The last two newsletters have focused on the "Top Ten Excuses" single adults make for dropping out of the dating pool. Today, as promised this series will culminate in a frank discussion of what I believe to be the single most insidious factor in keeping people from dating. In no uncertain terms, nothing limits otherwise sharp and desirable people from pursuing and succeeding with the opposite sex more than this. I am talking, of course, about GUILT?or SHAME, if you prefer.
Now having a conscience is a good thing. Such helps shape a sense of compassion and makes those who possess a solid one good citizens of the world. The problems start, however, when we let ourselves be manipulated into believing we are "bad" or "unworthy" OR when we refuse to forgive ourselves for past mistakes. The end result of a prolonged sense of guilt or shame is that we literally rob ourselves-and others, theoretically-of the healthy relationships that we deserve. So tell me, have you ever been out with someone you really liked?but that person just couldn't allow him or herself to believe the two of you could have a great relationship? You know what I mean.
Conversations about how he or she "doesn't deserve you", or "if you knew my secrets you'd reject me", etc. In the end, you broke up with this person?probably with a sense of frustration or even anger. Give me a silent nod if you can relate. Most "dating advice" would throw a blanket over such a situation and say that the person who makes such "lame excuses" probably didn't like you anyway and you just need to improve your "game".
And that's sure to happen to many of you-as it did to me-before we learn to deserve what we want. But in the real world of advanced dating skills, those who deserve what they want and become successful in the dating world will OFTEN discover truly terrific people who JUST CAN'T ALLOW THEMSELVES TO BE HAPPY in a relationship. You will be told "you're too good to be true". And sure, some people suffer from plain old self-esteem issues. Those "excuses" we covered already.
The most tragic situation of all, though, is when people who TRULY DO deserve what they want let shame or guilt get the best of them. In these scenarios BOTH potential partners lose out, don't they? Getting past simple "tips", "tricks" and "game" like we are going to do with the Power Sessions series means that those who deserve what they want in the dating world have got to get past the "paint by numbers" mindset and learn to look more deeply at human behavior and communications. I personally have met and appreciated several women prior to meeting my fiancée Emily who were absolutely stunning human beings on the inside and out. Some deserving guy should be incredibly happy someday to land any of them.
And that guy may very well have been me?except the particular women I am thinking of simply could not get past emotional damage done to them. Can you see the subtle difference between low self-esteem in it's raw form versus the effects of guilt and shame? Let's consider four factors that trigger guilt or shame, and how to get around them: 1) A BIG Past Mistake "I've been to jail before. No woman will love me." "I've been too sexually promiscuous." "I spilled milk on my best friend in third grade." You've heard somewhere along the line that "nobody's perfect".
Thankfully, most of our imperfections (and not necessarily just the "perfect imperfections" I famously talk about) aren't public. This means that whatever we are carrying around, we have no idea what other people have on their own plates. So we dwell on our own embarrassing failures, thinking we are somehow worse than everyone else. What happened in the past HAS GOT to be over and done with?it's the ONLY OPTION, if you really think about it. I personally know people who have let the tiniest of peccadilloes-the type of which 99% of us would laugh off or even be proud of-RUIN their social lives.
On the other hand, I know others who have made truly IMMENSE mistakes in their lives (including direct responsibility for the accidental death of one's own child) who have gone on to participate in happy relationships. 2) A Dark Secret The difference between a "past mistake" and a "dark secret" for the purpose of this context is the difference between something being past versus being current. Perhaps you smoke occasionally and just can't quit. Maybe you have a child in another state.
Whatever the issue is, if you feel you have one you have two choices. Either you can get the issue handled or you can aim towards deserving someone more in line with your own personal situation. If you just can't quit smoking, stop trying to hide it from non-smoking potential partners and start dating smokers and/or people who don't mind your lighting up.
That's all there is to it. The same logic can be applied to any other "secret" you have. Based on my personal experience, most "dark secrets" are more easily digestable by others than we ever imagine they would be. A quick note?if your dark secret is truly damaging to self or others, take the high road and do what it takes to get rid of it. 3) Manipulation Manipulative individuals can brainwash us into believing things about ourselves that just aren't true.
Ex-spouses and control-freaks are famous culprits here?yet somehow we allow their poisonous message through. A major life skill central to deserving what you want is learning how to see yourself as others see you. If you are being told you are a jerk a few times a day, well?yeah?look in the mirror. However, if the only person on Earth who thinks you "don't love your children" is your ex spouse, well then you now know what to do with that information. Unfortunately, there are religious organizations out there that have fine-tuned their guilt-producing machines to utter precision.
This is also a manipulative mechanism, and one that carries shocking effectiveness in the lives of many people. If the message of a religious organization, or one of its members, is causing you to be paralyzed with guilt or shame ask this: Does that feeling represent your vision of the God you worship? 4) Abuse If you have been abused in any form it is NOT YOUR FAULT. This is certainly not a forum for formal recovery from such hurt, but I have seen an incredible number of people (men and women) have their identities in the dating world profoundly damaged by the abusive acts of others. Potential partners will not judge you because you were abused. Having been the victim of abuse, the only way you are limited from deserving the partner of your dreams is if YOU do so because of guilt or shame. Period.
5) Divorce We know that divorce can weigh on one's self-esteem. However, sometimes divorce also fosters a mindset of feeling judged by God or others, thereby causing us to feel we are not to participate in future relationships. Truthfully, 21st century life is rarely as cut and dried as we would like it to be. In my own experience, there was no infidelity in my first marriage, yet because of very complicated circumstances there is absolutely no way I could have done more to make the marriage work and no chance for living the remainder of my life with my ex-spouse.
After careful evaluation I learned how-and why---to move on, and am at peace with it all. When there is no chance for reconciliation for valid reasons that are largely beyond your control, you simply must realize that it's a trap to remain mired in guilt.
Scot McKay's dating strategies are found at http://www.deservewhatyouwant.com/. Stop by right now and grab a FREE e-book ($20 value) when you sign up for the X & Y Communications Newsletter, which is always packed with unique and practical dating tips.