Dating 101 – My rules of engagement
Whew child…Dating as a single mom is drastically different than anything I’ve ever experienced in the dating world. Of course I have two little ones to consider that I didn’t have the last time I was on the market, but I’m also drastically different as a woman, so my dating experience this time around is different and my level of tolerance is no where near what it used to be. I made myself 3 promises once I decided to intentionally start this journey again and they have allowed me to date with more confidence than I’ve ever had.
1. Listen way more than you speak and watch actions more intensely than you hear words….
Toxicity doesn’t just pop up like we’d like to convince ourselves of once we’re knee deep in it. The truth is we see the red flags very very early. Small, subtle, consistent signs that we brush off, excuse, and forgive away, until they’re loud, obvious, abusive, and painful. Toxic, unhealthy partners, especially narcissists, have a way of spinning a web so ferocious that by the time you’re at the stage where the toxicity is loud and abusive, you’re already tangled up. The longer you stay in these “relationships” the more soul destroying they are. I’m naturally an empath. I feel first. I naturally give grace and forgiveness. I used to think that grace and forgiveness equaled access. I’ve learned that I can be graceful and offer forgiveness while still being aware of who deserved intimate access to me. It’s one of the most liberating aspects of dating for me. The freedom is the fact that you don’t have to wait on anyone to choose you, YOU make the choice.
2. Never perform, convince, or beg… Just like I am empowered by the right I have to choose. I am also equally aware that others have this same ability. The other person who I am interacting with has the right to decide if I fit into their life and I should respect that right just as intensely as I respect and honor mine. So I keep an open heart to not only receive people but to also let them go, gracefully. I no longer jump thru hoops, I’m not a “pick me” kinda chick. I try to be who I am authentically and as vulnerably as possible, even when I’m tempted to put on. Im human and I feel deeply so I would be lying if I were to say that releasing wasn’t hard at times. That I haven’t been in a situations where I wanted to “show” why I was worth it. That I haven’t had to release when I didn’t want to let go, I have. It burns. But I will always honor another persons right to make another choice outside of me. In honoring their choice, I am ultimately honoring and valuing myself. The power is knowing that their lack of acknowledgement of my worthiness doesn’t in anyway diminish it.
3. If the values don’t fit, you must acquit… There is a lot I’m willing to negotiate on. I’m naturally a compromiser. I find beauty in the uniqueness that defines us all. But I’m a firm believer that core values should never be adjusted or compromised. I’ve met some pretty amazing people that I couldn’t build with because our foundations weren’t the same. I’ve tried it before. Convinced myself that as long as he believes in a God it could work. Convinced myself that over time someone would develop a characteristic that wasn’t there in the beginning. I found myself exhausted at the end of those courtships because they always lead me back to the same point. When things get tough you have to be with someone who fundamentally believes what you believe, wants what you want, and is pulling from the same well that you pull from. So if I’m a Christian then you gotta love Jesus. If you don’t want children then we can’t even have a conversation because Carter and Cade aren’t going anywhere. It’s just some stuff I can’t gloss over and neither should you.
I would be lying if I were to say this dating game is easy. Sometimes it feels like just that…a game. But I’ve been liberated in so many ways because my mindset has adjusted in the way I choose to process it. And by keeping the focus on my value I take myself off the rollercoaster of placing my worth in the hands of another human. In essence it has nothing to do with anyone else. One of my favorite scriptures is Proverbs 4:23. It says to Guard to your heart with all diligence. For everything you do flows from it. How do you guard your heart out here in these dating streets?