How Looking Within Drastically Changes the Dating Game
They say one of the first steps to finding love is to first know and love yourself. I completely agree: Successful relationships are not born out of two people trying to complete themselves or find the love they lack in another. However, as a single lady who has done a lot of work on the self-love and personal growth fronts; I can attest that increasing your self-awareness and emotional intelligence actually adds a new and unexpected challenge to the already complex world of dating. While being self-aware and growth-minded is absolutely a positive attribute, here are a few of the unique challenges you might face out on the modern dating scene:
You Attract Teachers. From a metaphysical standpoint, we are always attracting teachers - people who come into our lives to help us expose opportunities for growth; if we are willing. To be be clear - teachers will come regardless of if you are willing. Our choice is whether we will acknowledge and show up for the lesson or not. In this sense, there are two types of teachers you may attract:
Some teachers come into your life to reveal a wound you’ve yet to heal. These relationships tend to manifest by our attracting the same type of partner time-after-time. While it might be easier to assume that it is your partner who needs to change (of course, they may have some growing to do too), typically these types of partners are here to remind us that we have healing to do on our own. In times where you are tempted to judge a lover who has hurt or harmed you, remember this sutra from Yogi Bhajan: recognize the other person is you. As we grow, we become more open to considering what part we may have played when someone upsets or challenges us. We are thus able to grow when these teachers appear.
The difficult part is, a romantic partner who challenges us isn't always a bad thing. In fact, our ideal romantic partner will challenge us to grow; they’ll complement our perceived weaknesses and help us to meet our potential in the long-term while we do the same for them. This type of partner may challenge us in a way we’ve not been challenged by romantic partners in the past. If we look to this partner with an open mind, it can be a tremendous opportunity for both partners to grow together.
You choose to see romantic partners through the lens of love. This is a confusing lead in, let me explain. Seeing through the lens of love is not to say that you immediately jump to the “L” word in romantic relationships. Rather, you choose to demonstrate compassion and patience with romantic partners. This doesn’t mean you tolerate inappropriate behavior or invest your time without equal investment. It does mean you hold space for a romantic partner’s growth versus abandoning them if they make what others may perceive to be a “wrong” move.
You think you know exactly what you need in a potential partner. As we learn more about ourselves, we assume we know more about what we want and need in life and in a potential partner. Similarly, you’ll probably start to develop higher expectations. While this can absolutely be helpful, it’s important to remember that sometimes the Universe has plans you do not yet understand. Sometimes, when such partners are brought into our lives, it can be tremendously scary because it challenges us to think differently.
You’ve raised the bar...and decreased the dating pool. Doing self-work is not easy. It is an uncomfortable and time-consuming task that requires curiosity, courage, and vulnerability. The reality is, many people aren’t yet ready to do this kind of work. This means you might struggle to find potential partners who even recognize the importance of the work you’ve done...let alone partners who want to be on a similar journey. This is not to say great partners on a path of self-awareness and personal growth aren’t out there, you’ll just have to look more closely to find them.
You always feel like there’s more self-work to do. This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re into personal growth, you’re aware that there’s always opportunity to learn. This can cause you to avoid potential romantic partnerships because you feel like you still have work to do. The distinction is in the type of work. If you are needing to experience deep emotional healing, this is most likely not the best time to engage in a relationship. If you’re chasing the next personal growth milestone remember that there is always room to grow and if you wait to start a romantic relationship until you reach your version of perfection, you'll always be waiting. Remember that relationships, too, are a place to grow; growth is not always meant to be done in solitude.
You deeply value your personal time. Because self-awareness and personal growth require time to sit with your thoughts, time to heal, and time to learn; you’ve also become comfortable with spending a lot of time doing that work. It’s tempting to devote your free time to you. While this isn’t necessarily bad, the tricky thing about dating is that you actually have to make time to, you know...date.
I share all of this not because I believe those who have a higher level of self-awareness are doomed or living some miserable single life, but rather to empathize with those on the same path who have also realized that dating (and life in general) changes when you start to look within. This change also opens up an entire world of possibility and hope - which I find to be wonderful and exciting...I hope you do too.