I say this every time, but it really has been awhile since I’ve written anything on this blog. For the past few months, I haven’t felt motivated to write much of anything. There have been so many shifts in my personal life – with my friendships, family – that I’ve been taking the time to process those and honestly, that takes all of the energy out of me.
However, I got a message from a follower on my Instagram asking where my blog posts were, and it made me realize that this is my first love. This is my passion, and it also has always helped me to heal – why not go back to it?
Around five months ago, I was broken up with for the third time. Relationships haven’t ever been easier for me. I’ve always felt like “too much,” and that I’m bothering the person I’m with. I thought this more recent person was much different, more authentic, but it turned out that he wasn’t ready to for a real, adult relationship. So, I am single again and with that comes a lot of self-realization, and dating.
Since I’ve been around the block three times now, I thought I would share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Here’s a little guide on how I navigate dating with anxiety!
***Also, I’ll be including GIFs into my post because they are fun and I love them. That is all.
Alone time is essential
Alone does not mean lonely. Repeat that as many times as you need to to actually believe it. Just because you are alone, without a partner right now, does not mean you have to feel lonely.
If you aren’t used to it, is being consistently alone difficult? Of course. It’s not something you will get used to overnight. After one of my exes broke up with me, I remember calling my dad and sobbing, afraid to go to sleep because I knew I would wake up in the morning alone. I still remember what he said to this day: “Erica, morning will come no matter what you are afraid of.”
And he was right, morning still came. I woke up crying, but I was still okay. There are no set steps to being comfortable with alone time, it’s just something you have to sit down and do. Sit with it, and eventually it will start to feel good.
Now, I cherish my time alone. I’m beyond grateful that I took the time and learned to love hanging out with myself because guess what? I’m fucking fun. As an added bonus, learning to enjoy your own time does wonders for your self worth, and will make for an even healthier relationship when you do find someone in the future. Give it a try.
You don’t have to be dating if everyone else is
I’ve been here, believe me. I was literally just here. Let me tell you, peer pressure is alive and well at 27, it’s kind of crazy.
I don’t really go out much anymore, but when I do – a lot of the time, my friends are on dating apps. Which is totally fine and I respect my friends for putting themselves out there, they deserve to find someone. However, sometimes it can lead me to think that since they are on it, and talking about it as a group, that I need to be on it as well.
When we see others doing something as a group, the pull to feel included is strong. The harder thing to do is self-evaluate. Do I actually want to be on dating apps, or is this just because everyone else is and I want to be part of the discussion?
It’s been something I’ve been learning on a case by case basis, but I’ve definitely done it. If the dating apps aren’t working for you, get off of them. Don’t sign onto something that makes you feel less than, or anxious. If you have healthy, supportive friends they will understand. I have incredibly genuine and supportive friends that have told me it’s okay if I’m not ready. I’m thankful to have them around.
Trust your gut
Listen when something feels off. That’s your intuition warning you that you’re maybe going down a path not quite right, for right now. My whole dating history, I’ve been very dismissive of my intuition. She senses that something is amiss, trying to prepare me emotionally for what is to come, and I just chalk it up to anxiety or thinking something is always going wrong. But, it’s a different feeling than anxiety. It’s strong, and it’s true.
If you decide to go on Tinder or Bumble, make sure that it feels right. If you get that ping in your gut telling you you need a little more time, that’s okay. If you go on a dating app, talk to other people, and then realize that you don’t want to continue, need more time – that’s okay too. If you don’t get that gut feeling and you’re comfortable with putting yourself out there, that’s okay too. Go get that cake if you’re ready, I say.
There is no perfect time to become self-aware. It might not be convenient, but it’s always worth it to be honest with where you’re at, and to be honest with the other person. Don’t just ghost them, tell them. Explain to them – in whatever comfort level you feel – that you might have thought now was a good time for you to put yourself out there, but turns out it’s not. It’s that simple. I’ve learned both from experience and from the sage advice of my therapist and friends, that people respect authenticity and honesty in dating. It might be awkward, but leave it on a good note. Be true to you. If the other person doesn’t respect that – and I’ve gotten that before too – that is their issue to work out. You’ve spoken your truth, and to be real, it’s a serious red flag if someone can’t respect your decision and ability to say no. Good riddance.
Take baby steps
One day at a time. Being alone, or “single” isn’t about finding the one, or the *next* one. The purpose isn’t just a chunk of time meant to search for a soulmate – it’s your life. Take the time to search for who you are, fall in love with each and every part of what makes you, you. The good, bad, confusing, scary parts that no one pays attention to, claps for, understands, or sees on a daily basis. The more you understand you, the more you can show others how to understand – and treat – you.
Now, I am not a believer in this idea that you have to “love yourself in order to be loved.” That is complete bullshit. Most people with mental illness do not love themselves each and every day. It’s a constant battle to see our worth, but I will say that the more you dig deep down and meet every part of yourself– the more bright your light shines. So bright that the right person – or people – won’t be able to take their eyes off of it.
You are worthy of being alone and enjoying you, and you are more than deserving of sharing your life with someone who loves, understands, and wants to grow – together. Confront the fear of being on your own, don’t settle for less. Right now, someone you haven’t met is out there wondering what it would be like to meet you. Don’t lose hope, take care of yourself, your time will come.