If you want to attract men, you have to fit into a size 6. You need to be confident, successful, and witty. You must exude mystery and intrigue. You should add up to the perfect package.
But what if you’re none of those things?
What if you’re … well, ordinary?
You’re just you. You look like yourself. You can talk about the things you’re interested in, but there are some subjects—like world politics and wine vintages—that make you glaze over. The only mystery in your life is what you’re going to have for dinner.
Does that mean you’re going to end up sitting on the sidelines, overlooked and alone?
But if you want a better chance with men, you’re going to have to change your thinking.
I used to think there was no way I had what it took to get a guy’s eye, either.
By the time I hit my teens, I knew two incontrovertible facts about myself.
- I wasn’t attractive.
- I wasn’t funny.
It was obvious to me that funny, hot girls got the guy. Guys did not go for serious plain girls. Hence, I was doomed.
I knew those truths about myself in the same way I knew that my hair was brown and I’d never have legs that went on forever.
It doesn’t take a lot of self-analysis to figure yourself out. By the time you’re a teenager, you know who you’re stuck with being. You know if you’re artistic or mechanically inclined or extroverted. And you’re already making decisions for the rest of your life based on what you know.
I knew I was smart, so that was okay. I didn’t need a boyfriend; I could make my own way. I’d put all my energy into doing what I was good at and make my career my life.
I created a box for myself, jumped right on in, and closed the lid.
Give me 5 words you’d use to describe your personality.
Are those words mainly positive? Mainly negative?
Either way, it doesn’t matter. All those words are variations of the same thing:
They’re labels you’ve slapped on yourself. Maybe they were words other people used to describe you when you were young, and you liked the sound of them. Regardless of where they came from, they’re yours now.
And they may not be serving you, no matter how positive they seem.
From a young age, we’re encouraged to put ourselves into boxes. She’s the cute one. He’s the sporty one. She’s popular. He’s shy. Fitting into neat categories makes us easier for people to digest.
Soon, we feel safest inside our boxes. I’m confident, so I can’t be a wuss. I’m pretty, so I can’t be too brainy. I’m plain, so I can’t be popular. I’m ambitious, so I can’t slack.
Knowing who we are makes it clear all the things we can’t allow ourselves be.
Maybe there are things you know you’re not, too. List 5 traits you don’t identify with in any way, words that simply aren’t you.
Here’s the shocker:
Every single one of those words describes you just as accurately as the traits on the first list.
This is how you know. Ask yourself:
Can you recognize that trait in other people?
If the answer is yes, then that trait is most definitely inside you.
You may not identify with it, but it’s there. You recognize that trait because part of you understands it.
As the saying goes:
If you can see it, you can be it.
Although you may think you’re not gorgeous, confident, witty or interesting—or even mean, abrupt, lazy or selfish—you are on some level, in some way. It’s not even a matter of opinion. It’s a matter of human psychology.
It works like this:
When we’re born, we’re completely whole. We have every single possible human trait inside us, ready to be expressed. We could conceivably grow up to become a serial killer or a Mother Teresa. We’re pure potential.
But as we grow, we learn that some parts of ourselves are not acceptable.
Maybe Mom makes a curt comment when we’re playing dress-up, and we don’t feel good about dressing up anymore. Maybe we fall down and cry, and Dad chides us for being a crybaby, so weakness doesn’t feel so good anymore.
Those parts of our personality are split off into a forbidden self that we deny any knowledge of, also called the shadow self.
Most of the incidents that shape our personality are lost in the mists of time, before our long-term memory was fully functional. So we don’t remember being a crybaby or being interested in dressing up. It seems to us we’ve always been the way we are now.
So what does this have to do with dating?
All those traits you think you don’t have, traits you need to have to attract men, are actually inside you right now. You just haven’t owned them.
Don’t think you’re witty? Maybe you just haven’t given yourself permission to be witty.
Don’t think you’re gorgeous? Maybe you just haven’t given yourself permission to be gorgeous.
Don’t think you’re interesting? Maybe you just haven’t given yourself permission to be interesting.
One way to give yourself permission would be to indulge in the kind of cheerleading motivational speakers are known for.
Shout with me now! I AM GORGEOUS! Let me hear you say it again! I AM SEXY! I AM ONE HOT BABE!”
But that would just put you into another box. A better box, for sure, but still a box.
Telling yourself you’re gorgeous when you don’t feel very good about yourself just slaps another label on top of you. What happens on the days you just want to curl up in a onesie and veg out in front of the TV? Hard to play the gorgeous card then.
Want a better solution?
Throw away the boxes entirely.
Stop categorizing yourself. Shrug off labels entirely.
Instead of taking pride in knowing exactly who you are, revel in the infinite possibilities you were born with.
If you have to describe yourself, describe your preferences, e.g.:
I like being tidy, but I’m messy sometimes. I like being punctual, but I’m late sometimes. I like being hard-working, but I’m lazy sometimes. I like looking after myself, but I slack sometimes. I like being super-fit, but I’m a slob sometimes.”
I wish I hadn’t decided I wasn’t attractive or funny at such a young age. It took me years before I discovered how beautiful I could be when I made the effort. It took even longer before I dared to try and make someone laugh. Despite what I’d told myself, I’d had those traits in me all along.
What do you have inside, waiting for permission to bloom?