20 Reasons to Date Again

I turn 28 this year.  Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a piece called 20 Reasons to Not Date Until 30. As I wrote this piece, I laughed, seeing the date of publication on that earlier piece: April 26, 2017. So much has changed for me. I am not the woman who wrote that piece. I thought it would take me three years to recover. The universe smiled and said, “ok, sure, write what you need to write, let’s see how this plays out.” A year later, like a cosmic joke I’m in on, I’m… fine. Different. Fine. Good. Better. It’s amazing what can happen if you put in the work without worrying about the result. Give yourself time, and the universe will give you everything else you need. In my case, this is what the universe told me: “Set your goal,  do the work – and here is my gift to you: it won’t even take a full year.” So here is how I date now.

  1. I know who I am. People need to know who they are if they are dating as adults. I am committed to growing into who I am alongside those who I meet. I know my values, my strengths, my weaknesses. I am not willing to compromise my values; I am committed to deepening my sense of integrity with whoever I meet.
  2. I know what I offer – and I see to have it appreciated in my close relationships. If it’s not, it’s never going to work.  After my last experiences, I was left with a devastating sense that I had nothing to offer and that this is why people left me. But that’s ego talking. Here’s why: usually when people leave, it has nothing to do with the other person in an intense way around inadequacy/lack of offering. People leave because they leave. They aren’t feeling it. They have their own insecurities. Why someone leaves is  not my business – knowing what I offer and being clear about it is essential. It is everyone’s business to know exactly what they are bringing to the table and to be clear and up front about it.
  3. I know what I need in a partner. I know what strengths, characteristics, communication skills, pace, values, life stage, and qualities I want in someone. I have thought about it through and through.
  4. I meet people with where they are at – and make it clear where I am at. I do not fantasize. I do not needlessly or endlessly or tragically “hope” that someone likes me. I do not tragically “hope” that I will like them.
  5. I approach dating without ego – without hierarchies about who is better or worse. I see who fits into my life with clarity, with precision, with insight. I am not interested in chasing or being chased. I am not interested in “winning” a partner as though it is a contest.
  6. I see people where they are at: flaws, ego, strengths, weaknesses, areas of growth. I see if they are people who are already growing in directions that make sense to me. I see if a solid partnership can be developed.
  7. Romance means something totally different to me now compared to a year ago. I don’t care about superficial flirtation. I do still care about sexual chemistry and emotional chemistry. I do care about compatibility and how well someone fits into my life and how well I fit into theirs.  I can envision a different way to romantically love someone. There is no anxiety, fear, jitters. There are also no butterflies anymore. But… there is still a spark sometimes. There is still some sort of chemistry that makes sense – it’s just not some far off unattainable thing.
  8. I look to see if my time, energy, and Self are being respected by my partner. The standard? Is what it has always been: myself. my Self. But now my Self is sharper, clearer, stronger.
  9. I know what I will tolerate and what I will not – and what I am willing to work with if a change seems likely or possible. I have standards for what I know I want without expecting everyone I meet or have a connection with to meet those standards. I know my boundaries. This is not to close people out, but to be selective about who I let in and why. This is an expression of my deepest responsibility to myself. This means that I have standards for what I want – and those standards are in accordance with everything else that is amazing in my life that I have built over this past year and will continue to build.
  10. I have buried, cremated, burned away, laid to peaceful rest my troubled past. I do not seek new lovers to heal past wounds  – and I expect them to have worked on theirs.  It is what it is. It was what it was. And I came to terms with it. My romances and dating history were small – tiny – but compared to what? Some weird standard of what I thought a relationship had to be to “count”? They were not insignificant due to the impact they had on my life. Other things, bitter things happened to me; they showed up in my dating life too – so often we seek lovers as aid for our wounds, and sometimes this is ok but sometimes it is not. Regarding the level of pain in my life I had to process, no partner could really stick around for that level of comfort, and I understand that better now.  And so…
  11. I have no guilt or shame about what happened between me and people I dated whose departures from my life affected me intensely. It ended. They left. I was dumped twice. And rightfully so – who I was when they dated me was not someone I enjoyed being. There were many hearts I broke along the way too – and again rightfully so: they were not people who would help me on my journey in a way that was fair to either of us. It is no one’s fault. No one is that special to be loved by everyone and no one is so disgusting to be rejected by everyone – thinking either thought is an egotistical way to approach life.
  12. I love who I am now – without ego or pride – in a general way. I am interested in parenting myself. Does that make sense? We turn into our own guideposts as we age. We see the flaws in our parents, we see them as human. And I am human too. I know that no matter how future relationships work out or don’t, I am committed to a process of bettering myself and the world around me. I am not interested in being a different version of myself when I date.
  13. I answer to a higher sense of Self – the “who I want to be” and the “who I am becoming” every day. Because of this, I want people in my life – friends, family, partners who aid me in that process.
  14. I am open to being vulnerable. I am open to stating my needs and being open about what I need and want without begging for consideration. I am committed to seeing with clear eyes exactly how I am being treated and I am strong enough to leave if my needs aren’t met. I am strong enough to assert what my needs are without internalizing rejection as a measure of my self worth.
  15. I do not internalize rejection – or validation – as a measure of my self worth. Who I am is beyond what any single person thinks of me, whether their opinion of me is good or bad. Who I am is the standard of integrity that I answer to – and no one has control of that except the deepest, best, and most profound part of me.
  16. I value security, stability, and reliability alongside emotional and sexual chemistry. Flakiness makes me lose interest. Lack of communication makes me lose interest. I am turned off by people who do not know what they want. I am turned off by people who are too cowardly to make a commitment to what they actually want.
  17. I give what I can, and not a single drop more, not for a single second more. I will never be in a codependent relationship again, where I demand from a place of ego (I need you! So much! Don’t you love me enough?) and where I offer from a place of ego (you need me! let me take care of you!) . I give what I can, I take what I need – and that is it. Offering at the expense of your own self respect, dignity, sense of Self is unkind and cruel to oneself and to one’s partners.
  18. I appreciate connections without reading into them for “more”. In the past, I couldn’t understand why people don’t invest in good connections with me. Then I broke a dozen hearts (and then some). I experienced a “spark” with some, and didn’t with others. Why did I end it? Because I saw that there was no foreseeable future. There is a gate now between connection and commitment for me – and it doesn’t decrease the value of the connection or call into question its legitimacy. And so, I know that in my previous dating experiences where I was rejected and really liked the other person, the connection was real. It’s always real. Those kisses that feel magical really are magical – they’re just not enough sometimes.
  19. I reject avoidant people and overly attached people. Neither interests me. Neither draws me in. Dating will be balanced and neutral or it will be useless to me. I am not interested in playing games; I am interested in authentically connecting.
  20. I trust myself in a complete way – including dating, selecting people to let into my life. I trust myself to make kind and good choices for myself in general for my life – and that means I trust my process of dating. Before trusting someone else, I had to learn to trust myself.

Final thought: Before being ready to date, I had to do a lot of work to feel comfortable being loved. I had to understand for myself what that really meant. I needed to build a standard of what I would accept in my life as a reasonable way to be loved. And, it turns out, surprising no one in my life, that when I develop standards for something, they’re damn high. They’re concrete. There is a bar that I meet (or try to meet) every day in how I treat myself and others – and that is the bar I expect others in my life to meet. Love should never be a reason to lower your standards. I never want to feel weak in love again; I want to feel as I do every day, when I approach my Self with love: I want to feel strong in love. 

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