Among the many things I did to get to a place where I was ready to meet my husband, developing real self-love and respect was perhaps the most important, and the most difficult. I know it’s cliché, but you won’t find the true and adult love that you crave until you know – I mean truly know – that you deserve it.
This is an except from my eBook: Confessions of the World’s Worst Dater: Her 7 Secrets to Finally Finding Love After 40. You can click here to get your copy and read more.
This is about more than just being able to describe what’s fabulous and special about you. For years, I was able to rattle off a list of my great qualities…while droning on about not being able to find a good man who appreciated me.
But that was simply an intellectual exercise. Until I believed in my heart that I was “worthy of consideration” by a good man who loved and adored me, I never found one.
Dating can be intense from the outset. We tend to quickly distort things out of emotion. Being grounded in liking yourself and respecting yourself is essential not just to finding a good relationship with a good man, but to enjoying the dating journey along the way.
Here are my Four Commandments of Self-Respect with Men:
Measure by your yardstick, not theirs.
I can joke here about how men tend to fudge on measurements. But, seriously, you must judge your worth based on your feelings and what you value. When you do, and you feel your true worth, you will find a man who brings you what you want and need. You won’t let yourself settle for less.
I have an exercise I do with my clients that digs deep into their strengths and character. I ask them to take a true and serious look at themselves. They always like what they see.
Being perfect is not expected. And we should never hold ourselves to an impossible standard. Sometimes that impossible standard takes the shape of us measuring ourselves based on what we think men want. And when we aren’t that woman (flirty, simple-minded, leggy, superficial, subservient, etc.) we feel less-than.
Real men – adult men – want YOU! They want intelligence and depth and independence. Once you realize this, and change your “measurement” you will see that you more than measure up.
Do the work.
This doesn’t come easy for many women. Take the time, and devote the attention to getting in touch with how you feel about yourself and how you are approaching your search.
You need to be clear about what you want and need in a man and in a relationship. Then, take an honest look and determine, by your standards, if you’ve put yourself in a position to get what you deserve.
It’s not about whether they like you.
Many women approach meeting a man by asking “I wonder if he’ll like me?” And end up getting stuck there. That is the wrong question. The questions to ask are “Do I like him? Do I feel good when I’m with him?” If the answer is “no” then it doesn’t matter if he isn’t going to choose you. If he isn’t a man that you want to get to know and be with, his impression of you holds little meaning.
This is one of the most freeing things I learned, and one of the very first things I pass on to my clients and my friends. I shared that with a new client recently, and she reacted the same way I did; it was like a light bulb went on. Believing this is the step that opens you up to being able to focus on what’s good for you and getting what you deserve.
Stay vigilant, learn, but enjoy the ride. Especially at the beginning of what I called my “journey of dating like a grown-up”, I needed regular check-ins with myself about how I was feeling and the choices I was making. I also looked back at each of my experiences to find opportunities to learn.
This self-awareness and openness to discovery is absolutely necessary as you date and search for love. The key is balancing that with being able to be in the moment and have some fun.
Here’s what I tell my clients: Do the work and get grounded in respecting and feeling good about yourself. Realize that no one is anywhere near perfect, and human beings accept – even appreciate – people who are vulnerable and imperfect. Then go out and date.
It’s not to say that you’ll feel 100% fabulous all the time, but that will be okay. When you trust yourself and make good choices, you’ll find that you can relax and enjoy your date, or phone call, or even the email you’re writing the guy you met online. You’ll be able to focus on where you are and who you’re trying to connect with rather than fighting with his opinions, your self criticism, and walls you put up for self-protection.
Answer these two questions to get started on getting in touch with your self-worth:
1. When I meet a man, what are my initial thoughts? Do I try to determine his opinion of me or interest in me, or do I first focus on how I feel about him?
2. Looking back at your last several dates and/or relationships, can you identify times when you accepted disrespectful treatment or didn’t get what you truly deserved?
To read the entire section Secret #3: You Like and Respect Yourself and the rest of my book, click here.