Let me begin this by saying, self-care is not finite. You don’t go to X number of therapy sessions, write “this” number of journal entries, meditate “this” many times and become cured. It’s a continuous process of discovery and growth, and it looks different for us all. The same goes for dating. With the recent boom in popularity of self-care, this narrative of having to be “whole” before you start dating is being pushed down our throats. And quite frankly, that puts way too much pressure on people. Who has time to wait until you’re perfect and living your “best life” before you’re allowed to date? If that’s the case then a lot of us won’t be anytime soon. It’s okay to be a work in progress, and whoever’s meant to be can embark on this journey with you. You can find love while you’re still finding yourself.
It’s okay to be a work in progress, and whoever’s meant to be can embark on this journey with you.
When I met my now-boyfriend, I was in the early stages of my self-care journey. I had lost myself in my previous relationship and friendships, and for the first time began practicing looking inward. And although I was soul-searching, it didn’t mean I couldn’t receive love in the process. I just had to be mindful along the way so that I’d actually stick to my routine. And over the years, I’ve grown, which influenced David to work on himself as well. Resulting in our relationship evolving more and more each day.
So, how do you find love while you’re still finding yourself? It’s all about being intentional.
Set Clear Boundaries
Say you recently developed a habit of unplugging from the world on Sunday evenings. You’ve decided that this is when you’ll prioritize some quality “me time.” Just because you start dating someone new, that doesn’t mean this needs to stop. In fact, it’s best to stick to these commitments now more than ever, so you don’t lose yourself.
Now, this doesn’t mean saying “I’m busy practicing self-care right now, leave me alone.” It’s instead, being clear and direct with the other person about things that are important in your life.
“I’d love to grab a drink on Sunday, but to be honest I usually like to have those evenings to myself so I can recharge for the week. Maybe we can do something earlier in the day or after work?”
When you stand firm in what is valuable to you early on, they’ll be more likely to respect your boundaries throughout the relationship. People aren’t always drawn to someone who’s just readily available at their beck and call, trust me. So, doing your own thing confidently can actually be a turn on.
Don’t be afraid to let the other person in. Opening up about your journey will not only take the pressure off, but it’s a good way to gauge if they’re a keeper or not. Someone who understands your need for growth and who is willing to respect your process is worthy of your love.
Someone who understands your need for growth and who is willing to respect your process is worthy of your love.
This doesn’t mean diving into a conversation about what “my therapist said” on the first date. But once you feel the time is right, letting them know that your self-care journey is one of your biggest priorities right now is a great way to build a connection.
Not only does transparency feel good when it’s respected by the other person, but you may inspire them to do their own internal work as well.
Your Happiness Isn’t Their Job
Feelings of joy can be found in the right person, but your overall happiness is something you are in control of. A lot of times when we jump into relationships while we’re working on ourselves, we tend to dump our load onto the other person. And I’m sorry to say it, but it ain’t theirs to carry.
Be open, but also be mindful. The person you’re dating should be an ear to listen, and a shoulder to cry on, but they aren’t your therapist. Set a healthy boundary in that regard and make sure that you’re taking ownership of your own growth.
Remember, It’s Okay To Stumble Along The Way
Old habits die hard. I definitely found myself falling back into some of the insecurities and actions that I once had in the beginning. No one’s perfect, and like I said you can’t just “fix” yourself overnight. You’re human.
So, if in your self-care journey and as you’re dating you stumble, the most important thing to do is own it. From there learn from it and continue to move forward. Being open and honest in these moments is the best way to gain trust in your potential partner, and if they’re a keeper they’ll be more than willing to understand.