I am making slow progress in my approach to dating and my search for a significant other.
I know it probably doesn’t seem like it because I complain about the same things over and over again, but the progress has actually been within my internal state of mind.
I’ve been battling those pesky childhood issues of feeling like I need validation and acceptance from someone else, constantly trying to please others in order to receive it while ignoring my own needs and wants as well as settling for the leftover pieces I’m given in order to have even a tiny bit of my needs met.
This is no easy feat.
But I’m tackling it.
The desperate drive I have felt before to find someone to fill up the empty space has dwindled down significantly. There were times where I had compulsively checked the dating app over and over again in hopes that someone, anyone interesting would appear, all to soothe the anxiety of feeling massively lonely.
I am now learning how to calm myself down when I feel anxious like that, using self-talk and self-care and instead talking to a friend whenever I feel that intense “need” to connect.
In very lonely moments, I have been extremely tempted to reach out to Mr. K, recalling the things I enjoyed about my experience with him. And also because I just plain old miss talking to him. But then I remind myself of all the ways that relationship was unhealthy and did not give me what I really wanted or needed.
So instead I concentrate on the things I am looking for in a relationship and the conflict I experienced in compromising those things in order to be with him, which extinguishes the impulse to contact him.
I am finding myself more comfortable in being alone and not always feeling lonely about it.
When I do feel lonely, instead of reaching for the dating app, signing up for a new dating site (which in times of desperation I have seriously considered), or contacting the latest “interest”, I’ll do things like watch videos of my family, play with Valentine, write, reach out to friends, read, watch a movie, exercise, force myself to get out; or sometimes I’ll just sit in the loneliness and cry until it passes.
There have been times where I’ve tripped up and went on the app to scroll through faces, but it has become less and less appealing and I find myself not as interested or motivated to do so as I used to be.
I have also stopped initiating conversations with men on the site and I am finding that if I don’t have anyone interested in me at the moment, I am okay with it.
Some days I even quite enjoy my time alone and don’t want to be bothered.
I’m a work in progress.
Just like any renovation project, major changes take time and effort with trial and error.
I have become less affected by the negative experiences and disappointments, not because I’m becoming more jaded, but because I’m placing less importance on whether or not things actually work out with any given guy.
The idea of having “someone” in my life is lessening in its significance to my daily living.
The reason I don’t stop dating completely is that I’m not quite ready to. That’s the honest truth. I may get there in the future, but for now, I’m just not ready to let it go entirely.
I also feel that as trying and frustrating as it can be, it forces me to constantly evaluate my wants, needs, and boundaries and actually put them into practice.
Part of me knows that if I did stop dating right at this moment, I wouldn’t make anymore real progress because I wouldn’t have to actively challenge myself and my dysfunctional patterns.
I’d get lazy and comfortable and then return to the dating world at the same place where I left off.
I don’t want to do that.
I want to keep learning and growing.
Practice makes perfect.
I am not stagnant.
I am getting better.
Slowly, but surely.
All permanent change takes time, effort, and sometimes requires getting battered and bruised in the process.
I am not scared of struggling if the end goal is worth it.
I believe I am worth it.