Does it have to be so hard to find love?
Last week I started working with Laurie, a new client, who came to me with a complaint that I hear very often:
“Why is it so hard to find love? I’ve been putting a lot of time and effort into dating and not getting anywhere. Maybe it’s just not going to happen for me.“
Laurie is a smart, attractive woman who enjoys her job and is a nice person. So why hasn’t she found her dream guy after putting herself out there consistently?
Laurie continues, “Are there no good men left? Do I have to move to another city to find a great guy? Do all men have commitment issues?”
Fortunately for Laurie, the answer to all three questions is NO!
“So what’s the problem? What do I do?”
I’m so glad she asked. There’s nothing “wrong” with Laurie her, but her logic and beliefs around dating and love are all out of whack!
For years, Laurie has been justifying dating men (sometimes several at a time) who aren’t quite ready to commit. A few she’s kept around for fun and to avoid loneliness; they have “potential,” and she is waiting for them to change.
She tells herself, “When he gets a job he likes or stops being so busy at work, then things will change.” Or “After he heals from his last relationship or gets tired playing the field he will realize how perfect we are for each other.”
I ask Laurie to consider:
“What if it’s not the fault of the men you are dating? YOU are doing the “picking” of those men, and YOU are choosing to continue dating them.”
While this is confronting and hard for Laurie to hear, understanding her own responsibility for her dating life empowers her make different choices – and actually find her dream guy!
It can be challenging to confront our old habits. It takes time, effort and the willingness to be vulnerable. I understand – because I’ve been there. It took me a long time to figure it out that I was responsible for making the choices that were keeping me stuck and unfulfilled.
When I ask Laurie what she wants from a relationship, she immediately declares, “I want to get married and start a family.”
But when we review the men she’s been spending her precious time with, they were all dismal candidates:
Guy #1: Recently divorced with two children, openly tells her he’s not ready for a serious relationship, but someday he wants to remarry and maybe would have another child if it was the right woman.
Guy #2: He’s fun, hot and the chemistry is great. He’s never married and says he’s looking for the right woman to settle down with and have a family. She hears from him once every week or so. He’s busy with work and other commitments. They go out once a while, have a great time and then – poof, she doesn’t hear from him for days or sometimes weeks.
Guy #3: What I call the “pop-up ex.” They dated last year. It didn’t work out for many reasons. Once in a while she gets bored or lonely (or drinks and dials) and wants some attention. It is fun at the moment, but she’s left feeling sad and a little resentful. Laurie says when she meets the right guy it will stop, but in the meantime thinks it’s better than nothing.
There is nothing “wrong” or “bad” about any of these men. They’re just not looking for a committed relationship with Laurie. While there is nothing wrong with casual dating for fun or revisiting that great chemistry with your ex, you must recognize the peril of taking such actions when it’s not truly aligned with your relationship goals.
There’s a difference between taking time to let a healthy relationship develop and see where it goes – and waiting for a man to change to meet your needs.
You need to make choices about whom and how you date based on what you want right now.
It can be very scary to let go of companionship, even when it isn’t giving us what we want. Many of us ask the question that Laurie asks me: “But why be alone? Why not keep dating Mr. Wrong until Mr. Right shows up?”
Here are two important reasons to cut the cord:
- “Something” is not better than “nothing” in the long term. Your time and space are all booked up with men who don’t want the same thing that you do. There’s no room for real love to enter the picture. You’re wasting her time.
- If you are looking for a committed relationship that leads to a marriage and a family, why date someone who is not looking for that too? It’s like saying you want to lose weight and then eating donuts all day. It’s not going to happen!
Like Laurie, we must all be brave and honest when we’re asking for what we really want.
If your date doesn’t have the same relationship goals, it’s time for you to nicely say “goodbye.”
When I suggest to Laurie that she ask her dates what they want from a relationship, she is aghast, “You mean tell him I’m looking for a partner and a family? What if I scare him off?”
We often get squeamish about asking someone else what they want in a relationship, even if we have no trouble asking about what they want in other areas of our lives! I ask Laurie if she has an issue asking these men about their career goals, interests, or where they see themselves living long term. “Of course not,” she says.
“So why not ask about what he’s looking for in a relationship?”
While I’m not suggesting your start an inquisition on the first date, it doesn’t take months to find out if you have a mutual vision for your romantic future. If your date is balks at the question, then you just saved yourself a lot of time and potential heartache.
Let me ask you…
- If you wanted to travel to Paris would you take a flight to Miami, hoping the plane might change course if you just hang in there?
- Would you accept a new job without even inquiring about the salary?
It’s time to take a look at how you’re doing love and get out of your own way.
Here’s my advice:
- Take responsibility for who you are deciding to date.
- Don’t approach your romantic relationships hoping and wondering! If you don’t know what he wants, ask him! Have an honest conversation.
- Let go of relationships that don’t align with what you want. Don’t buy into the “something is better than nothing” belief!
It’s time for you to take control of your love life. Get out of your own way – and find what you want. The power to make a real change is in your hands.
*If you want to explore what’s been happening (or not happening) in your love life or get tips on how to have these difficult conversations, let’s talk! Special Valentine’s Week offer: book a complimentary 20-minute consultation with me to see how I can help.