Yesterday I overheard somebody say "I just don't know where you meet people at my age?" Now stop and think about that simple statement. It's loaded with assumptions.
First, this person has decided that age is a determining factor in meeting people. Second, they've also decided that meeting people is very difficult, if not impossible.
There's a famous saying that goes something like this:
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Our thoughts and words certainly do lead to actions. So when it comes to dating, what impact does this have, and how can it making dating hard?
Here's 5 reasons why dating can be hard:
1. You wear a mask
Of course, not literally. Unless you're going on a date to a masquerade ball. The mask I refer to here is a psychological one.
At several points in your life you'll experience trauma, big and small, but trauma all the same. This trauma has a profound effect on how we deal with future situations.
For example, if you are rejected by a loved one, the next time you meet somebody new you'll naturally fear rejection again. To try and prevent this happening, you wear a metaphorical mask to hide your perceived worst qualities and project your best.
2. You carry a shield
Again, metaphorical. Unless you're going to a fancy dress party as knight.
If the mask is an attempt to hide your worst and show your best, then the shield is there to defend yourself if the mask slips (which it will, and does).
We've all encountered passive aggressive people. These people are simply using a shield to protect themselves from perceived attack and hurt. You probably own a shield yourself. Yes, admit it. You do. We all do.
3. You want to be loved
When a potential date penetrates your shield and removes your mask, you become vulnerable. At your core you want to be loved. We all do - that's what makes us human. If you feel that your date can't love you, then you might want to run away, shut down or get angry. This is called flight, freeze or fight.
These feelings are not enjoyable, so you try to avoid them. Unfortunately, avoiding them does not make them go away permanently. It's better to face them, feel them and process them.
4. We crave connection
Again, it's at the core of being human. You'll hear people saying they don't need anybody to make them happy, and to a degree that's true. However, fundamentally we want the companionship, connection and emotional fulfillment that only a partner can provide.
If you feel your date can't connect with you, things can get difficult and it's easy to blame yourself.
At the end of the day, you can only control 50% of any relationship - and that's your 50%.
5. Meeting lots of people can be emotionally draining and damaging
The more you date, the more you might feel rejection, blame and shame. That's natural.
The reason you may feel these emotions is because you'll invest of lot time and effort in wanting to present your best self. This can harm you if you let it. Your thoughts will tell you things that aren't true and your imagined internal stories can take over.
See every encounter as an opportunity to practice connection, lowering your mask without fear, popping your shield down in a corner and being happy presenting how you really are - beautiful warts and all!
By Matt Turner
Co-Director at Vida Relationships
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