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An interesting topic considering I am happily married, but prior to this relationship, I was in my early 20’s and single trying to figure out how to approach dating in a town full of peter-pans and an era of social media and hook ups. And now, I interact with friends and clients regularly who, too, are trying to figure out just how to date with intention.
So let’s back up to when I was single.
I typically stayed away from “the list.” You know - the list of what you want in Mr. or Mrs. Perfect. But after a while, I realized that not having “any list” meant I was navigating an open sea with no instruments. With that in mind, I started to redefine what “the list” meant and how it may have something to tell me. I discovered after my first real heartbreak (ouch) that part of healing meant separating what I loved about that relationship from the person themselves. As long as I mourned the loss of an individual, I would be holding myself hostage to a world of heartbreak, so I began to write a list of the aspects of that relationship that I appreciated, as well as the aspects that were not so great. I then turned the “not so great” ones into their positive opposites. So for instance, I felt that I had a partner who was not always emotionally available and, at times, that felt incredibly hurtful. Being a wide-open spirit, I discovered that it was important to me to have someone who was emotionally present. That characteristic, for instance, became a part of my new version of a “list”. After a bit, I had a pretty solid, but short, list of qualities that I valued in a partner and a relationship. However, that still left me with the dilemma of finding the person who fit the list.
I quickly discovered this gem of a philosophy that I will share you with now. It totally changed my dating game.
Step 1: You must know what you are looking for. (AWARENESS)
- Develop your own version of a list and keep it pretty short (less than 10 things)
Step 2: You must know EXACTLY what you are wanting from a partner at that moment in your life. Meaning- are you wanting a hookup buddy? A warm body to snuggle with? A friend to grab drinks with? Or a committed relationship? We all want different things at different times, but the only way we will get what we want is to have crystal clear clarity regarding our needs. (NON-JUDGEMENTAL)
Step 3: And arguably, the most important to making this work- You have to believe that you can have what you want. If you don’t, stop here and start doing the work to identify what is holding you back from believing that you can have what you desire.
Step 4: Fill the slot intentionally. (NON ATTACHED)
Here is where the actual dating piece comes to play, you are out and about living your life, you meet men, women, friends of friends, and you feel a spark. You ask them out or they ask you to hang out, but your first job is to say yes. Be open to the possibility of things unforeseen, but do so with intention. Hang out in a safe space with others and commit to being not only open but present.
Afterward, do a litmus test to see if this individual matches up with A) what you are wanting- friends with benefits, a boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. B) the qualities in a partner that you are seeking.
IF yes, then keep moving forward. If no, then it’s your job to set the boundaries and move on.
You won’t always know right away, so continue to be open to the experience with curiosity until it becomes clear. Remain aware, and open to it both working out or not working out. By being unattached to the outcome, you are more likely to end up with an outcome that is truly satisfying.
IMPORTANT: Whether you are crushing on someone in your head, hooking up with someone, or actually dating them…..they are filling your relationship slot. And as long as that slot is filled, NO ONE else can come in. So if this individual is not what you are TRULY desiring, it is up to you to clear the slot. The universe will do the rest to fill it in. So keep moving forward with intention, have fun, and set boundaries confidently and playfully as you know that you are moving yourself closer to what you want.
Try not to get defeated if it takes a bit. We are not always the fastest learners, so if you spent 3 years in a relationship that was not satisfying, shoot for 1 ½ the next ;) The more you practice, the faster you’ll get- years will become months, months will become weeks, weeks will become a date, and finally you will be happily dating, married, or hooking up- whatever your heart desires!