How to take charge of your love life

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Last week I was working with a client (let’s call her Stephanie) who came to me with a common complaint:

She said, “I’ve been putting a lot of time and effort into dating and I’m so frustrated.  I’m ready to get married to the right guy and start a family, why is it not happening?” 

 Are there no good men left?  Does Stephanie have to move to another city to find a great guy?  Do all men have commitment issues?  Happily the answer to all three questions is “NO”! 

There are two important components to be mindful of when dating:  
1) Who you are choosing to date .
2) How you show up on the date and in the relationship.  

We have so much more say in how our dating and love lives go then we often feel or acknowledge.  It’s not just happening to us and we’re playing a big role in the outcome.  

So what’s going wrong with this fabulous woman who can’t find love, despite putting in so much time and effort?

For years, Stephanie has been dating men who aren’t quite ready to commit and justifying it.  A few she’s kept around for fun and to avoid loneliness until she finds Mr. Right.  Other times she’s waiting for that guy who has so much potential to change.  When he gets a job he likes or stops being so busy at work she tells herself things will change.  After he heals from his last relationship or gets tired of playing the field he will make more time and get serious. There’s also the “reappearing ex” who pops up once in awhile and seems like harmless fun but leaves her feeling sad and confused for weeks afterwards. 

The good news is there is nothing wrong with the male population.  It’s not the fault of the men she’s dating. It’s Stephanie doing the “picking” of those men and choosing to continue to date them.  Hard to hear and confronting but now she has the power to make different choices and find her dream guy!

 I know it can be hard and takes time, effort and vulnerability. I understand I’ve been there.  It took me a long time to figure it out I was making the choices keeping me unfulfilled with love.  It can take longer than we want and you may have to “kiss a lot of frogs” but I promise if you get clear on what you want and have the right conversations – it gets easier!

Don’t forget you are choosing each and every man you date.  You decide to continue seeing him too.  We often think that if we just wait it out something will change.  There’s a difference between taking time to let a healthy relationship develop and see where it goes versus waiting for a man to change or fix something in his life.

“But why not keep dating Mr. Wrong until Mr. Right shows up?” she asked.

Because “something” is not better than “nothing” in the long term.  If you’re looking for a committed relationship, why date someone who is not looking for that too? If your time and energy are all booked up with Mr. Wrongs, there is no room for the dream guy to even enter the picture!

So what’s next for Stephanie?  I suggested cleaning house!   That means taking inventory of whom she’s dating and if they don’t have the same goals, nicely saying goodbye.  Going forward I recommended she ask what he’s looking for before investing too much time and energy. 

She looked at me with a bit of confusion and asked, “What if I scare him off?” 

I asked her if she had an issue asking about what his career goals were or where he sees himself living long term.  No.  OK so why not talk about what he’s looking for in a relationship? 

I’m not suggesting Stephanie go in with an inquisition on the first date, but it doesn’t take months to find out what someone is looking for and share what you want in a relationship.  If he runs then she just saved herself some time and potential heartache. 

Don’t approach your romantic relationships hoping and wondering.  If you don’t know what he wants, ask him.  Have an honest conversation and don’t make assumptions.  Don’t sell out on yourself and your dreams!

Elan