My Date with a Billionaire

Peter* is handsome and the founder of a company that takes in over a billion in sales each year. He travels all over the world in luxury, meets with former US Presidents, and is in fantastic shape.

Asked Out by a Billionaire

It’s not everyday that one gets asked out by a billionaire. Perhaps it’s more likely for one to be struck by lightening. 

In the Age of Cyberspace, I was sent a Friend Request by a very handsome man. 

In the Age of Cyberspace, I was able to learn a great deal about this stranger before deciding to accept his request.

The Facebook Down-Low 

Peter loves to travel. He has one sibling and owns multiple properties. Peter has a full head of hair and likes to spend time on the beach. He’s a father. He’s the Founder and owner of a well-known company.

I decided to accept Peter’s request.

Those First Text Messages

Peter was over-the-moon that I had accepted his Friend Request. He wrote eloquently and asked me engaging questions before asking me out to dinner.

“I’m in my ________ home now, but I’ll be flying back to ________ and would love to take you to dinner.”

Peter proceeded to suggest 5 different restaurants, each one ridiculously expensive. He then offered to pick me up or hire a car for me.

“Thank you for the offer. I’ll meet you there.”

My History with Wealthy Men

Years ago, I was with someone wealthy. However, when our relationship didn’t work out, the wealth was used as a weapon:

What Wealth Feels Like

So, it made sense that my spiritual hackles were raised by Peter — an affluent stranger who asked me out on social media.

Still, everyone is different and everyone deserves a chance.

 To discriminate against someone wealthy is no different than discriminating against someone poor.

Our date was set.

The Little Pebble in Your Shoe

You put on your socks, step into your shoes and something doesn’t feel right. You walk around and try to ignore it, but it’s there, you can just feel that something is in the way.

Sometimes it’s the little pebble in the shoe that needs to be addressed.

My little pebble: the age difference.

Upon further internet browsing, I learned that we weren’t ten years apart as originally assumed, nor fifteen years, but 17 years apart.

Does it Make a Difference?

As a social experiment, I’m purposely not sharing which direction this age difference is. For example, is Peter:

  • 17 years younger than me?
  • 17 years older than me?

Why?

 Because it doesn’t make a difference which way the age gap falls, almost 2 decades of “Age Distance” in either direction is significant.

What Does Matter

There’s nothing like preparing for a date with a billionaire to remind someone of what really matters:

Heeding your own inner voice and guidance.

Easier said than done on the cusp of a date with a billionaire. Suddenly, everyone has to give their two cents (seriously, no pun intended;-) As Clint Eastwood says in Dead Pool:

“Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one.”

And the unsolicited opinions arrived:

“Seventeen years isn’t so bad.”

“Just go out with him for the experience.”

“You’ll be taken care of.”

“Who cares if you have nothing in common — he’s rich!”

“Let him spoil you. You deserve to be spoiled.”

“When he’s that rich, who the hell cares about age.”

Going Inward

Advice aside, I needed to listen to what thought was important. 

At the end of the day, it’s what YOU think that matters.

When I got quiet, I could hear my voice above the cacophony of others’:

Money comes and goes. It does not make a person. Certainly, money makes life easier. But I do not want or need a man to make my life easier. I want someone in my age range to enjoy and experience this life with on equal footing. The uneasiness in my stomach felt every time I think of this date is my body’s intuition. 

This man seems kind. I do not want to waste his time. He deserves to spend time with someone who will look forward to his company, not one who is looking for the EXIT sign as soon as they meet.

While our financial bank accounts might look a world different, we each carry a mortal bank account and deserve to spend it wisely before our unknown expiration dates.

My Decision

Once I realized that it was better — for me — to cancel our date, I took action.

Peter was a perfect gentleman, writing that he understood and wishing me and my family a Happy Thanksgiving.

My decision to cancel the date wasn’t personal to Peter; it was personal for me.

Peter “got” that. No doubt, he will meet the perfect woman for him.

The Fallout 

As with any decision we make in this world, there are reactions from those well-meaning people in our lives with their buttholes — er, opinions.

When people are disappointed in your decision, remember that it’s about them, not you.

Peter wasn’t offended in the least. He knew my decision was not about him. The age difference was my issue, not his.

My dear family and friends (not all) were overflowing with their opinions regarding my decision. I felt like I was a sport’s team, and they hadn’t liked my last play.

At the end of the day, our life’s choices are ours to live with.

Had I gone on the date or had I maintained my decision to decline doesn’t matter to anyone else — it doesn’t affect anyone else.

People who are close to us often mistake their opinions as ours.

When we are close to someone, we can easily lose ourselves in the story told to us.

But we are not someone else’s story. We can choose, at any time, to get back into the driver’s seat of our life and decide what does and doesn’t work for us.

The Good and Bad of Opinions

Opinions offer opportunities for us to consider other viewpoints and challenge our own. 

The danger of opinions, if we aren’t vigilant, is that they can stealthily morph into our own until we are living the life someone else wanted for us.

Vigilance is key. Paying attention to our body’s reactions to another’s advice. Questioning our reactions yet trusting them to guide us.

There is no wrong decision when it comes from our intuition.

*Name is altered for privacy purposes

Thankful of Steroids

And why it matters

Want to know a secret?

Whether you think life is awful or wonderful, you are correct.

The good news: we each have the power to alter our perceptions at any moment.

Live Like My Little Sis

I’ve just returned from the gift of spending time with my younger sister in NY. Well…my sister and her family. During my time there, the following occurred:

  • the bathroom mirror literally started to peel off the wall like a Reflective Tower of Pisa
  • a washing machine began to “chew” clothing reminiscent of a toddler with teething issues
  • the brisket splattered EVERYWHERE (leaving a sticky-savory trail from the oven to the floor — the dogs were smitten)
  • children needed to be taken to doctors while work emergencies erupted

And yet, my little sis’ remained calm and easy, all while preparing a thirteen person dinner party to welcome me home.

Humor as Medicine

Listen, I’m sharing a “sample platter” of all the “dishes” my awesome sis’ handled in the days I spent at her home. This chica has A LOT going on. 

Were there conflicts that arose? Absolutely.

But Little Sis’ handled whatever came her way with humor and grace.

Humor is an undervalued form of medicine. 

Humor makes life’s challenging arrows more palatable. 

When we are able to find humor in those tense moments, we alter our perspective. Life’s challenges and heartaches don’t seem as sharp.

Humor softens our focus, working as a balm to our pain or unease.

We Become What We Think

After creating the first and second platters, my sister had the same reaction each time:

“This is so much fun! Look at how cool this is? I love this!” 

My Little Sis’ was literally jumping up and down each time she completed the platters.

Her eyes danced with delight each time she completed another step creating her cornbread, her lemon zest ricotta cake, her rosemary and apple-infused turkey — you name the dish, she was lit up more than a tree at Rockefeller Center.

When challenges arose, she de-escalated the issue immediately by:

  • focusing on what was working
  • offering a helpful suggestion 
  • bringing her infectious humor

Little Sis’ loves serving the people she cares about. She loves making a difference, loves challenging herself to create new things.

Take it from Oprah:

“What you focus on expands and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it.”

Focusing on the Good is Contagious

We are all energy. So it’s no wonder that my Little Sis’ family “caught” her warmth and love throughout my visit. And, of course, I wasn’t immune either.

Appreciation is a form of meditation.

I started to notice how long my nephew’s eyelashes are when he looked down to focus on the board game we were playing.

I noticed the sound of my older nephew’s laugh made me think of a warm sunrise.

I noticed the comfort and easiness, the vulnerability and strength between my Little Sis’ and her sweet hubby.

The Gift of Slowing Down

As we approach this holiday season, I’m making a concerted effort to focus on slowing down, not speeding up. I want to relish the gift of this life, honoring my reactions and impressions along the way. 

We will never get “there” because there is no final destination.

There is only the precious moment of now. And when we choose to focus on how amazing this moment, and the next moment is, our lives grow evermore awesome.

I Just Overdosed

On too much well-meaning advice

Ah, friends and family. Those well-meaning people in our lives who offer advice like candy on Halloween.

The problem?

 Taking in others’ advice is like sampling from an apothecary.

Opinions and Asses: Everyone’s Got One

Whether it’s when to leave a career or how to best file income taxes, opinions abound. We are not talking about those rare issues that offer very little gray area.

Nope. We are talking about those hem and haw mental challenges where we just aren’t certain what to do. Situations like:

  • whether to take a Gap Year after high school or head straight to university
  • plan a huge wedding or get married on the beach with only your immediate family and friends
  • have another child
  • change careers midlife

The Stealthy Side Effects of Advice

My issue was dealing with someone who was regularly hell-bent on making my life miserable. 

When we are in a painful or anxious place, we are more vulnerable to other’s well-meaning advice.

Everyone who cared about me offered up their opinions:

“Fight them in court.”

“Whatever you do, don’t go through the legal system. Only the lawyers win in court.”

“Ignore ‘em.”

“You need to see a therapist.”

“You don’t need a therapist. You need to go for a massage.”

“You need to keep busy and not think about it.”

The side effect of all of this mental and contradictory advice: my heart and head felt incapable of processing.

Here’s the danger of heeding others’ advice: the more you listen to others’ mental medicine, the less you can hear your own inner wisdom.

Word Drugs

It’s one thing to hear what another person has to say; it’s quite another to take in that advice.

Some of us are sensitive and not aligned (at the time — this too can always change) with our inner compass, so that even hearing the advice isn’t healthy for us.

When I’m not feeling centered, all I have to do is read the side effect warnings of a drug and the placebo effects begins.

But when we heed the opinions and suggestions of others, we are reneging our intuition to someone else. 

Accepting the opinions of others as your own is a form of mental ingestion. Digest enough of those varied words as yours and you’ve just mentally overdosed.

The Best Prescription

The best prescription when you feel uncertain about your next move is the one that arrives from within.

I’m not suggesting to stick your head in the sand like an ostrich (besides, that would be me giving you advice;-).

The best prescription is tuning into you. 

Maybe that means going for a walk or baking or meditating. Maybe it means drawing or taking a siesta for a couple of hours.

When we tune inwards for guidance, we find balance; we are better equipped to then hear the opinions of others without ingesting them.

Snowflake Humans

Humans are like snowflakes. Each of us is unique. And just like a snowflake, each of us is going to offer a perspective that is a one-of-a-kind-by-product from the alchemy of our environment and genetics:

Because a snowflake’s shape evolves as it journeys through the air, no two will ever be the same. Even two flakes floating side by side will each be blown through different levels of humidity and vapor to create a shape that is truly unique.-BBC

So, centered, it doesn’t surprise me that my friend who was, at one point, a victim of an abuser, gave me the advice to “Fight ’em in court.”

A family member who thankfully cannot relate to my situation but is perpetually burning the midnight oil, suggested I just “get a massage” and “don’t think about it.”

Everyone’s advice came from a loving place. But the verbal drugs they were offering were created in the lab of their own perspective.

Overdosing on others’ advice made me both fatigued and anxious. Without realizing it, “swallowing” their advice pills, I lost my way.

It wasn’t until I got quiet (lots of walks and naps:) that I realized what I needed to do — for me.

Signs of a Potential Overdose

Wondering what a potential Advice Overdose looks like? Here are some that I encountered:

  • anxiety
  • difficulty sleeping
  • irritability
  • difficulty concentrating
  • mental fatigue
  • upset stomach

Take Two and Call Me in the Morning

Joking — don’t take two of anything from me. (I’m not a doctor, though I play one on TV;-)

Be kind to yourself. Journal. Reflect. Take deep breaths. Do whatever you can to slow down and honor that voice always residing within you.

Our feelings offer a powerful guide in this life. When we slow down, we are more likely to pay attention and notice what feelings are coming up. Acknowledging them is the first step in finding the best self-prescription.

Oreo Cookie Thinking

The anxiety-driven thought process that isn’t good for anyone.

Oreo Cookie Thinking only feeds anxiety.

The homework assignment was easy enough: multiply each number by two.

My niece: I got this, Mom! I don’t need your help.

So, my sister left her daughter to work solo.

When the Problem Isn’t the Problem

My niece had completed the assignment correctly, multiplying each number as directed. But she had also added up each number — something that wasn’t part of the assignment.

When my sister pointed this out, all hell broke loose.

Forget it! I’m bad at math. I hate math. 

The problem wasn’t the math itself or my niece’s ability to do math. The real issue: all or nothing thinking.

It didn’t matter that:

  • my sister had pointed out what a great job her daughter did on the math homework.
  • my niece had, in fact, gotten all of the multiplication correct 

All my niece “heard” was the all-or-nothing inner dialogue waging war on her self-esteem:

  • I’m horrible at math.
  • I hate math.
  • The issue must be me, but instead of acknowledging this, I will hide behind hating math itself.

Oreo Cookies Are Only Good for Eating

Black or white thinking is a form of cognitive distortion that we all have to some extent. Believing that things are all good or bad, right or wrong. 

If we think of black-or-white thinking as an Oreo cookie, it helps us catch ourselves when we fall into the mental quicksand of dualistic thinking.

Oreo cookies are delicious to eat, but we don’t want to dwell in a black-or-white mindset.

When we keep Oreos in our kitchen pantries and not in our minds, we offer ourselves, and the world around us, greater compassion. 

The Skittles Life

Taste the rainbow of wonderful possibility with Skittles Thinking.

You know those high-fructose corn syrup rainbow candies? Now that’s the mental candy lifestyle that fosters a more flexible mindset.

Accepting our inner and outer world as colorful, ever changing, and perfectly imperfect allows us to grow more empathic to ourselves and others.

Life starts to look a lot more forgiving and wonderful when we see through the lens of kindness.

Oreo Thinking vs. Skittles Thinking

Oreo Thinking sounds like this:

  • I didn’t get chosen for the play because I have no talent.
  • He didn’t call because I’m unloveable.
  • I failed the test because I’m stupid.

Skittles Thinking sounds like this:

  • While it’s disappointing I didn’t get into the play, I look forward to joining the crew.
  • I miss talking to him; I’ll send him a text to say hello.
  • I know the material but allowed my nerves to get the best of me. I’ll speak to the teacher and ask if there’s a way for me to demonstrate my understanding of the material.

Fun with Food

Cognitive distortion sounds so serious, so off-putting to kids (and adults). The analogy of food makes cultivating awareness of cognitive errors much more palatable (and downright fun:-)

So, the next time you find yourself growing anxious about something, ask yourself:

Am I entering into Oreo Cooking Thinking?

Chances are, if you are feeling stressed or upset about something, there’s a strong likelihood you’ve entered into the all-or-nothing quicksand.

No worries — it’s never too late to put down that mental Oreo. 

And the great news: if you are flying high and in an easy-peasy mood, it’s likely you’ve picked up a mental bag of Skittles.

The choice is always in our cognitive hands.

Are You Easy?

Calling all self-proclaimed “people pleasers!” Peace is a direct manifestation of living in alignment with your intuition.

I was twenty-five and had just found my husband dead.

Someone had recommended a therapist for me. I called and the receptionist answered.

“Is this an emergency?”

“Uh, no, no, it’s not an emergency.”

We scheduled a first appointment to see the therapist a good week later.

What We Think Matters

Back then, my inner dialogue went something like this:

I don’t want to make waves. I want to be easy, not a burden for others. This therapist obviously has a lot of patients to see if she can’t see me, a new patient, in the next 24 hours. I’m in terrible pain right now, but I am not bleeding, not on death’s door. I do not have the right to call my situation an emergency, since I’m still alive and breathing on my own. So, I will sit with the pain, shock, and fear I do not know how to process until it is a better time for this recommended therapist to meet with me.

The Balm of Self-Compassion

Writing this now, I want to hug that young woman I was, look her in the eyes and grab her firmly by her hunched shoulders. I write with tears in my eyes, yearning for that young adult to honor her experience and the feelings that were emerging, to explore the pain instead of holding it in her body like a grenade until it was convenient for a therapist to see her.

The Allure of Being Easy

There are many levels and forms of “being easy” for others.

We contort ourselves under the false notion that doing so will help us somehow belong, experience love, and feel worthy

The desire to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance is normal; after all, we are social creatures, spiritually wired to connect and even flourish through connection. The problem arrives when we subjugate our own needs to please others.

When our sense of self is inextricably tied to the approval of others, we lose our inner compass. 

We starve ourselves, either physically or spiritually, to feed what we believe others want.

The Most Important Question

The late playwright, George Bernard Shaw is famous for his pithy line:

“Youth is wasted on the young.”

I argue that it doesn’t need to be. You don’t need to be a twenty-five-year-old widow to discover the lesson that you can stop being easy, NOW — regardless of your number of years on Earth.

So, what can we do to help dissipate the often, knee-jerk reaction some of us have to please others at the expense of ourselves?

We can check-in with ourselves. We can cultivate a habit of asking ourselves a simple but profound question: What do I think?

If I could go back to that young adult who had just found her dead husband, I would ask her: What do you think?

She would say:

I am fucking scared! I am broken and lost. I don’t know how one minute, I was sleeping next to my husband, his warm hand on my stomach and now he is dead. I need a therapist NOW; this IS an emergency. My heart, mind, and soul cannot comprehend what just happened. I need someone to process what feels impossible to process NOW.

Easy is Overrated

Easy is overrated. Easy is the Corset of Life: it might look easy and effortless on the outside, but inside, we are slowly losing oxygen. 

Easy doesn’t avoid growth; it just postpones growth.

 The longer we are easy, ignoring what’s under the hood of our psyches, the greater the spiritual repair fee. But make no mistake, there’s a price for Easy.

The Impossibility of Pleasing Others

We will never please everyone, no matter how much we bend over backwards. There’s a comfort in knowing that when we start to please ourselves first, honoring our birthright gut, life actually gets easier.

Doormat Syndrome

Feeling like a doormat in this life? Consider whether you are a victim or active volunteer…

Most of us humans want to do good in this world. We want to help people. And this is a beautiful thing. But there is a fine yet distinct line between helping other and losing ourselves in the process.

Pilot Philosophy

The pilot’s directive in case of a flight emergency is always the same: put your oxygen mask on first.

Yet in life, many of us tend to ignore our own needs in order to care for another. 

Living in the Gray

Nothing is black or white in this life. There’s gray. There are, of course, times when we put aside our own needs to attend to another. When:

  • an infant needs to be fed
  • a loved one is close to the end of their life
  • someone is in danger

But even in the examples above, there is gray: 

  • The infant can be fed within 5–10 minutes
  • You can get something to eat/go to the restroom at the hospital during your vigil
  • You can call an ambulance/the police without putting yourself in direct danger (again, even here the situation is filled with gray based on the nature and scope of danger)

Recognizing Patterns

My cousin regularly caters to her grown children and subsequently complains that they don’t appreciate her and treat her like a doormat. If she has plans, and they arrive, unannounced from out of town, she changes her plans. Some are carnivores and some are vegan. Regardless, the expectation is that “mom” (my cousin) will “take care of it.”

So she…

  • shops, prepares, and serves the meals to her grown children’s families’ tastes. Then she washes up the kitchen — solo.
  • does her children’s and grandchildren’s laundry
  • cleans the house after them daily

And then they leave and don’t call her unless they need money.

My cousin’s pattern:

Doormat + Complainer=Resentment and Helplessness

Victim or Volunteer

A wise therapist said:

If there’s a negative situation you keep experiencing, you have to ask yourself: What am I getting out of it?

There’s always a positive in the negative. There’s always some kind of reward we receive that keeps us stuck in that negative pattern.

My cousin might complain, but it is never to her daughters or their husbands. She will complain to the rest of the family. She will complain to friends. But she stays quiet when it comes to the source of her unhappiness.

Why? I can’t speak for her. One reason might be fear — the fear of what might happen if she tells her grown children how she truly fells.

“My grandchildren are my whole life.” We become the stories we regularly say to ourselves and others. 

Another potential reason? There’s a comfort in the roles we play for a long time. My cousin is quite comfortable in her victim role. It’s a false safety net, trapping her in its familiar web.

Growth happens when we step out of our comfort zone.

It is uncomfortable to sit with the notion that she is a volunteer, not a victim. It is uncomfortable to sit with one’s responsibility for an unpleasant experience.

The late First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt wisely said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Nothing is stopping my cousin from speaking up, allowing the figurative chips to fall in her self-caged prison.YOU are the author of your life. What’s your narrative going to be? (GIPHY)

The Greatest Storyteller

The greatest storyteller is the one reading this right now. It’s YOU. Whether you are a victim or a volunteer is always up to you. If you don’t like the narrative, change it.

Changing a narrative is not so simple as “okay, now I am no longer a victim.” That is the physical equivalent of a child shoving their strewn toys under their bed. The mess has simply moved and still not dealt with. 

Changing the narrative requires great courage. The willingness to see the patterns we’ve created and the WHY behind those patterns.

Only when we’ve looked with both eyes open can we start planting new seeds and growing a different, empowering narrative — with you as the hero.

Got Anxiety? (It’s Not You)

The heart-racing-sweaty-brow unpleasant-sensations are byproducts that aren’t you!

There’s this organ that can wreak havoc on our body and spirit — if we permit it. It’s a clever organ with the best of good intentions, like a toddler who decides to surprise their parents with a “homemade breakfast.” You know that kitchen is going to look like a disaster area when that two-year old is finished making your special meal.

So, what’s this organ that behaves like a toddler? The brain.

The brain does everything to protect you if it senses the slightest danger. Sometimes, as in the case of a fire or a robbery, it does exactly what it’s meant to do, acting quickly on our behalf — no different than that thoughtful toddler who brings home a necklace for you out of Fruit-loops’ cereal. Beautiful intention and outcome align.

But sometimes, our well-meaning brain works against us, offering up a mess of what-if scenarios we don’t need. Anxiety creeps in, all of the cortisol activity from our fight-or-flight manifesting in anything from panic attacks to irrational fears.

When anxiety takes the driver’s seat, we can’t seem to steer our way out of fear. Reason seems miles away.

What can we do when anxiety is driving our lives?

Here are three powerful tools to put YOU back into the driver’s seat and dispel anxiety:

1. Depersonalize anxiety: When your well-meaning toddler made you breakfast, they left several cracked and sticky eggshells all over the kitchen floor, syrup spilling at the edge of the counter, and caked flour stuck on the fridge door. The room is amess! But do you get mad at that toddler? Of course not.

Your well-meaning brain is only doing what it knows how to do. You can give that overworking-well-intentioned organ a heartfelt thank you and not take the mess of thoughts they create personally.

2. Objectify anxiety: We tend to see anxiety as a part of us, but it is nothing more than emotion passing through us. When the weather is stormy with skies the color of slate, we don’t say “Oh no, I must have done something terrible.” We know that the state of weather is not a reflection of us.

Our anxiety is no different from the weather. Anxiety is an emotion that is no different than any other emotion. When we see it as something separate from us, passing through us, we remember that we are whole and happen to experience this particular emotion that is not us.

3. Welcome anxiety: I know, I know, it sounds counterintuitive, but it works! When we lean into the very thing we fear, the fear dissipates. We are no longer fighting what feels like an uphill battle. Our brains want to fight something to help us; when we surrender to those unpleasant feelings, they ironically, pass through us that much faster.

As the late French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once said:

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Anxiety, like everything else in life, is moving through you. Anxiety is an experience created by our active, well-meaning brains. But we are not our brains. We are spiritual beings. When we observe without attaching, we can enjoy the ride even more.

Earning Vulnerability

Excavating and exploring the painful parts of ourselves with self-compassion is needed before we offer our vulnerability to another.

It was a second date. The first one involved coffee and the kind of conversation typical of strangers: What kind of work do you do? Only child or one of many? Cat or dog lover? Do you prefer beaches or mountains? But *Mike, recently divorced with two girls under the age of 10, felt the questions lacking. He hadn’t wanted his twelve-year marriage to end yet felt lonelier in the marriage than on his own. He felt an urgency to get past the seemingly trivial “get to know you” questions and delve into “the stuff” of intimate relationships.

“I was low-hanging fruit. This was my first date out of the divorce gate.”

So, on this date, hungry for affection and connection, Mike didn’t waste any time on the second date. Before their appetizers arrived, he told her…well everything but the kitchen sink: his low testosterone level, the frequent verbal put downs he experienced from his ex in their marriage, his belief that his ex-wife treated their daughters like pawns to “get at him.” 

“I thought our date went well. I gave her a respectful kiss on the cheek and a hug. But she’s not returning any of my texts, and her phone goes right to voicemail when I call.”

Poor Mike. 

“I don’t understand. I thought women like it when a man is vulnerable. Did I scare her off? Am I supposed to act like some Alpha male? What do women want?”

There’s a famous quote by the late and great author, Dr. Wayne Dyer:

“You do not attract what you want. You attract what you are.”

Vulnerability has two sides: the willingness to look within and the willingness to be seen or known by another. Both involve risk. To look within, to possess the courage to self-reflect and look unflinchingly at our beliefs opens us up to potential emotional pain. Getting “real” with ourselves is no journey for the faint-hearted. 

Mike knows the surface facts of his recent past. He’s:

  • A recently divorced father of two young girls
  • He was married for 12 years.
  • The divorce was not mutual.

The remainder of his story is highly subjective and requires Mike to excavate the cracks in his (currently) unsteady foundation. For example: Was Mike’s ex abusive or is that a story Mike tells himself? If Mike’s wife was abusive, what brought him to experience an abusive relationship, and why was he against divorcing someone who abused him?

 Before Mike can experience vulnerability with another potential romantic partner, he needs to be vulnerable with himself. When we look under the figurative hood of our own life, when we are willing to see the parts of ourselves that aren’t so shiny, something changes from the inside out: we discover our self-worth, we remember that we matter and can distinguish between wanting a romantic partner and clinging to someone just to have a someone. When we explore the slings and arrows of our past with a willingness to see it in the broad daylight of self-reflection and compassion, we aren’t so quick to be vulnerable with others. After our soul’s journey into the wilderness of vulnerability (thank you, Brene Brown:-) our perspective has altered: a potential romantic partner needs to earn our vulnerability. Vulnerability is no longer a by-product of low self-esteem; vulnerability is now an invaluable gift to share with the right person on YOUR timeline.

   *Mike, in his desperation for affection and loneliness, attracted what he was: the absence of a potential partner and a greater sense of loneliness. This pattern of women leaving him is likely to continue, so long as he continues to perceive himself as “low-hanging fruit.” 

    Vulnerability is both a gift and a wound. When we are willing to go within and explore our wounds with an open and compassionate heart, we receive the greatest gift: self-love.

*Name has been altered to protect the privacy of the individual.

The Ghost and Ghosted

There’s another side to ghosting that is often overlooked but needing our attention.

*Jackie liked her date the way you appreciate a jacket on a cold day: He was comfortable but not someone she saw herself with. However, by the end of their dinner, he expressed he was “smitten” with her.

Despite knowing her attraction to him held a verbal equivalent of “meh,” she felt—what many of us feel at times—an inexplicable pressure to give him another chance.

On the second date, the distance between Jackie’s lack of attraction and her date’s attraction for Jackie had grown. 

“When can I see you again?”

Jackie could feel her throat tighten, unable to find the ability to say the words aching to form:

Look, there is not going to be another date for us. I think of you like a brother. End of story.

Well, that’s what Jackie wanted to say. Instead, she said:

“Yeah, let me look at my calendar.”

She dodged a kiss with a yawn.

Jackie is a divorced mom with 3 daughters who works full time as a neonatal nurse. She barely has time to date, but the time she spends dating is nothing compared to the physical and mental hours wasted, pretending there is potential with someone. 

A people pleaser, Jackie decided to text Mr. Smitten and tell him she met someone (a lie).

            “I thought that way, I could enjoy a potential friendship with him.”

            Mr. Smitten called her immediately, his voice sounding like someone losing a limb. “Oh man, did you really meet someone else? Oh man. That hurts. But can we be friends? I mean, I’m really attracted to you, but I promise to stay in my zone.”

            Again, Jackie could feel the tightening in her throat. She wanted to say:

What is the point of us developing a friendship when we both know you want more? 

            Instead, Jackie agreed to meet Mr. Smitten for lunch the next day.

            When we try to live for others, altering our lives to satiate others, we are doing two detrimental things:

  1. Telling ourselves (and the world) that we don’t matter.
  2. Hurting the very people we are trying to “protect.”

If Jackie allowed her truth to come out, it would be kind to both parties. Something simple yet direct like:

You seem like a great person, but unfortunately, I didn’t feel that x factor that is so important in a potential romantic relationship. I wish you only the best.

There’s often this unspoken sense in the digital world that the words we use don’t have an effect on people looking on the other end of the screen. Perhaps this is a common reason people in the dating world (and otherwise) “ghost” someone. But people pleasers are just as likely to ghost someone—not wanting to face the potential disappointment they will cause the other party.

Jackie didn’t ghost Mr. Smitten. She lied to him and herself, hiding behind a story to prevent dealing with the potential fallout of truth. In a way, she became a ghost to herself, rejecting the idea that she mattered.

Mr. Smitten deserved to know there was no romantic potential, so he could move on and meet someone who felt about him the way he once did about Jackie.

We humans are wired to avoid pain and discomfort, so it’s no surprise that ghosting offers a “quick fix” to avoid dealing with the potential anxiety that comes with confrontation. But there’s that other, more clandestine side of ghosting we need to watch for as well: lying to ourselves and by extension, the other person in the dating equation. It’s better to rip off that emotional Band-aid now than string someone along, hurting two people in the long run. 

Each of us matters. When we remember this, we stop lying to ourselves and others. The desire for truth eclipses fear of confrontation—the real ghostbuster;-)

*Name changed to protect privacy.

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

There’s a disconnect between what retail glorifies as romance and what romance truly is.

            Valentine’s Day. A time hallowed by Hallmark (the TV channel included), teeming with jewelry commercials, and stores littered with giant pink hearts and boxes of chocolate. Retail stores ply our senses with confectionary romance. 

All that pink can start to look like Pepto Bismol (or make you feel like you need some to quell the nausea from the retail overload).

There’s nothing wrong with the romantic holiday arriving each 2nd week of February. The tricky part comes when we lose sight of the why behind romantic gestures. According to author Kelly Gonsalves:

“Being romantic is about expressing love and dedication in a way that’s intentional, unmistakable, and deeply affectionate.”

The Hallmark Channel and Kay Jewelers offer the image of romance, all shiny and with a figurative (and often literal) bow on top. But a woman could receive a sparkly jewel and not feel an ounce of romance; she could watch flick after flick of cheesy Hallmark movies about “love” but not experience anything more than the gas she incurs eating too many bowls of popcorn.

Our retail-centered modern world offers ways to say you matter to me. But it’s the why behind those acts that make all the difference. When there’s genuine connection, romance can be found in a thoughtful gesture—something as simple as bringing your loved one a coffee made just the way he likes it. When there’s reciprocal authenticity, romance is no longer an annual event cranked out by American Greetings, it’s a regular occurrence.

But what if I’m single? You may be asking. Romance can occur regularly for a party of one. Take yourself for a manicure. Treat yourself to a good book or a massage. Go for a scenic bike ride. Remember: the most important relationship you will ever have is the one with yourself. And just like a relationship with someone else, even the small gestures can pack a significant punch.

Tina Turner’s famous hit, What’s Love Got to Do with It? is ostensibly about a girl telling herself that the boy she likes is only interested in him physically. Yet at the closing chorus, the lyrics speak a different story:

I’ve been taking on a new direction
But I have to say
I’ve been thinking about my own protection
It scares me to feel this way

What is the girl in the song scared of? What is she trying to protect and why? To love means to experience vulnerability, to accept vulnerability as a way of life, to cozy up to it and break bread with it, to look our fear directly in the eyes, knowing you might get your heart broken. The Hallmark movies, the Jared jewelry commercials—these are fairytale ideas that have nothing to do with watching a loved one go through chemotherapy or losing someone in a car accident. Love takes guts; love means you’re in the ring, knowing there are no guarantees.

What’s love got to do with it? In my opinion, everything. 

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-be-romantic