Growing up, I frequently took - or was placed into - the role of peacemaker. Whatever struggles occurred in my family, or between friends, I tended to be the person who tried to calm things down, offer support of some kind, or defend those who were being treated poorly. On the positive end, this helped fine tune the call to serving others in the world I have always had. On the other hand, it also fine tuned my desire to be liked, as well as people pleasing skills like excessive efforts to get along and avoid conflict.
With dating, especially early on in the process, some of that old baggage can still come in and take over. So, I was interested in the following post by Natalie from Baggage Reclaim. She writes:
Earlier on in my life, I came to believe that it’s really important to do what people expect or tell you to do or be. No-one specifically stated this but through interactions and observations, I deduced that you get loved, respected, cared for, trusted, and valued when you’re what others want you to be, which feeds very ‘nicely’ into believing that this is why love and like doesn’t happen or is withdrawn. Me being happy and others being happy with and liking/loving me became intrinsically linked to looking for some tipping point of pleasing others where if I loved, gave, twisted, and contorted myself into a Transformer, I’d be ‘good enough’.
Not being "good enough" is a view that has plagued me, probably since my early childhood. Although it's impact on other areas of my life has diminished, when it comes to dating and love relationships, I still find myself working with internal monologues coming from that place. Much of it, for me, is tied to how the women I am dating or have an interest in might view my unique and unorthodox ways of living and seeing the world.
When I have gone on first dates, reoccurring thoughts like the following have sometimes been hard to shake:
"She really liked talking with me, and was impressed with me, but only as a friend."
"She was just saying she admired your courage to do such and such, or live in such and such way, because she didn't know how else to respond."
"She'll find someone more "tangibles" (i.e. material benefits like a house, car, and well paying, stable job) and disappear from your life."
Even when in relationships, different, but similar in spirit thoughts have sometimes caused a lot of problems.
When I look back at one long term relationship, which ended about three and a half years ago, I can see how "not good enough" narratives ruled both of us. So many of the arguments we had came from a place of the other fearing total rejection, and bouncing back and forth between trying to do or say something to maintain "getting along," and then, when that got too exhausting, spilling into charged dialogues about mostly insignificant details or actions. Kind of sad stuff, but pretty common, isn't it?
When your chief concern is being validated by others, little do you realise how greatly that affects your actions because your focus isn’t living authentically – it’s trying to be what you think others want.
Had both of us been working from an internal locus that said "I'm inherently an excellent, lovable person right now," things would have been different. The mistakes we made would have been easier to work with, and differences of opinion or view easier to not only accept, but even, perhaps, embrace as a benefit to the relationship.
When it comes to something like a first date, though, these tendencies to want to get along, please, and be pleasant can be difficult to shrug off because to some degree, they are kind of expected.
The only thing that has really helped with break free of all of this is doing my best to drop off any expectations at all for a date. To just be in the experience, with the other person, and let things unfold as naturally as possible. Sometimes, that happens pretty well, other times, not so much.
How about you? Do you struggle with feelings of being "not good enough?" What have you done to work with them?