“Confidence isn’t ‘They will like me.” It’s ‘I’m perfectly fine if they don’t.’ ” ~Unknown
After the death of my husband, I spent my thirties as a single mother of four children. It was a tough decade. I often felt lonely and frustrated, and dating was a nightmare.
I constantly gorged on self-help books, hoping that they’d reveal whatever my “problem” was so that I could fix it and finally find the love I so desperately craved.
Many of these well-intentioned books contained dating tips designed to make someone fall in love with me. They invited me to steal hearts, catch and keep partners, and otherwise engineer my romantic success by adopting certain behaviors considered to be desirable.
Could it really be as simple as getting off the phone first, not returning a phone call, or saying that I was busy even though I was home folding laundry? Since I really wanted love and it was for the good of all, I thought, “Why not? All’s fair in love and war, right?” The thing is, these strategies never worked for me.
Perhaps you can relate. You want to share your life with someone, and you’re more than willing to do what it takes to make that happen. Maybe you hope to learn a few easy hacks so that you can check finding love off your to-do list and get on with your life.
We’d all like to find a fast and easy way to get the things we want, myself included. Unfortunately, looking for the easy way didn’t work for me, and it wasn’t until I accepted that and got down to business that I attained any results worth achieving.
The problem with relying on dating strategies like these is that they only address behaviors, not beliefs. Your behaviors are important, but it’s your beliefs that drive them.
If you don’t address the source of your behaviors, lasting change won’t be possible and your behaviors and beliefs won’t be consistent. This is why some people seem “fake” and other people who do the exact same things come off as genuine.
Many relationship books encourage us to behave in ways that are consistent with having confidence and valuing ourselves highly. If you don’t truly value yourself, acting like you do might mask this fact, but eventually the truth will come out.
No amount of game playing will turn you into a high-value person. Believing in your own value and acting accordingly will.
Take an honest look at yourself with a true desire to discover, not criticize yourself. Be loving and gentle with yourself and be curious.
Are you treating yourself well? Do you establish and keep good boundaries in your relationships and at work? Do you stand up for yourself when you need to? Are you taking good care of your body, finances, and home?
Listen to the thoughts you have about yourself. Are you kind to yourself in your own mind? Do you beat yourself up constantly? What do you truly believe about your own worth? Whatever your beliefs are, your relationships will eventually reflect them, regardless of which dating strategies you try.
If you know that you aren’t valuing yourself highly, address that instead of pretending in an attempt to convince someone else to value you. A person of high value will naturally command respect, without counting the minutes until it’s acceptable to return a text or agonizing about whether or not to give someone a call.
How can you begin to value yourself and show up in the world as a confident person? Will you eat healthy foods? Get enough rest and exercise for your own well-being, not just so that you can look good on dates? How about saying no to working late for the fourth day in a row and cancelling plans with your friends (again)?
Are you willing to set boundaries for how you will be treated in relationships? What do you do when your date is late, doesn’t call when he or she promised, or is inconsiderate? Do you ignore it and hope they will change or do you address the issue?
Choosing to treat yourself well isn’t selfish; it’s necessary for a healthy self-esteem. We all value people who are confident and value themselves. People will treat us the way we teach them to. It’s never too late to make a new choice.
Games like not calling or playing hard to get are intended to help us behave how a naturally confident person would behave. It’s always better to cultivate genuine confidence than it is to fake it. True confidence comes from valuing ourselves.
Once we reach adulthood, it’s our responsibility to create the lives we wish to lead. Accepting this responsibility can be daunting at times, but it’s one of the most empowering things we can do for ourselves. No one else can do this for us, as much as we wish they could.
When we step up and decide to lead the best lives possible, commit to being the people we want to become, and refuse to back down when it’s hard, we will value ourselves more highly and inspire others to do the same.
Ultimately, this is much more rewarding than pretending to be busy on Saturday night and refusing to take phone calls at certain times.
As for me, I finally learned how to make better choices and found real love instead of relying on tips and tricks. It has made all the difference.