Why we’re failing at romance
Feeling scared of putting your heart on the line….again
We all experience moments of self-doubt and vulnerability at some point in our lives, and often at varying degrees of intensity, but there are three events that are guaranteed to surface those feelings:
- Getting a new job
- Setting a big goal
- Seeking/getting into a new relationship
Putting yourself out there in the world of romance can be an emotional minefield and can tie you up in knots worrying over questions like ‘should I call immediately or will that make me look like a loser?’, ‘Is a text message better?’, ‘What will s/he think is romantic?’, ‘Is a bunch of flowers enough or should I be taking her/him sky-diving to prove my worth?’, ‘What if they’re not impressed?’, and ‘What if they ARE impressed – what will top that?!’
People often think the beginning of a romantic relationship is the easiest time; a time where there’s an immediate spark, the two of you have plenty of fun and laughter (and sex!) and life is roses.
The truth is successful couples have often taken some time to work each other out – how to be honest, what each other likes/dislikes, if they’re a good fit, if they have fun together and if they see a future.
Getting started. Where are you looking for advice?
I’ll often hear from female clients that their friend says the guy they’re dating is a no-hoper because he hasn’t returned her call within a nanosecond or he hasn’t taken her out on a hot date in three days.
They can often be confused because while debriefing to a friend about the night/conversation they’ve had, their (well-meaning) friend will screen for anything less than perfect and proclaim ‘dump him’!
It’s not that you shouldn’t listen to the advice (and for those in any type of abusive situation it is imperative), but remember that if they’ve had a rough time in the world of love their experiences will colour their views. For some perspective and balance it’s a good idea to seek out tips and thoughts from those people you may know in happy relationships, to find out what works for them. Or read books which can give you a broader education on relationships.
Mars Vs. Venus Vs. Hollywood
Here’s a universal truth: women think differently to men. Not better, not worse, just differently. It’s helpful to recognise that so you don’t go down the path of thinking every new date is going to have that Hollywood fairytale ending – true love with no effort or bumps.
Men (in general) are concrete thinkers, have sharp focus on the issue at hand and don’t think three (or 50!) steps ahead as women do. They don’t like chit-chat on the phone (in general) and messages are usually more factual and practical.
Women, on the other hand, can have a zillion thoughts at any one time and expect men to be able to follow them – sometimes by telepathy (i.e. they don’t open their mouths to share these thoughts, expecting him to mind-read). If it’s so obvious to them, then it must be to him, right?
Many potential relationships don’t get off the ground because both men and women can be too busy:
- Worrying about the right thing to say/do
- Trying to play by some romance rule-book (that doesn’t exist, by the way) that analyses the ‘right’ time to call, the ‘right’ response time to a message or the ‘right’ type of date to go on
- Waiting long periods of time to get in touch because they don’t want to appear too keen
- Expecting everything to be smooth sailing from the get-go
So how can you get past this?
- Be brave – say what you think and mean without worrying about being the first one, or looking silly. If you’d regret letting this one pass you by then it’s worth speaking up. If you find it too hard to say verbally, a message is fine, as long as the message is clear. Subtleties can lead to continued misunderstandings.
- Follow your instincts (not the mythical rulebook) – if you feel like getting in touch, do!
- Realise s/he has their own vulnerabilities – often you can get so caught up with your own worries and insecurities you forget they have them too.
- Maintain your own emotional health – whatever relaxes or grounds you, do more of that. Exercise, yoga, deep breathing are all great stress and anxiety releases and while you won’t be able to stop feeling anxious altogether, it’s best if you can keep it moving more effectively.
- Be realistic with your expectations – even if you think you should be going out X times per week or speaking Y times per day, look at what else is going on in your lives and see if that’s realistic and make the time you speak/spend together really count.
What truly matters is knowing that the other person is thinking of you and making room in their life to get to know you better, so suggest a few ways s/he can do that that appeal to you, and when they do it, acknowledge how good it feels and appreciate it, and hopefully that will lead to more happy times ahead!
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