Would I Date Me??
Quick quiz: how many words can you think of that mean the same as “break up”? Ready, set, go!
As a therapist, I use words like “rupture”, “disconnection”, or “avoiding”. They pretty much mean the same thing- the relationship has shifted and is moving in a new direction that generally doesn’t feel good.
Online advice websites and our well-intentioned friends tell us to “date ourselves” after a break up. Spend some time loving on ourselves with facials, hitting the gym, taking a nap, reading, or eating chocolate (my fav!). And those can feel good and help us to nurse those hurt feelings back to health until break up amnesia can sets in and we become willing to try dating again.
I’ve given this advice to clients as well. We need to give ourselves a break, take a moment to breathe, and give ourselves credit for doing the best we can in the emotional aftermath. Good old-fashioned self-care. Take a moment and pat yourself on the back for reading this blog and being open to learning new ideas!
So, “dating yourself” after a break is a good thing. Sort of.
Spending time nurturing those painful feelings is positive; it gets us back up on our feet and feeling that we’re back on even ground. And yet we’re back on our feet as the same person we were before. Which means we show up to the next relationship pretty much in the same way we have in past relationships and, more than likely, will repeat the cycle of previous relationships and break ups.
Is it time to get off that merry-go-round??
Take a moment before jumping back into the dating pool. Instead of writing a new online dating app profile, try reading the one(s) you already have with curious, impartial eyes. Look at the pictures. Study how you describe yourself, your interests, your description of the ideal partner. Then ask yourself this question-
If I were looking for a new relationship, would I date me??? Hmm…
Do I find the person in my profile appealing? Do the pictures and descriptions reveal a person who is comfortable and confident, secure and grounded, mature and stable, ready for a healthy relationship? Does this person have the qualities I value and seem like someone ready and capable of the relationship I seek? Is the person in your profile the type of person you would want a committed relationship with?
We all have parts of ourselves we don’t like and try to pretend don’t exist. These places may feel empty or filled with shame. Sometimes, perhaps subconsciously, we look for a partner to fill those painful places with the quality we feel we are missing, with acceptance of the parts which embarrass us and are kept hidden. That’s important. Read it again. When we look for a partner to fill and accept the empty or hurting places inside of ourselves instead of us learning to fill and accept them for ourselves, 2 things happen.
First, we unknowingly send out messages that we feel incomplete, insecure, unworthy of being loved and that we don’t believe we have the capability of changing this on our own. We seek a partner to make us feel complete and secure, accepted and loved. We send the message of being unhappy on our own and search for someone to make us happy and fulfilled.
Second, when we only feel happy about ourselves when we are with a partner who is happy with us and exhibits approval of us, we lose control of our happiness. We hand over the control of our happiness about ourselves to the other person. And now that person is in charge of determining our feelings about ourselves through expressions of approval or disapproval.
Time for the therapy question: Are you looking for someone who fills the voids in your life that you should be filling for yourself but don’t because something is holding you back from doing so?
A home facial while eating chocolate and binging on Netflix is fine for a day or two. It’s the short-term way to ease our anxiety and distract us from our fears about connection and relationships. The long-term work is more challenging and more important. It’s about getting to that place where you are in control of healing and filling the empty, hurting places in your life. This matters because it’s how you stay in control of your feelings and sense of self-worth. It’s the work that allows you to be strong when facing the need to lean into those places that hold you back from showing up as your authentic self.
By being your authentic self and becoming someone you would want to have a relationship with, you attract people who are also comfortable with being their authentic selves. And that’s a game changer.
Embrace your authentic self! Anne