Several years ago I became obsessed with the idea of meeting my soul mate. (Yes, that was several years ago. And yes, I am a serial dater-- go ahead an make all your Taylor Swift jokes now). That quest led me on a journey of self-improvement, reading every possible book there is on soul-mates and dating-- and yes, lots and lots of dates. Some pleasant, and some not - so - pleasant ones that could easily fit into a hysterically bad scene of a rom-com. All jokes aside, despite having failed relationships and not having found "the one" for me, I'm incredibly grateful for what the dating experience has taught me and I wish more people would put themselves out on the line, without the fear or rejection or results (though results are important-- Check out my blog post on "Dating Smarter Not Harder"), in order to also benefit from what the world of dating has to offer. Here are a few of the things I've learned in my years of dating (and hopefully you can benefit from them too):
1) How to Have Healthy Boundaries. Don't take crap from others. Don't allow them to treat you poorly or accept treatment that is less than what you deserve. Don't settle for the sake of comfort, and keep pursuing your heart's desires. Do not accept poor treatment out of fear of being alone. I know many women (myself included) who have given more of themselves out of a desire to be loved, and end up only being used. This is a lesson I've had to learn for myself, and hopefully you can learn too: It's so important to have healthy boundaries. If something makes you uncomforable, don't do it. If you aren't ready to be committed to someone because you feel things are being rushed, don't do it. If someone is unkind, disrespectful in any way, honor your boundaries and either let them know you are bothered or cut them out of your life! Have your boundaries set in place: Determine what it is you want and how much of yourself you are willing to give, and stick to it. Which brings me to my next point:
2) The Importance of Self Love & Respect. Dating has taught me the importance of having a healthy self love and self respect. When we don't respect or value ourselves, our boundary lines suffer for it. We accept treatment that is less than what we deserve because we lack the self-esteem or self-respect to say enough is enough. When you don't love or value yourself, your decision-making ability is impaired, and you become much more prone to making action you'll later regret. Learn to love yourself by treating your body with respect: Invest in your health and self-improvement. Get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, learn something new, have fun, and indulge a little (try your favorite chocolate, buy yourself a book or some flowers, get a pedicure). Love your self right, and you'll begin to attract others who love you right as well (and weed out the ones who don't).
3) Enhanced Communication Skills & Engagement Abilities. There's a reason why people say men are from Mars and women are from venus, and a lot of it has to do with the way we comminicate. Dating requires that you utilize and enhance those communicating skills. Having healthy communication skills is an asset that will benefit you in any life circumstance. Being able to accurately depict your thoughts, feelings, and desires through words is a powerful way to get others to resonate with your emotions and feel connected with you. The way you communicate portrays to others the kind of person you are, and helps you get to know what kind of person they are. Communication can deepen or lessen levels of intimacy. In addition, dating helps you learn to engage with others more. Ever heard the saying, "use it or lose it"? Well that applies to the ability to be engaging and charismatic. The more you practice, the better you get. What it really comes down to his having a genuine concern for getting to know the other person. When you actually care what someone else has to say, being engaging is easy. The problem is most of us are so absorbed in our own little world and care more about talking than listening. People love talking about themselves, but if we were to be more concerned with others rather than taking solely about ourselves; our ability to engage would skyrocket.
4) Gained Perspective & Broader Understanding of the World. One of the gifts of dating is being able to pick another person's brain and see a whole new world of perspective. Dating helps you see through another's eyes by getting to know how they see things. While we may not see eye-to-eye on everything with everyone we meet, it's incredibly helpful to learn about others of different backgrounds and beliefs and gain a broader perspective and understanding of the world as a result.
5) How to Accept others. When you gain perspective from other people, one thing you realize is: Not everyone thinks or sees the world the way you do. (What a concept!) As a result, you learn to accept, love, and appreciate other's difference and celebrate diversity. I think the world would be an awfully boring place if we all thought the same way. Dating allows you to see that while we are all different, each of us is a uniquely beautiful expression of creation and design, and it helps you appreciate others as just that.
6) Learn Your Likes & Dislikes. Let's face it: Most of us don't really know what we want until we come across it. On the other hand, there are a handful of us who have a very specific and idealized image of what we'd like our dream partner to be like. Some of us might even have lists of traits of what it is that we want! Well, dating helps us get clear on what we truly desire, and what we're willing to negotiate or compromise on. The more you date the more you may come to realize things you once valued or considered deal breakers, aren't really all that important when it comes to the success, happiness, and longevity of a relationship. On the other hand, you may come to realize things you didn't think were important or of value to you, are actually major deal breakers. I know that for myself I've come to value character, loyalty, morality, good conversation, and an individual as committed to self-improvement as I am, more than someone who only offers good looks and is well-dressed. It's going to take more than just the superficial to make a relationship last in the long-term (Note: I did not say physical attraction isn't important, I just said it's not all there is); and dating can help you determine what's most important to YOU .
As always, I hope you enjoyed this post, and I hope it inspired you to go out, have fun, and DATE!
Much love to you all,