Updated: Jul 2
In the dating world, the standard approach to a first date is the desire to make a solid first impression to win your date over. If you are single and dating, ask yourself, is this approach really working for you?
A long time ago at a friends wedding, her father gave us some beautiful advice, which only became apparent to me many years later.
He simply said ‘begin as you wish to continue', with no explanation.
At the time, I had no idea what he meant. It seemed like a philosophical riddle to me, which I promptly parked in the filing cabinet of my subconscious. When I asked what he meant, he said 'life will teach you', and it certainly did. I know now that what he was doing was beautifully planting a seed.
Today, after more than 25 years, the meaning is completely obvious to me. Yet, for some ridiculous reason, most of us do not take this advice at all, especially whilst dating. Why do most of us prefer to strive for making a good impression instead of an authentic one?
It is all about social and cultural conditioning. So the desire to make good first impressions, rather than authentic ones, runs deep throughout every part of our lives. We strive to make a good first impression when we meet new people because of a need to be liked. We fear being disliked more than we desire to show up authentically. How crazy is that?
Yet later, once we know they like us, we both start to relax. Then parts of the real us begin to show up. Once this happens, we tend to discover incompatibility. Then suddenly, one of us decides we don't like the person we are dating anymore, simply because they chose to conceal their truth, to make a good first impression. It is a vicious cycle that I see constantly woven in the dating world. Ask your friends if they have done this, and you may struggle to find a single person who was not scared their date would not like them.
It is kind of like wishing for unconditional love, whilst holding an entire bag of conditions in your very own hand. We want the truth, yet we choose to conceal our very own truth, even whilst we seek it time and time again. In practice, the theory of beginning as you wish to continue will be much more efficient when dating, because you would realise in the beginning that you were not compatible. You wouldn't be wasting your time or theirs, removing unnecessary suffering, whilst practising the art of authenticity.
We do this not only in dating but also with work, love and life constantly. So, where did the epidemic of the fear of being liked show up?
Generations of overlaid human conditioning based on fear, that’s where. As humans, many of us feel almost every emotion, including love, from a place of fear. First, we fear they will not like us. Then we fear they will not return our love. As the fear continues, we fear they will leave us. The list of fears is extensive and exhausting in life.
What we really should be fearing is, losing ourselves buried beneath the desire to be liked. We are all beautiful and worthy of love exactly as we are. In fact, we know this well, because as children, our parents told us this all the time, whilst showing us the exact opposite by example. It's no wonder we all get confused as we grow up, in the do as I say, not as I do example delivered literally everywhere we look.
So the concept of beginning as you wish to continue is almost what you could consider the perfect recipe for success. How lovely is it that my friend's father dished it up at such a pivotal time in his daughter's life, the beginning of her marriage? I often wonder if she heeded the advice herself.
What would a first date look like if you showed up authentically rather than how you think they want you to? How would you feel being completely you?
I learned to break free from the shackles of worrying if I am liked, over many years of unravelling the conditioning that made me that way. Through mindfulness, I learned the beautiful lessons of acceptance and understanding of the authentic me. This taught me the confidence to show up authentically every time I stepped out into the world, including dating.
I have spent half my life single, so I have had lots of opportunities to show up and learn from dating attempts, that many would call failures. The day I decided to be courageous enough to begin to just be me, was a beautiful turning point in my life. The more I did it, the more confidence in the authentic me I gathered.
Today I show up in my work, with family and friends and strangers authentically every time, and so can you. This is a skill that can be learned, alongside unlearning the conditioning of your upbringing.
If you are single, the dating world is a perfect learning ground for authenticity. There are no failed dates. Each one is simply an opportunity to show up as the real you, with no mask, no people-pleasing, and no facade to hide behind.
Take the opportunity to step forward authentically, one step and one date at a time. Learning and sharing more of the real you each date. Then one day, as if by magic, a person will show up in your life who will fall in love with the authentic and beautiful you.
When you master this, you will have learned the beautiful art of beginning as you wish to continue. Pass on the torch to others in your circle, so that collectively we can wipe out the undercurrent of fear driving our society, and replace it with love, confidence and authenticity.
Want to know more about how mindfulness can help you grow authentically. Book a FREE mindfulness discovery session.