S3E4: Swipe Differently: Mastering Midlife Dating In The Digital Age With Bex Burton

PTBE 4 | Midlife Dating

Today’s midlife dating scene captures the clash between digital swipes and the timeless search for genuine connections. In this episode, Clare interviews dating and relationship coach Bex Burton about why it feels so difficult to date in today’s digital age with swiping apps. Unpacking the complexities of modern dating apps and the swipe culture, Bex provides insightful guidance on why the quest for genuine connections can feel like an uphill battle. She shares the importance of establishing a vision, cultivating the right mindset, and fostering true relational skills in order to find better matches. Bex shares the pivotal role a particular book played in reshaping her own romantic narrative, steering her away from a “Decade of Dating Disasters,” and ultimately leading her to her life partner. Tune in and learn how to forge authentic connections in today’s dynamic dating landscape.

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Swipe Differently: Mastering Midlife Dating In The Digital Age With Bex Burton

This is season three where we’re widening the scope of our show to include a few more topics than having great orgasms. We want to make sure that you’re having more pleasure in all areas of your life, that you’re feeling confident and empowered to ask for what you want, and probably most importantly, that you believe that you deserve to prioritize your needs and desires. I’m going solo for episode four but I have a guest, and her name is Bex Burton. She’s a dating and relationship communication specialist and trauma-informed certified life coach for independent midlife women who are tired of dating disappointments and ready to attract and grow healthy lasting love. Welcome, Bex.

Clare, thank you so much for having me.

Bex and I are big fans of expanding our self-awareness. I discovered Bex when she was doing a summit and introduced me to many different dating and relationship coaches. However, I stuck with her and her message the most because her words resonated with me. I love that my self-awareness has helped to improve my relationships with my friends, deepen my relationships with my family, and helped me in my business. That’s one of the things that I struggled the most with. That’s why I love that you’re on here because I want to learn as much as any other single, frustrated midlife woman who’s looking for a relationship or to improve her communication and relationship.

I wish it had more of an impact on my love life. I’ve got some blind spots there. I do great at attracting a conscious and caring lover with no orgasm gaps and no rushing in whatever. That’s the best for me. The big but is that I have this blind spot for attracting unavailable men or men that are either physically or emotionally not available for a monogamous relationship. I am like any other audience that’s struggling at this point, “Why is it so damn hard to find a good guy? Why is dating so hard?” That’s where I’m going to let you take over with that question. Why does it seem like dating is harder than it’s ever been? Is it that we’re older? Did it get more difficult?

I love everything that you set this up with. It is very normal and understandable that we don’t struggle in so many areas of our life yet there’s one area in particular that seems to be a challenge again and again. You raise a good question. Is it harder dating now than it ever has been? I’m going to say yes. I’ve been working in the dating and relationship space for years. I would hands down agree that it is harder now than it ever has been before. That’s not to discourage the audience but rather to present an opportunity to do things differently. We can get into that shortly.

PTBE 4 | Midlife Dating

There are a couple of big reasons why it’s so much harder. The first one is this digital age isolation that we find ourselves in, particularly post-pandemic on this side of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even leading up to that, we’re getting deep into our online world and our online life. The pandemic times and lockdowns have pushed us even deeper into this isolation. It’s very prevalent in the younger generations, particularly young men but we do see it filtering throughout older generations across men, women, and non-binary communities.

The pandemic times and lockdowns have really pushed us even deeper into this isolation. And it's very prevalent in the younger generations, particularly young men. Click To Tweet

Part of this digital age isolation is that even in our dating practice or dating life, we are having these text-based conversations more than we’re having phone or real-time conversations. We call it asynchronous in the business world. Rather than having a conversation, what we’re doing is we’re exchanging these one-sided monologues back and forth until we’re in front of somebody, on a video call, or on a phone call. This is why I encourage all of my clients to drive those text-based conversations to a real-time conversation as early as they feel comfortable.

Part of this digital age isolation is also the distraction that we have created for ourselves. How many of us can go 5 or 10 minutes without pulling out our phones and checking our notifications? Many of us can for sure but there is a large population of people that cannot. With that attention fracture, it’s very challenging to be in a committed relationship search. There are a lot of reasons that contribute to the digital age isolation. There’s also the boom in dating app usage. On the surface, you would think that’s great.

There’s a greater pool of people to choose from.

The downside of that is that it creates what’s called a paradox of choice. Anybody who has been probably dating in the last few years is going to know this symptom intimately where people are less willing to commit because of the false belief that there’s something better out there. The grass is greener on the other side but what ends up happening is that we’re not committing to anybody.

We’re in this constant chase for something better, somebody more perfect, somebody more beautiful, or somebody we have less conflict with, which is a big issue because the truth of the matter is that even the healthiest relationships or the most successful long-term relationships are not without conflict. For those of us who are conflict-avoidant looking for that conflict-free relationship and we keep searching for that right person where there’s no conflict, that itch is never going to be scratched.

Are you reading my diary? What’s the deal here? I’m like, “We won’t be fighting.” I grew up in a family where we don’t fight. That’s the problem. We never even had any healthy disagreements. We had to keep ourselves quiet. I’ve been thinking, “If I could have someone that has more of the same opinions, political views, worldviews, and things like that, it will be easier.”

This is more recent for me. I haven’t done attachment styles and also learned to regulate my nervous system. When there is conflict, then I think, “This isn’t my person.” I have learned now at 60 that it’s not that great relationships are not conflictfree. You’re going to talk more about that because I love how your story has some of that in it. That’s why I feel very hopeful. There’s this paradox of having so many choices that people are not willing to commit because they think, “I can find a better one.

One other key piece that contributes to the difficulty of dating challenges is the advent of swipe-based apps. They have been on the scene for a while but it’s taken a little bit of time for them to fully take over in the way that they have now. It’s Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge. Even the more traditional browser-based apps like Match.com or OkCupid have an app component that is visual-based. There’s an incredible marketing professor at NYU. His name is Scott Galloway. He’s everywhere. He has done a lot of research, particularly in the world of men and the future of men.

What he’s discovered through his research is that these swipe-based apps reduce dating candidates to two-dimensional qualities. For women, it’s their attractiveness. For men, it’s their ability to garner resources in the future. Are they rich or not? When we’re on these swipe-based apps, whether it’s consciously or subconsciously, men are swiping for beauty in women, and women are swiping for that ability to garner resources, “Is he financially stable? Is he going to be able to provide and take care of?” Even if she’s an independent woman, there’s a part of her brain that is swiping for that quality.

When I listen to that, I feel embodied. I feel a little depressed about that. I have not tried ever the swiping thing. The last time I did Match.com was in 2012. It has been a while.

It can be very overwhelming. I have a lot of clients who have had online dating burnout because of multiple factors. This is why I encourage all of my clients if they are going to be using these digital-based apps to balance that out with an IRL practice, In Real Life, we’re out in the world meeting people in three-dimensional flesh. It’s because not only the swipe-based apps but the digital meetings rob us of the nuance of experiencing somebody, their energy, and their persistence for sure.

I sent an email from a client. She had a great phone call with somebody that she matched with. Two days later, he called her up and left her a message, “I would love to talk again.” She called him back that night and said, “Tomorrow night is great.” She didn’t hear from him. The next morning, she unmatched. Can we hang on a little bit longer? Can we leave the door open a little bit longer to allow for each other’s humanity and our busy schedules?

We’re all adults. We’re all busy. These things do take time but there’s something different that happens when we meet face-to-face or when we meet somebody in person. I say this to clients too. After we have that first date, things can tend to shift for the better or the worse. It’s not good or bad but there’s a different investment level once we have met in person. It’s very powerful for us to be out in the world making eye contact and striking up conversations, not with the intention of finding our next husband but with the intention of creating a connection.

It's very powerful for us to be out in the world making eye contact and striking up conversations, not with the intention of finding our next husband, but with the intention of just creating a connection. Click To Tweet

I have read so many dating books and when I was married, some relationship books. Back in 2000 when I got divorced, a therapist said, “I want you to go out on 100 dates.” I thought she was crazy. I didn’t do it but I was like, “What are you talking about? She goes, “You have to get this wider pool to see how you react to different people.” This was the year 2000. It was a long time ago. There weren’t those apps or maybe there were just starting. It’s so interesting that you have to treat some of this like practice. You can feel it in someone. I backed away. They were on a mission, and I wanted to explore getting to know them because that’s the first step to feel if there’s a connection there.

I call that Are-You-My-Husband energy. To every single person that you look at, you’re like, “Are you my husband?” Men can smell that a mile away, “We want nothing to do with it.” In the work that I do, it’s all about examining where we have been approaching this as a goal-oriented journey, pulling ourselves away, detaching from the outcome, and focusing on the process. It’s being in the process of getting to know one, being in the practice of going on a first date, communicating, and getting into that edgy vulnerable space. There’s so much practice to it. The more that we can think of it as a process and a journey of self-discovery, the better off we are.

That sounds so good because that resonates so much in working with a couple or an individual in terms of their love life. I constantly say, “It’s not the end goal. The end goal isn’t sex or orgasm. You have to enjoy the journey. How does it feel in your body? Do you even know what pleasure for yourself feels like in your body?” That sounds perfect. This is not about trying to get to the end goal but that’s hard because that’s part of the whole process in general in the world of being goaloriented or enjoying the process and becoming the person that attracts the right person as opposed to chasing.

There is no end goal because once we find the person that we want to commit to and that wants to commit to us, then we enter into a relationship but that also presents a whole new set of challenges. That journey continues.

PTBE 4 | Midlife Dating
Midlife Dating: There is no end goal, because once we find the person that we want to commit to that wants to commit to us, then we enter into a relationship. But that also presents a whole new set of challenges, and so that journey continues.

I’m going to circle back because I wanted you to talk a little bit about your journey. That’s the fairytale thing that we were brought up with. I was brought up with, “The man is going to come in, complete me, and save me.” I tried to run away from that and specifically looked for men that didn’t try to control me and didn’t have money. I had a different radar that I was looking for when I was younger. That’s the message. At this stage in midlife 50, 60, or 40, you are trying to reprogram yourself from so many messages that you didn’t know got in and became code for your operating system. We’re trying to do different and better. It’s not easy but it’s nice to hear about someone who’s helping a lot of ladies in this. Do you work with heterosexual women or samesex? What’s your specialty?

Thank you. My specialty is heterosexual women. I also work with transgender women and a few select men. I have worked with men in the past. I do love working with men. My specialty is midlife independent women who have relational challenges and who have felt at some point that they are suffocated or trapped in a relationship, and their only solution is to get the F out. On the other side of that, they might enjoy some period of being single and independent again but then that desire for partnership is still on their hearts.

You started to say a little bit about this mindset shift, “Are you the one? Are you my husband” It’s enjoying the journey. Are there other things that make for a better experience? Do you give your ladies pep talks? What else is a mindset shift for you?

First and foremost, one of the very first things that any client of mine participates in the work that we do is setting their vision and getting clear on exactly what kind of relationship they want, the qualities of the partner that they want to call in, how they want to feel in that relationship, and how they want to be treated. I speak with so many women who are like, “I have my list.” Let’s take out the list and look at it.

There’s this wonderful love coach that I follow. Her name is TheFabKara. She’s got this term the 666. It comes up in the list all the time. It’s the six-foot-tall, the six-figure salary, and the six-pack. When I think about the list even if it doesn’t include the 666, it’s all of these aspirational qualities of the man that they’re calling in without including themselves in the picture, which is the big difference between a list and a vision. A vision is how you want to live your life and integrate another human being into the already juicy and wonderful life that you lead. How much integration do you want? Do you want to cohabitate? Do you want to get married? Do you want to be together living apart?

A vision is how you want to live your life. Click To Tweet

There are so many different nuances that a lot of women haven’t explored. The way that we do that is we start reflecting backward on the previous relationships. I’ve got a four-part questionnaire that I have them answer to reflect on, “What did I love and appreciate about the relationship with that person?” Through hindsight and reflection, we’re mining the gold. When I say the gold, I mean the good, the bad, the ugly, and the things that we never want to happen. It’s still all data. I think of it as data. The more we can approach it as data, the more neutral this process becomes because a lot of times, we still have a lot of deep emotional hooks in our historic relationships.

Some of the work is diffusing some of those emotional hooks. The work is mining the past for data and getting clear on the vision. That vision is going to help set our mindset moving forward because if we know where we’re going and what the ideal is, then we can hone our discernment muscles and be compassionately ruthless in our dating practice. If after two dates, you’re certain that this person is not aligned with the vision that you hold in your heart, then you can compassionately release them and move on to the next person. I speak with many women who tell me, “I was in an 8-year relationship but the last 6 years of it were terrible. I was in a 20-year relationship, and the last 12 years of it were downhill.” What were we doing for that period?

I can think of reallife examples of some friends or colleagues that are in that category. You can feel pretty bad about those wasted years but then you have to help them, “We’re mining that gold, figuring out some things, and then moving forward.

It’s easier said than done. There are lots of tools to support the high-vibration exit of a low-quality relationship. Coming back to this idea of mindset, I keep using these terms like high-vibration exit instead of breakup or divorce because part of this work is adopting the lens of love. This is another big mindset key that I work with my clients. The lens of love is holding not only others but ourselves in this space of gentle compassion and honoring and recognizing all of our humanity.

With the work that I do, we start that internally. We start that with our relationship with ourselves. I work with a lot of high-performing, high-achieving, and type-A women who always go. They’re very successful in their careers because they have been rewarded for that attitude and mindset. When it comes to love and relationships, they’re not as successful. When we peel back the layers and look at the way that they relate with themselves and the dialogue that they have internally, it is punitive. It is shaming and a reflection of what they received as young children. We internalized that voice.

PTBE 4 | Midlife Dating
Midlife Dating: The lens of love is holding not only others but ourselves in this space of gentle compassion, really honoring and recognizing all of our humanity.

I had a client tell me this. Her boundaries were crossed on a date. She froze. It was a trauma response. She wasn’t able to take action. She said, “I was so mad at myself the next day. I was kicking myself for not saying anything or not doing anything.” We had to put the pause button on and back up because that self-shame makes things so much harder and worse.

The lens of love starts with this. Can we respect our humanity? Can we say, “I was caught in a deep trauma loop in that moment? I was frozen like a deer in headlights. After the fact, I know what I could have done but that was inconceivable at that moment. I love myself anyway, and that’s okay. I’m human. This is something I’m aware of. This is healing that is in process.” To be aware of that and have that self-dialogue is part of the healing of that trauma response.

That sounds exactly like the healing part of having that self-compassion for yourself and catching yourself sooner but it happens. Shaming yourself is part of what the old version of you was taught to do anyway. We have to figure that to be different.

It prolongs the pain. It keeps us in that painful and stuck place for much longer than we need to, which then in turn reflects outwardly in our outward relationships and perpetuates the cycle of the results that we’re getting in our dating practice. The lens of love is recognizing our humanity and speaking with ourselves with compassion. The more we build that inner compassion, the more we’re able to reflect that outwardly and relate with others around us, whether they’re romantic connections or not, with that same gentle compassion.

The more we build that inner compassion, the more we're able to reflect that outwardly and relate with others around us, whether they're romantic connections or not. Click To Tweet

God forbid you get into a fender bender. How many times have you seen on television or witnessed in person a fender bender, and somebody gets out of their car with guns ablaze screaming and yelling, “How dare you?” That’s not a typical response. That’s dysregulation. Our nervous systems are fired up. Something catastrophic has happened but imagine if we could approach that situation so radically differently, “Are you okay?” You’re checking in with the other person’s well-being.

Non-attachment is another big piece of the lens of love. I dipped into this a little bit earlier when we strengthen our discernment muscles. Non-attachment is looking at focusing on the relationship that we want and not being so attached to any candidate that’s right in front of us at any given time. I have another client. We’re working on releasing the emotional hooks of this guy.

Their visions weren’t aligned but she fell very quickly for this guy. The non-attachment piece there is oftentimes, somebody will end things. Our tendency might be to want to vilify them, lash out, or react in some way that is not in alignment with the love that we desire and the lens of love. This non-attachment is not vilifying the candidate but recognizing, “We’re not a match,” and allowing it to be as simple as that.

You’re talking about your clients, especially with that one example of the woman whose boundary was crossed, and her freezing and then being harsh on herself. Did your traumainformed coaching background come before you started working and focusing on the dating field? Did you add that to see that’s a piece? I’m new to the game, meaning in the last few years, I’m learning what generational trauma is and what my trauma pattern is for being a high achiever and always going to try and perform. It makes sense that now I’m circling back and going, “How has this affected me in my love life?” How was the unfolding of your knowledge and your expertise in being traumainformed? Did that come before or parallel with you doing the dating coaching?

I happily answer that because it was born out of necessity. I had already been four years deep in my coaching. Interestingly enough, concurrently with my personal development as well as one client that I was working with, I was discovering. With the client, we would be entering into conversations at the very onset, “Let’s talk about your vision.” We’re bringing them into a grounded place, opening up this dialogue that I have with all of my clients, and then having this massive reaction of high-temper and explosive communication geared at me and shouting at me.

I had never experienced this before. My wounding is to internalize it and think, “I’m not doing enough. I’m doing it wrong. I need to do something differently.” Here I am, uninformed, trying to take a number of different approaches with this client. Simultaneously, in my relationship, I’m experiencing my freeze, shutdown, and fawn responses to my husband’s communication. That opened up a whole can of worms of exploration for me to then learn more about trauma, go through a trauma-healing course, and be able to bring trauma into the conversation.

I’m not a licensed psychotherapist. I do not have an official certification or training but I do have the authority at this point to at least bring trauma into the conversation and propose that clients are additionally supported by other healing professionals in conjunction with the work that we do. For example, this client that we were talking about was so mad at herself. We started talking about that, and she opened up to me and shared a vulnerable truth about boundaries being crossed at a very young age.

I said, “That’s understandable. I’m sorry that’s happened to you. It’s understandable that the ripple effects of those incidents are showing up in your adult love life. This is not uncommon. It’s not your fault. However, it is our responsibility to do that further exploration.” It was game-changing for her. She was like, “I never thought that was a trauma response.” If our boundaries are being crossed and we become paralyzed, there’s something in the body that is retaining a boundary cross. It’s shutting down our frontal lobe and preventing us from any executive decision-making at that moment.

Are there any other areas that you help your clients with the traumainformed lens? What I’m thinking about for my coaching is we’re teaching women how to develop safety and a good home base in their bodies before they go for anything, whether that’s in love, relationships, or work. When you didn’t have that growing up or when there was chaos and terror, it’s hard to have a home base.

It makes sense that you’re looking for someone else to give that to you but then you’re cutting down the pool of people that you’re choosing from. You also get that lock. You’re trying to grab onto someone, and that person probably grew up in a home where they were used to being with that. It’s this weird dynamic. That’s a whole other one on attachment styles. Are there any other examples of how you’ve helped someone understand how their trauma response affects their ability to date in a positive way?

There are two iterations of this pattern. It is related to attachment style. It’s interesting. I learned that modern psychology is referring to attachment styles as attachment strategies because they’re not permanent. They’re not fluid. They are malleable ideally toward the direction of security. It relates to those tending toward the anxious attachment strategy but two manifestations of that are over-communicating or lashing out and reacting.

I had a client. It was very early on before we were able to dig into this. She had set up a date and he canceled. It was an hour after he canceled by text, and she didn’t hear from him. She became quickly dysregulated and then sent a string of something like twenty texts to him back-to-back, including, “Where are you? Why aren’t you picking up your phone? Why aren’t you answering my texts?” It’s a similar physical reaction where our frontal lobe shuts down. We’re not acting from our rational place anymore.

The same goes for lashing out. I have another client who has a lot of repressed anger. I feel her deeply because I am a candidate in that boat. We talk a lot about reactivity and the techniques to help slow down time so that we can take a sacred pause and make a different choice when all we want to do is lash out or defend and protect ourselves. Those are some other manifestations of trauma coming up in our adult relational life.

That doesn’t happen overnight and gets solved overnight. When someone works with you time-wise, is it something that they’re committing to for 3 or 6 months or a year? Our coaching can be multiple years. It’s not a quick fix.

It depends on the client. It depends on their desire and commitment to heal. I’m not a stickler for daily practice. My thing is if you’re adding something new and you hit four days a week, celebrate the F out of that because 4 out of 7, you’re hitting the majority, and then you’re not beating yourself up for missing any days or any of those days. Once you’ve got four days with consistency, then you might add a day. If there are clients who are committed and diligent about their practices, they’re going to notice shifts pretty quickly. They’re going to be small shifts but they compound.

If a client is only relying on the coaching calls that they get versus leaning into the in-between call support and the hands-on profile support that I offer or leaning into all of the other add-ons and à la carte options, it may take a client longer. I do have clients who desperately want change in their lives. Most of these women I won’t take on as clients because if we can’t wedge our foot in the door and create some space for transformation, or if she’s got a million things going on, and she has no time for herself or doesn’t believe that she needs to focus on herself that it’s all about her dating life, then she’s not an ideal client. It’s a setup for failure. She would be in service for over a year because it wouldn’t be a cohesive relationship in the first place.

That makes sense. What are some things that a single woman can be doing to prime herself for healthy and lasting love? What are some takeaways for our audience? She’s heard some things. You’re still speaking to me because I’m all in that. It’s like, “This episode is just for Clare.” I’m kidding. There are other women out there who can feel the same way. What are some steps that perhaps you’ve come back to often with your clients that you could suggest to us?

This is where some of our worlds intersect because, for me, it comes down to self-awareness. The three pillars that I work with clients are establishing their vision, establishing their mindset, and then working on their skillset. Mindset for me encompasses so many things. Not only is it the lens of love that we talked about earlier. It’s also adopting the belief that love is a practice. This goes back to the woman that thinks she’s getting it wrong or beating herself up because she’s screwed up.

I’ll get somebody writing into a coaching forum, “I need you to help me fix this.” We need to move away from this binary that things are going right or wrong and that it’s fixed or broken and lean into this belief that love is a practice. We don’t sit down to a piano and believe that we can start playing Beethoven on day one. If we sit down, start playing scales, and mess up our scales, are we holding ourselves in contempt for hitting the wrong key?

It comes back to that self-compassion. Self-compassion is another big piece. The biggest tool that I work with is mindfulness and setting clients up. I refer them to a third-party app that has this incredible intro course to a very neutral non-dogmatic mindfulness beginner’s course. It’s different than other types of meditation. Mindfulness is at its purest attention training. We start with training our attention to hone in on low-stakes things like our sensory input. What are we seeing out the window? What are we hearing with our eyes closed? It’s honing our attention for a set period on those things. We start to bring that attention internally. We start to focus on the breath. If focusing on the breath makes you breathe funny, we focus on something else like the feeling of sitting in a chair.

If your attention is like an incandescent light bulb, attention training or mindfulness meditation is honing all of that light into a laser beam pointed at one thing. As we build that attention training skill, then we start getting into the higher-stakes stuff like honing in on our emotional state. What’s great about this beginner’s course is that the guide will talk you through an amazing moment in your life. It brings up all of those emotions, and then it has you point your awareness to those emotions. It’s the same thing with a not-so-amazing moment in your life or maybe a conflict with a friend. All of a sudden, that experience is alive in you and you can hone in on the emotional experience that you’re having.

You’re learning to feel and embody feeling good versus feeling bad. You’re right up my alley. Continue.

At the very basis of that, I teach clients to use this scale on their dates, “Do you feel expansive? Do you feel constricted?” We can narrow down what expansive means. Another tool that I work with is Nonviolent Communication. It’s helping humans, particularly women, develop their emotive language. Often, I’ll ask, “What are you feeling at this moment?” “I feel like he’s ignoring me. I feel like I am the third person on his priority list.” Those are opinions. What are the emotions?

It’s wild to me. I come from this camp too. If you were to ask me years ago how I was feeling, I would be saying the same thing. How disconnected have we become from our emotional state or our inner landscape? I have this exercise that I give to my clients. It’s the weather report of your inner landscape where we look at your physical condition. Is there any pain in your body? Are you feeling hot? Are you feeling hungry for your emotional state and various other things on that checklist?

When we are able to develop the language of emotions and needs, then we can start entering the land of skillful communication and communicating from a clean place with clean energy versus targeted energy or, as Marshall Rosenberg says, violent energy where you are doing this or you are not doing this. Whenever receiving language that starts with, “You,” for anybody who has any traumatic history, their defenses are going to go up. Their immediate response is going to be to defend, lash out, shut down, or walk away.

When we’re communicating from this I place, we’re expressing inarguable truths. Nobody can argue with how you feel. If they do, that’s a bit of a red flag for us to look out for. Mindfulness and Nonviolent Communication are two of the main tools that I work with, getting into the second pillar, our mindset. Self-compassion is another one building that muscle. A lot of that relates to shadow work.

The more that we can bravely explore our shadow or the parts of ourselves that we don’t post on Facebook and that we don’t like to share with friends and family. Your partner or a date triggered you, and you ate a pound cake or whatever it is. The more that we can explore those aspects of ourselves, humanize them, and have compassion for those parts of ourselves, the more self-acceptance and self-love that we generate, which is what creates the magnetism that others are drawn to us and fall in love with us for.

PTBE 4 | Midlife Dating
Midlife Dating: The more we can explore aspects of ourselves, humanize them, and have compassion for those parts, the more self-acceptance and self-love we generate, which creates the magnetism that draws others to us and makes them fall in love with us.

That sounds good. Summarize the three pillars again. The second one was self-development.

The first big pillar is vision. That’s not the checklist. That is encompassing. It’s how you want to feel, how you want to be treated, what you want your life to look like, and what you want your lifestyle to be. The second pillar is all about our mindset. That’s adopting a loving mindset that withstands the ups and downs of dating and relationships so that we’re building an inner equanimity. A lot of dating coaches will talk about the abundance mindset and believing that there are millions of options for us. That’s great. I don’t negate that whatsoever. My take on mindset is a little bit different, and it’s more about the relationship that we have with ourselves. The third pillar is our skillset because we can have an incredible vision, a healthy mindset, and poor relational skills.

A lot of us have worked with other people with poor relational skills or grew up in families with that. Someone can come to you and you’re going to always start with pillar one but you can jump to pillar three if you know that they’re having issues with their communication skills and relationship skills.

A lot of times, any gaps in that second pillar or that relationship with the self and our mindset are going to come up when we’re in an active dating practice or an active relationship. When we’re working on those skillsets, something will come up like the client that was mad at herself. We take a step back. The second and third pillars are a little bit intermingled. There’s no real linearity to it.

I love all of this. Do you have anything to offer if someone says, “I like what Bex has to say? I know I need it, speaking for a friend.” How can they get ahold of you?

The best place to find me is my website. It’s BexBurtonCoaching.com. On that website, you will find a freebie. I have an Intentional Dating Toolkit, which is a bit of a sampler of a number of different tools that I use with a lot of clients. There’s some support for online dating and offline dating. There’s my four-part questionnaire. I call it the Sowing Seeds Practice for Hindsight Reflection. I referenced that earlier. That’s in there. There’s an incredible reading list of ten books. Even if you don’t read all ten, you can pick and choose. There are some incredible reads there. Some of them have changed my life.

Tell me some. What are some of your favorites?

If the Buddha Dated is probably my number one. I get emotional. I get goosebumps talking about it. That one changed my life. That’s where the idea of non-attachment and the lens of love came from. Those are my adaptations or my takeaways.

It formed it for you. I love that story. Did you read that before you met the love of your life?

I sure did. I had a dating decade of disaster. After the third breakup, I started to recognize, “These breakups all looked the same with three different people. I must be the common denominator.” That began my self-exploration. At that point, I decided to date without the intention of getting into a relationship. That was a new thing for me to explore and to take in the data, what works for me, what makes me feel expansive, and what makes me feel constricted.

I did that for two years and then met this incredible guy. I thought we were so compatible. I was like, “I want to be in a relationship with him.” As it turns out, he didn’t want to be in a relationship at all. He was very happy with the thing way things were. I started to recognize, “I don’t think that works for me.” It was the first and only breakup that I had that was clean and amicable without the emotional hooks. I was like, “What I wanted has changed since we started this. That’s no fault on you.” It’s not a good match. After that breakup, three months later and also reading If the Buddha Dated, I met the man who’s now my husband.

Maybe we will have to have a second part where Rachel is with us. It can be more about how you’ve attracted someone who is a worthy partner and the reality of communication skills. This is where real work is. How did you state it with it being a practice? I’ve heard a few more times, “It’s so easy to fall in love. That’s the hormones. That’s me. I’m always searching for that. I love that.” The practice of staying in love and being a good partner that creates that environment for herself and her partner to let love flourish is an important one.

What happens when the honeymoon phase is over?

That is a thing. It’s anywhere from 6 to 18 months when those hormones can’t kick in anymore at that same level, and the real work starts. I am so happy after meeting you that I get to showcase some of the wonderful vibes that I got from listening to you, watching you interview other people, and then being on your email list. You’re a wealth of information. You’ve been through it. You’re not trying to pretend that you haven’t, and that’s what makes you real. I’m super excited that hopefully, there might be some women out there that are going to check out your toolkit. It’s a sampler.

It’s the Intentional Dating Toolkit. I welcome them. There’s something in there for everybody. There are eight pieces. Once you’re on that email list, I do send updates because the toolkit is not complete. There are more things I want to add to it all the time, not to overwhelm anybody but to resource people. Coaching is an investment. I want to meet people where they’re at. If it’s a free toolkit sampler, that’s great. There are opportunities to have different services or a full coaching relationship with me, whatever the client needs.

My ending question is this. What do you do to get yourself so that you’re not waiting for your partner to feel in the mood, sexy, and expansive? What are some of the things that you do that put you in this happy, joyful, and sexy state?

I struggled with that for a long time. It wasn’t until doing this work and interviewing other experts that I learned that it’s my responsibility to get there and get me all fired up. A big part of my work is soul nourishment. I’m a mover and an artist from way back. I need to be in creation mode. I need to be making these wacky wearables, epaulets, and headpieces. I need to be on my roller skates and learn new things on my roller skates. That’s the external.

The internal for me is if my husband and I have a date on the calendar, I’ll take a hot shower and give myself a slow massage in the shower. I’ll come out and burn some incense or Palo Santo wood. I’ll play music. I’ll change the color of the lights. We’ve got fancy light bulbs. I can change the color to pink or turquoise. A lot of it is the environment. Some of it is prepping my body but in the bigger picture, for me, it’s soul nourishment and making sure that I’m differentiating myself from my husband. My wounded tendency is to become enmeshed. I need to honor my need for space and creativity. When those needs are being fulfilled, I’m far more ready and happy to connect with my partner in intimate ways.

That’s a great reminder. Thanks, Bex, for being on the show. I so appreciate you. Thank you so much.

Thank you, Clare. It’s my pleasure.

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About Bex Burton

PTBE 4 | Midlife DatingBex Burton is a Dating & Relationship Communication Specialist, & trauma-informed certified life coach for independent, midlife women who are tired of dating disappointments and ready to attract and grow healthy, lasting love.

After working with Bex, clients feel less frustration, more confidence and enjoy more meaningful romantic relationships.

When she’s not serving the hearts of women, you can catch Bex on her roller skates, in the wilderness with her hunny, or on the floor with her two kitties.

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