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Oftentimes the focus of dating is to determine if a potential partner is a true match.
You invest time in this person to get to know each other, discover if you have similar interests, values and relationship goals and to continue to learn if the attraction and spark are there.
You might realize your date or someone you have been dating for a period of time is not exactly what or who you are looking for and make the decision to move on and date elsewhere.
Next you might find yourself on a string of dates getting to know one or multiple men as you go through the above process over and over again until you find a great match.
To learn more about him and see how he could possibly fit into your life?
Yes, but too often women make dating into a process of getting to know HIM and forget dating is an incredibly powerful and valuable tool for their own personal growth, learning and self-discovery.
Dating gives you important insight into yourself and what you are looking for if you are willing to experience it that way.
It helps you get to know yourself, your values, what makes you laugh and what makes you tick.
It provides you with opportunities to develop your hobbies, interests and passions, as well as better understand what makes you feel alive, bored, frustrated or joyful.
Even those bad dates with no chemistry or connection can be opportunities for self-exploration if you open yourself up to the idea that dating serves a greater purpose rather than plowing through as many frogs necessary to find your prince.
It can be so easy to jump from man to man until you find the one worth settling for, and society makes it easy to do so.
The missing piece, though, and one of the most significant aspects of a healthy relationship is your own self-awareness and sense of self.
Below are five ways to view dating as a self-discovery tool. I urge you to think about these tips, write about what they bring up for you or talk about them with someone you trust.
These tips are aimed to help you sort out what’s important to you and gain knowledge about yourself so you can find a partner who is right for you while growing as a person.
Have you ever examined why you feel anxious around one man, while you might feel calm around another man or silly around another?
As an added tool, make a list of men you have dated or been attracted to and picture yourself with this person (even if they are in your past).
Notice the energy in your body, how you remember feeling in their presence and any emotions, sensations or qualities they brought out in you.
Have you spent time thinking about your own values instead of trying to align yourself with what is important to your date?
Make a list of your values and issues that are meaningful to you and remind yourself there is no right or wrong.
Some examples include hospitality, altruism, ethics, cooperation, justice, community, nature, generosity and relaxation.
By understanding your values, you will be better equipped to find a partner who embodies similar values, beliefs and morals.
Unfortunately there is no universal relationship manual, and it takes time and practice to get into a healthy relationship groove.
Sometimes you have to learn the hard way or tolerate enormous anxiety to put yourself out there and be open to love.
Think about relationship experiences in which you felt the most connected, appreciated, loved and valued. What did your date or partner do to bring out these feelings in you?
Also think about how you show love. Are you someone who values physical touch, quality time or affirmations?
Dating also helps you to better understand how others view you through the energy you put out in the world.
For example, have several men in a row told you how much they are drawn to your confidence or independence? Soak it in and see what it feels like to have others recognize these positive traits.
On the other hand, have you been told time and time again men have difficulty connecting to you because you tend to avoid eye contact? If so, it might be something to think about and gain awareness about.
Is it fear, anxiety, discomfort or lack of readiness interfering with your ability to hold eye contact on a date?
Make a conscious commitment to learn from each dating experience. It can be helpful to spend time after each date writing down two lessons you learned.
A few examples include:
Leave the judgment aside while being open to the experience of getting to know yourself.