Modern dating can feel like the hardest of all the love phases. Society already tells you that dating is difficult. There are thousands of books, courses, and other materials on how to date because we need it. Most of us are clueless about how to engage other people in a heartfelt way.
Lover of Life, maybe you are scarred from a past challenging relationship: the abusive or neglectful parent, the molestation by a family member, the cheating from a former partner, or the loss of identity in a suffocating relationship. How could you possibly think dating would be easy just because you want to find love?
Well, in my mid-twenties, I had that very thought. As an adopted child who was molested by a cousin, cheated on, and lost my identity in an abusive two-year relationship. After calling it quits, I cried the first few nights, but every night after was a learning experience. I realized that no matter how much he loved me, he needed more control over the relationship than I could give.
A few weeks after the big break, I began asking myself what I wanted out of a relationship. Who am I? What do I need? I didn’t have a love coach to help me through. But, since I love lists, I decided to write down all of my wants and my non-negotiables. This allowed me to see my past relationship for what it was: not what I really wanted. My pain reduced and I was able to move on with grace. This gave me one of the greatest lessons on dating I want to share with you: Dating is all about discovery.
Dating is Discovery
Dating is your opportunity to discover what you want and need. ― Byron Jamal
While the single phase helps you gain an appreciation for yourself, it’s the dating phase that gives you an awareness of what you want from a partner. That has gotten a little more complicated in the modern dating model. With all the different forms of relationships out there today, figuring out what you want from your love life is no simple task, if it ever was. On top of finding the right person, we’re tasked with the challenge of determining whether we’re better suited to monogamy or polyamory, whether we want a life partner, and whether or not we want marriage or children.
We’re free to do whatever we want, but with so many conflicting messages, It’s hard to know what it even is that we want. Lover of Life, don’t feel bad about that either. No two people will want the same things. There are five simple discovery tools to help you narrow down what you want from your dating experience so you can date like a boss:
Look Back at Old Relationships
Think about relationships you’ve been in throughout the past. What caused them to end? More to the point, what did you find unsatisfying about them at the time when you two were together? If you don’t know where to start, begin writing down what you don’t want. Don’t stop there. Flip it around. What did work? What did you love about that relationship? What do you miss about it? While you can’t replace people, you can consider what made a relationship work for you in the past, providing clues about what you’re looking for in the future.
What do you want from life at this point? Are you just starting a career and not looking for anything serious? Or are you at a place in your life where you’re looking to settle down? Maybe you’re somewhere in between? The thing about what you want is that it can change from one week to the next, let alone months and years. Evaluate where you’re at in life and use that as a guide for figuring out what you want. You never want a relationship to conflict with your goals. Someone will always end up with regrets.
Get Real With Yourself
One of the greatest mistakes in discovery is confusing what you want with what you think you should want. Just because your parents want you to settle down doesn’t mean that’s the best thing for you now—or the thing that’s going to bring you the most joy. So be honest with yourself: What do you really want? What type of relationship would you be looking for if you didn’t fear the judgment of others? What do you want when there is no voice inside your head telling you what you “should” want? Because that’s what you actually want out of a relationship. So go for it.
Let me repeat this: What you want in a relationship can change over time, especially once you actually experience what it is that you think you want. So play the field a bit. Try dating different types of people who have the qualities that you think you want in a relationship. Do the qualities make you happy? Do they make for a sustainable and stable relationship? Are they all they’re cracked up to be? If not, you wouldn’t be the person in history to think that you want something only to find out that you are completely wrong. Which leads to our last step.
Be Okay With Change
This is sort of just revisiting the third discovery tool with your new information. Get honest with yourself about what works for you and what doesn’t. Then change your priorities. We could philosophize all day about what people want in a relationship, but in the end, love is like a scavenger hunt―yours to find.
The Simple Truth
You deserve good love like you deserve a good job. Most of us won’t find our dream job right away. But, after a few resignations, we discover the place that fits us perfectly. Love is much of the same. You have to be willing to hire and fire until you find what fits. That’s the hard part of being a boss. The responsibility is in your hands. Your love life is in your hands. Now go out there and find the love you deserve…boss.