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Honestly, we all hear it all the time. Women are clingy, dependent, insecure, controlling, blah blah blah shut up shut up shut up.
While I absolutely despise any stereotype out there about any female EVER – I have to say that I think I am beginning to understand why this whole “desperation” might have a little bit of truth to it.
But before you slam your laptop shut or angrily ‘x’ out of the page – I do not think women are desperate.
I do not think we as a gender are inferior to men and I do not think that we need to change who we are fundamentally. But I do think that some of us need to start accepting more responsibility towards our habits with dating, because it will lead to less of those icky feelings.
Feeling desperate while dating is absolutely painful. We turn into online stalkers. We are glued to our phone, waiting for some sort of clue that we’re still wanted. We become unhinged if we are given the slightest rejection. It’s honestly unnerving and it turns us into people we never thought we’d be.
So why on earth does this happen to us, when in our everyday lives, we are completely confident?
Welp. I’ve got some ideas and some hopeful solutions to help curb that desperate juju that seeps in during those first few weeks of dating.
So usually it starts out like this…
You have a great first date – like, really great. In fact, so great, that you start thinking there could be an endless amount of dates in your future. I mean, on paper he’s fantastic, you guys talked for a really long time, he even ordered dessert (GAME CHANGER) and he likes dogs. What else do you want in life, really?
Date two comes around, and things are pretty good. He says a few comments about his mom you don’t love, and he tells you that he can’t hang on Sunday at all because that’s football day. But he squeezes you in on Thurs because he has plans this weekend. You two watch a movie – one that he picked out – but you snuggle on the couch and it feels so natural. You start envisioning the two of you taking vacations together and actually coupling down for awhile. But you know, you don’t say that, because that’s intense.
You notice in between Date #2 and Date #3 that the texting fizzles a bit. He’s not great at communicating, and he’s not making great plans, either. But he still keeps you in the loop. You guys finally meet up for Date #3 – it’s a joint hang. You meet some of his friends, but he doesn’t really pay much attention to you. But you figure, whatever, he’s excited enough to show you off! You end up leaving later that night, and he texts you the next day.
But then, you just start to feel crazy.
You decide he’s not texting enough. He’s not planning far enough ahead. Do you make plans for Friday or do you wait to see if he’s available? Do you text him first? Do you ask him if he needs space because he’s not being very engaging? You know that he’s really busy and that his fantasy league is super important to him, but what the hell is going on? Is he just not into you anymore????
:::end of scenario:::
So. Here’s the deal. While all of us get that terrible pit-in-the-stomach feeling that is imbued with panic, we fail to realize one simple thing.
You’re not into HIM anymore.
You don’t like that he’s not a good communicator. You don’t like that he’s super into football (besides, you’re a baseball girl.) You don’t like that he doesn’t plan ahead. You don’t like that he clearly has some weird relationship with his mother. And you definitely don’t like that there has been a clear shift in personality and enthusiasm between Date #1 and Date #3.
So, yeah. You don’t like him.
But the vast majority of us do not take this responsibility. We instead hot potato it on over to him – deciding that HE isn’t into US and THAT is why he’s not being super engaging. But honestly, a tiger does not change their stripes even when they fall in love.
People are who they are. And while Hollywood has convinced us otherwise, that’s a good thing. You don’t want some guy to drastically change their personality for the first year of your relationship. If planning ahead isn’t their thing, you don’t want to find that out 11 months later. You want to know ASAP. But instead of looking at his lack of organization as a character trait, you’re looking at it as a sign that you are not worthy.
Why would you do that to yourself?
We have to start taking accountability for our feelings. Reframe it. If someone isn’t treating us or acting the way we’d like to be treated, then that’s something WE do not like about THEM. How on earth does that mean that we aren’t worthy?
Why does having higher standards lead us to believe that people don’t like us?
Well, it doesn’t. It just means that instead of wasting anymore time trying to change somebody, we need to spend time finding somebody who is already a good match for us – just the way they are.
So be grateful that you are realizing you don’t like him nearly as much as you think you do. Instead of vying for his attention, release him back into the world. The anxiety will subside, the panic will diminish, and you’ll go back to being normal, confident, you.
So notice how on Date #1, the guy seemed absolutely perfect?
That’s probably because you don’t know him that well. So you are most likely filling in blanks that have not been answered yet with the ideal scenarios. I mean come on, due to his wardrobe, food choices, funny jokes, and lifestyle – he’s obviously perfect for you. Sure, he’s never mentioned his love for street tacos, the mountains, or movie nights – but assuming from the other things you have in common, that can’t be too big of a leap, right?
Do not put guys on pedestals where they do not belong.
The second we carefully place them high up above, we start idolizing them in ways are very hard to un-do. All of a sudden they become the man of your dreams – the guy who if he would only pay a little more attention would realize that you two are perfect for each other. And when, not if, you see *any* signs of behavior from him that contradicts your romantic perfectly sculpted vision, there’s only one solution in your mind: change yourself to fit the mold.
We start jumping as high as we possibly can to meet the hero on the pedestal whom we mistakenly placed there. We forget our core. We depart from our natural selves to fit into this fairy tale we’ve managed to construct over the course of a few dates. And we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
But honestly, the most alarming part of this entire scenario is that when you finally come face to face with reality – no, he’s not the person you determined he would be – the pedestal comes crashing down. Shattering into thousands of sharp, piercing pieces.
Everything you thought you knew is gone. Your romantic future – gone. Your date to next month’s wedding – gone. The happiness you were holding onto so desperately – gone. He was sitting up so high, that the impact left major repercussions throughout your life. And it could have totally been avoidable.
Do not set yourself up for failure by idolizing people who haven’t earned it.
Give yourself time to vet and question others before you deem them worthy. Hold them lower to the ground, so if things fall apart, the impact is moderate – at best. He won’t shatter your world. Life goes on and you continue to be you.
Full disclosure, I think I’ve used this reference before, but whatever.
Remember the movie Under the Tuscan Sun? I feel like any female who’s had a bad breakup (or at least a bad date) has watched this movie at some point, right? I mean Diane Lane is like the poster child for female reinvention films. Ok – MAYBE that’s just me.
Anyway, there’s this one scene in the film where vibrant and flamboyant Lindsay Duncan is talking to Miz Lane about not forcing love in her life. So she gives this adorable metaphor:
Listen, when I was a little girl I used to spend hours looking for ladybugs. Finally, I’d just give up and fall asleep in the grass. When I woke up, they were crawling all over me.
If you approach dating as a means to an end, you’re going to get screwed over.
You’re forcing it. Let go.
Instead, try to view dating as a hobby. Or, an activity. Honestly just view it as anything other than your never-ending search for a happy ever after.
I’ve been thinking about the concept of something being autotelic a lot lately, and I think this holds true for dating as well.
If dating is autotelic, then that means you are enjoying dating just for the sake of dating. You have a fun time chatting it up with someone who is new and different in your life. You let yourself have a good time trying new restaurants and coffee shops in different neighborhoods. You engage in stimulating conversation and try to empathize with a stranger’s story.
The process of dating is just an enjoyable practice to you – not a means to an end.
I know this can be tough. I’m the first to admit that dating can be awful. But that’s usually because we see dating as a chore we have to complete in order to get to the big pay off – a real, working relationship. Same if we engage in exercise only to lose weight.
But if we actually enjoy running (THIS IS NOT ME BTW), then any weight loss is just an added benefit.
Try to find pleasure in dating. Make it an autotelic activity. Don’t worry about if it’s going to go anywhere or if you are going to get something out of your teeny tiny time investment. Just enjoy it for what it is.
BONUS: if you view dating as autotelic, then you will most likely only go on dates with people whom you genuinely would like to spend time with. You’re cutting out the desperation right off the bat. Boom.
Well, you don’t deserve it, that’s for sure. Feeling desperate is so not your jam, and we are here to lighten your load. Work with a Blush coach to improve your self-confidence, let go of your dating anxiety, and find people who bring out the best in you. We know it’s a jungle out there, and we have your back. Can’t wait to work through it together!
Also published on Medium.