So you’re ready to start dating again after 9 months of successfully NOT lying on the floor in the fetal position. You’ve stopped crying over dog food commercials and you think you’re ready to get back into the dating pool.
You put on your itty-bitty, yellow polka-dot bikini (underneath the Eskimo suit) and feebly make your way over to Match.com. You see a few profiles that look okay and you “favorite” them so you can check them out again later. As you’re logging off, you see an article from a popular dating advice guru on How to Catch and Keep Him Forever. You click on the article and realize you have a LOT of work to do to be ready for dating. You sign up for the newsletter and those of ten other dating gurus that promise to make you the apple of every man’s eye, even if he’s only seen you from across the room for less than thirty seconds.
Each newsletter tells you to not be clingy, needy, or make him feel suffocated. You must be grounded, yet fun and flirty. You should find out what clothes and hairstyles he likes…but, you must do so with the understanding that he might be seeing other women, so you need to suck it up and be the epitome of emotional maturity while he decides which of you he wants to be with.
Don’t fall into this trap. While some dating advice “gurus” do offer useful information regarding Do’s and Don’ts, it’s mostly a conditioning trap and one best avoided, especially if you have codependent tendencies.
Instead of signing up for programs that guarantee you will find, catch, and keep a man in less than thirty days, you should work on any insecurities you have. It could very well be that you have nothing to be insecure about, minus whispers past of your emotionally abusive Ex. Try to eradicate the hurtful comments that keep playing through your mind, focus on your strengths, and view yourself through fresh eyes.
It’s true that no one wants a clingy, needy, or possessive person as a partner, whether they’re a man or a woman. If you believe you fall into this category, it means you’re operating out of fear and distrust because of past relationships. If that has been a pattern for you, it’s likely because you’ve always put others’ needs before your own, failed to establish mutually beneficial boundaries, and thus felt resentful and taken advantage of.
In one form or another, you subconsciously felt that you had no choice in the matter, so you just accepted this unacceptable behavior.
But you do have a choice. If anyone tries to make you feel otherwise, they are not the right person for you.
The Sinful Six
So how do you get back out onto the dating scene without making fatal mistakes? Following are six things that are guaranteed to set you up for failure if you haven’t done the necessary self-work before diving back into the dating pool:
1- Not being honest on your dating profiles or in initial communications. If you only went skiing that one time seven years ago, don’t list it as a hobby. If you have children, say so. Don’t wait to spring it on someone after five dates because it could be a deal-breaker. Don’t post a photo of yourself that’s ten years old, and especially don’t post any pics of yourself in a bathing suit when you were twenty-seven before you had kids. That’s just not being honest, and the person will see you eventually, anyway. Doing those things only makes it seem you aren’t comfortable with who you are now.
Instead: If you’re an introvert who loves reading and doesn’t like crowds, be honest about it. Put yourself out there in your truest form. Be genuine so they can fall for the real you. (Tip – if a potential match asks you to send a bunch of pictures of yourself, delete that person from your list. While you should only post current pics that illustrate you in your natural state and surroundings, anyone who asks for more pics before meeting you first is shallow and probably a narcissist).
2- Getting sloshed and having sex on the first date. Worse: Getting sloshed, having sex on the first date, and calling him twenty times the next day.
Instead: Make a rule not to have sex with anyone until you are sure you’re in a mutually exclusive relationship. One that’s built on a solid foundation of being your authentic self. Let the relationship flow naturally without feeling the need to control your new partner. If you feel clingy or needy, you’re not ready for a relationship yet. Let your new date know that you need to slow things down and then work on your self-esteem.
3- “Imprinting” onto the first person you go out with. Logically, there is no reason to expect someone you’ve just met to enter into an exclusive relationship with you. Even though your first few dates might go swimmingly, don’t make any assumptions. If your date wants to be exclusive after one date, run fast in the opposite direction!
Instead: Dating is a time to get out and meet new people. Just as your date knows nothing about you…you know nothing about them. If you feel clingy after meeting someone once or twice, it means you’re still looking outside of yourself for validation and you have more work to do in this area. Self-validation takes work. If you’re not doing the work, you’ll always be looking outside of yourself for your worth. If this describes you, you’re not ready for dating yet. Go to the library and check out some books by Wayne Dyer and Eckhart Tolle.
4- Stalking your new date online. Seriously, this one speaks for itself. You’ve got serious abandonment and self-esteem issues.
Instead: Stop dating, see #2, and find a good therapist.
5- Subscribing to every dating newsletter you can find to morph into the “perfect date”.
Instead: Trying to be something you’re not is tiresome. Furthermore, you shouldn’t be so focused on what someone else wants in a partner. You should focus on what YOU want in a partner. You still need to maintain dignity and emotional maturity, but if you’re a blue jeans and flip-flops kind of gal, don’t go out and buy a bunch of strappy sandals and slinky dresses in an effort to attract the wrong kind of guy. Sure, you want to look your best, but you also want to be yourself, not someone’s Barbie. If a guy insists on adornment in regards to hairstyle and wardrobe choices, he’s shallow and you need to Pass Go and Collect $200.
6 – Talking about your Ex or past relationships.
Instead: Dating someone new is supposed to be about growing, learning to trust, and moving forward. Don’t ruin your chance of a possible good thing by constantly talking about your Ex or what you don’t like about past partners. You might as well get a bull-horn and announce to your new date and everyone in the restaurant that you have issues with control and low self-esteem. It isn’t attractive. On the flip side, if your new date is bleating on about their Ex, gently try to redirect them to a different topic. If it doesn’t take, wave down the waiter and ask for your check. Not only because they clearly aren’t ready to date, but it’s also one of the top red flags of an emotional predator.
No one is going to rescue you. You cannot depend on another person for your fulfillment. That has to come from inside of you. Too many people get back into dating before they’re ready because they think someone else will make them feel better and/or take care of them and it almost always leads to disappointment. All the new agey stuff about mindfulness and loving yourself isn’t baloney. Those are two things that will help you to attract the right kind of relationships, romantic or otherwise.
Copyright 2014. Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach.
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