Change Your Dating Game with One Trick
"I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship." - Brené Brown
Dating is such a confusing time. You text someone you’ve gone on several dates with only to never receive a response. You get done with a third successful date only to be told that you’re not right for them. You chat with someone on Tinder for 20 minutes before they unmatch you and disappear into the void. Why do these things happen?
It really all comes down to a lack of empathy.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. But it’s more than just that dictionary definition. In its most complete form, empathy includes understanding the emotion of another person, feeling the emotion, and then responding appropriately.
Empathy begins with the capacity to take another perspective, to walk in another’s shoes. Not only must you see things from the other’s perspective, but you have to actually care for them to feel real empathy. It’s all about compassion and valuing others.
Unfortunately, in the world of dating, empathy is a bit of a lost art. And that leads to all kinds of issues, including ghosting, rejection, and a severe lack of connection. Dating would be so much better if each of us were willing to practice empathy and the respect that comes with it.
Let’s face it, not every date is going to be fantastic! The sparks aren’t always going to fly and not everyone is gonna be a 10/10 in our eyes. Rejection is part of the process, but how you reject someone is important. Learning to reject with empathy can make all the difference.
This can be done by maintaining polite small talk without diving into the hard-hitting subjects or sharing deep, intimate moments. Rejection with respect means treating others as individuals with value, not cutting off all contact. Even when you decide that this person isn’t the one for you, you can remain friendly and compassionate. Let them down with kindness, humility, and tact, never meanness, pride, or thoughtlessness.
So What Are We?
Have you ever been the victim of the loooooong lead on? It’s that relationship that someone barely maintains until something better comes along. Hopefully you’ve never been the one leading someone on, but if you have, now’s the time to change for the better using empathy. (PS we forgive you but plz stop, k?)
Most of the time, people lead others on because they don’t like being alone, which is understandable. They rationalize that while they may not end up with their current boyfriend/girlfriend, they’re fine with it for the time being. But Psychology Today points out why that logic isn’t going to lead to any healthy relationships, even down the road:
“We, as humans, must be happy and comfortable alone before we choose to be with someone else. An interminable interim status means leading someone on and eventually hurting him or her. It also wastes that person's time — something one can never get back. Instead of leaving someone in limbo, be honest and forthcoming about your feelings. Verbalize them in an empathetic way and, as the saying goes, ‘let them down gently.’”
I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts
Ghosting is a relatively new phenomenon due to our hyper-connected world. With all the different modes of communicating, suddenly ceasing all contact is jarring to say the least. It also betrays a certain amount of selfishness. Just because you’ve decided that someone is not “marriage material” does not mean you should pretend they don’t exist.
When you date with empathy, you recognize that the other person *just might* have very real feelings. Real empathy will lead you to be honest with people. Contrary to popular belief, you can reject someone and still give a friendly hello when you run into him or her. Living an abundant life means understanding that there is time and attention to spare, even for people you won’t end up with eternally.
The bottom line is that many of the worst aspects of dating come from a severe lack of empathy. Dating with empathy will lead us to treat others with respect and, in turn, be treated with respect. That respect will help us develop lasting connections with others that will surely lead to eternal relationships.