I had 3 weddings to the same man so on our anniversaries, I get to thinking about love and our relationship and all that marriage/relationship stuff. On one of our anniversaries, I randomly started thinking about my past. Admittedly I opened up a rabbit hole that I usually avoid because it brought up how I had been dating without self-respect all those years.
I started thinking about my love life pre husband. I remember one guy I ‘dated’ said that one day I should write my memoirs because I had so many colourful stories to tell of my dating endeavours. At the time (I was in my 20’s) it was funny. But now, at almost 40, I sure as hell WILL NOT be publishing my memoirs. Not because of being embarrassed – everyone has a past. But because, upon reflection I spent most of my 20’s dating without self-respect.
That’s a really difficult sentence to write. I’m confident to write this and share it with you today because I know how far I’ve come. Generally, I don’t take on opinions of my life choices. However, those words ‘self-respect’ are pretty heavy.
When reflecting on my past with self-respect glasses on, I see just how pathetic, insecure and sad things were. I had this facade of ‘not giving a f***’ whilst I was dating. It served me well as I was able to block out any comments or self criticism but I also managed to damage friendships, lie to so many people and generally hurt myself continuously in the process.
I just kept hurting myself and was miserable. The outside world couldn’t see my misery because I wouldn’t let them. But I got hurt a lot by people I stupidly trusted and got to a point where I couldn’t understand what I was doing and why.
Being overweight at the time, I realise now that I was doing a lot of this behaviour to help me feel good about myself. It had the opposite effect. When I would ‘see’ (can’t really say date) men, I would take a lot of crap from them. I exhibited behaviours like calling a lot etc without really looking at the situation and seeing if the guy actually wanted to hear from me. Using my sexuality as a tool was common. And now, 20 years on, I’m ashamed of myself. Oooof, that hurt to write. I don’t regret my 20’s but I do wish I understood self-respect and valued myself more than I did at the time.
My point? I’m seeing a lot of this behaviour in dating today and I want to shout out from the rooftops for you to have self-respect. That doesn’t mean you can’t sleep with people, it just means, know what you’re doing. Understand the repercussions and make informed choices of who you do stuff with.
When you’re actually dating, try and see that everyone has a slight facade on – hiding from their insecurities and childhood templates. Lead with compassion and don’t compromise your self-respect. Relationships are about compromise but not self-respect, understand the difference.
If you have a set of values (remember these change) assess what they are for dating. Ask yourself what are you doing in dating that displays those values? Have self awareness of your dating habits and reflect on your behaviour. Don’t just blame the other person, they will respond to the person you advertise.
If someone doesn’t like you, it’s ok, move on, they’re not your lobster. When someone does like you, for you, you’re more likely to have a relationship beyond the dating. Be open to the person you want and have some patience. It can take some time for people to truly reveal their true selves.
You should also hold some of it back until you feel that you can trust. Of course this is not an absolute science, it’s merely another way of looking at dating, that’s all.
Ultimately, if you want that love you dream of, make sure your self-respect is in check. Ensure that you are compassionate towards the people you’re dating (even with the most arrogant of datees.) And be yourself as much as possible.
Puja McClymont is a certified Life Coach supporting ambitious women in senior-level roles, entrepreneurs and high profile individuals to be empowered by who they are and what they want from love, life & work.