You want to be in a relationship, but find yourself stuck and can’t seem to figure out why. You assume it’s because it’s just hard to find a partner at your age. Or you think all the good men are taken and there’s no one out there who is good enough or smart enough or whatever enough to be your partner.
There are reasons behind these beliefs, which I call obstacles to love. Becoming aware of these obstacles and why they are a problem is the first step. What to do to overcome them is the next.
Obstacle #1: You don’t believe that your future partner or love relationship actually exist.
The reasons for this obstacle: The partner and relationship you want are not realistic or possible and your criteria are likely too limiting. You may be sabotaging or setting yourself up for failure which is easier than staying in a relationship or even starting one.
What you tell yourself and others: Why should I even try dating? There’s no one out there who is a fit for me or who is worth dating. It’s not going to work anyway, so why bother.
What to do: Even though you think you’re being open-minded about your future partner, you’re likely focusing on “your type.” For example: you think that all the men your age look too old; their political views have to meet yours; he works in business so there’s no way he could be a fit for you; he loves to golf and there’s no way he’d be a fit for you. You’re limiting yourself to these beliefs by thinking a potential partner has to meet 100% of everything you want, otherwise it won’t work. The reality is that no one can be 100% of everything we want or think we want. Refocus on the core of the person and how he supports you, how he makes you feel safe and how he allows you to be you. You aren’t looking for your clone because that’s not realistic and frankly it is likely a repeat of past patterns. Challenge yourself about your beliefs.
Obstacle #2: You believe your relationship and future partner exist, but you doubt that you will actually attract them into your life.
Reasons for the obstacle: Doubt comes from a limiting belief that has become a repetitive thought. You feel you will never be good enough to attract someone. This is caused by the voice in your head otherwise known as your Inner Critic.
What you tell yourself and others: I have to [fill in the blank —e.g., lose ten pounds, get a better job] to attract my ideal partner. I’d like to find a love relationship, but I can’t because I’m [fill in the blank].
What to do: Take some time with your Inner Critic. This is the voice that is fueling this doubt. You needed your Inner Critic as a child, but now as an adult, it doesn’t serve or help you any longer. If you can step away from it and get some distance, you can begin to see it as separate from you. It was just something you created to keep you safe as a child. You’ll realize you can “uncreate” it too. You have the power to dominate the Inner Critic voice. Over time you’ll break down the voice and this doubt falls away.
Obstacle #3: You haven’t let go of past relationships.
Reasons for the obstacle: You haven’t been able to get clear about past relationships or come to terms with all the negative things that happened. You haven’t yet processed and moved beyond them.
What you tell yourself and others: I feel desperate and really need to be in a relationship. I’m frustrated by how long it’s taking to meet someone. Why am I not getting any second dates?
What to do: You won’t be able to move forward if the past is holding you back. Letting go of past relationships, your expectations around them, the pain you experienced in them, and the loss you continue to feel that they didn’t work. All of this needs to be recognized, given attention and processed. Writing is the best tool. The act of writing helps to quantify experiences and see that they can be broken down into manageable parts and pieces. As you begin to work each part and piece, you realize holding on isn’t helping you. You feel stronger for having had these experiences. This applies for all prior relationships that were significant–romantic relationships, caregiver relationships and friendships. All of these relationships impacted you.
Obstacle #4: Even though he meets most of what you’re looking for, you convince yourself he falls short in some area and just isn’t a fit for you. Or you find yourself attracted to hard-to-get or unavailable men.
Reasons for the obstacle: You are reacting out of fear of being hurt. Instead of seeing where the relationship may go, you end or sabotage it. You are putting up a roadblock to being vulnerable and to intimacy because it’s too scary. Pursuing men who are unavailable is easy because you believe ultimately the relationships won’t last.
What you tell yourself and others: He’s just not the right man for me because [fill in the blank – e.g. he’ll end up leaving me anyway, he’ll end up hurting me and blaming me, I’ll get bored and resent him, he’s too busy for me, etc.].
What to do: You are avoiding intimacy and closeness out of fear. This is a defense mechanism that you learned very early to keep you “safe” as a result of childhood emotional neglect. The neglect did not need to be extreme to affect you. The result is that you hide your true self and emotions from others. But you’re not a child any longer and this barrier to love is keeping you alone. It’s important to learn why you are experiencing it and recognize the obvious and less obvious signs of it. You will begin to see your specific patterns. This awareness alone is the first step toward overcoming this fear. Ultimately sharing what you are really feeling and wanting is what leads to intimacy and love.
Keep in mind these are very common obstacles everyone experiences. Becoming aware of these patterns in yourself can bring up intense emotions. It’s important to take baby steps. Seeking help and guidance may be necessary as well. Obstacles can be managed and overcome if you do the work and stop ignoring them.
If you start dating before you clear your obstacles, your date will sense it in the energy you project, how you communicate and how you present yourself. You may come across as fearful, desperate, anxious, distracted and even angry. This is not the kind of energy that will attract your ideal partner. And it may attract partners who you don’t want in your life or who are repeats of previous relationships that have not worked.
DateWise goes into much more depth on each of these obstacles, including why you experience them, and most importantly, methods, tools, exercises and coaching to help you overcome them.