When Dating Gets You Down: How to Keep the Hope Alive
“I just don’t do well with women. They are like a puzzle I’ll never be able to solve.”
“I shouldn’t get too attached to him because he will leave me anyways. That’s what they always do.”
“She’s nice and we had a great time, but I feel jaded from being burned by other women. There’s no point in asking her out again.”
“I shouldn’t get my hopes up because nothing ever works out. I should just quit before I get rejected.”
These four statements are typical of my single clients who are struggling to form a relationship, male and female alike.
These thoughts are protective measures your brain takes to attempt to make you feel better about your situation, which may include loneliness, insecurity, dating difficulties, and chronic singlehood. While these thoughts are part of the endless mind chatter that fills your life, they can keep you closed and impede connection due to their self-defeating, negative, emotionally charged, and assumingly permanent nature.
Buying into thoughts and fears may lead you to unconsciously committing that dating will not work. As this becomes your norm and expectation of dating, it creates disengagement, tension, and resentment that seeps into dates. When these thoughts run your dating life and you do not work to reframe them and create a safe distance from them, in some ways, you have given up.
You have given up on the chance that dating could be different, better, and more satisfying in the present and future. You have given up on the reality that not everyone will abandon you, betray you, hurt you or reject you.
You might be thinking, “Me, give up? No way, I am constantly utilizing online dating sites, I message anyone who might be my ideal partner and I go on dates. How is this giving up?”
With a negative mindset or an underlying assumption that each date will go miserably, you naturally go on dates, especially first dates, on guard. While it is appropriate to have healthy boundaries, to resist the need to over-share or over-commit early on and to take your time getting to know your date, the “nothing ever works out for me” perception negatively impacts how you show up and relate to the men and women you meet. Whether you know it or not, you become less likely to let someone new into your life, you are less able to tolerate vulnerability, and less likely to take a chance on love, or even just a second date.
While it is understandable that you don’t want to get your hopes up after a long stretch of unsuccessful experiences, bringing passion, openness, and excitement to your date are the means to create true connection.
So, how can you date in a more positive way without letting the past or fear-based thinking bring you down?
1. Imagine each date as a clean slate. It is separate from your thoughts about dating and separate from your past, including bad dates and any negative encounters with previous partners. View each date as a new opportunity to connect with someone who has nothing to do with your past.
2. When negative thoughts creep in, acknowledge them without attachment and bring yourself back to the moment, reminding yourself to be open to what is happening presently. Dating works best when you are actually on the date instead of in your head.
3. Be open to a different or new reality. Your mind says the past equals the present? Take deliberate action not to believe it. Your mind tells you that the current man you are dating is likely cheating on you because you’ve been cheated on before even though there is nothing signaling that he is? Let it go and work with your mind to handle the unknown with an open heart and mind.
4. Understand the difference between getting your hopes up unrealistically and being open and available for connection. In turn, do not change your dating life and associated decisions to avoid potential pain or rejection. Dating involves taking risks, so if you like her, ask her out; if you want to see her again, let her know; and if you want to kiss him and the moment feels right, go for it.
5. While you have no control of others, date in a way that works for you. Focus on making choices that feel right to you, in terms of the pace, how many people you date at one time, etc. When you focus on yourself and what is in your control, you will naturally feel more confident and empowered to handle the bumps along the road to love.
Connect with the part of you who wants a relationship, and bring this energy to your date. To do this, visualize yourself in your ideal relationship with a great partner. You have to put yourself out there — that is what love is.
About the Author:
Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Nationally Certified Counselor and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Rachel is a co-author to Sexy Secrets to a Juicy Love Life, an International Bestseller, written to support single women in decreasing frustration about single-hood, leaving the past behind, cultivating self-love and forming and maintaining loving relationships. Rachel also serves as a Relationship Expert for http://www.datingadvice.com/ and other dating and relationship advice websites. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!