People often look back and think of what advice they would give to their younger selves and a topic often pondered on is dating and relationships. When we are at the beginnings of dating, we still have a lot to learn and young woman are often bombarded with advice, from society, the media, friends and family. As a result, young woman can become muddled with what advice to take, however this blog aims to shed some light on what areas to focus on.
The first area to focus on is first and foremost yourself. In order to be successful in the dating world you must become the person you want to date. As specified in the article 5 Pieces Of Dating Advice I Wish I Could Give My Younger Self! by Ruu Hawkins you must “Fall in love with yourself first”. Having a better understanding of yourself allows you to focus on your personal development and work on the aspects of yourself that will help you be the best person you can be. This in turn will make you the best partner you can be. As a result, you can therefore bring more to the table, ensuring that you are part of a relationship where both parties are contributing to its formation, continuation and success.
In order for this to be the case, you need to be in place where a potential partner is an addition to your life and not someone who becomes your whole world. Although you may think it is romantic to have Prince Charming come and sweep you off your feet, being dependent on someone else for your happiness will only be dissatisfying in the long run. It also puts to much pressure on your potential partner and the inevitable cracks will appear. Having a partner shouldering your emotional wellbeing as well as their own, alongside the stresses of life, would breakdown any relationship, even one where there is love there.
“Another key factor to getting the love you want is to know what you want, understand what you expect and only accept the relationships that fulfil this” which was mentioned in the previous blog ‘Don’t Give Up on Love’. It is important to remember that what we learn along the way about what it is we actually want from our partners, is taken on board when we are moving forward in other relationships. It is also beneficial to ensure that we have at least some boundaries that we want to live by, as this will prevent us from staying in unfulfilling relationships that stunt our individual growth and keep us chained to a relationship that may never progress anywhere. However, there is a fine balance between having realistic boundaries that you strongly adhere to, so you are not settling, and slipping into comparing someone to unrealistic checkboxes. When we do this “we are essentially sabotaging any chance of a healthy, balanced, successful relationship.” as outlined in the blog ‘The art of self-sabotage, too scared to find what you are looking for?’. Realism, flexibility and knowing your non-negotiables will allow you to focus on the right relationships.
Moving away from the more emotional aspects, it is imperative that you evaluate people by their repeated actions and not always by their words. “Too often, people will tell you what they think you want to hear. But if you look closely, you may see their actions do not match their words. Whenever this happens, pay attention to their behaviours, not the words that are being spoken.” This was outlined in the article ‘In Relationships: Actions Speak Louder Than Words’ written by Elizabeth Overstreet. People often look back and wish they could advise their younger selves to look at the bigger picture, in which case, focus on how someone makes you feel, whether you can rely on them and if they are dependable and trustworthy. Often, we can get caught up in what we want to hear and end up basing our opinions solely on this, but we must look at a person’s way of communicating with us as a whole and read the situation cover to cover, rather than just the blurb.
Another factor we can become blinded by in new relationships is physical intimacy. Individuals often cite that they wish they could inform their younger selves that there is a difference between love and lust and that the two aren’t always the same thing, nor do they always go hand in hand. As discussed in the blog ‘How to Tell the Difference Between Lust and Love’ written by Dr. Judith Orloff, “It’s important to tell the difference between lust and love. Lust is an altered state of consciousness programmed by the primal urge to procreate. Studies suggest that the brain in this phase is much like a brain on drugs. MRI scans illustrate that the same area lights up when an addict gets a fix of cocaine as when a person is experiencing the intense lust of physical attraction. Also, in the early stage of a relationship, when the sex hormones are raging, lust is fuelled by idealization and projection–you see what you hope someone will be or need them to be–rather than seeing the real person, flaws and all.”
It is also beneficial to know your relationship adult attachment style, as this relates to how you are in relationships and therefore gives you a greater understanding of what you need and what you may also need to reflect on. As mentioned in the blog ‘How Your Attachment Style Impacts Your Relationship’ written by Lisa Firestone “recognizing our attachment pattern can help us understand our strengths and vulnerabilities in a relationship”. You can identify your own attachment style by gaining an understanding of the four main outlines of attachment in adulthood as affected by childhood attachment. These include, Secure Attachment, whereby someone has gained an understanding that you can feel connected and secure in their relationship, “while allowing themselves and their partner to move freely.”
Whereas an Anxious Preoccupied Attachment is demonstrated in the behaviours of an individual looking to be completed by a potential partner, with their main aim of a relationship being to be rescued. However, a Dismissive Avoidant Attachment is where someone emotionally distances themselves from a potential partner, as they often feel defensive and shut down their emotions more easily. They often feel a sense of “Pseudo-independence” as they seek to be solitary yet it’s a pseudo concept as all human beings need to be able to connect and build relationships. The last style is Fearful Avoidant Attachment. This is where the person with this attachment style lives in a continued ambivalent state, “in which they are afraid of being both too close to or too distant from others.” Having some level of understanding on this topic can assist in self-reflection and will also give you some reasoning behind your actions and how you may behave in romantic relationships, as well as doing the same for your partner.
Another area that can be discussed is confidence and self-esteem. It is widely said that having confidence is key when it comes to dating. However, it is important to remember that having confidence doesn’t necessarily mean you’re confident twenty-four seven. Rather, it is a state that you are in, where you are emotionally strong and have the self-assurance that you can face uncertainty. Being able to back yourself in times of ambiguity, gives you the ability to stare fear and insecurity in the face and say no matter what the circumstances may be, you can get through this. Having this attitude, helps you to focus on staying in positive and healthy relationships, rather than being held into a relationship based on the fear of being out of it. It is better to be out of a bad relationship and single than to be stuck in the relationship with no ability to move forward. There are still other potential partners out there.
Although it is suggested that dating is a numbers game, it is important to remember that there is a balance there. You are likely to be more successful in dating when you focus on quality, as well as quantity. Of course you need to get out there and meet people but ensure you don’t become a victim of ‘Overchoice’. Remember to treat people with the same respect and humility that you hope others will treat you with. The dating world can be intense but demonstrating kindness to all those you come across, including the ones you do and do not want to date, will only make your journey in dating a smoother one.
However lastly but certainly not least, always remember to be yourself.