While navigating dating and relationships, we often focus on how we’re treating the other person. We may also get caught up on how they’re treating us. However, we rarely stop to think about how we’re treating ourselves within the context of dating. This is why I emphasize self-compassion with my clients who are struggling in their dating lives.
What is self-compassion? It’s the wild concept of actually turning our compassion inward to ourselves. It means prioritizing our feelings, not beating ourselves up when we make mistakes, not constantly judging ourselves, having realistic expectations for ourselves, and treating ourselves at least as well as we’re treating others around us. Why is it important in dating? The simple answer is that it lets us show our true selves to our partners. Let me explain.
The Ultimate Honesty: Accepting Yourself Beyond What Your Dating Calendar Says
There’s nothing “surface level” about self-compassion. When we’re practicing self-compassion, we’re living in total and complete honesty. This honesty covers:
- What we truly want instead of what we’re willing to settle for in a relationship.
- What our needs are.
- Our value.
- Our expectations for others.
- Our acceptance of being with ourselves.
If I could sum up self-compassion’s importance for successful dating, I would say that it helps us avoid getting into situations that we never actually wanted to be in. We’re not saying “yes” to a date just because we think it’s the only offer we’ll get that week. We’re not agreeing to go back to someone’s apartment after a lukewarm date because we don’t want to disappoint them. We’re not picking hobbies and interests based solely on the likelihood of meeting romantic partners. Self-compassion allows us to live authentically because our worth isn’t tied up in another person’s reaction to us.
Why It’s Important
Self-compassion doesn’t just save us from the “bad” or “mundane” relationships. It also helps us to find the incredible ones! When we’re being authentic about our needs and desires, we’re able to attract someone who is authentically compatible with those needs and desires. This can lead to fulfilling relationships.
Research shows that self-compassion does more than simply help us to attract partners. According to a study conducted by educational psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin, people with self-compassion make better relationship partners. Researchers looked at 104 couples to study the effects of self-compassion on relationships. They found that individuals with lower levels of self-compassion were described by their partners as being detached, domineering, verbally aggressive, and more controlling. It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that these partners practice the controlling tactic of love bombing. Researchers also found that participants with partners scoring high for self-compassion actually reported that they were more satisfied in their relationships compared to participants with partners scoring low in self-compassion.
It sounds cliché to tell you to “love yourself” before trying to love another person. However, research on self-compassion proves that this adage is true! If you’re struggling with self-compassion and boundaries, therapy can be a great resource for exploring what it all means!