Over the years as a therapist, I have seen folks muddle through the dating scene and it seems that many are repeating patterns that don't work. And now just in time for the almighty Valentine's day where dating seems to ramp up and expectations seem to run rampant, I have developed a few guidelines to help people navigate the dating realm in a healthy and empowering way!
1. Casual Sex.
There is absolutely a place for casual sex in the dating realm, but you need to know yourself very well. Mine your moral code in depth. Boundaries, clarity of communication, emotional self-sufficiency, a desire to explore sexuality in a more expansive way and a very modern outlook on life are a must if one is to healthily engage in casual sex.
2. Do not develop a relationship with a person through texting.
Simply organize the time and date of meeting through text or messaging and then wait to get to know the person live and in person! If you do engage in long conversations through texting or messaging, the inevitable outcome is that you will develop a fantasy as to how this person looks and what this person is like. So often I hear of people finally meeting after weeks of texting/messaging, in which the two people actually developed a real emotional connection only to have it dashed upon meeting in person. Don't waste your time by developing an emotional connection with someone you are only texting with. Spend the time getting to know them in real life!
3. Impulsiveness is your enemy!
Slow it down. If a serious relationship is your intention in your dating pursuits then consider for at least the first three months you try not to talk to each other every single day. I know that the initial excitement makes people want to see each other all the time, but try to keep communication to no more than once or twice a week. Keep your own routines in place. Maintain self-care. Don't rush. Stop often and assess whether what is going on is good. Ask yourself if you are fully grounded in the present moment. Ask yourself if you are focusing too much on the future.
4. Make a list!
A fun but effective tool I use often in my office with clients who are in the dating world and are having trouble meeting compatible people is the making of a long and detailed list. I ask clients to close their eyes and focus on how they would like to feel once they are in a relationship with the ideal person. This is not about the other person's hair color and height; it is more about personality and character traits that make them feel the way they want to feel when they are with that person. I encourage clients to be less concerned about how they will meet the right person. Instead, I ask them to be clear about what they wish to feel with the right person. Remember that what we focus on expands. The clearer and more focused you are, the more likely you are to attract toward yourself what is actually best for you!
5. Stop emotional dumpster diving!
This is when people lose their self-esteem completely and treat themselves as if they deserve only garbage. They keep going toward people and relationships that are dysfunctional, toxic, even abusive. They settle for anything so as not to be alone. Some examples; saying yes because of guilt, needing others approval to feel ok, having affairs, never taking time to be alone; all examples of emotional dumpster diving.
If jealousy is a problem, then it is so important to understand its underlying causes, especially if there is no cause for jealousy. Unfounded jealousy has its roots in issues of lack of a sense of self-value. Get grounded. Work to create a healthy connection to self in order to lessen insecurities. If unfounded jealousy is something you struggle with, work on making sure that your self-care routine is on point and active.
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