One thing I have noticed about myself over the years is that when I am single, and everything else feels at a lull in my life, I tend to start fixating on wanting a partner.
Partly, this is just a response to the loneliness that can come up, as well as the myriad of dreams about what you might be doing if you were with someone. Another piece of it, though, is a basic failure to appreciate my life as it is. Being alive, healthy, with my basic needs mostly met isn’t enough. Having a small group of quality friends isn’t enough. Nor a supportive family. Nor any of the other things I’m simply taking for granted.
As I read other blogs and dating forums, I keep going back to the idea that being at ease with being single is the best way to enter a long-term, healthy partnership. Those who are severely uneasy about being single tend to struggle in relationships, using dating in part as an attempt to bring ease into their lives through connection with another person — a strategy that nearly always fails over the long-term.
When I think about all the comments people leave on dating blogs saying things like “these people I go on dates with don’t appreciate me.” Or “they’re just into my body or my money or my political ideas” or whatever, I wonder about the people saying them. Do they deeply appreciate their lives as they currently are? Do they feel a love and passion for what is already present in their lives? And can others see that love and passion?
I’m not a believer that our thoughts alone make our lives. That’s way too simple in my view. However, I do believe that how we think about ourselves does have an impact. Sometimes a strong one, and sometimes much more subtly. If internally you feel some desperation to find a partner, and some loathing of being single, others will pick up on that. If you don’t feel passionate about different aspects of your life, that will be fairly obvious to others.
In other words, we need to place a lot more focus on how we are ourselves, and much less focus on what we want in a partner.
I like to think of it as a 80% – 20% rule.
80% of the energy I spent on dating is about honing my attention and listening skills, refining the list of what’s important to me, practicing being open to a new relationship entering into my life, and reflecting upon what I might have learned from recent dates I have gone on that “didn’t pan out.” It also may simply include time doing things to take care of myself.
The remaining 20% of the time involves doing things like looking at online profiles, making lists of wants and don’t wants in a partner, going on dates, and other such outward looking things.
What I usually see people doing is the opposite ratio. They spend 80% of the time focusing on the dating pool, including copious amounts of time bitching about other people’s flaws, mistakes, and offenses.
There’s more I could say about this, but I’d like to offer this flipped ratio as something for you all to consider. It actually is something that you could apply in other areas of your life as well. You are having challenges at work? Consider how you might be looking for that magic bullet solution outside of yourself. You are having issues with a neighbor? Consider what your role in the situation is.
If you like this idea, how might you change what you’re doing now to get more in line with it? If you dislike what I’ve said, how have you been successful using a mostly “other focused” approach?
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