Navigating From Insecure Attachment To The Awkwardness of Dating

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Even as you make strides in your own growth, you experience hiccups.

You find yourself in a ‘same old situation,’ but feel differently, with fledgling confidence in your newer tools. With growing assurance what may have felt impossible in the past, can still make you choke a bit as you state your truth.

Remember to be prepared for people not hearing you; it’s okay.

Speaking your truth is not done to convince someone of what they should do (conditioning will tell you otherwise); it’s supporting yourself emotionally. Whether it’s early in dating or stepping into a relationship, if it’s not working it’ll be clear pretty quickly, just by observing the ensuing dialogue or reaction after you speak.

Recently I was at dinner with someone.

No shooting stars; just enjoying my time with him, thinking he was really nice. And he IS nice. On our prior dates we casually talked about a variety of topics including what we both wanted in dating/relationships. It was cool.

This dinner turned out to be not so cool.

I felt as though I was on a date with someone totally different. The conversation did not flow, there was a huge interest in the food, but other than that not much laughter or further exploration of any deeper topics. In the past it would’ve stopped me cold from addressing something important to me. I’d have looked for the right time to speak and kept quiet if I didn’t find it and then ‘gone along’ with whatever happened afterwards.  As an ex-people-pleaser, it was finding courage to speak about intimacy, and get really uncomfortable.

In my heart, I had to express how I’m not rushing a physical relationship until I really get to know somebody, and I’m confident we’re headed in the same direction (I don’t care if anyone agrees or disagrees with my actions, it’s how I feel in taking care of myself emotionally). I stated this and it was acknowledged verbally, but not physically.

It was very clear we were on a different page.

As we drove after dinner, I realized what I said was for my ears only.

Is he bad? No.

This isn’t to pick his behavior apart. It’s to illustrate how difficult it can be to navigate saying something that another person may not want to hear. It can be very uncomfortable.

Many women (and some men) find themselves in the middle of somewhere they don’t want to be, by keeping quiet and making excuses, so they don’t hate themselves. You’re afraid to upset someone, but when action happens as a result of your silence, it is NOT what you want, and you blame yourself (and them too).

Insecure attachment holds you with a fear of loss. You’re used to it, but you want to avoid it, and when you’ve been wired this way for so long, it can be tough to speak the truth.

With insecure attachment as a basis for your conditioning, you try to exert control over others’ behavior. You refuse to listen or see reality as it is. And you’ll cross someone else’s boundaries. Someone with true confidence isn’t controlling or trying to prove anything; secure people respect themselves and others.

I stood for myself because my values matter. In setting the foundation for a HAPPY long-term relationship, you don’t want a tug-of-war, or a struggle for power.

Sometimes in speaking your truth, it’s challenging to be consistently connected to your heart, especially if others are resistant. You can’t control them.

I know what it feels like to not say the truth of how you feel out of fear, and have someone disregard it when you do speak.

Clarity around attachment is huge. A warm body will not do. What you’re looking for changes as you feel more secure, yet it can feel like a foreign land, especially when you can’t tell on the first date beyond whether he or she might be nice. It’s why I go slow, not protective, so I can stay in the rhythm of my own emotions. If I try to keep up with someone else’s desires and ignore my own, it will end ugly.

Insecure attachment has conditioned us to not trust ourselves, the world or others. So to trust yourself means going thru the discomfort of not pleasing someone else and not controlling the events outside of you by pretending to fill a role. Instead you must speak your truth.

The awkwardness of dating can make you feel you have to compromise to get what you want. YOU DO NOT compromise at that stage unless you want to repeat the same ol’ relationship. Always see reality as it is, not as you wish it.

Attachment can keep you on a merry-go-round.

Not just in dating someone who is ill-suited to a partnership with you, but repeating the relationship over and over with them, continuing to try making it work where it was never meant to go. It’s the fantasy, which deludes you from dealing with rejection or abandonment. I can’t tell you how many times I saw red flags in the past with others and kept dating them. I was ATTACHED! It then kept me in the cycle of breaking up and getting back together. Insecure attachment will keep you believing a fantasy. You keep going around and around hoping they have changed (cuz you fear there may not be someone else).

Stop for a moment in whatever dating situation you’re in and ask what you truly believe without bullshitting yourself. What’s YOUR truth? Remember, it is always okay to be where you are, even if it is hell. You can’t navigate from where you are not.

There are NO rules of engagement with how you should act or what you should do to develop a relationship. I really believe when it’s the right person, it’s the right person. It’s not necessarily magical, but there’s an ease to it. Everyone I know in a healthy, secure relationship (even those who had insecure attachment in the past) experiences ease.

In my dating life, the above scenario was another opportunity for me to trust myself more, instead of beating myself up. It was a chance to remain open and aware of what I want for myself. We are always at choice in keeping the old patterns alive or speaking then acting by taking a risk to stick with the truth of what we want!

Interested in learning more about attachment? Listen to this podcast.

The Impact Of Being Honest

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Most of us live in stories.

Heck, as human beings, we love a good story! One we relate to in some fashion, whether it’s our own experiences or something fantastical making the impossible appear real.

The issue with the stories we tell ourselves is their limitations. We may not dare to stretch beyond the confines of it, because it’s scary, or we feel unworthy or somehow undeserving.

And we stay stuck.

I had a multi-nuanced stuck story around dating, just like most of the b.s. we feed ourselves.

I always thought I was different, a bit odd–hard to love. In contrast, even though I was weird, I was special and unique. For years I thought I was perfect (measured in what I gave to others–not because I believed I was amazing), and on the other hand, I felt I was easily discarded and so on.

All the contradiction represents how I had a great deal of it in my self-evaluation. My story stemmed from a place of unworthiness, judging myself harshly (as I used to do); holding everyone and everything to a crazy-ass expectation!

Can you relate?

So… this story around dating.

A deep epiphany: People meet you exactly where you are with yourself.

I saw myself on a past first date. I was engaging, nice, interacting  (Hell! I was in sales for years, I know what to ask.) and usually asked out on a second-date. It was my goal. Make it so they liked me…and then I’d hook em’!

Hahahaaaaaa…I laugh at this image now (I sure wasn’t honest back then)!

The b.s. here: I could show up as emotionally unavailable (It’s exactly where I was, ahem!) and lo’ and behold after the guy was done chasing me….it turned out he was emotionally unavailable too! What a surprise! Not.

That epiphany hit home on a very deep level, people meet you exactly where you are, so the next time you want to finger point, put your finger back in your pocket.

My story was based in fear.

The fear of engulfment, rejection, losing independence, not believing I was lovable (prove it!) and so on. Lying kept me stuck in this vicious circle for years.

I didn’t realize I was lying, it was just the story I always told myself. Until I came to realize how lonely, disappointing and draining it was to live and date this way.

Man, I was so scared!

It’s no wonder I talked myself into half-relationships, or soulmate situations with high drama! Staying in this heightened state of pain with few euphoric moments kept me in the biggest lie! The biggest story I could tell myself, so I was the victim and the heroine at the same time…

And the biggest lie was this is all I deserved.

It was unlike a movie with its romantic drama, it didn’t get tied up in a neat little happy ending!

It was an unraveling leading to an amazing awareness!

Until, I started to accept my b.s. stories around “I’m meant to be alone,” or as a friend said to me years ago,”I think you’re here on a spiritual journey and aren’t meant for a relationship.” (Um, our greatest spiritual lessons come from relationships–staying alone actually keeps us stunted in our comfort zone)

Do you get what I’m throwing down? Do you get our lives are based on our choices, our perspective of ourselves and what we deserve?

As I started working with my dating coach last week, I found I’d already moved into deeper awareness. Just the act of hiring her, committing to me, lead to this epiphany, (it was before my first appointment) something I heard a million times, but never really got emotionally.

The impact of being honest about my past way of dating, lead me to the discovery of choice, empowerment and re-weaving of what I thought was possible for me.

As I took more responsibility for my part and how I acted in fear, I could see the contrast of what is now feasible by trusting myself. Trusting the Universe with my conspiring feelings, lead to my visual: anything is truly possible!

Want to be released from the prison of limitation? Commit to changing your story! Find a way. Allow yourself to question everything.

Perhaps, like me, you’re ready to really do it honestly? Deconstructing the story? Scheduling a discovery session with me can give you insight into whether you’re really available to change or you want to stay stuck in your story a little longer.

Click to book a complimentary discovery session.

Ghosting: New or Old? WTH?

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I didn’t want to write a blog post on this topic. I read the articles on the subject after someone suggested I speak on “ghosting” for my radio show. Big sigh.

Blech.

I mean really?

Here we have the ghost:

Bad manners; individuals exhibiting no compassion (for themselves and others); guilt-inducing baggage; hiding from themselves and others. Uh….keeping a separation from head to heart and lying to themselves about it being acceptable behavior with some story they invent to assuage their feelings on being an asshole.

And on the receiving end of the ghosting phenom… the haunted! An individual wondering what the hell happened. What did they do wrong? Their boyfriend or girlfriend was in the midst of packing up boxes to move in with them and just split. Poof! Into thin air! No explanation, nor sign that anything was wrong.

Plus the ghosted has the not-so-fun job of stalking the other person (if they so choose) to get to the bottom of what spooked the ghost. This amidst their own self-doubt, insecurities and anxieties triggered by the promise of more… and then cut off by abandonment.

People have been doing this for-e-v-e-r! Before technology. In the old days, they’d just hop on their horse and ride off to places unknown, where no cell phone or advent of technology was even a thought in someone’s mind.

And so, I didn’t want to write about it, because it’s so tense and deep. It’s a place where someone wants to point the finger… play victim to the persecutor and create a really thick plot. Then I have to grab my shovel to try and dig up what actually happened, plus the meaning (if any) that’s attached to the scenario.

Ghosting is not just disappearing out of the life of a loved one or someone you’re dating… it’s any situation where an individual does a disappearing act without a peep!

How does a person not sense when someone is about to jump ship? Were they dismissive about the actions of their lover, attributing odd behavior to cold feet or their jittery ticks to being the norm? How was commitment discussed; were the two people honest about life-changing choices? Or was someone fibbing and the other person afraid to call em’ on it?

Fear of abandonment can make us do crazy things and put up with less than we deserve. Fear of engulfment can make us put our running shoes and jog to the next state, so we don’t get swallowed up by the emotions of another person… or our own emotional state.

What about humans who accept a new job, but turn into a ghost on their first day of work? Why do people bolt without a word from a variety of situations? Ever been on the way to some celebration for a person you cared about and at the last minute steered the wheel in another direction. I mean ghosting shows up everywhere!

And when the text messages, phone calls or possible confrontations bring the specter back to life, it just isn’t good for anyone. The ghosted wants answers, but the ghost never wanted to offer one in the first place or he/she would’ve spoken before taking flight.

I have personally done this in the form of not showing up to social events I was expected to attend. Or with guys I never had a conversation with, except online, and instead of saying I’m not interested (which I had done in the past), I disappeared. Coward? Yes. In the case of guys I shared a few texts with where it was glaringly obvious to me it wasn’t good to continue, I silently slid out the texting door.

And in cases where you have someone with unpredictable or extreme behavior, becoming a ghost is probably the best idea. In my case, the times I said, “I wasn’t interested” to a few men, it actually unleashed some sort of unreasonable anger from them, which didn’t originate with our exchanges and made me grateful they didn’t know where I lived!

So, as I bring this topic, which I didn’t want to write to a close…..

I will leave you with some alternatives, comments and tips.

  1. Be honest–everyone. If you know on a gut level communication isn’t honest and you’re reading signs (like the ones Carrie ignored in the Sex and The City movie), but hoping if you pressure your mate/date or pretend everything is hunky dory, they will somehow wear ruby red slippers too… it’s time to be real. Speak your truth. And if you’re the one who can’t handle disappointing someone, so you make your date/mate into a big scary monster and soothe yourself with a story of why you silently slithered out of bed and left no note with a cold pillow in your wake.. .time to man or woman up! Be honest.
  2. Get real with yourself. What do you really want? Don’t try to please someone else by going along with what they want, WHEN YOU DO NOT WANT IT TOO. It’s okay to stand up for yourself.
  3. If you’re ghosted, do your best not to take it personally. Assume nothing and dig deep. Where could you have taken responsibility for any events leading up to them being MIA? Taking responsibility gives you a modicum of control over your emotions.
  4. Adding on to number three: Forget trying to find a reason. Your intellect will never be satisfied, so closure is something you will have to give to yourself. Question to ask yourself… what were you really getting here? Where were you attached, and where did you create your own expectations? Again, the more responsibility, the more control.
  5. Engulfment/abandonment: These two love to swim side by side, performing water ballet, until one partner has sucked in too much chlorine and darted out of the pool to somewhere safe. One person dreads abandonment and the other dreads engulfment. They are two sides of the same coin.

I am sure there’s more, but this topic could make for a book. Perhaps even a series of books on manners, communication or toxic emotional states… or recipes?

Whether in a romantic relationship, with a friend or at work, have you ever been ghosted? Or been the GHOST? I’d love to hear experiences from both sides… and what feelings resulted.

 

When Saying “NO” Seems Too Hard…

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Writing on this topic, presents the culmination of many people around me, including myself who have found themselves in the pickle of wanting to say “NO” and not doing it.

Trying to live authentic lives–where we do what we want, say what we want and show up as we want is difficult to do consistently, and we often don’t do it where we fear loss.

The specter of disappointing others can bind us to the mast of a ship headed to the rough seas of saying ‘yes’ when every inch of our being wants to scream, “NO!”

Guilt plays a huge factor in going along, to get along, what if we hurt someone else by not giving them what they want?

The amount of value we have is directly tied to what sort of situations we find ourselves in, because sometimes we say yes when we mean no, believing that this is as good as it might get for us (by the way it’s a whole series of YES’S that lead us to the crossroads–it’s never just one YES, which got us here). Better to settle here than to risk further into the unknown where we might end up alone, broke, a failure or some other label that we fear.

When we’re at our most confident and connected to our more life affirming beliefs, we have faith that what we truly want is out there and we’re much less willing to say ‘yes’ when we mean ‘NO.’

Most humans struggle with “Am I enough, good enough or worthy of…. fill in the blank and when we feel the heaviness inside that this might be it, we cling…with our reasoning founded in not wanting to upset the apple cart.

We might disappoint or hurt others, they may stop asking us to come out and play.

Perhaps,they may feel we’re slighting them, or that somehow we’re responsible for their emotional well-being (forgetting our own). Others around us may guilt trip us into what they believe is best for us, BASED on their own experiences. Most advice comes from the success or failure others have experienced, which actually says ‘nothing’ of what our experience could or might be!

When basing our decisions on outside factors, we always stand to lose, especially IF we’re not honest with ourselves.

If we’re saying yes to a job we don’t want, fighting the urge to run in the other direction, at least be truthful. We’re probably afraid if we don’t take it, another won’t come along. Our conditioning may say there’s a scarcity of opportunity; proven by our long search! So someone FINALLY recognizing our value–makes us feel we found more than a mirage in the desert! And…what if no other employer gives us a better opportunity? Better take it now!

Freedom is a wonderful concept, which takes a commitment to live in daily.

We feel pulled by obligations whether imagined or quite real, so why do we add to the prison we build by trying to tell ourselves “we have to do, what we don’t want to do?”

I’ve failed and I’ve succeeded, whether it’s in a single situation, a relationship, a job, my own business or even choosing a restaurant. The thing that’s clear is when I do something, which may cause a ruffle outside of me; it doesn’t compare to the one inside of me when I’m in opposition to myself.

And when we find the choice we made NOT in favor of ourselves, we look for things outside of us to build a case, such as finding flaws in someone, or something…and that doesn’t work, in the end it is no one else’s fault when we go against ourselves.

It’s our responsibility to live our lives; to be in the driver’s seat, because in the end, we’re the ones who have to live with our choices.

And for some of us we’d rather fall on our own sword, torturing ourselves, rather than suffer our perceived guilt, selfishness, or horrible outcome–because we believe we may never have a better opportunity etc…so we say ‘yes’ and slowly die in that moment….and many moments after, which we live through the repercussions of the decision to not choose ourselves.

How To Change Your Life Forever.

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For most of us, it can be pretty exhilarating to start a new job, a new relationship, find a new place to live, make new friends, join in new activities and take off on new adventures. All of this can play in shaping our perspective of possibilities, which some believe determines ‘who they are as a person.’

So, when these outside events change–we make a judgment, which alters our perception of our possibilities.

Julie thought her new job would be the answer to her unhappy home life. She saw herself enjoying the perks this company offered, including travel to other countries. It was her dream job!

At first, she was caught up in the excitement of the ‘new’ and the ability to be removed from her home life on a semi-regular basis. About three months into her job, she noticed she felt pretty much the same as she did, before she took the job…in fact, she felt worse.

Julie hated going home. It meant dealing with the circumstances that she put aside when she took the job, she thought this type of change equaled a shift in her power, and her control over her life. It didn’t.

Our circumstances are a direct reflection of our relationship with ourselves, but don’t ‘define’ who we are and our possibilities. True change, causes a shift in our inner world, supported by loving action to the outer world.

We stand in the way of change by remaining focused on believing things around us must first change. This keeps possibilities limited. We may talk to our therapist or coach, vomiting our drama, feeling temporarily better, but achieving nothing new inside.

To change and perceive our lives without limitations, we must take an honest look within to understand how we don’t really act in our own best interest.

True change comes from the inside to the outside.

George came to his last session stating he wanted the key to change by the end of the session. He was frustrated and angry at his life. In the past, we discussed all the ways George could change his life, but those idea of boundaries overwhelmed him. Those options meant he might lose control of the stalemate he held in his relationship and his business, or it might offend or place him in a position of possible loss.

Change always includes loss, even if it’s an image of ‘what’s possible’ that we’re losing.

If we want change we must be willing to give up our PERCEIVED control of others and our unhappy circumstances. Expectations of keeping the status quo will influence our ability to set a new precedence.

Mark has been married for 30 years. His wife is his roommate, they haven’t had sex for 15 years. He desires an opportunity to fall in love with someone else. Mark’s afraid to leave the comfort of his situation, for the unknown…at least here he’s appreciated for mowing the lawn, cooking dinner and taking out the trash. If he creates boundaries or leaves, what will become of his life?

We need to take a risk, and get honest with ourselves. What’s the benefit to our current unhappiness and keeping the focus on everyone, but ourselves?  What are we afraid of losing if we change? Why does having a limited picture of possibilities suit us? Why do we seek struggle?

Three things that need to happen to create change forever:

  1. Consistent Honesty With Yourself.
  2. Boundaries That You Live By First.
  3. Action To Support Who You Are And What You TRULY Want.

Men are Strong!

Their human hearts beat trying to live up to some ideal.

We tend to believe they are a different species, but we’re much the same. And I don’t speak for all men or the perspective of all women, just my own.

In my coaching practice, I’ve found men stick through what can be grueling self-exploration and change at times, watching vulnerability become the norm for our sessions.

Men can change.

When they desire true happiness; they commit and stick with it until results show in their lives. Once he changes, some women don’t know what to do with the man they’ve been haranguing for years. The man is ready to communicate and work together, yet the woman wants to change him back to their comfort zone. I have watched it split up couples.

Fulfillment and inner peace become more important, and women who share that goal are what will show up in the lives of single men.

My clients have taught me a lot, as have men in and around my life.

They want to be understood and loved.

Men like to fix. They’re solution-oriented. They’re strong.

They’re equipped with an innate desire to help and yet, many times are shamed for doing just what comes naturally.

So, some men stop fixing; instead they hide, back off or pretend nothing is wrong. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

Some men have a need to be a paragon of “perfection” to the world; “the guy.” The weight of that world strangles them, because there’s no real reward for the burden. Fulfillment doesn’t come through living up to expectations.

I’ve found they are more hurt than they show when they disappoint someone, so some stop trying or never do in an effort to avoid possible shame from not being enough.

Perfection is a painful place to live, filled with fear and the anxiety of possible criticism or failure in being a man.

This may be an extreme, but fears can keep a man in a pattern that destroys his future happiness.

Some say fear and pain are drivers, but they just fuel activity having nothing to do with true desires in their heart and soul. Pain is not in the heart and soul; love, creativity, passion, excitement and boldness live there.

Men may admit to pain, but may cover it quickly with saying how it creates an adventure. The reality is those are words meant to block vulnerability.

Many are taught they must assume responsibilities and always show strength.

Except the definition of strength is a little confusing.

Strength is not ego, hollow words that sound good, competing or harming anyone. Strength is getting to know oneself, standing for one’s own meaning, the vulnerability of admitting to chinks in the armor and being there for his partner.

Strong men know vulnerability is the key to their soul.

They listen, engage, connect with intimacy, are playful, cry, talk and have fears but show up anyway, because to them to deny or hide is to be a host to regret.

Men get beat up as much as women, if not more when it comes to being told they are bad, wrong or not worth it.

So why would one want to be vulnerable?

Well, from my perspective it stops heart attacks, loneliness and stress. Relationships teach us more than being alone; being a loner is an easy way out of vulnerability. 

When you are invulnerable you attract EXACTLY that to you, which creates a relationship of struggle.

If the man is invulnerable, a vulnerable woman will sooner or later realize the return on investment is at a cost to her, so she’ll seek a man who is strong enough to be vulnerable.

If you want a good woman, vulnerability is your true strength…show up wearing nothing but that and she will love you forever!

A gift to men is for you to listen.

Don’t judge.

Let him talk and talk until he starts to open up, he touches vulnerability and there is nothing to fear in what is said, no one is abandoned or ridiculed. Confidence is born from the expression of what is true, no matter if it inadvertently hurts or is hard to hear.

Confidence keeps a man from believing he must settle in life or make the best out of a life he doesn’t want. I watch as men just as often as women will tell themselves stories, because they are afraid too.

And fear is part of the human experience. When a man admits that he is scared to anyone, it shows he has more balls than a dude who can bench press an elephant. Half the battle is saying it and the other half is to take action, which takes him out of his comfort zone.

In Latin, true courage is strength of heart.

For men more than women, they have to detach from the outcome or fear of failure; vulnerability is a way of life, it’s the goal.

It’s the most amazing experience witnessing a man communicate his truth.

Men want to please.  They are enough. Always. Even when you don’t get what you want. And even when they fail. Tell the man in your life that he’s enough, as is…no different, no worse, no better.

No one is wrong. Don’t make em wrong. Don’t ask what’s wrong.

Share. Be honest.

Don’t strategize, manipulate or try to get what you want. Ask them to listen.

Speak from your heart. Ask open-ended questions, which require a real answer that you must promise not to take personally.

No one needs to purposely annihilate the other; there is no right or wrong, just two different people. Watch intimacy start to bloom, strength and confidence invigorate and bring happiness, unconditional love and a deep bond.

Men want this as much you do, they may just have a longer route to the same destination.