Tag Archives: boundaries

7 No-Nonsense Tips For The Inexperienced Online Dater

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1. If you have little to no experience dating (at all), start with the singles that are already around you. If you don’t know how to talk face-to-face with the opposite sex that you already are somewhat familiar with, then trying to chat-it-up with a total stranger is not going to feel natural to you. Have you ever been around someone who is obviously feeling/acting awkward? I have… I’ve also been that person in the past. The awkwardness usually ends up totally distracting you from the pieces of their personality that you may have actually liked! So let yourself get acquainted with the real life people you already have around you, before you get behind a laptop or download the latest dating app. You’ll feel more comfortable with yourself and that will enable more of your personality to shine through… and there’s nothing more attractive than someone that seems comfortable and confident in the way they interact with others!

2. Don’t let cliches or popular opinions push you into online dating when you know you’re not ready. My favorite one is “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else!” No. Not really. Actually, not at all! It sends the message that sex is a suitable sub for love… and it’s not. It’s an easy distraction and a quick way to a broken heart. If you know you aren’t ready to date, then don’t. Jumping ahead of yourself can have an effect on you in 2 ways: It can make you super guarded (think the Night’s Watch and the Wall in Game of Thrones) or it’ll leave you super vulnerable. Both are two extremes that you don’t want when dating. You’ll either end up shooting down some great people had you been in the right headspace, or you could end up being taken advantage of by someone… and at the speed of online dating, both can happen at warp speed.

3. Speaking of warp speed… That is the rate at which most people move in online dating! If they want to meet you, they may ask you to “hang out” within the first 5 minutes of messaging you. If they are on there just for hookups, their first sentence to you may be “Hi I really liked your profile! You seem like a great person! I’m horny, wanna come over?”
Yup.
True story.
So pick the pace you feel comfortable at and stick to it until you find someone who you feel right about. Don’t let the fast pace pressure you into quick decisions… or just plain bad ones.

4. You are under no obligation to anyone. You don’t have to respond to every message you get! In fact in may cases it’s ridiculous to try! When I created my first online dating profile, I had over 100 messages from guys within the first 30 minutes of it being live. The craziest part is that I responded to each and ever message… even the ones that just read “Hay Babii”… just because I didn’t want to be rude! I was so precious back then. Some people will be snarky to you if you don’t respond to their advances, or if you don’t respond quick enough, or if you don’t want to meet up fast enough, or if you don’t say “I love you” before even knowing each other’s last names. You don’t owe these strangers anything. Don’t let them make you feel like you do. Quick tip: Just delete any “Hi” messages. Aren’t you worth AT LEAST a sentence?!
Yes. You. Are.

5. Name your terms on your profile and have the most accurate (but flattering) photos up. Deception and misconceptions can happen in the dating world in general, but in my opinion online dating leaves so much more room for this to be common… Catfish has pretty much proven that to be true! In one of my profiles I plainly state that I am not interested in dating men who do drugs and that if they are looking for a booty call that I am not their girl. Those for me are hard boundaries. I kept everything else on my profile lite and fun, but I named my terms. Some people think I’m closing the door on more options, but I see it as keeping the door open for THE RIGHT OPTIONS. Name your terms so you can minimize wasting time. I mean, efficiency is supposed to be one of the bonuses to online dating, right?! Another really important thing to address is photos. One of the major complaints with online profiles is in reference to the accuracy (or lack thereof) of photos. In this selfie driven world, we all know the power of good angles and filters… Instagram is full of them! The best thing you can do for yourself and others is to have at least one photo that is the closest to what you were to look like if they were sitting in front of you. You want to go out with people who see YOU and still want to see you in person, and who aren’t turned off by the fact that you know what you want and aren’t afraid to say it.

6. Don’t go into it only being open to finding love. Be open to making genuine connections! Most people you come in contact with online aren’t going to result in a love connection, but don’t let that detour you from still getting to know people. If two people really enjoy staying in contact with each other even after it’s obvious there’s not romantic connection, then I say try and keep an open mind. All genuine and healthy connection adds more to your life!

7. Have fun! Don’t let the fast pace, reading tons of profiles, or deleting numerous “Hey” messages overshadow all the greatness about online dating… or dating in general. You get to meet new people, learn more about what you like and don’t like, get to have some new experiences, and discover new places! Have fun with that!

Smile, laugh, and be yourself. Love is given more room to thrive when you let yourself interact with the world this way.

Yours Truly, Andrea

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Growing Into Your Own Voice

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Up until the last few years, I had spent most of my life being fearful of my own thoughts and opinions about life. I lived in fear of challenging the things that I had been taught and how I had been raised. I lived in fear of questioning the demands that others placed on me. I lived in fear of asking myself what motivated me. Bottom line, I didn’t know who I was apart from the people, places, and things that surrounded me.

It never occurred to me that I didn’t know who I was until after an ex-boyfriend and I broke up… Or more accurately put, WHEN OUR BREAKUP ALMOST BROKE ME . I had spent years of my life picturing my future with him, immersed in who I was with him, focused on who I was to him. Our relationship… him… they became my identity… and I didn’t even know it until it all crumbled. Our relationship. Our love. They were what my essence was made of. When it fell apart, so did I.

It took me a long time to shake myself out of that “Breakup funk”. You know what funk I’m talking about! That feeling where nothing tastes, sounds, feels, or looks the same anymore. Life feels overcast with grief. A never ending all encompassing grief! Well it sure did feel like it would never end when I was in the midst of it! It did end though. Eventually. THANKFULLY. However, let me tell you that before it ended, it actually just changed form. It went from grief over the loss of love, to it morphing into grief over the loss of my identity. As uncomfortable as it was to go through, this is actually where the magic started. It finally sank in that I hadn’t yet formed my own thoughts on important life issues. I did however do A LOT of listening! I listened to my friends, I listened to my church, I listened to my family, I listened to the men in my life… all of which are wonderfully beautiful things in and of themselves! Yet here I was, always taking in the messages that other people were telling me, without ever taking the time to find out if they were truly ideals that were right for ME. That’s when I took a deep breath and asked myself the one question I had been ignoring my whole life “What does Andrea have to say about all this?”.

Before I continue, I want to preface my next statements with a little disclaimer: I am by no means saying that taking advice, or listening to other people’s opinions is in any way negative. I am not anti-church/anti-family, etc.. Quite the contrary! I believe that there is wisdom in diversifying your point of view and perspective, and having a foundation to build your identity on. There is just too much wisdom in the world to ever be able to say that you “Know it all”! However I do believe that if you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to discover who you are, what you feel, or what you think, that all of the different voices in the world can cause more harm than good. If we are too little informed, we can become ignorant. If we are over-informed we can because easily distractable, not allowing ourselves to be tethered to anything. Our goal should be to find a balance between the two. Feeling confident in what you know and believe, with the understanding that you don’t know it all.  Okay, moving on.

“How did you even begin the process of finding your own voice?” you ask? What I will share with you are summaries of the things I learned through my personal journey. Here are 5 things I’ve discovered that have helped me find my voice:

1. Lonliness can often be misguided discontentment. How many times have some of us felt lonely, decided to go out and surround ourselves with other people, just to end up feeling alone WITH other people? Bars are full of lonely people. You can feel lonely anywhere and with anyone… and feeling that way WITH other people just draws more attention to how lonely you really feel. Distraction doesn’t address why we’re lonely. By refusing to give into the urge to distract myself, I was forced me to confront the reason why I felt so lonely… and the source of the loneliness typically had to with feeling a lack of purpose in life, feeling disconnected from God, feeling inadequate at work, etc.. None of which was going to be solved on a dance floor, while strangers spilled their drinks on me.

2. Listen to that “Something” within you. I’ve said it to myself so many times… “I don’t know, but something tells me not to go there.” Maybe you’ve said once or twice “I don’t know what it is, but something tells me not to trust that person.” Regardless of what it is that it’s pertaining to, it always comes back to that “Something”. People have a lot of different names for it… Intuition, a gut feeling, a hunch, vibes, the Holy Spirit… whichever resonates with you. I believe that no matter what religion, spiritual belief, race, gender, or sexual orientation, there are basic human experiences that we all have in common. That “Something” is one of them. That nudge you feel comes from a place that you don’t understand with your head… that’s because it doesn’t originating from head knowledge. It coming from a source deeper than thought or your 5 senses, but it is still a part of you. Honoring it means you honor yourself. The more you honor yourself, the more self-respect you build, and the more you respect yourself the more you trust that what you have to say matters.

3. Say “No” for a bigger “Yes”. This one was THE HARDEST thing for me to get down! There was a point in my life where I hardly ever said “No” because I wanted to be the person that everyone knew they could rely on. I thrived on hearing “Andrea can do it!” I thought it spoke to other’s trust in my gifts and talents! Here’s the thing though. What I came to realize  is that many times people volunteered me or asked me to do things based not on my my abilities, but on my availability. There was a job to do and I constantly made myself available to do it. I was a shoe-in. Though they were thankful for my willingness, what it came down to is that they knew I wouldn’t say “No.” Once I learned this I began taking inventory of everything I was doing and realized that very few things were something I was actually passionate about… or even, dare I say, good at. So I began stepping down from things and saying “No.” This wasn’t easy for me and it ruffled some feathers, but it was time for me to say “No” so that I would have the  time and energy for the “Yes” that I truly desired.

4.  Don’t be afraid to reinforce your boundaries. In my post titled Trust Your Boundaries I talk about how important it is to know what your personal boundaries are, and to not let others talk you out of them based on if they make them feel comfortable or not. Reinforce your boundaries by living a life that supports them, cultivating relationships with people who respect them, and notifying someone when they have crossed them. Boundaries don’t restrict you. They actually set you free to live life on purpose… instead of out of obligation, fear, or ignorance.

5. Figure it out! Don’t know what you think or feel about certain topics? Read. Meditate. Discuss. Investigate. Pray. Figure. It. Out. Be an active participant in your self-discovery. Do something! Actively seek out your voice. Don’t think that you’ll be watching Netflix one day and magically while eating Cheetos you are going to have this epiphany about what it is you really think about life! You have to want it… and everyone knows that the more we work for something the more valuable it is. If you want to find your voice you have to look for it, cultivate it, trust it, and reinforce it.

What makes you afraid of your own voice? What ideas, stigmas, or habits get in the way of you knowing WHO YOU ARE?

Yours Truly, Andrea

Trust Your Boundaries

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Over the past couple years my boundaries and I have become VERY close! We’ve weathered through the turbulent love/hate relationship phase and are now in the “I could never live without you!” phase. The years prior to this recent love affair were… well… rough to say the least.

I had always felt a tremendous amount of guilt when trying to place boundaries. Especially when it came to my romantic relationships or family. This was due to a mix of  abandonment issues I had that stemmed from my Dad and because of messages from past romantic relationships that I had internalized. I allowed abandonment issues to tell me that if a man is interested, that it’s better to just keep his interest at any cost. I told myself that it was better to do that than to risk being alone and possibly losing the ONLY man that will ever want me. Man, it’s crazy to think that I actually believed that!! How sad, right?! What’s even sadder is that there are so many people out there that live and breath this lie everyday. I bet many of you reading this can attest to that as well.

So many of us have heard messages that say that if we place boundaries that means we aren’t truly capable of loving someone else. What ends up happening is that we come up with the conclusion that we can’t have boundaries AND love… that we have to choose one or the other, while losing one or the other. Well guess what ends up getting pitched? Yep, you guessed it. Our boundaries. Psh…

Do you find yourself giving your personal power away over and over again? Have you made a habit of giving others the power to dictate to you your boundaries based on if they made them feel comfortable or not? How many times have we let someone use the word “Love” as a weapon to weaken our defenses, instead of using it as the healing balm that it should be? In my personal experience it was because of my strong desire for love that I would often put my boundaries on the back burner… the truth was that I loved them too much. I loved them at the expense of loving myself.
        
I’m currently at a place in my life where I’m taking a close look at my priorities and taking inventory of all that I have going on in my life. I’m looking at what needs to stay, what needs to go, and what needs to change. When things come up where I’m tempted to trade what is truly important to me for companionship, love, or attention, I remember how far my relationship with my boundaries has come. I’ve wasted too much time internalizing someone’s need to validate themselves, while invalidating myself. I have come to see that love and boundaries go hand in hand. Setting a boundary doesn’t always mean that it’s because of something someone else is doing. It could be something YOU’RE doing that just doesn’t sit right with you, and you know it can’t play an active role in your life anymore. Boundaries don’t even point to something being “wrong” or “right” but maybe something just isn’t “right for you.” Setting a boundary says “To love you better I must love myself first. If something is going on that is threatening my sense of self-love, then it also threatens the love I give to you as well. I love us both too much to see that happen”.

Boundaries don’t keep you bound or restricted. They actually set you free to love with abandonment, because you are no long bound to something or someone by fear of loss. Our fears are like weeds in our soul… they choke out all the beauty that’s trying to flourish. The beauty of love begins with you…

Yours Truly, Andrea