Self-care in dating and relationships is essential.
Bring to mind a time when you felt you were truly yourself and fully alive. How did it feel, physically mentally, emotionally? What was it you liked about yourself?
When did you last feel completely at peace with who you are, kind, compassionate and accepting of every part of yourself without judgment?
Now think of a time when you were “in the zone” socially– perhaps you were completely relaxed on holiday, or making a group of friends laugh over drinks. How did that happen? How did you feel?
Feeling like this has incredible implications for all our relationships, whether romantic, family, work, or friendships. When we are able to celebrate who we are and feel completely relaxed, our approach to dating and relating to others is much more authentic and attractive. We are more tolerant, more able to listen and be open-minded, less likely to get irritated by others and less sensitive to criticism.
Don’t you wish you could spend more of your time feeling that good?
If you spend most of your time rushing from one task to another, constantly juggling responsibilities and to-do lists, it’s not going to happen automatically.
You’ve heard it all before: Set aside “me time” for exercise, candle-lit baths, yoga, meditation, journalling, country walks, or whatever else works for you. Get these activities scheduled into your diary on a regular basis. Set an alarm on your phone and make a pact with a friend to do the same so you know you’re not alone. Care for yourself and then it will be easier to care for others.
Like medication, we know these things don’t have an instant effect. They need to be done regularly and there may be many positive outcomes that you weren’t expecting: as well as improving our relationship with ourselves and others, it can increase our focus, help us sleep better and make us more compassionate.
When we have a presentation at work or an interview coming up, we schedule preparation time. We make notes, carry out research and make sure we won’t be disturbed. We might practise what we’re going to say and perhaps do some voice warm-ups or relaxation exercises.
If we’re going to prepare for a date, it makes sense to do the same. If you feel relaxed and good about yourself, you’ll be the best version of yourself. You’ll be less anxious about making a good impression and more confident about making sure the person is right for you. You can’t fake that.
The same applies for a meeting with your ex, perhaps to discuss childcare or divorce settlements. You will be much more likely to respond in a calm and measured way, and less likely to feel threatened or personally attacked. This approach will be much more productive, both in the short-term and in the long-term.
Meditation and visualisation are especially powerful methods for doing this. If you can imagine a successful date or meeting in detail, you will start to believe it is possible. We have an in-built bias towards the negative and have to work hard to redress the balance. So training ourselves to imagine positive experiences and to focus on what is good about ourselves is something we have to work at.
Rachel and Isabelle both work with people who are going through divorce as well as people who are dating, and have created resources to help with this preparation.
Rachel has produced a two minute meditation to use just before a date.
Isabelle has produced another meditation here.
We would love to hear from you if you find these helpful or have your own tips for preparing for any form of social interaction!
Author: Rachel New
London Dating Coach
Dr Isabelle Hung is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and clinical psychologist. Having got through her own divorce just three years ago, she is now remarried and happy to report that divorce really is an opportunity for growth and positive change.