How To Find a Healthy Relationship in the Modern Age of Dating
At some point or another, I have the “I hating dating, why am I doing this” discussion with all of my single clients. Their number one complaint is, “I keep picking the wrong guys and when I do have a connection with someone, it never works out!”
I will say that dating in today’s modern world is tough. I’ve heard all the Tinder horror stories. Now, I’m not that old! Hooking up and one-night stands were certainly around when I was in my 20s. Yet technology seems to have made “casual sex” a sport and sometimes “just something to do” and quite frankly, dating apps seem to work much better for men than women.
What I hear from my twenty-something clients is that you “just have” to be part of the online dating world because this is the only way to meet people. They believe that this is how their 20s are supposed to be. They’re supposed to date as many people as they can, in order to have lots of sexual experiences and fully “embrace” their 20s, but to also make sure that they’re getting a sense of all their choices out there.
The question I have for them is – is this really what you want? If it is, then have fun. I’m not here to judge you. Yet, what I hear from the majority of my clients is “I want a relationship but I just keep hooking up with the same guys only to feel like crap the next day.”
I know there is a thrill when he (or she) texts, even if it’s late a night. You feel wanted and loved, if only for that moment. Again, I’m not here to judge, I’ve been in your shoes, except it wasn’t a text but a phone call jarring you out of bed…but I digress.
I agree that your 20s are all about experimentation and learning what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. Yet, I don’t believe that “being a modern woman” means that you have to compromise your sense of self or “settle” for treatment that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.
You DO have a choice. You can start approaching dating differently.
When I ask my clients “what are you looking for in a partner?” – they’re stumped. When I ask, “what kind of relationship do you want to be in?” – again stumped. The problem is that they’ve never thought about it, because they believe that they have to settle for whoever swipes right.
What I suggest to my clients, and what I want to suggest to you is this: Create your very own list of “ideal mate” characteristics. I want you to list all the things you’re looking for in a partner. List everything. There is no item too small or big, too superficial, too weird. This is your list – don’t judge it, just make it the truth.
Look at the list and highlight your “deal breakers.” What’s something you’re not willing to compromise on? Is being in a monogamous relationship an absolute must? If it is, then say it and make it a rule that you don’t date anyone who doesn’t want a monogamous relationship. What’s not a deal breaker? Anything on your list that you think “it would be nice but…” those aren’t deal breakers.
So, now that you’ve created your list, you have a plan for what you’re looking for. Heartbreak is a part of dating and relationships so you can’t completely avoid that, but you can avoid getting involved with people who don’t meet any of any of your ideal mate criteria, so you can weed out those “deal breakers.”
Here are some “red flags” to look for in a new relationship. (Now I understand that you’ll be “swiping left” or “swiping right” before you learn any of these things about them but humor me.)
Swipe left if…
1) He tells you that he’s a “loner,” “he doesn’t do relationships” or if he says to “I’m not in a place to commit to anyone.” Believe him. Don’t convince yourself that he wants a relationship because he’s clearly telling you “I don’t want a relationship.”
2) He plays the push/pull game. He says he’s open to a relationship “with the right person.” He’s attentive and you have a great date and he texts the next day and then nothing. No texts or calls for a week and then he shows up again to say, “he’s been busy.” You give him another chance and the same thing happens again. He’s busy. He’s busy dating many other people or “he’s not that into you.” Maya Angelou said, “People show you who they are.” He’s telling you that he likes you but not enough to focus on you. People make time for the things that matter to them.
3) At any time when you’re with this person, you feel sad or less than. Many of my clients want to know what makes up a healthy relationship, the way the person makes you feel is critical. There are a million people out there that would be lucky to date you – why settle for someone who makes you feel less than?
Swipe right if…
1) He does what he says he going to do. He says he’ll text you on Friday, he texts on Friday. He says he’ll pick you up at 7:00pm; he’s there at 7:00pm. He’s showing you that he’s there; he’s present and wants to be with you.
2) He makes you feel like you’re special and you matter.
3) You don’t ever doubt that “he’s into you.”
Dating apps have changed the game and made it easier than ever to date casually but that doesn’t mean you have to date someone that treats your feelings casually. Define what you’re looking for, have enough self-worth and self-confidence to weed out anyone who doesn’t treat you with respect and have fun! You can do this. I believe in you!