You Are Not A Self-Improvement Project

You are not a self-improvement project.

Doesn’t it feel that way sometimes? Sometimes we think that if I were a little bit better at yoga, meditation, negotiating, finding the right words, keeping calm in a crisis, whatever the blank may be that we would live a fuller, happier life. we think that our faults are faults because they need to be fixed, and if we have no faults then we will be perfect!

As someone that struggles with perfection, let me help point you in a new direction if that is what you’ve been thinking. Your faults are supposed to be your faults, they make you human. There is no such thing as perfect. Or, if you insist to strive for perfection, your imperfection is what makes you perfectly human.

sometimes being single feels like a quest to make myself into my best version of me. We see it as an opportunity to spend all this time on me, so I better make myself better.

That kind of thinking is coming at the wrong angle, however. It is one thing to pick up new books that interest you and may help you at work. Or going back to school to finish a degree or get a new none because it will help you advance. Maybe you explore spirituality because you want to develop that part of yourself. Or you start a new fitness class. The se things are all fine to do because you are interested in them. The problem is when your ego gets involved and starts saying that you need to do something else because you’re not good enough now as you are.

It is natural to strive to improve and get better. Finding something you are interested in to want to master is really fun and can be really motivating. It adds some excitement to yours ay to day! I’m not saying that wanting to improve is the problem.

It is easy enough to identify when we are doing something for someone else. I read a story about a woman making a similar point, it was in Sarah Eckel’s book It’s Not You (highly recommend single women should read this, and maybe the not single women and men so they know to stop telling us those annoying lines about why we’re single.) She was talking about a guys he met online, they had a great time on their few dates. He was really politically minded and active. She went away for a high school reunion and when she got back, he had met someone else and it was going so well he wasn’t seeing other people. She decided to become more politically active! Yes, she was always interested in it herself and always wondered why she never did anything, but deep down she was motivated by the hope that he would come back if she was more like him in this way. Of course it didn’t work. But she did have a great experience, and it has led her to others.

Is this wrong? No. There is no right or wrong, that’s not the point. The point is being aware of your motivations. Are you really interested in raising money for a political campaign? Is that going to make you feel happy? Or are you doing it for someone else? Or because you don’t feel whole and you are looking for an easy patch for the hole?

There are no easy patches. It is knowing you are the way you are and loving yourself for it. It is exploring things with an outsider’s curiosity and seeing what makes you happy and excited. It is letting to and having fun. Enjoy the moment.

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In Regards To Dating

I get questions a lot about dating. I guess I’ve kinda figured out the ins and outs, how to get a guy to ask you out, how to know when it’s right (and wrong), and how to walk away.

I’m happy to share these tips, because I learned them all the hard way- trial and error and heartbreak and tears and hurt feelings (not always mine!).

Dating is a big part of the single life. Getting to know new people and enjoying that thrill of the first date, the first kiss and all that meaningful eye contact. And there is also fun in the awful dates- think of all the awful stories you get to laugh about with your friends, or all the lessons you learn from what isn’t right.

What really interests me isn’t the “how to get a guy” mumbo jumbo. Because, really, there isn’t anything that I would say that is really that different from all the magazine and blog articles already written on the subject.

What interests me is the how to be ok with just being you, single, attached or whatever. How does someone go through all the dating stories while maintaining a sense of self worth and compassion for herself and the people around her. How does someone not keep their self worth in their relationship status? How do you live life to the fullest without attaching to the results of all that fun stuff someone does (and the not so fun stuff that you do out of obligation).

But, I can write about that another day.

I had a comment yesterday that asked some really common questions about dating and I’m happy to help.

Mary asked “How do you know whether someone is worth a second or third, etc, date? Is it a feeling?”

You’re the only person that can know that because yes, it’s a feeling.

When you approach dating, be curious. Don’t judge or assign any value to it. Just be curious. Who is this person? What are they all about?

And most importantly, how do I feel when I am around him?

How you feel is going to be your biggest indicator. Do you feel at ease? Do you light up around him? Do you feel bored, uncomfortable, or like you have to hide?

Second question: “Can you share some recent dating stories? What were the guys like? What worked/didn’t work?” I haven’t shared a lot of my dating stories because a few of my former fellas know about this blog and read it. So, at least I try to be fair. There are some stories woven in past entries and I will share more in the future, but honestly sometimes it’s pretty uneventful!

Third question: What do you think of guys that are timid and you don’t envision them making the first move? I feel like there is more behind this question that I have to read between the lines. I am going to assume that you  want this fella to ask you out?

There are many different camps here. Some people will tell you that if a guy likes you he will ask you out, no matter how shy he seems. When a guy wants something he will go for it.

Actually, perhaps now is a good time to share a story, like you asked. A guy that I see in a social group setting on a fairly regular basis suddenly seemed interested. All of a sudden, I felt like he was flirting with me. So I flirted back, carefully. I wouldn’t say either of us are shy, per se. Just sensitive to the fact that we shared a social circle, we’d have to see each other over and over.

I mentioned a few group outings and concerts that he might be interested in. He said to let him know when something comes up. I later invited him to a concert, he couldn’t go. More flirting and a week goes by.

The last time I saw him he said we should go to a concert this Friday, if I’m free? It was so casual. It didn’t feel like I was being asked out, there was very little risk of rejection. And yet, we’re hanging out this weekend.

My point is, why not find casual ways to hang out? Group events, concerts, etc. Low risk, it’s an opportunity to hang out, and maybe things will fall into place and he will see it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Keep it easy. Keep it light.

So that’s my dating story, those are the answers I’ve got to your questions. Hopefully that helps somewhat. And I will share more dating stories in the future.

Don’t Harden Your Heart, Stay Open. Here’s How I Can Help

Staying open gets harder and harder with every rejection. When things seem to never play out the way we want to, it gets harder to stay willing to continue hoping for the best. It is as if it almost takes some naïveté because you want to stay blind to the possible heartache and disappointment.

A really good friend of mine has been married for a year and a half, and literally found her perfect partner. I turn to them for comfort and advice with dating and love. And the last time I had my heart and hope broken they told me how much they admired my ability to keep trying, that I keep believing in love. They are always the ones to let me cry without shame, and they listen to me hope against hope for finding love. And they wonder how I keep doing it (even though they each did it for years before finding each other).

It felt like a really big compliment coming from two people that have a relationship that I admire so much. I think I took my positive attitude for granted. “Of course I still believed in love. Of course I keep trying to find it. I know it’s out there.”

But apparently this is a rare thing. I have had my share of really bad dates. I have spent time with guys that don’t really make me feel like my best self. I have had the guys that say they don’t want a commitment but then they are engaged 6 months later. I have hoped that this one guy would be different, only to be proven wrong because he just wasn’t into me That way.

Yup. It sucks. It’s hard. It can be draining. It can be soul sucking.

If this is you, maybe I can lend you some of my belief?

If you feel bitter and closed off, if you feel disheartened and broken, if you feel alone- know that I believe that great love is out there. I believe it is out there swirling around in the universe for you. When the time is right, your paths will cross.

If you can’t believe it right now, don’t. It is better to not force yourself to “think positive!” if you really don’t believe it. But borrow some of mine. You can tell yourself that Single Gal believes it (because I really do), and you can trust that for now.

I am not always a hugger, I choose my moments for contact. This is one of them. If I could hug you, I would.

Here’s to hope, here’s to staying open even when it feels too hard.

A little music from Ingrid Michaelson, “all the broken hearts in the world still beat, let’s not make it harder than it has to be…”

An Unusual Situation

I work as a personal trainer and I train one woman in her home. She is my mother’s age and we connected really well from the first day. I recently started asking her for some relationship advice, because she has been really wise in some things she said previously. She wrote two books on relationships, so I was interested what she had to say.

After we chatted a bit about some things that annoy me about dating, she had me pegged right away. “You jump in with both feet, don’t you?”

Guilty. Yes, I do that for pretty much everything in my life. When I make a decision I go whole hog.

“I don’t know if that will be a blessing or your downfall In your life,” she told me.

Yeah, this isn’t really news to me. I know that jumping completely in is terrifying for a lot of people. I do it in my life, it is how I make decisions about an apartment, my job, my friends, my clothes. I don’t belabor most of my decisions, I go with my gut and I don’t look back.

But when it comes to dating this is probably going to be my downfall.

If I have decided that I like you, I want you to like me. It’s like that old song “I want you to want me…” It really should be my anthem.

A friend of mine has told me I need to be a little flakey when it comes to dating. I need to go with the flow. Don’t be so intense and completely invested.

Do you know how hard this is?

I am doing fairly well, considering I am not a flakey person. Luckily I have plenty of distractions.

But part of me wonders do I really need to fight this part of me in order to be successful at dating? Is that what it takes, become someone less like me?

On the other hand, am I really doing something less like me or am I do something that will help me in the long run? Most of the time I feel less stressed. By relaxing and just living my life I don’t spend all my time wondering if he is going to call.

But the guy hasn’t called. Normally I give the appropriate window of a few days and then I write the guy off. My client says this is probably a little harsh. I say it’s protecting myself. She was also very clear that I need to not call him. I normally think it is bullshit, but I have stumbled into an unusual situation and the guy really does need to be the one doing the work here. I agree that he needs to call me, so I am sitting on my texting fingers.

In the meantime, while I have been going about my life I met a really nice guy. I play soccer for fun and noticed this guy on my team immediately. But it was like another line from a song “I knew you were trouble from the moment you walked in.” I know my type, and this guy is totally my type. Which means trouble.

I slowly began to realize he has been flirting with me. And we have a sort of date planned. At least, it’s a time that we scheduled to hang out. I hate that dating has become this “hanging out” situation, what happened to a guy asking out a girl and taking her someplace nice?

OK, I’m done whining.

Anyway, I have one guy that is expressing interest and  I have to admit that I have a little bit of a crush on. And then I have my other situation, a guy that I have known for a while but the situation is a little complicated despite both of us really liking each other. Going with the flow is keeping me pretty relaxed, most of the time. But at the end of the day I want a guy that will at least make an effort to hang out with me.

The great part about the journey that I have been on as a single woman is that I know I am completely happy as a single woman. I don’t need either of these guys to choose me to show that I am worthy. I know my worth. I know I am not willing to compromise for a guy that doesn’t know my worth.

My client told me “You are the prize. You are a treasure. You deserve a guy that will treasure you.”

Yes, a, it is very anti-Olivia Pope (no I’m not a prize to be won), but the point is that the right guy will make an effort, will treat me with respect, and will make me feel special.

My client says that even if I am not hearing from the guy, he is more than likely thinking about me. That I shouldn’t “for one second think he isn’t thinking of me.” It is an unusual situation, like I said. I wouldn’t normally say things like this.

The point is that I know my worth, I won’t settle for someone that doesn’t see it also.

Waiting For The Real Thing

I was out with a guy friend the other night. We aren’t incredibly close, meaning we don’t have many heart to heart conversations. After a few beers, I was sharing a story about a guy I dated who was very insecure and I left the dating wondering where the Rhett Butler were. Apparently this struck him as funny. “What did that mean?” he asked. Did I have an unrealistic expectation of the way men should sweep women away, and was I going to be whiny and manipulative?

I am no Scarlett O’Hara, I don’t want to be. I’m probably more Melanie than anything. But that’s not what I mean. I want a man that looks at me and declares with certainty, That woman- I will be with THAT woman. And my friend got it. It made sense to him.

And the more I thought about it afterwards the more true that statement became. I want a guy that knows without a doubt that I am special enough to want to be around me, that he doesn’t hide in work and projects. Because my ex and I work together we have been running into each other more often. And while there is this fantastic connection, and we miss each other, and we make each other laugh and we can talk about anything- he is not Rhett Butler. He does not say- “you, don’t leave, I want you to be around and I want to be around for you.” He just doesn’t do that.

And I know with absolute certainty that there will be a guy that does that without me having ask or prompt him. A guy that chooses me, without hesitation. A guy that can’t imagine being without me.

But right now, it feels hard. It feels lonely, I feel like that is so far away and why can’t this great guy just freakin step up to the plate? And I know that I can’t manipulate or control the situation. I know to trust that The Universe has a bigger plan in store for me more than I can imagine right now. And I have to know that if this guy is great but not ready to step up, there is a guy that is even better that will come and sweep me off my feet.

Stop Judging Yourself And Feel The Freedom

It is definitely easier to judge someone else than it is to judge ourselves because often we are too close to the situation to see something clearly. By that does not stop us from being our own harshest critic.

When I first started being kinder to myself, and by extension I’m kinder to others too, it was really hard. Often I would catch myself putting myself down in my head- I look fat in those jeans, I’m not good enough, I am a bad driver, I make bad decisions, etc. and I still have this negative voice every once in a while. But it was most vocal when I first stated paying attention to it.

The first step is noticing it. When you first start listening to your inner dialogue, you would be amazed at the things you say to yourself. If someone said those things to you out loud, you would not keep them in your company for very long.

Once I was noticing what I was saying, I started by forgiving myself before I tried to reverse anything. I found this step to be incredibly important because I had to let myself off my own hook. I forgave myself for not being perfect, for wanting to be perfect and for setting impossible standards. I forgave myself for being mean and weak and for making myself feel small. This released whatever anger I had tied up in the negative talk. It washed it clean, so I could start a new slate.

Then, I completely let myself off the hook. I dropped the standards and began practicing gratitude for what I am and for what I have. Giving thanks for things as they are was such a wonderful practice for me. I began to see all the blessings and love that is already in my life. When I was feeling lonely and unloved, I noticed all the great friends that I have that do love me. Love comes from more than one place, it isn’t all from romantic relationships.

After realizing all the great things I have going in, it became easier to realize that other people don’t care much about what I am doing. Most people are too wrapped up in their own crap to even take notice of you, let alone spend any real amount of time thing about you. Someone once told me “what other people think about me is none of my business.” And it is true. What they think about me isn’t going to change my behavior anymore. As long as what I do makes me happy, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks because it’s not their life.

Living in a way that makes room for your own guidance to speak up and take the steering wheel is incredibly freeing. Maybe things don’t look the way you thought, but I bet they are probably pretty great if you took a minute to look around and appreciate it.

It was so freeing to realize that things are perfect as they are, I have plenty going well in my life and I have no need to gripe or nit-pick over small things that aren’t perfect. When I stopped judging myself, I could let my true self come forward and express itself.

Why Hasn’t Anyone Told Me This Before?

My guy friend told me last week that I can be intense. He didn’t mean it to be mean or critical. He just meant that when something is important to me, I get really focused and devote everything to that. It’s great in business and in work (most of the time) but not so great in relationships, especially with men.

He explained to me that he is really laid back in his relationship. Probably more than his girlfriend would like, and he is working on that for her. (Because he is a good guy!) He has a go with the flow energy. When I get focused on something, my energy gets high and intense. It’s actually a repelling energy. It’s not desperation, it’s just intensity. And it means that it is something that has weight for me, it has importance.

He stressed again and again it is a good thing that I make something important. I just need to be aware of how that energy shows up in the world. And he reminded me that he wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know. Which I completely agree, we already know this stuff about ourself but sometimes it is hard to identify it about ourselves. It’s easier to look at someone else and point out their flaws.

And it did click. I realized he was absolutely right. I do it in work all the time, and it works for what I do. People respect that actually. But if I am behaving that way when I am dating someone, no wonder men go running for the hills after a few months. Instead of keeping that go with the flow energy that I have when I first start dating someone, I get a little intense when things get serious. No wonder I repel the great guys and they cut things short too early. They bail because suddenly things got really intense, and that’s not fun energy. That says “Run away!”

So he encouraged that I keep an attitude of not caring. I think this is why I never got great at sales, I get the concept of not caring but I have a hard time practicing it consistently. When I am relaxed and not attached to the result, things go smoothly. I seem fun and light and easy going. All the qualities that are attractive to people. I just have to remind myself that I am easy going and fun and light and I can go with the flow. Take it one day at a time.

Being the more intense person that I am, I decided to think about some distractions I could do to help me in times when I am getting stressed or intense. I can go to yoga, I always enjoy that. I can go dancing. I can go for a run. I can go play with a friend’s pet.for me, talking about my intense feelings make them worse, my friends validate my feelings and stress what the other person is doing totally wrong. When it’s not wrong, I am probably freaking out and getting crazy over nothing.

I can’t believe that in all my years of dating that no one has even told me this before. No one has pointed out that I am a bit intense? Has no one noticed?Or are my friends just too close to realize that I have this kind of tense energy going on? Maybe they thought I knew? They thought they would hurt my feelings?

Whatever the reason, two lessons have been learned. One, I have a tense energy that I need to be aware of and I need to defuse in certain situations. Two, when it comes to good friends it is important to be honest. Find the safe situation and tell them in a way that looks out for their best interest. I would be willing to bet that they would be relieved to hear it.

Have Faith And Risk Having Nothing For Awhile

There is a principle in A Course in Miracles that says one that has certainty can afford to wait, and wait with patience.

It is hard being single sometimes because it feels like I am just “between boyfriends.” As if it was a job. Like I’m currently unemployed but I don’t want to really admit that outloud so I say I’m between jobs.

But the thing that makes it less hard is faith and certainty. I know enough happily married couple to know that it is possible to find love and that I will. I know couples that I would consider soul mates and in a perfectly healthy relationship. Although, that number is pretty small. I know other couples that maybe aren’t soul mates but they are really happy. I believe that you can be happy living your life with someone you love, and it doesn’t have to be a soul mate. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

I am absolutely certain that there will be a relationship that is perfect for me someday. And I refuse to settle for less.

And maybe that is what it takes. To know with absolute certainty that there will be something makes this time feel less hard.

It’s a contradiction actually. Yes, it’s hard because I am a normal human being and I want it now! Can’t I rush deliver it? But knowing that I will have it eventually does make the wait feel less tedious.

I am the type of person that would rather just have nothing than have a place holder. I don’t want a relationship that I don’t like or enjoy very much just to hold the place until I find something I like more. I don’t fool myself into thinking that I am happy when I am really not. I prefer to be honest with myself. If I’m not happy, I won’t stick around.

I don’t have doubts about a future relationship. And I guess that’s faith, right? Knowing that there is something out there, but without any real proof.

If you are having trouble with the same thing, feeling like you’re stuck waiting without much on the horizon maybe you can borrow some of my faith. You’re here right now, and that’s perfect. And know that there will be something someday, and that will be the perfect thing at the perfect time not a minute sooner or later than it’s supposed to be.

Stop Asking, No We Cannot Just Be Friends

Has anyone else had the experience where it feels like every guy that comes along “just wants to be friends?”

I get it, I understand. I’m not really attracted to you either, even though we do have quite a bit in common. But I am at capacity, I cannot fit one more male friend into my lineup, thankyouverymuch.

Cindy  Chupack was a writer for Sex and the City, among many publications, movies and other TV shows, had this experience and called in the Male Friend Moratorium. Which makes me think that is just the place we send male friendships to die? Or is that just me and my own morbidity combined with frustration?

Lately I keep meeting men that I really don’t have an interest in dating, and they don’t really have an interest in me. Or at least I’m not picking up on the signals that they’re interested. They are either gay, or right out of a relationship, or are older and look at me like a little sister, or they look to me for fitness tips and advice.

Sure, we get along and have fun together. But I already have my great guy friends covered. I have the gay guy friend, the best guy friend, the guy friend in a long term relationship, the older father figure guy friend, the guy friend I call to go to concerts with. My dance card is full, I have no more room for guy friends.

And yet I don’t know what to do with these great, nice guys. Do I keep them around and hang out with them in case things change and we suddenly like each other? Do I keep them around with the assumption that you can never have too many friends? It feels wasteful to throw them to the curb. I don’t have any other single friends looking to get set-up. (Oh, that’s a sad realization)

So where do I fit these guys in? My social calendar is already full, and I already drink more often than I’d like. These guys all want to go out and drink. Really? Can we go workout or even grab coffee instead? I already drink more often than I would like, which in the scheme of things isn’t that often. But I’m a little competitive and I try to keep pace with my drinking partner. Not good when it’s a guy.

I don’t enjoy saying No I don’t want to be your friend. That seems so mean. And not true. I’m just busy, and no I’m not playing “hard to get.”  And what if one of my guy friends drop out or move away? Wouldn’t it be easier to replace him if I had someone on the bench that knows me socially and seems like a good fit to move up?

I am stuck. If you have any good ideas what to do with this excess of men, let me know. I would happily send them your way if you lived near me, or if they figure out a clever way to FedEx men.

Hi There. Could I Ask You For A Favor, Please?

Today is my 100th post and last week I passed the 1,000 followers mark. I am beyond excited and dancing a little jig over here! I am humbled by the fact that people find my blog and read it.

So first things first. A big thank you to you. Thank you for finding me. Thank you for reading, for commenting, for sharing my words.

My hope for the blog was to create a conversation that people are mostly sweeping under the rug. I am happy to share my life and feelings if it helps someone to know they are not alone. I want to build a community of people that support each other, who know it’s ok to be heartbroken because it will get better, and who know it is perfectly wonderful to be single and standing on your own two feet! Life isn’t perfect, we all struggle, and I want to share that with everyone.

Today for my 100th post, I would like to do something different. Because I envision this to be a useful place for people to heal and feel strong and empowered I want to make sure I actually do that for you! I hope you will help me out by giving me some feedback? You can answer all the questions, some of the questions, your own made up questions. Post your answers in the comments or send me an email at singlegalstartingover@gmail.com.

Every answer will be read and acknowledged, because I do value you and  I appreciate you being here with me.

These questions are meant to get you thinking, and they are just jumping off points. Have fun!

1. What topics do you enjoy reading the most when you are here?

2. What kind of information, advice, and stories are you looking for when you read my blog?

3. Do you talk about being single or heartbroken with your friends? If so, what are the typical topics of conversation?

4. Would advice or coaching be helpful to you to get through those tough transition periods from breaking up to single?

5. What else would you like me to know?

 

thank you for taking the time to help me out. It is greatly appreciated! Your answers will help me shape my next 100 posts.

Cheers and Love!