I like him....A LOT. So I should date someone else, right?
I had a client flying high on the heels of an incredible date this week. It was one of those fun, free, playful, totally open conversation evenings. It was the complete opposite of her last relationship, leaving her vibrating from head-to-toe.
But in the midst of her relaying the details and plans for their next date, she interjected:
"But I know I need to be dating someone else, too."
Even though I wasn't at all surprised by her statement and knew exactly why she said it, I pressed her as to why she felt that way.
"Well because...you know, I don't want to get too obsessed and seem too interested and I did just meet the guy, so who knows if this will work out!"
I would have bet my entire life savings on that being my client's response.
I dub this the "back burner burden." The notion that we have to distract ourselves with someone else –always have someone on the back burner– even though deep down, we only want to be getting to know this one person. Here's what's actually behind my client's words:
I really like this person and because I like them so much, I'm afraid I'll come on too strong.
If I come on too strong, I'll drive them away.
The more I let myself like them, the more I'm vulnerable and open up to them, the more it will hurt if they don't like me/if it doesn't work out.
I shouldn't put all my eggs in one basket.
The majority of dating advice encourages us to always have someone on the back burner. And we do it because we think "Well, if I have someone else, then if/when it doesn't work out, it won't hurt as much. And I want to avoid as muchhurt as possible in dating."
I totally, totally hear you. But here's the problem with all of that:
Things we do in life from a place of obligation are never as good as they should be. When we do fake it—when we just swipe mindlessly or force ourselves to go out and meet new people when we’d rather focus on getting to know one person—it just zaps our energy and drives us farther away from our real desires and the people we want to attract.
By constantly attempting to avoid the ups and downs of dating, we not only fool ourselves into thinking we can somehow hack our love lives, we also rob ourselves of the crucial lessons and experiences around developing vulnerability, self awareness, emotional intelligence, and so forth—all of which are the absolute life blood of relationships.
So if you're what I call a "single processor," and you'd like to take your time with one person, get to know them, and see where it goes—DO THAT. And if you're not sure, get quiet and ask yourself, "Do I really want to be meeting other people right now or am I just feeling pulled to that out of fear?"
If you are a single processor and feeling the flurry of nervous emotions, here are a few ways to breathe a little easier over those next few dates:
Practice being the observer around this new person. This is less about digging for red flags and more so about not letting your hormone induced goggles run the show. Get present to who they are in the moment. What do you like? What raises a question for you? Take note of that as you spend more time with them.
Be mindful of becoming overly accommodating – communicate where you'd like to go or what you'd like to do on dates. Don't turn your own schedule upside down to meet this person's needs.
Alloooow yourself to get excited about someone. Yes! Allow it! It's wonderful to meet someone new that you feel so connected to. I get (I TOTALLY get) that it's scary, too, but it's also wonderful. Relish in the beauty of it.
I hope that lets you breathe, and more importantly, date a little easier.