Dear Dignity Dater,
Wow, I’m humbled by all the kind words you’ve been sending in response to my emails over the past few days. Just like you, being vulnerable (especially on the Internet) is a risk.
I’ve been sharing some of the deeper pieces of my personal story to share the mistakes I made and the steps I took (even though I felt like my entire identity was being shaken to the core).
Hopefully, my stories help inspire you to see why you may be stuck in your journey to find love.
If you’ve been reading these long-ass emails, I bless you. If you haven’t, and you want to catch up, you can do it here.
In the meantime, I promised to tell you what happened after “Mr. Quality Casual” outed me as “emotionally unavailable”—in short, telling me I was nothing other than a 100 percent Grade A “Miss Quality Casual” myself.
Wait… I’m unavailable??
I gotta tell you, I was pissed.
I had been doing a TON of freakin’ work on myself. I thought that once I’d released the “I’m not good enough” way of thinking and being, then dating and finding a loving relationship was going to be easy.
But not so. Not so at all…
I know you may relate. I mean, come on, if you’re in my community, this isn’t your first personal development rodeo. You’ve probably handled much of the “childhood wounding.” Maybe you’re even happy (like I was).
After all, if you’re like I was, there’s a certain ease to being single. You have your routine. You do things your way. You work. You have friends. You’re a great auntie or even grandmother, perhaps.
Life doesn’t necessarily SUCK. Let’s be honest. You get to be selfish (even if you have kids or parents; you do it on your terms).
You hardly ever have to compromise and can watch Netflix whenever you want in your fat pants. You can sit around with your single friends and blame the town you live in for single-ness and revel in the fact that dating is hard. And that being single sucks. But when push comes to shove, the truth is, in some ways you kind of like life in your fat pants.
When it came down to it, most of the time I preferred a late night sweat at yoga, a long hot shower, and then my bed to eat cereal, watch chick TV, or read the next work of literary genius for book club.
Why? Because it was easy. Comfortable.
We do this because we don’t have to venture out of our comfort zone. We don’t have to experience disappointment or rejection. We convince ourselves we don’t care. We try to accept that maybe we’re the girls who were meant to “rock being single.” And in the end, we feel safe that we don’t have to show anyone who we are on the inside. As for being vulnerable, well, that fits into the category of “hell no.”
Here’s why when Mr. Quality Casual called me out, it hit me hard.
Check out this excerpt from an essay I wrote seven years ago at the age of 42.
Had my state-of-the-art security system I had built around my heart become so secure it had left me unable to let in any possibilities—even the possibility of love? Had I removed all possibility from my incoming possibilities because it was simply easier to put each man I dated, slept with, or even looked at in some sort of predetermined category, neatly sorted, grouped, and stored in my mind? “Too young.” “Probably wants kids.” “No chemistry.” “Too busy.” “Too old.” “Too focused on work.” Or how about something as simple as, “Doesn’t text back immediately?!”
And, in this perfect psycho-arrangement, it enabled me to put the wrong-ness right back on them: the “hims.” Yet while I claimed I was ready for love, I had kept men at three arm’s lengths away, safely putting the blame on the “hims” for not wanting more.
And so I bitched. Whined. Complained, stating that there was a critical lack of possibilities living in the greater Los Angeles area. They sucked, not me. But then damn Mr. Quality Casual called me out and the gig was up. I had been busted. And while it would have been less painful to keep categorizing and perfecting my version of the “Heisman” (as in Heisman Trophy, the statue of the football guy strong-arming his opponent), I knew that my heart wasn’t really digging life in Fort Knox. My heart was big, loving, filled with mojo, and reaching desperately for light. For love. Thus, I realized it was time to MacGyver a new plan: a plan to bust her out! A plan to experience each possibility for the magic of what it could bring. It was time to let go of expectation, leave yesterday’s yuck in yesterday, and live each moment exactly in the moment. But how?
How can a woman who has had her heart shattered (And who hasn’t?) be truly free from letting the memories of yesterday’s pain impact her possibilities? After nearly half a lifetime of living one way, can I really expect to free my heart? Sure, I’ve chipped away at it. Therapy. Girl talk. Hell, even Cosmo. And, of course, time. But my heart, my HUGE heart, wanted true freedom. My heart wanted more than dinners and booty calls. My heart wanted to be held. Touched. My heart wanted to give not to get, but just to give. My heart wanted to love.
And as I pondered, analyzed, and therapized, I got an inkling that perhaps this Fort Knox approach to keeping my heart safe was all wrong. Dan had noticed. Perhaps Alex had noticed. Maybe Justin, Patrick, and Michael had noticed too? Perhaps, in fact, I had moderated my feelings so well, so fearful of the little spark possibility births when born into the center of my chest, that I had prevented the possibility of real love from coming into my life. Maybe, I considered, I should allow it, letting possibility unleash its ball of fiery white energy into my gut. Maybe I needed a jackhammer to tear down the walls protecting my Gran Torino heart?
Barrier to Love #3
Which leads me to one of the most impactful pieces of the “Why am I still single?” puzzle.
We are terrified of being hurt again.
It’s that simple.
I don’t need to belabor the point.
When we’re so afraid of being hurt that we erect walls around our heart that are impenetrable, it’s impossible to experience true, intimate love.
And what truly breaks my heart (and frustrates the CRAP out of me) is this…
Just like I did, you’re doing this in ways that look 100 percent legit—to others and to yourself.
It’s time to stop kidding yourself.
You have to realize that the one common denominator in all your relationships and dating experiences is YOU.
If you keep attracting unavailable men, maybe the one that’s really unavailable… is you.
So then, if you’re brave enough to wake the hell up, what’s next?
Step #3 in the journey to find love
You have to take responsibility for disappearing the walls you strategically built around your heart that keep you safe.
In our Find Love Now, year-long mastermind, we realize, once and for all, that NOW IS THE time to get out of that comfy, cozy, condo of safety. It’s time to take off the fat pants and accept this flippin’ reality…
In order to find love, it will require us to get very, very uncomfortable.
We will have to:
- stop working so much
- make time for dating
- be social in BRAND new ways
- smile at men (even when they’re drop dead gorgeous)
- practice self-compassion in ways that put a real end to the “I’m too fat/too wrinkly/too skinny/too old blah blah blah” self-talk
- risk rejection
- be willing to get disappointed
- feel our feelings
- take an interest in making a good first impression
- 100 percent stop faking that being single is “okay” with you
- give up “magical thinking” that finding love will just “happen” if you try harder without having to change anything about YOU.
- and…acknowledge to ourselves and the world that while we don’t need a man, but yes, dammit, we really WANT ONE.
The truth is this…
Once you know what you’re scared of, we can start to create an action plan to overcome these fears in a way that feels safe.
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