Okay guys I swear I’m going to write that post about online dating but life has been so crazy that I haven’t even looked at my dating apps in weeks let alone managed to go on a date. Dating is not top of mind at the moment! Lucky for us, Clara, our (sometimes) resident dating expert is back for another post. I really took a lot away from her post as I definitely have fallen into pretty much all of the traps she mentions. My dad also drilled it into my head that dating should always be easy in the beginning. And it never is. So it’s nice to have someone recognize that things aren’t always easy and messy is okay… good, even! Thank you Clara, for a wonderful post!
There’s this wonderful passage in Sherry Turkle’s latest book, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age, where she describes dating apps as “bringing the promise of a business-like crispness to falling in love.” It goes hand in hand with the idea that when something works, it just works. It’s the notion that when a relationship is meant to be it just flows….effortlessly. No one’s really talking about the hard but inevitable challenges that are inherent to building intimacy and connection in any relationship.
One of the main philosophies that informs my work and dating strategy is the following:
Dating isn’t hard because men are inherently assholes. Dating isn’t hard because the apps are bullshit. Dating isn’t hard because men don’t want to settle down. Dating is hard because it’s an emotionally complicated endeavor, the ultimate goal of which is no small feat: A deep and meaningful connection with a person you respect, admire, and love, and the desire to build something great together. It takes grit, courage, humility, forgiveness, vulnerability and endless self-compassion. No tip, trick or rule will trump that reality.
As career-driven, hard working, generally badass women (which I know Grace’s crew to be), we often find fault in any kind of messiness. We pride ourselves on finding the most efficient and effective way of figuring something out—whether it be our careers, working collagen protein into our diets, or making it to our 6 am spin class on the regular. So naturally, we apply this some mode of thinking to our dating lives. That’s why I love Sherry’s wording. We try to to-do list our way through dating. Get on app. Create profile. Start swiping. Go on first date. Rinse. Repeat.
They’re also positioned to us in this way.
Your pathway to meeting someone special sits amongst your calendar, online banking portal, Mind Body app, and everything else you use to organize and optimize your life. It’s implied that this whole meeting people thing? It should be easy. It should just flow. And if it isn’t, it’s something you’re doing wrong.
I really don’t mean to vilify the apps. I merely point this out to reflect on the environment and expectation we’ve created around dating in the digital age. And awareness is always the first step in creating change. So if we start to warm to that awareness – the idea that dating should be messy, how can we start to work with that? How can we have it support our dating endeavors, rather than make us feel like we’re doing something wrong?
First and foremost, we can remove the pressure we’re placing on ourselves.
If dating feels hard, scary, unpredictable, confusing, or any other emotion you’re feeling guilty about, know that’s normal. It’s more than normal! It’s to be expected! Especially if you’re seeking something long term and meaningful (as most of my clients are), this is a significant thing. It’ll be a little odd if it just went all according to plan, no? Ask anyone who’s entered a serious relationship and there’s likely a clunky story of how the relationship got there, but we so often focus on the more magical elements because we tend to romanticize the past.
Next, get curious.
What behind the messiness of dating makes you most uncomfortable? Is it the fear of rejection, the inability to control an outcome, the larger fear of getting hurt? What’s really there? That’s the more valuable piece of information. That’s the thing you can start to work with and explore (what I call “root problems”) that’s acting as a block in your dating life. It’s not the apps. It’s not men in general. It is not your nagging family member…and so on.
In short, find freedom in the messiness. Don’t equate a smooth dating process with success, or the lack thereof with the idea that you’re inherently bad at dating.
Alrighty, I hope that relieves some stress! For my local gals, I’m giving a talk tonight on a healthier approach to dating. The event is technically sold out. But if you’d like to come, I have a few spots to squeeze some people in :). Just message me over on Insta. Xx Clara