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140 – Bring the Real You on Dates

by Jill

I talk about the book called The Selfish Romantic. It debunks the common myths around dating and relationships that we all fall for. Instead, the book emphasizes the importance of being true to yourself and communicating your needs in a relationship.

One of the most interesting ideas is about treating dating as an experiment. How exciting is that? You get to be curious about the other person while setting boundaries and keeping yourself physically safe. The author encourages readers to relax and not put too much pressure on themselves while still enjoying the process.

So, if you want to improve your dating life and find a partner that truly fits you, The Selfish Romantic is worth checking out!



Have you ever wondered if myths about relationships and dating are holding you back? That’s what we’ll talk about today.

I saw that you were perfect. And so I loved you. Then I saw that you were not perfect. And I loved you even more. Angelita Lim.

Today, we’re going to continue our conversation about the book, The Selfish Romantic How to Date Without Feeling Bad About Yourself. By Michelle Elman. As I mentioned last week, I don’t know what I was expecting with this book, but I was pleasantly surprised at how kind it was both to yourself and to other people and how finding that balance is going to be a big strength in dating. That when you’re not only just doing something for the other person, that you’re not always looking at what that other person wants or what their needs are, or trying to figure out if you can make this relationship work. Instead, we’re going to talk more about how this is a way of building a relationship together. And I like that about this book. I don’t know that I’m going to start dating again, but I’ll tell you, after reading this book, it made me feel like I should really try again. I didn’t have a good time. When I was in the dating world, it wracked me. I had a pretty good life. And then every time I get involved in dating, I just felt miserable all the time. I didn’t like wondering, what does he like me? Does he not like me? Is he the one? Is he the one that’s going to be the right guy for me? I mean, I hated that. And I was putting so much pressure on just a single date that no wonder it didn’t take off at all. So that’s where we’re going to pick up this week, where she talks a lot about some of the myths and some of the other ideas that we have about dating that’s really holding us back. First of all, she says with dating myths, this idea that all the good ones are taken. I know I felt that way. Thought, man, you know, all the good guys are all attached to someone now, like my friend. But it’s really this bad idea from the get go because it almost says that the good ones are a thing. and the true thing is, is that people have strengths and weaknesses. Some people are good at this and good at that. And if we say the good ones, what exactly does that even mean? Because what I like in a guy is going to be different than what you like in a dating relationship. And so there’s no such thing as the perfect person. In essence, that is all going to be a mix of things that we gel with people and some things that don’t gel with other people. And so that whole idea of the perfect person is just not true or disparaging people. You know, you always hear, well, men do this and women do that, and we get all these types of anger towards the other people. And that’s just not true. Again, men are a mixed bag. Women are a mixed bag. People are mixed bag of things again, that gel with us and things that don’t gel with us, she said. Another myth is that opposites attract. It’s not always exactly true because again, people are a mixed bag and so some things will be a lot like you. My best friend and I are opposites in so many ways and we get along so well in so many other ways. Our philosophy on life, the way we look at the world, is right on target. But when it comes to how we go about certain things, yeah, we’re opposites. I tend to be more type B, I tend to be a little bit more relaxed. She’s more organized and there’s a lot of different ways we go about things, but it has made us great friends because we complement each other really well. And so I think that’s true in a relationship also and you may compliment a person in ways that you’re different and you may go together well in other ways that you’re not different. I dated one guy and we had great conversations. We had great times When we talk and go out we had a lot of fun just talking. but I think that it was complementary in a lot of different ways. She says another myth is that when you least expect it, you will have that dream relationship. she’s saying that. Would you find your dream job if you just stopped looking for a dream job? Then how? Where in the world are you going to find a date if you stop looking for people? what it meant is that people got desperate. They really wanted to be in a relationship. They desperately wanted to be with someone. And that desperation made them seem hard to have a relationship with that desperation to be with someone And she says, quote, You are an active participant in your love life. So it means that you can’t just not expect it or not try or look away. You have to actually be involved in dating, finding dates and making the relationship work. But that also doesn’t mean that you should be that desperate about it. You should be your own person. She says another myth is that you’ll know instantly when you find the one. And that’s not true. Relations take time. They take learning. They take learning about each other so it’s not quite that easy. The next myth Love conquers all. Love can’t conquer all. We should never overlook things just because we think love will conquer all. I’ve seen people I’m friends with in the dorms and other things. He just thought, I just love that person and this will work out and it just doesn’t fix just because love fixes things. In the end, were real people. I think if you got into a relationship and something just makes you upset, but you say, Wow, love will conquer all that might work for the first part of that relationship. But five years down the road, ten years down the road, it’s not going to really help because you have struggles and you’ll need to have more than just whatever it is that we think is love. We have to have that deep connection. We have to have what I think is important is God in the mix. We have to have more than what my friend called the Coke commercial girl type of love, where you’re running through a field. She also says that another myth is that when people say you’re just too picky it’s important to be picky. I mean, she mentions Chandler Bing and Friends and the fact that he was way too picky. But we also have to get what we want out of a relationship. We have to like the person that we’re with. We have to be able to communicate with the person. And so it may not be that you’re being picky. It may just be that you need to find more people to date, get a different type of person from a different location, from dating. You need to communicate what you really need in a relationship. And even if that doesn’t mean that they’ll change, you know, sometimes we get in a relationship and we think the other person will change. The important thing to realize is that they can’t read your mind. They don’t know what you need and they don’t know what is upsetting you. And I think that when I did go out with people and it wasn’t working out, I just broke up with them because I thought, well, I don’t want this person to change for me or I just want this person to be themselves. And obviously this isn’t working for us, so we should break up. I don’t know that I ever told anyone why or talk to them about whatever it is that was bugging me ahead of time. I thought, you’re you and I’m me. And if it’s just not working out, I don’t want to make you into another person. I remember dating one person, and the more mean I was to him and I wasn’t trying to be mean, but eventually I’d get frustrated because he was really treating me very poorly in some ways. And I get mad

and then he would be apologetic, try to come back, you know, let’s just try again. Let’s try to do this again. And I thought, Well, I just don’t want to spend my life being mean to a human being just so he’ll be nice to me. But did I ever sit down and talk to him about it? No, I didn’t really do that. So that’s where she’s saying that all these myths and all these ways that we treat people. In the end, we have to communicate what we need. if we, she thinks, become emotionally available people, we start communicating with people. We get away from the drama and then we tell them what we need. We tell them, exactly what we need in a relationship or need in a partner. It’ll start to work out or it won’t work out. But it’s not because of these myths. It’s not because you’re dating the bad boy or dating the good boy. It’s you’re dating a human being. And once you start having that communication, you’ll be able to start connecting with people if you date someone who treats you poorly, you’re not going to feel great and if that person was someone that you want to have a relationship with and they want to have a relationship with you, you don’t have to do everything to have that relationship. You won’t have to go to the ends of the earth to make the relationship work. Instead, you have to stop being so attached. you have to stop being so dramatic about everything. This will be the end of everything. And she says, quote, You are breaking your own heart Every time you exaggerate your importance in their life you’re trying to make it more important and stick to this relationship and trying to turn it into something you can communicate what your needs are. You can talk to the person. And if they’re not going to get there, then you can, of course, break up with them. But you have to realize that this relationship has to be good for both of you. It’s not to just get into a relationship. it’s meant to have a good relationship and a good relationship is the same kind of good relationship that you have with friends or your parents or other people. She gave a quote from Greg Bernhardt in a 2004 book. When it comes to men, deal with them as they are, not how you would like them to be. she brings out that it’s true. You can’t sit there and imagine who they’re going to be and try to turn them into that person. I remember once talking to someone at my church and she was kind of patting yourself on the back. Oh, when I first met this guy, he was kind of a mass. And look, I changed his clothes up. I changed his hair up. I did this, I changed that. I changed the other thing. And I thought, I don’t know that you want to go through in life changing people. Won’t they end up just resenting that? Won’t they end up just hating the fact that you’re trying to change them or turn them into this fantasy person? So instead of this kind of either being a hopeless romantic and never getting what you want and having drama about it, or trying to manipulate the other person into being what you want them to be, why not figure out what it is that person is a realistic look at them and a realistic look at what you need in relationship, what the other person needs in a relationship, and find a way through it.

She has this chapter called What If I’m Too Ugly to Date? And, you know, I think because of my weight and other issues, I thought that was true for me. I thought, you know, maybe I’m just not attractive enough to always like my friend and she’s cute and I’m not cute, so therefore, I’m just never going to find someone. And she says that you’re, quote, trapping yourself in a story that serves no purpose. It’s just making us feel bad. And it’s really putting us in this bad position that we have to change. We have to fix ourselves in order to find love. And she said that even in a lot of the movies, you know, get into that everything from Grease to my big fat wedding, you always have to change yourself in order to get the guy when instead that’s never going to make you happy. You could, of course, change in the short term to make another person happy. But again, five years down the road, ten years down the road, is that something that you really can do is to make another person happy by not being you. we just have to get past thinking that we’re ugly or thinking that we’re not attractive. when we look at a first date and then we wonder if there’s a second date. It’s a whole big complex of things. Not only do people have what they like, they, have people that they like. There have been guys that I liked that had nothing to do with the checkboxes I would have had in a relationship because they had other things that made them really interesting, fun to be with. So it would have made up for all the other things that I kind of imagined what the perfect guy for me was going to be like. We are just a mixed bag of people, and if we stop treating ourselves in a corner and she’s even talking about the online sites where you find dates, if we just say things that incriminate us. Like So have you ever dated someone that’s overweight? You know, you’re suddenly putting them in a box as someone who can’t love someone who’s overweight? Or do you like nerd girls? You know, whatever it is, you have to realize you’re more complex dated than just an overweight nerd girl. There’s a lot more going on to who you are then. Just the things that we put ourselves in the boxes. You know, the beginning of the book, she says, Don’t put other people in boxes. W stop putting yourself in those boxes. Either you are more complex. The people you are dating are much more complex. And by just not treating people as a complex human beings who have likes and dislikes, It’s bad on both the sides. She said that she had even convinced yourselves that no one was going to date her, and if they were going to date her, they were just going to treat her poorly because of all her own insecurities, and that if she was just going to sit there and beg people to date her because of all these problems, it’s not going to go well for her. So she says that if you’re ready to get back into dating and start really trying to do it, well, you’re going to have to do is come to peace with yourself and who you are and your strengths and weaknesses.

And think of dating as a little experiment. We’ve talked in past podcasts about trying small experiments, like I mentioned, that if you wanted to own a restaurant, try working in a restaurant. But instead of looking at dating with all this drama and all this impact, instead we should be looking at this as an experiment. Our lives. We’re going to get to meet a new person. We’re going to get to talk to that other person and find out more about them. And if it works, it works. And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But stop trapping all our self-esteem, all our drama, all our hurts into this thing, that makes it unable to get us feeling good about dating. And she said that dating, of course, will trigger those old things. But we have come to a peace with it. We have to realize when we’re ready to date again. She says that it’s about curiosity. I want to learn a little bit more about you and just try it and see how you go.

She says it’s important that if we do try to get back into dating and we feel like we can get past a lot of the things that are holding us back that we should show up as our real self. You know, a lot of these dating apps, you know, there’s all the different things about how to make the perfect profile. And she has a very good template and she talks a lot about how to make a good profile, but an accurate profile, because if you make something where it doesn’t look like you, you get a professional photographer and you get all dressed up and fancy like, but that’s not who you are. It’s kind of weird, right? Because you’re not bringing your real self to the date. You’re sending this fake image out there. And instead, she says that when we work on dating, when we work on apps, we should come as ourselves. She says they work the dating apps, and if they didn’t work, people wouldn’t use them so much. she says, very amazing. They’re very convenient. We get to be lazy, and if we get rejected, she says, quote, Rejection is always better than regret. We might feel bad about it because we, you know, got on some app or we found someone to date and it didn’t work out. But what did you really want to have in that situation? To have a relationship work out when it shouldn’t have worked out? Do you want to be a different person so that the date worked out, or do you want them to be a different person so the date worked out instead? If you go into this as an experiment, you go into this as, Hey, I’m just curious, I’m going to find someone and maybe it’ll work out. Maybe it won’t. Maybe we’ll have a second date. Maybe we won’t. But we’re going to learn more about each other. And it’s just kind of fun. And instead of feeling rejected or hurt by it, just make it fun and interesting. And she said that the most important thing is, quote, People don’t say hi, but they say hi back, meaning that if you’re just ignoring people, if you go into a bar or a church or a book club and you don’t talk to people, they’re not going to talk to you. But if you start saying hi, if you start up a conversation, I know I’m one of those people who talks to people everywhere. It has the potential to turn into a relationship. And if they’re rude, if they reject you or you didn’t want them anyway, so don’t put drama into it and don’t put bad feelings into it, she says.

In the end that if you do create a dating profile or you know, any type of image out there, she says that make sure you state what you want. You know, don’t go on this list like I don’t want this and I don’t want a drinker and I don’t want these things. It’s not the way to go. Instead, make it a positive thing. She said that you should actually be lenient about who you date and just see where it goes and see if the relationship allows you to go further. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. she said that the profile should be so identifiable with you that if your friend read it, they would know exactly who it was at. It’s you. So it’s about being honest. And even if we go into these dating apps and we act superficial or we’re not ourselves or we’re misleading someone by hiding who we really are, it’s just a recipe for disaster, really. So the book goes into a lot more conversation about how to get out there and how to get into like dating apps and how to use those successfully. But she said that you have to be yourself, that you wouldn’t share information that you wouldn’t share if you just met someone at a party or a book club or something like that. So don’t overshare because, you know, you should security and matters too, and that in the end don’t feel rejected if it ends up not working out well, it may hurt, instead, if it works, it works out great. And if it didn’t work out, that’s okay. It’s one person who just didn’t work out and make sure that it’s not something on you. Again, people are a mixed bag, and if that person wasn’t for you, then they weren’t for you. She also says that, are again honest with the person, that you’re not making them your top priority. You just Matt, you just started dating. You maybe had a date and she says that if you feel uncomfortable about dating, the best way you’re going to get better at dating is to date more people or go on more dates. You’ll start getting comfortable with it. And she says in the end that you don’t need to like someone to go on a date with someone. You just have to be curious and interested in what they’re about, but also have those boundaries. Because again, if the person’s a stranger, she says that we should treat them like a stranger because it could put ourselves in physical risk. Certainly we have to have boundaries. We have to make sure that we’re also physically safe, but that we also share a little bit. And the more we go on, the more we share, the more curious we get.

But again, set it at that right level where we’re safe and secure, but we’re also available and expressing curiosity and that if we see each date like a set as an experiment, a good story, or maybe a potential relationship, then we’re going to be well on our way towards dating, she says. If you do go on that date, don’t knock out your dressing and be in the super high heels and all the things that you’re not really. You. I’m not much of a dress wear. I’m not much of a person who wears high heels. So why would I want to maybe go on a date like that? It’s sort of sets up a wrong expectation. Says in the end that first dates are low stakes. They’re a way for us to just communicate with a new person and that we shouldn’t have to work this hard in making someone interested in you. If it’s that hard, that person’s probably not the right person. We’re all going to say stupid things. We’re all going to screw up and drop a drink on our lap. I mean, there’s things that’s going to happen and we can’t get burnt up about what we did wrong. I mean, I remember I used to go on these dates and I would just recall all night long, I shouldn’t have said this. And I’d stumbled over that thing and nearly fell on my face, you know, got a get away from all of that and instead just communicate, just be a real person. And if it happens, it happens. But there’s no rush. Again, this is experiment, a trial period, fun to get to meet another person. And if we start putting all this pressure on us, if we stop trying to get certain points across or present ourselves in a certain way, or having this end in a perfect way, we’re just going put so much pressure on ourselves, we’re not going to have fun. But in the end, she knows, you know, if it doesn’t work out, there may be loss involved there may be some grief and we’ll heal over that. But again, the best way to get better at dating and to treat it more like an experiment is to start dating more. I really love this book. I think it has some great tips in it, and so I recommend it to you. If you were looking for a way to do better at dating or maybe get back into the dating world.

So my challenge to you is think about how you could date more genuinely, how could you be more of yourself? Are you that person who puts up an image that’s not really true, either physically or emotionally? Think of three ways that you could be more yourself while you’re dating. Are you one? Thanks so much. I appreciate you. Listen to the podcast. You can email me at Jill at start with small steps dot com contact me on Twitter, other places. It’s all there on my website. Start with small steps dot com and remember treating dating like an experiment like we’re curious and other people will start with small steps.

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