The HNP Guide to... Dating in 2019
The language in dating app marketing these days is all about empowerment, self-definition and not apologising for who are or what you want.
We’re all for a strong message, but it’s a truth universally acknowledged by regular dating app users that the process can be emotionally demanding - or feel like more hassle than it’s worth.
Straight up, if recent experiences on the swipe-match-meet circuit have left you feeling tender and exposed, this doesn’t make you some overly-emotional snowflake.
‘You’re opening yourself up to someone new, without any guarantee that they’ll accept you - of course it’s hard,’ says psychologist Dr Jessamy Hibberd.
‘Plus there is this added expectation when you meet someone on an app, as opposed to bumping into them in real life. You know you are interested in each other from a romantic perspective, which changes the dynamic.’
Opting out of the whole process may provide temporary relief from the discomfort of vulnerability. But, for most, it won’t prove a rewarding long-term strategy.
‘We’re evolutionarily hardwired to want to meet a partner,’ says Dr Jessamy. ‘And when it pursuit of it goes right, there is nothing better.’
But in order to maximise your chances of dating being a positive experience, you need to take careful stock of where you’re at, mentally, first. To that end, set some time aside with nothing but your journal for company and put Dr Jessamy’s dating MOT questions to the most important person in your life: you.
1 / What do I value about myself?
Dating can hurt so much because we’re so ready to hand the keys to our self-worth over to a relative stranger. And while you don’t have control over what others think about what you, but you can invest in the way you feel about yourself by taking stock of your strengths and what you have to offer.
‘Think of all the people who know and love you - and why they do so,’ says Dr Jessamy. ‘Try to keep in mind that this is worth more than the thoughts of a person you’ve met for a couple of drinks.’
2 / Why am I meeting this person?
‘It’s important to be aware of your drivers,’ says Jessamy - and that stands before meeting an individual as well as when deciding to get back in the dating game.
‘You want to be getting to know someone because you think they’ll be a great addition to your life, not because you think they will be able to complete you or make you happy.’
3 / How will you feel if it doesn’t go well?
We’re all for optimism, so long as it’s informed by some realistic reflection - and an honest assessment of your mood.
‘Again, it comes back to our emotional state. If you’ve had a bad week at work and you’re looking for a Friday night date to improve your week, it’s important to think about how you’ll take the hit if you don’t hit it off, or worse, you’re ghosted,’ says Dr Jessamy.
‘Also, if you’ve had a bad week and you go out, you’re likely to drink more as you don't care as much about yourself,’ she adds. ‘You have totally different - and more true-to-you boundaries when your self-esteem is in a healthy place.’
4 / Do I like this person, or do I like the validation?
This is an important one - and deceptively difficult to discern at times.
‘Everyone loves to be made to feel attractive and interesting, but that’s not reason enough to be repeatedly spending your time with someone if that’s all they’re bringing to the table,’ says Dr Jessamy.
We know, real talk. But this is important: spend your precious free time with a potential bae because of the way you feel about them, not the way they appear to feel about you.
‘You should be going on a date because you are hoping to meet someone, not because you want external validation. Those two things are different and it’s important to be honest with yourself.’
Deep, huh? A little emotional excavation is rarely something you actively want to do, but in order to build a solid foundation upon which to make dating fun again? We’ll wager that it’s worth it.
[CREDIT: The Imposter Cure: How to Stop Feeling Like a Fraud and Escape the Mind-trap of Imposter Syndrome by Dr Jessamy Hibberd is published by Octopus]
by Claudia Canavan & Roisín Dervish-O’Kane, @allupinyourfeelings