There’s an ongoing debate when it comes to meeting “The One.” Which camp do you fall into?
- Is it all about meeting the right person—someone amazing who will remove any lingering doubts and inspire you to get serious?
- Or is it less about “The One” and more about “The Timing”—meeting a compatible person at the right time in your life?
This week, I get to the heart of the issue with 7 tips that may change your perspective on dating and relationships . . .
Break Out of the Fast Food Dating Culture & Create Something Real.
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Being ready to not be lonely anymore is not the same thing as being ready for a relationship.
One of the proverbial questions we have in our love lives seems to be this debate over whether timing is everything, or whether meeting the right person is everything. Some of us may wonder to ourselves, “Will my love life fall into place when I meet the right person? Is that when all of a sudden I will find myself getting into a serious relationship and there won’t be any doubt, I’ll just go for it because it will feel right?” Others may be wondering, “Is it about me getting to a point where I feel ready? And then when I’m ready, it’s about finding someone to do that with. Maybe not even the ‘ideal’ or perfect person, but someone who is appropriate and someone who is right for that timing in my life.”
I personally have supposed over the last few years started to take a bit more of a stance on this. I’m increasingly convinced of the importance of timing, of someone being ready as the natural precursor to having a real relationship. On this channel, we talk a lot about how do you tell if someone you’re dating is ready so that they don’t waste your time, or lead you on and then break your heart. But I think it’s also a relevant question to everyone who watches this channel who is looking for love or looking for something, let’s call it a relationship, to ask themselves, “Am I really ready? If I am really ready, am I behaving in a way that someone who is really ready for a relationship would be?”
A male friend of mine described the experience of being in most of his 30s as one of continuously looking for the ideal person, continuously looking for the person who was going to be and have everything. The person who in his mind represented the perfection he was looking for. One day he had a sobering conversation with his own mum. He said, “My mum’s very insightful. She was hearing me. She was saying, ‘What is it you actually are looking for?’ He said, ‘Well, I’m looking for everything. And she said, ‘I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you’re not perfect.'”
And then she went on to describe and list to him all of the ways that he wasn’t perfect, that he was flawed as a human being, that he wasn’t always easy to be around, that he could be difficult or high maintenance. He said, for him it was a sobering moment because he realized that he was looking for all of these things in another person, like he was trying to buy the perfect thing off of a shelf, but not looking at himself and what someone would actually have to deal with and put up with and live with in order to be with him.
When we’re ready, I do believe that we start to look for the best in people instead of looking for all of the reasons why they’re wrong. We start to actually make space for who they really are, to inquire about who they really are. Not to fall in love too quickly. Because again, I think falling in love too quickly is a sign that we’re not ready for a real relationship. It’s almost like never, never liking anyone is a sign that we’re not ready, because to me, that’s a sign that we’re not actually making space for who anyone actually is and to get to know the beauty in people. But if we fall in love really quickly, that’s also a sign that we’re not ready because we’re falling in love with the projection. And then the moment someone doesn’t fit that projection, which they can’t eventually because we’ve just constructed this beautiful image of them that’s not real, then all of a sudden we don’t like them anymore.
We sort of treat people romantically how we treat our celebrities in today’s culture. We fall in love with our favorite celebrity. “Aren’t they wonderful? I just saw them on this interview. They’re so charming. They’re so charismatic. They were amazing in that movie.” We construct a projection of them. And the moment that celebrity deviates from that projection or says or does something we don’t like, they’re the devil. And they’re canceled or we don’t want to know them anymore. We unfollow them. Because we were never trying to have a real relationship with that celebrity in the first place. We wanted to idealize them. We wanted to idolize them. We wanted to worship them. And when relationships fall into that same dynamic, it’s no wonder that everyone eventually disappoints. We could take the cynical view and say everyone eventually will disappoint. Or we could say that everyone eventually will prove to have many, if not all, of the same flaws that we do.
If we apply what brings the best out of ourselves is someone being curious about us, someone looking for the best in us and elevating the best in us, and someone soothing some of the worst parts of us, some of our negative tendencies and habits and neuroses. I sometimes think the right person is the person who elevates our best and soothes our worst. They’re not going to eradicate our worst and it’s not their job to take it away. But they don’t agitate our worst. When we’re looking for someone, we have to ask ourselves, “Am I really looking for the best in people? Am I immediately meeting them with a bunch of judgments anytime I hear anything about them? Or am I really looking for the beauty? Am I looking for the treasure?”
I do think that, as we become more ready, we start to look for subtle qualities in people. Subtle in the sense that they don’t immediately announce themselves like massive charm does or massive charisma does or any of those things that immediately impress us or our friends. I think sometimes one of the great tragedies of consulting our friends on who we should be with, is that our friends are often dazzled by the same things that dazzled us. We introduce this person to our friends and they all go, “Oh my God, they’re really amazing and they’re so much fun. They’re so charming.” They get amped up and excited by the same things we did. It might be that the person who didn’t announce all of their best qualities immediately because maybe those best qualities are a little more subtle. Maybe it’s a quiet kind of intelligence. Maybe it’s a kind of understated kindness, or maybe it’s the qualities that could make this person a wonderful parent down the line.
All of those things don’t immediately in shining, glamorous, glitzy fashion announced themselves when they meet your friends. And then when faced with the guy who maybe has all of these deeper, more important qualities or the guy who’s charming when he walks into a room, their attention goes to the charming person. “Oh my God, he was great.” And then you get lit up because you buy into the same thing. “Oh my God, he was great, wasn’t he?” And now all of a sudden, that’s the most just exciting person.
All of this is about a shift in perception of what a relationship actually is. That a relationship is a place we go to give love and to construct something with a willing teammate. Not a perfect teammate, but a willing teammate. I think one of the sad things about today’s, it’s an overused cliche now, but “fast food dating culture” is that we don’t create the space to really know if someone could be that teammate. We do order dates as if we’re ordering food to our house. We pick someone from a lineup, don’t we? I mean, that’s dating apps these days.
I’m not even knocking dating apps. I just think they serve a very limited part of the process, which is just access to people, easy access to people. That’s the part of this whole thing that dating apps solve. They don’t solve anything else. Not really. There are very grandiose claims made by a lot of dating apps about how they solve parts of the process that go beyond the meeting stage. They get into the matching stage and how they’re pairing you with someone great and so on. And I think a lot of that is really overblown and overstated because the only way you really get to know those things is time, time spent with each other. A little bit of time invested, a little sacrifice, a little skin in the game. That’s often the thing that people are unwilling to do these days.
I met a guy recently here in London where I am right now. And he said, “Matthew, I saw you posted something recently about people need to love themselves more.” He said, “I’m dating in London for the last few years as a single man looking for a relationship.” He said, “I think the opposite might be true. I think people might love themselves a little too much right now. And they’re not willing to actually show up for dating, to show up for a relationship, to give what needs to be given.”
Now, although I think that there’s a kind of a slight misreading there of what I believe true self-love to be. Self-love isn’t narcissism. Self-love isn’t an obsession with self and it’s not selfishness. It’s more akin to self-compassion. But I understand the point he’s making, especially in cities where people come a lot of the time for selfish reasons—they come to build a career, to level up their life, to create the life they always wanted, to live a life with their friends socially that they wanted to live. It can get us into quite a selfish state of mind without ever realizing it. All of a sudden, we think we’re looking for a relationship, but really what we’re looking to do is just meet another need of ours. Now, in addition to where I live and my social life and my career and these things that we’re building, I also need to fill the relationship category.
Being ready to not be lonely anymore is not the same thing as being ready for a relationship. Those are two very different things in life. A lot of people who think they are ready for a relationship are really just ready to not be on their own. They’re really just ready to not be lonely. “I’m ready to not feel this discomfort anymore of being on my own.” That’s what they mean. They don’t necessarily mean they’re ready for a relationship. Because that comes with certain sacrifices they may not be willing to make.
Some of those sacrifices is just going on a date and getting to know someone, actually spending a bit of time with someone. “Matt, I don’t want to go on any dates. I don’t want to get on the phone with someone.” Then maybe you don’t want a relationship. Maybe you’re not ready for a relationship because all I hear is what I want is to have someone delivered to my door relationship ready and to walk into that situation. But a relationship isn’t Deliveroo if you’re in England, or Postmates if you’re in America. Incidentally, Postmates sounds a lot like a dating app. It sounds more like a dating app than it does a food app.
Dating is really like cooking a meal that turns into a relationship. It’s more akin to cooking a meal than ordering food. That’s where I think the fast food analogy for dating does work, because I think a lot of people these days are just not willing to actually make the sacrifices that lead to a real relationship, which don’t just involve being willing to give someone time. They also involve being willing to create space for who someone actually is, to see that person as they are, and if we can, if it’s possible with who they are, to not constantly cast judgment on the worst parts of them, but to see those parts of them and to see the best, and like I said, to elevate the best, and to help to heal some of the worst as we hope they will do for us. That to me is a real relationship.
I think one of the great treasures that we do get from making space for who someone really is, is that we become different to that person than other people, because that person truly feels seen. When someone truly feels seen and when we truly feel seen, it is such an exquisite, calming, beautiful feeling that it can actually shine a light on all of the benefits and the beauty of a real relationship, even for someone who perhaps wasn’t sure that they were ready. They suddenly start to see what it is to be with someone not just who’s hot, not just who’s super attractive, but they start to see what it is to be with someone who truly sees them and accepts them. I think that is, what could be a bigger gift of a real relationship than that?
I asked you not from some pedestal but from a place of reflection for all of us: What decisions have you been making in your love life that suggest that, despite your professing of your readiness for a relationship, deep down there’s some part of you that’s not really acting ready? Do you choose people that are an age that is not appropriate for where you’re at in your life and what you want? Do you choose people who are really far away, where the relationship is set to be fraught and difficult from the beginning? Do you choose people based on superficial qualities or qualities that may be dazzling in the first six months of a relationship, but are not going to be the important ones in year five or 10 or 20? Have you been choosing people that are telling you that they’re not ready and you’ve been ignoring all of those signs direct or indirect?
If you’re watching this with a feeling of confidence that you are ready for a real relationship but you want to know, with maybe even a particular person in your life right now, how to move it forward with that person, I have a video for you, a free training, that is going to give you the language around moving that relationship forward and communicating your readiness in an elegant and confident way. All you need to do to get that free training is go here. Click the link. You can be watching it seconds from now. And as always, I will see you next week.