When it comes to looking for love, many women hear a non-stop chorus of criticism echoing in their heads (usually voiced in tones that sound suspiciously like the mean girls lurking in locker rooms of junior high schools nationwide). Needless to say, this barrage of negative self-talk is anything but productive in the search for Mr. Right. That litany of statements like, “you’re not loveable,” “all the good ones are taken” and “love’s only for young people” — it’s all bunk, says life coach Amy Ahlers, author of Big Fat Lies Women Tell Themselves: Ditch Your Inner Critic and Wake Up Your Inner Superstar. Sure, it’s normal to have a few negative thoughts (which Ahlers refers to as “Big Fat Lies”) while you’re dating, but what’s not OK is allowing that mindset to prevent you from finding real, true love. The good news: It is possible hear those negative, nasty voices in your head without accepting them as truth — or letting them influence the decisions you make about your love life. Read on for advice from Ahlers on how to ignore the most common Big Fat Lies women tell themselves — and how to redirect your attitude in a positive way during the search for your very own Prince Charming.
Lie #1: “There are no good men left out there to date”
According to Ahlers, if you fall for this Big Fat Lie told by your inner critic, guess what types of men you’ll end up attracting? Yep, you guessed it: a bunch of jerks that will perfectly prove your (incorrect!) hypothesis. So, try adopting a different thought process. “Instead of convincing yourself that all the good men have been taken by continually repeating this [internal] mantra, begin telling yourself that there are amazing, interesting, deep, soul-filled men out there,” Ahlers advises. “Once you’ve begun doing this, start collecting evidence to prove it so that you’ll really believe the words you’re saying.” When you think this way, Ahlers asserts that thinking this way will undoubtedly make the laws of attraction work in your favor, because you’ll exude the kind of energy that makes you irresistible to men. “With this train of thought, you’ll be amazed at how many wonderful men you’ll attract,” she says.
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Lie #2: “It’s too late for me to find love”
Ahlers says that when you believe this Big Fat Lie, your mind fills with excuses as to why you shouldn’t put yourself back out there, and you end up procrastinating in your search for The One. But remember: there really is no time like the present. “If you are alive and reading this, you still have time to go for it!” says Ahlers. If you can’t help pondering, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” You must also allow yourself to wonder: “What’s the best thing that could happen?” When you start believing that you could actually find The One and fall madly in love with each other, you’ll realize that there are happy folks everywhere who aren’t in their early twenties, but went for it anyway — even if it seemed like it might be “too late” for them. Once you do this, Ahlers says that you’ll be more likely to abandon your fears, embrace risk, and just go for it.
Lie #3: “I’m too fat/thin/ugly/(insert other insecurities here) for anyone to love me”
Falling for this Big Fat Lie can leave you hiding from the dating scene while riddled with self-doubt and insecurity, says Ahlers. Naturally, when you’re in this state of mind, you’d rather sit at home alone watching reruns of The Real Housewives of New Jersey with an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s instead of going out on a date (and we all know how many women met Mr. Right doing that, don’t we?). To break out of this pattern, the next time you’re getting ready for a big date, if you find your inner critic berating you again, say the negative words and phrases swimming like sharks through your head out loud while looking into the mirror, suggests Ahlers. “Bring the Big Fat Lies out of the darkness and into the light so they can be healed; often, just hearing the words spoken aloud will wake you up and shake you out of your emotional slump,” she explains. Then, take a moment to ask yourself who you’re comparing yourself to, exactly. (“Too fat” compared to whom? “Too ugly” compared to a supermodel who’s been airbrushed and Photoshopped to death?) “After you honestly answer those questions, take a moment to find a quality you love about yourself and know that one day, you absolutely will find a person who truly loves you for who you are,” Ahlers says.
Lie #4: “I need another person in my life to feel complete”
Before you beat yourself up over falling prey to this Big Fat Lie, cut yourself some slack. This one really is a part of the American cultural experience — we have everything from songs to poems to movies to greeting cards that indoctrinate us with the idea that we’re somehow less than complete until we’ve got a partner (Jerry Maguire, anyone?). Despite this Big Fat Lie’s status as part of our pop-culture mentality, believing it is a big-time dating danger. In fact, Ahlers says that whenever you’re on a first date and subscribing to the “I need a man to complete me” ideology, you might as well be wearing skunk-scented desperation perfume. To redirect your thought process in a positive direction, before going out on another date, it’s important to take some time to realize all of the things about yourself that are actually pretty amazing — and then commit to being your own best partner. Doing so will make you focus on finding someone to complement you, not complete you.
Lie #5: “I can change my date into the ideal mate”
When you buy into this Big Fat Lie, Ahlers says that you end up choosing someone — anyone — who will fill the empty space in your life. “My husband and I always joked that we were taking each other as-is when we got married, like a gorgeous, non-returnable designer gown that has a few flaws — as it should be!” she says. Since there’s no such thing as a perfect man (or woman, for that matter), realize that your partner will have some flaws — and odds are, you won’t be able to do a thing about them, either. The question shouldn’t be whether someone has flaws, but rather, if they’re deal-breakers for you. “When you’re out looking for Mr. Right, look at the person sitting across from you and believe him for who he says he is and who he shows up as [when you’re together],” suggests Ahlers. “Once you’re clear on this, be 100% certain that you can accept him for who he is right now. If not, you should walk.”
When DC-based journalist Chelsea Kaplan isn’t helping you solve your relationship problems, she’s making jewelry. Check it out atwww.chelseabellejewelry.com.