After another stupid example of how I waste my time (e.g. last Friday’s “date“), let me acknowledge that I am in regular struggle with two aspects of myself:
- There is the side that knows, with confidence, who I am and with whom I connect. I was pretty sure that date was going nowhere before I even got to the restaurant. It was as though the eager fellow got me to say yes and then self-sabotaged every step to follow.
- And then there’s the side of me that argues that I need break out of my comfort zone, explore people, places and situations I might not have before and give others a chance.
This struggle, it’s fair to say, is something I’ve been conscious of since college. There was a guy who was so determined to date me that I allowed him to talk me in to it, even though I knew he was not my intellectual equal. It was flattering to have someone work so hard to win me over, I suppose. I must have learned something from the experience…like…hmmm…I don’t know, I guess maybe I learned how great it can feel to break up with someone, how powerful to reclaim the self, when one realizes that their initial impression was correct.
Nearly 20 years on, I suppose I believe I should be beyond all this. I’m stronger in many ways, and I know myself better. Yet divorce has shaken my self-esteem to the ground and broken my heart wide open. And the prevailing advice is that I should keep an open mind and allow myself to receive attention from all kinds of men to hone in on what really feels good to me.
And then I hear tidbits like this: a friend told me a few days ago that I shouldn’t be wasting my time with anyone whose net worth is less than a million dollars. This sort of standard feels a bit arbitrary, but I think there’s an important point behind it. Who do I believe to be my equal, my match? And why am I attracting anything less?
As I pondered all this, I realized I’m not sure how to balance all the conflicting messages that come my way. And, on some level, I must be putting out some energy that’s not quite resolved within myself. So I set myself to the task of identifying my beliefs and misconceptions about men and dating, so that I might begin to release or clear those that no longer serve me.
To give you an example of the type of junk I’ve found in my mind, I can specifically recall a time last year when I was thinking about Max: I was driving a familiar road near my home, on my way to run an errand and I remember thinking what a great, genuine, kind man he is. And then, that back-talk voice in my head (the one I sometimes describe as “rational”) argued, “I wonder what’s wrong with him? No man is that nice!” Luckily, I noticed myself thinking this — that he must have an internet porn addiction or shoot up or beat his stepchildren or some other hideous hidden flaw — because I believed that he simply could not be the kind, thoughtful, gentle, sexy soul he was. So I challenged this notion. There is also inside me a perpetual optimist, someone who believes in the good in all of us. This voice queried, “What if that’s all and he’s just a decent guy? What if he is kind and faithful and committed and flirtatious and sporty — and what if he does have flaws like the rest of us, but he’s not bad at all?”
And so I embarked on a more conscious, programmatic approach to challenging the kind of beliefs that might hinder me in attracting my ideal mate and relationship. Here is some of the “junk” I found I was hanging onto:
- I’ll never find my perfect mate.
- It’s hard to meet men in this city.
- I’m too overweight / frumpy / motherly to be attractive.
- If a man loves me, there must be something wrong with him.
- Attractive men my age want someone skinny, blond and 20 years younger.
- No one wants a woman who already has children.
- No man will fully and completely love the real me.
- I always choose the wrong man.
- I have to be careful about letting anyone see the real me.
- I don’t know how to communicate my needs in a relationship.
- I am fundamentally unlovable (flawed).
- I fail at love.
- My perfect mate is not here.
- I’ve already met my perfect mate and he doesn’t know it or doesn’t want me.
- Quality men are hard to find.
- All the good men are taken or gay.
Some of this garbage has been in my head probably since my first crush in grade school; thus the contradictions. Who even knows where a lot of it comes from, as it’s certainly not all from direct experience. And these old, worn-out beliefs are not serving any positive purpose in my life, so I’m going to challenge them by over-writing them with some new ones:
- The right kind of men find me attractive for all the right reasons.
- I know myself well enough to choose a perfect mate.
- My heart is open to the abundance in the universe.
- I am fully and completely lovable just as I am.
- I am able to share myself fully and authentically in relationships.
- There are many wonderful, attractive, intelligent, kind and thoughtful men looking for a genuine emotional connection right now.
- My perfect mate is seeking me right now.
So now I’m going to commit to being a little more open and willing to take risks. I will put myself out there, meet new men and, in the process, test these new beliefs to see if I can come up with some even better ones!