I used to play a little game called “Ohhh let me see if I can get him to like me, and then love me and marry me!”
Want to play? Here’s rule #1: You have to act a certain way in order to get what you think you want. It’s not always easy. And there are no guarantees that you’ll even want what you end up winning.
So how do you approach dating in a way that not just allows you to be authentically you, but even celebrates it?
1. Find out who you are
You’ve probably heard this before, but your relationship with yourself is the most important thing you have. Cherish it and nourish it like you would a relationship outside of yourself. Take yourself on dates, nourish and nurture yourself, and learn to really love yourself. I am not saying you need to be perfect and completely healed from any past hurts. But you do need to know those hurts, how they affect you, and what’s important to you for your life. And a commitment to putting yourself first goes a long way towards being your real self while dating. This is a life-long process, and it does not stop in a relationship.
2. Ask what do YOU want
We’ve all started at or gotten to the point where we are more concerned about how someone else is feeling about us, than how we feel about them. (“Does he want to marry me yet??”) So how do you recognize what you truly want? By learning from experience and knowing yourself.
This is the greatest gift of our former relationships. Still groaning over your latest ex? Instead, take an honest look at what worked, and what didn’t. By learning from the old we can create the new, rather than just repeat patterns. What do you want from your relationship? How do you want to feel in your relationship? And who do you want to be with? And if you have a handful of deal-breakers, know those too.
3. Listen to your gut
This is the most natural thing, and yet often so hard for many of us. Often we know what is right for us and we just don’t listen. Many of us just want to be done already, right? How many more dates do I have to go on? So often that fear of being alone (or having to start all over) weighs so heavily on us that we’d rather settle than face our fear.
Have faith that you will ﬁnd the right ﬁt for you, and that ﬁlling time with the wrong person may only delay that. Be willing to let it go when you know itʼs not right for you. You know the difference, but you have to commit to listening to your gut.
Get used to your gut leading the way…go try that new restaurant, stop by the grocery store, or try new groups or events for people with similar interests as you. (Ed: That’s exactly why we created YogaDates – to bring together like-minded people.)
4. Notice when you lose yourself in your relationship
Havenʼt seen your friends in a long time? Donʼt talk to your mom as much? Meditation practice gone awry? Candlelight or sunrise yoga replaced by drinking nights out or lounging in bed all morning?
These arenʼt all bad things. They’re all ways we adjust our lives to let people in. The key is how much, and when do you start losing you?
Notice whether you still make time for you. Notice how your life is shifting and what shifts feel good and fulfilling, and what shifts make you wish you had more time in your day. Those latter ones are places where you are losing parts of yourself. Decide whatʼs important to you and keep your commitment to yourself. It might mean you have slightly less time available for the person youʼre dating, but it may also mean YOU are more available and accessible for you both.
5. Have fun, relax, and just be
Dating and falling in love is suppose to be fun! Get our of your analytical mind, and enter the space of your heart. Take a deep breath. Be yourself. There is no right or wrong way to be… and once you step into that space, dating can actually be both fun and relaxing.
Please share your stories in the comments- how have you either lost or maintained yourself in dating? What tips can you share for being your true self in this process of ﬁnding someone?
Dia Draper is a life coach and yoga instructor working with people to find their true selves, identify and release limiting beliefs, and live a bigger life. She also does meditation and spiritual consulting.