7) Isolation and Routine
With age, people tend to retreat further and further into their comfort zones. Modern women are more and more successful, accomplished and self-sufficient, which are all extremely positive developments. Yet as both men and women get more comfortable, be it financially or practically, it is also easier for them to form a bubble from which it is difficult to emerge. It can feel harder to take risks or put themselves out there. After a long day’s work, many of us may feel more like putting on pajamas and crawling into bed than going out into the uncertain and anxiety-provoking world of meeting people.
The encouragement we feel to stay home or stay safe often comes from our critical inner voice. This inner coach offers self-soothing words, “Just stay in tonight and relax. You’re fine on your own. Have a glass of wine. Watch that show you like.” The problem with this voice is that it later turns on you with thoughts like, “What a loser you are, home alone again. You’ll be lonely the rest of your life. You’re not getting any younger! No one will be attracted to you.” Many of the activities we use to “comfort” ourselves actually make us feel bad in the end, as they result in us avoiding pursuing what we really want in life. It’s important to resist falling into a comfort zone and to repeatedly challenge the influence of our critical inner voice. We should take action and make an effort to get out into the world, smile, make eye contact and let friends know we are looking for someone. We should try new activities and even try dating diverse people as a means to discover new parts of ourselves and what makes us happy.
As years pass, we often develop rulebooks for ourselves regarding dating. In effect, we put what we have learned “down on paper,” but what looks good on paper doesn’t always work in real life. When we act on rules based on our past, we can create a perpetual cycle of disappointing relationships. A woman I know once dated someone with whom she had amazing chemistry. When it didn’t work out, she decided to stop looking for a guy she felt a strong connection with or attraction to. Instead, she made “reasonable” choices, and as a result, she found far less satisfying relationships.
It’s important not to make fixed rules or to buy into other people’s rules when it comes to dating.
Staying open is one of the most important things we can do when looking for a loving partner. Yes, we might get hurt but when we stop taking risks, we reduce our chances of meeting someone we could really have a future with. Relationship rules tend to go hand-in-hand with game-playing. They can lead us to act with less sincerity and authenticity, to close ourselves off from how we feel. On the other hand, staying open and honest will lead us to find a much more authentic and substantial relationship.
Seeking love isn’t an easy quest, but it’s always best to take this journey on our own side. It’s important to fight the patterns inside us that hold us back from getting what we want. We can’t shield ourselves from the world or keep ourselves from getting hurt. We all carry flaws, and these vulnerabilities are especially apparent when getting close to one another. Thus, achieving intimacy is a brave battle, but it is one well-worth fighting for, each and every day, both within ourselves and, ultimately, within our relationships.
Curated by Erbe