I stumbled across this fantastic article on iVillage: 6 Ways to Set the Stage for Love. This list absolutely nails it – if you want a guide to getting ready for love to come into your life, this is it. As I was reading the article, I realized, Hey, I actually DID all of these things before I embarked upon online dating. And I believe this had a lot to do with why I (quickly) found love and my perfect match through an online dating website.
Here’s a very personal review of how I approached the list of six things to do to set the stage for love:
1. Lose the Fear and Anxiety
Through my mid and late 20s, my entire purpose in dating was to eventually get married. That endgame was ALWAYS on my mind, and I worried that I wouldn’t find someone, or when I was in a relationship I anxiously fixated on “where it was going.” I was afraid that everyone else would find someone, and I’d be left all alone. But after I got divorced, losing the fear and anxiety was actually pretty easy. I truly didn’t care if I never got married again. Presto! So much of my fear and anxiety disappeared, and it was incredibly liberating.
For many people, losing fear and anxiety specifically means getting over fear of rejection, hurt, and being alone. It’s not easy – not at all – but it’s worth it. When you can approach dating without fear and anxiety, your walls drop and you create space for something wonderful to rush in.
2. Make Peace
Before I jumped into online dating, I put in a lot of time reflecting on past relationships, understanding the mistakes I’d made, and taking responsibility for my part in past failed relationships. I realized there were things I needed to work on and change (I’m still working on those things). I did my very best to release past hurts and disappointments enough that they wouldn’t sabotage future relationships. Issues will always keep bubbling up – it’s just part of being human – but a willingness to examine and make peace with issues from your past gives you the best shot at preventing those things from sabotaging your future happiness.
Making peace with your past ensures that your past won’t sabotage your future happiness.
3. Invest in Your Life
After my divorce, my mission was to create a full life. I set out to build closer, more meaningful connections with the people who were most important to me. I committed to getting out of the house more and said “yes” to just about every invitation that came my way. I changed my hair color for the first time in a decade. I redecorated a couple of rooms. I spent more time at my favorite hangouts. I traveled, visiting family and friends. I wrote in my journal. I started attending a weekly meditation class. I tried some new things, including shooting a handgun for the first time in my life at an indoor shooting range (turns out I’m an inexplicably great shot!).
Put energy into creating a life that’s rich and full and uniquely YOU.
I wasn’t always ecstatically happy – there were many very lonely and sad days, especially in the first six months or so after my ex and I split – but even during the bad moments I could take some comfort in the fact that I wasn’t just “waiting for things to get better,” I was actively investing sincere effort and a lot of energy, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
4. Focus on What You Need (and Less on What You Want)
Toward the end of my marriage, I realized I’d never really understood what I truly needed in a relationship. That might sound stupid, but I think it’s actually fairly common. When I was younger, I had laundry lists of things I wanted in a man – the dreaded checklist. It was huge, and it did me absolutely no good at all. I finally realized that long lists of “wants” wasn’t helpful. I had to dig in and understand what I needed in a relationship, the type of connection and dynamic I needed to have with a man in order to feel loved and secure.
Instead of a checklist of “wants,” figure out what kind of connection and dynamic you need with someone to feel loved and secure in a relationship.
5. Have No Expectations
Yes, easier said than done. If we had NO expectations of anything at all, we wouldn’t even bother with online dating, right? Here’s how I approached this: I expected that I’d meet a few interesting people, and I was open to the possibility that I’d find someone wonderful, but I wasn’t attached to any specific outcome. This is what letting go of expectations truly means – releasing your attachment to an outcome (i.e. I must find boyfriend before the three month term of my online dating subscription expires or I will diiiieeeeeeee).
Letting go of expectations means setting your intention and at the same time releasing your attachment to a specific outcome.
When you go into online dating obsessively attached to a certain outcome, two very bad things happen:
- You take on an energy of desperation, which other people can sense from miles away (yes, even though the ethers of the internet).
- You completely miss out on the joy of the moment, because you’re so focused on what you want to happen in the future. I say this from plenty of painful personal experience. I used to go into every relationship already fixating on where it was going, or projecting how it might end. It sucks the joy out of life.
Instead obsessing over an outcome, set your intention at the outset (i.e. I’m online dating with the intention of finding a boyfriend) and then let it go. It’s a subtle difference, but if you can master this it will give you an energy of self-confidence instead of desperation.
6. Believe That You Deserve to Be Happy
I think I’ve always believed I deserved happiness, but I really doubted I had the skills to maintain a happy relationship in the long term. After my divorce, I set out to educate myself. I read books about relationships, and had many lengthy discussions with people in my life about relationship dynamics, communication, how to handle ups and downs. I’ve learned so much that I wish I would have known ten years ago. I made a LOT of mistakes in past relationships. They were innocent mistakes, because I truly didn’t know any better, but they cost me a lot. Now, I’m much more confident in my ability to maintain a happy relationship. Better late than never, I guess, right? And my education continues.
Believing that you deserve happiness is all about self-esteem. When you hold yourself in high regard, deeply knowing that you deserve a wonderful, happy life is automatic.
Katherine’s Online Dating Tip
Do the work to get ready for love, and you’ll be happier with your life regardless of your relationship status, and give yourself the best possible chance for future relationship happiness.
I believe there is love out there for EVERYONE, and I want you to find love in the internet age. Most online dating profiles don’t work well because they’re too generic, utterly yawn-worthy, and emphasize the wrong things. Let’s get started creating an online dating profile that showcases your unique spark and attracts your perfect match. Click the Services link to see how I can help.