Check out the Sassy Psychologist’s guest spot on Straight Talk with Sandra Reich on the topic of this blog: Chronically Single? It’s not THEM. It’s YOU! You can check out the radio episode here.
So, many of my clients claim to be unlucky in love. I, myself, was a hot mess for some time in my younger years. Truth is, being unhappy in relationships rarely has to do with your partner and, instead, has everything to do with the poor relationship you have with yourself. Yeah yeah, I realize that this sounds like horse sh*t but the truth is, all kinds of bad relationships are birthed from low self-esteem acquired from your past. People have past experiences that often lead to dysfunctional beliefs like: “I’m a burden,” “I’m invisible,” “I’m not enough,” “I’m not loved,” etc. These beliefs then manifest into bad behavioural patterns in adulthood that yield bad relationships. …and in their failed relationships, so many people go into victim-mode and think something is wrong with them. Well, I hate saying this but…they’re right – however not in the way you think.
In order to discover what you are doing to actually stay single, I want you to ask yourself these questions. Once you answer them and hopefully discover what you do to sabotage your love life, you need to change it. If you don’t adjust your behaviour, you will continue to suffer the same fate. Sorry…harsh but true.
1) What do you think when you walk into a room full of people you are attracted to?
This is a question I often ask my clients and they are always surprised to see how self-depreciating they are. When you come face-to-face with someone attractive, your critical voice often takes over and it often sounds something like this: “No one will like me,” “I’m not attractive,” “I can’t talk to that person, they’re too attractive.” You must realize that these thoughts will dictate your fate! You must acknowledge these thoughts and restructure them into something healthier like, “I feel alright tonight,” “I’m proud of my make-up job,” “You never know who might be attracted to me and who I might be attracted to,” etc.
2) Can you make eye contact with someone you find attractive?
Often times when they see someone attractive, my clients report not being able to look at them in the face. This comes from perspectives like, “They’ll see me looking,” “They won’t like me,” “They’ll think I’m weird,” “They’ll see that I like them.” This inner dialogue must be changed! “Yea they do intrigue me, so what if I’m looking.” “What’s the worst that can happen?” “If they don’t like me, that doesn’t mean I’m undesirable.” You must realize that you are entitled to look at people you are attracted to. If they do not look back or are not attracted to you, it does not ultimately affect your likeability.
3) Do you redirect conversation away from you?
In conversations, if you redirect attention off of you and onto someone else, you are training people to skip over you. People may end up seeing you as unimportant and it would be your-a culpa. Take your place by accepting attention, as well as giving attention, in interactions with others.
4) Do you always make fun of yourself to the point of being dismissive, diminishing, and minimizing towards your accomplishments?
While not-taking-yourself-too-seriously, displays humility and a good sense of humor, doing it too much is symptomatic of low self-esteem. You must remember to publicly show appreciation for yourself in addition to displaying humility. Take compliments with grace and acknowledge your successes and accomplishments.
5) Can you accept nice gestures?
Can you accept a coffee from a colleague? When someone opens the door for you, can you walk through, say thanks, and not always return the favor? If not, you need to start receiving and accepting nice gestures from people. An ability to receive, shows people that you know your worth. People will respect that. (see blog THE ART OF RECEIVING posted on January 27, 2015)
6) Do you always say, “yes”?
Always saying, “yes” displays poor personal boundaries. People will, in turn, violate your boundaries and take you for granted. It is important that you say, “no” when you mean, “no.” To help ease you into that notion, you don’t have to start with “no” right away. Instead start with “I’ll get back to you,” in order to stop you from saying “yes” right away.
7) Do you show people that you will do a lot (too much)?
Are you always doing the dishes at parties? Are you the colleague people always count on to get everything done quickly and efficiently? Of course helping is wonderful but you need to acknowledge when you are doing too much and forgoing your own needs in the process. This over-functioning trains people to see you as someone who will sacrifice his/herself for others every time and they will begin sacrificing you too. You need to show people that you are reliable but that you will not sacrifice yourself for everyone else every single time. Again, people will learn to respect you and your time.
8) Do you cultivate your own talents?
There is no better way to accept your own worth (and display that worth to the world) than to nourish your passions and interests. …love reading? Talk about your favorite books. …crazy about your job? Show off your skills. …have a desire to travel? Daydream out loud. Taking time for yourself and celebrating your life is of crucial importance in the development of your self-esteem. You deserve to experience that which you love. Make it happen for your own benefit. As far as your date is concerned, nothing is more attractive than you “doing you.”
9) Do you present yourself to others in a way that (falsely) displays you have it all figured out?
I cannot stress how important it is to show people your vulnerable side. First of all, showing weakness allows people to care for you. People want to love you but if you show them that you do not need them, they will feel like there is “no way in” (to your heart). You will teach them that you can take care of it all, making them feel inadequate. Someone once told me that they dislike people who do not admit to having weaknesses and vulnerabilities. When I asked them why, they told me that it feels phony because vulnerability is what makes us all human. Good point!
So, to all of you fabulous singles, no it’s not your fault if your partner’s an asshole. But…read through the list above. You may realize that you have more to do with your romantic ruptures than you thought. It’s actually pretty empowering to know that if you, unknowingly, did something unhealthy; you can now, knowingly, fix it.
Sandra Reich M.Ed. is the Clinical Director of The Montreal Center for Anxiety & Depression, The Co-Director of Empowered Women Workshops, Co-Director of Anxiety Videos, Founder of Sandra Reich’s Couple Retreats as well as the host of a top weekly radio show: Straight Talk with Sandra Reich on Internet’s Voice America.
Sandra is also a best-selling author of a #1 self-help book on relationships, (Once upon a Time- How Cinderella Grew Up & Became a Happy Empowered Woman) and well known as an expert on anxiety, relationships, family dynamics and more.