This quote was true for my dating life for quite a long time.
Like banging my head against a brick wall.
Wondering why things never worked out. Wondering where I was going wrong. Wondering why I kept being attracted to men who were unavailable – emotionally, physically or geographically. Wondering why I kept sabotaging relationships with available men who were good for me. Wondering why I’d be head over heels about a man one minute and then repulsed by him the next. Wondering why everybody else seemed to have this relationship thing sorted while I was so often single and alone. Wondering … wondering …
Nobody teaches us how to date or how to be in romantic relationships. We work it out as we go along. Some of us are fortunate enough to have had a good grounding – we’ve seen healthy, loving relationships modeled by our parents or by others around us. And some of us are fortunate to have developed a healthy relationship with ourselves – to be able to know what’s good for us and to have the courage to go for it; to be able to hear our intuition and trust it; to be able to feel that tap on the shoulder that’s telling us this isn’t the right path and to be bold enough to heed it.
That wasn’t the case for me.
For a long time, I had no clue what a healthy relationship looked like and my relationship with myself was virtually non-existent – broken by years of self-harm and low self-esteem. I lived in a fantasy land, holding out for a Mr Perfect who didn’t exist because I was afraid of entering into a relationship with anybody real, scared to love in case love brought loss, as it had when I was young. I dismissed men for simple things like the colour of their socks, where they’d gone to uni or the way they ate their cornflakes and when in relationships, I swung dramatically from a pink cloud to an urge to run for the hills.
This was my story. And I accept it sounds quite extreme, perhaps more extreme, looking back now, than it actually was at the time. All I know is I was scared of commitment and intimacy, but I had no idea I was scared or that my fear was getting in my way. I thought I was ready. I thought I was in a good place. I thought I knew what I needed. I simply thought there were no good men left in the world.
It’s taken years to challenge the unhealthy relationship patterns that kept me out of a committed relationship for so long. It’s taken years to unpick the beliefs about relationships that got lodged in my head when I was very young. It’s taken years to accept and address my fears.
But I’m absolutely delighted I had the courage to go on that journey, to look inside, to open up my several suitcases of baggage and to sort through their contents. I’m delighted because I’m absolutely loving being in my relationship. I love how much we laugh. I love that he’s here when I come home and how happy I feel when he walks through the door. I love that when I see him all the worries and troubles and craziness in my head dissolve into nothing as I realise it’s all OK. I love knowing we have a long future together, God willing, and we’ll grow and change and discover together. How exciting.
You may not need to go on such a long journey as me to find love. You may not need to trek to the bottom of your heart or hike deep into your subconscious. I hope that’s the case. But if you’re still single in your 30s or 40s or 50s and you don’t want to be, I wonder if it would help to explore if there’s anything you might change.
I wonder if it would help to take a more mindful, thoughtful approach to dating and relationships. I wonder if it would help to slow down and hear your intuition. I wonder if it would help to spend time thinking about your values, creating a vision for the partner you’d like to be with and making sure your values and vision match up. I wonder if it would help to take a look at your life and see how much time you’re spending on relationships, fun and self-care, compared with work.
I wonder if it would help to ask yourself what would happen if you keep doing what you’ve always done, or what you might get if you make a change.
If any of this sounds appealing, take a look at a workshop I’m running this evening with coach and therapist Helen Gormley in Poole, Dorset, and consider sharing it with some single friends who might be able to join us: Dating with Soul.
Late notice? I know! It’s taken me a while to get round to this blog, but we’re planning to run many more of these workshops – both for single people and those in relationships – in Dorset and in London, so do stay in touch if this topic might be of interest. You can follow me on Twitter, sign up to this blog or follow my Facebook page.
And if you’d like to hear a little more about our vision for these workshops, take a look at this Facebook Live video I did early yesterday morning: About Dating with Soul.
Why am I running these workshops? Because I’m really passionate about sharing my experience, strength and hope with others. I’m passionate about developing a coaching, speaking and writing business in the area of relationships because I believe I can make a difference and I believe I have a gift for it. Some of the people I’ve coached or who’ve heard me speak agree. Here’s a lovely testimonial I’ll soon be sharing on my website:
For now, though, I’ll thank you for reading and I’ll send you some good vibes for a healthy relationship today – with yourself and with others.