In the last few years, I have been dating without much success. Now I don’t think that I need a boyfriend to be happy but, as a well-rounded person who has other aspects of her life in order, I do care about having a good relationship. I’m also at a stage where I know I want a stable relationship with one person who I could eventually share my life with. I’m loyal and committed and I thrive on security.
That said, it often puzzles me why I couldn’t find a good partner as I’m always quick to make new friends and know how to build strong relationships that last. It makes no sense to me except that it does make a lot of sense when I reflect on my approach with romantic relationships.
Here are four things I’m doing to upgrade my love life:
Choose better people
I realise the key reason I didn’t find a relationship is that I set myself up to fail right from the get-go. It’s plain and simple that the people I chose to get involved with weren’t suitable for a relationship with me.
In the past three years, I was using dating apps on and off in London, I matched with the men who were: not living in London, not at an appropriate age for me, not ready for a relationship, not having much in common with me including important things like core values and priorities.
Many times, in the name of being young, I went with it only to end up being heartbroken and questioning my value as a partner. I took the fact that dating didn’t progress into a committed relationship as solely my responsibility and ultimate failure. That was silly.
I understand I didn’t always make the right moves. I made mistakes. I wasn’t perfect. But, looking back, none of those guys was worth the efforts to make all the right moves anyway as I don’t think, without the numbing effect of oxytocin, I would’ve wanted anything serious with them. I knew in my gut they weren’t right for me and I always knew it way faster than the guy.
So, now I’ve decided to stop second-guessing my powerful intuition and simply be more ruthless when cutting my losses to avoid unnecessary drama. I’m also not bending myself in any way to fit with any guy’s ideas of a relationship — it’s very unproductive. No matter how desirable he is out there, if he doesn’t suit me then he’s no good to me. It’s my relationship, it’s equally about me and my needs, it’s my decision too.
Most importantly, I’m changing my judgment system. I talked a lot about finding someone with similar values but, in reality, I prioritised superficial factors over fundamental factors and it showed painfully in my attraction. I was pulled towards the most incompatible people who would not be able to make me happy long-term. I put too much energy in holding these situations together even when I got little value out of them.
Now I look at my trusted friendships and I know why they work: They’ve been carefully selected and they embody all my values. So now I’m assessing my romantic prospects through the friendship lens too. In other words, I ask myself: Would I befriend this person? Could I imagine this person hanging out with my friends and my family? Does it feel at least the same level of ease and comfort as my friendships? Then I would know who’s right, who’s wrong immediately.
Sort out my emotional issues
One of the things that I believe a quality partner offers is emotional stability.
While I’m stable in many aspects, I’m aware I’m not always the best at keeping calm. I have anxiety and emotional baggage so, not surprisingly, they have proved to be my challenge in navigating the early dating stages. They make it very hard for me to make the right moves and be patient to see things out. They hold me back a great deal in many situations that could be otherwise enjoyable.
So this year I’ve started to go therapy. I’m extremely excited about this as I know with my level of awareness and determination to improve myself, I’ll make substantial progress. I can’t wait to be more emotionally healthy, collected, and secure.
Focus on self-care and increasing my self-worth
Taking care of myself and making progress where I could help me become more secure and centred, which allows me to add value to my future relationship. But it isn’t just for any relationship — it’s firstly for myself and my own fulfilment. It’s about nurturing my relationship with myself.
I make time for the gym, active classes, spiritual exploring, taking myself out, cultivating my values in actions, and learning to care for others. I invest my energy in building up my work and advancing professional skills. I put the focus on finding myself and learning what it means to be authentically me.
If I’m not living a full life and happy with myself right here right now, no relationship can be good enough for me. It always starts with me.
Do what I love and try to add value to others
I realise a lot of my anxiety came from the fact that I was fixated on the dating outcome and the worst part is that it was just for the sake of proving a point to myself but for no other substantial reason. Hence it caused a lot of unnecessary emotional pain and struggles.
Now if I keep doing what I love and live out my values, I wouldn’t have to waste time worrying about any outcome because everything would feel natural and I would be able to tell straight away who is on the same path with me and who isn’t. And if they aren’t, there are no hard feelings as I keep living the life I feel true to.
Also, I’m training my mind to forget about the self and instead put the focus on others — How can I help? How can I add value? What can I bring to the table? It adds worth to myself and ensures I do my part for what I ask in return.