Have you ever found yourself overwhelmed by dating exhaustion? I have, and I know I’m not alone here. I know what it’s like to think, “What’s wrong with me, what is it about me that seems to repel every person I try to date?” and, “Am I not good enough for this person?” These thoughts can not only drive you crazy, but can be the very reason you’re struggling to find love.
When a relationship doesn’t work out, what we really need to do is turn inward. Not with thoughts of what we did wrong, but with thoughts of what we can learn from this. Consider it your chance to check in and evaluate where you are in life. The first question you need to ask yourself is: Were you really being your authentic self, or were you playing to what you think the other person wanted to see? Were you being the nice girl that never made a fuss even when situations came about that were worthy of questioning? Were you altering any side of your personality to make yourself more appealing to the other person? I bet the answer is yes. And believe me, I know from experience that this approach to dating will cause exhaustion faster than ever.
The lesson that took me the longest to learn in life was embracing who I truly am at the core. Every flaw, every personality quirk, both good and bad, served a greater purpose and ultimately made me uniquely myself. Whether we realize it or not, at the root of it all, what people are really searching for is authentic connection. We’re all looking for that person that’s just as weird as we are! We’re looking for love that just clicks, but we’re never going to find it by altering ourselves to fit into someone else’s life. Changing any side of your personality in an effort to find love will always fail. It may not fail at first, but keep in mind that people aren’t stupid. People can tell when we’re not real or when we’re holding back in some sort of way. That sort of mystery and lack of connection is what costs so many of us in the dating world. Being calculated and “pitching” yourself to best fit the other person’s life will undoubtedly bring about a messy dynamic in your relationship and most likely cause it to end in disaster.
The best advice I could possibly give you when looking for a relationship is to stop trying to avoid the mess. You aren’t going to get into the modern dating world without hitting some bumps in the road. It’s messy, it’s awkward, it’s uncomfortable, but knowing what to expect is half the battle. I’ve always said that when it comes to dating, check your pride at the door. You will have to be vulnerable to find the relationship of your dreams, bar none. I didn’t find that relationship for myself until I overcame this, and to be honest, learning to be vulnerable will probably be something I struggle with to some degree for the rest of my life. You don’t have to be perfect at it, you just have to consistently make progress.
Recognize what it is in your life that’s holding you back—there’s a good chance this very thing has crossed over into your career as well without you realizing it. I’ve noticed there are many things that are mirrored in both business and relationships. A few of the biggest I see are confidence, vulnerability and finding connection. If you master connection in the dating world, imagine what kinds of changes that could make in a business setting. Wouldn’t you find benefit from connecting more with your co-workers or customers? I think so! So do the internal work that is necessary once and for all—you’ll forever reap the benefits. Be true to yourself and watch the doors open.
The funny thing is, once you know who you are, you stop caring about fitting into someone else’s life and you start being really picky about the type of people you allow into your world. That’s where the magic happens. It’s kinda like learning how to say no for the first time—it’s freeing! Love isn’t calculated, so do yourself a favor and spend your time and energy on becoming your best self, and more importantly, your true self. If you don’t know who you are, you will never know what you truly need from your partner. We all know what dating aimlessly looks like, but it’s time to get serious about what you need in life. What are your non-negotiables? Decide what qualities are an absolute must in a relationship and don’t settle until you get the relationship that best fits your needs.
Don’t waste time changing any side of your personality unless it’s a true character flaw that needs to be addressed. We’ve all got work to do, but that’s part of being human. We’re designed to grow and evolve! Don’t see internal work as a bad thing, but rather as a piece of the puzzle that’s necessary to become the person you are meant to be. When you focus on the outside world, you give away your power. Always go within to decide what you want, what needs work, and what it will take to live the life you deserve. We’re all worthy of love, but the ugly truth is that we’re not all ready for it just yet. And that’s okay!
If I were to be given my ideal relationship a few years ago, it would have failed simply because, despite what I thought, I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t yet figured out what I wanted out of life and in turn what I needed out of a partner. Looking back, that didn’t make me a failure or a person that was unworthy of love, it just meant I had more life to live first. I had more learning and growing to do before I would be ready to accept and appreciate a relationship like the one I have now. If I could go back to my younger self, I’d say, “Snap out of it!” It has nothing to do with self-worth and everything to do with timing. You will find what you want when it best fits your life—trust the process.
So wherever you are in the dating process, I hope you realize that you deserve a partner that loves you for who you are no matter what. And you will find that person when you stop playing games and start getting real. Tell the truth, be who you are and take the risk, even if it leads to rejection at first. Eventually the right fit will come along and everything will make sense.
Michele is a former St. Louis Rams Cheerleader living in St. Louis. Follow Michele from the sidelines of the NFL to the sidelines of the modern dating world.