Contrary to popular belief, self love and dating go hand in hand. Healthy relationships with others start with a healthy relationship with yourself.

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I entered 2016 a heartbroken girl fresh from a break up of a relationship that I had based on other people’s standards. I entered the relationship extremely self conscious and in so many ways forced my partner to give me the love I should’ve been giving myself. I was being toxic and didn’t realize it until it was it was over.  

I spent the beginning of the year searching for a temporary fix in the comfort of new men. I’d force myself to go out to events and just give my number to anyone who asked. I felt nothing and it was obvious. It wasn’t until I had a mini intervention with myself that I realized what I was missing was me. I took a step back and actually dealt with everything I was feeling. I took the time to find myself and love myself in the ways I was seeking to be loved by others.

I spoke to writer and marketing strategist, Olivia Jade, about the importance of self love when it comes to dating, breaking gender roles and more for the latest installment of Dating in NYC.

Read her thoughts below:

What expectations do you have going into a first date?

Oh, geez. After my time of dating in NYC, I learned to not expect anything anymore. But before I came to this realization, I expected to be shocked in any shape or form. Of course, I can talk about how I wanted the guy or girl to be a gentle(wo)man and display that type of character, but I learned to always expect to be surprised.

Describe your best dating experience or ideal date:

My best dating experience was with a designer I used to date, Mickal Stubblefield. We met on Instagram and I suppose I intrigued him by how I carried myself— or maybe because I used to post more revealing photos, lol. For our first date, we met at The Barclays Center for the opening Jay Z concert. He paid for my cab ride— which was a first for me. My first boyfriend was always broke and I used to pay for everything. We were in V.I.P. and had access to everything. That night I met a bunch of beautiful individuals. After the show, I even got to meet Jay and Bey at the 40/40 club.

Another date that blew shit out of the water, was when Mickal surprised me with tickets to see my favorite artist Rachelle Ferrell on Valentine’s Day. Mickal was always a gentleman and spoiled me to say the least. I’m forever grateful for that experience and him. At the time, I was too young and busy finding myself that I didn’t understand he was a real one.

Describe your worst date:

Lord, I went out on a date with a man who was way older than I was— needless to say, someone was on the hunt for a sugar daddy. Initially, he came off down-to-earth, very open and honest with who he was and where he came from. The more drinks we had, the more he unveiled how much of a fucking wreck he was.

By the third or fourth drink he began to tell me how much he loved me, how he missed his son— a piece of information he forgot to share— and how he wanted to take me home. He was a mess. Somehow, he still managed to put me in a cab and pay for my way home. God bless him.

Another bad date was with another designer whom I met on social media (go figure). He invited my friend and I to this roof party at The W. It was summertime, Venus X was DJ’ing. He was really dope —we connected and had a lot of fun together… Until the end of the night, when he disappeared for a while so my friend and I continued to dance. He approached me exasperated and angrily, “Are you coming with me or are you staying here?” There was such a demanding tone that I was caught off-guard. My friend wanted to stay and I didn’t want to leave her. When I told him I was staying, he got mad and left. Later, I received a passive-aggressive text message about how “disrespectful” I was for staying when we came with him. I was turned off after that to say the least, so communication just fell off.

Has your dating experience made your more or less inclined to keep trying?

After my last ex-boyfriend, whom I met in New York during college, I tried to stay away from dating and becoming intimately involved with folk. Shit don’t always work out how you plan, though.

What’s your take on women “shooting their shot”?

I don’t mind it. I’ve been the bold one a few times. Time is of the essence and I don’t want to travel through life with baggage full of “what if’s?” We put too much weight on these constructs of how men and women should operate. If you’re heavy digging someone, go for it. Fuck the gender, unlearn what you’ve been taught.

If you’ve dated men not from NY, what differences did you see between them and New York men?

Though I hate generalizing, I’ve gathered that men from New York are extremely more forward—which I can appreciate from a distance now.

Does your profession affect the type of men you date?

I would say so, I’m in the process of making my profession my passion. Typically, I get along well with other creatives. Others who are on the path of self-sustaining, somewhat entrepreneurial, and open-minded. My current partner and I have a very common ground and we connected through our journey. So, yes.

How do you balance work life and dating?

Shit, before I loved myself, I had no balance. I was so focused on finding love that I really avoided and ignored myself and things I needed to get done. I was my last priority. It was really horrible, actually. Finding a nigga became, if not consciously, my subconscious’ primary goal. There were a lot of nights where I was lonely and confused because I made home in others—who weren’t my man.

Now, there is a disciplined sense of commitment to becoming the woman I want to become and my current partner is on the same wavelength. Of course, there are times where I’d rather just lay up and get dicked down all day but balance is key, lol. We have goals to achieve.

Do you think that social media has affected the way we date now?

ABSOLUTELY. It’s highlighted the superficiality that exists in the sport of dating. For someone who observes more than I comment, I’d say that I can read into what type of development someone had as a child based on their mentality when it comes to dating.

People really expose themselves on social media when they discuss their expectations and desires when it comes to finding a significant other. Social media has a way of altering people’s perception of things because transparency doesn’t really exist. People post what they want to highlight about their life. So it creates this illusion of perfection that we try to achieve all the time and begin to yearn for. When things in a relationship aren’t perfect, they jump to the next high. No one wants to work for things or fight through the depths of something. You have to have lows to feel the high. Instant gratification has transferred from social media and materialized itself into real life as people’s expectations for love and relationships.

If there was one thing you could change about the dating scene, what would it be and why?

I believe the dating scene is a fixed variable. The dating scene is what it is. What can be fixed, per say, are the variables of the people that inhabit this scene. I think people need to work on loving themselves first before they jump into the waters of dating and learning other people. It’s evident in mentalities and actions when a lack of foundation of love of self exists. It usually transitions itself into relationships as unstableness, resentment, and walls up around hearts. Find love within yourself and then everything else will flow. Connections won’t be forced, sex will be better, and beds won’t be empty. Feeling will exist without touch. Love yourself first.

JRDN
JRDN
http://www.lifewithJRDN.com
One of those "I like MF DOOM" type girls trying to figure out life in her 20's.