Being a single female in my late 20’s, there is a lot of talk around dating, relationships, engagements, and marriage. Recently, I have felt disconnected from the type of dating that is considered normal. Full disclosure: I am no expert in relationships as I have had my fair share of relationships end or blow up in my face.
However, dating these days appears to be a bunch of mind games with no clear communication, no gentleness with one another, and an enormous lack of grace and forgiveness for one another.
As I am currently open to dating and having discussions with close friends about their dating experiences, my mind is fluttered with thoughts on a regular basis on what, as adults, we think is an appropriate way to treat one another. I ask myself questions like: “If manipulation and mind games begin before making any wholehearted promises and commitments to one another, what will that be like for the rest of your relationship?”.
I assume it would be a tug-of-war filled with control, head games, dishonesty, jealously, and mistrust. Why are there such strict guidelines for one another such as, “well, if they don’t call me by tomorrow night, I’m done and not going to answer them ever again.” (even though the person just spoke to them the day before).
I think to myself and want to respond, “maybe they are busy” “maybe there was a family emergency” “maybe they just aren’t that into you.” If you want a relationship, wouldn’t you want it to be built off of love and compassion and not manipulation and mind games?
I have found that when I have confidence in knowing who I am and have worked hard on building a foundation of self-respect, it becomes clear that the only person I am placing expectations on is myself. Having this strong foundation in place, I began asking myself questions such a; “Is this healthy for me?”, “Do I truly enjoy this person’s company?”, “Can I see myself dating this person long term?”, “Can I be myself around them?”.
When that foundation is not in place and the lack of confidence and compassion for yourself is absent, we tend to skip right over what would be the best for us and move into wanting to know and understand every single action the other person is doing, thinking, and feeling in reference to ‘US’. Pretty selfish, I know. When that happens, a person wants to push another into making promises they probably aren’t ready to keep.
The assumption is that we know what is best for the person we are just getting to know. When really, 1. we don’t even know what is best for ourselves and 2. we could never know what is best for another person because we are not them and it is not up to us to decide. I have found that manipulation manifested in this way is a form of control, and it is a way of trying to pull people away from their free will. Go ahead and read that sentence again.
Pulling. People. Away. From. Their. Free. Will. How heartbreaking is that?
When we recognize that having a significant other, getting engaged, or planning a wedding should not be viewed as an “accomplishment” but as a commitment, union between two people, and dedication of your love to another human being: a person with wants, needs, emotions, and feelings too. We are able to create space for that relationship to grow.
When we stop viewing these milestone moments as a way to temporally fulfill our wants and needs to feel accomplished, we are able to look to other things for that fulfillment. Instead of pouring that effort into what society views as relationship accomplishments, we can pour that energy and love into our faith, into ourselves, or into our life purpose.
Having space within a relationship does not mean being closed off, not opening up, nor shutting down. It simply means allowing time and space for things to grow organically. When we let go of expectations such as “this should happen” we let go of the need to control. When we let go of the need for control we let go of the resentment we have towards whatever it may be that isn’t happening when we want it to happen. When we let go of resentment we are able to be more compassionate with ourselves and others.
Next time you go on a date, try viewing the person as a person. Not a ring. Not an accomplishment. Not a goal. Not a fulfillment to your purpose. View the date as a person sitting across from you with a past, present, and future all their own.
If you are looking to deepen your relationships and learn the basics of authentic communication (with yourself and others) take a look at this online course – Transformative Communication – an easy and life-enhancing approach for better relationships.