Are you depriving yourself of lessons?

The other day my friend, bestselling author Sam Horn*, let loose with another one of her sage sayings:

“You can’t learn anything from experiences you aren’t having.” —Louis L’Amour

lessonI immediately thought of the women who’ve said they would like to date, but can’t quite get up the gumption to do so. People look at dating as a chance to meet potential love interests. However, there also can be a lot of learning about yourself during the process. At least if you’re willing to be reflective and present to the lessons each encounter offers.

So while you may think not dating isn’t costing you anything, it could very well be costing you some key lessons about yourself and being in a relationship — even a possibly fleeting one like dating. I know I have learned a great deal from my 2.5 years of dating, not only about myself, but about men in general. I have a greater appreciation for how amazing it is that two people get together in the first place, let alone the work, patience, and perseverance it takes to stay together, even for as little as months.

By not dating you are depriving yourself of having experiences which encourage insights. If you are at all conscious, introspective, reflective, and honest with yourself, by dating you have prepared yourself to be a much better mate after having dated for a while and with a few men.

A popular question in the “getting to know you” stage is, “What did you learn after the breakup of your last relationship and how will you apply it to your next one?” If your last relationship was decades ago, will those lessons be fresh? Will you be as conscious of your patterns that can cause problems? Will you have had an opportunity to practice new behaviors that mitigate the past problem areas?

I realize that not everyone is “ready” to date. If you know you have some healing to do, then it is wise to not reenter the dating pool until you feel mostly healed. But if you wait until you absolutely, positively have no more relationship wounds, you may be dead before you’re ready. Most people carry some residual pain from past relationships, and being in a relationship can actually help speed the healing, even if it also triggers some old heartache. Many times these emotional ghosts help us look at the hold old sorrow has on us, and if we know how to do it, we can release it.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned about yourself and relationships from dating that you can apply to the next one? And what experiences are you holding back from that you know you could learn from?

(* For more on Sam, go to “’POP!: Stand Out in Any Crowd’ makes you outstanding in the dating scene.”)

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