If you’re a single woman in your late 30s or beyond and have just about every area of your life sorted, except for being able to find the right guy, then it’s time to sort this out. Here’s how I helped Emma turn around her less than inspiring track record in the dating stakes and finally meet Mr Right. These tips are useful for any woman who’s struggling in the dating and relationship space. Because finding the right guy shouldn’t have to be like running the gauntlet, right.
‘Emma’ – Successful, Single And Ready To Change Her Dating Game Plan
Emma* (not her real name) came to see me to help her sort out why she was 39 and still single. Like many of the women I’ve helped, Emma was intelligent, attractive and successful in her career. Every area of her life was sorted, except being able to find a guy who wanted to commit and have a family. According to Emma, there had been a steady trail of guys in her life who just didn’t want to commit. Frustrated and upset over her most recent break up, Emma had reached a point where things had to change. She was fed up with the cycle of dating, breaking up, and being single all over again. Feeling increasingly on the outer socially because just about all her friends were married with kids, Emma felt like a third wheel around the couples she knew who, in her view, felt threatened having an attractive, intelligent, single woman around.
Emma’s self esteem and confidence had hit an all time low. She was finally ready to take a deeper look at what was really going on. Emma’s version of events was a story I’ve heard many times before. On the outside Emma appeared together, confident, and successful. Yet on the inside she felt like Cinderella still waiting to be taken to the ball. In her mind it was as if someone had cast a bad spell on her that was stopping her from having the fairy tale ending she was secretly longing for.
The Real Issues At Play
The reason many women stay single longer than they would like is because they have been focusing on all the external factors, and not on what’s actually going on in their inner life. This makes the problem remain invisible, unsolvable and elusive because it’s seen to be solely ‘out there’. When you view problems in this way, you lose confidence in your ability to do something about it and feel powerless in that area of your life. It then becomes your reality.
Over the years I’ve helped a lot of women sort through relationship problems, including why they can’t seem to find the right guy. Every single time it’s had little to do with there not being enough good men around and all the other stories and scripts they had convinced themselves to be true, like:
“Every guy I date just doesn’t want to commit to me”, “There just aren’t any good single guys left [in Sydney/Melbourne/insert City…], they’re all already taken”, and “He was a lovely guy, BUT there was just no chemistry or fireworks, so I told him I just wanted to be friends.”
Yet when you look more closely at what’s going on, the problem is not ‘out there’ at all.
7 Common Reasons Why Successful Women Can’t Find The Right Guy
1. Faulty internal model for resolving relationship conflicts.
When home is like a battlefield growing up, children often interpret this as it’s not safe to disagree with anyone who means a lot to you, because it will create unbearable conflict and potentially drive them away. For women, this means learning to be the good-girl and ignoring their own needs. They try and avoid conflict by defaulting to passive-aggressive vibing, expecting their partner to be adept at mind reading, which doesn’t get them where they want to go in their intimate relationships. They don’t speak up when they need to, or set clear personal boundaries. Relationships that matter should be able to withstand constructive arguments from time to time. It’s what brings more intimacy and authenticity to the relationship, making it stronger, not weaker.
2. Being labelled the smart girl.
For some women, they were viewed as the ‘smart girl’ and constantly labelled this growing up. Particularly when they grew up around siblings or cousins whom the family decided were more attractive. When this is constantly discussed it sends powerful subliminal messages to the ‘smart girl’ that her best asset is her intelligence, and that maybe she’s just not in the marriage league. That she’s not good enough for that. Everyone in the family buys into these stories. They are powerful and limiting because children subconsciously comply with the roles parents prescribe for them. Young children don’t have the maturity level to critically evaluate what they are being told by their family and why. This leads into my next point.
3. Subconsciously living out a parent’s unfulfilled dreams.
Parents sometimes attempt to shape you into who they think you should become. Often the driven, independent, career oriented women I’ve seen have subconsciously set out to fulfil a parent’s unrealized goals and aspirations. To the extent that this has been their sole driving force and focus until they hit their late 30s and then step back to reassess. They start to find that success on its own can be hollow and an anticlimax if there’s no one to share it with, and when there’s a huge intimacy void happening in their life as a result. Guys that they date often can’t see where they would fit into their lives, because on the outside they come across as highly independent, accomplished and not needing anyone else in their life.
4. Disinterested or emotionally disengaged Dad.
Not having an emotionally engaged and available father or father figure growing up can have big impacts on girls. Particularly if there’s a messy and bitter divorce involved, making things worse. That’s because your father is the first significant male figure in your life. It sets a powerful internal blueprint around men, how they should treat you, and a whole range of other things. Not having a meaningful and emotionally close relationship with your father is one of the biggest reasons why women pick disinterested, emotionally distant, and unavailable men.
5. The parent who was impossible to please.
This is yet another powerful influence on how you learn to do relationships in adult life. Growing up around a parent where regardless of what you said or did, it was never good enough, or enough, has negative impacts on a child’s feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. As frustrating, annoying and hurtful as this is for children growing up, women often keep dating guys of the same ilk. They find themselves mysteriously only attracted to guys who are controlling, self-centred and yes, impossible to please. Which leads into point number 6.
6. Narcissistic parent.
When children are raised by a parent with a blinding inability to see anyone other than themselves, they usually develop finely tuned radars around everyone else’s needs except their own. To survive a self-absorbed narcissistically damaged parent, kids become adept at reading the emotional landscape at home and learn to comply with the parent’s wants and needs. There is no space for their own needs, wants, desires, likes, and dislikes. They numb this all out and don’t even know what they want. This arrests the natural development of a healthy sense of self, self-worth, and self-esteem. When this is the case for women, they can totally flounder in intimate relationships. Because they don’t know what they want. They aim to please, are too agreeable and don’t express their own opinions and preferences. Their relationships eventually flatline and fizzle out because the guy they are dating or living with has no clear sense of who they really are, and what they actually want from them and the relationship.
Points 1 to 6 are not about blaming your parents. Most parents do the best that they can with the level of awareness that they have at that time. It’s about becoming aware of the forces that have shaped you, knowing that you can release the patterns and beliefs that belong to the past. You are free to make different choices based on your OWN beliefs.
7. Hollywood seduction and romance scripts.
As a culture we’re constantly spoon fed unrealistic notions around love and romance. It’s powerfully embedded in our psyches. The Bachelor and Bachelorette TV show formulas are perfect examples of the kinds of emotional highs and cliché scripts we’re told lead to true and lasting love. When actually they’re selling chemical endorphin hits packaged as tantalizing fairy tale romance scripts that are supposed to lead to true and lasting love. So for women who totally buy into this myth, unless a guy makes them feel special, adored and like a princess, they don’t get a second or third date. There’s nothing wrong with romance, flowers and being spoilt on a date, but when this is your main dating criteria and expectation around partner selection, you’re bound to end up disappointed as real life just doesn’t work like a movie script. Let’s be honest here for a moment ladies. Do you really believe the 2 final contenders in the Bachelorette series could genuinely tell Sam Frost that they loved her after such a short period of dating time? Yet this was the whole finale build up and angle of the show. Because the show’s producers know that deep within our collective psyches we are all still wanting the fairy tale ending. It’s these fictitious constructs of adult love that set so many women up to fail and look for love in all the wrong places.
Behind-The-Scenes Of A Breakthrough
Eligible guys had actually turned up several times throughout Emma’s dating life. But because she hadn’t experienced fireworks and was holding onto a Hollywood version of romance, she found them to be boring and not worth dating. They were put in the ‘let’s just be friends’ category. Emma wasn’t used to being around guys who were emotionally available and genuinely interested in her. They didn’t fit with her internal blueprint on men and romance.
The turning point for Emma came when we sorted through her confusion around men and what she wanted in a guy, and shifted the focus to loving herself and her life – exactly as it was. Not expecting a guy to fill the void she had been feeling in her personal life. Things changed significantly when Emma started being the person she was wanting to attract. None of this happened magically overnight. To fix this stuff you need to do the inner work. Which is exactly what Emma did. Not long after her attitude and mindset shift, Emma started dating a different style of guy who has since become her Mr Right.
5 Things You Can Do To Have Your Relationship Breakthrough
If you’re still single and wanting to find the right guy, here’s what you can do to turn things around, starting today:
- Own the choices you’ve made to date. Most women who can’t find the right guy have passed up relationship opportunities because they wanted to travel, pursue their career goals, or just didn’t see the guy who was interested in them as cool enough, sexy enough, or enough in some way. That’s a choice, right. For whatever reason you weren’t ready, or didn’t know what you wanted, or what a good guy looked like in real life.
- Change your story and scripts. Negative, self-limiting stories and scripts give you tunnel vision. You just don’t see anything beyond what you’re telling yourself 24 hours a day. You become so totally fused with your story it shapes your beliefs and limits your options.
- Create a life that you love, instead of seeing a gaping big hole. Be what you’re wanting to attract. Be open to doing something different.
- Let go of the Hollywood scripts and fairy tale myths around falling in love and romance. They are not based on real life.
- Don’t buy into the stereotype cliche that all men like the thrill of the chase when it comes to women. It’s a myth. Guys who chase the hardest and are the most persistent at the start, are usually the ones who are addicted to the highs and excitement of the courtship and honeymoon phases of relationships. As soon as they know they have ‘got you’ they turn cold and focus on someone else. Leaving you feeling confused, angry and rejected. Reality check – men like women who know what they want. This needs to become your new mantra. A large percentage of men in committed long term heterosexual relationships are in them because the woman was crystal clear on how she felt and what she wanted.
If you keep buying into the same old stories and scripts, your life won’t change. That’s just how it works.
Life changes when you take a chance.
“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.” – Plutarch
*All identifying features, including names, have been changed in this case study to protect the privacy of my client.
A version of this article was featured in the December Issue of The Sydney Standard.
Janelle Legge is a Psychotherapist, Leadership, Mindfulness and Wellbeing Consultant and Coach who specialises in Relationships, Career Success, Work-Life Integration and Wellbeing. Janelle has a limited number of spaces available each month for in person consults in Sydney. For enquiries including fees and scheduling, click here and Janelle will be happy to answer all your questions. You do not need a referral from your Doctor to book an appointment with Janelle.
Janelle also works with clients around the world via Skype. To book a skype session with Janelle click here.