How to Be Empowered by Bad Dating Choices
Bad dating choices and victim-hood go hand in hand (more so than you and your failed lover). This attitude is unfortunately quite prevalent in the dating world- many people like to blame others for their lack of happiness and satisfaction in relationships. This is a terrible way to rob yourself of personal responsibility and growth. I'm here to tell you that owning your bad choices (because that's what they really are after all, and if you don't agree, keep reading) is the best thing you can do for your romantic life.
Before diving into your bad choices, I suggest having some intention to your approach. I highly recommend adopting an attitude of curiosity and compassion when analyzing your romantic life. People usually adopt a tense and closed off mindset when evaluating their dating experiences, and this often results in bitterness and cynicism. This leaves very little room for empathy and understanding, and without those 2 essential qualities, growth and deeper self discovery remain out of reach.
So yes, I am telling you to step out of your anger and entertain the idea of looking at the past situation and yourself through the eyes of your ex-lover. This is really scary for some people because it requires them to face their worst qualities. This is why self compassion is also incredibly important during this process- if we don't remind ourselves that we are all just flawed humans then we become even more bitter and jaded. This process is also incredibly humbling- it requires people to acknowledge that sometimes they behave in negative ways. We are all capable of being annoying, frustrating, over-reactive, and unreasonable. Take comfort in knowing that these negative patterns are just behaviors and tendencies that can be reprogrammed. Remember that those negative moments do not define you. Even more importantly, remember that those negative moments can define a relationship. The distinction to make here is that you are not your past relationships. The sooner you stop attaching your identity (and the identity of ex lovers) to past romantic experiences, the sooner you can make better intentions about your life.
What Is A Bad Choice?
Before we can look at bad dating choices, we need to define what it is. It can be different for everyone. I look at bad dating choices as decisions that are incompatible and misaligned with our true desires and needs. Most people aren't too aware of their true desires and needs- that is why bad dating choices are often made over and over again. The dating game really can be a way to help teach you about yourself if utilized properly, so embrace the plethora of choices that can lead to more self awareness.
These incompatible choices often appear in 2 forms: the conscious and the unconscious.
The conscious bad decision is usually the kind of choice we make when we are settling or lowering out standards. For example, if I usually expect my date to make concrete plans a day or two before our evening together, but I allow the current person I'm seeing to text me details mere hours before our event, then I am lowering my standards. I am consciously choosing to allow someone to behave in a way that I do not like, and therefore I am consciously choosing to invest romantic energy into someone who has behaviors that I do not want in a partner.
This is not to say that a partner must only have behaviors you approve of (this is a deep topic that will be covered in the future). The point is that when you enable behavior that does not sit well with your values, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. You can, of course, use one of your superpowers that goes by the name of communication. You can communicate to your date that you do not really feel comfortable with finalizing plans only hours before your date and that you would be happy to see them again once they figure things out ahead of time. Hopefully your partner sees your point and changes their behavior, but if not, then at least you know for sure that you would be wasting your time further pursuing this relationship. By communicating and refraining from enabling behavior you do not like, you reclaim your power. You respond to your world instead of react to it, and thus you help shape it. This is empowering.