Bending and twisting yourself like a pretzel to fit what you think the person you're attracted to wants might get him interested, but here's why he won't stick around for long.
This is the eighth and final post in our series 8 Signs You Aren’t Ready for a Relationship.
If you often find that you're trying to change something about yourself thinking it will make you more attractive to the guy you just met, or just started dating, then you are, like I was, lacking in self-esteem and confidence. Don't be too hard on yourself, this is very common but it means that you need to work on finding and loving the real you before trying to love someone else.
This was my dating pitfall: I used to think it was all about showing a guy that I really was all that. I felt that I had to show him just how wonderful I was, and make him realize that I was everything he had ever wanted in a woman. And I mistakenly thought that I could do that by loving everything that he loved, by wanting to do everything that he wanted to do, and by showing him just how much we had in common (even when we really didn’t.)
What I didn’t realize back then was that it all just set the stage for a relationship that wasn’t authentic, wasn’t truly honest, and wasn’t about two real people bringing their own true selves into the relationship. I also didn't understand that any potential the relationship might have had would come to a striking halt because I wasn’t being true to myself. Ironically, it was the exact opposite of what I was hoping to get – a real relationship.
It was a pattern I repeated over and over again, and I just couldn't figure out how he could be so interested in the beginning and then suddenly not interested at all. What I didn’t understand then that I finally understood much later was that I was just fluff. I was only giving him that part of me that I thought was what he wanted, what I thought that most guys wanted. But the problem was that I really didn’t know how to be anything else after that. I was so intent on being the perfect package, that I wasn’t my own person. I was just a mirror of him.
While that might work in the beginning, and get him interested, it doesn't last because any true relationship requires both give and take. Both partners have to complement the other in order for each, and the relationship, to grow.
One of my favorite books from my dating years that helped me to understand this problem and to work through it was Marianne Williamson's A Woman's Worth. The copyright on it is 1993, making it now considered a classic, but her words are just as true today as they ever were. I still have my dog-eared copy with its yellowing, note-riddled pages on my bookshelf.
I think this excerpt makes the point very well:
"There is a difference between getting a partner and attracting a partner. Getting implies that our hooks work; attracting means that our light is bright and appears like a beacon to one who is meant to see it. When we try to get a partner, we increase our chances of getting the wrong one. Yes, we can hook one perhaps, but a hook in him is a hook in us. We either end up neurotically obsessed, or he figures out it's a hook and does his own casting off. When we attract love by an intensified connection to the spirit inside, we take responsibility for the energy around us, harmonizing it in such a way that those who come forward – who we sense are meant to be with us – connect with us out of similarly pure intent."
Her words woke me up to the reality that by trying to be something I wasn't, trying to be something that I thought these guys wanted that I didn't have naturally, something that I'd have to fake, that this trying was exactly what was causing me to continue to have failing relationships! And this realization created such a calming, peaceful, zen-like feeling that washed over me, and for the first time in my dating life I felt like I could just relax. Stop trying so hard. Just be. Live. Love life.
It was then that I finally realized that I could just be the person I wanted to be, without worrying that I wasn't hip enough or wasn't into things that guys might like. It didn't matter. I would just be who I was, and do what I loved doing, and I trusted that there would be someone out there who would love me for everything that I really was (or at least love most of me, and tolerate the rest.)
So if you find yourself like I was, trying hard to get a guy to like you, trying to be what you think he wants, just stop. Breathe. Relax. Stop trying so hard. And then be yourself. If you don't know who she is, then go find her – that's what I had to do. It's understandable, after trying to be someone different for so long, probably even someone different for each guy, that you don't even know the real you anymore.
Spend some time getting to know that gorgeous, wonderful woman that is you. Let your light shine for the world to see, and let your light be a beacon so that equally gorgeous, wonderful guy can find you in this crazy ocean fog of modern life. You won't know what he looks like, in fact he might be completely different, physically, from what you expected, but you'll know him when you meet him.
And he'll know you because of your beautiful, bright, shining light.