Dating in this generation has changed quite substantially from when our parents or possibly even our older siblings had once experienced it. From “sliding into DM’s” to swiping right on Tinder, technology has offered more ways than ever before to finding your “perfect match”. However, with the accessibility of hundreds of potential suitors, the world of dating has somehow become more complicated to navigate.
Whether you’re getting your feet wet in the dating scene or have been dating for years, this article is here to guide you through the do’s and dont’s of dating in this generation. By the end, you’ll learn how to put aside unrealistic expectations, focus on fun and connection, understand how rejection is necessary, and how to let go of any social pressure that surrounds dating.
Although not many of us want to admit it, the truth of the matter is that we all have some version of unrealistic expectations when it comes to dating. Whether it’s the Disney version or not, it definitely exists. The first step is to recognize what expectations you have and decide if they are non-negotiable.
When it comes to finding a partner who you’d like to spend most of your days with, it’s reasonable to assume that you desire certain traits, values, and interests in a person.
One way to determine your non-negotiables is by listing what you need from a partner such as honesty, a good sense of humour, open-mindedness, empathy, and so on. Getting clear on these traits can keep you on the right path to finding a person who brings value to the table.
For those of you whose unrealistic expectations keep you from going on a second date, it may be helpful to consider what the dating and relationship experts at Gottman Institute have to say about this. Current research has found that “unique value” is far more important than “mate value” when building a connection. What the mate value offers is an average first impression (i.e physical attributes and level of attraction) whereas the unique value is exposed slowly over time only through getting to know one another on a deeper level.
Consider dating as a way to get to know people, learn something new, and create light-hearted experiences along the way. Rather than going into your first, second, or fifth date with the expectation that it better go flawlessly or that you’ll have an instantaneous connection, go in with an open mind, patience, and a willingness to discover more about that person.
Putting yourself out there in the dating scene can be incredibly nerve-wracking. What do I wear? Am I talking too much? Do they even like me? Before you begin to spiral out of control over all these questions, stop yourself and consider the only important question… Am I building a genuine connection with this person?
Focusing outward rather than inward can help you combat those first-date nerves and keep your attention on the conversation in front of you. Stay present in the moment without attending to any worries or insecurities.
Here are some tips to keep you focused on building a genuine connection:
- Be curious and ask thoughtful questions to promote a deeper level of conversation
- Pay attention by making the conscious effort to stay present in the conversation and offer your shared interests and experiences when appropriate
- Be honest with yourself by giving yourself permission to part ways with a person if you are not genuinely interested in them
The dating journey can certainly be a bumpy path for many of us. At one point or another, we have all dealt with rejection in some way, shape, or form. Whether you’re the person being rejected or the one doing the rejecting, it’s a very natural part of the dating experience. One very important thing to keep in mind is that rejection should not be viewed as a scary, horrible, or devastating occurrence. The key is to accept that rejection is not only normal, but it’s actually healthy.
Here are three ways you can become better equipped to handle rejection:
1. Do not take it personally: rejection can be a result of many different variables. If a person no longer wants to spend time with you, no matter how many dates you go on, it’s important to never take it personally. There are plenty of other kind humans out there that will value you the way you deserve.
2. Do not dwell on the “what ifs”: so many of us fall into a pattern of dwelling on the “what ifs” when something bad happens. The beautiful thing about rejection is knowing that it happened for a reason and that person was simply not meant for you. There’s no use ruminating over any mistakes; instead, dealing with rejection in a positive manner can increase your strength, resilience, and confidence in the long term.
3. Take time to acknowledge your feelings before moving on: understanding that it’s normal to feel hurt, disappointed, or even resentful after being rejected can help you heal faster. Acknowledging your feelings will keep you from suppressing them and allowing the pain to fester over time.
Feeling pressure from friends or family to find a significant other is definitely a challenge many of us face. Unfortunately, society makes us believe that being single is wrong and that finding a partner will make us feel happier, more fulfilled, and more socially accepted. The problem is, this pressure can lead individuals into the wrong relationships just to feel a sense of belonging.
At the end of the day, the most important relationship any of us will ever have is the relationship with ourselves. Although it’s not abnormal to desire companionship, it’s also very healthy to feel completely fulfilled as a single person. Once you discover true happiness as an individual, you can then learn to share your life with someone else. Remember, your partner should add value to your life, not be the only reason your life has value.
If you’re single, you may wonder how relationship counselling could ever benefit you. The fact of the matter is, relationship counselling is a beneficial avenue for individuals of all ages and sexual orientations to seek advice and guidance in the world of dating.
At On Your Mind Counselling, our team of experienced therapists offer relationship counselling services to help you get back into the dating scene, improve your self-confidence, help break bad habits, and guide you towards getting to know yourself better. Click here to book your free 30-minute counselling session and start your journey towards a more healthy and fulfilling life.
Written by Tori Mudie BA, MA, RP, CCC