Some days ago I posted an article on my Facebook page about the weird dating tips people used to give each other not so long ago. The dating culture some years ago seemed to be drastically different from the one we find ourselves in now. It’s funny how time shakes things up and completely turns them around.
Reading through the article we now might laugh about some parts of it and tell ourselves how stupid these people must have been back then. But yet these tips might have been appropriate back then and we just tend to judge them based on our current value system. Convictions change and so does people with them. When was the last time you let go of something you used to believe in for years and you stood up for and now you find it to be utterly stupid or even wrong?
I am sure you will find plenty of experiences fitting into this category. This is just how people behave. They love conviction. But letting go of them again is hard and often also painful. Convictions give us a sense of certainty and peace of mind. And everybody loves certainty and comfort, right?
Dating often does not give you this certainty though.
If you are single right now and you fight yourself through the dating jungle, trying to adapt to its (sometimes) strange culture you might ask yourself what happened that we ended up here? Everybody seems to be playing games. Everybody seems to be pretending things which are not even remotely true. Everybody is trying to hold back his/her emotions and feelings because “this is not how you are supposed to act at this stage of getting to know each other”.
There are a lot of weird rules we created for ourselves and I doubt they are still useful. It’s just how it turned out to be. Everything just evolved very naturally.
People are naturally drawn towards each other. Men are drawn towards women for the same reason women are drawn towards men. Men’s masculine direction gifts women as much as their attractive radiance gifts them. And every gender offers something the other one lacks, but also deeply desires.
Therefore everybody seeks some form of connection and a type of relationship which fulfils one’s needs. However this relationship might look like. Some are looking for a monogamous relationship where they form a deep bond with their loved ones. Others are seeking more polygamous relationships where several partners are meeting each others desires. Do whatever pleases you, who am I to judge!
The main problem is that relationships in whatever form have the power to elevate you to your highest and best self, but also beat you down to the ground and cause you immense suffering. And although people tend to seek out happiness, they fear pain and discomfort even more.
Nobody likes to be hurt.
That’s why people close up. Their desire to find joyful and happy relationships is smaller than their fear of being hurt again. They play games and keep potential “harm” at distant. They want to be completely certain first that a possible partner will not hurt them in the near future. They don’t want to repeat the circle of pleasure and pain again acting like a burned child. And a burnt child dreads the fire.
We have to break out of this circle. And since you cannot control all the other players in the dating game you have to start with yourself.
Nobody can fool you if you are not willing to be fooled with. There always have to be two people playing these weird games (or more if you are into that). As long as you stay true to yourself, play with open hands and stop the nonsense for yourself you are good. In return, you get back your self-worth, you gain more power over the way you want your relationships to be and you are generally more happy and fulfilled. You learn to value yourself more and start to become a more independent human being looking for an interdependent relationship.
So let’s bring an end to this dishonest dating culture where everybody is playing games to protect oneself from pain and yet hurt others in the process.
Here are some ways how we can bring down these weird “rules” and create new ones:
1. If you like someone, don’t pretend you don’t.
Pretty basic stuff, huh? Yet, so many people cannot follow through on that. I am guilty for that as well sometimes. It’s hard to admit you have feelings for someone if they are closing up their emotions right in front of you. But remember that they might do this for the same reason you are not telling them about your true feelings as well.
“We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
They might be scared to come across needy. They might feel insecure about being with you. Maybe they are even a little bit overwhelmed with handling this type of emotions? Maybe they are trying to not fuck it up and therefore come across a little bit uncalibrated and “off”. MAYBE, they even like you too and are just afraid of telling you because you might not do the same.
There are a lot of reasons. But to end this dishonest dating culture everyone has to be man up a little bit more. Do what is necessary and tell the truth. Be bold and take the first step, regardless of the possibility of getting hurt. More than often you will regret it way more if you don’t.
2. Don’t use your past relationships as a crutch that enables you to fear commitment.
Commitment is scary, we get it. I am not a big fan of commitment either. It’s scary to face the fact that you might commit to something which might hurt you in the near future, take advantage of you, beat you down, leave you behind in pain or hold you back.
“Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries, dating, and religion.” – Scott Adams
You are not alone with these thoughts. Everybody goes through thought loops like these after having experienced some relationships ending in drama and pain. And it’s only human to try to avoid bad experiences like these in your future.
But you have to realize that closing yourself up to pain and discomfort might also rob you the benefits of opening up to joy and happiness. You become an emotional black hole unable to feel any type of emotions floating around questioning the sense of life. Been there, done that and it’s not cool.
So don’t use your past relationships – however they might have ended – as a crutch that enables you to fear commitment. You intoxicate your next relationship this way and that’s not cool either.
The solution is actually pretty easy (well, actually it is easier said than done, but still the solutions is obvious):
If you are not looking for a committed relationship, don’t pretend you do or even worse enter one. Simple. If you – on the other hand – are looking for one communicate this desire to others and go all-in. Don’t let the fear of pain rob you of the pleasure and joy you might be able to experience if you just let go of your fearful thoughts and projections of the future.
By staying true to yourself and your desires you build up your self-worth and you also attract similar minded people. But if you are not sure what you are actually looking for and you are “sending out” mixed signals you will also attract “confused” people. Not cool.
3. Don’t alter what you want.
Everybody has a very clear picture in his head how he would like his perfect relationship to be. We know how we would love our partners to be, we know how they should be treating us. We have this grand vision of how the “perfect” relationship looks like. How everybody involved could benefit the most out of it. It’s just awesome!
“This here’s Miss Bonnie Parker. I’m Clyde Barrow. We rob banks.”
But then we realize that perfect does not exist and we begin to make compromises. Oftentimes bigger ones than we are at first are ready to admit. Then some more. And then just one more. And soon we find ourselves in a relationship which looks nothing like the one we pictured for ourselves.
And not only does the relationship not look like we pictured it, also WE have altered and we find ourselves far from the “best version” we imagined to be elevated to when we enter this relationship.
Instead of bringing us closer to where we want to be, the relationship we entered and the compromises we took have dragged us away from our goals and ambitions. We neglected some of our core values. And it hurts. Not only the fact that we have neglected our values but also the realization and the eye-opening moment when we finally “see”.
I believe that a lot of people do this unconsciously (and I certainly did).
I didn’t know what I value when I first entered my past relationships. I didn’t know what values of mine are crucial to my well-being. Therefore letting go of these in order to meet the compromises necessary to keep the relationship going caused me some pain in the long run, which I didn’t even see coming.
But we learn from these experiences. And we learn a little bit more about ourselves and how we tick. And soon we improve. We begin to understand how we can become the best version of ourselves and therefore also be the best version for somebody else who is entering our life. We learn to know ourselves and we then know how we can use our best qualities to improve other people’s lives as well.
It’s a win-win situation.
4. Don’t try to make someone jealous.
Jealousy is such a thing. People love to tell themselves that a good portion of jealously means you care and it should definitely be part of a healthy relationship.
I doubt that.
“Jealousy is no more than feeling alone against smiling enemies.” – Elizabeth Bowen
Oftentimes people love to justify their own jealously by saying so. They might also be “angry” at their significant other if he is not jealous at all. They equalise it with him not caring at all (I definitely got that a lot in my past relationships).
They cannot handle the fact that some people are just not jealous. If you think about it: why would you even want to be jealous?
I like to compare “being jealous” with “being afraid to lose somebody”. I am jealous because I am afraid that she might betray me with someone other. I am jealous because I think somebody is better looking than I am. I am jealous because this other guy has some attributes and strengths which I don’t have. When I feel jealous I feel inferior to someone or something. It diminishes my self-worth and I in return begin to doubt my own values and strengths.
So, why would you want to be jealous then, when it does such terrible things to you?
Well, you could argue that “You can’t control it, I am just naturally a jealous person!”.
And again I doubt that.
You could say “I am a jealousy conditioned person” or “there are things happening which cause me to react jealously because this is what these situations trigger inside me”. And although they might technically mean the same as the first statement above, they don’t.
When you say you are a “naturally jealous person”, it implies that you have zero control over changing it to not being a jealous person anymore. If you realize that jealously is just the emotion which gets triggered when you have to confront difficult and challenging social situations it gives you the power to change your reaction to this very trigger.
You could identify the social triggers and situations. Become aware of them. Analyse how you would normally react in these type of scenarios and project into the future how your usual reaction might develop over time. You could evaluate if this type of behaviour is beneficial or damaging to your relationship. You could look for alternatives in retrospect. Could I have reacted in a different (more elegant) way?
It’s hard to catch yourself when you are seeing red and you are filled with heavy emotions.
It’s hard to stay in charge and keep a cool mind.
But it can be done. Social triggers are very hard to identify sometimes and it takes a lot of practice. They are even harder to change.
It helps to analyse your past decisions and reactions. Sometimes when you look back you realize how stupidly you acted sometimes and you would not behave anywhere similar to that now. You learned from your past experiences. And the next time will be completely different.
Soon you will learn to catch yourself immediately when the emotion is arising. You identify it as what it is. And then you change your reaction to it.
I know this might sound super delusional to someone who has never consciously done something like that. But it makes a lot of more sense as soon as you have done it at least once. Try it for yourself.
One of the main reasons our dating culture is so fucked up today is because a lot of things are happening on autopilot. People act and other ones react. Everything happens unconsciously, just like driving a car once you have enough practice. You often don’t even know how you ended up at your destination but you somehow successfully drove your car there. It’s automatic.
Relationships happen to work the same way. Oftentimes – looking back – you don’t know why you were arguing in the first place?
As soon as you have conditioned an emotional response to a situation often enough it becomes automatic and your subconscious mind now takes over.
You have to break out of this automatic behaviour and “switch gears” fully present again. You have to focus your thoughts and do anything manually again for a while. If you don’t like the destination your learned behaviours takes you, it is now time to actively change course, make better decisions and course-correct.
If you were able to automate your current reaction, it is also possible to automate a different (better) one.
5. Quit using people.
“Never build your emotional life on the weaknesses of others.” – George Santayana
It’s easy to use people for your own advantage. And the people in today’s dating jungle love it when things are easy (this is also the reason Tinder and other dating apps works so well, because they eliminate all the discomfort of actually “dating” someone. If this would not be the case articles like 5 Steps To Get Laid Using Tinder would not exist).
Using people in your advantage is easy and also very comforting. At least it satisfies your ego’s needs and it feels “good”. You keep someone on the leash and it’s good to have a fallback, a quick validation spike right whenever you need it. Well, it’s better than having none, right?
You might not have any real obligations to meet up, hook up, or commit to a relationship with someone in this category and yet you keep them on the hook. The occasional text you get or the feeling of being desired and admired are just too good to let go. That is why people keep people warm although they have no real intension on deepening the relationship. You just got “friend-zoned”.
Both genders love to do it. Women keep their little boys on the leash to have some orbiters around and use them for social proof, free gifts, access to scarce resources and other awesome stuff they would not get without this connection. It’s cool to have a lot of men swirling around them and feeling admired.
Men do the same and also for similar reasons. They keep their “casual relationships” in place. They love to maintain the feeling of having an easy hook-up relatively close and therefore send out occasional texts to maintain status quo and the rotation going. It feels “manly” to have multiple girls at reach and yet no sight of any commitment. It gives them power and further pushes and satisfies their male ego.
But what about the other side of this draining and dishonest style of relationship?
The “orbiter boys” are putting endless amounts of time, energy and money into women who have no real obligation whatsoever of further extending the relationship. They are literally wasting resources in hope of getting some form of affection and sympathy back in the near future (which they won’t). And it causes them immense suffering, diminished self-worth, and pain.
The “girls on the leash” are sacrificing their own well-being by submissively give their power to a man who can then freely manipulate their emotions. They are forgetting about their own values and justify his distant and emotionally unavailable behaviour by telling themselves weird lies why it is actually just normal that he acts this way (of course I don’t know what women tell themselves but if only a small fragment of the stuff mentioned in He’s Just Not That Into You is true, women are pretty creative in that regards).
So basically it’s our own fault this dishonest dating culture now actually exists.
We created it.
But we could also transform it.
So why not stop this ego validation non-sense and tell the truth for once. Let go of your orbiter guys. Release your easy hook-up girls and tell them what you are really looking for. By being honest you are no longer deluding the other one and you create space to form a more profound relationship.
Tell them what you are looking for in this type of relationship. Tell them what you want out of it, what you are getting out of it and also what you can offer. Be precise in what you cannot give them as well. The clearer and more honest you are the better. Be brutally honest here and give them a chance to evaluate their position in the relationship based on the real situation.
If the significant other now wants to stay in this type of relationship it is his decision.
It’s the first step towards a (better) more honest dating culture.
And every one of us could take it right now.
But, will you?