Dating is causes misery. It is difficult. Dating during Covid-19 is even more challenging.
You are single and you have learned that dating is far from a smooth process. Dating involves heart breaks and misunderstandings. It involves awkward moments and cultural clashes. It comes with disappointments and unmet expectations.
At he same time, you have learned that when you meet the person you “click” with, it can be exhilarating. Spending time with that person and getting to know each other is fun. You are tempted to forget about past dating misery quickly. But you still feel vulnerable. You wonder whether they feel the same way about you and whether this relationship is going to last.
You are comparing your love life
Do you envy people who have managed to meet their partner just by pure chance? Have you come across people who have found their romantic partner without even trying to impress each other?
You find it annoying that they have fallen in love and have found their corner in the world of happily-ever-after.
You ask “why is dating so difficult for you?” and “why haven’t you met the right person after so many years of searching?” People offer you unsolicited annoying advice. They say “when the right person comes along everything will fall into place.”
You have lost hope and you are actually bitter about these psudosympathetic statements.
All of the above is causing unnecessary suffering that you would much rather avoid.
What are some perspectives worth considering when you are dating?
- Marriage does not equal happiness
Many people fall in love but marriage is not necessarily for everyone. And it certainly doesn’t guarantee happiness.
You believe that you need to find the person you will love and marry. And the belief that once this happens you will be happy is an expectation that you are carrying. But just because you believe this it doesn’t make it true.
If all marriages were happy marriages we wouldn’t still have such a high divorce rate of 40-50%. Consider the possibility that you might meet someone you will love. Maybe you will not marry this person. Also consider that you could marry someone with whom you have a common life vision. Maybe you used to have these romantic feelings at the beginning but they are no longer there. You are getting many other needs met in this relationship that far outweigh the things you are missing. In other words, try and de-sensationalize the idea of marriage and this imagined happiness that comes with it.
2. You can’t by-pass dating misery
Even in arranged marriages these days, there’s a period of courting and dating. Dating requires you to be brave and courageous because it involves a period of uncertainty and vulnerability.
Dating can feel like a chore. You might be thinking “I wish I could just skip all these formalities and meet the right person.”
The wish for efficiency though could be an expectation that gets you in trouble. When this wish doesn’t come true you feel disappointed.
The truth is there is no way to bypass the discomfort and vulnerability of dating. You would be much better off accepting this and all the feelings that come with it.
3. Let go of your checklist
Do you have an idea of the type of person you find attractive like what hobbies they should have or where in their career they should be? Maybe you also have also cultural and religious preferences.
But let’s be clear the people you will date, are other human beings who want to love and be loved. We are wired for this.
Your dating partner is not a “candidate.” You need to stay clear of this burden of assessing your love match. And you certainly should stay clear of measuring a person against you long list of requirements.
Make a list for this imagined “perfect” partner and then put it aside for a while. Going into any scenario with a strict set of criteria will limit you.
You may be afraid of letting go of your checklist because you’re afraid of not having any standards. But, you can still have core values without ascribing these values to a “type” of person. Be curious about the people you meet. Get to know them for who they are rather than assessing them against a checklist. You may be pleasantly surprised!
When faced with disappointments, challenge the meaning you ascribe to the situation. Did you think the person could be “the one?” Were they meeting your checklist requirements? Were you imagining a happily ever after? Perhaps that image is only a constructed version of happiness (i.e., marriage with the perfect person). Gently challenge your beliefs. Allow yourself joy and fun while dating. Don’t get caught up in protecting yourself from hurt, because this may be preventing you from experiencing joy and pleasure. You can’t just be in protective mode and still feel happy, it comes with a cost. Allow yourself joy, you deserve it! So keep on dating mindfully. Allow yourself to be open and curious but also kind and thoughtful of the people you are dating. Have fun!
If you need some time off from dating misery, download our free workbook that helps you cultivate a stronger relationship with the most important person in your life – YOU.
Dr. Ava Ghasemi (Holdich) is a licensed Psychologist with 11 years experience in the U.S., Canada and the Middle East. She has a practice of individual and couples therapy at the MapleTree Center in Dubai.