My dating life is pathetic because I find it hard to love and accept others when I don’t love and accept myself. I’m not at ease with others and that doesn’t allow them to be at ease. Suggestions?
Yes, ditch your allegiance to the self-help gurus who say you must love yourself before you can love anyone else. If that statement was true, no one would ever love or be loved, because no one can love themselves or others that perfectly. It could be argued that a narcissist loves him or herself perfectly, but in truth, a narcissist is capable of attachment to an admirer, but not capable of love. The person dating the narcissist isn’t in love, either. He or she is in co-dependency, or some other unawakened state. So please don’t judge yourself so harshly for not yet having a partner. All of us stumble on the path to self-understanding, and in relationship.
When someone says: “You must love yourself before you can love others,” what they mean is that we love others to the extent that we have accepted ourselves. So if I have accepted that I am sometimes annoying, imperfect, demanding and impatient (and I am), I can embrace all of who another person is. That’s love. It’s not love to only celebrate someone’s light, while pretending his or her dark side doesn’t exist. That’s denial.
For you to love yourself is to accept that you’re insecure at times, and that meeting new people heightens your insecurity. You’re not alone in that experience—a lot of people share those feelings, even people who seem to have life dialed in. The good news is that the skills you need can be learned, and will improve with practice. Begin with a commitment to learning how to be authentic. If you feel uncomfortable approaching someone you are attracted to, say so. Like this: “I’m nervous approaching you, but I didn’t want this moment to pass without introducing myself. There’s something about you that just stands out, and I wanted to tell you.” If the person says thank you but shuts you down, don’t take it as defeat. Celebrate breaking through fear to grow into who you are, and who you are becoming. In other words, discover how easy it is to be you.
I have a love-hate relationship with online dating. It’s scary to date people who might not call you back or who you think you like, and who might not like you. It makes me afraid to talk to people I see and am attracted to when I travel or in my daily life. Any advice?
Choosing to tell yourself stories of all of the terrible things that could possibly happen if you extend yourself in love, is well, crazy. Why turn your dreams into nightmares? Most people do it because it gives them an excuse to hide, or to attack. Yes, that means they really don’t want what they say they want (a partner); they’re just trying to conform to social expectations around romantic relationships. But having a partner won’t invest you with a sense of belonging. You must embrace the ways you already belong, and currently have what you want. So stop rejecting the single life. Stop worrying about whether your phone calls will be returned, or your affections requited. Call yourself back to the present, and enjoy every moment.