Why I recommend “puzzle piece dating” to my single clients

May 16, 2018

Akilah J. Pierre, MFT is a Staff Therapist at our University City office and this month’s Featured Therapist. Ms. Pierre is particularly skilled at working with clients to improve their self-esteem and self-worth, heal from trauma, and cultivate intimacy in their relationships. Read on for the dating advice that she gives to her clients that are looking to meet someone. 

Let’s face it; dating can be difficult. It’s a very vulnerable process where we put ourselves out there in hopes of finding someone to connect with, as well as someone who accepts us for who we are. However, the type of dating perspective we take can help guide us through the dating process to ensure we form the relationships we desire.


Dating like playdough

Envision a piece of playdough and a square block. Imagine taking the playdough and molding it around the square block. Does the playdough have its original shape? No. The square block and playdough now look like they have become one, and the playdough’s originality is lost.

How does this example translate to dating? Dating like playdough involves changing oneself to another’s liking in hopes of gaining acceptance and love from them. Let’s put ourselves in the playdough’s place. We may feel connected and attracted to someone, say, the square block. Our attachment for them may grow, fueling our desire for acceptance by them. Our desire for acceptance and reciprocity of romantic feelings can push us to morph into whoever the square block is longing for. When the playdough molds to the square block, it’s virtually unrecognizable.

In strong like of another, we may fall into the trap of changing ourselves to win the approval of the person we want. In essence, we sacrifice who we truly are for someone who may not be interested or as invested in us relationship-wise. This sacrifice creates the possible situation of us losing sight of who we truly were before.


Dating like puzzle pieces

Now, recall how puzzle pieces work. Some puzzle pieces fit together, and some puzzle pieces don’t. When we have two puzzle pieces that don’t fit, we don’t force it. Forcing will cause both puzzle pieces to buckle, distort the picture, or worse damage both of the pieces in the process. Instead, we simply move on and try to find another piece that fits. When we do have two pieces that fit, they complement each other, the fit is seamless, and together the puzzle pieces contribute to the beauty of the whole picture.

Puzzle piece dating is dating with the intention of finding someone who fits with what we want and need in a relationship and who possesses qualities that complement us. Dating like a puzzle piece also means moving on from a potential relationship if it is incapable of fulfilling our attachment wants and needs, and continuing the search for someone who complements us better.


Being accepted for who we really are

Dating like a puzzle piece allows us to hold onto our sense of self. Unlike dating like playdough, we don’t discard or change for someone else in hopes that they will like us. Dating with the perspective of finding someone complementary can help dating become an enjoyable and less stressful experience. The pressure to convince someone to like us is now alleviated. We understand that they either fit, or they don’t.

When it comes to finding someone through dating, convincing others that we are worthy of being cherished and accepted should not be part of the equation. Dating is about seeking other people, getting to know them to see if there is some form of a connection, and having fun while doing it. We meet many different people while dating. Some who are fascinated by us and others who are not.

This is the reality of dating. Not everyone will be interested in us, and the reasons for this is most likely out of our control. This is why attempting to mold ourselves to fit someone’s preferences in order to be accepted, like the playdough, is not the best strategy for dating. Even if it does work to gain their acceptance, it will be based on a false representation of yourself. And, it’s exhausting trying to be someone you’re not.

Instead of expelling energy into someone who may not accept the true version of us, let’s shift the perspective. Adopt the perspective of finding someone who fits seamlessly with us, like a puzzle piece. Take that same energy to explore our surroundings and discover those who will accept us and all we can bring into a relationship.

For some, adopting a puzzle piece dating mindset can be a bit of a struggle. Dating like a puzzle piece essentially means accepting and being proud of yourself. It also means knowing what you want in a relationship and the qualities that complement you. If you are having difficulty with this type of self-discovery, you are not alone. I work with many clients facing obstacles within their dating journey.



If you are interested in requesting an appointment with Akilah, submit this form or call our Client Care team (215-382-6680 ext. 1) today.