Remember back when you were a teenager and just thinking about dating for the first time?
You were so hopeful and excited and dreamy. You had all these visions of how it was supposed to be.
And when you showed up for a boy, you showed up with ALL of you.
All your heart. All your soul. All your happiness.
A guy broke your heart. A guy broke your spirit. A guy destroyed you.
And now here you are, much older, trying to summon the same enthusiasm for dating, and it’s HARD.
Because now you know how badly things can go wrong.
You’ve got walls up—rightly so. You’re not going to fall for just anyone. You’re critical, because you’ve been on the receiving end of male criticism.
You’ve got all your protections in place, you’re geared up and ready for battle, but you’re not meeting anyone.
Guys seem to sense that you’ve got walls up, and they keep their own walls up with you.
How do you get back the magic and the excitement and the promise of love the way it used to feel?
Well, you can’t turn back the clock, and you can’t erase everything bad that’s every happened to you.
But what you CAN do is reclaim your light.
The Danger of Shining Too Brightly
When you are happy and free and open, you shine like the sun. Your joy is like a spotlight that catches everyone’s attention.
But not everyone appreciates your light.
Some people see someone who’s shining and try to put them down or take the wind out of their sails.
Other people see your light as competition to theirs.
Still others want some of what you’ve got, and if they can’t get some of your light for themselves, then they want you to pay.
Pretty soon you learn that it’s dangerous to shine too bright.
Shining too bright attracts the wrong sort of attention.
Much better to dial it back and cover up that shine and don’t let anyone see the full wattage of what you feel inside.
Now, that can be the smart thing to do sometimes. You always want to stay safe.
But what you don’t want is for it to become a habit…
To always hide your light under a bushel because it’s not safe to stand out.
But I’m not naïve. I know that there are very real obstacles in the way of us seeing our own brilliance and believing in our brilliance and showing up in the world as the light we are.
And many of those obstacles—ironically—are men.
Here are 3 kinds of men who may have dimmed your light and how to break free.
1. The Creep
When you show up as your full happy self around a creep, he thinks your light is just for him.
He thinks your light is because of him. He thinks you’re interested in him, rather than just being your usual amazing self.
He likes that, so he tries to get near you. He thinks you have a relationship even though you’ve just chatted once. He finds ways to stay in contact with you, showing up places unexpectedly, finding excuses to interact with you.
He makes you feel unsafe, but you’re too polite to tell him to leave you alone. So you force yourself to be civil with him, and he takes that as further proof that you have a relationship. No matter how many signals you send or how well you avoid him, he just doesn’t get it.
What the creep teaches you is that your brilliance is a magnet for guys who want to prey on you.
It’s not safe to engage with strangers. Much better to keep those walls up. Don’t let men in until they’ve knocked on the door a fair few times and proven themselves trustworthy.
Don’t let the creeps win.
Shine your light. Don’t apologize. But also don’t engage with anyone unless you’ve got a yes in your heart!
As good girls, we’ve been trained to be polite and avoid hurting anyone’s feelings, but that’s what gives creeps their foothold.
Express your boundaries clearly and decisively. Practice saying what you need to say in front of a mirror if you have to. Remember that no is your friend.
Don’t worry about other people’s feelings. That’s their problem. Your boundaries are always going to offend some people, and that’s not your problem.
Own your identity as a Relationship Warrior who can defend herself in love if she has to.
2. The Critic
If you were to describe yourself to someone, what would you say?
Would you say that you’re an amazing girlfriend, you’re kind and loving, you’re sexy and beautiful, you’re fun and interesting?
Or would you think back to past relationships you’ve been in and what those men said about you?
Something that has always mystified me is how some men feel entitled to define you. To tell you who you are.
And when you say, “No, that’s not true,” they tell you, “Yes, it is. I know you.”
That phrase “I know you” gives me the creeps. It’s verbal abuse.
Verbal abuse is when someone tells you that you’re this and you’re that—you’re disgusting, you’re manipulative, you’re lazy, whatever it is—as if they know who you are and what you think better than you do.
Sometimes you don’t even register it as verbal abuse, because you’re primed to believe the worst about yourself.
A guy tells you that he can’t touch you because you look so gross, or that it’s a shame you’re not better in bed because he likes your personality. He says these things offhand, like they’re no big deal, except they’re actually QUITE nasty.
We can carry those comments with us for years, believing that they define us. After all, if a man said it about you, it must be true, right? Um, NO!!
No man gets to define you.
You are the only one who gets to decide who you are and what you think and what you stand for.
So what are you going to do the next time a man says something critical about you?
You’re going to hold up a mirror. You’re going to let those words bounce back onto him.
Because what it really means when a man says you’re gross or you’re manipulative or whatever it is… it means those are qualities he has.
That’s his shadow. He’s projecting his own stuff onto you.
Now you know what’s in the darkest depths of his heart. It’s all about him, no matter how much he tries to pin it on you.
You are beautiful and strong and amazing and good, and NONE of his words can touch that.
3. The Heartbreaker
The creep and the critic are awful, but the heartbreaker is the guy who often leaves the longest-lasting scars.
Because this guy took your heart and smashed it to pieces.
You can’t shine because your heart is glued together from the shards he left the day he walked away.
You don’t want anyone to see that brokenness. You want to cover it up.
It’s beyond the scope of this article to offer you a plan for healing—I’ll put some links that can help below—but here’s the tool I want to offer you.
We think that a man broke our heart.
We think that we once had love and it was torn away from us because we failed. We failed to keep this man who had the love that made us feel alive, and we’re empty and alone.
But there’s a different way to look at this.
That love you felt didn’t come from him. That love you felt was inside YOU.
That was YOUR love. You created this amazing feeling.
Yes, he was part of it, too. But he didn’t have the love and put it inside you. He awakened your capacity to love, a capacity you’ve always had and always will have.
And now you know you can do this amazing thing.
You can love like THAT.
This guy was the catalyst for your love this time, but there are other guys out there. You may even be capable of MORE love. Wouldn’t you like to find out? Wouldn’t you like to see what else you’re capable of?
Well, then I invite you to get out there and start shining!
You got the love. You got the heart. And you’ve got the strength to look down your nose at the naysayers and sail past.
Need support in getting over a breakup? These articles might help.
- He Doesn’t Love Me Back
- I Love You But I’m Not In Love with You
- How Men Get Over a Breakup (And How You Can, Too!) with Breakup Coach Nancy
- How to Get Over a Breakup with Millennial Love Expert Samantha Burns
- “He Dumped Me … And It Was the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me”