The Single Most Under-Valued, Under-Developed, BUT MOST NECESSARY Dating Skill |
I was editing this week’s #mantramonday video and noticed, “Huh, at least 75% of these videos end with the scenario of kicking Mr. Not-Right to the curb…that’s a lot of rejecting…yeah, a whole lot! Gee, I wonder what that's all about?”
(Yes, I do talk to myself like I'm the host a kids' educational television program.)
Well, these curb-kicking endings point to a dangerously under-developed skill, actually. A necessary, powerful skill that many of us struggle with but no one’s really talking about.
I want to spotlight this under-developed skill because it points to a host of other issues you might not even be aware of. Yikes.
This skill, ever-so eloquently articulated, is:
YOUR ABILITY TO RUN IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF THAT WHICH IS NOT GOOD OR RIGHT FOR YOU.
Seems sort of counter-intuitive, right? Why would you say yes to something you don’t want? Why would you invite something into your life that is truly wrong for you?
Oh em gee! For so many unhappy, unhelpful reasons!
You’d be surprised how easy it is sleepwalk through major decisions like, “Is this really the person I want to be with?” when there are emotional stakes involved.
Because most of us are petrified of being single. We’re sick of being the third wheel. We worry that if we don’t get someone now it means we won’t have anyone in the future. And any less-than-ideal option feels better than no option at all (we think).
Plus we get excited. We get attached. We see what we want to see. We convince ourselves there’s potential; he’ll change, or we’ll change. That glaring red flag isn’t actually a red flag, it’s a tiny non-issue, right?
So we continue ignoring said red flags, and wade ankle-deep, knee-deep, neck-deep into it, and what happens? We get invested!
And once we're invested, it really feels like we can’t turn back. We run away from ourselves and what we know to be true into the arms of, “Sure, yeah, this is working. This is good enough!"
And here’s something to consider: “good enough” is good enough for some people. I know couples married for decades who have built very sustainable lives on “good enough”. I have nothing against that, because I think whatever works for the individual is what matters.
But at this point, I doubt you’re out there searching high and low for the “good enough” guys. You’re probably trying to get into something groovy and meaningful with the right guy, right?
Well, getting out of the habit of saying, “Sure,” when your head and heart are whispering, “Fuck no,” (as early as possible) is a mighty, powerful skill to strengthen.
And as I stated previously, it points to a host of other personal areas that probably need to be tended to and developed. I’m going to expose those weak, flabby, under-developed areas now so you can star workin’ on ‘em. Sound good?
A flimsy ability to recognize and say “no” to the wrong guy(s) points to:
Lack of Self Knowledge
Here’s the thing: if you wanna say no to something, you have to be able to recognize it first. So instead of putting on a pair of first date goggles (old video of mine, but oh. so. relevant.), you have to know what you’re looking for.
Way too many of us enter the dating pool with an embarrassing lack of knowledge as to what we actually want or prefer in a partner. And having that knowledge is one of the clearest ways to ensure you will notice the red flags that rub you the wrong way.
I strongly suggest taking time to ponder and write out 8-10 specific, non-negotiable qualities that need to be present in your ideal partner. (Think less, “Tall and muscular,” think more, “Doesn’t have anger issues” or, “Is very kind”.)
That way, when Mr. Bright-New-Possibility flips his friggin lid over a minor traffic jam, or is rude to a bartender for no reason, a little BING BING BING red buzzer will go off in your brain saying, “Abort mission!”
AND YOU WILL LISTEN TO IT.
No, you don’t have to run screaming from the restaurant at that moment, but make a mental note in jumbo Sharpie: Angry. Rude. Not right for me. Onto the next.
It is very, very easy to white-wash someone’s bad behavior when we haven’t fully examined and owned what we’re honestly looking for. We give strangers every benefit of the doubt when we have no reason to.
“Wow he’s getting really worked up in traffic…maybe he had a bad day at the office?”
“Maybe he just has high standards for service…I shouldn’t judge him so harshly…”
YES, YES YOU SHOULD.
Especially if it’s early in the dating process. Most people attempt to put their best foot forward in those beginning stages. If this is his best foot forward imagine what he’s going to be like in two years when there's legitimately no desire to impress you or convince you he’s a good/worthwhile human being.
Look at yourself, your ideal imagined future, as well as what you’ve mistakenly fallen for in the past. Make a list. Do not forget it.
Fuzzy Personal Boundaries
Saying “yes” when you mean any variation of “no” is the definition of fuzzy personal boundaries.
We fudge boundaries because we worry about someone’s feelings (aka: we think we’re responsible for their feelings), or offending them (aka: if we offend someone then we are wrong/bad/being a jerk).
Or we don’t like having to assert ourselves or know what’s best for us because we hope someone else can just swoop in and know for us (aka: lacking a strong sense of self/identity in favor of someone else’s approval).
We get wishy-washy and weird and lose ourselves in people. We tolerate things in romantic relationships we would never allow in other areas of our lives. We think that getting someone else’s love and approval will fulfill us, but what we’re actually longing for is our own personal identity and improved self-esteem.
Woof, heavy shit. I know.
Having strong personal boundaries means that your sense of self-worth and stability isn’t wrapped up in another person, and you trust that you are both big adult grown ups who can take care of themselves.
You don’t hang out in the headspace of, “What do I have to be/do to make this work?” and then blindly commit to being or doing whatever they want. You are secure, whole, and detached from expectations and controlling outcomes. You know your role, which is to take care of you. Your personal boundaries are strong as fuck.
Everyone struggles with boundaries in one way or another, and there are a variety of ways in which it might manifest. If you’ve ever read up on codependency or attachment theory, then you have a leg up on this topic. Long and short? Start practicing strong personal boundaries now. Keep one ear on the inside and get really honest and clear about what’s good and right for you moment-to-moment, and honor that.
ps. Boundaries is a much bigger issue than I can go into in this singular bullet point, but a brilliant article on the topic is over on Mark Manson’s blog if you’re curious to learn more. I would put it in the MUST-READ category, honestly…
Desperation & Scarcity Mindset
Despite Google estimating that there are 7.125 billion people on planet Earth, many of us feel dead-set on the idea that there is just NO ONE OUT THERE FOR US.
And if you walk around thinking of yourself as the lone female survivor in some real-life version of “The Day After Tomorrow”, praying you’ll stumble across a man (any man!) so you two can repopulate the planet because the future of the human race depends on it, then sure, I can understand why you would feel that way.
But that is grossly inaccurate, is it not?
You are not a sole survivor. This is not a post-apocalyptic repopulation dilemma. There is no good reason you can give me to continue thinking about your love life in this way.
Desperation, scarcity, a “sole survivor” outlook is a choice. It is a painful perspective that is not based in facts. It’s probably based in some mental self-protection mechanism, actually. That way, when you don’t find someone you can keep believing that there really just isn’t anyone, and it’s not your fault, and you’re just a victim of a numbers game.
BUT YOU AIN’T NO VICTIM, SWEETHEART.
Challenge that outlook with everything you have. Make, “The right person is out there waiting for someone just like me,” a mental sticky note. Trust that the odds are not stacked against you, and make leading a fulfilling, rich, sweet sweet life your #1 goal this year. Partner, no partner, you’re committed to your best life ever. No excuses.
Caveat: We need to acknowledge that there is a big difference between looking for love in a major city with a highly diverse population of 2.6 million and looking for love in a small town with a population of 6,000.
If you live in a small town where no one seems to share your values or cares about the things you care about, and you are putting yourself out there but can’t remember the last time you had a connected, thoughtful, meaningful conversation, I am not going to sit here and tell you, “IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD! JUST SHIFT YOUR PERSPECTIVE!” because that might not be true in your case.
So I ask this with complete sincerity: have you considered relocating? Is this the best environment for you to grow and flourish and connect with others more like you? These are good questions to ask if you feel genuinely stunted, downtrodden, and alone in your current surroundings. You have options.
WOW we just covered a lot of ground. Still with me? Solid.
The bottom line is: the less fearful you are of turning down lukewarm, “meh” guys and behavior, the better. And remember this - you could even turn down the exact right guy for you and guess what? If he is truly the exact right guy for you, it’s all gonna work out anyway.
Which is the moral of every story, and should honestly be the end of all of my blog posts hence-forth.
Yes. It’s all gonna work out anyway. Trust, babygirl. Trust.