It’s hard to define what “dating” is, because it means something different to almost every person. Here, I’ll be talking about it in the sense of being in a romantic relationship—whether that’s as someone’s girlfriend, boyfriend, main hang, et cetera. (And if you aren’t in a relationship like that now, or don’t ever want to be, that’s totally OK.)
A question you may have asked yourself, whether you’re in a romantic relationship or not, is: How am I supposed to BE when I’m dating someone?
For years, I didn’t think about this at all. I based my idea of “being a girlfriend,” which was my particular role in relationships, on what I gleaned from movies and TV. And sadly, many of the characters I saw were relegated to hanging on to someone’s every word and existing only to make the other person’s life better. I didn’t realize that the laziness of screenwriters shouldn’t translate to my own romantic life.
Romantic relationships are different than most relationships in that they’re a little like all relationships, all at once. There are aspects of friendship, because you’re hanging out with a person you like, and who shares at least some of your interests. It’s also like having a crush, in that you often want to cram as much of a person, physically and/or emotionally, into yourself as possible. Then there’s a weird hurt that can come with being in a romantic relationship, because you have to make yourself vulnerable to another person, which means they have access to the tenderest parts of who you are. So how do you juggle all that?
The first, most important step is to be an advocate for yourself. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean that you stop caring for your own needs, and only care for the other person’s. You are in charge of taking care of you, physically and emotionally—the other person should not have that job. Don’t push yourself further, or be pushed further, than you want to go. Give your body what it needs to feel healthy.
Make regular, quality time for friends you can rely on for fun and venting and hugs. This is really important. Your romantic partner should be an addition to your life, not the centerpiece, and you shouldn’t be the centerpiece of their life, either. You are the centerpiece of your own life. You don’t want to put all your emotional eggs in one basket, no matter how romantic it seems.
New couples often get into a nesting phase, when they’re very happy to ignore the rest of the world. After a short grace period—maybe two, three weeks tops—make sure your relationship can be incorporated into your life, and not the other way around. If someone wants to break things off because you want to hang out with your friends, they weren’t worth being with in the first place.
When you’re taking care of yourself in all these ways, you can really get to know another person, and let them get to know you. That means considering the other person’s needs and wants (but doesn’t mean you always put them first). It means listening and asking questions. It means taking note of things they like, and trying to do those things. It means compromising sometimes. It means revealing information about yourself, in a way that deepens your bond and makes you feel safe. It means letting the other person earn your trust, rather than giving it away or keeping it for yourself.
You also have to remember that the person you’re snugged up with is not perfect. Not out to trick you. Not your future spouse (sure, maybe, but most likely not). They’re someone who makes mistakes and smells bad sometimes and has feelings and says sweet things to you. Being with them doesn’t make them always right or always wrong—you are just two people navigating holding each other’s hands and hearts.
Being close to someone in this way also means having physical and emotional boundaries, and allowing those boundaries to gently evolve. Not to be pushed, not to be broken in the name of love, but to evolve. Allow yourself to test your own boundaries and see what feels comfortable and fun for you. Sex doesn’t make a relationship romantic, and romance doesn’t have to involve sex. Saying, “I love you,” doesn’t have to be a part of the equation, either. You can care about someone very much and never have things go to lovetown. And if that’s the case, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t meaningful or fulfilling.
You and your partner may have in-jokes, talk to each other in an embarrassing secret language, or have silly nicknames for each other. It’s totally OK for that stuff to stay within the boundaries of your relationship. Your friends don’t have to know about it, and that doesn’t make you any less true to yourself. At the same time, you and your pals may share those exact same things, and without those things ever entering your dating sphere. Learning how to be yourself, with some thought-out boundaries, and within different relationships, is part of the process of becoming you. ♦
This is Helen Fisher, the chief science adviser for Match.com and an anthropologist who specializes in ~love~.
Every year, Helen Fisher, Ph.D., conducts a comprehensive study of singles’ attitudes toward dating and sex that surveys over 5,000 Americans. The people surveyed are NOT Match.com members, but are representative of the U.S. population at large. “We queried a representative sample of blacks, whites, Asians and Latinos, young and older, and gays, lesbians and straights from every part of the country and every walk of life,” she told BuzzFeed Science.
The data reveal a number of myths about dating, love, and sex. Here are some common myths about love that could use some debunking:
1. Myth: If you initially don’t find someone attractive, you will never fall in love with them.
Reality: 43% of singles have fallen in love with someone they did not initially find attractive.
2. Myth: Partners are curious about your ex early on.
Reality: 72% of singles do not want to hear about your past relationships while on a date.
3. Myth: Singles rarely think long term on a first date.
Reality: 51% of men and 49% of women have imagined a future together while on the first date.
4. Myth: Romantic love is always triggered by physical attraction first.
Reality: 54% of singles say they fell in love with someone they didn’t initially find attractive after a great conversation, or when they found they had a lot of common interests.
5. Myth: Love at first sight only exists in the movies.
Reality: 34% of singles (41% of men, 29% of women) have experienced love at first sight, while 53% of singles believe in it (59% of men, 49% of women).
6. Myth: Intense, passionate, romantic love lasts no more than a few months.
Reality: 28% of singles surveyed were intensely in love with their last partner for two to five years, 9% of singles were intensely in love with their last partner for six to ten years, and 18% of singles were intensely in love with their last partner for more than 10 years.
7. Myth: To singles, getting married shows that you really love someone.
Reality: 53% of singles don’t want to get married because they believe that you don’t need marriage to prove you love someone.
8. Myth: Single men want more nights out with friends than women do.
Reality: Single men are less likely to consider regular nights out with the guys/girls a “must-have” or “very important” (only 55% of men consider it important while 64% of women find it important).
9. Myth: Men like being single.
Reality: Only 12% of single men reported that they don’t want a relationship and would prefer to stay unattached.
10. Myth: Men are turned off by a successful woman.
Reality: 87% of single men would date a woman who makes considerably more money, and 44% of single men think it’s important to date someone who has a successful career.
11. Myth: Men are uncomfortable when a woman asks them out.
Reality: 90% of men are comfortable if/when a woman asks them out.
12. Myth: Men feel that proposing marriage is always the man’s job.
Reality: 67% of men would be comfortable if a female partner proposed to them.
13. Myth: Men don’t put in much prep time before a date.
Reality: 69% of single men take between 30 minutes and one hour to prepare for a date (vs. 73% of women).
14. Myth: Men don’t want to date smarter women.
Reality: 87% of single men would date a woman who is more intellectual than themselves, and 87% would date a woman who is considerably more educated.
15. Myth: Women want to move in together with a new partner sooner than men do.
Reality: 11% of single men want to live together before six months of dating (vs. 4% of women).
16. Myth: Singles without children avoid dating single parents with children.
Reality: 60% of singles (64% of men, 57% of women) are willing to date a single parent who is living with children.
Just Because – Enjoy!!!
If you know someone struggling with depression, some simple words can make a positive difference. (Photo: Stocksy/Ronnie Comeau)
Fans of Jared Padalecki were concerned when the Supernatural star sent out cryptic tweets late last week, canceling scheduled appearances.
He followed that up with another message:
“I need all of the love I can get right now. Please please give me a few seconds of your time and write me. #AlwaysKeepFighting
Padalecki’s #AlwaysKeepFighting hashtag is a reference to a shirt he designed to benefit the nonprofit To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), which supports people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. The 32-year-old actor recently told Variety that he struggles with depression, and said he began to feel better after taking a step back from his hectic work schedule.
Actor Jared Padalecki recently revealed his experiences with depression. (Photo: Corbis/Joe Stevens)
“There’s no shame in having to fight every day, but fighting every day, and presumably, if you’re still alive to hear these words or read this interview, then you are winning your war. You’re here,” he said.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 3 to 5 percent of people suffer from depression at any given time, and the lifetime risk is 17 percent. The condition is often treated through cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. But while we don’t know what type of treatment Padalecki has undergone, if any, outreach from fans seems to have helped on some level. He later issued the following tweet:
“Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and soul, for your love and support. It’s going to good use. All of my love and #AlwaysKeepFighting
If Padalecki was impacted by positive affirmations, could they be helpful for other people suffering from depression?
Absolutely, says clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis, PhD, author of Your Next Big Thing: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy.
Positive affirmations can help people who are feeling depressed by getting them to change their focus, he tells Yahoo Health: “When someone is depressed, nearly all of their mental energy goes toward negative thoughts and feelings. Changing the focus of one’s thoughts can have a chain reaction from thoughts to feelings to actions.”
Positive feedback can move people with depression along in this chain and help rework the way they perceive the world and themselves, says licensed clinical psychologist Simon Rego, PsyD, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Changing a person’s thoughts can impact their feelings, he explains, so by hearing more balanced and self-affirming thoughts as well as thinking them, a person can often feel better as a result.
How can you tell if someone is clinically depressed? Rego tells Yahoo Health that someone is typically depressed if he or she has symptoms for at least two weeks (including difficulty sleeping, appetite changes, low energy, and thoughts of life not being worth living) and these symptoms have an impact on the ability to function at home, at work, or socially.
Have a loved one struggling with depression? In addition to encouraging them to seek treatment, Rego says there are several types of affirmations you can provide that can help:
- Validating statements: Trying to let the person know how hard it must be for them, and that their problems are real.
- Accepting statements: Letting the person know that you’re there for them no matter what.
- Encouraging statements: Gently pushing the person to keep trying, despite how they might feel.
Kindness goes a long way, too, Michaelis says: “Just letting someone know that you care about them can have a major impact.”
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
The most important decision of your life, the one that will affect every other decision you make, is the commitment to love and accept yourself. It directly affects the quality of your relationships, your work, your free time, your faith, and your future.
Why then is this so difficult to do?
Your Family of Origin
I grew up with nine siblings. I had two older brothers, three older sisters, three younger sisters, and a younger brother.
I never fit in. My sisters were tall and thin with beautiful, long, lush hair. By eleven years old, I was short and very curvy. My hair was fine, thin, and wild.
For the most part, my siblings did as they were told. I was outspoken, out-of-control and rebellious.
I wore my sister’s hand-me-down school uniforms. I rolled up the hems on the skirts and popped buttons on the blouses. My look was unkempt.
I was teased and bullied at home and at school. Yet I didn’t go quietly into the night. I fought for my place in my family. To protect myself, I developed a good punch and grew a sharp tongue.
I was 27 years old and married with four children when I became desperate enough to seek out my first therapist. I felt alone, stuck, and unlovable. I was determined to change.
After six months of working through my childhood issues, old thoughts, beliefs, and events, I felt alive again. It was like stripping off several layers of paint from an antique piece of furniture. I found myself restored to my original beauty.
We’re taught by society that our worth is found in the idols of our culture—technology, status, youth, sex, power, money, attractiveness, and romantic relationships.
If you base your self worth on the external world, you’ll never be capable of self-love.
Your inner critic will flood you with thoughts of, “I’m not enough, I don’t have enough, and I don’t do enough.”
Feelings of lack are never-ending. Every time a goal is reached or you possess the next big thing, your ego will move the line.
Shift Your Self-Perception
Feeling worthy requires you to see yourself with fresh eyes of self-awareness, , and love. Acceptance and love must come from within.
You don’t have to be different to be worthy. Your worth is in your true nature, a core of love and inner goodness. You are a beautiful light. You are love. We can bury our magnificence, but it’s impossible to destroy.
Loving ourselves isn’t a one time event. It’s an endless, moment by moment ongoing process.
It begins with you, enfolding yourself in your own affection and appreciation.
Read on for steps to discover your worth and enfold yourself in affection and appreciation.
1. Begin your day with love (not technology). Remind yourself of your worthiness before getting out of bed. Breathe in love and breathe out love. Enfold yourself in light. Saturate your being in love.
2. Take time to meditate and journal. Spend time focusing inward daily. Begin with 5 minutes of meditation and 5 minutes of journaling each morning. Gradually increase this time.
3. Talk yourself happy. Use affirmations to train your mind to become more positive. Put a wrist band on your right wrist. When you’re participating in self-abuse of any form, move the band to your left wrist.
4. Get emotionally honest. Let of go of numbing your feelings.Shopping, eating, and drinking are examples of avoiding discomfort, sadness, and pain. Mindfully breathe your way through your feelings and emotions.
5. Expand your interests. Try something new. Learn a language. Go places you’ve never been. Do things you haven’t done before. You have a right to an awesome life.
6. Enjoy life enhancing activities. Find exercise you like. Discover healthy foods that are good for you. Turn off technology for a day and spend time doing things that make you feel alive.
7. Become willing to surrender. Breathe, relax, and let go. You can never see the whole picture. You don’t know what anything is for. Stop fighting against yourself by thinking and desiring people and events in your life should be different. Your plan may be different from your soul’s intentions.
8. Work on personal and spiritual development. Be willing to surrender and grow. Life is a journey. We are here to learn and love on a deeper level. Take penguin steps and life becomes difficult. One step at a time is enough to proceed forward.
9. Own your potential. Love yourself enough to believe in the limitless opportunities available to you. Take action and create a beautiful life for yourself.
10. Be patient with yourself. Let go of urgency and fear. Relax and transform striving into thriving. Trust in yourself, do good work, and the Universe will reward you.
11. Live in appreciation. Train your mind to be grateful. Appreciate your talents, beauty, and brilliance. Love your imperfectly perfect self.
12. Be guided by your intuition. All answers come from within. Look for signs and pay attention to your gut feelings. You’ll hear two inner voices when you need to make a decision. The quiet voice is your higher self; the loud voice is your ego. Always go with the quieter voice.
13. Do what honors and respects you. Don’t participate in activities that bring you down. Don’t allow toxic people in your life. Love everyone, but be discerning on who you allow into your life.
14. Accept uncertainty. Suffering comes from living in the pain of the past or the fear of the future. Put your attention on the present moment and be at peace.
15. Forgive yourself. Learn from your mistakes and go forward. Use this affirmation, “I forgive myself for judging myself for __________ (fill in the blank i.e.: for getting sick, for acting out, for not doing your best.)
16. Discover the power of fun. Self-love requires time to relax, play, and create face-to-face interaction with others. Our fast-paced world creates a goal setting, competitive craziness that doesn’t leave room for play. Dr. Stuart Brow says, “The opposite of play isn’t work, it is depression.”
17. Be real. Speak up and speak out. Allow yourself to be seen, known, and heard. Get comfortable with intimacy (in-to-me-see).
18. Focus on the positive. Go to your heart and dwell on and praise yourself for what you get right in all areas.
19. Become aware of self neglect and rejection. Become conscious of your choices. Ask yourself several times throughout the day, “Does this choice honor me?”
20. Imagine what your life would look like if you believed in your worth. Dedicate your life to loving you. Make it your main event.
21. Seek professional help. Self-rejection and neglect is painful. You deserve to be happy. You have a right to be accepted and loved. If necessary, seek help from a support group, counselor, or coach. It’s the best investment you can make.
Because we are all interconnected, when I love me, I also love you. Together through our love, we can heal ourselves, each other, and the world. Love is our purpose, our true calling. It begins with and within each of us.
Some people have the misfortune to have been born to abusive parents who belittled them and prevented them from developing a healthy self-esteem. Others are born predisposed to view themselves in a negative light because of their physical appearance, a disability, or for no reason anyone, including themselves, knows. Research has consistently supported the notion that it’s difficult to be happy without liking oneself. But how can one learn to like oneself when one doesn’t?
WHAT PART OF OURSELVES DO WE DISLIKE?
People filled with self-loathing typically imagine they dislike every part of themselves, but this is rarely, if ever, true. More commonly, if asked what specific parts of themselves they dislike, they’re able to provide specific answers: their physical appearance, their inability to excel academically or at a job, or maybe their inability to accomplish their dreams. Yet when presented, for example, a scenario in which they come upon a child trapped under a car at the scene of an accident, that they recoil in horror and would want urgently to do something to help rarely causes them to credit themselves for the humanity such a reaction indicates.
Why do self-loathers so readily overlook the good parts of themselves? The answer in most cases turns out to relate not to the fact that they have negative qualities but to the disproportionate weight they lend them. People who dislike themselves may acknowledge they have positive attributes but any emotional impact they have simply gets blotted out.
THE SOURCE OF SELF-LOATHING
Which makes learning to like oneself no easy task. Many people, in fact, spend a lifetime in therapy in pursuit of self-love, struggling as if learning a new language as an adult rather than as a child.
Before such a change will occur, however, the essential cause of one’s self-loathing needs to be apprehended. By this I don’t mean the historical cause. The circumstances that initially lead people to dislike themselves do so by triggering a thought process of self-loathing that continues long after the circumstances that set it in motion have resolved, a thought process that continues to gain momentum the longer it remains unchallenged, much like a boulder picks up speed rolling down a mountain as long as nothing gets in its way. For example, your parents may have failed to praise you or support your accomplishments in school when you were young—perhaps even largely ignored you—which led you to conclude they didn’t care about you, which then led you to conclude you’re not worth caring about. It’s this last idea, not the memory of your parents ignoring you, that gathers the power within your life to make you loathe yourself if not checked by adult reasoning early on. Once a narrative of worthlessness embeds itself in one’s mind, it becomes extraordinarily difficult to disbelieve it, especially when one can find evidence that it represents a true account.
But a narrative is just that: a story we tell ourselves. It may very well contain elements of truth—that we are unattractive, that we do fail a lot of the time, or that our parents didn’t find us all that lovable—but to proceed from facts such as these to the conclusion that we’re deserving only of our own derision constitutes a significant thought error.
THE TRUE SOURCE OF SELF-ESTEEM
The problem is that we common mortals can hardly avoid deriving our self-esteem from the wrong source—even those of us whose self-esteem is healthy. We look to what in Nichiren Buddhism is termed the “smaller self,” the parts of ourselves that seem better than those of others and to which we become overly attached. In other words, we ground our self-esteem in things about ourselves we perceive as unique: typically our looks, our skills, or our accomplishments.
But we only need to experience the loss of any one of these supportive elements to recognize the danger of relying on them to create our self-esteem. Looks, as we all know, fade. Unwanted weight is often gained. Illness sometimes strikes, preventing us from running as fast, concentrating as hard, or thinking as clearly as we once did. Past accomplishments lose their ability to sustain us the farther into the past we have to look for them.
I’m not arguing that basing our self-esteem on our positive qualities is wrong. But we should aim to base it on positive qualities that require no comparison to the qualities of others for us to value them. We must awaken to the essential goodness—to what in Nichiren Buddhism is termed our “larger self”—that lies within us all. If we want to fall in love with our lives—and by this I don’t mean the “we” of our small-minded egos—we must work diligently to manifest our larger selves in our daily lives. We must generate the wisdom and compassion to care for others until we’ve turned ourselves, piece by piece, into the people we most want to be.
In other words, if we want to like ourselves we have to earn our own respect. Luckily, doing this doesn’t require that we become people of extraordinary physical attractiveness or accomplishment. It only requires we become people of extraordinary character—something anyone can do.
A simple thought experiment supports this notion: think right now of your favorite person and ask yourself, what is it about them that attracts you the most? Odds are it isn’t their physical appearance or their accomplishments but rather their magnanimous spirit; the way they treat others. This is the key quality that makes people likable, even to themselves.
Treating others well, it turns out, is the fastest path to a healthy self-esteem. If you dislike yourself, stop focusing on your negative qualities. We all have negative qualities. There’s nothing special about your negativity, I promise you. Focus instead on caring for others. Because the more you care about others, I guarantee the more in turn you’ll be able to care about yourself.
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to explore Dr. Lickerman’s home page, Happiness in this World(link is external).
Yeah people, it’s the same thing. Love is Love!