Holes in our Souls
Yesterday, we noted that an unconventional approach to dating is critical if you want to lower your anxiety and find a lifelong growing mate.
We noticed that, in a nutshell, conventional approaches get your focus on the other person. An unconventional approach gets your focus on YOU…the only variable in the equation you can control.
I noted yesterday that there’s nothing like romantic relationship to surface the areas where we need to grow. Intimate relationship will uncover your unresolved issues, trauma, losses and attachments. All these realities leave holes in our souls that, if we aren’t careful (and even when we are), we unconsciously expect our partner to fill, which sets up our relationship to fail.
The only person who can fill those holes is you, and some of them can never be filled. They simply need to be let go, chalked up as a loss, so that you can move on, free of the emotional weight and pain. Your partner cannot be the person who takes away the pain of being unwanted; or who convinces you of your intrinsic worth; or who gives you meaning in life; or who takes away the pain of past failed relationships. All those things need to be faced and dealt with on their own, not masked by the dopamine-high of early romance.
Nor should you allow yourself to be in a position to rescue someone else from their own pain. You can’t do it, and you shouldn’t be asked to.
However, romance can make you realize what you need to deal with, and in that way it gives you a unique opportunity to do life differently than you’ve done it before, with better information than you had in the past. How often have you said, “I wish I could do that differently, knowing what I know now.” Well, now’s your opportunity to figure out what you need to do better…and do it.
A Do-Over Opportunity
That’s Dating Wisely Concept #2: Use This Opportunity to Do Relationship Better.
For example, if you’ve noticed that you tend to over-function (or under-function) in relationships, which has had the reciprocal effect of your partner under-functioning (over-functioning), you can purpose to operate differently this time around.
Of course, you’ll have to face the reasons you allow yourself to be in an over-functioning (or under-functioning) position to begin with, a pattern that’s usually rooted in the role you played in your family of origin. And never fear, if you inadvertently do the same thing again (because it’s really hard to change these patterns), the conflict in the relationship will remind you of your mistake, doggedly riding you until you self-correct.
Relentless Do-Over Opportunities
In this way, romance provides relentless do-over opportunities to figure out how to do life well. As we accept each challenge to do relationship better, we grow–new emotional muscles form that strengthen us for the next time we’re faced with a similar challenge. If we stay the course, we find, in the end, that our new default is to choose wisely, so that we don’t have to keep learning the same painful lessons over and over again.
If you want to do dating in an unconventional way, allow the process to grow you up. Take the challenge to examine your life, and make sure the person you’re dating is doing the same thing. The unexamined self is simply not worth dating.
On A Personal Note
I allowed myself 2.5 years to heal after my divorce before I got back into the dating world. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes again, and I needed time to figure out what they were. I didn’t want to saddle any potential partner with my unresolved issues, nor did I want to be saddled with anyone else’s, however inadvertently. I also needed time to heal from the pain of a failed marriage, so that I wasn’t taking that with me to my next partner, either.
I encourage you to take some time to find yourself and get centered before you get out there. Even so, it may not prevent you from making mistakes. We tend to regress to earlier times of unresolved developmental issues when we find new romance, so it’s unlikely that you’ll make perfect choices right out of the gate. You’ll be faced with the same scenarios and tempted to make the same mistakes as before (although it’ll all feel different), so you’ll have to be extremely conscious of what’s going on within you, perhaps with professional assistance from a counselor or life coach.
As committed as I was to knowing myself and making conscious, wise choices, I still made mistakes in my first mid-life dating endeavors. I’ll share a couple of those when I present Dating Wisely Concept #3 tomorrow.