“Dating provokes my competitive spirit. And all I want to do is win. But win what? Compete with who? And is this feeling even healthy???”
Dating can often feel like a competition for practical reasons. For example, maybe there are more people looking for partners than there are available partners. This obviously creates a sense of scarcity and pressure to “win” the attention and affection of someone we’re crushing on.
Additionally, social media and dating apps have made it easier for people to compare themselves to others and provoke a feeling of inadequacy of not being good enough. There are also societal pressures to be in a relationship with the idea that being single is undesirable.
All these factors can contribute to the idea that dating is a competition but what about when competitive dating is something more? Something internal?
Let’s get personal. Let’s go deep, and let’s go figure out how to transmute this competitive feeling so that we can find worthy competitors to dominate, oh wait I mean worthy lovers to spoil with love.
Dating Just Feels So Uncomfortable…
And writing about it makes me cringe.
Why does dating feel like a competition to me?
Is it because when I was younger my crush asked another girl out?
Is it because my friends received a lot of attention from boys and I sat there feeling like the insignificant side friend?
Is it because at 13, the only boys interested in me were the ones who got picked on for being smelly and weird?
Or maybe it is the fact that I was raised by a single mom who showed me that a woman can possess great strength without thinking a man is a necessity?
Maybe it was the subliminal messaging on TV conditioning me to think a woman is nothing more than an object to fulfill a man’s sexual desire?
Or perhaps it’s me. Maybe I’m the one responsible for making dating uncomfortable. Maybe it’s my choice in men. Maybe it’s the exhibited behavior I show when I’m dating.
Now at 38 and happily dating, I can see how my life experiences created unhealthy beliefs about myself and the dating world.
The Modern Dating World
If you’re not interested in hooking up with you’re friends, family, or coworkers, then to the dating app or bar you go.
While I can drink and curse like a sailor, meeting a mate at a bar led to some pretty bad experiences. As I grew older it felt more unsafe to meet a guy there so I was left to try online dating.
I would install, delete, then install again, many dating apps and meet men I thought were interesting.
There were many first dates, a few second dates, but rarely a third. Any “relationship” that would begin to develop would never last because an overwhelming feeling of competitiveness would arise.
Meeting a mate online feels like a competition, even though it’s more like luck.
Seriously, how often is the person we meet online anything like our ideal mate? Only 13 % of online dating results in engagement or marriage.
The rest of us use it as a hook-up app bouncing from situationship to situationship never feeling fulfilled.
And personally, I blame online dating for creating the Invisible Woman who I’m unconsciously competing with in my mind.
The “Invisible Woman” Complex
Before we get into the practicalities of transmuting competitive feelings, let me explain the “Invisible Woman Complex” and why this bitch needs to die.
For most of my adult dating experience, I would look at other women and compare myself to them. I’d ask why did he choose me over her? Or will he choose her over me?
This questioning was my mind’s way of avoiding the truth; I dont always control the outcome of the relationship. A broken heart is always at risk. In my eyes, love was seen as a gamble.
A gamble I needed to win.
I felt that in order to win I needed to have control. Especially when I found something worthy to gamble for.
To create a sense of control I created false competition with an invisible woman who possessed the qualities I lacked. She was often prettier, funnier, and more successful than me.
And no matter how much self-esteem I tried to develop, the invisible woman was always there lurking in the shadows.
She was the next profile of a young half-naked girl who would DM the guy I liked, distracting him and leaving me on read.
She was always the lovesick & jealous co-worker who flirts her way into ruining my relationship because by default she spent more time with him.
She was the bored ex who would still text. The distant friend secretly in love with him. The passing stranger who was just a little too friendly.
“This deep cognitive distortion led to a fear of losing something I found valuable. Because losing him, meant losing altogether, and losing meant failure.”
I could tell myself all day how stupid this thinking was and provide evidence that I am loved and certainly not a failure, but that still didn’t take away those unwanted feelings of losing something valuable. And those unwanted feelings led to unwanted behaviors.
It wasn’t until I was able to step back and reflect upon my experiences & beliefs about dating to become aware of how I can win at dating all the time, every time.
How To Win At Dating All The Time Every Time
To win is easy: Do You!
Seriously, my obsession to control something out of fear always resulted in me losing it. It was self-sabotage because my focus wasn’t on myself. When I focused on myself I realized that:
- I needed to heal from those bad experiences.
- I needed to forgive ALL my exes.
- Most importantly, forgive myself for acting in immature ways.
Here are 6 ways to help transmute the feeling that dating is a competition:
- Shift Your Perspective
Instead of thinking of dating as a competition, try to focus on the fun and excitement of getting to know new people and the possibility of finding a meaningful connection.
- Practice Self-Compassion
Remind yourself that everyone has their own journey in dating and that it is normal to have rejections and setbacks. Be kind to yourself and avoid harsh self-criticism.
- Set Boundaries
Take control of your dating experiences by setting boundaries for yourself. Determine what you are and are not comfortable with and communicate those boundaries to potential partners.
- Focus On Being Yourself:
Don’t try to be someone you’re not in order to impress a potential partner. Being authentic and true to yourself will attract the right person for you.
- Limit Your Exposure To Dating Apps
Social media can often make dating feel like a competition because of the ease of comparing oneself to others.
- 6. Try to limit the time you spend on dating apps, or take a break from them altogether if you feel they are causing you stress.
Remember that rejection is not a reflection of your self-worth. Remember that rejection is not personal and it’s not a reflection of your worth as a person.
Lastly, take it easy. It’s 2023 and any rules or societal expectations about dating are dying. There’s no need to put pressure on yourself with this. Enjoy the process of meeting new people and seeing where things go.