I once read a fascinating, but all too realistic, story about a woman who opened her closet door and out tumbled various pieces of sporting equipment and memorabilia. While these possessions represented the last decade of her life, she did not realize until putting them all away that she felt no connection to anything in her closet. You see, this poor woman had put aside her own interests for the hobbies of a long line of significant others. Standing before her newly straightened shelves, she recalled relationships with Partner A in the water skis, Partner B in the bicycle helmet, and Partner C with a paintball gun. She asked herself, "How could I have given up so much of myself so that nothing in my closet reflects my own interests?" My simple answer is that she had a desire to fit in and be accepted. It's a pretty safe bet that if a woman wants to become her partner's ideal mate, she only needs to transform herself into that person.
And it happens … again, and again, and again. Still, we wonder, what does this cost her? And, is it fair to her significant other? Maybe, most importantly, we need to recognize that following this plan of action leads her to never finding a true ideal mate. Like many of my coaching clients, I was raised with the unspoken messages of not asking for too much, and not being too vocal about my strengths. As a result, this upbringing and my need to be accepted after my divorce found me dating men who did not require much from their partner. At the same time, they did not offer much, either.
If you were looking for your ideal partner today, would you really be interested in someone whose only goal was to become your vision of a good mate? Would you want to spend time with someone who presented himself one way, but after the curtain was drawn, you saw something much different? Whether the person is a significant other or a female acquaintance, isn't this image a little unsettling? I do not believe most women are trying to fool a mate with smoke and mirrors, but I do fear that many transform their lives to match their partner's because they do not yet know who they are, what their likes and dislikes are, or how to measure their goals and values. A staggering number of women in my divorce workshops say, "I've given so much to my ex-husband and the family that I feel like I'm left with nothing. I couldn't even tell you my favorite color, or what I want for dinner." My heart immediately goes out to these women because years ago, their words were mine. Sometimes help comes from the most unexpected places. A few weeks ago, while preparing for an appearance on an Orlando news program, I had to confront my comfortable pattern of downplaying my strengths.
In the length of a short guest feature, I had to explain the ways I help women, and why I am good at my work. This moment was significant for me, and one I will remember every time I find myself wanting to go back to that old habit of not being true to myself. You can win in relationships and business by authentically knowing and being who you are, using the skills you bring to the table, and having a level of comfort that allows for flexibility and change. Women shortchange themselves by jumping into relationships before taking the time to fully discover and appreciate themselves. They do not stop to think about the characteristics they desire in a partner. Are you looking for your ideal relationship? Surprise—it all begins with being authentically you.
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