Like a lot of little girls, romance captivated my attention. I played for hours with my girlfriends, creating scenarios about how Ken would pick up Barbie in his sports car for dates. I watched, wide eyed, as Lady and the Tramp shared a plate of spaghetti, inhaling the last noodle together into a kiss. I dreamed that one day I would be the receiving beauty on the end of this mysterious, romantic love.
Not only was I delighted by the happy movie endings of Cinderella getting the Prince, I started to notice a different romantic interest developing around age 11 or 12. I remember when I saw my mom returning from the mailbox with the Ladies' Home Journal at the back of the stack underneath her arm, I tugged it out halfway, while asking, "Can I read this?" and then scurrying off to a quiet edge of our 70's floral print couch to read the column, "Can This Marriage Be Saved?"
I was equally captivated by the myriad of problems that could happen in a romantic relationship. Month after month I completly absorbed the details of how the woman wanted to leave her husband of 25 years because he never paid attention to her and how the man felt his wife's constant nagging caused him to lose interest in her company. The counselor then commented how different points of view and family backgrounds affected their problem. I read on, dying to know if their marriage could be saved? With the couple's willingness to take some steps, several months later the marriage was saved! With relief and joy, I was nearly in tears.
While I stocked up all this sage advice as an adolescent, I noticed, as I became a teenager, that I developed a serious problem in my own romantic life. Though I consistently had a love interest at school, my problem was when I spotted this love interest coming down the hall towards me within conversational distance, my heart nearly dropped into my knees and it was all I could do to not pass out from a panic attack. Forget about even offering a friendly hello.
I managed to have only one boyfriend in high school, due to the fact that my friend persuaded him to take me to Homecoming and he said yes. During the 3 months we dated, I lost about 15 pounds. I could barely eat an apple at lunch from all the nervousness I felt when he came to sit next to me. When I broke things off with him, I can't say if it was more because there was something wrong between us or if I just couldn't stomach the feeling of complete inadequacy to navigate a relationship.
After that galloping romance, I didn't enter another relationship for years. While I had one off kisses with guy friends, a 5 yearlong crush from afar, or the occasional unappealing advance, the feelings were always unrequited from my side or his.
At some point in my mid 30's I threw myself into overworking so much that I pushed down the desire for relationship all together. Until one day, after returning from an impulsive solo trip to Europe, I returned with a renewed sense of confidence. Soon afterwards a very attractive co-worker walked into the office and smiled at me. And I smiled back. It was the first feeling of mutual attraction that I'd felt in as long as I could remember.
With him as the first, I began a several year process of dating different men, on and off. While I was proud of myself for overcoming some of my fears to date men, the relationships weren’t working out because I was still unhealthy and choosing unhealthy men.
When I reached 40 I knew things were really serious and I needed help. I always wanted to have my own family, so I was motivated to act. I sought the best advice I could find in the hope to answer the question, "Can This Woman Be Wed?"
I read books on self-worth and femininity, I worked with dating coaches and talked with trusted married friends. My passion for reading about relational dynamics rushed back, just like that young girl on the couch. I devoured any relationship advice I could find. Many of my friends felt comfortable to tell me about their relationship struggles and I was all ears.
I put the advice into practice—while in a relationship or online dating. I discovered what worked and what didn't. I joined a year-long dating coaching group, meeting 2-3 times weekly for accountability. Little by little, I became less anxious and more confident in who I was.
I knew more of what I wanted, more of what I would accept, more of what I could give, more of what I wouldn't tolerate, and had a clearer vision for a marriage that wouldn't need to be saved.
My man hasn't arrived yet, but he will, I am sure. Until then I am fully enjoying my life, whether a man is in it or not.
I recognize that I’m not alone in my struggle through the ups and downs of dating and relationships. Recently becoming a life coach, I want to help other singles to grow personally and gain skills to navigate the emotional roller coaster of our modern dating world. With all that I’ve learned, I know I can help.
Have you or someone you know just broken up? Feel reluctant to go online? Out of practice after divorce? Can't break bad relational patterns? Love the 'bad boy' types? Lose yourself easily in a relationship? Believe me, I've probably been there.
If you work with me, I would support you to discover some of the limiting beliefs that lead to dating issues, as well as help you with practical guidance in this age of confusing dating culture. I'd be your "columnist" so that you can save your marriage before it starts.
So hit me up! - I'd love to walk with you towards the experience of a close, satisfying partnership!