Dating is tough. There are the issues of attraction, chemistry, timing, intention and communication to deal with. Of course, there's also someone just running the game.
In the minefield that is the dating game, it's easy to focus outside of ourselves. We're so busy looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right that we often lose sight of what's important: being the people we need to be in order to love someone else.
After the dissolution of my marriage, I hesitantly re-entered the dating world. The dating climate has changed since I was last a part of it. Texting, social media and online dating are all prevalent now. I had to readjust all my thinking when it came to relationship rules.
Everyone says it's like riding a bike. I'd forgotten how much I hate riding bikes, but I digress.
The beginning of any relationship can be intoxicating. It's easy to focus on how attracted we are to the other person, or how lucky we feel to have found him or her. It's easy to go from relationship to relationship without taking some time to just be alone in between.
However, I've found that a little self-introspection can go a long way. Who are we? What do we want from our lives, our relationships and ourselves? Asking these questions is essential if we want to be in a place where we're ready for love when it finds us. We need to establish ourselves as independent before we enter a relationship.
As I relocated after my divorce, I began asking myself what I wanted my life to look like. I thought about my schedule, hobbies and personal interests. I began to imagine the possibilities that could unfold each day. I've begun to indulge in the small trips I find enjoyable with my children, and I've also begun to plan for bigger trips in the future.
I've also have spent time researching different classes that interest me, including cooking, yoga and Zumba. Finding myself again has been a joy, and it has given me the independence I've needed. I've begun pursuing my own interests, which included getting a gym membership, signing up for a mud run with a friend and taking a couple of classes that appealed to me.
It's also important that we take the time to clearly understand our faults and negative tendencies, as well as our strengths. I know I have the tendency to overthink everything. I know this tendency is even more prominent when I'm not feeling secure about the other person in the relationship.
By acknowledging my vulnerability, I can discuss my insecurities with my partner. I can therefore look for ways to find balance in the relationship. Oftentimes, I call up my best friend to discuss my fears. She helps me when I'm starting to fall down the rabbit hole of overthinking every single event that's transpired. She stops my free fall with her voice of reason, and she helps me take a moment to focus on the blessings in my life.
I have also begun to look at communication in relationships differently. When I overthink and ask myself questions, I remind myself that there is no point in wondering why someone is acting a certain way. It has occurred to me that I don't have the answers.
So, why was I asking myself questions I could never answer? With this fact firmly in the front of my mind, I began asking direct questions to the other person in the relationship. If there was a behavior I didn't understand, I asked about it.
If I began to feel uncertain about the direction of our relationship, I clarified it. I began to make an effort to be more open with my communication. I learned to stop asking myself questions I could never answer.
Examining our relationship baggage can help us weed out the behaviors that contribute to our discord. It can also teach us valuable lessons about the type of people we are drawn to in relationships.
After my divorce, I took a long, hard look at all my dating history. I realized I had made a habit of dating men who were emotionally unavailable. My own low self-esteem at the time – along with my fear of failing – created a pattern of relationships that was not healthy for me.
By recognizing the pattern, I was able to break away from it. By taking some time out between relationships and not rushing into one after another, I was able to evaluate what I wanted and needed in a partner. I was able to consider what I could and could not live with in a potential partner, and I began to make different choices about the types of people I took the time to get to know.
Taking a close look at our lives helps us consider the way in which we want to live. Looking at past relationships can help us decide what we want (and don't want) from a relationship. By being willing to dissect ourselves and our relationships before we enter new ones, we give ourselves the opportunity to make new choices and – hopefully – improve our relationships.
When we are confident in ourselves and know what we want, we often attract others who are emotionally in the same place. A little self-introspection can change your entire dating game.