I believe that when it comes to dating, the stakes can feel so high that in a desperate attempt to not make the wrong choice, we often get in our own way.
We can get so picky that we forget how much agency we actually have when it comes to finding a connection with someone who’s a good fit for us.
This week, you’ll learn how to find just that.
How has this week’s video shifted the way you look at dating? I’ll be reading the comments, so I’d love to know your thoughts!
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When we constantly almost applaud the fact that, “I’m just too picky. My problem is I’m too picky,” if we’re not careful it becomes another way of saying, “I’m kind of a judgmental asshole.”
Well it’s interesting, Steve, there is an article on the BBC that talks about the idea that people aren’t actually as picky in reality as they think they are when describing who they would date. Research shows hidden biases. We will actually give people a chance even if they don’t quite meet our criteria.
I think that’s interesting because dating apps no doubt make us much more picky than we are in reality, and I think anyone can run this experiment. If you imagine going on a dating app and how you swipe through people so liberally in such a kind of laissez-faire fashion, and then consider how you are if you’re at a party and someone introduces you to someone.
You’re far more likely to give that person that you’ve been introduced to in real life a moment, a chance, than you are on a dating app where that person may not even make it into your “I’m going to send them a quick Hi” folder.
Yeah, and it might even be for weird reasons. Like you’ll see one movie they said was their favorite movie, and you’re like, “Oh God. Really? That one?” Or roll your eyes, “Oh, that’s so cliche.” But if you met someone at a party who was great, you wouldn’t reject them on the basis that their favorite movie made you roll your eyes a bit. You’d be like, “Oh, I don’t care. This is really fun. I’m having a great time.”
Or they’re a couple of inches under the height that you’ve decided you want for yourself, and that becomes a reason not to choose someone. And that’s what’s really interesting, is that perfect partners aren’t picked in the margins. If you met someone who is a couple of inches under what you thought you wanted the person’s height to be, and they ended up being so many amazing things in a relationship, and you had an amazing time with them, and chemistry, and whatever, the chances at that point of you walking away because they’re not quite the right height or the height that you’d predetermined was important, it’s almost never going to happen.
Or I would argue, if it does happen, then you’ve got to start looking inward and saying, “OK. What’s happening with me that I am treating my love life like a thing to be optimized instead of finding someone who is an amazing partner? If I find a fantastic partner, what’s going on with me that I am optimizing in this way, that I’m still telling myself it’s not quite right because they don’t have this thing or that thing?”
Yeah. I almost think the mistake is to think you’re looking for a perfect person. But you’re actually looking for an amazing fit, someone that fits you really well, that fits the pieces of your jigsaw really well. And that’s a very different thing.
One of the phrases this article uses is, “It’s not about the partner you choose, but the partnership you build,” which I think is extraordinarily important. Now, I don’t think that you can just choose any partner. We have to choose a partner with the right stuff, and then look at the partnership we’re building with them and see if the partnership is one that is meeting our needs, if the partnership is one that can make us happy. But that’s a very different thing from spending our whole lives optimizing in terms of the partner. It says here in this article Steve, “Maybe it’s not that helpful to search and search for a partner who looks good on paper, but it is helpful once dating someone to look for early signs that the relationship is turning out to be healthy and supportive.”
That I think is a real shift away from whether someone meets all of the criteria we thought we wanted, some of which are hangovers from when we were young and had this shopping list of unimportant things that someone had to be, and we never actually revisited that list to see how many of them were important. Now, I do think that the person we come across in life that is going to make us happy has to be our version of special or a version of special that really appeals to us. But the idea that we are going to objectively optimize to the point where the decision is just made for us by fate, or feeling, or destiny, or whatever you want to call it, is a really, really destructive notion because it removes agency from us as people.
Agency in decision making, whether it’s a person, or a career, or a place you want to live, agency is saying, “I have a role to play in choosing something and making it spectacular.” My job is not to travel the world and then when I just feel, “This is the place I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life,” and settle there. It removes any agency from us. And it’s making a decision . . . I think this is a very missed point in so many things, and I’m not the first one to say it, but making a decision, exercising that agency, is something that imbues a situation with meaning. That you chose that thing, that career, that place to live, that person, and then decided to go all-in on it, there’s beauty in that. That is the thing that imbues it with so much meaning.
But so many people go through life waiting for life to give them meaning. I need to find the career that gives me purpose. I need to find the place to live that just speaks to me, that is my place, that makes me feel good. I need to find the person that gives my life meaning. But that’s to be a kind of a victim to meaning instead of choosing meaning. And what could be more meaningful in a world where we could have so many potential partners, what could be more meaningful than saying, “I’m choosing to build a story with this person. This is the story I choose.” And I think that all the investment that comes afterwards, all of the commitment that comes afterwards, comes as a result of deciding that you’re going to make that story really important.
That commitment is the inevitable result of deciding the meaning of a story as opposed to the result of something coming to you preordained. Unfortunately, I just don’t think life gets to be that simple. You can be so many different things in life. You could be a fisherman. You could be an accountant. You could be a lawyer. You could be a speaker. You could be a writer. You could be so many different things. I don’t think life gets to be as simple as something just chooses you. We go through life and we exercise agency, and the search for a partner is no different. At a certain point we stop. And it’s not that we stop on somebody and we say, “This is good enough.” It’s that we stop on somebody and we say, “I’m going to make this great.”
We’re very powerful, and we have the ability to make things great in life. We all have our own magic. We all have our own ability to make things great. But we have to exercise that ability. It doesn’t mean that it can be with anyone. We still have to find someone who has a similar attitude towards making a relationship great or we’ll be the one doing all the work, and that doesn’t work. We still need to find someone with whom we have some chemistry. Doesn’t need to be the greatest chemistry of all time. With someone, you have chemistry that makes it a romantic relationship, or you have a friendship. And it still needs to be someone who has an outlook on life or values that synergize with your own. Doesn’t have to be all the same, but they have to be able to be compatible with your own.
But the pool of people that that describes is far greater than the scarcity that people imagine is the case when they think of trying to find their ideal partner. And I actually fundamentally believe that when we develop a healthy relationship with ourselves and our own flaws, and when we find ourselves ready for a real relationship, more people become right. Because I do think that when we constantly almost applaud the fact that, “I’m just too picky. My problem is, I’m too picky,” if we’re not careful, it becomes another way of saying, “I’m kind of a judgemental asshole,” and it’s done under the righteous label of, I’m too picky. And I think that we’ve all been through those phases where we’re incredibly judgemental of people and everyone feels wrong for us because we’re so judgmental.
Everyone loves saying, “When you raise your standards in life, and when you grow, and when you read, and when you do self-development, and when you do all of these things, your pool of people shrinks and it’s hard to meet someone who’s on your level.” That’s a really easy thing to say. I’ve even said that in the past. But I think it’s a bit of a cop-out, because I actually think the more open you become as a human being, the more you accept yourself and your own flaws, and your own history, and your own weaknesses, and don’t see certain things with shame and disgust, when you aren’t disgusted by yourself and the things that you’ve done or you are, then you start looking at other people with less disgust, with less contempt, with more openness, with more love.
You start actually seeing more good in other people. When you accept yourself more, it’s hard not to accept other people more. And so when we become really ready, more people become right.
What’s up everybody? I hope you enjoyed the episode today taken from the Love. Life. podcast. I wanted to let you know that the things that I was speaking about in terms of self-acceptance and how that changes the way that we approach our love lives, it changes the way that we approach other people, is a real muscle that we can work on.
If you have struggled in your life to love yourself, my God, if you’ve struggled to like yourself, if the idea of loving yourself isn’t even on your radar because you’re struggling to like yourself in general, if you continuously beat yourself up over things that you do wrong, or things you say wrong, or mistakes you believe you’ve made in your past that to this day you regret and you continuously castigate yourself for, these are things that will affect everything in your life. Because our relationship with our self shapes everything, our happiness, our sense of peace, how we approach life in general, our confidence, our personal power at work, in love.
If you want to learn how to build that self-acceptance and self-love muscle, that is the deep work that I do with people on my virtual retreat. It’s three days of coaching immersion. And this is a very timely announcement because it is coming up very, very soon in March from the 18th to the 20th. If you have not booked your call yet to talk to one of my team, please go and do that now. They’ll tell you all about the program. They’ll talk to you about your goals, what you’re trying to achieve right now, what’s holding you back, and they’ll help you understand how the program could help. I hope to see you there. Please go to MHVirtualRetreat.com to learn more, find out all about the program. I sincerely hope that we get to spend three whole days of coaching together from the 18th to the 20th of March.