When I was coaching a young, ambitious STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) woman named Rini on her dating troubles, she told me she seemed to go through the same pattern in her dating life: woman meets man, man treats her like an afterthought, woman does all she can to earn his love and affection, man disappears.
“I always feel like I’m not good enough,” she told me openly.
That self-sabotaging “I’m not good enough” message we all tell ourselves from time to time, dating or not, is called a “gremlin.”
You can imagine a gremlin like a green, grumpy, slimy creature living inside your heart and mind that drags you down, keeping you from living your best life.
For example, that gremlin creature often came knocking when I was trying to prove myself as a capable woman in the STEM workforce and when I compared myself to the stereotypical “daddy issues” bimbo some men salivate over in the dating world.
And if that’s not bad enough, you can add a diabetic helping of assumptions, interpretations, and limiting beliefs to your plate, collectively called “GAILs.”
Gremlins – that “I’m not good enough” message we tell ourselves
Example: feeling you’re unworthy of a partner’s love if you’re overweight and (s)he’s in shape
Assumptions – when you think “since this happened in the past, it’ll happen again”
Example: assuming future dates you meet online will probably flake since the last one did
Interpretations – an opinion about a situation
Example: interpreting someone’s silence over text message as disinterest in you as a lover
Limiting beliefs – a belief you’ve accepted that limits you
Example: believing you can’t open your heart to anyone, for fear of being judged
How Mental Roadblocks Can Make You Their Bitch
How much can you relate to Rini and other amazing women who find themselves becoming the bitch to their GAILs?
You might be dating someone who’s charming and good-looking, someone you can show off to your friends because (s)he makes good money, someone who cleans up well and can make you laugh for days.
You look at this god-like creature, who seems to have been raised by sirens or sculpted perfectly from the finest clay, and you pinch yourself, thinking this must not be real life.
Everything seems perfect on the outside.
Inside the relationship, that person might be inconsiderate, put his or her friends or work first, repeatedly flake on dinner dates and apologize later, call you “beautiful” one day and then fall off the grid for a week, forget your birthday, be in no hurry to introduce your to his or her family, and be an all-around douche.
Now, imagine how you might react:
- You might do whatever it takes to seek his approval.
- You might constantly plan your schedule around his, and then put up with his flakiness, defending his behavior to your friends.
- You might start thinking all (wo)men are going to treat you horribly, so why bother dating anymore?
- You might start interpreting every delayed text conversation as the relationship being doomed from the get-go.
- You might start believing you should never “give” in any relationship, or (s)he might take advantage of you.
- You might start thinking that any potential partner who calls you “beautiful” is a liar and will disappear.
- You might put funny people who ask you out in the “douche” bin, because that’s your new view of charming (wo)men.
- You might establish strict ground rules for “friend time” versus “girlfriend time.”
- You might feel unworthy of dating a good-looking person, thinking good-looking people have better things to do than date you.
Some of these examples might sound nuts, while others might hit close to home.
They’re all examples of letting gremlins, assumptions, interpretations, and limiting beliefs get the best of you.
Regardless, it’s totally understandable that unpleasant, even dreadful, dating experiences would make you see dating (or certain aspects of it) under a whole new negative light.
It makes sense that our experiences, and the GAILs that come out of them, would prompt us to act a certain way to protect us from future hurt.
It makes complete sense to feel cynical; devoid of trust, love, and hope; frustrated; and even tortured, given that no matter how hard you try in your dating life, the universe seems to be playing the puppeteer or playing practical jokes on you so you can never find happiness [cue evil clown laugh].
Or can you?
How You Can Make Mental Roadblocks Your Bitch
It can be hard getting past your dating GAILs on your own, which is why I highly recommend hiring a dating coach.
A dating coach is like an accountability buddy who will kick your ass into gear and a (virtual) wing-woman who will act as your champion in those rough dating waters.
If there’s anything I know about dating for smart, successful, and fiercely independent millennial STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) women, it’s that dating can be daunting and challenging in a world of ineffective dating advice (from friends, family, and the media) and sexism.
It can be so easy for top-notch women like Rini to lose themselves to their weaker alter egos when the world is packed with people who look like accomplished, seductive Barbies and Kens on the outside, but are really like immature, narcissistic, name-any-selfish-TV-character-or-movie-character-or-any-orange-president-you-can-think-of.
Many of us have lived it, and I’ve lived it, too.
Seriously, as cheesy as it sounds, a dating coach can help lift you out of your dating ruins and toward a smarter dating heaven.
We do this by knowing you already have the answers; we just bring them out of you.
Here’s a play-by-play example (based on an exercise I learned in my life coaching certification school, the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, or iPEC):
- Call it out: Through life/dating coaching, Rini learned she has a green, grumpy, slimy gremlin living inside her, telling her she’s not good enough to be with the men she dates.
- Client recognizes how she feels: She might feel sad, insecure, unattractive, hopeless, unworthy of love, or any other emotion or self-judgment.
- Acknowledge and validate those feelings: The coach and client work together to acknowledge those feelings and remind her that she has every right to feel how she feels under the circumstances.
- Acknowledge what the gremlin is trying to do: One way to look at the gremlin is as that slimy, green, fear-fueled boogeyman who’s out to get her. Or, instead of seeing the gremlin as a mean ol’ “life limiter,” she can look at it with love, as if it were well-intentioned neon lights flashing the words “Wait! This hurt you in the past, so I need you to hunker down to avoid more heartache!” Which way (or what other way) can Rini look at the gremlin to make it her bitch? Which way can help her move forward?
- Thank her gremlin: She can work with the coach to speak to her gremlin from a place of love. She might choose an object or make something crafty to represent her gremlin, give it a name (e.g., Douche, Ken, Andrew Glover who played the Boogeyman), and then talk to it. From there, she can begin to embrace the gremlin as a part of her, but not all of her, and thank it for its service. The gremlin doesn’t have to define her.
- March on: She can find a line on the ground and stand on one side of it. When she’s ready, she crosses it. On the other side is a new beginning, a more empowered woman who will date like that smart, successful, and fiercely independent millennial STEM woman she sees in the mirror.
Obviously, you don’t always need a dating coach to help you through your darkest times, which is why I outlined the steps above for you to undertake on your own. However, it can be very hard to get through those dark times without help, so if you have the means, I’m here for you.
Are your gremlins, assumptions, interpretations, and limiting beliefs making you their bitch? Want to make them your bitch? Start toward that optimal dating life by reaching out to me for support.