Showing Up as Yourself
I address why it’s so important in early dating to be your genuine self, not who you think will make you more attractive to another. Sure you want to be your best self, but it’s important to ground yourself in your value before meeting for that date.
When Sara met Bryan for their first date, she blurted out, “Hi, I’m kind of nervous.” She saw a quick defensive scowl race across his face as he responded, “I’m not a scary guy!” He took her nervousness personally, not as an expression of her feelings. The key here is she then dismissed her own feeling of, “uh oh, red flag,” because she was lonely, longing for attention and company. 🚩 She put her own feelings aside and went silent, rather than say, “Oh, this is about how I feel, not how I feel about you.” Rather than be her genuine self here and say that, she went into people-pleasing, pick-me mode, probably even smiling to put him at ease, while dropping any recognition of what was happening within her own experience.
By the way, she had planned the date, too. He was new to town, she reasoned, so she would show him some spectacular public art that was temporarily installed over a park downtown. Planning the date herself, was a 🚩 for her. Why? She didn’t let him figure out plans for them, which would have shown her more about who he was and would have let her be in a more receptive role, to be served rather than serving. When we begin a relationship serving, it can often remain so.
The rest of the date went well, she thought. Seeing the art and hanging out in the park was fun, as was dinner afterwards. But, the next day, he texted her saying he didn’t think they were a good romantic fit, but did she want to be friends?
🚩 She then went into convincing mode. At this point, Sara responded she didn’t need anymore friends, but couldn’t decide if they were a good fit given one date. He was convinced by that, so asked her out again. This pattern played out again and again in their relationship, the pattern of her convincing and him relenting. It’s wild how patterns begin to establish so early in relating with a new partner.
That’s how they began dating, from her convincing energy. If she had been more grounded in her own value, Sarah could have simply let him go by saying, “OK, I get it. Good luck out there.”
Also, her convincing him didn’t make him have to reach for her – she did the work for him. Men need a bit of a chase, and appreciate value more when they have pursued and “won.”
Once they were in a relationship, what would come up time and time again was him taking things personally that weren’t about him, and she getting into lengthy conversations he demanded as necessary, about taking care of HIS feelings. Not their feelings, but his. Sara began to feel as if she was walking on eggshells, uncertain what she might do that could set him off next.
At some point she was struck by the realization that this relationship was just like the one she had had with her mother while growing up, including not having her feelings valued and walking on eggshells. Even with this realization, she was blindsided and heartbroken when he broke up with her.
Why was she heartbroken, you may ask? Well, subconsciously, she had been trying to work out her fraught childhood relationship with her mother via Bryan. Her boyfriend was a stand-in. She had unconsciously found someone who had similar issues as her mother, but she hadn’t recognized that. Bryan was a superficially warm guy – that had been enough to pull her in, because she hadn’t grown up with that warmth in her mother. But warmth is not enough to stake a relationship on.
The end of the relationship was really about her feeling the primary relationship with her mother once again hitting the rocks (as children with no power do) so she felt devastated. Remember, at this time, Sara was unconscious of why this breakup felt like more than she could bear. When feelings are histrionic, the origin is usually historical, so it was about Bryan 20% vs her mother 80%!
After that breakup, as Sara began to see the reality of having gotten into and stayed in an unhealthy relationship, but also that it was old history that truly needed to be healed, she set about doing that, working with a relationship expert and with the help of hypnosis sessions to uncover old beliefs.
She learned to communicate differently, and she learned to value herself over anyone else. That last part was the hardest, because she had been raised to value everyone else over herself.
She is a work in progress, as we all are, but I can assure you when she dates now and considers a new relationship, she does it while emphasizing her value to herself, and being conscious of what is motivating her, while evaluating if the guy is a good fit for her.
The other benefit she reaped on this journey of self growth, was healing the relationship with her mother. She no longer held her mother responsible for what wasn’t working for Sara – she began to take responsibility for making her own choices, which was quite freeing for both women.