Dating is nerve-wracking. You meet someone in person on online who seems nice and then ... you wait, creating endless scenarios in your head to explain why that anticipated phone call or text doesn't come. Of course, communication doesn't necessarily make things better. Why did she say that? Is that he really meant?
Depending on our experience and individual vulnerabilities, in invitation from a potential online suitor might spark fears of anything from from an abduction to falling prey to a scam artist. Or, maybe you'll just be rejected: as the enlightened and stoic Miranda would say, “he's just not that into you.”
So we distract ourselves, staying busy by talking to someone else. Or we take any dating opportunity that comes our way, no matter how unexciting, just to avoid the sense of vulnerability and anxiety.
Unfortunately, the aftermath of these interactions is usually painful for everyone involved. You're not really present and therefore aren't really giving the substitute person a real chance. Being with one person while waiting for someone else to come along creates a miserable experience and hinders your overall dating life.
Let's examine what is really going on.
It’s about your metric of worth. Everyone needs to be chosen, in whatever arena you're playing in. If the game is dating, then texts, phone calls, and dinner invitations are points on the board and serve as a token indication of our worth. This is validation. Whether you eventually turn the person down, or go into the date knowing that this one is a far cry from the partner you're actually looking for isn't relevant in the moment, because in dating game, every text, every phone call, every invitation to go out counts. It’s an amazing feeling to see your phone blowing up with multiple suitors while you're hanging out with friends. But is just seeing your phone blow up really what you're looking for?
The problem all boils down to dealing with uncertainty. Uncertainty is the most uncomfortable feeling there is. Human beings will create any number of distractions to avoid uncertainty. Unfortunately, the more distracted we are--the more uncertain and out of control we feel--the more regrettable and out-of-character choices we will make.
So here are helpful tools for your dating toolbox.
First, pay attention to your motivation before you do anything. There's nothing wrong with feeding your self worth! But feeding your self worth, by itself, has nothing to do with choosing the right partner. So separate the two motivations. And think about what drives you to the other person.
There's a good chance the convenient partner who is all over you immediately is motivated by something that could become problematic for your relationship at some point in the future. His or her neediness, jealousy, or unaddressed abandonment issues will eventually make the relationship unhealthy and impossible.
If your primary motivation is to avoid uncertainty, other factors will remain overlooked. You might find that you've settled for the first person who alleviates that uncertainty with loud and clear intentions. Whether or not that person is right for you is a different story.
Choosing a person who is always available, who seems transparent and committed, can be a very seductive and logical choice. Unfortunately in this situation, it's often not us who is making that choice--it's our our uncertainty-driven anxiety that is. It feels so good to have clarity! The price we pay for this nice feeling come later – when the other factors become apparent.
If you are taking dating seriously and actually looking for a life partner, the first step is to be honest with yourself and admit that this is your goal. Be clear that your goal isn't just to see what's out there, and the point isn't to feed your ego. You are looking for an good partner to build your life with.
Being aware of the motivations and reasoning behind your choices is the first step toward making the right ones.
It's amazing to see my clients achieve this awareness, get in control of their feelings, stop spinning, and start looking for and ultimately finding a worthy partner who they are truly satisfied with.