Date smarter, not harder

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Whenever I meet a man I like, the relationship never goes anywhere. I spent a lot of time with each of the last three guys I dated. We hung out, had dinner three times a week, played music, and checked out bands. The relationships were emotionally honest but never went beyond friendship and hugs. When I would bring up my desire for something more, the guy would say he was not interested in me romantically, or not attracted to me, and yet he would continue to spend a lot of time with me. Each of these men eventually met another woman, immediately became involved with her and stopped seeing me. It always feels like I’ve been dumped. What is going on?

You like to be right, and that interferes with your ability to accept the truth. That’s why when a man says he’s not attracted to you or that he wants only your friendship you refuse to accept his decision.

Maybe you believe that if you hang around long enough, he will eventually change his mind. Unfortunately, in the process you become a lady-in-waiting, a woman who puts her unrequited heart on hold, hoping that the man she desires will suddenly realize how amazing she is, and fall wildly in love with her. It’s the plot of plenty of Lifetime movies and Harlequin romance novels but it’s rare in the nonfiction world of real life.

While you are hoping to be anointed as the woman a man can’t live without, he’s scouting the dating pool for the woman he can’t live without. Hmmm, after dragging yourself through three of these scenarios, aren’t you ready to charm your ego into smarter choices?

If you really want to change, deconstruct the filters inhibiting your listening process. When a man isn’t into you, don’t hang around waiting for him to change his mind. Most importantly, be aware that the recently separated or divorced are often hungry to avoid being alone. They will even re-enact activities common during their last committed relationship, like making dinner and watching Netflix, or running errands with you, at least until the right one comes along.

I have a girlfriend I am no longer attracted to but she is emotionally dependent on me. I used to love her but as time went by I knew she was not the one I wanted to be with. However I feel responsible for her. She’s lonely, has few friends and no family support. I have been going out with other women while being with her but the thought of breaking up makes me feel guilty. What should I do?

Realize that you feel guilty because you believe that you are abandoning this woman. What if, by letting go, you are supporting her in learning she can depend on herself? And what if, while leaning into her inner resources, she learns how to reach out to others for support whenever she needs it? Loneliness results from not appreciating solitude. Enjoying solitude occurs when we have peace of mind. Peace of mind thrives when we are content to savor the beauty in the world and in ourselves. So tell your girlfriend that your feelings have changed. Don’t be afraid of her sadness or anger. Emotions are a natural response to experiences. Say you are afraid she will be lonely without you. Add that you know she can heal and grow stronger, if she chooses. Explain that you can shift into a friendship after nine months or a year of no contact. Accept that your feelings of guilt mean you think breaking up makes you a bad person. The truth is, pretending to be attracted or in love with her is unkind. So is cheating. Choose integrity instead.

Meditation of the Week

Isn't it time you met the woman you trust with your heart? Yes, that would be me! My book <i>When Your Heart Breaks, It's Opening to Love: Healing and Finding Love After An Affair, Heartbreak or Divorce</i> will be featured at the California Capital Book Festival, which takes place October 25-26 at the Sacramento Convention Center (1400 J Street). It's free and so is my workshop on love, which happens from 1-1:45 p.m., Saturday. Come over and let's hang out! Visit <a href="http://www.ccbookfestival.com/">www.ccbookfestival.com</a> for details.