I used to be the type of person who barreled into a relationship; the faster and more codependent the better. I learned though that this is really painful and not at all helpful for building a lasting healthy relationship. So now I do my best to slow the heck down. After living the life of speedy dating, I now pace myself as much as possible.
I figure out what I want. Before I can communicate to anyone else what I want, I have to figure out what that is. This comes with a lot of meditation, talking it out, and listening to my gut. I do my best to tune into what my intuition is telling me. I’ve learned what my boundaries are—what I do and don’t want. It’s a relief to learn all of these things, then I can actually share them.
I speak my mind. I don’t just keep what I want to myself. I share it with the person that I’m dating. Fortunately, I’m able to be clear because I’ve already parsed out what it is that I’m looking for. I make sure that the person I’m dating is aware of my needs, wants, and thoughts. Communication is super important in a relationship… and so is speaking my needs.
I try to space out the times when I see them. If it was up to my past self, I’d spend all the time in the world with the person I’m interested in. I’d cancel commitments and stay up late, abandoning my needs. Fortunately, this isn’t what I do anymore. Instead, I see them every few days or even longer if necessary. I don’t throw my life away to be with another person.
I choose people who’re respectful. This is key. Sure, my behavior and thought patterns are very important, but they don’t matter at all if I’m choosing people who are going to disregard my needs. I’m looking for someone who’s going to take what I say seriously and will respect my boundaries. This also makes it a lot easier to go slow because I’m not being pressured.
I give myself time to stop obsessing. It’s really easy to get completely consumed with someone. Dating is exciting! My brain can get so totally obsessed with someone, then they’re all I think about and all I want to be involved with. I’ve learned that this is natural for me—obsessing just happens. It’s nothing to fret over, I just have to give myself time to let the obsession cool down. For example, this means not texting all the time.
I don’t text all the time. Part of me would love to text away with the person I’m dating for a long time, but I know that it only feeds my obsession. It’s not healthy for me to constantly text, especially in the beginning. So, instead, I space out when I talk to the person. We’ll text a flurry of a conversation, then I’ll end it (or the other person will). This helps me to also live my life and not get too consumed.
I say “no” when I need to. I used to be scared to say “no” to whoever I was dating. I wanted to be the cool girl who was a people pleaser and always went with the flow. You know what? It got me nowhere except hurt. Now, I’m not afraid to say “no” when I need to. If my boundaries are about to be crossed, I definitely speak up about it. I’m no longer afraid to inconvenience someone because I know that my needs matter.
I don’t get physical too quickly. One of the important ways that I say “no” is by not getting physical too quickly. I only hug on the first few dates and certainly wait until I’m comfortable to kiss the person. Sex isn’t even a question until I’ve spent a good amount of time with the person I’m dating, trust them, and we’ve committed to each other. Getting physical too quickly just ruined everything for me in the past—I try to do it differently now.
I ask for help. Left to my own devices, I’m often sleeping with someone right away. As a result of this, I involve my friends in my dating process. They’re very patient and loving. I call and text them before the date to talk to them about how I’m feeling and what my date and I are doing. Doing so keeps me accountable to someone so it’s not just me making my own choices. I know I’ll have to tell a friend later how it went.
I forgive myself when I break my own rules. I’m a human and I’m inherently imperfect. I’m going to make mistakes and sometimes do things I perhaps shouldn’t have done. Instead of beating myself up when I break my own boundary, I treat myself with compassion. I ask myself what’s going on and I listen to the answer. I offer myself forgiveness and know that I can try again next time. There will definitely be a next time.
I know there’s always room for improvement. As much as I do the best I can, I can always do better. My boundaries can improve, my communication could be better, and I could have a clearer read on what I want. I’m not putting myself down because I’m doing a hell of a job as I am. I’m just saying that there’s room for improvement. I’ve been improving over the years and I’ll keep doing it!
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