Dating Advice. That’s my “raison d’être” or the real purpose of my site, heck it’s who I was for almost 10 years. Or is it. I started out some time ago, after my divorce, chronicling my crazy return to dating life. At the advice of a wise friend, I went back recently to reflect on the early years of my blog. Blog post after blog post, I started to realize something: it wasn’t them, it was ME. I also realized that, really, dating advice doesn’t really matter. I’ll share with you why. It’s a little bit longer than my usual posts, but please indulge me and read on. I promise it will be worth it!
They say hindsight is 20/20 and I’ve certainly come a long way since then. I was a wounded soul looking to feel better about myself in any way I could find it. More often than not I found it in anything (or anyone) that boosted my ego and boy did my ego need boosting after the hurt that I experienced. The only thing I attracted, however, was more hurt. I was, after all, emotionally unavailable, and I had a lot of healing and learning to do before I was ready for real true love. I just didn’t know it (or want to know it) at the time.
We are our own worst enemies
We often fall into that sort of trap. In the search for inner peace, we instead find more anguish. Instead of taking the time I really needed to heal my wounds, I moved too fast and got caught up in an attachment that only held me back. It took me a long time, 5 years in fact, to finally cut the binds. But this attachment made me feel good about myself and feel like garbage all at the same time (this probably feels familiar to some of you). I felt the highest highs and the lowest lows. Drama at its worst. But, I ate it all up. I craved it and hated it all at the same time. In the midst of all that, I was dating, meeting new people, rejecting all of them. I was also a magnet to people who wanted to take advantage of me and use me.
Many singles, particularly vulnerable ones, can find some familiarity in my experiences. It’s definitely relatable and very hard to move on from. But I’m living proof that it is possible. I know that these experiences are quite common because almost on a daily basis I get emails from people in the SAME situation with the same types of attachments to the wrong people. Almost always, they are looking for some sort of “loophole” or way to justify or excuse their love interest’s bad behavior. They’re looking for validation from me to keep going on the same ugly path. As much as I try to help them move forward in a positive direction, if they aren’t ready, they will always go back. They have to do it, as I did, in their own time, when they are ready. In fact, I also get many emails thanking me for helping them see the light and let go so they could move on to a healthier relationship.
It was not them, it was me
In reality, as I reflect back on my own experience, I know the anguish I experienced was all my own doing. It was me. Not them. They were assholes, no doubt, but I let them treat me poorly. There is no denying it. We have the power to accept or reject people’s actions toward us.
This is what I didn’t realize at the time. Or perhaps I did know it but I suppressed it. After all, I was convinced that I was just unlucky in love and that somehow the universe was sending me all the losers. It seemed I was scraping the bottom of the barrel. That, at my age, all the good ones were gone. I was sure that I had missed my opportunity on wasted experiences. Perhaps, I thought, love just wasn’t in the cards for me. As I accepted my fate, I grew tired of all the drama and anguish. There really had to be something better for me. Where was I going wrong?
I began by looking at all my dating experiences looking for commonalities. I found that I tended to choose the same type of people – emotionally unavailable men or men who really didn’t want a commitment, they only wanted fun. The ones who were too interested just turned me off for whatever reason I could find (or make up). I knew what I wanted, I thought, and I wasn’t going to settle for anything less. I wanted someone who made me feel the intensity I was craving. That crazy desire, love and attraction that keeps you up at night. I did have it. I did experience it. But, it never lasted. It always seemed to come with unhealthy attachments. As I have said before, a fire that burns too hot, too soon, dies out just as fast. That’s what most people want right now. That intensity. That’s why so many people are still single, because that isn’t what real lasting love is over time. It’s a pretty packaging with no substance, no roots, no foundation.
Why Dating Advice Doesn’t Really Matter
So, you ask, why doesn’t dating advice really matter? Something I realized over time, from my own dating life and that of my clients, is that regardless of who crosses your path, if you’re not emotionally and mentally ready for them, you won’t see the good in them. If you have major psychological baggage then no matter how awesome the people you meet are, you will inevitably mess it up. You could have the best, most attractive online dating profile, but if you haven’t let go of all your emotional hooks, then whoever you meet won’t be the one.
A formula for lasting love
From what I’ve seen over time, people really have a hard time doing the “inside” work. Singles want a formula they can apply and magically their happily ever after appears. As much as we’d like to believe that it could, that rarely exists and you most likely aren’t the exception to the rule. Most people want an easy answer, an easy fix, to their dating life. But, even if they are doing EVERYTHING right, it will all go wrong if they haven’t done the inside work.
When I finally realized what my problem was (I was emotionally unavailable because I had trust issues after my divorce which led to unhealthy emotional attachments) I sought out professional help and began to heal. When I let go of all this baggage, I became stronger and more confident. I also started meeting the RIGHT sort of people. I was forming healthier attachments. I finally met the RIGHT one for me. My current husband. We now also have two little boys. My life turned upside down in a short matter of time, mostly for the positive, after I LET GO and chose happiness. It had NOTHING to do with my dating profiles or dating tips and tricks because you naturally just do the right things automatically when you’re with the right person. My mental and emotional health made me attractive to a mentally and emotionally healthy person compatible with me, my values and goals.
So you really want a formula? OK here it is:
Self minus Baggage minus Attachments minus Inflated Ego minus Sense of Superiority minus Desperation plus Forgiveness plus Confidence plus Happiness plus Positivity plus Emotional Health = Happily Ever After
You know what’s missing from my formula? All the things that don’t really matter if you don’t have core substance. Sure a good dating profile is important, but then what? If you’re not ready for a real relationship then all that doesn’t really matter because you’ll mess it up somehow. Being in the right head space is significantly more important than having the best dating profile and most talented dating coaches.
Instead of Dating Advice …
Instead of dating advice, I will share the wisdom I’ve learned and shared along the way:
- you don’t NEED anyone else and no one will ever complete you … until you’re whole on your own and a happily fulfilled single person you won’t find the right kind of love.
- desperation, loneliness and neediness will only attract the WRONG people to you … there are many people who are like vultures waiting to take advantage of your vulnerability, don’t let them! If you feel this way then stop dating until you have healed.
- the right person for you will never need chasing, they won’t cause you confusion or anguish … we crave the drama sometimes and think that those intense feelings are love but as hard as it may be to admit, the right relationship will flow easily and you will rarely have to think about it, it will just work, there will always be some minimal hardship or disagreements but they will easily be resolved – relationships take work but it shouldn’t be hard work.
- a fire that burns too hot and too fast will burn out just as quickly … slow and steady always wins the race, take your time getting to know someone and spend quality time together, see how they treat others, their family, their friends, experience their ambition, their work ethic, their values – only then can you truly know someone and know if they’re right for you.
- throw out your laundry list of what you want in a partner … what’s most important is how you feel around them, that you’re attracted at some level and that you share values – if they don’t bring out the best in you and they steer you away from your values then move on.
- don’t be afraid of rejection and getting out of your comfort zone … take chances and date people that you might not have considered before, you might be pleasantly surprised and, in any event it will be an experience you’ll learn from.
- let go of emotional attachments and hooks … by letting go you will make room for the right person to come into your life, think of it logically, if you’re always thinking about a lost love or someone you desire will you give someone else a fair chance? Probably not.
- make dating and finding love part of your life but not the priority … dating should be fun and a positive experience, anytime that it isn’t you need to take a break and re-evaluate. Enjoy the process (getting to know them) and don’t focus on the outcome (where it’s going to end up).
Really, you don’t want to over-complicate or over-think dating. In order to combat your loneliness you need to find meaningful non-romantic interactions and connections with others. Everything always falls into place. Trust the process. Trust yourself. “We accept the love we think we deserve” (Stephen Chbosky) … so ask yourself, what do you really deserve? How you’ve been treated or better?
At the end of the day, you know what makes you happy. Find that happiness inside yourself FIRST. Be happily single. Do the internal work. Only then can you find that person who will walk side by side with you on the SAME path if that’s what you truly want. Only then will you find your happily ever after. Even if that happily ever after is you, on your own, living your best life … and that’s OK too!!
Thank you for joining me on this journey! I have truly enjoyed my interactions with all of you over the years. I wish much love and happiness to each and every one of you.
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Realy nice article
Thank you 😊
Great article and I agree. I notice when I am more desperate I attract losers. I’ve gotten to the point where I know what I want and what is holding me back. I also realized looking back I was attracted to men who weren’t into me and spent too long on these guys. While there are things I will not budge on (like dads), in other cases some things were more superficial and almost a block.
That is the key Dawn, to know what you want, so you don’t even need to waste time in giving some people the time of day. Also, always go off an individual consistent actions towards you over their consistent words, since that will tell you everything you need to know so you not spending too long on guys that probably didn’t deserve your time in the first place.
Yeah I wish I knew that back then because it would have made my dating life easier. Maybe I learned too late, maybe not because I can look back at the guys who liked me who were decent and are now all married. Meanwhile I’ll likely never get married, and it’s partly because of this mistake. I was so stupid at times with these guys, even buying presents thinking they would like me. Oh well, live and learn.
Live and learn for sure. Thank you for sharing your experience Dawn. But it’s never too late so please don’t give up.
Oh I never give up but am a realist. I’ll be 50 next year and at my age there just isn’t as many guys, especially when adding in the childfree part. I still have hope though.
Yes, you’re right that the child free requirement does limit your options. Have you tried expanding your search to other geographical areas?
Sorry for the late reply…. Far as marriage, look at this way, best to not be marriage than to be marriage to a guy that doesn’t value and cherish you and know how to treat you like his queen. Also, to your point, we live and we learn and we can’t change the past, but we can control what happens moving forward in our lives…
True. Lately, I’ve been playing the “what if” which only makes me sad. I’ve been single so long that at this point if I never find the one I am numb to it. I mean it is better to be never married than divorced after a horrible marriage.
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It’s important to be happily single first, so you not looking for a relationship with another individual to bring that happiness to your life but just enhance it, if anything. Also, remember the goal isn’t to just be with someone… anybody can do that…. However, to be with someone you consider as your best friend, got great and natural chemistry with, along with similar beliefs and values, that should be the goal when you get in a relationship with someone and if that isn’t the case I would advise anybody to stay single.
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Made it all the way to the end Suzie! Very good article, suggestions and quotes.
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Thank you Rob!
Yes I have, and eventually want to move closer to the big city (I live about 45 minutes from a major US city that is one of the largest in the USA).
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I keep busy being single and have accepted I’ll probably be alone. I’m okay with this because I am into many hobbies and I see the positives about being single.
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