I signed up for Match.com last week at the behest of my mom, sister and bestie. Reluctantly. I mean, who can say no to them?
As I started filling out my dating profile information, something felt inauthentic. I don’t want to date like this. This doesn’t feel like the way I’ll meet “the one.”
But curiosity had me in a stronghold. I kept going. I’m not sure I was even being honest in the questionnaire—I definitely wasn’t being thoughtful about my answers. Just trying to get to the end. There better be some eye candy after all this.
Answering the profile questions and revealing the stuff “everyone” wants to know about me got me thinking about this form of dating…and all of us searching for a mate.
Match.com is for Insecure People
To be fair, all dating sites are for insecure people. No, this whole thing we call “dating” is for insecure people. Why such a bold statement?
Because, as nature has it, we’re all insecure.
It’s our insecure human nature that actively seeks that which makes us feel secure and doesn’t threaten our ego’s livelihood. Dating and mating are born from this deep egoic desire to be safe (and live forever).
Consequently, we look for and cling to people who make us feel loved because that would mitigate our insecurity and boost our ego. Feeling loved is feeling powerful. Feeling powerful is feeling secure…like we can handle anything…as long as we have each other.
So we search for security outside of ourselves. The first red flag.
The second red flag waves on that first date when there’s no glimmer of security, no validation or affirmation, and we’re vetoing another possible suitor.
We all have an idea of what it feels like to have security. We all have an idea of what it feels like to lack security. And accordingly, we start to paint a picture of how our perfect partner should be in order to tip our emotional scale toward secure.
So I tell Match I want a tall, dark, handsome, honest, intelligent, funny, compassionate and creative man.
Then I catch myself. What am I really doing?
As I begin my virtual hunt, what I’m really doing is looking for the characteristics of a man who I believe will be positive, supportive company as I stumble through my days on earth.
I want what everyone wants: to feel good about myself when I’m with him.
That’s the goal isn’t it?
It hits me. I want a security blanket.
We all want a security blanket. And if a person offers us some iota of the security we seek, we conclude s/he’s “compatible” with us. Third red flag.
There’s No Such Thing as Compatibility
You won’t find compatibility online (or offline) because it doesn’t exist. Well, not as the cure-all you think it is.
In dictionary speak, compatibility is a “state in which two things can exist together without conflict or problems.” Any two people can exist together without conflict or problems, if individually they aren’t dealing with internal conflicts or problems.
Oh, but the minute we form a relationship, our insecurities—which were always there, like fear, doubt, jealousy, possessiveness or inferiority—kick into overdrive and conflict inevitably ensues.
We pull away or we duke it out. Either way, we’re projecting our stuff onto the other person, expecting him/her to make it all better.
Dating, we start out wanting to be vulnerable and transparent with the other person, to love truly and enduringly. Yet even in our vulnerability we aren’t completely rid of our insecurity or trusting that we’ll be loved for who we are.
So the battlefield stays primed.
Until we’re free of our own insecurities, we’ll continue to experience conflict, or dissatisfaction, with others and blame “incompatibility.”
But it’s not a matter of compatibility; that’s not the glue in a relationship.
Compatibility is merely a byproduct of acceptance. Acceptance is what we’re after.
We either accept others as they are or we don’t.
The trick is, you have to accept yourself first. Acceptance begins inside. Being able to accept yourself enables you to accept others.
What you resist and fight in another is a reflection of what you resist and fight in yourself.
So, when dating, what you search for and what you find depend solely on you.
The Mating Call
We’re on these dating sites thinking we know what we’re looking for, what we want. We think we want someone trustworthy so we aren’t subject to betrayal. We think we want good genes so they’ll cancel out the ones we hate in ourselves.
We think we want someone who appreciates how we compensate for our insecurities, in behavior, personality and style.
We’ll pile on the list of wants and never be fully satisfied. Because we don’t know what we want. We only know how we want to feel. And we want to feel accepted, loved…safe. Whatever that looks like.
But we’ve been searching for this feeling, for acceptance, from other people, relying on them to make us less insecure in our own skin.
Our looking for security outside of ourselves has us doomed to never find it.
Dating Yourself First
The idyllic isn’t going to come in the body of someone else. What you seek can only be found within. Besides, the only relationship guaranteed to last a lifetime is the one with yourself.
That love-filled fairytale you crave begins with you recognizing in yourself that which you seek.
To be a “perfect match” for your ideal mate, you have to embody those same characteristics you’re holding out for.
If you want love, you have to be love. And like will attract like. Knowing that, we’re free to be who we are and enjoy the thrill of dating without the all the pressure of a quest.
What a relief.
Finally after what seemed like forever, I take a peek at a dozen guys before I’m signing off of Match, never to log back in again. This isn’t my thing. I’ll stick with chance encounters.
Maybe I’ll try online dating again in the future if I’m still single. I’m not ruling it out. The dreamer in me still wants tall, dark and handsome.
But I’ve decided I’m not going to scout him out.
Instead, I’ll work on being love and accepting myself. I’ll work on remembering that I’m safe, just as I am, single or dating.
It starts with me. My insecurities won’t disappear behind the attention of a man.
Mr. Right will come when I’m not looking for a Band-Aid.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Yvette Bowlin
Assistant Editor: Kathryn Muyskens Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Lukas A./Wikimedia Commons