Relationships, Online Dating, and Love
Author, coach, and motivational speaker Tony Robbins speaks about six needs of every human. They are the need for:
- Contribution beyond self in a significant way
The first four are fundamental needs; the fifth and sixth offer fulfillment to those who seek this level of engagement. As I marinate this, I realize it is true that I crave the certainty of schedules or specific roles and relationships. And I admit, as soon as I have my arms wrapped around my fundamental need for certainly…you guessed it, I am bored! Which is why we also need uncertainty. At first, I scoffed at this idea, yet with further consideration I realize that Robbins was speaking of the need for variety, surprise, adventure, and excitement. Once again, I easily related to this need. Next is significance. Upon reflection of my life, every decade thus far has offered a slightly nuanced quest for significance – early on it was to be a standout student, then to be an involved college ‘kid’, next to secure work and prove that I was worthy of promotions and growth, and on and on. As humans we need to feel as if we are unique…special. This fuels part of our everyday momentum and subconscious movement. Yet, much like the polarity that exists in needing certainty and uncertainty, as soon as we stand apart, we also seek connection, or love. Relationships are critical to humans.
Intimate relationships are especially powerful because they help us step into a place of safety. A place where we can let down our guard, explore true vulnerability and know that we are loved and accepted. It is an intoxicating and comforting reality when we experience these moments. The journey can also feel tricky. Indeed, seeking a committed relationship in the second half of life can be riddled with detours, bumps, and sometimes even stalled efforts. We cannot, however, silence our human need for connection.
Recently, I hired a relationship coach in my own quest for a healthy committed relationship. Despite going on plenty of dates (pre-COVID and appropriately social distanced throughout 2020), I was not successful in getting past three or four dates with anyone – which often led to an unnecessary self-inquisition of what I was doing wrong or why I could not attract a good partner. Four of the five following recommendations are from the expertise of my coach, and the final is a piece of advice I have to offer.
Create a Love Vision
Growing up my family would travel from Northwest Ohio to Florida to visit my grandparents. For weeks leading up to the trip, we talked about the weather forecast and what we hoped to do in the tropical environment. We planned our outfits, made hotel reservations (well…mom and dad did that), and planned car games to help pass the time and keep our energy high to match the fun vacation we were embarking upon. On our day of departure, we loaded the car, each in our respective spots with dad behind the wheel and mom in the passenger seat with a paper map handy should we need it along the way. While there were always surprises and alterations to our trip, the underlying current was we knew where we were going and that it was going to be great!
If a healthy, committed relationship is what you crave…do you know what that looks like? And how would you feel upon finding this awesome match? The first tip for any of us seeking connection in this way is to create a Love Vision. List out the qualities you seek in a partner. Get specific and do not hold back. At this point in life, you know what works for you and what does not – write it down. Consider what items on your list are non-negotiable. Much like a dream list (see January article titled Make Your Bucket List a Dream List in 2021), it is important to spend time getting familiar with what your heart desires.
Once you have that list, take a moment, and consider which of the qualities you are looking for in your companion exist within you. A Love Vision helps us get clear on the attributes we are seeking as well as loving the qualities and characteristics we bring to the equation. Falling deeply in love and embracing your own power and importance is part of this journey.
As with any great adventure, if you do not know where you are going…you stand the risk of aimlessly traveling and never ‘arriving’ where you really hope to land.
Pacing, Practice, and Patience
Our family Florida trips were always summer excursions, Thanksgiving and Christmas involved visits to my other set of grandparents. Being just a couple hours away in Ohio, these trips were often in the blustering winter weather – sometimes causing us to pull over and wait out the weather for dad to be able to even see where he was going. There were many white knuckled moments that dad simply inched along the highway, watching the brake lights of the semi-truck in front of us to make his way to and from grandma and grandpa’s house.
While that was effective for those trips, it is not effective for life. If we always keep our eyes fixed on what is immediately in front of us, we lose sight of the overall vision or goal and remain far too comfortable in our ways.
Part of finding a healthy, committed relationship requires pacing and practice. Once you have your Love Vision and cast your sight to the type of partner who matches your vision, it is important to get out and meet people! And, if you are anything like me, that process can feel foreign and perhaps even a bit frightening at first – like braving the road during a winter storm. Just like driving, going either too fast or too slow can cause problems. Going too fast can lead to a rush a emotions that cause us to overshare or become intoxicated with the rush of connecting with a new love interest. Going too slow can result in never really allowing another the opportunity to get to know us…never actually getting out there and missing out on a lot of life-giving fun! A steady, forward pace is truly the best option when it comes to getting back out into the world of dating.
Even in the world of COVID precautions, online dating apps are a way to continue a steady pace of dating. There are apps specifically for people age 55 and over, to help connect with others in a similar age group. Take some time to create a profile, engage in conversations, get on the phone or even a video chat! Traversing a new road takes us out of our comfort zone…yet can also lead to amazingly beautiful experiences. If you need help getting this area of your life going, I’d be happy to offer some coaching.
Ultimately, dating requires exercising the muscles of your mind, heart, and spirit. Your mind in that you must keep your eyes focused on your Love Vision. Your heart in that you must offer opportunities to connect and be curious about others, letting potential partners get to know you in a steady, forward moving pace. Your spirit in that you must be patient with the process and honor that you are exactly where you are meant to be in the moment and keep seeking growth.
Thank you & Next
When we traveled to either set of grandparents, there were always plenty of stops along the way – food, restroom breaks, parks, and even historical sites. Although we deviated from the final destination to access these various stops along the way, we always got back on track and ultimately made it to our desired location.
In dating, you will experience detours. Some detours will be a bit longer, like the visits to the historical sites along our family vacation route. Some will be short and sweet, like the ice cream breaks. Each of those stops were simply part of the journey…just as your experiences will be once you are out there practicing. Each will offer a figurative “stretch break” – some newfound information, or a simple delight along the way. As you find yourself on a detour, just know you can (and should) get back to your Love Vision – your goal. If you choose to alter that vision along the way, that is your choice. Just do so from a place of your personal desire, as opposed to melding your vision to align with someone you just met. Get back to your vision and keep moving. Say ‘Thank you’ and ‘Next’ each time you find it is time to move along from a date or potential partner who is simply part of the journey and not part of your vision.
After my divorce and the death of my very first love, I took some time and then ventured back into the world of dating. For as long as I can remember I have had a deep, abiding desire within me to share my life with someone in a committed partnership. I was rusty after being out of the dating world for so many years. The landscape felt as if it had changed. The truth was it was me I that had changed. In dating, there were still the people who were just out there looking for something casual and easy and others who had quite different likes and dislikes than I did. What was different was I had grown to know myself more intimately through the years, so this round of dating allowed me to be more focused. My Love Vision was easier to create as an adult than as a teenager or person in her 20’s (to be clear, I did not actually have a Love Vision back then).
Date after date, and year after year I did not pair up with any of the countless men I met. The reasons were endless, yet they were all part of the journey. At times it felt like defeat and I would even dare to say a bit of despair crept in at times. I leaned on the wisdom of a college friend who told me during this phase of adulthood, “Krista, if you have such a deep desire to meet someone to share your life with – it will happen. That desire has not been placed in you to never be fulfilled.” This sentiment brought me more comfort than I can explain. It helped me to hold onto hope. And it helped me move through each date, getting clearer and more comfortable in my own truth of the beautiful person I am – both inside and out. This was, in fact, the truth I was most resistant to – my own worth and importance. I knew it in an intellectual way, and I was alright that those past dates never materialized into anything, even if it I did not quite understand in the moment. Yet in a very deep and real way, I now see that they did not develop because I had locked away my own beautiful heart and self. I was shielded from the possible pain that can happen at times when we connect with another human being. In doing so, I was also shielding myself from the awesome moments of being seen, heard, loved, and valued – the moments that far outnumber any amount of hurt.
Although there may not be any rhyme or reason to love, is remains true that as humans we crave connection. Perhaps the connection you crave is that of a committed, healthy relationship. You must of course do the work (create a Love Vision, pace, practice, say ‘Thank You’ and ‘Next’), yet it is so very available for you. Trust that you are worthy and important. You are right where you need to be to move forward with this amazing story of your life.
Later this month I will share an interview with an amazing couple who found love through online dating. Allison, the beautiful woman of this duo, shared these words with me in the past when I was struggling, “The only thing I know to do is keep leaning into love, not because it’s easy, but because I believe it’s worth it.”
Keep leaning into love, dear one.