Tell Me the Truth: Are You Hating Dating?
You’re not alone!
I remember it vividly: I was chatting with my best friend, Sarah, over green tea in a cafe. She, as usual, was giving me the moment-by-moment commentary on an amazing date she’d had last night. I sat, sipping my tea quietly, hanging on her every word.
After a few minutes, I noticed that Sarah was giving me “the Look”. “What?” I asked, and she replied, “You look like you’re in pain! What’s wrong?”
I shook myself. I hadn’t realized it until she said something, but I was frowning, and my shoulders and neck were tense.
“What on earth were you thinking about just then, Jess?”, my friend asked again.
I sighed. “I was feeling frustrated, I guess. Whenever you tell me about the men you meet and the dates you go on, I’m fascinated, and I just don’t get why your dating experience is so different than mine. I HATE dating.”
“Well, why the heck is that?”, Sarah pressed. My discomfort increased. I also HATED talking about dating, in part because I was scared that the reason was something I couldn’t change.
I’d had relationships before, even some that were kind of satisfying, but after years of being single I felt completely lost and unsure of how to feel better. I was stuck.
“I struggle with dating because I’m an HSP – a Highly Sensitive Person. I feel everything so deeply and I think about EVERYTHING, all the time. I don’t mesh well at all with modern dating. With the apps, there’s no middle ground for me. I feel completely overwhelmed with responding to messages from strangers half of the time, and then bored or rejected the other half.”
“And then, if I do meet someone who seems like a good match, he either ghosts me or comes on way too strong. Then I’m left feeling hurt, or annoyed with him and myself!”
“So the apps steal your soul”, Sarah joked, trying to cheer me up, “Why don’t you just meet guys in bars, or in your daily life?”
“That may work, but first I’d have to get over the anxiety around going out in the first place, and dealing with crowds and noise. Then I’d have to play the ‘game’. I’m terrified to approach a guy I’d be interested in talking to, and I’m too shy to send signals in hopes he comes and talks to me first”.
“But what about that date you had last week? Wasn’t that fun?”. Damn. She was just not going to let this subject die!
“I had fun, but that was nothing in comparison to the obsessing I did leading up to the date. I was so worried that I wouldn’t have anything to say during dinner that I barely slept the night before. Afterward, I lost more sleep overanalyzing while I was waiting for him to contact me again”.
I sighed again, remembering checking my phone ten times an hour to see if he’d reached out (he hadn’t).
“And then, if I do get into a relationship, I’m stuck with either falling too hard too fast and getting my feelings hurt, or getting tired of the guy. It’s like there’s no gray area”.
My friend made a face. “So you really worry that being an HSP makes you undateable?”
“Yes. If I’m honest, I’m afraid I’ll end up alone. And there are times that that doesn’t sound so bad! But I really do want to be in love. I don’t want to feel so shut down. I want to show up!”.
After we parted ways, I couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation. Was I really doomed to a life of “too much” or “not enough”? Would I ever find someone who understood my mind, my heart, my needs? I craved affection and real connection in a world where “swipe left” had become the new normal. And I felt like an outsider.
Even worse, I was suffering from a severe case of the “shoulds” — as in, “I’m a psychotherapist who has helped hundreds of people succeed in their relationships. I SHOULD be able to get this down myself!” I could barely sit with the self-doubt.
Suddenly, it hit me – why was I viewing my sensitivity as a liability? Why was I telling myself a story that I was incapable of having a real, healthy relationship, when in fact my sensitivity gave me the exact tools I needed to find and create one? I just had to approach the situation more mindfully, with a focus on strengths rather than setbacks.
This was the beginning of my mindset shift – a powerful change that continues to affect me today. Once I learned to apply my HSP ninja skills to my dating life, I felt a million times better. Even better, I was no longer holding myself back.
Sarah and I met up again a few months later, and her surprise was obvious. “You’re glowing! What’s your secret?” she gasped.
“I’ve been on three awesome dates in the past two weeks, and both men are kind, funny, smart AND understanding of my sensitivity! One is even an HSP himself! Not to mention, my anxiety has decreased a ton, and I’ve been much more relaxed about hearing from love interests. I’m actually enjoying myself dating for the first time ever”.
Imagine my excitement when it was my friend’s turn to hang on my every word! I let her know some of the simple yet wildly effective strategies I was using, both to keep myself calm and to identify dating prospects.
Though Sarah is far less sensitive than I am, she began applying the same techniques, and as a result is now in the happiest relationship of her life.
Other HSP friends and acquaintances, too, caught word and are now using my method to attract secure, loving relationships, or just fun dates!
Now that I’ve figured out how to harness my fundamental nature, rather than criticize or try to change it, I live a life of contentment, self-compassion, and love, both romantic and platonic. Dating feels effortless rather than a chore.
The best part is, I finally feel like I can show up as myself – and the people in my life are showing up for me, too.
And with my own success, and that of my loved ones, I wouldn’t feel right not sharing it with you. After many years in the traditional psychotherapy world, I’ve become a relationship coach because my passion for supporting HSPs in the dating world cannot be ignored.
I am fired up to work with you!
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