Though I’ve been out of the dating scene for a few years, I still get pangs of PTSD just thinking about it. With social media, texting, and dating apps we have nonstop access and reminders of who’s taking forever to text back, #couplegoals, where and what others are doing, ghosting, etc. There’s a lot to process, and if you’re actively looking for a partner it can often become stressful and frustrating. Trust me, I’ve experienced dating burn out first hand. I was the queen of overanalyzing, getting upset with slow texters, making myself readily available for others at a moment’s notice, and so forth. It took a bad breakup for me to finally decide to look inward in order to flip the script.
It’s what Psychology Today calls “intuitive dating,” when you essentially center self-care at the forefront of your dating process. Personally, this made a tremendous difference in how I approached dating, how I let it affect me, and how it pulled my now partner in, instead of pushing him away. When I began to focus more on my self, and my own self-care I saw things more clearly. I had better judgment, didn’t allow petty things to stress me out, felt more confident, and at peace.
So, how do you go about intuitive dating to avoid burn out? Here are a few simple steps:
Set a clear intention for yourself in this process. Whether you’re interested in settling down with one person or dating more casually, stand firm in your decision. Let your intention for dating be known early on and pay close attention to the words and actions of whoever you’re dating to ensure that they align.
For instance, if you happen to start seeing the “person of your dreams,” but they say they don’t want to be exclusive. Or, they rarely ever initiate contact, make plans, and seem generally uninterested, don’t settle with hopes that they’ll eventually come around. You know deep down what it is you want, and sometimes that means having to move on in order to receive it.
Now that’s not to say that our minds don’t change. So if you decide to let go of exclusivity, just be sure that you’re truly excited and okay with going in that direction.
Remember, Not Everything, Is a “Thing”
I was actually talking to my friend about this a few weeks ago. In dating, we often want to make everything significant to feel more in control. Especially when we aren’t getting any direct feedback from the person we’re dating.
For instance, you may be used to a good morning text from this particular person each day but this time you haven’t heard from them. Perhaps it’s been a tough or busy morning on their end, try to be patient and refocus on what things *you* have to get done that day.
Or, if you haven’t heard from someone in months and they suddenly go on a “liking” spree on all of your IG pics. This may not be a sign that they’ve changed their mind about not wanting to settle down, it could simply be an instance of “Paperclipping.”
We often get ourselves caught up in overanalyzing or decoding each text instead of taking things for what they are. And it’s human, but when it gets to the point of causing you distress, it needs to be regulated. Try asking them directly what they mean, or what their intentions are behind a specific action. OR sit back and ask yourself, why this particular action is bothering you so much. Once you begin to unpack it, you’ll slowly feel a sense of relief.
Give Yourself A Break
This one is two-fold. First, give yourself a literal break. If you seem to be dating back to back, with situation after situation and feel more stressed than normal, hit pause. Take some time to recharge and be with yourself or loved ones to fill you up. Pouring out so much to others and situations can be draining and it’s important that you continuously take time for yourself in the process.
The second aspect of this is that just because you haven’t been in a relationship in the past few months, years, or ever it doesn’t mean you’re unlovable. Give yourself a break! Treat yourself with the same kindness you give to others. What would you tell a friend in your situation? What kind words can you share with yourself? Whenever you’re feeling weary, try reciting some of these mantras:
- “I am worthy of love.”
- “Love flows within me.”
- “I trust in divine timing and know that the perfect love for me is on its way now.”
- “I am worthy and deserving of a loving relationship.”
Stick To Your Regularly Scheduled Program
I used to be notorious for making myself available for those I was dating. I’d wait (often impatiently) for them to ask to see me, or I’d rearrange my plans to fit their schedule. This left me rushing to get ready at the last minute, canceling on people who cared about me, and overall just feeling like I was on call at all times. I was on edge, wondering when our next outing would be, instead of truly living in my day-to-day.
With that said, stick to your hobbies, sis. If you like bingeing Netflix on a Friday night, do it proudly. Practicing yoga after work, keep going. Brunching with your girls on Saturday, get boozy. Unless you see that it’s been a mutual effort, don’t allow your world to stop only when it’s convenient for them.
Take Time To Reflect
In order to move forward, we sometimes have to look back. Examine your past relationships, your childhood, and any trauma you may have experienced that could impact your dating life. Unpack these situations with a therapist, close friend, or simply your journal. When we keep things bottled up, it’s difficult to truly process how they may affect us. So by laying it out there you can see each situation with fresh eyes and figure out how to move on.
Like building any new habit, intuitive dating is definitely a process that takes time and practice. So, don’t beat yourself up if you stumble along the way. Take your time, and know that the right person will come, because you deserve it.