Do we become less likely to find a date or a mate when we become more self-aware and emotionally resilient? More self-sufficient and secure? More confident, purposeful and direct?
A friend of mine recently remarked that I am more difficult to be with now – ‘because you’re so strong’. I had to at least consider it: there is definitely less excitement and action in the romance department these days.
Well I thought about it, and I don’t buy it.
My personal growth hasn’t made me more difficult to be with. Actually I am overall easier to be with. (I was a sulky, passive aggressive nightmare in my late twenties, whereas now, I’ll generally take responsibility for my emotions.) Nope, it is getting to the stage of ‘with’ that’s the issue: in other words, it is my dating pool that has taken a nosedive. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Believing the lie that personal growth work and traits such as intelligence inherently make us less able to find love isn’t useful. We are not superior or special now that we are smarter than before. We did not become too acquired a taste. In fact, if anything we routinely prefix with ‘I am’ is probably a limiting story we need to question.
These qualities make us more attractive – to other attractive people. After all, if our more secure actions and behaviour are confusing to potential prospects, then what better way to filter the unsuitable?
That said, being more self-aware changes the types of challenges that we face in relationships and dating. The decisions that come with knowing what you want and don’t want, and being truthful to that, replace the old challenges of navigating the quagmire of your own and other people’s insecurities.
(Very occasionally!) I feel nostalgic for the old days. The early flutters of first liking someone – of figuring out whether they like me back. The days I actually wanted to stalk people on social media, to make conclusions about them ahead of time. Of obsessing and over analyzing their every move and word. When you do self work, these pursuits hold no interest or value for you anymore.
What did I mean earlier when I said I thought the dating pool got smaller?
I think that self growth changes your choices and your levels of self honesty. You get more discriminating.
For me, I’ve noticed that although romantic possibilities are less frequent, the quality has improved. I have felt a purer, simpler connection the last couple of times I dated. I guess that is because I am compelled to go with only my strongest attractions and curiosities. When life is good, you’ll really only explore something — someone —when they really resonate with you. Why bother otherwise?
It can feel a little bittersweet, though. Because I think only when we get to this integrity in ourselves do we crave the kind of partnership we become capable of providing. We want to be with other people the way we are with ourselves.
Still, we can always enjoy that level of intimacy within our friendships.
That’s the thing about doing personal development: a broader view is always available.