Many of us have spent a lot of (painfully lonely) time by ourselves over the past 14 months, and we’ll pretty much take any kind (or just visible) smile and (warm) body at this point -- seriously, any warm body. So, for now, we’ll just settle into our familiar patterns and swipe our way into the most convenient hook-up (yeah, yeah… after we have “the talk”) and hope that it lasts awhile.
With all of the changes that have taken place over the last year or so, it’s understandable that the thought of instigating yet another transition in our life seems akin to intentional self-flogging -- but I believe that with all of the self-reflection that you’ve been doing, this is the best time to maintain your trajectory and put all of this towards something lasting and meaningful.
In my last blog, Lonely female seeking a new husband who will love all of my cats, I introduced the idea of embracing transition, along with a few concepts about getting to know yourself again (after your last relationship and a year in varying degrees of isolation). Who are you now, what you want, and what have you learned about yourself during/following your last relationship and your time alone?
If you can be a little patient, focused, and intentional, you’re going to figure out all of these things and realize, not only, what you want to change -- but also -- who you want to become in order to have the kind of relationship that feeds your soul, keeps you going, inspires you, and really checks all of the boxes. From here on out… there will be no bouncing from one unsatisfying relationship to the next, settling, or just falling into the relationships that are comfortable, convenient, and familiar!
The transition you’ve been going through (whether you chose to or not) is not just a temporary, superficial change, it's real growth. It’s the kind of growth that sticks and goes beyond the bandaid solutions like just learning what to say to temporarily mitigate the type conflict that comes with an unhealthy relationship, doing the deeds that keeps someone around a little longer (even if begrudgingly), and suppressing those things that you’ve been told aren’t so great about you until you find someone to start with anew.
In the past, you’ve proved that you can change a lot of things about yourself; however, those changes were likely mainly external and didn’t change what was happening on the inside. What’s happening on the inside, during this transition, is different because you are doing it for you, you’re deciding to be painfully honest with yourself, open, and committed to working with your attitude -- the part of yourself that might need to adjust so that you can attract and keep more of the things that you like in your life. This doesn’t happen by just changing outside -- that character we’ve decided to play for the audience of the day. If we believed that everything that happened to us and in our relationship was just about the other person (you know, their fault), then we may be a little disillusioned.
Maybe we had unrealistic expectations of our partner or a gaping hole in our life that we were asking the other person to fill. Maybe they just served the purpose of stroking our fragile ego (until we tumbled off the pedestal). Maybe we just needed an audience, but they grew weary of the show…
So, guess who your audience is now!? Guess who is going to fill that hole -- to live up to your expectations -- to manage your ego?? It’s you! And the thing is, as thrilling as I’m sure that sounds, I guarantee that it’s going to be worth it -- especially if you’re going to muster the gumption to be deeply and legitimately confident (you know, that kind of confidence that people just can’t help but to be attracted to).
So now, you may be wondering where that confidence is going to come from... A few pre-date beers? Chanting in the car before your date to just stop yourself from fainting? A quick call to that ex who thought you were perfect and who never got over you?
No, not so much.
Women really want to see a deep-rooted, real, yet humble confidence in their future partner; however, many men miss the mark and tend to focus, instead, on portraying “the nice guy” and “the sensitive guy.” (And this tends to be the one (painfully long) track they take their dates down -- even though that’s not exactly what most women are actually seeking -- even if they think they are.) So, to be crystal clear -- you should, instead, focus your efforts on developing the kind of confidence that women can’t resist (and please don’t take that to mean that you shouldn’t be nice (or better yet, respectful) too!).
So, how are you going to develop this deep-rooted confidence when you’ve just gone through a heartbreak or a string of bad relationships or dates -- and you feel like you’ve endured a lot of damage (where downright terrible, nasty things were said about you)? How can you build the type of confidence that makes the women you’re dating both attracted to you and feeling attractive? That's the key. Women really want guys who are interested in them (not those grappling with their past and their broken or missing-altogether confidence, so much).
In every transition, remember, there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. What you do in the middle is to focus on improving things and learning how to tune into and be more attentive in the ways that will get you the results you want (not in a totally manipulative way though). This is part of what makes for a healthy relationship.
Having the confidence to make someone feel attractive and connected to you is key.
I get it… you haven’t thought about that for a while, because in your past relationship -- you really didn’t have to make that kind of effort.
I am constantly encountering people just wanting to get back into the exact same thing they just got out of -- that comfortable, convenient, familiar (and predictably unforgiving maybe - but predictable) one I referenced earlier. It comes from wanting to create a situation in order to resolve the issues from past similar relationships: the missing closure, the love they believed they “deserved” but never got, or to cause hurt the other person in the way they were hurt. These desires are completely understandable, but they are not healthy -- and they don’t break the vicious cycle.
People around you (coworkers, friends, and family) will even pressure you to try to mimic what you had because that’s the way they know and relate to you. So, to do something different is not necessarily easy -- but it’s certainly healthy and freeing! Can you make room for your new self so that you can walk into your new chapter?
If you’re willing to really take time to adjust your attitude, to understand your motivations, and commit to changing and transitioning on a bigger level, you’ll find the rest really falls into place.
You can start with some of these questions:
What were the parts of your relationship and yourself that didn’t work in the relationship you were in? What parts of you did you lose? What part of the connection really challenged the positive parts of the relationship or really challenged you?
Then, you can move on to the forward-thinking questions:
What can you visualize for yourself now? How are you going to go on your first date? How are you going to adjust to flirting with someone, decide who pays for dinner, when to end the evening, or get intimate with someone new?
Are you ready to make those kinds of decisions and communicate about all of these things -- from minor to potentially life changing?
When you feel you’re ready to dive (or just wade) in, then what will you do? Do you know how/where to meet people to actually have a chance at a healthy relationship (vs. an awesome, warm-body hook-up)? You can start where you left off -- on that familiar dating app or dim bar, perhaps, and adjust based on what works/doesn’t work with your new-and-improved, more-confident self and goals. Starting, however, might mean not jumping on dating apps right away, but instead, just going out and living your life and occasionally perusing the apps. It might mean scheduling a few informal dates per week just to meet some new people and keep practicing feeling comfortable in the situation. It may even mean not actually dating at all for a week or two while you gather more energy, build your confidence, and take care of yourself.
These are the types of things that we talk about in my dating groups. We get down to real and nakedly honest conversations about what’s challenging, overwhelming, irritating, or confusing -- and how to overcome those kinds of things (strategically, tactically, and well… comically). You’ll hear from many different people, with different temperaments and personalities, about how they face and practice new ways of being in a relationship.
But, as I always say, being in a good relationship is first about being in a really good relationship with yourself!