It was late, we we're making mac and cheese, we had been drinking, and I found myself telling her, "You just need to put yourself out there." I regretted it immediately, but I wasn't sure quite why until she responded, "I HAVE!"
At first I felt bad. I pride myself on helping people, on giving relationship advice that is not trite, that breaks through boundaries. Here, I seemed to make my friend more closed down when she was already feeling bad. I listened to myself say the most cliched sentence in all of relationship lore.
I felt shitty for the rest of the night and early morning, and I fell asleep thinking about what she needed instead. What coaching should I have given her. What could she consider that would help her act, think, or feel differently--to get what she really wanted.
Then something struck me. I was--as they say in life coaching parlance--chewing on "You've gotta put yourself out there." I repeated it to myself. You've gotta put yourself out there. You've gotta put yourself out there. And then a new sentence popped into my head: You've gotta put yourself in here. Meaning that instead of blaming the environment--"There's no good people in this city," or "All the good ones are taken"--or over-generalizing the potential partners--"Women are so crazy," or "No one would ever want to date me; I'm too much to deal with," or "Guys just want to fuck and ditch you; they don't want anything serious."--you can look at your own behavior and how you, yourself, contribute to attracting people you don't want or not attracting anyone at all.
Over my short time on this planet, I've met tons of great people--diverse folks with diverse relationship and general interests, and people who would make great partners to a lot of us. And many of them are single, looking, yet not finding. Yes, some of it is a numbers and timing issue, and meeting and choosing a partner is complex. Yet, if we take this particular piece of the puzzle, we see that so many of us love to play the victim role instead of taking responsibility for ourselves, how we behave, and therefore what we attract. Because of this we continue to get the same results and keep ourselves safe by blaming something exterior. I've met very few people in my lifetime--although granted some of them do exist--who say: "She was beautiful, honest, fun, really knew herself and was confident, anddddd...I'm just not interested."
Relationship experts agree that we attract people who are well matched to all of ourselves, not just the parts we idealize, and we find ourselves with people who trigger exactly what we need to learn. Therefore, if you're not meeting people you like or meeting anyone at all, it's likely due to the fact that you don't really know yourself or have an honest perception of who you are.
Instead of putting yourself out there, learn about yourself--work on yourself. Learn about who you are, what all of you is drawn toward--consciously and subconsciously--your fears, your traumas, even, gasp, your relationship with your opposite sex parent. All of these factors contribute to who you are and what type of people you attract. What lessons do you need to learn? Where are your edges and how can you grow?
I promise by putting yourself in here, you'll be much more likely to attract a good partner and have a successful relationship. When you put yourself out there, you'll know what you want and where to go to get it.
(After some Facebook conversation about this article, I think it's worth mentioning that none of the critique I made above was at all directed toward the friend to which I'm referring. This experience was simply the impetus for seeing this concept of putting yourself in here.)