I was a statistic. There I was, being told over and over by nice, well-meaning people that I was more likely to be struck by lightning twice than to get married over the age of 35. I couldn't get the image of Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny, angrily tapping her foot about her "biological clock ticking like this," out of my thoughts. I pictured myself as a cartoon time bomb, the fuse lit and hissing closer and closer. Panic settled into my daily life, and I almost succumbed to the belief that I would always find myself in the lonely, unsatisfying relationships I was familiar with. I was terrified I might never find meaningful love and have my own family.
You too may have become disillusioned in your life about the possibility of ever making a connection. Many singles attribute it to "the lousy dating sites" and "the lame singles events." Regardless of where you live, you may think that you would be better off dating someplace else. Daters on the Upper West Side of Manhattan are convinced that "everyone knows everyone," and that if they were just in Miami it would all be better. And, of course, the singles in Miami think they need to move to New York or Paris or someplace else.
Many men have expressed concerns to me that the only women they meet are shallow, unrealistic, and closed off; that they are looking for wealthy, handsome guys who play golf and drive fancy cars. With unrealistic expectations of income and stature, these women don't want a real person: "They don't see me," many men say.
I met a group of six women in their forties, affectionately known as "the singles," in a beach community on Long Island. They come back to the beach, year in and year out, with no change in status. They shared their dating experiences with me, and the consistency of their mantras is telling: "The quality of men is awful," "The men just aren't interested in us," and the ever-present, "I have a great attitude, but I never seem to meet the right one." Most singles actually have the same complaints. These include:
- I've been at it for years and still can't meet "the one."
- I wasted too much time in the wrong relationships.
- I hate Internet dating! You never know who really wants to get married.
- Singles events are filled with losers.
- Everyone knows everyone here. I should go somewhere else.
- Where are the serious women and men who want partnership and to build a home?
If you are sincere, and are doing all of the right things, but you find you're attracting random people, or people who don't "get it" or "get you," then it's time to look under the hood of dating to understand that what you think and how you feel directly relates to what you have and what you attract into your life. There's no hiding it.
You Attract What You Send Out
We have a limited perception of reality. You may believe that the singles events are lousy; that it's really difficult to connect and find the kind of person you are looking for. You may believe that there is no one worth dating and that you need to move to another city or town. You may even believe that there's just no one out there for you.
I ask that you have an open mind and consider the possibility that the reason you haven't met "the one" yet has nothing to do with anything "out there." In dating, as in life, creating your own new reality is the foundation for having the life you want. Your future is in your hands and in your thoughts.
You attract what it is that you feel you deserve.
What you think (both consciously and unconsciously) is the primary determining factor in what and who shows up for you. Thoughts have energy, and you attract what it is that you feel you deserve. So, if you are thinking, "Dating is a waste of my time," or "There's no one to date," that can, in fact, be your self-created reality. You also attract what you project, just like a mirror. For example, if you are cynical, you can attract cynical people into your life (the opposite of what you say you want).
Like many people, I was smart, attractive, and successful, yet I consistently attracted the wrong people. Why? Was it really because there was no one out there for me? Because there were no "normal" guys?
The "story" I carried around in my head was that there was something wrong with me. Sure enough, all of the guys I attracted reinforced that story. The evidence was that mismatched, emotionally unavailable guys kept showing up. I attracted them. If there were a hundred guys in the room, I would attract the unhealthy ones, the "wrong" ones. These guys didn't outwardly project "I'm not emotionally available," but that is what they were.
Because that was my energy - unconsciously or not - that was the reality I created for myself. And on the surface, it looked like the truth, based on the evidence. So when the evidence says, "There's no one to date," "The dating sites are lousy," "Men are commitment-phobes," "Women are shallow," is it "the truth," or is it simply what you attracted in the first place? When I attracted the wrong guys who reinforced my story and the way I felt about myself, did it mean there were no great men out there? How can that be possible?
After all, other people were meeting great men. In reality, they were out there, but not for me. Like a magnet, I was attracting what I felt I deserved. Good thoughts and positive energy attract the same energy.
Deep down do you have unconscious stories about yourself, negative vibes, skepticism, misconceptions, and confusion?
If you say you want to meet someone warm, kind, and welcoming, but you are being negative, skeptical, and judgmental, you are likely going to attract someone who is just like the way you are being rather than what you are saying. So I ask you, what kind of people are you attracting? If you do a lot of the right things, like dress well, look great, go on a lot of dates, and put yourself in all of the right places, but deep down you have unconscious stories about yourself, negative vibes, skepticism, misconceptions, and confusion, do you think it will make a difference?
This is the "Dating Epidemic." And until I realized what was actually going on, I was doomed to continue attracting men who would reinforce the story I had about myself - and I didn't even know it! I had to change - to wake up and have a breakthrough - and take personal responsibility for who I was being in my life. The truth is:
I had to be the one to find the one.
And when I did, my energy changed and my life changed. The wrong ones stopped showing up!
The Marriage Readiness Quiz
The first tool of my program is the Marriage Readiness Quiz, which identifies ten important criteria of marriage readiness. By carefully evaluating your situation, you can identify the areas in which you've got a healthy outlook versus areas in which you may have blind spots. You can use this information to isolate the areas where you have blockages, lack of clarity, or where you are not taking appropriate action, all of which can keep you from your ultimate goal of having a fulfilling marriage and partnership.
Answer the questions truthfully in order to identify crucial problem areas. Do not answer with what you think is the right answer; rather, answer according to what is true for you now to get the full benefit.
1. Do you believe you will meet your ideal marriage partner?
- Yes, I am confident that I will attract my ideal marriage partner. I have self-confidence, I have faith that timing is crucial, and I make an effort to put myself in the right places and situations.
- I believe I will, but I think it will take time, patience, hard work, and a lot of compromise.
- I think that almost anyone can be right if both are willing to work at it.
- I guess it's possible, but I've had a lot of bad experiences.
2. Are you clear about the kind of relationship you would like to have and the kind of person you would like to meet?
- Yes, I have a clear vision of how I would like to feel in a relationship and what my partner will be like. I know myself, my needs, and what I want for the future.
- I have an idea, but I could use more clarity about how to really know if someone is right for me.
- I am specifically looking for someone of a certain age with certain interests, and I don't plan to deviate from that picture.
- I don't really know what I'm looking for, so I will date anyone and see how it goes.
3. Do you make dating a priority?
- I do. I understand that since I am committed to getting married as one of my life goals, dating must be a top priority. I allot time every week in my schedule, even if and when I am very busy.
- My schedule is hectic, and I squeeze dating and dating activities in when I can. It's sporadic and can be inconsistent.
- I am not comfortable with "scheduling" dating time and dating-related activities. I believe it will just happen organically.
- I can't remember the last time I went on a date.
4. Do you spend time with former spouses or dates that didn't work out romantically?
- Spending time with exes can block me energetically. If a date tells me, "Let's be friends," I am reminded at that point that I am committed to finding my future spouse, and there is no reason to spend time with him/her.
- I mostly spend time with friends of the same gender, but sometimes if a date doesn't work out, I turn that person into a friend.
- I have a lot of friends I formerly dated, and I even give them advice about their dating life. I think it's fine, and you never know if things will turn around.
- Former girlfriends/boyfriends are fun to spend time with and keep me busy while I'm looking for "the one."
5. Are you "over" your past romances?
- Yes, all relationships from the past are "closed books," and we have all moved on to our own separate paths.
- There is one former love who I still think about, and I know I should "complete that chapter." With everyone else, it's definitely over.
- I can't seem to let go of a past love, so I keep the door open, just in case.
- I don't want to close the door with my ex, since you never know.
6. Do you feel good about yourself, your appearance, your attitude, and how you present yourself?
- I do. I take care of myself and do my best to be healthy and happy. I think I present myself in the best light possible, and when I feel good about myself, I find that I attract good things into my life.
- I feel pretty good about my appearance, but I could definitely do more in terms of presentation. If I did, I'm sure I would feel more self-confident.
- I feel insecure in several areas, and I know it keeps my energy low. I could use some advice, but I don't know where to begin.
- I'm happy the way I am, and I don't have time to pay attention to such things. My partner will like me the way I am.
7. How would you classify your life as a whole, now, while you are single?
- I have a full life in all areas with a great support system of friends, family, and interests. My life will be complemented all the more when I meet my ideal spouse. In the meantime, I continue to develop myself and am ready to welcome him/her when it happens.
- My life is great in most areas, but I do feel a little stuck and very self-conscious about being single when "everyone else is married."
- I feel somewhat lonely and depressed, and I sometimes wonder what's wrong with me ... and if "it" will ever happen.
- I hate being single and need someone in my life to feel happy.
8. I believe I can meet my ideal marriage partner in the following ways and under the following conditions:
- I am open to meeting someone in a variety of ways, and I don't judge different venues based on past experiences. I understand that my future spouse is also searching for me, and our paths can cross in unexpected ways, including Internet dating, introductions, chance meetings, or at a random event.
- I've had some bad experiences with certain kinds of events, so I don't go to them anymore.
- I only date by introduction - I don't trust the Internet because I've only met losers on dating sites. I also don't feel comfortable talking to strangers, and I won't open myself up to them.
- I believe my ideal mate will find me somehow, so I don't have to "put myself out there."
9. I handle my dates as follows:
- I meet a first date for coffee after first speaking on the phone to be sure there is a foundation for a meeting. I treat a date as a special person, and I respect their time as I do my own. I give them my full attention, and I end dates with clear communication, even when the person is not a "match."
- On a date I'm a pretty active listener, but if after a little while I feel he/she isn't "the one," I tend to drift away or just talk about myself.
- I am considerate to my dates, but in reality I try to keep things vague so I can carefully think about the situation.
- If I'm not interested in a particular date, I zone out and even look around the room to see who else might be interesting.
10. The reason I am now dating to marry is:
- I know myself well, and I know what I am looking for in a marriage partner. I am genuinely ready to share my life with someone in a wonderful, committed and loving relationship.
- The time has come. I want to share my life with someone and experience what it would be like to take care of someone else and also be taken care of.
- I think I am ready and I want to take the big leap into new waters.
- I don't want to be alone anymore and I want someone to take care of me.
RESULTS: count the total number of A's, B's C's and D's.
If most of your answers were A's, congratulations! You are in a great place, and you're ready to meet and welcome the "right one" into your life. You are open-minded, self-aware, and understand that so much in life revolves around timing. Because you live a full, rich life, you are happy from the inside and ready to attract your future spouse, wherever he/she might be.
If your answers were not all A’s, you’re in good company too - you’re ready to grow and have breakthroughs. You are in the right place at the right time!
Excerpted from the just-published Meet to Marry: A Dating Revelation for the Marriage Minded.