I Was A Female 'Player' — But It Wasn't Actually All That Much Fun

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Love

I joined a crowd of people at the gorgeous rooftop pool in my building. The sun was out, the skyline was perfect, and the smell of chicken wafted from the grill.

Life was great.

I was surrounded by people who were all happy to swap a story with me, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing.

At the time, I didn’t have a partner and these causal interactions felt so superficial and repetitive.

Through the loneliness, I wondered to myself, "Is it just going to be me, the cat, and a vibrator forever?"

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That was the moment that I realized I’d been selling myself short as an emotionally unavailable woman.

I’d been settling for things that made the loneliness go away temporarily, but didn’t satisfy my long-term need for love, commitment, and companionship.

Like most independent 30-something single women, I was adaptable, creative, and lived a full life.

I loved my friends, traveled, and built an interesting career. I met a lot of men. I dated them casually but none of them lead to the long-term outcome I was so deeply craving. They came and went.

We were "just friends." We kept each other company until something better came along.

I told myself I wasn’t "really interested" but I kept responding to their texts and calls anyways. I’d justify my choice by saying, "Why not? Life is short," or "I’ll give him another try," or "I’m not sleeping with them so why does it matter?"

At the end of each date, I’d be irritated with them for being some way they always were. I’d write them off until the next time they called. Then, it would start all over again.

I’d blame them for this scenario. I’d mentally accuse them of being lame, unavailable guys who just wanted to use women, had a lot of issues, and weren’t ready for the real thing.

As I laid there in my bed dissecting my weekend male encounters, it dawned on me.

It was not them. It was me.

I was a "Female Player."

I was doing all of the things that I hate unavailable men for doing. I was ghosting, breadcrumbing, reappearing, and spending time with people I had no long-term interest in.

The truth was that I was terrified of commitment and lying to myself to cover it up.

I was acting like an emotionally unavailable man. I was getting just enough love, intimacy, and affection to keep me going without risking any real vulnerability.

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I was protecting my heart from being shattered again by avoiding situations where I could really be loved.

This worked great until it didn’t.

It was just fine until my need for something more became stronger than the quick fix I was getting. Once I understood the price I was paying, I had to change.

That big realization led to an even bigger decision about how I approached dating.

I decided that I didn’t want to be a "female player" or an emotionally unavailable woman anymore. It was time to learn what it meant to be emotionally available.

I was ready to open my heart to something real. I was playing for keeps. The truth was that underneath my intimacy avoidant behavior was a huge and vulnerable heart.

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I’d been acting like a player and blaming men for their shortcomings because I was afraid to fully experience my own heart and all of its love, hope, hurt, vulnerability, strength, and tenderness.

The first step in healing my inner player was to accept this.

I understood that my inner player existed as a defense. So, I forgave myself for my imperfection and for all of the ways that I’d been unavailable.

I opened my big heart up to myself. I filled myself with the love that I was holding back. I let myself feel the tender vulnerability that existed underneath the complex defenses.

This was the first step in a process that led me out of Playerville and into real love.

If reading this article makes you wonder if you, too, are a female player, then you might be. But, I am here to tell you that it’s OK.

It’s OK to continue pursuing life the way you are. But, it's also OK to change and really experience the fullness of your own heart.

When you get to the point where being a player doesn’t work for you anymore, remember this: awareness and a little self-forgiveness go a long way.

Not for nothing, but, a year after I wrote this piece I became happily engaged to a gorgeous man, inside and out.

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Kirsten Keach MA LMFT is a marriage and family therapist. Visit her website for more information on her services.

This article was originally published at The Elephant Journal. Reprinted with permission from the author.