Are you out there dating or in a relationship and simply taking things as they come? Or are you thoughtfully setting some rules and boundaries; taking personal responsibility for your experiences and outcomes?
Have you ever asked yourself questions like: What do I need to do or not do to set myself up to make good choices? What do I expect others to do in order for me to be happy? How must I act in order to retain my self-respect and dignity? What will I not tolerate in myself or in others?
Too often I talk to women who have stayed in unfulfilling relationships or who date men who are completely wrong for them…and way longer than they should. Some stayed because they thought that he was “all she could get.” Some said she didn’t want to hurt his feelings or that she just wanted a man in her life. Many women stayed simply because they just didn’t know how to say “it’s over.”
I’ve heard many reasons why women entered and stayed in relationships that didn’t bring them happiness. (Especially when we’re dating after 40; many of us have more than one of these stories.)
These women all have one thing in common: they lack self awareness. Months and sometimes years went by without paying attention to their own needs. They never considered what they bring to the table and what they expect from their partner. They just went along.
They also never considered what their responsibility was to themselves and to the men they meet.
One of my coaching clients, Tamara, is a perfect example. She is 56, beautiful, successful and wonderfully kind. She jumped very quickly into a relationship with a man who picked her. He was very controlling. It lasted 2 years. With my coaching support, she finally ended it.
Tamara wanted to find a good man and fall in love, but her search had gone nowhere. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised: though she was super smart and accomplished, she had no clarity about herself or her expectations when it came to men.
She had no idea how to date men or pick men in any way other than the way she’d been doing it. She had no idea what she was looking for and she really had no clue how to take care of herself along the way.
Yet she kept looking, finding the same guy and staying too long.
When Tamara completed Step 3 of my 6-step Find Hope and Find Him program she had some major breakthroughs (as many women do). This is where we answer the question: “I’m So Fabulous What’s the Damn Problem?” I help you define what’s standing in your way, what patterns need breaking and what you will do to get past your barriers.
Then we take what you learn and create your ground rules. And here’s the important part: These aren’t the rules for him; they are for yourself.
It’s about setting yourself up for dating success by creating a foundation that assures you get to that You Win! Box with grace, dignity and with a good man by your side.
Tamara did a spectacular job on this step of my program. Here are some of her rules:
- I will take my time getting to know a man. I will not allow him to rush me into a relationship, rush me into being sexual or anything else.
- I will “be present” on dates by listening to what he says, asking questions or commenting on what I hear, and not be afraid to do so. I will be open about myself (within reason) and my interests.
- I will not allow a man to snap at me or be judgmental towards me without me calling him on his behavior.
- I will not retract into my shell if he disagrees with what I have to say or want to do. I will no longer go along to get along. I won’t disagree disagreeably but I won’t be silent either.
- I will think about whether I like him and use that conclusion to decide whether I want to see him again. I will no longer focus entirely upon whether he likes me and be insecure about him breaking up with me.
- I will not be afraid of disagreements or feel threatened by the idea that he won’t like me if I don’t do what he says or don’t agree with him.
- I will no longer be afraid if the relationship does not work out at any stage and I will feel free to end it if I don’t feel it is working for me.
There you go. Tamara rocked it. These are clear rules that she can now use to guide her actions, feelings and decisions. You can see that, right?
Now it’s your turn. Take control of your dating life. What dating and relationship rules can you adopt to make your romantic life more fun and more successful?