How to break bad dating or relationship cycles with resilience
Dating. Relationships. Marriage. Partnership. Sex. Name one other part of life that has been such a consistent source of anxiety (and excitement) and pain (and joy) since you were old enough to realise you wanted it. I’ll wait.
A lot of the chat around dating is that it’s inherently hard or disappointing as a thing to do. But the reality is that your experience of all these things - dating, relationships, marriage, partnership and sex - will be influenced by a few external factors, but mostly defined by your perspective on it and the way you approach it. And that’s great because it means that if you’re not where you want to be right now with any of these things, the change can easily come from you.
Why does resilience matter in relationships and dating?
Primarily, because being resilient means we don’t ask too much of our partners - but also don’t ask too little either. Being resilient means you know how to look after yourself emotionally, how to create a fulfilling life for yourself whether you’re single or committed, communicate your needs, explore your desires and make yourself happy.
But it also gives you the tools to navigate intimacy, vulnerability and authenticity, to connect and open up, as well as have difficult conversations. And to make sure that any limiting beliefs or bad habits acquired earlier in life don’t hold you back - or make you endlessly repeat the same mistakes.
9 tips for resilient dating
Dating and relationships might seem like a very broad topic but the reality is that all of it actually comes down to you. How you feel about you, and how well you know you? So, here are some tips for changing how you’ve experienced relationships and dating so far by being more resilient.
1. What do you actually want?
Part of the process of resilience coaching is creating clarity on what you really want from life - if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you get there?
For those currently feeling overwhelmed, confused and beaten down by dating, have you actually taken the time to think about what it is you want from this? Not just “I want a relationship” but factors such as:
- the type of person
- the values they have
- what they want from life
- how they deal with conflict
- what their attitudes to money are
- what your deal breakers are in terms of how they treat you
If you know what you’re looking for, you’re much more likely to see it when it arrives.
If you're in a relationship, what do you want from it over the next few years? How are you going to support the way you both evolve? And what needs refreshing or changing?
2. Move into an abundance mindset
Scarcity mindset ruins relationships and makes us see ourselves as hard done by, unlucky in love and less than others. Example: “There’s just no good men out there” or “I can’t do any better in a relationship.” It may sound fanciful and simplistic but I promise you that - whatever your age or circumstances - as soon as you start being open to the idea that opportunities exist around you they will appear. This isn’t magic, it’s just how the brain works - Google 'reticular activating system' if you’d like to find out more (or ask me).
3. Acknowledge your starting point
Being resilient means working with reality - looking at what your strengths are, what needs healing and where you need support. In the context of dating there’s no point pretending you weren’t cheated on and now have trust issues for example. Or, if you’re in a relationship and you’ve been lied to (or done the lying), it’s pointless to try to ignore how this will have affected your bond.
Get really honest with yourself about what your challenges are when it comes to creating, or deepening, intimacy with another person (or people). These are not flaws and they do not define you - all can be changed. So meet them with compassion and curiosity instead of fear and shame.
4. Take blame out of the equation
The thing about being human is that we can all be horrible sometimes, we all have our own issues and we can all do things that are selfish, cruel, unthinking and defensive at times. There are big differences between the way men and women (in general) approach dating and relationships thanks to social conditioning, patriarchy, etc. And there is no point denying those because they exist.
But making the gender from which you’re seeking a partner (or have a partner) the villain will set you up for failure from the start. One thing that makes it a lot easier to stop doing this is when you no longer feel like you have to accept whatever you’re given in relationships and dating - and start making empowered, excited and intentional choices instead.
5. Be strong about your boundaries
This kind of goes with the point above because to avoid blame, resentment and anger, you need to have good robust boundaries - and be able to say no. That might be “No, I don’t want to have sex yet” or “No, I don’t feel the same.” Some people behave terribly in relationships - gaslighting, ghosting, love bombing, people pleasing - and learning when to say “No, this is not how I deserve to be treated so I’m going to walk away” is going to be vital to resilient love life going forward.
Just as important is where there is nothing actually wrong - no bad behaviour - but you simply don’t want to be with someone. That’s often a harder “No” to say but it’s just as important for being true to you and what you deserve. And also for being honest and kind to the other person.
6. Stop making it all about them
Whether you’re dating or in a relationship, if you're constantly thinking about what someone else wants from you, what they’re thinking and what they’re going to do next, you can become a shell of yourself. Instead, switch the focus so that it’s internal - for example, “Does she like me?” becomes “Do I actually like her?” and “Did that conversation upset him?” becomes “How do I feel about what just happened and what do I want to do about it?”
7. Acknowledge your own red flags
We all have them and it can be an incredibly liberating moment when you see the part they played in where you have ended up. For example, I couldn’t understand why I continually attracted emotionally unavailable men - until I started to realise how emotionally unavailable I was myself. That was a hard moment of “Oh this is partly on me” but also the start of a lot of healing.
Taking responsibility for the choices you make and how you contribute to your outcomes isn’t about making yourself feel bad but evolving and creating opportunities for change. You deserve to have a happy love life so get out of your own way!
8. Get to know yourself
Self-knowledge, self-discovery - these really are wonderful things. It’s like reading the Manual of You and finally understanding the shortcuts. It’s crazy that we aren’t taught to do this at a young age because it means that many of us go through life with no real understanding of why we do what we do - which can create absolute havoc in relationships.
Resilience coaching is all about removing what’s stopping you from seeing clearly so that you’re not constantly baffled, confused and overthinking. It allows you to know yourself well enough to support yourself in tough times and in good.
In the context of relationships, that can mean healing attachment issues that make you fearful or crave drama, overcoming challenges with communication (especially about feelings and in vulnerable moments), being open about sex and desire and moving away from settling for something that doesn’t really make you feel fulfilled.
9. Find the fun!
Dating and relationships can be a joy and it's easy to forget that. So, keep stopping to remind yourself to look for the moments of silliness, pleasure, fun and joy when things feel too serious or hard.
Dating and relationships can be an absolute minefield. And the social conditioning around 'the one', what an acceptable family unit looks like, breakups and divorce, 'spark' and what’s expected of genders really just isn’t helpful. That’s why it’s so important to have a truly strong connection to yourself, clarity about what you want and the compassion and flexibility to be tenacious and optimistic throughout.
A lot of this comes down to resilience - the energy you have to adapt and flow and stay open-hearted and authentic even if you’ve been hurt in the past or feel afraid in the present. It can be life-changing to step forward - into relationships with others or with yourself - with more of it.
Resilience coaching clients see consistent uplift in self-esteem and self-validation, boundary setting and self-worth, which are the basis of more positive habits in dating and relationships.