Mr. Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

If you’ve struggled with an attraction to unavailable men as I have, you MUST subscribe to Natalie Lue’s blog Baggage Reclaim. The recently married recovered love addict offers frequent sage advice on how not to abandon yourself while dating and relating with men. I can only imagine the legions of women she has helped with her no-nonsense take no prisoners approach which reminds us that the only person we control in this life is ourselves. Perhaps most importantly she professes that you must judge people by their actions  rather than their words.

Natalie’s book Mr. Unavailable and the Fallback Girl talks about the very real affliction called love addiction and what you need to do to get out from under it. Love addiction is nothing to laugh about and the stress it brings on can actually cause illness and even death, especially by suicide.

Most often, the sufferer spent a childhood experiencing “love” as conditional, something to be worked for and never gained from a father or mother or other caregiver. It only makes sense that unattainable love would feel ‘right’ to these folks even though it’s so wrong.

Women suffering from love addiction cannot tolerate nice guys and continue to pursue men who will only hurt them. In this way, says Natalie, the woman must be willing to admit she is the common denominator in every failed relationship and the men are not the only ones to blame.

What many Fallback Girls (so called because they allow themselves to be treated as an option) don’t realize is that they, too, are unavailable, as fearful of intimacy and commitment as the men they can’t help attracting. We choose people who reflect our beliefs, says Natalie, and if we believe we are unlovable, guess what we will attract?

Fallback girls also fear being vulnerable with a man which prevents them from being themselves and taking care of their own needs. They are always anticipating what he wants and abandoning themselves. Ironically, this drives the man further away.

WITH CASUAL SEX WOMEN, NOT MEN, GET PENALIZED. I have been saying this publicly and being criticized for it for a very long time so I am grateful to be able to write it and credit the words to another woman who agrees with me! Casual sex is not liberating, ladies. Quite the opposite. The longer you make a man wait for sex, the more he will value you. (Those words are mine.)

Natalie offers solutions by suggesting you get wise about what healthy relationships look like. (I read Harville Hendrix’ Getting the Love You Want to help me.) She warns that because you believe relationships mean drama you find it impossible to be attracted to a nice guy who lacks the negativity that feels like home to you. In the end, however, “Drama isn’t love. Pain isn’t love. Drama is drama. Pain is pain.” Well said.

Overcoming love addiction requires building up your shattered self-esteem. In short, it requires getting a life. You MUST get the focus off of him and onto yourself. As Natalie proclaims: “Self-esteem is giving yourself the very love you’re seeking from another.” I can attest to how much harder this is done than said. We’re talking about a true addiction here, you can’t kick it over night. But with dedication and lots of reading and listening and even therapy you can find a way to love yourself in a way that will make you feel you have been let out of prison. If you’re like me, you will have slips but you get back up and carry on knowing that it is progress rather than perfection you’re after. You have to be kind to yourself and celebrate small victories.

Once you’ve decided to cut an unavailable man loose you must not call/text/otherwise try to reach him. Natalie calls this No Contact or NC. Take it one day at a time if you have to. Have a girlfriendyou can call when you really want to call him. Sit on your hands. Read Natalie’s book. Do not call him. Do not. It will be excruciating. It might be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But one day you will wake up and realize you’re over him.

Now is a good time to set boundaries which Natalie says are essential for a healthy relationship. What are those you ask? They are something healthy people possess which tell others what they will and will not tolerate. I discovered them about a year and a half ago I’m sad to confess. Now I have a one-strike rule (as opposed to three) with new men in my life. I figure if they aren’t trying at the very beginning it can only get worse as time goes on. As a recovered love addict I now embrace the fact that there are millions of men out there for me and as Natalie says, “dating is a discovery phase”. You’ve got to know your values and be willing to stand by them and weed out the guys who try to compromise them.

Now if a guy texts me after three months of going AWOL, rather than get excited I confidently text back. “Lose my number. This is intrusive.” When another fellow texts me while he’s “in town” I text back “No thanks, I’m looking for something more. Take care.” With every loser I flick off my shirt, I am making room for a good man who is worthy of my time and attention.

I now spend a good part of my day determining whether what I’m doing feels good and if it doesn’t, I change either my attitude or my circumstances so it does. Feeling good has become my first priority and it is an essential part of being a woman. I have written here previously the words of Dr. Pat Allen and I repeat: “Women need to feel good to do good. Men need to do good to feel good.” Natalie concurs with Dr. Allen when she states simply:

GET A LIFE AND FEEL GOOD!

Amen to that. If you saw yourself in this post, you will benefit from Natalie’s book. It offers great wisdom and insight along with practical solutions for breaking free from the lure of Mr. Unavailable and learning to love and value yourself.

Published in: on July 6, 2012 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Practical dating and texting

dating, relationship, single woman, men, marriage, God

The fellow with whom I had my “first” date last Friday definitely liked me because he texted me the next day to say hello. The fact that he won’t use the phone to dial my digits and call is an issue for me but at least I know where I stand with him. The thing I don’t like about text (and the reason I decided not to use it to communicate with men) is that it doesn’t tell you anything and it doesn’t go anywhere except on the occasion when it is misinterpreted as written communication is wont to be.

So the text conversation goes something like this:

Him: How are you doing tonight?

Me: Great thanks just getting home.

Him: What did you get up to?

Me: Spent time with some friends.

Him: What did you do, dinner or something?

Me: Just met up at someone’s place for a chat

Him: Sounds like a fun time

Etc.

What’s happening here is I’m getting more a feel for this guy and seeing he’s not the leader I need in a relationship. He does not take charge of the conversation and use it to find out more about me or take it in a direction that will help me know more about him. It is useless fluff. I refuse to lead the conversation and so it just fizzles out after going nowhere. The fact that he does not call also tells me something: either he is too lazy or lacks courage, both of which are unappealing.

What I’m learning now is that every experience with a man is an opportunity to find out more about what you want and don’t want, what feels good to you and what doesn’t. It is a journey of self-discovery. I never saw dating that way in the past. I would have been so busy trying to get him to like me that I would never had paid attention to any of these signals or had any idea what I really wanted. The new way is so much better for both of us because nobody is being manipulated or lied to, we are both just trying to get our needs met.

Leonard Cohen: You Don’t Need A Man

A friend who’s also got a bad history with men and who is also taking a break from dating to sort out the common denominator in every failed relationship–herself–told me she’s got faulty wiring when it comes to relationships. For instance, in her last relationship before her current self-imposed drought, she met the guy on Friday and he moved in the following Tuesday. This ridiculously intense pace feels normal to her so a relationship which accelerates at a healthy pace…well, it just doesn’t happen.

And every healthy relationship must accelerate at a healthy pace. That means you get to know one another slowly and build up trust as you take your time revealing incremental amounts of information about yourself and he does the same. You don’t begin sleeping with someone on the first date and then spend every waking moment with them until you move in together a week, a month or even a year later. Nor do you wait by the phone and take whatever little time he gives you and let him dictate the terms. I’ve been involved in both of these scenarios and both of them are sick, even psychopathic.

I was suffering from the delusion that I was incomplete without a male in my life. Even if we were just using each other for sex I couldn’t consider existing without one, or better yet, three. I thought three was a good number of men to keep around, you know, so I’d never have to be alone. I am shocked to think that I am the same person who could sleep with one man one night and another the next. Of course, I’m not that person anymore and I don’t regret my past because it’s brought me to where I am now… to an understanding that I am complete on my own and that life is rich and fulfilling and, so far, much better than when I thought I had to have men in my life to feel alive.

Why Don’t You Try (lyrics by Leonard Cohen)

Why don’t you try to do without him?
Why don’t you try to live alone?
Do you really need his hands for your passion?
Do you really need his heart for your throne?

Do you need his labor for your baby?
Do you need his beast for the bone?
Do you need to hold a leash to be a lady?
I know that you can make it, make it on your own

Setting Boundaries

I realize one of my problems with men is that I didn’t teach them how to treat me. They say you must have self-respect in order to command it and since I didn’t have very much I didn’t command very much. Same goes for self-love. Since I didn’t love myself enough I wasn’t able to love another.

I remember telling a guy I met that I didn’t like it when guys texted me. He proceeded to text message me and I accepted it. If I knew how to set boundaries, I would have been firm about the “no texting” rule and he would have either had to call me or find another girl who doesn’t mind texting.

Instead, I denied my own needs in order to keep the guy’s attention. I disrespected him as well as myself by being dishonest in my communication. If I had been honest about how much I disliked texting and the reasons why–it always ends up in a miscommunication, you can’t get the nuances you do from a person’s voice, it’s limited and cold–he would have learned something about me and it’s through these small incidents that people are able to get to know each other, their likes and dislikes, what they can tolerate and what they can’t. They learn to respect one another’s boundaries.

I never had boundaries before. I don’t think I knew what they were. I am gaining an intuitive sense of what mine are the more I get to know myself and I believe it’s got to do with what feels right to me and what doesn’t. When it feels as though I am sacrificing my own integrity to please someone else, a boundary has been crossed. I have to learn to keep those boundaries firm. In the nicest way possible.

“It is impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who has no boundaries, with someone who cannot communicate directly, and honestly.

Relationship Trouble

love, hate, valentine's day, romance, relationship, men, womenOK, maybe men don’t suck so much. I realize now that I’m dealing with my feelings more, unpleasant emotions are usually based on something that happened in the past. For example, if you miss someone desperately after being away from them for a day you may have abandonment issues. So many of the symptoms of being “in love” are actually unhealthy reactions based on past dysfunctional relationship problems that were never resolved. I’m no shrink but it’s what I’ve pick up from reading and observing in my own life and talking to others who have been willing to be honest about such things.

So my anger toward men in general in the last post was more about my anger toward specific men in my past who treated me badly. And then my anger toward myself for letting them do so. I’ve never been abused but I did let my ex-husband treat me as though my feelings didn’t matter and that I was bothering him if I wanted to discuss anything deeper than a puddle. Anytime I’ve shared my feelings with a man he’s called me crazy and told me in essence that I wasn’t entitled to those feelings. Of course, this is devastating and a complete betrayal of trust. Along with texting, it’s another thing I’m no longer willing to accept.

No text allowed

It’s amazing how simple my life has become since giving up men and sex. There is simply no drama. At first I found it quite boring but now I am settling into a satisfying lifestyle in which I don’t have to engage in stupid text “conversations” where someone inevitably misunderstands the other. I’ve decided that once I begin dating again, texts are off-limits. He doesn’t call; he doesn’t get me.

The wonderful part of this hiatus from sex and dating is that I’m not willing to deal with immature behaviour like texting or emailing rather than calling. It’s so obvious now that men who do that lack character and courage. I used to make so many excuses for them, though, thinking myself understanding and compassionate. Really, I had low standards. Now that I know how easy and wonderful it is to live without men in my life, I don’t need to make excuses for them anymore. No texting, period. It’s a new personal rule of mine, and I had to abstain for a while to realize it was important to me. I wonder what else I”ll discover about myself on this journey which has seven months left to go.

Published in: on January 10, 2011 at 4:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Queen Latifah’s answer is Just Wright

I just watched a movie with Queen Latifah called Just Wright. She’s the kind of girl guys always want to be friends with and her sister is the kind of beauty that guys want to date. Her sister uses Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now, the Law of Attraction, and vision boards to land herself a succesful NBA player. Within a few weeks they are engaged. When the player suffers a career-threatening injury, however, the sister calls off the engagement by leaving her fiance a note while he’s laid up in bed with a smashed knee.

Queen Latifah just happens to become McKnight’s (love the use of naming) physical therapist and they forge a relationship that eventually turns romantic. They fall in love. So good is her therapy that McKnight is back to game shape before the playoffs and sister comes knocking. He falls for her story about being abandoned by her father and it affecting her ability to commit (plus she looked really hot) and takes her back. As he uncovers her motives, however, he realizes he really loves Queen L and goes to Philadelphia to get her back.

She tells him flat out, “I’m not going to be your Plan B.”

I was shocked! I thought she’d run into his arms and kiss him hard. That’s what I would have done! I have let myself be Plan B, C, or D many times. I didn’t think I was valuable enough to ask for more. I have answered texts from men after midnight. Most of the time these messages have come around last call time. Talk about a last resort. Now that I have been celibate for a couple of months I cringe at the thought that I ever let that happen, that I thought I wasn’t even worth being taken out for dinner or a movie. I told myself it didn’t matter, but of course it did.

I loved the idea of connecting with someone, talking about issues close to our hearts and doing fun things together. The truth is, I felt so uncomfortable around men that it was easier to just sleep with them. You don’t have to talk and risk the possibility that they might not like what you had to say. Sure, there was a sort of adrenaline rush that went with sex and as I mentioned in another entry, my ego loved the attention. It was not a connection though.

I know now that I desire an honest bond with someone that is based on what’s inside rather than the outside. I want to be able to be myself with somebody. I suppose first I have to figure out exactly who that is. I can already tell this year is going to help me alot with that self-discovery.

Byron Katie, Mother Teresa live ego-free

Mother Teresa gives her life to sharing God's love free of ego

“Wake yourself up to how you live your life wanting credit. It’s exhausting. We use people to raise our own self-esteem but it only lowers it.” -Byron Katie

Spiritual leader Byron Katie spent years in a deep depression before waking up one morning and realizing that all her problems were in her head. She developed a simple system she calls The Work to help people understand and overcome the way their thinking creates all the things they don’t want in their lives. Change or eliminate the thinking and the problems disappear.

The quote at the top of the page reminds me of myself. On this journey of sexual abstinence I have begun to uncover things about myself like the fact that the less I feed my gigantic ego (especially with sex and male attention), the smaller it gets. I was using men to make me feel better about myself and, as Katie says, it only made me feel worse. That’s because you can never find what you need outside of yourself. You have to go within. Everything you need lives there.

The wanting credit part applies to me, too, because I have become known as a generous and giving person. What a lot of people don’t know–and what is shifting, thankfully, as my ego shrinks–is that my charity came not from a pure heart. I did things for others with the expectation of return, if not from them then from some divine source. I believed you get what you give and that’s why I gave.

That return could come in the form of recognition, applause, monetary gain, favours “owed” to me. When I gave, to me that was putting money in the bank to be withdrawn at a later date. And heaven help the person who didn’t return my good deed when called upon. They risked being cut off completely…and would probably never understand why. Or, in many cases, even care or notice!

Since I stopped feeding my ego with sex and male attention, many wonderful things are coming to light. I am feeling true love for myself for the first time and the pure desire to give just because it feels good. I want to help others achieve their goals and I am happy to do so anonymously.

In the recent past, the idea of giving without recognition seemed futile to me. I had disdain for people like Mother Teresa, if you can fathom that, because who but a crazy person would give of themselves and ask for nothing in return! I realize now that I was the insane one because the gift of giving exists in itself. It is an ego-free sharing love and connectedness to God and my fellow human beings that is the essence and source of true happiness.

I began this journey of sexual abstinence with the goal of finding a way to connect with a man on a level that is more than purely physical and that is not about feeding my ego. I am amazed at how quickly I am finding the joy that exists when you don’t give in to every impulse, when you practise patience and extend good will, and truly listen and connect with the person in front of you whomever that may be.

I am already looking at the girl who got texts from different guys at 2 o’clock in the morning and wondering how she could value herself so little that she thought that was okay. Because that girl doesn’t seem like me anymore. That girl was somebody else, someone who just needed to learn how to love herself. And not in the way we are taught–like looking in the mirror and saying you’re beautiful; I did all that. I’m talking about loving yourself the way God loves you: in spite of all your imperfections; quietly, gently, and unconditionally.

A Year of Living Sexlessly

I have had a lot of empty sex in the past year. One night stands can be a lot of fun, yes, but they don’t exactly help you grow. And if a loving partner is what you’re after–you know, someone who gets you, with whom you can enjoy meandering walks, and travel for periods longer than a weekend–then you must exercise sexual restraint so you can get to know the person inside before mauling his outside.

Impulse control has never been my strong suit. I haven’t been one to hold off on sex to reap the the reward of a deeper connection with another that comes only with time and patience. In short, I have never combined sex and love. All of a sudden, I’ve decided I might like to know what that feels like.

So, on August 20 I began a fast, embarking on a journey not travelled since I lost my virginity at age 17. I decided I am going to go a year without having sex.

During my first “dry” month, I noticed that some men text me very late at night. Since I’ve been inactive, I get to bed a lot earlier and the sounds of these incoming texts now rouse me from my sleep.

Pre-celibacy it wouldn’t have seemed weird at all to receive messages at 1 or even 2 o’clock in the morning. Last week, however, I received one at 3 am which has to be a record. And because I had removed the guy’s contact info from my phone a month earlier, it took me a while to figure out his identity. Now that I’m celibate, I adopted a haughty “how dare he” attitude toward the offender when, in fact, I’m the one who invited this kind of communication by sleeping with him on the first date. Remember what I said about me and impulse control? I do appreciate that text for the chance it gave me to overcome my first real hurdle in the sexless Olympics. We’ll skip over the fact that I was out of town at the time and couldn’t meet up with him anyway.

Two nights later, I’m back home asleep in my bed and the familiar sound of an incoming text wakes me again. The clock says 2:15. “My God, was this ok with me before?” I wonder aloud as I stumble over to read the text. Another handsome man–this one wants me to come out and enjoy the remainder of the extended drinking service during TIFF. And another service after that, of course. Among my friends, the jury seems to be out on whether you can have sex on the first date and still develop a meaningful connection with another person. Some of them say it happens. Do you have to wait? For me, I believe the answer is yes.

Published in: on September 21, 2010 at 3:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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