In last week's blog, I focused on the five most common dating myths that mire women in romantic ruts. I was not prepared for the outpouring of women - literally from around the world - who contacted me, sheepishly admitting that they'd been falling for one or more of these self-delusions:
1) He's "intimidated" by you.
2) Women love men who treat them like crap.
3) It's only what's on the inside that counts.
4) He's teasing you because he likes you.
5) It doesn't matter what night he asks you out - only THAT he asks you out.
Inspired by all the women who are clearly ready to start a New Year by ditching self-sabotaging deceptions, I've decided to offer five more myths which could be trapping you in old, unhealthy relationship patterns.
6) The way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Yes, I'm talking to you, lady with the spatula, baking Christmas cookies for the doctor you have a crush on - and you, foodie-girl, planning to prepare a gourmet holiday dinner for your boyfriend and his pals. The myth is believing that demonstrating your culinary skills will give him yet one MORE incentive to date or marry you, but in fact it may backfire. A man you'd like to date may savor every crumb of your amazing rugelach, but he'll also know you like him, think you're trying too hard, see you as less of a challenge, and thus unconsciously downgrade your dating market value. Men you're already dating will again, certainly appreciate the five course meal you've slaved over, but he will probably also feel a little entrapped by such wannabe-wifey-behavior, and may even take you for granted.
7) He's afraid of his feelings. Okay, this is right up there with myth #1, above, in its ubiquity. Every time I hear one of my new clients trying to explain away a guy's emotional distance or ambivalence toward commitment in terms of "issues" he's still working out from his childhood, his last marriage, etc. it sets off serious alarm bells. I've seen women play therapist for years with men who were supposedly "afraid to fall in love" only to have Mr. Fraidy-Cat dump them unceremoniously after suddenly finding his courage to love and, wow, get engaged to someone else in a matter of months, not years. The best case scenario is that he may indeed be in love with you, but you're preventing him from discovering his true feelings on his own by crowding him with relationship talk and spending too much time with him.
8) Going on trips together will bring you closer as a couple. Wrong. I've talked to so many women who went on these amazing week-long (or longer) trips with a man to Europe, the Caribbean, Hawaii, etc. - thinking that the new levels of emotional and physical intimacy they've reached will translate into a more secure relationship - only to have the guy call it quits within days of returning home. As Sherrie Schneider and Ellen Fein, authors of The Rules, observe: "Trips make men go backwards." All of a sudden they think they're locked into a marriage track, have doubts, and bolt. Better to have him go on the trip alone, think about you, wonder about you, miss you, and think, "Gee, this would be a good place for a honeymoon."
9) Mind-blowing sex will make him want to marry you. I'm not talking here about the woman who's enjoying joyful adventurous sex simply for her pleasure - but the gal who's investing loads of energy into learning tantric techniques, taking him on trips to the sex-toys shop, priding herself on sexual acrobatics worthy of Zumanity, and putting on an exaggerated verbal performance of how great it all is, hoping to get him so hooked on her sexual charms that he'll never want to leave. Then he does. You want a man to fall in love with your whole being - not just your body. Also you don't want to be the one doing most of the work, either in bed, or in the relationship in general. Not only will trying too hard create imbalance in the relationship, it can also prevent you from relaxing and enjoying this aspect of your love.
10) Love conquers all. Like #3 above, this myth harbors a profound truth: the bond you share with your beloved will help you weather hardships, overcome obstacles and rise above petty differences. But despite its power, love is not a magic wand that can make serious problems, like drug/alcohol dependency, abusive tendencies, or womanizing disappear. Moreover, if you're counting on "love" to change your man - for example, make him more ambitious, or more generous - you're setting the stage for disappointment and frustration on both sides, because men never really change.
If you've been deluding yourself with one or more of the above myths take heart - you're in good company! Paradoxically, I sometimes find that the smarter women are, the more likely they are to succumb to such delusions, maybe because they have a tendency to over-think relationships, or believe they can "make" things happen in love the same way they do in their careers. Fortunately, recognizing patterns of self-deception is a big step towards breaking them. Need more help? Take advantage of my free ten-minute mini-consult by visiting www.malilburulesgirl.com.