It’s February. Deep breaths. Did you know the real reason this is the shortest month of the year is because two or three more days of the Valentine’s-induced emotional upheaval would kill us?
Whether you’re married, single, dating, researching convents, or “self-committed”, a month that dedicates a holiday to declarations of love plays with all our emotions. Like the fools that we are, we surrender reason to emotion this month. We laugh, we cry, we turn up our nose in disgust, angrily raise our fist to the heaven demanding “why”…you know, the full range of human emotion.
In honor of everyone’s favorite Hallmark Holiday—Valentine’s Day—I’m going to put this friendly reminder right out there: Dating is Not for Everyone.
That’s not to say that I think people are meant to spend their lives alone. I don’t think that at all. But, during certain periods of their lives…oh, most definitely. Sometimes we are just not in a good place, and have no business getting involved with another human. I can say that because I’ve been there!
Disclaimer: Please, don’t mistake me for a relationship expert by any stretch of the imagination. Far from it. But I’ve read a lot of articles while preparing this post, and have gleaned 5 things that everyone repeats.
1. Fill the Void
If you don’t love yourself first, no amount of love from another will ever fill the void. We might picture ourselves as an empty vase: beautiful and functional on its own but waiting for the addition of beautiful flowers to make it complete.
That is not who we are. If we don’t love ourselves, we are not complete at all. In fact, we’re an abyss: and whatever someone else puts in will get sucked right out into the void until we are able to fill the emptiness ourselves.
Only when you have filled the void can someone else’s expressions of love complement your own. Then your “cup runneth over”, because you’ve already filled it yourself.
Take-away: Love yourself. Self-love is the cake. Someone else’s love is just the icing on top.
2. Establish Healthy Self-Confidence
If self-love is the inward expression, self-confidence is the outward expression of the same attribute. There are two really good reasons why being confident while single is so important:
- It’s easier to repair broken confidence when you’re single.
- Confidence is extremely attractive.
When you have confidence in yourself, you are able to establish firm emotional boundaries. You don’t allow someone else to tell you who you are, what you think, or what you’re going to do. Confidence prevents Gaslighting and abuse.
Broken confidence, often a consequence of abuse, needs to be repaired before you start dating again.
I am convinced a lack of self-confidence gives off an odor that attracts the most manipulative and wicked predators—often appearing as wolves in sheep’s clothing.
If you are not confident in yourself, you are not attracting healthy partners. Get therapeutic help if you need it, before you put yourself back in the dating world. Otherwise, you’ll find nothing but wolves prowling around.
On the other hand, confident men and women are appealing for a multitude of reasons. From the primeval: we know they can survive on their own; to the emotional: they’re not carrying profound neediness that we’re going to be required to fill; to the physical: confident men and women carry themselves better and present the best version of themselves to the world.
Take-away: Find your confidence before entering any relationship, and you’ll attract a healthy, supportive partner.
3. Love Your Hobbies
If you’ve never thought, “Ugh! I would so much rather <<fill-in-the-blank>> than go out with anyone tonight!” then you don’t have a hobby you’re invested in enough!
Hobbies are part of what makes you, you. Do you read, crochet, golf, play an instrument, run, travel? What unique combination of activities fulfills you?
If, when dating, someone asks you, “what are you passionate about”, what would you say?
“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”Oprah Winfrey
You are not like Swiss cheese, waiting for someone to come along with their hobbies to fill your holes. Whether you’re a weird, stinky bleu cheese, or an average, but steady cheddar, you do you, and love it!
That’s not to say you can’t learn to appreciate new things, that you shouldn’t share common interest with your partner, but never be so malleable, such a blank slate, that you allow someone else to write all over you with their pen.
Take-away: Enjoy who you are and what makes you uniquely you. Another person’s likes and interests shouldn’t override yours, but complement them, and give space for what you like to do.
4. Appreciate Solitude
There’s a big difference between loneliness and solitude. Loneliness connotes a discomfort and unease with being alone. Loneliness is a problem we want to fix. Solitude is a state of peace and contentment away from the busy-ness of the world where we are comfortable with being alone.
If you’re uncomfortable being alone, there’s probably something inside you that you don’t want to be alone with. Identify and fix that before layering another person’s emotional needs on top of the needs you’re ignoring.
Don’t forget: you can always be dating someone, and still be lonely if your emotional needs aren’t being met.
Everyone should look forward to a little peace and quiet, and time away from the world to be alone with our thoughts, our hobbies, and improve ourselves. Not only is solitude okay, it’s vital for our emotional health.
Take-away: Being single does not equate loneliness any more than being in a relationship cures it. Make peace with yourself so you appreciate your alone time.
5. Become the Partner You Want to Attract
Instead of curating a “shopping list” of attributes you hope to find in a potential partner, focus on becoming the person you want to attract.
You want someone who’s a good listener? Are you practicing being an active listener, or do you only listen to respond? Do you value positivity and optimism and then mope around angrily all day?
Like attracts like. You have to become the person you want to attract. (And don’t forget, self-improvement never ends!)
You should have high standards when it comes to dating. But, make sure you exemplify those high standards as well. After all, not only is it fair to your future partner, but when you know your worth, you accept nothing less.
Take-away: BE the person you would want to date and enjoy working on yourself. Self-improvement is a lifelong journey.
Remember one last thing:
“It takes a strong person to remain single in a world that is accustomed to settling with anything just to say they have something.”
Don’t sell yourself short. Focus on becoming the best you can be, enjoy time spent pursuing your own hobbies, and indulge in peaceful solitude. Fill the void, and allow happiness to radiate from you.