As a long-time relationship writer and self-help author, I get many questions from family, friends, and, well, strangers about their dating problems. Most of the time, before they even finish telling their stories, I can immediately tell where they’re going wrong.
Let me give you an example:
I met this great guy; he ticked all my boxes. We got on so well; he paid for all the dates. The guy said he just got out of a 5-year relationship and is planning to travel the world, so I know he’s probably not in for something serious right now, but we got such strong chemistry, and I think he likes me too. Honestly, I’ve never felt his way about anyone. But sometimes he’s so slow to respond to my texts, and he doesn’t ask to see me. I’m so confused. What should I do?
It’s an example of choosing the “wrong” person from the get-go and having unnecessary problems, to which the solutions are ultimately pointless.
Single people mess up when they don’t admit to themselves and others what they’re looking for and, instead, they go for the option which satisfies what they want temporarily but will never give them what they need.
They mess up when they’re picky about superficial, circumstantial things and overlook fundamental, long-standing factors such as core values and life goals.
They mess up when they know someone is wrong for them, yet they let their emotions guide their decisions and deny themselves of their dream relationship.
Only time can tell you if someone’s right for you; however, I believe you could consciously choose someone worthy of your time and energy and minimise the post-breakup misery so you can get back on your search quickly.
Here’s how to avoid unnecessary suffering in relationships and move on ruthlessly from the wrong people.
Know what you want.
It’s a no-brainer.
You must be brutally honest with yourself about what you truly, genuinely want, and act accordingly.
When I was younger, I was confused and insecure. I wasn’t confident and comfortable with myself enough to say it word by word that I wanted a relationship.
I always said some low-key bullshit along the line of “I’m open-minded, I’ll see how things go,” then I found myself analysing texts from a boy who only appeared at midnight like thirsty vampires while being left wanting more.
Now, I’m able to admit to myself that I want a relationship, and I purposefully communicate myself in a way that portrays this intention. I have an exact list of my boundaries and standards, and I know the minimum I’d accept in a good relationship.
If someone acts in a way that shows they’re not on the same page as me or they don’t meet my requirements early on, I’m not going to invest my time and energy in them further — no time wasted.
You must learn to work with your energy.
Back when I was unsure about what I wanted, I often got carried away after one or two good dates. I would immediately invest my energy in someone new based on my perfect ideas of them, hoping a relationship would magically fall into its place down the line.
When we had problems that threatened my chance of entering a relationship, I’d get so anxious and wrapped up in all the details that I completely missed the big picture screaming at me that this relationship would never work out anyway.
Rationally, I knew I could end my misery by removing this person out of my life. But it’s easier said than done. I was imprisoned by my feelings and emotions. I couldn’t just cut my emotional investments and focus my energy elsewhere.
Emotional investments without returns are liabilities to be cut.
This is the problem.
People make themselves suffer in dating — or even in life — because they don’t know how to shift their energy at will.
They let temporary, impulsive, intense feelings control them — for example, romantic euphoria, physical arousal, or loneliness — and they don’t know how to move past their emotional urges to make rational decisions that benefit them in the long run.
Once they’re invested, they’re invested. They don’t know how to focus their energy elsewhere.
Here’s what I learned.
Feelings are not reliable. You’re supposed to feel your feelings when they arise. And they will pass.
Feelings are not “calls to action.” You should not factor them in your decision-making process.
The same goes for emotional investments. Emotional investments without returns are liabilities to be cut.
So, nowadays, when a situation doesn’t work out anymore, I process my feelings privately and do what’s right for me. When someone stops investing their time and energy in me, I do the same and stop reaching out to them — just like that.
Tips on how to shift your energy at will
Learning to shift your energy takes effort and continuous practice. The good news is — the more you do it, the better you will get at it. One day, it will become your second nature to be ruthless at moving on when a relationship fails to meet your needs.
Here are a few tips:
Mirror your date’s energy and investment level in the early days of dating.
Take your time to get to know them, so you don’t have to find yourself in a situation that requires you to shift your energy drastically in the first place.
When it’s called for, take definite actions — for example, block them everywhere — and practice self-discipline.
Release all your thoughts about the situation privately. Identify your feelings. Process these feelings by journaling, talking to a trusted friend or a therapist.
Be mindful of any urge to do something to ease these feelings. Watch them quietly and let them pass.
Write down a list of rational reasons why you must commit to moving on. Write down another list to describe your dream relationship. Put these lists somewhere you can see every day.
Meditate on intense feelings and emotions. Sit with them and let them dissolve in their own time.
Pick up habits and hobbies that promote your well-being.
Fill your brain with healthy chemicals such as endorphins from sports and oxytocin from spending time with friends and family.
Write affirmative statements about yourself every morning for 90 days, such as “I love myself,” “I’m responsible for my happiness,” and “I deserve a healthy, loving relationship that works for me.”
Don’t be scared to make the wrong choices — we all do it, and that’s how we learn. But, once you realise it’s wrong, take action immediately.
Shift that energy like a boss.