“Simone – I can’t bring myself to date yet! How do you bounce back from all the whack situations and disappointments? What is your mindset when you date? How do you know when to walk away? I feel like I’ve lost faith and trust in myself for misjudging the last two situations…I always try to make things work or give it more time “to see.”
I also have this belief that my anxiety and any flaw in me has to be fixed before I can truly attract the love I want and be the partner that I envision. This is a really good mind trick to never date again! In short: gearing up to get back out there but terrified.”
Ok, so a few things –
First of all, if you’re not ready to date – that’s totally OK. I feel like we live in a culture where everyone is constantly being encouraged to date, pair off and be together – something that just isn’t always realistic, fair or even healthy. We’re fed the message that if we’re not dating, in a relationship or trying to find one, that there’s something wrong with us – something that inevitably needs fixing. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Sometimes hearts just need time to heal. Being alone can help facilitate this. If not dating feels like the most authentic and right thing for you right now; follow your intuition. However long you need, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a breather.
The truth is, although this blog covers a lot of my life, there are also a lot of things that you don’t see. It may seem like I’m always dating up a storm; immediately climbing back atop of the proverbial horse every time I get knocked down, however this isn’t always the case. Over the past three years I’ve taken several lengthly hiatuses from dating and sex. It just doesn’t always read this way because more often than not, I don’t always write about my experiences in real time.
With that said, this wasn’t always the case. While writing my book, which involved digging through the romantic wreckage of my past, I realized there were so many times that I flung myself, head-first into various relationships with very little regard for my own self-preservation. I practiced what I like to call “emotional cliff-diving.” I wanted to feel and experience things, and didn’t really think through consequences. I was brave to a fault. I had some good experiences but also lots of really, really bad ones.
Although a lot of good writing material came from these experiences, I wouldn’t recommend emotional cliff diving to anyone (well, at least anyone over the age of 23.) With that said, here’s what I’ve learned now that I’m older and a tiny bit wiser: dating is always going to make you feel somewhat vulnerable. The only way you can avoid vulnerability is by closing yourself off emotionally from other people – which doesn’t work if your goal is to meet someone. You have to be brave. Once I decided that I wanted to start dating again, I realized that the only way I was going to get through it was by becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable.
If you do get knocked down, give yourself time to heal and then get back up again. Don’t dwell. You’ll get there. Be brave. When it comes to walking away from relationships, it may also seem like this comes really easy to me. It doesn’t. Throughout my dating career I’ve struggled with letting go of people, even when I know the situation is no longer a good fit. However, I’m getting better at this. My best advice would be this: always trust your intuition. Your gut gives you better dating advice than any “dating guru” or I can.
I’ve discovered that dating involves finding a healthy balance between being open (giving things a chance) and following your intuition. It’s important to remain open to new experiences, however if a situation doesn’t feel joyful or feels “off” to you – trust that. I used to think that I needed a specific reason to break up with someone (for example, they had to be or do something horrible) however, just because someone is a good person, doesn’t mean they’re the right person for you. As one of my favourite authors, Cheryl Strayed says, “wanting to leave is reason enough.” Your time is precious. Give yourself permission to walk away from things that don’t feel good.
Lastly, there is nothing about you that needs fixing. You are perfect just the way you are. We all have our “stuff.” Take it from me – I live with an anxiety disorder and although it’s mostly under control thanks to medication I take everyday, sometimes it can still make me feel a bit wigged out. I’m also a 30-something who lives with their mother, writes about sex on the internet and spends a lot of time playing with dolls. On paper, I’m sure there are a lot of people who would say, “I’m going to stay far, far away from that one” – or at least that’s what I used to think.
What’s different about how I approach dating now, versus in my twenties, is that my attitude is a lot more “take me or leave me.” I made the decision a few years ago to stop allowing myself to feel insecure about the things I mentioned above. Instead of always trying to bend to what I think people expect of me, I just decided, for better or worse, to own the hell out of who I am – weird dolls, sex toys, anxiety and all. I know I’m not for everyone and that’s OK. I’m not looking to meet and fall in love with everyone – just one person.
The funny thing is, this new approach has actually worked. I now have guys tell me things like, “you’re so confident…it’s almost intimidating.” However, I don’t know if it’s confidence so much as I just got tired of being let down after putting time and energy into people who never really accepted who I was in the first place.
We’re all works in progress. We all have our weaknesses, flaws & quirks. Instead of focusing on what you think needs “fixing” turn your attention to the things you really like about yourself – the things that make you feel awesome. Do more of these things. Be loud. Don’t cower.
The right person will accept all of you. I promise.
Sending lots of hugs from me and encouraging fist bumps from Joe the Intern,