Compulsive dating is going from one person to the next over and over again, often with people overlapping. I’ve been this way ever since I started dating 14 years ago. It’s been a slew of relationships, dates, and sex, but I’m trying really hard to stop this behavior and live new patterns. Here’s how I’m doing it.
I’m seeking help.
For full transparency, I’m in a 12-step group for sex and love. It’s helped me immensely. It provides structure and guidance as well as a boatload of tools, some of which I’ll talk about here. I couldn’t have started my recovery without the group. When I tried to do it on my own over and over again, it never worked. I’ve found peace and healing.
I’ve acknowledged (and continue to acknowledge) my powerlessness.
A significant piece of letting go of compulsive behavior has been recognizing my powerlessness over it. This means letting go of trying so hard to control how I’m dating and turn it over to the universe. I have to keep acknowledging my powerlessness on a daily basis in order to surrender to my growth process.
I’m taking a real break from dating.
This is the biggest key to recovering from being a compulsive dater. I’m actually taking a significant amount of time away from dating. So far it’s been six months and I plan to continue on. This break from dating has meant no sex, kissing, going on dates, getting people’s numbers, nothing. It’s a complete detox to jump-start my system.
I’m learning to date myself.
Dating myself is a magical thing. It turns out I’m awesome to be with. I’m learning to enjoy my own company, take myself out on solo dates, and not feel sorry for myself. I think that doing this will set me up to be a better partner because I won’t need to be constantly hanging out with the person I’m dating. I’ll want to be with just me as well.
I watch cravings come and go.
This may be a result of my meditation practice, but I’m able to watch thoughts, try not to entertain them, then let them go. Doing this over and over again has proved to me that I don’t have to be controlled by cravings and that they will pass, however long they’re around.
I’m starting to see people as humans and not objects.
Oh man, I harshly objectified people dozens of times a day. I’d see an attractive person and I’d automatically turn them into a sexual or romantic object in my mind. They were no longer a human. Now I’m doing my best to see other people as humans with their own flaws and quirks. I also used to romanticize people, but now I know that no one is perfect.
I’m living my life.
I’m actually out there living. I’m doing my hobbies and I’m enjoying myself. I’m trying to live my life to the fullest, as cheesy as that sounds. I try to think what if I never had a partner ever again? How would I live my life? I’d get out there and pursue my dreams.
I’m scrupulously examining my patterns.
I’m taking a long and hard look at the “why” underneath all of my acting-out behavior. What caused me to compulsively date? Taking a look at the roots is helping me untangle my actions. It’s helping me learn that although these are patterns, they can be changed with hard work and perhaps a little grace.
I’m learning from people who have what I want.
I’m following in the shadow of those who have healthy relationships and dating lives. I want to know what they do so that I can do it too. I have mentors and friends who I ask questions and run situations by.
I’m valuing my time more.
I’ve been more protective of my time, saying no more than ever. I’m saying yes to myself. I realize that life is short and we only have so much time. I want to be conscious of how I’m spending each minute. When I get back out there to date again, I intend to only go on dates with people I’m psyched about. Life is too short to not date someone who makes you say “hell yes!”
I’m going to have a dating plan when I date again.
When I get back out there, I’m going to have a blueprint for what I should and shouldn’t do. I don’t have to obsessively follow it, but it’ll be a guideline to help keep me on track. Some examples are to not go home with someone unless I’m ready to sleep with them and to only have two dates max a week.
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