Why are you…?

couple

There are many very very bad reasons for being in a relationshop with someone. Reasons not at all based on love and connection. 

Reasons like:

  • I don’t know who I am without him
  • It’s okay most of the time
  • What if I never find someone better
  • I’m terrified of being alone
  • Who else would want to be with me?
  • This isn’t great but a breakup would mean I’d have to move and…ugh I can’t even
  • You know what you have but not what you get and dating again seems like so much work…

However, no one ever gets asked the question “why are you in a relationship?”.

People just assume that if you have a partner you’re all set and everything is good.

Single people on the other hand can get all kinds of questions about why they’re single, as if that by definition is a problem to be fixed.

Obviously things aren’t this black and white.

There are good and bad reasons to be in a relationship, and there are good and bad reasons to be single. Not all single people are unhappy and far from all relationships are good.

But if you’re struggling with finding someone, it’s very easy to assume that a partner would solve all of your problems, or that everyone who’s in a relationship is happy. This is not the case at all.

I would actually like to go so far as to say that the very fact that you are struggling will transform into a strength, if you let it. The things you need to learn, and the work you need to do with yourself in order to find someone will also be huge benefits for you when you are in a relationship. You will have had to think about and learn very useful things that most people don’t know, do or bring into their relationships.

I for one, would never ever ever have done all the research I have on dating, flirting and attraction had it not been absolutely neccessary. The only reason I know so much about it that I can work and help others with it is that once upon a time I know absolutely nothing. If I had had an “okay” love life or an “okay” relationship, none of this would have happened.

My biggest struggle became my biggest strenght, and today “okay” is not even interesting to me. I only accept amazing soul-shaking love. That is what you deserve too.

And I think the lower you’ve been, the higher you’re able to bounce up.

It doesn’t have to be perfect.

When we’re dating, I know we always try to make things go the very best that they can. Especially when we really start to like someone, it’s easy to get really invested in what happens next and try to make sure it all works out well.

The backside of this is that we tend to blame ourselves a lot for things that we do that we might regret when we see the results. Maybe the message you sent didn’t get the fast response you hoped for, or maybe something you did worked out differently than you thought it would.

In those cases it’s sooo easy to start beating yourself up and regretting you ever did anything at all.
But please don’t.

Dating isn’t a straight highway to just one destination. It’s more like downhill skiing; you twist and turn in different directions all the time, hoping that you’ll stay on your feet all the way down.

You adapt, learn and adjust all the time. In skiing and in dating.

The more you do it the better you will become, but sometimes you might fall on your ass. It’s ok. It’s part of the process. Get up and try again. Maybe you need to rest a little first, then get up and try again.

You will be okay.

Stop dating boring people!

One thing that keeps fascinating me is that so many of the amazing people that I coach keep dating persons they find boring or under stimulating. They don’t want to lose out from having too high standards or not give people a chance, so they go on dates with people they’re not really interested in.

Afterwards they feel shallow for rejecting people without a valid reason. However, they do have a valid reason; they found the person boring or under stimulating, but they fail to admit that to themselves. It feels way to mean do dismiss someone like that, so often times they blame it on something more concrete, and then blame themselves for being shallow.

But you are not shallow. Not at all, rather the opposite. You want a deep heartfelt connection, and you crave it so much that you are willing to give almost anyone a chance. That is beautiful and admirable, but not very effective. It is ok that you are not into everyone. It is okay that a lot of people make you feel bored. You are not obliged to like everyone, and it is not mandatory for them to like you.

boring-date But you must, however, stop dating boring people! You need to learn from your experiences, and you don’t need to make this mistake again.

What I find interesting is that when I ask my clients if they knew before the date that the person wasn’t gonna be all that interesting to them, almost everyone says yes. So I say it again: you need to stop dating people that feel boring to you. There is nothing wrong with them, and there is nothing wrong with you, but you are not a good match.

When you do this, two things are bound to happen:
1. You will go on fewer dates. Probably better dates, but fewer. This is a good thing and a sign that your selective skills have improved.

2. You will feel way more challenged. If you date someone you actually like and respect and want to be with, the stakes will feel much much higher and you’ll probably me more nervous, self aware and maybe even afraid. This is also a good thing, since it is the opposite of being bored, and you need to get used to being here. It will get easier with time.

It’s ok to be you.

Many of our love life patterns begin in early childhood. Our parents teach us by example what we need to do to get (their) love. This incorporates very strongly into our image of ourselves and the world. Unless we break free from it, it will likely remain for the rest of our lives.

I talk to many clients, especially women, who have been cut off by their parents in different ways. “Why do you have to be so expressive/loud/talkative/emotional/creative/energetic/whatever? Please calm down.”

The underlying message is “why do you have to be so much YOU?”

Shaming someone for being who they are is no small thing. Especially not when it’s done to a child. Children will do anything for love and connection because they are literally unsafe if rejected by their parents, and this pattern (unless broken) remains.

If you needed to tone yourself down during the first part of your life to feel loved, safe or accepted, chances are you’ll keep doing it in your love life when you grow up. The problem is that now the situation is very different, and now it won’t work.

It is very hard to enjoy the company of someone who is making themselves small: there is simply no one there to connect with.

If you are not fully there, no one can fully get to know you and fully love all of you. Ironically, this will confirm your old and incorrect belief that you are flawed and need to change in order for people to want to be with you.

But let’s explore the opposite. What would happen if you, instead of shrinking down and hiding, started to show up?

Maybe not 100% all the time, everywhere and with everyone right away, but little by little started to show more and more of who you really are. What would happen then? If you wore that dress you really love but your inner critic thinks is “too much”, or if you shared your opinion just one time more than usual every day, or took that salsa class that you’ve been dreaming of but didn’t think you had the courage to take.

What would happen if you started to take small steps towards being more of you? What if your parents were wrong?

What if it is actually not only ok but wonderful, amazing and beautiful to be as expressive/loud/talkative/emotional/creative/energetic/whatever as you are? 

What if I told you that that is your biggest strength. What if I told you it is what your dates, lovers and partners will appreciate the very most about you, if they only get the chance to see it.

What would happen then?

Let me give you a spoiler: It is ok to be you. Start now. 

påfågel

Keep it open

What keeps us hidden, closed and excluded from opportunities in our love lives is usually fear. We don’t want to get hurt, it’s as simple as that. And even less dramatic than hurt, we don’t even want to feel embarrassed, anxious or nervous.

So we start to avoid persons, behaviors and situations that include even a small risk of that. Which, unfortunately, means that we also avoid the things that could lead to where we want to go. Because they co-exist in the same space.

You cannot choose “positive outcomes only”. Life does not work like that. You cannot just decide to learn how to ride a bike and refuse to fall a few times. You will fall, and then you will learn – and fall a lot less. It will be worth it, but you must say yes to the whole experience.

It is the very same thing in social situation. When you face your fears and start doing new things that you don’t yet feel comfortable with (more eye contact, going on dates, being vulnerable etc) you will feel a lot of things. Some of them will be unpleasant.

There is nothing wrong with that, it is just how life works when we try new things. Sometimes things in your life will be uncomfortable for a while. This is why it’s so important that you make a conscious decision to be ok with that. Because if you don’t you’ll pay a way to high price for something that will be even more painful.

I speak from experience when I say this. For a long time I rejected situations, people and maybe even life itself, because I did not want to feel certain things. I ended up being very alone with nothing but my fears and mindfucks for company. And that is when a realized that there is nothing out there that could be even close to as painful as locking myself up with my fears. Not even close.

So I decided to say yes. Even to the uncomfortable parts and decide that they are worth it. They are the “tax” I pay for getting to show up for all the wonderful parts. Sometimes I will feel rejected, shameful or stupid. It happens. It’s okay. I can say yes to that too.

Being openhearted, vulnerable and real is scary. For everyone. But the only thing that’s worse is closing yourself down.

So at least consider making a conscious decision to stay open. And say yes to all that comes with it.

keep it open

Do you notice your progress?

Whenever I coach someone I am always amazed of their progress. They grow as persons, develop huge amounts of courage, hope and grit, adjust their self image and expand their horizons. It always impresses me.

But it’s not as common that it impresses them. Most of the time, they don’t even notice their growth an progress.

I often have to remind my clients that they just weeks prior were terrified of even looking at someone they liked and now without hesitation can carry on a full conversation with them. Or that things that were scary to even thing about when we started now seems like nothing.

Of course it’s part of my job to point out these steps and remind my clients of their growth, and it is an important part. Because it can actually be a pretty big disadvantage to not notice your successes. If you make an effort and create a result, but never look back to see how far you’ve come, you might feel like you’re not moving. But you are. But can you see it?
progress

One tricky thing is that we are extremely aware of things that feel bad. If your knee hurts you will think about it all the time that it hurts. But when the pain stops you will not be constantly thinking about not having a bad knee, right? It might be only when someone asks you about it that you remember: “right, I used to have a bad knee!”

This is kind of the same thing. Of course you shouldn’t spend your days thinking about lost pains and aches, but every now and then, it might be a good idea to think about some of the problems you don’t have anymore – to remind yourself of how far you’ve come.

Because you have. And you should give yourself some credit for that.

Advice from friends – is it valid?

Most of my clients talk to their friends about their dating lives, and usually their friends want to help, so they give their advice. I hear a lot of “my friend said” from my clients when I coach, and usually I ask them a little bit about said friends love life, and if that is something that feels inspiring or relatable to my client. Usually it is not.

So what I hear, if I exaggerate a little bit, are things like:

“My friend who only dates bad guys who don’t treat her well told me…”

“My friend who’s been with his partner for 10 years said…”

“My friend who’s never had a dating problem in her life said that…”

No matter how much you love these friends, is it wise to take their advice? Can they help you?

The friend who only dates bad guys is obviously an expert in how to get treated badly, is that something that you want to learn? The friend who hasn’t dated in 10 years, how relevant is his advice? And the friend who’s always dating with ease, can she even understand and appreciate your situation? Or is it like giving expert advice to a beginner? If you’re struggling with walking, advanced running techniques are probably not what you need.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk or listen to your friends, I’m just making you aware of the fact that you may have very different points of view, and you need to take that into account.

Having an opinion is very easy, but giving helpful advice is something completely different.

Are you afraid of missing out?

reachI coach and talk to a lot of people who try to keep their options open. At least that is what they tell me.

They can say that online dating is probably a good way to meet new people so they keep doing it – even when it seems to not give them anything close to what they want or even feel like they want to be there. But what if the love of their life were to suddenly appear there? You wouldn’t want to miss that, would you? Of course not.

The problem is that, in this case, the decision to do online dating is based on a logical “should”, and the fear of missing something, rather than getting an actual enjoyment out of dating in that way. And sure, theoretically you could miss out on someone interesting if you left, but your chances of meeting and connecting with someone are so much bigger if you meet new people in a way that feel comfortable and in a place that you actually want to be. If that’s online – go for it! If it’s in clubs and bars – go there and meed new people. If it’s in your choir, at the gym or a cooking class, that’s where you want to be.

You are so much more attractive and approachable when you feel relaxed and happy and are where you are because you want to be there, not because of a fear of missing out!

One thing that people who think like this have in common is usually a sharp mind. Their minds convince them that it’s a “good idea” to keep all doors open – even the doors they don’t like. The interesting thing is that when I ask them about how they feel about their options, more often than not, they have a very strong intuitive clarity around what they want and don’t want – they just don’t follow it!

I can’t tell you how often I am in coaching sessions with amazing people who tell me with astonishing clarity exactly what it is that they want/like and not, but since they tend to listen to their minds more than their intuition they feel confused.

If this resonates with you, please give yourself permission to try “the other way”. Don’t do “the smart thing” if it doesn’t also feel good. If you don’t like bars, or strangers or online dating, don’t go out, don’t go on blind dates and remove your online dating profile (at least for a while just to compare). Instead, go to places that intrigue and amaze you, meet your friends friends casually instead of on blind dates, and flirt more in your everyday life – and see what happens!

Follow your curiosity and joy! Because if you don’t, that’s when you’ll really miss out.

There is nothing more healing than a new experience

Knowledge is an amazing thing.

So are flashes of insight.

New realizations as well.

But they are all mental concepts. Understanding something is not the same thing as really truly knowing it. And it is most certainly not the same thing as feeling it.

Knowing that you should love yourself is something completely different from actually feeling love for yourself. And even though the coaching that I do is more theoretical than practical, the real magic happens between sessions when my clients go out into the real world and actually experience the things that we have been talking about.

Because there is not much in this world that will convince of things more strongly than your own experiences. It is how we learn and make sense of the world. If something keeps happening we start to believe that is the truth of how things work – even if that’s not necessarily true.

If people in your past (parents, friends, lovers, crushes, exes) have punished you for being emotional, not respected your boundaries or disrespected your opinions, it is reasonable that this is what you will expect from new people as well – even though the bad behavior from your past says nothing about the future.

And what I’ve found is that new experiences can heal us. We can talk all we want about our issues and how to fix them, but actually experiencing what we long for – be it respect, someone’s full presence and attention, words of kindness or something else – will change and heal us in irrefutable ways.

We cannot argue with our experiences in the same way that we can argue with our thoughts or ideas.

Usually it feels really scary to challenge the patterns of old bad experiences, and my suggestion is to do it in very very small steps that feel challenging but not super scary. If your fear is around saying no, don’t start with your boss or a parent, start by saying “no thanks” when asked if you want a receipt when you go shopping.

If your fear is around meeting new people, maybe don’t walk up to the hottest stranger in the room to strike up a conversation, start by just looking people in general in the eyes for a second or two.

The beautiful thing about this is that every time you take one of these small steps your old pattern will break and the positive feedback you get from your new experiences will encourage you to try more new things. Eventually your entire world will change for the better.