The fears I had around being successful in love were huge. As badly as I wanted success, the thought of finding real love actually made me feel like puking. This may sound completely counter-intuitive for a girl who wanted to find love, but here’s the thing: I had deep fears about love and they ran deep.
These fears included things like rejection, abandonment, self-judgment, and judgment from others.
I had a lifetime of bad experiences under my belt when it came to love and committed relationships (yay me) and it seemed like everyone had their own two bits to add to my single situation.
“You’re too picky” they’d say. “They’re right,” I’d think.
This Negative Nancy train of thinking leads to my inability to make the decision to put my love life first for a very long time. I dabbled in dating, I told everyone and their dog that I was single and ready to mingle, but deep down in my heart, I knew I wasn’t ready. I had all kinds of excuses too.
There weren’t enough good men out there, I was too busy with work, going to the gym, reading or hanging out with my friends, etc etc.
The reason for all of these excuses though became apparent to me eventually. I was scared to make a full-on commitment to love because what if I got burned again?
What if I finally decided to give it my all, open myself up, be vulnerable, speak up for myself and do everything I had been learning, and still flop? Then what?! Then I’d be a real big loser.
Then I’d have to face the fact that maybe I really was damaged beyond repair and doomed to a lifetime sentence of being the bitter old cat lady who shopped for cheap bottles of wine at the neighborhood liquor store at 10 PM on a Friday night.
Nope. I wasn’t ready to confirm that.
I was not brave enough to fail at love. I was too scared to lose again, too afraid that I wasn’t good enough for it and too good at keeping myself emotionally safe by dating men who weren’t looking for a serious, committed relationship.
It was scary to think about actually screening these dudes to see if they were a good fit for me.
My stomach would do flips when I first started letting guys know I didn’t want to drink booze on a first date.
My voice cracked on the phone when I said I wanted to have another phone call before we met in person and I almost literally fainted when I told a guy I wanted to spend more time with him and meet his friends.
I had let all my past bad experiences pile up in my heart and dictate my expectations and I was not a fool.
I could look back and see a history of meeting guys and not feeling any chemistry, getting blown off or stood up on dates and being ignored when I finally said I wanted more.
I felt clouded by negativity and fear which kept me thinking that there was no way out of this pattern. I focused on everything that went wrong in the past which kept me believing there was no way out.
It wasn’t until I decided I wanted to believe something different though, that my experiences actually began to change.
I began to change my thinking. I did this by deciding to re-program my thoughts, literally.
So rather than believing I was terrible at dating and relationships, I turned my negativity around and said: “Laura, you can do this.”
I began writing positive words in my journals about myself, writing love notes to myself on all of the mirrors in my house, and sent myself wonderful, loving text messages so I could feel what it was like to be on the receiving end of love rather than abandonment and rejection.
My new beliefs got stronger and stronger. I started thinking that maybe I could fail at love again, and maybe that was OK.
I began to feel as though failures didn’t mean I was a crappy person, they just meant I hadn’t learned enough about the subject yet and I would need more practice.
This train of thought made it possible for me to have less anxiety on dates as well. If it didn’t go well, I knew why I never had to guess at the reason, I had to look at myself and figure out if I let fear in rather than confidence and love for myself.
I was also able to let go of the need to talk about my dating life. In the place of asking my friends what they thought if a date told me we were ‘going Dutch’ once we got the bill, was late to pick me up or thought it was cool if we watched the game with his friends, I began deciding for myself it was so not cool with me.
I stopped talking about details and actually stopped talking about my dating life altogether for a while.
If you feel like you are stuck in fear when it comes to love and relationships, I hear you, but I am a living example that you don’t need to believe this fear for the rest of your life.
Once you make the decision to begin acting as if you trust yourself, and you trust love, and failure is OK, another door beside the one to all the emotionally unavailable men and crappy pickup lines will open.
Deciding to begin a commitment to yourself and to love will change things for you.
It certainly did for me. All areas of my life saw an improvement.
I had money in my bank account after paying all my bills, my cystic acne that I’d suffered from for years began to improve, my weight normalized and remained consistent for 8 years and my relationships with family and friends deepened.
All of these things happened before I had success in the romance department.
I made a commitment to love, but what I really made a commitment to was myself, and that is how I began to feel happiness for the first time in my life.
Committing to me, and acting as though I was the most important thing is what actually allowed me to commit to finding love in a healthy way and I began to believe in myself.
Once you believe in yourself, nothing can get in your way.