Stop Giving Away Your Power
In therapy sessions, conversations with friends, as well as what I read in professional literature, a theme that comes up most for people having trouble with relationships is a fear of being alone. Whether someone asks me what he or she can do to find a good relationship, or someone is afraid to leave a relationship they are not happy with, or a couple asks me how they can reinvigorate a sense of excitement in their relationship, or a man asks me what he can do to be interesting to women, the answer I give to anyone is always the same... I believe that in order to improve upon or find a good relationship, or to be interesting AT ALL, the number one thing you need to do is face the fear and be able to enjoy being alone.
The only way a relationship can be truly healthy is if it involves two whole people; not people finding their “missing piece” like Tom Cruise telling Renée Zellweger “You complete me” in Jerry Maguire. Do you really want to do anything Tom Cruise does nowadays anyway? I didn’t think so. Besides, it may sound romantic, but it is as silly as the parody of this moment in Austin Powers when Dr. Evil made the same declaration to Mini Me. The irony here is that he intentionally had this evil piece of himself cloned to complete him. This is essentially what we are trying to do when we elevate another person to the status of completing ourself. Many men, before they’ve even gotten to know a woman, will tell her “You’re the one!” or something akin to that. Any self-respecting woman is going to look at you and think you’ve lost it! To this woman you hardly know, it looks like a desperate attempt to please her, and hastily connect to avoid being alone. It is a sign of neediness, and that is the kiss of death - to ANYBODY- and is no way to start a healthy relationship. You must establish a relationship with yourself before you can really do well in any relationship. Besides, if you don’t like being around yourself, who in the world is going to enjoy being around you?
In his paper The Capacity to Be Alone (1958) Winnicott identified this capacity as “one of the most important signs of maturity in emotional development (p. 29).” The capacity to be alone is not isolation or the state of being physically alone, or being oblivious to everything around you. The capacity to be alone is the experience of being alone in the presence of someone else. It is the capability to be yourself in the presence of other people, under the social pressure to conform to the expectations of others or how they want you to be, that is the source of your personal power.
Men become insecure, introverted, and close themselves off because they are afraid to step outside of their comfort zone, afraid to take a risk, afraid to deal with the social pressure of being BLATANTLY themselves. But that is ultimately what is attractive, not just to a woman, but to people in general. The opposite can happen as well, where a man is so worked up about his fear of being rejected that he will act weird or overly exuberant to try to compensate for the fact that he is so anxious. Though conveying a fun party vibe may have some merit in and of itself, if the source of this is based in anxiety, then this behavior will override a woman’s acute intuition.
Sometimes men, in a quest to “be honest,” are not being honest with themselves. I understand you don't want to play games, but the reality is that men can get this build up of emotion and sentiment around a woman and get carried away, drunk on fantasy about who the woman really is. But, do you really know who this woman is? No, you don’t. You’ll argue with me, “But Dan, this is different...” Um, let me say it again, no you really don’t know this woman. You don't know her unless you’ve spent time with her for at least 6 months or have been long time friends.
DON’T latch onto some girl because she is beautiful, or because she is the first woman you’ve talked to in months, or because she was the only woman who responded to your emails on Match.com after one week... This is just you afraid of being alone! Or at best living in a scarcity mindset, thinking that you might not have that many other chances. If the woman is appealing to you, yes, move the interaction forward, BUT take time to see how it feels for YOU. Evaluate her, the same way she is evaluating you! Most women will be put off by you if you declare these wondrous things about them before you even know them and lump you into the guy who is looking for a mother to take care of his needs or at best the friend-only category. I’m guessing neither category is the place you want to be in.
This goes to the heart of the message from my last blog on self-acceptance. Is your self-esteem outcome dependent? You cannot be dependent on your partner if you are in a relationship or the woman you would like to attract for validation, self-esteem, or to fulfill your emotional needs. If you want a second interaction with a woman who is interesting to you or if you want to be in a relationship that is healthy and has a chance for true longevity, or find a woman that you really think is Quality with a capital Q getting in touch with yourself is the first step you have to take.
Photo Courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt (Pink Sherbert: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/4594258122/in/set-7215761055191...)