How to Navigate Dating While Working on Yourself?

How to Navigate Dating While Working on Yourself?

Self-Care

Tamika Lewis November 3, 2021

Personal relationships are a priority for many of us. However, while chasing after their soulmate, women often forget to nurture the relationship with themselves. Neglecting themselves in favor of their partner results in feeling stuck in limiting relationships. But dating and self-love can and should go perfectly well together. Although outdated cultural frameworks put men’s needs into focus, don’t fall for this misconception. Following your own needs and dreams is a priority. Here is how to practice self-love in a relationship and reach your full potential.

Why Is Self-Love Important in a Relationship?

We don’t always end up with the right partner. One of the reasons why this happens is that the partner we choose is usually a reflection of our self-esteem. However, recognizing that your need for love is a sheer need for approval is difficult. Overcoming those thought patterns by yourself is even harder. And that’s why consulting a professional therapist to guide you through the whole process of discovering yourself is of tremendous help.

Perfectionism is one of the greatest struggles of our clients. Faced with rigid roles imposed by society and striving to fulfill them, women often find themselves feeling lost, overwhelmed, anxious, and depressed. For women of color, these roles can feel even more limiting and oppressive – the Strong Black Woman schema gives African-American women the perpetually enforced and unfair role of the main caretaker for others.

This role is so strong it repeats through generations. Following those models, oblivious to the consequences to their mental health or well-being, women are likely to sacrifice their free time, own needs, and wishes for the sake of others. Inevitably, they apply this pattern to their relationships, too, which presents a major obstacle to being truly happy and building a quality connection with the partner. The more they give, the more unappreciated they feel, and the higher the frustration.

man-and-woman of color
The key to a dynamic and healthy partnership is constant self-work

Work on Loving Yourself: Boost Your Confidence and Self-Esteem Before and While Dating

Working on yourself and building your emotional capacity, self-esteem, and confidence (ideally with the help of a counselor for women) is vital. Only when you liberate yourself from limiting beliefs like the myth of “the strong black woman,” heal your wounds, and stop sacrificing your time for the good of others will you be able to find what you’re looking for – a supportive, understanding, and compassionate partner with whom you can enjoy a fulfilled life.

And if you’re worried they might leave because of your newly found path, remember – a partner not being comfortable with your growth and improvement is a major red flag and a telltale sign that you should walk away from the relationship. This is also why learning self-love before the relationship gets serious is essential. Here are the basic steps to building the only relationship in your life that is guaranteed to last forever.

The First Relationship to Fix Is the One With Yourself

If you’re struggling with dating and usually fall into codependent, dysfunctional relationships, there might be an underlying unhealthy behavioral pattern that you need to recognize and work on. Although continual introspection is a super-skill of many people, spotting the connection between your thoughts, feelings, and behavior is quite a complex process.

Counseling for women is the solution to stop sabotaging yourself, heal trauma, and learn some coping mechanisms for anxiety. All this combined will take you on a self-revealing journey that will show all your qualities and empower you to live the life you want and deserve.

Be Gentle With Yourself – Break Away From Unrealistic High Standards

The ultimate goal is to get out of the enchanted circle of repeating unhealthy patterns and become capable of learning and accepting your own needs. However, breaking those patterns is not an easy process. It may take you through new levels of blaming yourself, recalling mistakes from the past, feeling unworthy and incapable of connecting with a partner, or seeing yourself as selfish for taking some me-time.

To tell the truth, going on this journey is just as exciting as emotionally draining. Once you embark on it, there will be no more space left for criticism, blame, or feelings of unworthiness. Recognizing your authentic qualities and worth and overcoming perfectionism, lack of personal meaning, and self-doubt is how therapy works. So, rule number one is – be patient, give yourself time to understand where those patterns come from, and give yourself a fair chance to overcome them.

You’re Enough, You’re Worthy, and You Deserve Time to Pamper Yourself Before and During a Relationship

The only way for a person to break this cycle is to accept that it’s absolutely fine to devote time to hobbies (be it exercising, reading, or something else), taking care of yourself, both mentally and physically, and meeting your own needs first. Pampering yourself at times will ensure you get the rest you need, boost your confidence, and get additional motivation to devote to dating. For that reason, giving yourself time to relax is just as important as working.

black girl on therapy
Loving yourself means practicing yoga, going out with your friends, getting a massage, or anything else you find important

Accept that Your Value Doesn’t Depend on the Relationship With Other People

Accepting the fact you’re enough as you are and there are no existing external factors, opinions, or relationships capable of defining your worth is critical for your well-being. However, accepting one’s own worth also means accepting vulnerability and giving yourself space to express all emotions.

In other words, all this means accepting yourself fully, just the way you are. And once you fully value yourself, you won’t have a problem giving yourself some time to nourish your soul and follow your needs and dreams. This doesn’t mean passively embracing all your flaws – rather, it gives you an opportunity to recognize them and work on improving them without beating yourself up over it.

So if you finally feel ready to stop worrying about whether pampering yourself is okay, here are some self-care ideas for women that will boost your confidence even further:

  • Stay healthy – A healthy lifestyle will do much more than affect how you look. Exercising regularly, eating a variety of healthy foods, and staying hydrated will make you feel better both physically and mentally and eventually lead to a major confidence boost. Get all the unhealthy energy and work stress out of your system by walking, running, dancing, doing yoga, or participating in any other physical activity you enjoy.
  • Pamper yourself often – Exercise isn’t the only way to make your body and your mind feel better. Every once in a while, treat yourself to a massage or a trip to the sauna. In fact, even a budget-friendly spa day at home will do wonders! Pampering yourself is truly one of the best ways to deal with stress and remind yourself of your worth.
  • Be social – Sure, none of us are always in the mood for company, especially if we’re feeling low, but being surrounded by loved ones can do wonders for your mental health. Your friends can offer a strong support system throughout this process, calm you down when you’re not feeling well, or at least help distract you from everyday problems with some chit-chat.
  • Devote yourself to hobbies – Another important step to loving yourself is discovering what you enjoy doing. Studies show that creativity positively affects mental health and can even alleviate anxiety symptoms. Remember – you don’t have to be good at your hobby. All that matters is that you enjoy the process.
  • Don’t feel guilty for enjoying your me-time – you deserved it!
positive-black-woman after therapy
There are many things you can do to improve confidence

Self-Love Is the New Relationship Status

The stigma of asking for help from a therapist is slowly disappearing. And this is a huge step since it signifies a realistic potential for improving the mental health of women, and especially women of color. Therapy will help you grow, expand, transform, feel better about yourself, and gather the courage to chase your dreams. It will not only help you resolve issues with unhealthy patterns of thoughts and behaviors, but also give you the tools you need to set your goals and start fulfilling them.

Want to Know the Best Way to Heal From Trauma? Find a Therapist Who Will Help You Gain Control and Overcome Struggles

Wounds from generational, societal, and even internalized misogyny are real issues. Those women who want to confront self-limiting beliefs and learn how to process emotions should definitely consult a therapist who will help them to overcome their doubts.

The holistic approach of Women of Color is based on the power of storytelling that helps our clients express their most intimate thoughts and feelings. This encompasses different creative methods like journaling, art, poetry, dance, singing, or any other form of expression that will help them process and overcome their self-limiting beliefs.

Choose a therapist and schedule your first therapy appointment at Woman of Color Therapy’s safe and empowering center and reconcile and learn to navigate dating and self-love. And remember, It’s okay to express your emotions. You don’t have to mask your feelings and strive to be perfect. After all, being truly happy is the ultimate goal, and enjoying the process is a real blessing. Make that crucial step and schedule a therapy appointment or join some of the Women of Color Therapy workshops.

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