You look around and to see your dating life in shambles. You don’t know why you keep self-sabotaging and choosing partners who aren’t good for you. It’s easy to feel hopeless when you reach this point, but the good news is that there’s a lot you can do to grow in this area of your life.
1. Give yourself some validation in knowing that dating is f*cking hard.
Let’s be honest: Dating totally sucks sometimes. It’s humans coming together and bringing all of their baggage with them. There’s turmoil even in the healthiest of relationships. Just because you haven’t settled down with a good match yet does not mean you’re hopeless. It means you’re a human being doing the best you can with what you have.
2. Practice self-compassion and forgiveness.
Dating is hard work. It really shows you all the parts of yourself that you may have been trying to stuff away. This is all okay. No one is perfect and you’re not asked to be. In order to move onto a healthier life, you need to first work on forgiving yourself for any mistakes you may have made. Think of yourself as a little girl; would you talk to 10-year-old you how you’re talking to yourself now? I don’t think so. Instead, give yourself a nice compassionate hug.
3. Examine your negative self-talk.
If your thoughts were written on your body, others around you would be astounded at how mean you are to yourself. How do you feel about your ability to be in a relationship? What are your thoughts around your character? If they’re anything like mine can be, they’re “I’m unworthy, unlovable, and incapable of having a healthy relationship.” With thoughts like that, no wonder you’re having the relationships you are!
4. Note what issues are regularly brought up by people you date.
If your dating life is a disaster, it’s not because you’ve been single forever. It’s likely because you’ve had a slew of relationships or dates that really didn’t work out in your favor. I know it’s uncomfortable, but sit down to take an honest look at what your partners tell you. Maybe you’ve heard over and over again that you’re really stubborn and hard to communicate with. Even if this pisses you off, it’s useful information. If you can take a look at what it might mean, you can grow as a person for your next relationship.
5. See how well you’re taking care of yourself.
Self-care seems tangential when it comes to relationships, but it’s super relevant. Would you rather date someone who has hobbies, great hygiene, a balanced work and play life, and friends? Or would you rather date someone who’s married to their job or codependent in relationships? How you practice self-care and nourishing your life really indicates how you’re going to be in partnership with another person. You can’t spend 24/7 with a partner and have a healthy life, just like you can’t eat chocolate cake three meals a day and live a healthy life. Take some small steps to include more loving self-care in your life.
6. Take a pulse on your happiness at your job.
How you feel about your job may also seem unrelated, but it’s a huge part of your life. You can’t compartmentalize misery in your life. If you’re working too much or your job gets you fired up, it’s definitely spilling over into the rest of your life. It may be a huge factor in why you’re having trouble dating in a healthy way. I’m not saying quit your job today, but be willing to take an honest pulse of how it’s going.
7. Take a look at who you surround yourself with.
The company that you keep is very indicative of who you are as a person. If you’re surrounding yourself with friends who party too much, don’t take relationships seriously, and aren’t very good friends to you, this is going to impact you in a big way. Friendships influence the way you think about yourself and how you get support. Again, I’m not saying ditch your friends, but taking an honest look at how things are can really go a long way.
8. Make a list of your deal-breakers.
Don’t fall under the delusion that self-improvement will fix everything. It’s a great place to start, but you might still let people who aren’t worth your time sneak in. To start moving toward attracting healthier partners, make a literal list of your deal-breakers. Focus on values and what you really can’t see having in your life. For example, maybe you need to see someone a few days a week in order to be happy. Someone who regularly travels and is gone for long periods of time isn’t going to be a match for you.
9. Slow everything down in dating.
I’d be willing to bet that if your dating life is a disaster, you zip through relationships. Once you meet someone, you push the throttle all the way forward and you speed through until you crash. I know it’s tempting and it can be sexy, but it’s not worth the pain and damage. Try to slow everything down. Maybe for you, this just means waiting a few weeks or months to sleep with the person. You’ll get tons of benefits from slowing the f*ck down.
10. Seek professional help.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention professional help. Many people have messy dating lives because they have unprocessed childhood (or otherwise) trauma. The things that happen to you in your life play a bigger role than you may care to admit. There’s no shame in getting a therapist or going to a 12-step program. These experts can really help you tease out what’s going on in your dating life and offer some solid solutions to have healthier relationships.