Last night, I was catching up on Oprah (thank God for DVRs or I would never get my "aha moment" fix) and saw her interview with Geneen Roth, author of the New York Times bestselling book, Women, Food and God. Roth's book looks at women's self-defeating obsession with dieting and claims that food addicts' issues are not really food, but the negative core beliefs that they are trying to numb by overeating.
In other words, women are feeding themselves with something that does not ultimately fill the true void within. Oprah, a self-proclaimed "food addict," identified with this, and admitted that she eats to numb her fear of not being accepted.
Roth's theory makes perfect sense, I think, and it doesn't just apply to overeaters. The same is true for love addicts. In this case, the void is caused by lack of self-esteem, and the negative core beliefs are: I'm not good enough, I don't have enough to offer, I'm not worthy of love.
As a dating coach, I've come in contact with thousands of women who mistakenly believe the secret to happiness is validation from a man, and that they must do everything humanly possible (Be at his beck and call! Bake! Have sex with no strings attached!) to earn that validation.
I call it the Jerry Maguire Myth: the conclusion that we'll finally be happy when we find the soul mate who "completes" us. That the ache we feel inside is our heart longing to find our "other half." That once that person comes into our life - and we make him our life - we will magically feel fulfilled.
Wherever this information is coming from - our dysfunctional childhood, society, Hollywood - it's a lie.
It breaks my heart to see bright, beautiful women involved in so-called "relationships" where they give and give of themselves until they are exhausted, emotionally depleted, and resentful. This is not necessarily about good women getting involved with bad guys. The guy is irrelevant because he's interchangeable.
When you're a love addict, you can date Mr. Physically Abusive or Mr. Perfect and you'll still believe that you have to earn love. You think the key to keeping a man is making your needs nonexistent so you can focus all of your energy on meeting his needs. In actuality, however, the best thing you can do in the interest of building a healthy relationship is to focus on meeting your own needs.
Unfortunately, that's probably harder than finding a good man. It means taking responsibility for our own happiness instead of kicking back and waiting for someone else to fix us.
The good news is: the journey to complete yourself is far more satisfying than the futile attempt of willing a man to do it for you.
What's more, the best relationships are created when two whole people come together out of a desire to share their full, happy lives with one another. These are the relationships that thrive and succeed.
You can have that kind of fulfilling relationship if you're willing to focus on yourself.
But wait a minute... am I saying that you need to hole yourself up in some Buddhist temple with no contact with the outside world until you've "found yourself?" Am I telling you not to date until you've got your life all figured out? No way!
What I am saying is that while you continue the search for a partner to share your life with, you must make yourself a priority. I call it "Dating Yourself First." Take yourself to museums, check out that hot new restaurant, tackle the rock-climbing wall at the gym that you've been equally terrified and fascinated by. There's no room for desperation when you've got a perfectly fabulous date for every occasion... you.
As you focus on your own happiness you will be amazed at the transformation that starts to occur. You'll feel comfortable in your own skin, and you won't approach your relationships from a place of need, but rather one of strength. You won't obsess about what you can do to make yourself loveable. You'll be too busy giving yourself the unconditional love you deserve.
So here's my challenge for you today...
Ask yourself: Do I feel a void within myself and, if so, how am I trying to fill it?
If your answer is relationships with men who never seem to complete you, maybe it's time to try something different.
You don't have to make any life-altering changes overnight. Simply begin by dating yourself first.
It is my wish for you today that you focus more of your precious love and energy on nurturing the one, lifelong relationship that matters most: the one with yourself.