Date Like You’ve Already Been Married

It’s not uncommon to hear people in their 30s talk about their “window” — they want to have a family and worry they might be running out of time. The anxiety heightens for people who have never been in a serious relationship before.

But even people in their 20s face the pressure to couple up; many even internalise their singleness as worthlessness. If they have emotional issues or past traumas, they’re likely to look for a relationship for all the wrong reasons. The consequences of this can go way beyond just wasted time.

At least, that was my case.

I spent most of my early twenties dating, not to be in a healthy relationship or get married, but to avoid loneliness, have my worth validated, heal my childhood traumas, or distract myself from how lost, confused I was.

Even when I was sick of getting hurt and started to have some sort of dating goal, my decision-making was plagued by negative emotions and beliefs such as “I’m not good enough” or “Why would anyone want me?” I couldn’t be on my own. I carried myself like there were holes in my body. I needed attention like I needed water.

Dating, to me, was a double-edged sword.

It was how I could find someone and silence the fear of being alone forever, but it was also how anxiety crippled me.

A cheerful, emotionally secure person might think, “Oh come on, dating is fun! You meet each other, you talk, you have fun, you meet again! How bad could it be?!” But the reality for an anxiously attached and insecure person is very different.

They’re consumed by their thoughts almost every second during the dating process; getting a text back in half an hour could feel like light-years. All the things that are supposed to make one excited give them reasons to obsess and spin out of control. All the things that are supposed to make them feel good hurt them instead — it’s a living hell.

My Solution

I’ll give you a straight answer to how I finally got out of this mess and reclaimed my life: I learned to love myself like my life depended on it.

Sounds abstract enough?

Okay, let’s apply the 5 Whys analysis but ask “How?” instead.


I imagine myself as a separate person.

But, how? Two major ways:

Erm, buuut how?

I did these activities over a long period of time (more than six months) while putting a pause on dating. The goal was to make me feel as psychologically safe as possible to be true to who I was and work through any emotional issues without the burden of new ones.

So, if you can’t afford therapy, you can pick up something else as long as it serves this goal.

Ok, how?

For example, in my emails to my future self, I would pour out all my insecure and anxious thoughts with no filter, or I reflect on my own actions, and then I would write, “I accept you. It’s okay. I understand why you did what you did. I forgive you. I love you.”

I would reassure myself, “Don’t worry, I will take care of us. You’ll be okay because I will make sure that happens.” Or I provide myself with a different perspective of past traumas to override my nasty inner critic.

Over time, it became a habit to be kind and loving towards myself.

And… how?

Every time I had a negative thought or feeling (including fear), I openly shared it with my therapist or I wrote it down (oftentimes both), so it could be accepted, challenged, and framed in a way that benefitted me.

And when I say “every time”, I mean it.

The outcome

After six months in therapy and building the relationship with myself, I felt like a different person.

I felt solid.

In relationships, I asked fewer questions and made more independent judgments while separating people’s opinions from my self-worth.

I stopped going out there like I needed something to fill me up. Instead, I acted like I was full and had something good to share.

I dated like I’d already been married to the love of my life — me.

It means that I loved myself and I was committed to loving myself every day.

That was when my desperation evaporated.

In my mind, being single was no longer scary; it was great because I’d proven it to myself during the time I was off dating.

I still valued and wanted to have a romantic relationship, but I no longer expected others to be extraordinary or “save” me because I knew I was the best person to meet my own needs.

I let them be. I let me be.

So, date like you’ve already been married to the love of your life.

As someone who has healed herself and is happily engaged to be married soon, I can tell you that the confidence this mindset gives you is immense.

You basically have nothing to prove in your love life anymore. It doesn’t matter whether “the love of your life” is an actual person or a figurative speech.

You know you’re loved; you’re good enough; you’re chosen — by you.

Then you can manifest these feelings and beliefs in all relationships you have.

Remember the saying “Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have”?

Well then, carry yourself like you’re already where you want to be.

No matter how old you are, don’t be scared.

The route we take might be different, but the destination is the same. Here.

If you want a healthy, happy relationship, you need to start with yourself.

Being single can never be that bad if you think about the chance that a romantic partner might turn out to be a horrible person (read: narcissists, psychopaths, pedophiles, etc.) or even physically hurt m̶u̶r̶d̶e̶r̶ you — I’m serious.

Regardless, learning to love yourself and manage your emotions is incredibly rewarding.

It will give you your life back if you have a history of anxiety. You’ll be able to enjoy all the things that are supposed to make you feel good. You’ll notice the sun and wind caressing your face, and frequently feel grateful that you’re alive.

Take little steps. Don’t give up.

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