Are you Dating Down?
What if the reason you haven’t found true love is because you’re looking for “The One” in the wrong dating pool?
Ask yourself these 2 questions to see if you’ve been dating down this entire time.
Do you find yourself constantly editing yourself or walking around eggshells to not trigger your partner? Are you consistently the one initiating communication and responsible for maintaining the connection?
If you are in a relationship with someone who lacks emotional maturity, they can take your most basic needs such as communication, connection, and mutuality –
and make you feel crazy for desiring them.
If this resonates with you, you might be dating down.
Now, I don’t mean “dating down” in the sense of superficial things like looks, money, or status. I mean dating someone who lacks basic conflict resolution skills, emotional intelligence, and the ability to communicate like a functional adult.
To have a healthy relationship based on equality, both partners must be willing to put in the effort to heal past baggage, understand their own harmful patterns, learn how to self-regulate and co-regulate, and put in the effort to nurture the connection.
This is why creating a healthy partnership is difficult when you’re dating down – you end up being the only one responsible for the two people in the relationship, and this never ends well.
Believe me, I am speaking from personal experience.
I did my fair share of “dating down” when I was single and was yet to begin my emotional healing journey.
Back then, I dated emotionally unavailable men who just weren’t comfortable with my range of emotions.
I was told that I was too emotional, too sensitive, and a little too much in their face. Since I was blissfully unaware of the concept of dating down -I actually believed them.
I convinced myself that there was something wrong with me, so I tried to modify my behavior to suit my partner- I started to act cool and aloof and brushed off my emotions as if they weren’t a big deal.
But as I progressed with my healing journey – I started to appreciate the sides of me that my partners routinely questioned. I realized that they were uncomfortable with my range of emotions because they couldn’t handle their own.
With this radical discovery came a radical transformation: I stopped dating down and only considered dates who were up to do the personal work a relationship requires.
When I stopped looking for love in the wrong dating pool, I met people who were aligned in values, emotional maturity, and willing to do the work to create a partnership.
If you have a lingering feeling that you too are looking for love in the wrong places, here are 2 questions you need to ask yourself:
1. Are you being called “Too Sensitive” or “Too Emotional” every time you express yourself?
It is said that human beings are capable of 27 diverse emotions including joy, sadness, desire, fear, anger, relief, and anxiety.
As you evolve on your healing journey, you gradually reach a stage when you get comfortable with your diverse range of emotions. You no longer judge your emotions as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. You cultivate compassion for yourself, even when the emotions are uncomfortable and your instinct is to shame or blame.
This can be incredibly empowering.
However, if your partner refuses to do the work required to develop an emotional depth, and heal their relationship with their own emotions – they will find refuge in bottling up their feelings so that they don’t have to deal with them at all.
Moreover, he/she/they might try to make you feel guilty for expressing your range of emotions.
2. Do you often wonder “what’s wrong with me” in your current relationship?
Healthy couples build the necessary skills to fight and repair. There’s often a learning curve in the beginning as two very different people with very different backgrounds, traumas and coping mechanisms need to find their groove. But there’s a willingness to learn each other’s styles, collaborate and work through conflict to strengthen the relationship.
But if you are dating down, and your partner doesn’t have the skills or intention to learn how to communicate and fight productively, they will likely criticize or get defensive whenever there is conflict.
If you feel upset or make a complaint, they might shift the blame to you, someone else, or some other external factor.
“It’s not my fault, you always over-react to the smallest things”
“This is just the way I am, you knew what you were getting into”
“I am overworked and stressed, how do you expect me to find time for you”
Point is, there’s no accountability. They cannot hear you because they’re busy making excuses.
Repeat after me, there is nothing ‘wrong’ with you
Dating down not only prevents you from creating a healthy partnership but also leaves you consistently emotionally exhausted and doubting yourself. Also, according to research from Dr. John and Julie Gottman, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt can be predictors of signs of divorce.
In a lot of cases, people who date down are convinced that they lack something that prevents them from attracting true love.
They then embark on a quest to work on themselves to fill up a lack that doesn’t exist in the first place!
If you too have been feeling this way, know that there is nothing wrong with you – You might just be in the wrong dating pool!
If you want to learn how to change patterns to create a healthy relationship or want me to guide you through a tried-and-true process to heal from heartbreak, as a breakup coach and founder of Breakup Bootcamp, I can guide you each step of the way.