Years ago I made a commitment to myself to buy as much Organic food as possible. Even though I felt the pain as I looked at my grocery bill, I considered it a long-term investment in health. My housemate watches me eat Organic food day after day, so the other day when I asked her to grab me a spice from the store, she comes back with the top of the line Organic version.
At first I thought how nice of her not to skimp and come back with the cheapest one. Then it occurred to me that since she sees me buying Organic food all the time, she just followed suit and got the kind she assumed I’d buy for myself.
I thought about how this concept works when it comes to dating and relationships too.
The truth is we are informing people all the time about how to treat us, by the way we treat ourselves. And this is never more obvious than in the process of dating.
Let’s say you’re out with a guy and it’s getting late. You have to get up early the next day for a work meeting. You told him that you need to be in bed at 11pm. It’s 10:30pm, he asks you if you’d be up for catching a last drink at a great place just down the block.
How do you handle this? - Do you stick to your own curfew knowing that you’ll feel much better the next day? Or do you notice how excited he is to show you this other place and cave into his energy, telling yourself that you’ll just let your curfew slide this time?
The thing is, that if you already mentioned earlier in the date that you want to be in bed by 11pm, it can feel like he’s rude because he’s inviting you to something after the time you said you needed to go home. But the fact is many times men will test a woman early on in the dating process, whether consciously or subconsciously.
He’s testing her to see how she sticks to her own boundaries. He’s finding out what she will allow him to get away with and what she won’t. He’s watching you to inform him how to treat you.
So I wanted to share a few key areas that you can focus on practically loving yourself during (or in preparation for) the dating process:
Share your honest Preferences - You may want to be an easy “go with the flow” kind of woman and there are times that is a valuable trait. But if he’s inviting you to go 4 wheeling in a mud field and it seems like something that would give you a panic attack, by all means, tell him that and communicate that you’d love to spend time with him, but that you’d feel better with X, Y, Z kind of activity. He will learn to consider what you enjoy and want to make you happy.
Speak Up About Your Feelings - Did he shut down something you said in front of your friends that made you feel hurt? If it’s bothering you and getting in the way of relating with him, you should speak up! At an appropriate time, share how what he did impacted you and how you felt. Sometimes people in our lives unintentionally hurt us and they get to know how they can love us by sharing how their actions impact us. He will learn to respect and care for your feelings.
Don’t Give All of Your Time and Energy Away Too Soon - Let him earn a place in your life. It can be tempting when you find someone that you are very attracted to or could talk with all night, to want to spend hours and days with them right away. But the fact is you give trust to every other person in your life over time. Make it no different with a guy you just met. He will learn to honor your time and value your sharing from your heart.
Guard Time for Yourself - Often the activities you love are part of what draws a man to you. Whether it’s an afternoon coloring with a warm cup of tea or traveling to the beach with your best friend each year. Don’t let the whirl of emotions in getting to know a new man keep you from the things you love. He will learn to cherish your differences and encourage you in what makes you shine.
Making choices like these to love yourself—-even minor choices like honoring your own bedtime—will challenge him to step up to treat you well. Also, when you treat yourself well certain men you date will not be up for the task (because they’re operating as self-centered/low-value/disinterested) and they’ll quickly show themselves the exit when they realize you won’t tolerate bad treatment. And that’s one less man you need to filter out yourself!
If you find it challenging to honor yourself in certain areas of the dating process and would like another person in your court, I’m glad to set up a time for a conversation here.