…and what to do about it.
So many of us go through life going on dates that don’t work out or get into short-term relationships wondering how they went so wrong. On the first encounter, we find ourselves asking, “Could it be? Is this ‘the one’?!”, only to end up heartbroken again. Sometimes, we look back at the relationship and wonder how we missed so many red flags.
Well, although you can’t change the past, you can become more self-aware when it comes to your relationships and begin to understand why your dating escapades aren’t going so hot.
Don’t Date While Lonely
We all know that it’s a terrible idea to go to the grocery store while hungry. When we’re hungry, we walk into that grocery store and think that everything looks delicious. We’re like a stoner craving the wackiest things to satisfy our munchies. The next day, we look at our fridge and pantry and wonder why the hell we bought all of this stuff only to remember that we went to the store while hungry.
Well, that’s why we don’t date when we’re lonely. Much like when we go shopping while hungry, dating while lonely makes us drop our standards and end up with the things we wouldn’t ever have when we’re in the right state of mind.
For many years, I was chronically lonely. My mind told me that I couldn’t be alright unless I was romantically involved with someone, I felt intense loneliness. Despite how many friends and family I had in my life, it was lonely. Because of this, any standards I had for a woman went completely out the window even though I swore to myself I wouldn’t date a woman with certain warning signs ever again.
After a lifetime of serial dating and looking my next partner, I finally decided to stay single for over a year and a half, and it was the best decision I ever made. Doing this was like a form of exposure therapy. I was able to be alone, and it sucked at first, but eventually, I got to a place where it wasn’t painful anymore.
I’m not recommending you go an entire year and a half without dating, but I do suggest you embrace the loneliness and realize it won’t kill you. Like me, you’ll find that once you know that it’s okay to be alone, you won’t fall into the trap of dating someone who is absolutely terrible for you. When you go back out in the dating scene, you won’t be desperate because you know you can face being alone.
You Suck at Emotional Regulation
Sometimes I wish that there was some type of medication people could take to regulate their emotions because it’s the leading offender for every dumb decision we make. Personally, I never had balanced emotions.
I didn’t get angry. I got pissed.
I didn’t get sad. I got depressed.
I didn’t get worried. I had anxiety.
When it came to dating, I didn’t just like somebody. I fell for them head over heels.
Not many men discuss being in abusive relationships with women, but I have no problem opening up about being verbally, emotionally and even physically abused by women. All the red flags were right in front of me from the start. I fancy myself a good judge of character, so how did I miss them?
I missed them because I had no emotional regulation.
Combining desperation from loneliness with an emotional regulation problem is a dangerous cocktail. We act completely irrational when we meet someone. Now that I’m on the other side of this thing, I see it play out time and time again with my friends, and it hurts my soul.
You know exactly what I’m talking about too. Due to your loneliness and lack of emotional regulation, you find the most ridiculous reasons to fall for someone.
“OMG! They like this obscure band?! Me too!”
“Holy crap, they like the same movies as me??? We’re made for each other!”
“They have hobbies?! I LOVE HOBBIES SO MUCH!”
I remember back in my single days reading the most atrociously basic dating profiles that said things like, “I like music,” and “I love food.”
Listen, if you don’t like music and food, chances are you’re an alien, but for some reason, we fall for this nonsense time after time again.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic to find someone who has some of the same interests as you, but that’s no reason to think you’re going to marry the person. They aren’t your soulmate because they like the same music as you. If that were true, everyone at the concert for that band you like would be your soulmate.
The next time your heart starts beating fast and you become obsessed with someone you just met, just remember that movie and music preferences don’t automatically make someone a good person. I’ve dated plenty of terrible women who loved the same music that I did.
The Lack of Broader Thinking
It’s no secret that unless you’re a monk, most of us are quick to go for short-term gains and neglect long-term goals. We jump into relationships after a date or two and think about how perfect this person is, which is another trap we fall into and neglect the broader picture.
Have you ever been on one of those dates that went so great that you just can’t stop thinking about them and start planning out your wedding, how many kids you’re going to have, which type of house you’ll buy and how you can’t wait for them to meet your family?
When we get in this mode, we’re completely forgetting about the bigger picture because we want to cure that loneliness or we’re running on emotions.
Whenever we feel ourselves getting lot in these daydreams fueled by emotions and loneliness, we need to recognize them and take a step back. Giving ourselves some time to cool off allows us to realize the headspace that we’re in. You might be right and maybe it was love at first sight and the connection you made was deep.
If it really was a deep connection and this might be “the one”, then you don’t have to be afraid to pump the brakes a little.
Slowing down will bring you far more benefits than rushing into things with the little knowledge you have about the person. First dates are like a job interview where you’re not even meeting the real person. You’re meeting a representative of themself that’s showing their best side. You have very little knowledge if this person will treat you right for the long haul or has other qualities that are actually important.
If nothing else, just remember that nobody wants an ultra clinger after the first date. And if they do, something is definitely wrong with them.
In order to have a successful dating life, you need to recognize where you’re going wrong with your potential relationships. It’s easy to sit back with attribution bias and think about how awful your ex was without taking any responsibility for the situation. By being able to prevent terrible relationships before they even happen, you’ll save yourself a lot of time as well as a lot of heartache.
I promise that if you learn some patience and emotional regulation while being able to look at the bigger picture, you’ll start to see a big change in your dating life.
If you’re struggling with intense loneliness or emotional regulation, I highly recommend the service I use, BetterHelp. They’re an affordable online therapy service, and by using this link, you help support The Rewired Soul.