• Kety Lopez, LMHC

Assess! Don't Impress.

Updated: Jan 27

Real dating tips...

Why do we focus on impressing?

Today’s posts is about dating. It will explain some of the mistakes we make in the dating process and offer some real dating advice. I’ll talk about the behaviors that takes us to the wrong people and away from who we want and deserve. I’ve decided to share these insights since this is a conversation I’ve had with many, many clients, male & female. I hope you find them helpful.

Clients usually call me after they’ve had a few similar experiences and are asking themselves “what are they doing wrong?” It definitely feels like “they have the worst luck in the (dating) world." They are feeling disillusioned and lonely. All they really want is someone to connect with! Why is it so hard if they have so much to offer?

As I start asking about their dating experiences, I usually find they’re so eager to impress their dates. Obviously! Aren’t we all? Shouldn’t we want to wow our potential partner? The answer is yes, but… But not, if you forget about yourself in the process. If your main goal is to win the person over instead of evaluating if you’re a good fit for each other, you might want to take a step back and reconsider the long term ROI of your strategy.

So what’s really going on? Why do we forget our worth and just settle for someone liking us? This happens when we are so focused on being accepted, liked, wanted, etc. that we forget that dating is an opportunity to assess if we are a good fit for each other. Is he/she a good person? Do you share the same values? Does he/she make you feel respected, appreciated, like you matter? Can you be yourself? Or do you feel he/she would be disappointed to see or hear what you really think?

If you’ve found yourself that “smitten” or that eager to win someone over to the point that you ignored red flags about the person or your compatibility with each other, you should explore what this means. Understand what it says about your self-esteem and the way you approach relationships. Especially if you also identify with being guarded, picky, somewhat perfectionistic, easily bored and are terrified of settling. Even more so, if you keep on finding people who want a deep emotional connection with you boring, average, subpar, etc.

To complicate this further, you may find yourself moving really fast when a relationship does come along. These inconsistencies are always worth paying attention to. How can such a picky person drop all their defenses so quickly and let the other person dictate the cadence of the relationship? How can you, all of the sudden, go along and become such a pleaser?

This speed is dangerous, it often indicates anxiety. You want immediate confirmation that the relationship could work, you like things black and white, you have no time to lose. Most importantly, you need the reassurance to feel wanted, accepted, desirable. The ambivalence inherited in the “getting to know each other” phase is anxiety provoking. You may (wrongly) believe that when things are "real" they move fast or that if you take too long in the courting phase the other person might realize that they don't really like you that much. Sadly, the more you rush, the higher the chances of the relationship not working because its foundations are weak.

So what’s behind this desire to be liked, to please, to be accepted? Typically, fear of rejection and abandonment. There’s an underlying negative belief that you’re different, not good enough, not deserving, defective, etc. Even when there’s a façade of confidence on the outside. This belief might be conscious or unconscious but it typically arises from neglect and/ or trauma.

Here’s the other layer to this problem, these neglectful childhood environments and/or traumatic experiences not only give rise to negative beliefs about the self, but also about relationships & partners in general. If the very people you've depended on overtime cause pain, betrayal, self-doubt, etc. you will:

1. Make it about you, believe that it is your fault and try to be as pleasing and as perfect as you can, in hopes of validation & love.

2. Have doubts about “really” wanting a relationship. Part of you wants a relationship as much as everyone else, but another part is terrified of being hurt, disappointed, let down, etc.

No wonder we end up sabotaging ourselves and acting incongruent with what we want, at times. Yet, there’s a wise voice inside that always knows what’s best for us. Listen! When it tells you “this person is not good for you” and when it says “don’t be a fool, this is a good person”. Do the work it takes to break down those negative beliefs about yourself & relationships, do some EMDR therapy, regular psychotherapy, read self-help books, witch-craft, whatever it takes to allow emotional intimacy, trust and love back into your life.

Show up and assess!

Start with some soul searching and ask yourself some essential questions:

What was my model of a relationship growing up? How would I describe my parents relationships? Is that what I want for my life? How did I feel growing up? Did I feel supported, loved, a priority? Was I given physical affection, attention, guidance, support, encouragement, etc.? These questions should clarify some of the assumptions you’re entering relationships with.

Secondly, show up as genuine as possible to dates. Let the person see the real you. Commit to not pretend, to be open, to speak your mind. A real partner needs to fall in love with the real you. And you need to believe that the real you is worthy of love, just as is. You must get comfortable taking that risk.

Then, ask questions! Get to know your date/potential partner. Go deep! Ask about values, family, future plans, alcohol and drug use, lifestyle, relationship with money, children, etc. If you’re going on a second date, you should go beyond surface-level questions like “where are you from?” and “what do you do for fun?”

Also, pay attention to the details. See how this person makes you feel, how do they respond to your questions and feedback, to physical touch, to a change in plans, etc. What expectations do they have about places to go, who pays, physical appearance, etc. How do they treat the waiter? How do they describe past relationships? What do the have to say about their ex? How do they refer about their, friends & family, etc. These details hold as much, if not more, information about who the person really is than what they tell you about themselves.

Lastly, commit to working through. Once you pass the honeymoon stage, all relationships require “work”. Contrary to what it sounds like, this “work” can be a very fulfilling process. It is where you both learn to communicate your wants and needs, to accept each other’s imperfections, to share the most private and intimate moments and to gradually grow closer and closer. There’s no better feeling than knowing that the person you love is also committed to you. They choose to spend their time with you, to love you, to accept you, to face life together as much as you do. These daily decisions are the hallmark of love.

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