We all know a desperate person or two. They make frantic phone calls to men they barely know looking for reassurance. They need to know "where things are going" after a few dates. They obsess over why they're stuck being single. They talk nonstop about men, love, relationships and rarely, if ever, take a break from the dating scene. When you call to talk about your love life, they overflow with their disappointments and anger about why life has dealt them the relationship cards they're holding.
Most of all, these women spend hours and hours feeling trapped inside a miserable, unfulfilled single life that they desperately want to get out of if they could only figure out how.
What defines a desperate person? Desperate people make decisions that are not in their best interest out of fear.
Some common fears that single people grapple with include:
- Fear of being alone
- Fear of being forced to settle
- Fear of repeating the past
- Fear of never experiencing true love
- Fear of never being accepted (flaws and all)
When someone makes choices in life because of one of these fears, they risk damaging their positive image of themselves. What seems like a good idea in the moment, because it pushes the fear away, ends up packing a double whammy because it reinforces both the fear and the belief in that fear.
For example, when a woman who is afraid of being alone chooses to get into a committed relationship with a man who is not her equal, the message she send to her self-esteem is that she’s not worth a better man. She’s not worth her equal. She’s worth less.
How do you stop this cycle? To stop being desperate you have to end the pattern of inaccurate, negative beliefs about yourself. You need to begin to believe that you have something wonderful to offer and that the person you're "meant" to be with is actually out there. In other words, you need to begin to re-train your brain.
Here are a few ways to start:
1. Take a break from dating and focus your attention exclusively on things you're confident about and good at doing. If you regularly score points at work, consider spending an extra hour or two at the office each day. You could take a work-related class or do some career-related networking. The point is to practice experiencing what you're like (how you feel and behave) when you're in a more confident, relaxed place. Begin to teach yourself through this example that you have a lot to offer. When your fearful feelings come back, remember what it feels like to be good at something and imagine that you're just as good at dating. Use this experience as a template for how you want to behave and what it feels like to not be desperate.
2. Look at your pattern for seeking help, and change it. If you're someone who reads self-help books, watches Oprah religiously and reads every relationship magazine on the newsstand, take a break from all of the advice. Trust that in all the years that you've been looking for love that something has actually sunk in. When you need it, it will be there. Likewise, if you're someone who never asks for help, try asking for some. Find a mentor, trusted friend, coach or author to teach you how to create the life you want. Let this person serve as a role model for how to live a confident life.
3. Give love back to other people, places or pets. Put yourself in the role of giving to others. Volunteer at a shelter, help build a Habitat for Humanity project, foster a pet or take care of a sick relative. Take your focus off yourself and consciously place it on others. Over time, you'll find that by giving to others they will give back to you. Sometimes this "give-back" happens directly in the form of affection or words, and other times you're simply given the opportunity to be in a more generous, loving place. Either way, the experience will remind you what real love is like, and help to strengthen your resolve when potential suitors give you less. It will become much easier to let go of relationships that are "not good enough" once you've experienced one that is.
4. Give yourself a makeover. You don't have to spend a ton to do this, but changing your look can do wonders to how you "see" yourself. Get a haircut, try a new color, invest in a new seasonal wardrobe (try Goodwill, they have tons there), paint your nails or change your makeup. Do something to physically change your outward appearance and try on this new "less fearful" you.
5. Give the judge and jury in your head a rest. Every court in the country takes time off even if only for snow days and scheduled vacation. Give the men in black robes in your head a month off. Create a mantra to say to yourself when you hear them speak up. Simply repeat "you're on vacation, I'll talk to you next month" when they begin to call. If you can't settle the voices down, do something. Physical activity of any kind can help distract you from yourself. Play music, wash the dishes, turn on the TV, go for a hike, call a friend; remove your attention from what you're thinking and do something so you're less likely to fall into the trap of obsessing about things that are negative.
Try one of these ideas to get started, or try them all for a deeper impact.
Desperate people have to change something in their mind to reset their engines. No one wants to be the friend who is constantly in need of reassurance or perpetually afraid that they'll die alone. Just remember that it takes time and it's normal for your fearful feelings to come back in spades when you're back in the dating scene. That's just life giving you a chance to try out your new, more confident self.