Dating feels risky. It feels risky to reach out to someone and ask them out. It feels risky to put your profile online. It feels risky to be vulnerable. Dating feels risky. But is dating really risky? What are you really risking when you dive into this thing called “dating?”
The actual, real risk of dating is not what you think it is, or not what it feels like. You might say, but wait, I risk getting into a relationship with the wrong person. I risk being rejected. I risk ridicule if I open myself up. Those are real risks, you say.
Let’s break this down a bit. On one hand, you might say that you risk getting into the wrong relationship – but the truth is, you have incredible choice about that. You can choose to slow things down. Choose to postpone sex. You can be active about assessing her, making sure she has the emotional and communication skills required for a healthy relationship. You can make sure that your relationship visions are compatible. So if you go about the dating process consciously, there’s no risk.
What about risk of being rejected, or hurt? So this is where we get down to brass tacks. The risk of dating is that you’ll risk… feeling things.
For many of us, feelings can be difficult. Many women have a hard time tolerating our feelings, or being OK with our feelings. But feelings are, at their core, just momentary blips – the lifetime of an emotion in our brain is only 90 seconds. But the reason why they last longer is that we re-trigger ourselves with stories.
What is a story?
A story is a meaning we make of our emotions that generally isn’t true. For instance, if we date someone for a few dates, and she decides not to keep going, we might say to ourselves, “I’m never going to find anyone,” or “there’s something wrong with me.” We’ve felt a momentary disappointment or sadness, but then we’ve piled on to ourselves with these stories that aren’t true.
One of the most important things you can do while dating is to continue to cultivate self-compassion and self-love. When you do that, you’ll notice these stories, and know that you don’t have to believe them.
We often teach the four questions of Byron Katie, which can really help to dismantle these stories. For instance, if you think “I’m never going to find someone.”
- Is it true?
- Do you absolutely know that it’s true?
- What is brought up when you think that thought?
- Who would you be (or what would it be like) without that thought?
Self-compassion, self-love, and dismantling our stories are the three parts of the most powerful air-bag we can carry in our dating vehicle. It’s way better than a regular car air bag, because no matter how bad the dating “crash,” not only won’t you die, you’ll be able to move on without much of a scratch.