I received this desperate letter from a self-professed love-challenged woman who wants a relationship but can’t seem to find love. She was confused and hopeless. If you’ve ever felt love-challenged, whether you’re a man or a woman, the advice I give her might be helpful to you, too.
I am love-challenged, and I need your help. In my last so-called relationship, it turned out the guy was just using me to make his ex-girlfriend jealous and win her back. I was so hurt. I really would like to be in a relationship, but I don’t know how. I have one guy interested in me, but I am not attracted to him (he’s more like a brother to me).
I’m super shy, though I like talking to guys, but a part of me is afraid of getting hurt and I don’t know how to get past that. Another part of me wishes I could be emotionally available, but I’m not. That’s because for the past six years, I’ve been in love with my best friend. I know it’s a hopeless situation, but I don’t want let him go, AND I want to find love. How can I possibly do this? I find it all so hopeless and impossible.
Gabby (a really love-challenged girl)
Take a deep breath; help is on the way! Your situation is far from hopeless. You’re not as much love-challenged as you are love-confused. Let’s sort out the issues and deal with them one by one.
You felt used by your last boyfriend.
I understand how awful it feels to be used by someone. When I was younger, I felt like that way quite often. That’s because I had no standards for how I wanted to be treated by men. The good news is that this is something you can change.
It’s empowering to understand that you can’t be used by anyone unless you give them permission to use you. Get some standards for how you want to be treated in the future, and enforce them. Learn how to recognize red flags in a relationship before you get involved. If you notice anything that feels off, talk about it right away. See how your partner responds. If he’s defensive, that’s a bad sign. If he’s open to hearing your feelings and needs, it’s a green light.
I am big proponent of going into a relationship with your eyes wide open. Check out a man’s character, making sure his actions match his words. If you look back, you’ll probably see the red flags that were there all along. He probably did many things that gave you pause and made you feel under-valued. Don’t ever stay with a man who doesn’t value you.
You want a relationship, but you’re not emotionally available.
You say you are not emotionally available, because you’re holding onto the hope of a romantic relationship with your best friend, someone who is not romantically available to you at this time. If you’re attracted to him and it’s not reciprocated, it feels awful. It’s also keeping you from the relationship you want. It’s time to have an honest conversation with him about how you feel. You might be surprised to learn that he’s into you, too. Or, he may tell you he sees you as only a friend. If that’s the case, it’s probably best for you to walk away. Painful, yes, but necessary if you want to find love.
Most of all, your self-worth is suffering.
You won’t be able to find a man who values you if you don’t value yourself first. This is the foundation of the work I do with my clients. I teach them how to date themselves first, how to be the woman of value who attracts a quality guy. Because your self-esteem is in direct correlation with the love you receive. It’s time for a self-esteem makeover!
4 Steps from Love-Challenged to Finding True Love
#1. Take an honest look at your self.
Your negative self-talk has a deep impact on your self-worth. Reverse that with positive self-talk. One way to do that is to try this exercise: If you were your own loving parent, what would you tell yourself? Any time you believe you’re less than someone else, stop and think about what your inner loving parent would say to you. Another way to do this is to think about what you would tell your daughter if she were in a similar situation. The bottom line is, be kind to yourself!
#2. Ask three friends what they love about you.
Do you like yourself as much as your friends do? If you don’t, it’s going to be hard to attract your best relationship. It’s like trying to market a product that you don’t believe in. Why would your love interest ‘buy the product’ if the owner doesn’t think it’s that great? Your friends will be happy to tell you what’s special about you. Ask them. And then, own ‘the product’!
#3. Use positive affirmations to increase your self-worth.
This may sound kind of strange, but it works. Every morning and evening when you’re brushing your teeth, look in the mirror and say to yourself, “I am much greater than I believe I am.” Write it on the mirror in lipstick or an eye pencil if you like. You can also create a banner with an affirmation on your computer and look at it every day. Seeing the words can be a great reminder of your fabulous self.
#4. Fake it ’til you make it.
Not feeling confident? Act as if you are. Hold your head up and walk around as a confident person would. Smile and make eye contact with more people. Talk to the people you’re afraid to approach. Get out of your comfort zone and see how it feels to connect to others. The more you do these things, the more confident you will become. Trust me, I did this after my divorce, and over time, I felt confident deep in my bones.
As you continue to nurture your self, your sense of value and will grow. You’ll soon attract the relationship you desire into your life. And your newfound confidence will make you incredibly desirable and sexy!
Photo: Flickr/Luna Jubilee / !bang poses