Dear Dater: Introduction Episode
Dear Dater Intro Episode
Professionally, I’m a clinical psychologist, an author, and international speaker. And my focus is on relationships. But the real reason that I’m doing this podcast Dear Dater and the reason that I’m interested in helping people improve their relationships and change their lives is because of my own messy journey, not only in relationships, but in life.
I want to give you the wisdom that I wish somebody had given me 20 or 30 years ago, if I could have bypassed a lot of the heartache, a lot of the wasted time and a lot of the mistakes that I made. I would do it in a heartbeat. Although I do know that those things all happened for a reason. And for my growth and my benefit. But still, if I can make the journey easier for you, that’s what I want to do. And as you’ll come to know, as you listen to me more, I talk a lot about how everything in life is related. So, if what you’re looking for is a relationship, you’ve got to look at yourself. You’ve got to look at everything else in your life to see how everything is intertwined and connected. So, let me tell you a little bit more of the real story of my life.
And this is where things get pretty interesting. I grew up in a small town in Iowa. I have an older brother, two parents who have been married now for almost 50 years. And I remember as a kid, we lived out in the country in the middle of nowhere around a bunch of farms, even though we didn’t farm.
And I remember walking around my house as a young kid and just feeling this feeling like there was something more that I should be doing or something more out there. But I couldn’t put words to it. I didn’t know what it was I was feeling. Looking back on it now, I know that what I was hungry for was connection.
And that would be the story of my life for the next 20 plus years. So, as I entered high school and then went on to college and into young adulthood, I was excelling academically. I was valedictorian. I was, you know, in the honors programs in college. I graduated with my doctorate. I was a very skilled clinician in terms of clinical psychology.
And from the outside, everything looked great. But on the inside, my life was a desperate search for love, for attention, for validation. And I had these beliefs, which were unconscious, that a man was going to save me. That finding a relationship was the key to my happiness, to my peace of mind, and to finally feeling worthy.
The thing about life is that we get the same lessons over and over again until we learn them. And a lot of people don’t realize that. And so, they just continue to fumble around. As if they’re in the dark with the lights off. Making the same mistakes, making the same decisions over and over again and getting the same result.
And let me tell you that was me. My thing was being attracted to and getting into relationships with emotionally unavailable men. I would be attracted to men who would not open up, who are unaware of their own feelings, and their own internal world. And I derived my worth from trying to crack their codes from trying to get in there and see how they felt and to win them over. Of course, I knew none of this at the time. To me, it just felt like chemistry. It felt like attraction. It felt like love.
And that is because of the direction my unconscious attraction was pointing me to. And one of the things that we will be talking a lot about on this podcast are the common mistakes that we make in dating. And one of them has to do with unconscious attraction. And there are two types of that.
One type says that we are attracted to people who reinforce how we feel about ourselves. Because I didn’t yet know how lovable and worthy I was, I clicked with men. I had chemistry with men who kept me guessing how interested they were in me, who didn’t make me a priority, who didn’t give their all to our relationship. So, my unconscious attraction made me feel at home with men who didn’t mirror back my worth and value because i couldn’t see it.
And so, I would attract men who were kind of Blahzay about the relationship – who wouldn’t open up, who wouldn’t be vulnerable, who wouldn’t go out of their way for me. And that felt like a fit. That rings all my bells. And tell things started to change, which I’ll get to a little bit later.
The other type of unconscious attraction says that we choose people who reinforce frustrating patterns of childhood and help us play out those same roles that we were in, in childhood. So for me, I grew up with two parents who got pregnant and married very young. My mom got pregnant with my brother when she was 16. My dad was 18. My mom had me when she was 20. My tattoo was 22. So they were essentially children raising children. And while they are some of the best parents I could have asked for, they didn’t have skills in terms of self-awareness and emotional attunement to themselves or to me. And so I chose men who were not attuned to me or themselves. Because I wasn’t attuned to myself. And I recreated this pattern of caretaking and checking in and making sure everybody was always okay while ignoring myself. Again, these patterns were unconscious. I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that I was sad, disappointed and frustrated. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t find lasting enduring love.
And because I was so desperate for it because I believed that a relationship is going to save me, one of my patterns was that I put up with bad behavior. I made excuses for my partner’s bad behavior. I chose not to see it. I overlooked it.
And this was true, even when I dated a narcissist, a sociopath. I found ways to stay in the relationship because I didn’t want to be alone. I was afraid of being alone. I also didn’t understand what manipulation sounded like and felt like. I didn’t understand what verbal abuse looked like and felt like. I normalized all of this behavior because of what was lacking in me – self-love, the ability to set good boundaries, the ability to walk away and know that I was just fine on my own. And not only did I put up with bad behavior, but I had plenty of bad behavior of my own.
I remember locking myself in my car during an argument one night because my boyfriend at the time gave me feedback that I really didn’t want to hear even though it was accurate. I remember crying loudly from another room at the different boyfriend, hoping he would hear me, hoping he would come in and address my feelings. I used to act out my feelings. I used to react instead of respond. I didn’t understand that as a mature adult, I needed to be able to communicate and own my feelings and not blame, accuse, not to make anyone else responsible for my happiness. We attract what we are and I was in the process of healing and growing up, and so I attracted other people that struggled with those things as well.
The other part of the story is that since high school, during this time, I struggled with an eating disorder, bulimia. So while on the outside, I looked like this polished professional really helping my clients change their lives, really helping them understand themselves better, I was often alone in my apartment at night bingeing and purging. Eating a bunch of food and then throwing it all up. And this was a secret that I carried on my own. Nobody knew. And I was scared of anybody finding out. Later on, in my late twenties, I confided in one of my best friends. But my life was one of isolation, either I was searching for a relationship, or I was in a relationship, or I was bingeing and purging. And it wasn’t until age 31 that I embarked on a spiritual transformation by accident. You know, when we start on this kind of journey, we usually don’t do it on purpose. And that is when my whole life started to change.
I really believe, from witnessing this in my clients’ lives and experiencing it in my life, that when we are ready to change, the opportunities will present themselves. And the way that my transformation began was when a friend recommended a Kabbalah book to me called The Spiritual Rules of Engagement. And everything in this book just resonated with me so deeply. It’s as if I already knew all of the words that I was reading, but I was just remembering them. And that’s often what it’s like when we experience truth or we stumble upon truth is we feel this resonance and it’s like, we’ve read these words before. And that’s how it was for me.
So that book really woke me up. And I started reading a bunch of other Kabbalah books. I started reading tons of other spirituality books. I started meditating. I was so deeply connected to the world and to myself, and I felt such a deep joy that I had never experienced before. And the reason this was so magical was because I remember one of my therapists, a year or two before, asking me when we were talking about bulimia and binge dating, which is really what I was doing.
She asked me when you get home at night from work and you open the door to go into your apartment, what do you feel? How do you feel? And I did not have an answer. I had no idea what I was feeling at any given moment, unless it was a super high, high, or super low, low, because I was so disconnected from myself.
So as I started reading, as I started meditating, what I was building was connection. Connection with myself with my inner self, which connected me to everything else around me. And remember how I said as a kid, I was just longing and yearning for connection and didn’t know it. Well, this is finally what I was experiencing. I remember walking to the bus during this time in the mornings to go to work with my headphones on, walking down the sidewalk, just a smile on my face, listening to the music, just so full of joy and content and happy with myself and my life. And I had never, ever experienced that before.
So the first miracle that happened for me, during that time was my bulimia, which I had struggled with for 20 plus years disappeared. I no longer had cravings. I no longer had that addiction to food. I didn’t need it because I had replaced it with the real medicine, which was connection and love for myself.
And to this day, the bulimia has never returned, which I can’t even tell you what a miracle that is because I had been in therapy off and on most of my life, in groups and individual therapy. That was the first miracle that I experienced. And side by side with that, the way that I felt about dating and men completely changed. I was so clear. I did not put up with bad behavior anymore. I was so easily able to set boundaries where that was one of the areas that I really struggled with.
And all of my relationships, I kept giving people chances. I kept doing all the work. I stayed in relationships longer than I should have. Again, that desperate longing for validation and for love kept me there, when I should have moved on. My unconscious attraction shifted. I no longer wanted to be with men. I was no longer attracted to men or had chemistry with men who didn’t show up, or who were broken in ways that meant they couldn’t meet me where I was at.
And so what happened from there is, I met my husband shortly after that. And I remember it was a month or two before I met him. And I was standing in this little boutique in my neighborhood in Chicago called Inkling. And it was a store that I had frequented probably every week for the last year. And for the first time I was in there, I noticed that they carried baby things. So there were these little, you know, baby clothes and baby shoes and toys. And I had this overwhelming feeling standing there that I was going to be pregnant soon. And it was just a knowing and I had never experienced anything like that before. And I was so sure that I almost bought some things. And then I thought, well, I’m not going to do that because that would seem crazy.
But I met my husband a couple months after that, we got engaged very quickly after five months. We were married within a year and now I have two beautiful, hilarious daughters, which is another miracle. I still can’t believe it. That is like my dream come true. Now the twist in that story is that we were married for seven years and ended up getting a divorce.
And that was such a gift. I know people hear that. And even at the time, and I would tell people that my ex and I were splitting up, everyone expressed sympathy and remorse, and really it was the best thing to ever happen to me. I do believe that every relationship happens for a reason. And I know that that relationship happened to give me my two girls, but also to teach me so many things that I still needed to learn. I was relieved when that relationship was over. And I had learned so much more about self-love and about boundaries.
And so when that relationship ended, I felt free.
It’s not that I take divorce lightly because of course, there’s so much to consider. There are kids involved. It’s a huge life change. But in any relationship, if both people aren’t willing and able to show up and take accountability for their part in the issues and the dynamics. If both people aren’t willing to communicate in an honest and kind way and choose to work together as a team to move forward, then the relationship can’t grow. And my ex and I had put in years of couple’s therapy. I had done my best. And I knew for a fact that this relationship could not grow. And I couldn’t make it grow on my own. So therefore it was time for me to move on and the thing is. There are so many miracles waiting to be created by all of you. And you do have that power.
But first you need to start looking at what are your own patterns? What is your work to do? Because if you want a different outcome, if what you want is a happy, healthy, lasting relationship, then you need to look at yourself because nothing is going to change unless you change. And in my book, every relationship is a test. I outline all the common mistakes and pitfalls that women fall into. And how do I know? Because most of them are mistakes and pitfalls that I fell into. But also, over 20 years of working with people, men and women, and seeing the beginnings of relationships, the middle of relationships and the endings, I came to see the same patterns playing out for people. And there came a point where I would, you know, have women coming into my office, telling me about a new relationship and within two minutes of hearing these first interactions, these first dates, these first weeks of communication, I could predict the outcome. And so often it was these women doing the same thing over and over and over again, choosing the same type of partner, acting in the same type of voice, putting themselves in the same roles.
And that’s when I decided I wanted to start speaking and writing and really focusing in this area because things can be different. And the way that I know things can be different and we can completely transform ourselves and our lives is because I did it. By accident.
And my life has never been the same sense in a good way. I now understand that every person, every relationship, every situation that comes into my life is for my growth and for my benefit. And there was always a lesson for me to be aware of. And so it all starts with me. And I understand that I have to keep myself in alignment. Which we’ll talk about what that means. I need to understand what my work is whenever I’m feeling out of alignment. I need to stay conscious about what my lessons are. I need to stay connected to myself. I can rely on the universe. And it’s up to me. To create and move forward in the life that I want.
This is totally different from how I used to live. I used to feel like I was so out of control of everything. And I was desperate and searching and lonely and isolated and feeling like a relationship was the answer. And while we all deserve a relationship, if that’s what we want, we need to be able to recognize and harness our own power because that’s how we make things happen.
That’s how we create miracles. And I want to bring back all the tools and all the wisdom that I’ve accumulated throughout my own journey, but also through the journey of all these people that I get the honor of sitting with and helping and healing and who let me into their lives.
So this podcast is really going to be a place where we talk about what is blocking you from what it is you want. Because I know, for certain, that what you yearn for is meant for you. If you want it, if you feel pulled toward it, it is supposed to be yours. That is what is on your highest path. And we need to figure out how to get you on your highest path.
There’s so many things we will talk about in terms of alignment and self-love and intention and partner choice and pacing and dating as a hobby versus dating to really find a relationship. We’ll talk about how to be an adult in a relationship – how to communicate consciously, how to correct some of the mistakes that you didn’t even know you were making. Because the thing is we aren’t taught relationship skills and we are not taught to look at ourselves as worthy of love and belonging from the minute that we’re born. So we have to learn all these things as we go, and I want to help you learn a lot of this, the easy way and experiment with it and practice it instead of having to learn it the hard way.
And I want to teach you that harnessing your connection with the universe will help you find your highest path will help you access what it is you want. The lie that we’re told in our society is that we’re alone and we have to figure things out on our own. But the truth is, and what I learned is that once we decide we want something, the universe jumps into action to help put together the pieces and help us get it. And so once you commit to doing your work, to figuring out what your work is and doing things differently, the universe is going to help you. And so we’ll also be talking about that and how to harness the power of the universe in your relationships, in your dating life. And that’s another way that you will see miracles happen.
We will keep getting the same lesson over and over again until we learn it. And in my lifetime, my lessons to date, because there are more that I’m still learning, but my lessons so far have been about boundaries, about self-love and self connection. And I want you to understand what your lessons are. Why are the patterns that are showing up in your life showing up?
Why are you attracting the people and the circumstances that you’re attracting? We attract what we are. And our relationship with ourselves sets the stage for every other relationship. So, I want you to understand where your power is, what you can control. And the only thing you are in control of is you.
So that is what this podcast will be about. And it’ll be fun. It’ll be in your face. My clients tell me over and over again that I have a way of delivering the most difficult news or feedback in the most loving way. And that’s what I believe in. We need to hear the truth. We need feedback. We need to be open to looking at ourselves. Because that is where our power lies.
So this podcast is about finding love. It’s about looking at ourselves and it’s about doing things differently, even though it will be uncomfortable. So if you’re ready to be uncomfortable and to have fun and to laugh and to really lean in to new ways of approaching the world and relationships and seeing yourself differently, then you are in the right place. And I’m so excited to go on this journey with you. It’s going to be fun and you’re going to learn a lot. I promise!