourself.
Find a nice way to tell them to back off and give you some space:)
Introspection is key to help as you explore and develop your informed personality. Learn who the real you is and value your uniqueness. While you're exploring you may find a very different person residing inside... it can be fun and rewarding.
Lots of Baby Boomers and Gen X'rs grew up in a time where demonstration for causes was wide-spread yet exploration of self was ineffective despite the plethora of books and retreats on the topic.
Freud's twisted views on women and neuroses were still in vogue in some quarters. To this day a number of doctors dismiss women's complaints more frequently than men's.
It's one reason why many women in the mid and later years are first learning to understand, accept and respect themselves. These are key traits necessary for developing the ability to engage in satisfying dating or finding a supportive life partner.
It's the same for guys. Many were not taught to engage in self-reflection or to honor feelings and emotions. Talking was often limited to sports and other non-personal topics. It's no wonder men frequently have trouble communicating with women.
Of course this is the year 2016. We're supposed to be more enlightened. Well... we still have lots of blind spots.
Despite our theoretically becoming more evolved, where dating is concerned expectations may not be in alignment with what will really make for a good relationship.
Women are exasperated because many 50-year-old men want women who are 35 or even younger. Many great guys feel alienated because women often want college educated well-to-do-men. Just something to think about.
Now a little bit about finding significant others.
The 21st Century offers so many ways to meet and communicate. For relationships perhaps the most common for those over 30 are dating sites. They're not for everyone but are very popular. Beware of dating site fatigue. It can often cause you to "go off dating" for months at a time.
For younger or the young at heart Instagram is is a bold way to meet. You don't need to be connected and you can privately message someone whose pictures you like. Then if you receive a positive response you can link to Facebook and begin a real dialog.
On Facebook you generally know the person with whom you're connected or perhaps they are a friend of a friend. You might find that casual acquaintances become potential dating partners as you get to know them better.
Check out Flickr and Tumblr... get creative. Make a video.
Instant messaging, e-mail or texting can be bit like old time pen pals. You really get to know someone very well if you text rather than talk for a few months before meeting. For fun watch the movie "You've Got Mail" starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. It's a great diversion and looks at the world of online dating in the early days.
Really tired of the dating scene but not ready to bury it... try a little role playing. Ask a close friend to hang out with you as if you are dating. Make a game of it. You may be surprised at what develops.
One can only scratch the surface in an article about such a complex subject as making the dating process easier and removing dating angst. However, if you really want less stress and more pleasure you can make it happen. But it takes work.
Here are this articles take-aways.
Become an empowered individual, recognize and embrace your strengths and set goals for potential relationships. Don't let anyone define you. Get comfy in your skin and let the real you out.
If along the way you find you have some qualities you don't care for, so what. Don't beat yourself up and make value judgments. If you don't like something change it. We are all works in progress.
The more you know about you the better your relationships will be.
Below are four important points.
1. Consider putting dating on hold if it's not life enhancing or you find it emotionally draining. Hanging out with friends or taking time to read, or listening to music or whatever gives you pleasure can be energizing. Do a few Netflix marathons... but be careful, like me you might find it addicting.
2. Perhaps the hardest but most important... extricate yourself from unhealthy relationships. They wear you down, tear you apart, weaken your immune system and make life hurtful and sad! We only go around once and we should enjoy ourselves!
3. I can't state strongly enough that you are not defined by how successful your dating attempts are. Dating isn't easy and takes lots of energy. Finding a relationship is hard and sustaining it even more so, but the rewards can be great.
4. Whatever you decide to do is right.
Make a 2017 New Year's resolution to learn more about yourself, strengthen your existing friendships and create new healthy relationships.
Energize your life by becoming mindful, grateful for all you have and most importantly see the humor in life and have lots of fun!
Below are links to articles on dating. Some include Mind Acrobatic exercises I think you'll find helpful.
"Before You Give up on Dating Read This!"
"Give up on Dating Stress"
"23 Tips to Blow Away 1st Date Stress"
Dave Kanegis is a Certified Professional Coach and creator of Mind Acrobatics.
Based in N.Y.C. Dave writes on a variety of topics that include self-empowerment,
life transition, eliminating worry and stress, career evaluation and dating.