To really be gentle with yourself during dating, when you’re meeting new people and feeling vulnerable:
Treat yourself as you would treat a friend
Dwell for a moment on the word ‘yourself’ as in ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mark 12:31). We tend to be much harder on ourselves than we are on our friends, mentally beating ourselves up for not being perfect. If you’re anything like me little kangaroo courts pop up in our heads all too ready to whisper things like, “You’re hopeless/weak/a social pariah/[fill in your own preferred personal put-down].”
You just wouldn’t say these things to a dear friend, would you? Because you know they’re not true. They’re not true about you either. Anyway we know Who had the last word on the verdict, don’t we (1 John 3:20)?
You can appreciate your own strengths and qualities without worrying about it being pride. Whenever I felt a bit low — if rejection came my way, or I just felt negative about myself — I would first of all shed a few tears, then blow my nose and sit down with a cup of tea, a pen and a notebook and list all the positive things I had to offer and bring to a relationship, plus any compliments I received, whether I believed them or not! Every day gently remind yourself of just one thing you like about yourself.
Go with the flow
Let go of trying to control every aspect of every single situation in your life. It’s an impossible and unnecessary burden. When I began dating I had an underlying feeling that if I didn’t control events, I was one step away from disaster. When I learnt to loosen my anxious grip and let things develop more naturally, I and the people around me noticeably relaxed, relationships found their own pace, and the much-anticipated disasters never materialised. Be gentle with yourself by not trying to force events. ‘Let go and let God.’
Dating mindfully with a view to the future is an important stage in your life. While it’s great to try out new experiences, only you know your emotional balance and whether it’s the right moment to take on something else major in your life. I like the way Ecclesiastes 4:6 puts it: ‘Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil.’
It’s a situation I’ve faced. I had applied to do a journalism course which would mean giving up my job and moving to a new city. Then I met and started going out with someone very special to me, someone whom I felt had the potential to be part of a shared future.
Instinct told me moving away and taking on a new time- and attention-sucking role would put a heavy strain on something new-born and delicate. At the same time, a self-critical voice in my head (see above) said surely it was weak to change my career plans for a mere man?!?
After thinking and praying about it, I decided against moving. In due course we married and I achieved my writing ambitions by freelance journalism. For me, it was the right decision to be gentle with myself by not taking on too much at the same time.
Do the things you find ‘restorative’
Although part of me enjoyed the social side of going out on dates I found that if I had a social night out, I needed two ‘restorative’ nights in. You probably already know the pastimes that nurture your wellbeing, things that leave you ready for what’s next.
Here are a few extra: escapist reading/viewing/listening; sporty stuff with a friend; baking; a super-early night/; a relaxation podcast, making a playlist and getting on down to it; smashing loads of bottles at the bottle bank; having a spa evening at home; a good catch up with someone you feel better for knowing.
Underpin it all with God’s gentleness
Soak up gentleness at its Source by making space for quiet time, just sitting doing completely nothing, no distractions. Then you might like to consciously hold the theme of gentleness in your mind and let this lead into meditation on gentleness and rest as portrayed in the Bible:
• ‘Your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.’ (1 Peter 3:4)
• ‘Your King comes to you, gentle….’ (Matthew 21:5)
• ‘I am gentle and humble in heart.’ (Matthew 11:29)
• ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ (Mark 6:31)
• And be reassured that, ‘Your right hand upholds me. Your gentleness makes me great.’ (Psalm 18:35, NASB).
Gently does it.
What are some of the ways you’ve found to be gentle with yourself while dating?
Enjoyed reading ‘6 easy ways to be gentle with yourself when dating’? Read more posts by Katrina Robinson here.