There's so much dating advice out there for women. We are inundated by it from dating experts of both genders and I know, I know, this post sounds like just another drop in the pan. But my new advice is about to make this all easier: Screw all the advice. Just live how you want.
I have tried it all: Wait at least four hours to text back, at least 24 hours to call back and sometimes just never respond at all and make him contact you again (after you have seemingly ignored him. Brilliant). Only answer texts with single words and make sure he is always the last one to respond. Don't let him know you're into him. Be a b*tch. Never accept any date less than three days in advance (which means you definitely don't see him last-minute). Never initiate contact OR plans. Always be the first one to hang up or end the date. Don't sleep with him for at least three months. Duty date (this means date a lot of guys at once -- especially when you're really into someone -- even if you don't like the guys you are "duty dating"). Stay detached... and the list goes on and on.
I have done all of these things at one point or another because I thought I was supposed to. And every time I have done them, it has felt manipulative and contrived. I felt like I was playing a game and trying to force an outcome. I felt it wasn't authentic -- it felt wrong and out of alignment with who I am, and -- surprise -- the times I did this with a guy I was seeing, it never actually grew into a relationship. Because I wasn't being myself.
But I'd like to talk about what being myself, regarding dating in particular, means. Because I have been beating myself up about it a lot lately. Recently, I had a strong intuitive feeling about a guy and invested myself and my emotions quickly (all the "rules" would say I invested way too quickly). Obviously, then, I didn't follow any of these aforementioned "rules." I believed his words and actions, believed the connection I felt, believed my intuition that told me this had the potential to be something special, that there is "just something about him..." So I followed my intuition and, as I do in all areas of my life, put myself out there and started to jump in with an open heart. But it turns out that apparently my intuition was incorrect, at least for now.
So I immediately started going to that dark place... spiraling downwards into the land of self-defeating thoughts: beating myself up for not following the "rules," thinking somehow that if I had followed them, it would have worked out between us and as a result, totally blaming myself for ruining what my intuition told me was supposed to be something great, feeling like an idiot for trusting it and investing too much too soon... But then I stopped, took a step back and starting looking at some things.
This intuition and being open to jumping in thing doesn't happen all the time with me and guys. It's not like my normal MO to just invest immediately in every guy I date. I casually date plenty of guys (but, to be honest, if I'm casually dating someone for any extended period of time, the truth is that I'm really not that into them because I'm just not wired like that). But after each time I have bravely followed my intuition in the love department and it hasn't worked out, I promise myself that no matter what I think I'm feeling or what my gut is telling me, next time it happens I will be disciplined, firm and keep my boundaries up and my heart protected. And each time, I fail at that... Oops, I guess I did it again.
But here's the thing I realized: All of the serious relationships and great loves I have had in my life started passionately and quickly. There was no casual, gradual dating building up to the discussion of whether or not we wanted to be exclusive. We were just together and wanted to be together. It was a given. It happened fast and it happened organically. We both jumped in because we both just knew. Every one of my serious relationships, which have lasted anywhere from one year to five years, happened this way; not by playing games or following the "rules" or being cautious. So, this is what I know. This is what I do. Should I beat myself up for that? Should I beat myself up for the fact that I am passionate, open, follow my intuition, and am willing to take risks, even if it means I don't follow any of the "rules?"
There's all this talk surrounding things we need to change about ourselves. I have tried to change many things about myself for many years, including how sensitive I am and how I may invest in a man or possible relationship too quickly with unabashed passion. And guess what? I haven't been able to change them. Certainly, I have been able to be aware of triggers, how I react to things and so forth. Those things I can change. But the other things? I think they are just me. I think they are part of my make-up. And I think in trying to change them, it causes me more damage, because all it's doing is affirming that something about who I inherently am is wrong.
I am intuitive... I am a healer, spiritual writer and teacher, actress... My intuition is what allows me to do those things. I rely on my intuition to make a living. So, if I feel intuitively about a man, am I just supposed to start ignoring it Am I supposed to trust my intuition in one area of my life but not the other? I get excited about things, am passionate and feel emotions very deeply... that allows me to express myself creatively and personally. But, am I supposed to allow that excitement, passion and deep feeling only in certain parts of my life? As a writer and actress, I have to put myself out there and take risks.In my writing, I share some very unflattering and embarrassing things about myself that are out there for the whole world to see... It's just what I do. But should I compartmentalize that part of myself and not put myself out there or take risks with dating and relationships?
SO, yes, when I have a good intuitive feeling about a man, I might open my heart too fast or invest too soon and want to dive in with open arms... but so what!? Whenever I have done this in the past, it has either become clear very quickly when it's not the right thing and I get to move on fast (usually in 4-12 weeks), or it has grown into a committed, long-term, deeply loving relationship. I have also learned from every one of these experiences. Therefore, maybe it wasn't that my intuition was wrong in guiding me to the short-lived ones. Maybe the intuition was simply there to lead me to a situation I needed for my own personal growth and transformation. Maybe it was to lead me to the opportunity to overcome and heal certain issues. And on an even bigger, deeper, spiritual level, sometimes I think my intuition has guided me towards dating a certain man solely for the purpose of helping him on his journey.
So, you know what? Something that I dove into guided by my intuition didn't work out... Who cares?! I came at it authentically, not trying to manipulate it with all these "rules," and as such, I trust the outcome. And, therefore, I can walk away with confidence. If I choose to operate in my life from a place of passion, with an open heart, following my intuition and a relationship or situation doesn't work out, it's OK. Because I have certainty that since I was authentic in my behavior, the way it turned out was authentic. I don't want to beat myself up anymore for just being who I am and living the way I live. Because living this way works for me. Dating this way works for me. It's who I am and I'm over trying to change it. And guess what? As long as it doesn't hurt others (or yourself), you are also allowed to live the way you want to, in every area of your life.
Does all the dating advice you're hearing and trying to follow not feel authentic to you? Are you sick of beating yourself up for being something you're not? Try an experiment. Why don't you just try being yourself and living (and dating) the way you want, and see how you feel. When you're authentic in the way you live your life, even when a relationship doesn't work out, you can feel confident in it. Because you were living your truth.