There is one thing I hear a lot when I work with women who are either healing from a breakup, or trying to figure out how not to make the same mistakes again when they are dating. What I hear is that women realize that they “gave themselves up” or “gave too much” in their previous relationships.
Women, of course, are socialized more than men are to do this sort of thing, and sometimes, both women in a relationship can feel like they’ve given themselves up! How do you avoid this? How can you learn to be true to yourself while you are dating, so that you won’t give yourself up?
First, learn to love yourself.
Cultivate self-compassion, which is a moment by moment quality that allows you to be OK with yourself even when you are feeling strong negative feelings. And develop self-love, the capacity to love and take care of yourself, even with your weaknesses and mistakes. Gaining these two qualities helps you to know when you are going to far, doing things that aren’t right for you, or choosing someone who isn’t good for you.
Then, get to know yourself.
Many of us, me included, spent many years of early adulthood not really knowing who we are, or what we really want. Perhaps we listened to the messages of our parents, or drifted from relationship to relationship shaping ourselves to match our partners, rather than listening to our own real shapes. If you find you’ve done this, it’s worth taking some time before your next relationship to learn what you really want. What kind of life do you want to live? What kind of life do you want to live with a partner?
Third, set an intention to do the best for yourself.
Once you’ve cultivated more self-compassion and developed more self-love, and gotten to know yourself and your life and relationship vision, it’s most important to set an intention that you’ll do the best for yourself. First, that you’ll go slowly, and assess the women your dating to make sure that their relationship visions are compatible with yours (and that they have the skills to achieve that vision with you.) Second, you’ll continue to develop self-awareness and self-compassion so that moment by moment in the relationship you can make the right choices for you. And lastly, that you’ll continue to check in with your intention, and make any adjustments necessary as you realize you’ve gone a bit astray.
The 12-Week Roadmap to Successful Dating and Lasting Love can provide a great container for you to learn these skills, and set this intention, and have it really stick.