Dating Dilemma: Julia finds herself falling into the same problem pattern in nearly every relationship: Like many women, she has a low body-image and finds it hard to trust the partners that she chooses. And once a partner senses that something is wrong he usually backs off, leaving Julia disappointed. But now she's ready to change her love life! Julia's goal during this Love Lesson is to improve her self-esteem. Then she'll be ready to find (and begin) a healthy new relationship.
Now: Julia is totally committed to the love quest. She spent a good part of her time in the last step on her romantic resume, analyzing the patterns in her four most significant relationships to date. All had a similar dynamic: She was initially hesitant to get involved until won over by the man's seemingly undying passion. (Phrases like, "You're the woman I've been looking for my entire life," were bandied about.) Once she was hooked, each man in turn became remote, uncommunicative and eventually left to chase another woman. Julia admits, "These guys appealed so much to the part of me that needs to be sought after that I didn't look to see what type of people they were beneath the pretty words and ultimately empty gestures." Julia also admits that her role in each relationship was to become the chaser
Writing the resume was very painful, but Julia is trying hard to examine her role in these failed love affairs. "I have to figure out who I was before I can figure out who I want to be. I also have to figure out what a man who is truly available looks like."
I suggest Julia let the resume resonate until she's ready to emotionally move on. Then (after making a copy and sticking it in a drawer), she should burn the resume or rip it to pieces and flush it down the toilet. Out with the old Julia, in with the new.
In the coming weeks, she should write her Romantic Future list. Who is she now? Who does she want to be? Who does she want the man in her life to be? Julia reminds me of something I told her last week, "The key to finding the right special someone is to be the right special someone."
Writing a journal and repeating positive affirmations is helping Julia stay on track and stay positive. Although she hasn't yet worked up the nerve to call her date to ask what went wrong, she did ask a good male friend what it is about her that turns men off. He told Julia she sometimes comes off too intense, too intimidating. She explains, "I'd rather talk about physics than flirt. I tell guys I don't want them to show up with flowers, wine and dine me, and impress me with their power job. I want to start out as friends and pay my way."
I suggest she continue being herself on dates (no need to start batting the eyelashes) but lighten up. Give the guys a chance to show their range of colors, not just admire hers. Be casual but upfront about being attracted to the guy, but mention she needs to take things slow. I tell her about a concept I discuss in my book: the "undate." Instead of a Saturday night dinner, the pair gets together for a Sunday afternoon ice skating and brunch excursion. Let him pay. Treat him when it starts heading toward becoming a relationship.
We agree that part of Julia's homework is not to go on a date. Meeting a new man could distract her from the valuable self-work she's doing. For now, she should call or email any intriguing men she meets (or has recently met), and tell them that she's really interested in speaking to them but is caught up in stuff now, so will contact them when things open up.
Assured that I'm the only person she's scheduling "dates" with for now, we plan our next phone appointment.
Your Homework: Bring this lesson to life by doing the following exercises:
- Continue keeping a journal (on- or offline)
- Begin contemplating your Romantic Future list
- Take a dating break
Did you start a Dating Website? You can continue doing your homework online by adding a new page. Or if you want to create one now, find out how to get started here.