(Photo source: Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash.com)

(Photo source: Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash.com)

I was curled up in a ball in the corner of my floor with tears streaming down my face. My stomach hurt, my mind raced, and my heart felt like it was being pulled in a thousand different directions.

You see, I had been dating this guy for a year and a half. Things were getting serious. We’d talked about getting married. Our parents were coming in from out of town to meet each other that day. The decisions I had made were culminating before my eyes. My life was happening. But the only problem was –  it was a story that I didn’t want to be living.

I felt no sense of peace. In fact, I was filled with doubts. Could this be right? If so, then why did it feel so wrong? Why was my heart so confused? Why did I feel like I wanted to throw-up?

I wanted so bad to be in love… but this isn’t what I had imagined.


It was a story that I didn’t want to be living.


So, with tears streaming down my face, I picked up the phone and called the whole thing off. I did it. It was time to face my fears- my fear of failure, my fear of disappointment, my fear of starting over, my fear of being alone, my fear of hurting people – and finally do what I knew all along was right.

Deep down inside, I was aching to find someone to love.  But I spent so much time trying to find “the one”, that I lost myself.

I was so confused. I had no idea what I wanted or who fit into my life. The real problem was me.

I didn’t know who I was.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, if you don’t know who you are, you’ll never recognize the kind of person who fits into your story.


 I spent so much time trying to find “the one”, that I lost myself.


It seems like a simple truth, but it’s really not so simple. Getting to know yourself can be even harder than finding someone to love.

It’s so much easier to look out than it is to look in.  It’s much easier to focus on the hope of finding the right person than actually becoming the right person.  

The most successful relationships I’ve ever witnessed are made up of two people who are confident in who they are, and who’ve become the best they can be by depending on God for help.  People who understood that in order to really find love, you have to date a person you never thought you’d date: Yourself.

As a professional counselor, dating inward is a concept I talk about a lot, but how do you do it?

“So, do I take myself out to a restaurant, or to a movie?” a girl asked me on Twitter. I had to laugh, because that’s not exactly what I mean by dating yourself.

Dating inward is a process. It’s an experience of delving into the places where only you could ever go. It’s a process of insight, awareness, acknowledgement, and wisdom. You have to peel back the layers of who you are, one step at a time. Quite frankly, while it may sounds strange, it’s a concept that changed my life, and in turn, my love life.

Dating yourself requires you to know 3 important things:

1.  Know who you are today: There’s a huge difference between who you want to be, or who you’ve been told you are—and who you actually are.  It’s easy to lose yourself in relationships by becoming who they want you to become. But you’ll never be able to know what you really want in a relationship until you know who you are.  Use this time in your life to become the best version of yourself by dealing with the habits, thoughts, and behaviors that hold you back from living your best life.  Get to know who God says you are and remove the labels that have been placed on you. Invest in yourself, love yourself, and believe in yourself. You will always attract the kind of person who you believe you deserve.


You’ll never be able to know what you really want in a relationship until you know who you are.  


2.  Know where you come from: We all have our baggage, and whether we want to or not, we bring that baggage into our relationships. Dating inward means taking the time to understand and heal the hurts of your past to the best of your ability.  It means understand ing your past, and coming to terms with the impact it may have had on your life.  But most of all, it means learning to accept those things and move past them as you step into your future.
3.  Know where you’re going: When you’re walking toward something, you’ll be able to recognize those who are walking in your direction. It’s so important to stay true to yourself by living out the unique and meaningful purpose that God has given you. Trust me, your story has far more to do with finding your purpose in life than it does with finding the love of your life.
No matter what your relationship status is – married, dating, single, or searching – we should always be moving in the direction of healing and discovering who God is in our lives. Don’t forget to date inward before you begin searching for love from someone else.

This post is adapted from concepts in Debra’s book True Love Dates, and used with permission. Find more of Debra’s dating advice at TrueLoveDates.com

For another story on finding yourself, watch Lynsi’s White Chair Film: