Here’s a question I often hear from my coaching clients who are single and dating:
“Why do the same terrible / gold-digger / loser / jerk / unavailable / cheap / broke / overbearing / too young / too old / too quiet / too loud men/women keep showing up on the other side of the table from me?”
I find one way to answer this question is to draw upon my own dating experience. I had the same problem, and it took me a while to figure it out. Yes, each date was a different man. But each man had the same yucky traits. It seemed magical. How could my dates end up so similar?
Then I realized – I had been focusing exclusively on the other side of the table – on the man across from me. How about the second person at the table – me? Did I play a part in this? A startling thought! How could this be possible? I was a perfectly nice person. And I’d been clear about what I wanted from a date.
I asked myself, “What about me is attractive to them?” I thought this was pretty easy to answer. I was interesting, attractive, funny, financially stable, and had a great job.
So, then I asked myself, “What about them was attractive (enough) for me to go out with them?” Not as easy to answer. Perhaps it was because he was the only one to ask me out? Maybe I thought he was good looking? Or did I think that because I was so terrific, he would turn into a different person?
Looking a little deeper, I discovered these men had traits in common that I really didn’t like, such as:
- Unavailable – didn’t want to make a commitment.
- Overbearing – wasn’t interested in my opinion.
- Broke – even if they made a good living, they didn’t have any savings or retirement.
This led to the realization that these men might be mirror reflections of things I didn’t know about myself, things that needed closer examination such as:
- If they were unavailable, perhaps I needed to examine whether I was truly ready for a committed relationship?
- If they were overbearing, maybe I was insecure about my own boundaries?
- If they were broke, I might have needed to look at how worthy I was feeling?
These questions led me to discover I had beliefs about myself that were opening the door for the “wrong men” to come into my life. Once I named the beliefs, I felt empowered to start changing them. As changes started happening, I was amazed to find that more of the “right men” were coming into my life.
So, you might be saying, “How can I identify a belief I don’t even know I have?” You can start by paying attention to your life in general. Look for analogies in everyday activities.
I found a few nuggets of my own by doing this. One in particular provided a powerful metaphor for me. I had started a new job and, three months into it, developed an annoying, chronic backache. This surprised me because I was in great shape at the time.
Then one day, while closing my desk drawer, I was stopped by something that blocked it from shutting. So, instead of doing three things at once (my normal way), I actually had to stop and pay attention to deliberately unblocking the drawer. During this process, I felt a twinge in the same sore part of my back.
Now that this was getting my undivided attention, I realized the problem. Two heavy books in the drawer were requiring me to lift the drawer slightly each time I shut it. And just like that, I had discovered the source of my back pain! You could’ve lit up the entire office with the light bulb that went off in my head. I took the books out of the drawer and soon after that, my back pain disappeared.
This was an important lesson for me. By stopping and paying attention to what I was doing and how I was doing it, I was able to discover what wasn’t working for me and then come up with a solution to change it.
So, this is the analogy I applied to all those men who weren’t right for me but kept showing up on the other side of the table. I stopped to think about what part could be my responsibility (lifting the drawer each time) and realized I could make it different (taking out the books).
I started working on removing my personal blocks and tweaking my profile, and things started to change. The men showing up on the other side of the table were different – different in all the right ways. They started having the traits I wanted. The first time this happened, I found it hard to believe such immediate results could happen just because I had discovered and removed a block. As I continued growing and changing, more men with the right traits kept showing up. It was empowering to learn that dating success was within my personal control.
What I continue to discover for myself and my coaching clients is how normal it is to be unaware of repeatedly doing and believing things that are not in our best interests. The trick is to recognize the behavior/pattern and choose to consciously make a change. Do you can understand how this would definitely put you in the driver’s seat of your dating experiences? If not, think about it again!
What’s happening in your dating life? Are you happy with the person sitting across the table from you? Post a comment and let me know.
Check in with Christine at her web site, The Perfect Catch!