It’s pathetic how easily I can find myself acting like the insecure kid I was in high school. These days it doesn’t come up too much, but can happen when I meet someone I especially like and admire, and get the sense they don’t return the feeling. I can get to feeling so hurt and undeserving that I turn into a withdrawn ball of mush.
Sometimes it’s hard to ignore these feelings; real or not. Whether you’re 18 or over 58 rejection feels like crap. Over the years it’s caused me real pain. But there’s a difference between when it happened in high school and when it happens now. Now I’ve learned some life skills that help me through it. I have a conscious conversation with myself that goes something like this:
Stop! You’re acting like a high school girl. That woman has shown no clear signs that she doesn’t like or respect you. It’s all in your head. You’re being insecure. Just be your terrific self. There’s no reason she shouldn’t like you.
I try to drop myself back in reality, and be kind to myself. It almost always works.
This was definitely a pattern for me as I started dating and looking for love. When I’d meet a single man it only took me about 5 minutes to start trying to figure out if he liked me. Until I had that answer — or at least thought I had the answer — I was stuck in my head. The chatter was often overwhelming, and not just during the date. It lasted well after it was over. Looking back, I’m sure it affected how I acted when I met men, and it probably cost me some good dating action.
Once I learned the “be real and be nice to yourself” self-talk tool it helped me a lot when I was dating. It would lower the voice of that chatter. But it wasn’t until I got the following brilliant nugget from my super-talented therapist that my dating and love life really changed:
On your date? First, decide whether you like him.
What a concept! Do you like him? Is this a man you feel good being with? Does he seem to have the qualities you are looking for in a close companion or potential husband?
I never considered that question because I was so wrapped up in whether he liked me. Do I like him? Once I learned to ask this first, it turned out that I didn’t even need to have that whole other conversation with myself. Because if the answer was “no,” the rest didn’t matter.
It took me a lot of time and money to learn this. It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? It honestly changed the way I looked at men and, surprisingly, it changed the way I thought about myself. Asking and answering this first kept me from wasting time and energy wondering if I was liked by someone I didn’t even like. More importantly, it forced me to think of myself first. What do I want? Does this man seem worthy of me? These were questions I hadn’t been asking myself. And they are the most important questions.
Try it. Next time you go on a date or just meet an available man, ask yourself: Do I like him? Let me know if it changes your dating experiences like it did mine.