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Put Yourself On Your Own Damn Pedestal

There was a time in my life when love was so elusive, when committed relationships felt so unobtainable, and marriage so out of reach, it had me convinced I wasn’t good enough, and that everyone was too good for me.

I was in my late 40s, still single, and on a horrible losing streak. Nonstarters and strikeouts characterized my dating life, and disappointment ruled the day. The worst thing about that time is the damage it did to my self-concept. Repeated rejections got into my head and messed with my mind. They made me question my attractiveness, doubt my desirability, and lose my ability to be my authentic self.

At 51, I finally tied the knot, and now at 57, I look back on those years and know exactly what went wrong. My need for approval was so misplaced, and my desire to get married was so ridiculous, it clouded everything, especially my priorities.

I put guys first. Big mistake.

When you worry too much about someone liking you, you forget to like yourself. You forget how to be yourself. You lose yourself. You forget where your power is, and why you were giving it away in the first place. When you put someone on a pedestal, you lower yourself; when you make someone more important, you diminish your own importance; when you come from a place of inadequacy, everyone seems better than you.

Insecurity + intimidation = inhibition. It’s unsustainable for dating and relationships.

There’s danger in believing negative narratives about yourself, especially because it can become self-fulfilling. Here’s what it looks like: your fear of not being attractive/charming/smart/whatever enough undermines your confidence, which in turn sabotages your relationships, which makes your worst fears come true.

I told you, it messes with your mind.

Hear this and believe it: YOU’RE ENOUGH AS YOU ARE. No one is ever too good for you, and no one is out of your league. Furthermore, don’t think for one second that guy or girl you like doesn’t have flaws and problems and issues that make them not so hot. No one is perfect, so stop handing them your power and making them boss. There should always be balance and equal footing, and if there isn’t, you’re in the wrong relationship with yourself.

Because it’s so easy to get down on yourself when you’re single–especially if you’ve been single a long time—it’s crucial that you take stock of your greatness. And by greatness, I mean every little wonderful thing about you, every little thing you’re proud of, every little thing that makes you fucking great. Remember, there’s no one like you. And when you know what you’ve got, no one, not even your own mind, can mess with you.

The question shouldn’t be: “Do they like me?” It should be “Do I like them?” The question should be “Are they worthy and deserving of me?” Not the other way around. It’s a privilege to date you, know you, be with you, but you need to be convinced of that first.

This brings me to the subject of self-acceptance vs. self-improvement.

As a life coach and former fitness professional, I’m in the business of self-improvement. I believe in it, preach it, and practice it. I’m a big fan of doing the work. There’s always room for improvement, always room to get stronger, fitter, more confident, productive and empowered, but there’s also room to be more accepting of yourself. Being able to love yourself, even if you don’t lose a pound, make more money, find a boyfriend, or get married. The truth is, there is nothing sexier than self-acceptance, because when you have it, the people you date feel it.

If you want to improve, do it for your own sense of accomplishment, not because you think it’ll make you more lovable. Remember, the only approval and validation you need comes from you first. And it shouldn’t be hard, because you’re already pretty fucking great as is.

But if you forget, I’m here to tell you: it’s time to put yourself on your own damn pedestal.

Falling In Love Is Scary AF

Falling in love is a death-defying act.

You’re head-over-heels, topsy-turvy, with zero gravity, zero certainty, and no way of knowing which way is up.

When you fall in love, you have no control, no grip, no balance. You’re vulnerable, powerless, dizzy, exposed. You don’t know how you’ll land, where you’ll land, or if you’ll land safely.

You take a chance when you fall in love. You throw caution to the wind. You leap and hope the net shall appear. You open your heart, cross your fingers, and hope not to die.

Falling in love is risky business and scary as fuck.

For a control freak with an anxious attachment style, falling in love always caused too much stress. Were those butterflies in my stomach or gastritis? Was my heart aflutter or was it anxiety? Was I high on life, or was it the weed calming me down? Don’t get me wrong, I love LOVE, but I hated falling into it.

Love fucks with your head, and it’s not my imagination. According to science, falling in love causes all kinds of crazy changes in your brain chemistry, which Dr. Rosemary Guerguerian MD explains:

“When you first fall in love, your heart may also be pounding. You might have sweaty palms and nervous butterflies. You might feel exhilarated, elated, and full of energy. This is the effect of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter closely related to increased levels of dopamine. Norepinephrine controls the fight-or-flight response. It makes us hyperalert during times of stress–so you may notice you feel unable to eat or sleep. Love is a stress we actually crave and search for the world over.”

I’ve been in love enough times to know it’s an exquisite experience, but it also triggers fear of rejection. This lead me to OCD-level worry and rumination: I wonder if he’s into me? I wonder if it will last? I wonder how he feels? I wonder if he’ll call? I wonder if I’ll ever stop wondering?

Even as the relationship started to develop, there’d be a whole new list of things to worry about: What if he loses interest? What if we don’t share the same goals? What if I’m honest and he thinks I’m nuts? What if he finds out I’m not perfect?

What I should’ve been wondering is: Where the hell was my self-worth?

Why was I so worried about someone liking me, when it should’ve been the other way around? Why was I allowing a guy to determine my value? Why was I waiting for someone’s approval, when all I had to do was give it to myself?

It took me until I was 51 to get married, and it took me about that long to understand the problem: When you lack confidence, when you question your worth, and when you look outside of yourself for validation, falling in love will always be frightening.

And if you’re still nervous or fearful after the initial love high wears off, if you’re still in fight or flight mode and your heart’s still pounding as the relationship goes on, you’re either with the wrong person, in the wrong relationship, or you need to book an appointment with me.

Falling might be scary as fuck, but love should be as uneventful as hell. It took work on myself and finding a good man to tell me this is true. You shouldn’t feel unsafe, and your palms shouldn’t still be sweating beyond the first few weeks of a new relationship.

Whether you’re dating, in a relationship, married, or in the middle of a break-up, having a strong safety net of self-worth underneath you will save the day. Having your own sense of security is what will bring calm and stability into your partnership, or single life.

The truth is, there are no guarantees when it comes to love. We all take our chances; we throw caution to the wind and leap.

Falling in love shouldn’t feel like a high-wire act. It shouldn’t give you gastritis or anxiety, or make you need a bong hit just to deal. It shouldn’t make you question yourself or worry incessantly. When I finally met someone who accepted my neuroses and imperfections, it all became clear AF:

If you accept yourself first, and your partner does too, you know you fell for the right person.

I’ve Co-Hosted A Podcast About Love For A Year, Here’s What I’ve Learned

It began five years ago when I got married for the first time at 51. My husband, also a marriage first-timer, was 57.

I thought it was an interesting story. Here we are, two people in our 50s, with no exes, no kids, no baggage (emotional, maybe) manage to find each other after a lifetime of looking.

To tell the story, I created the blog The Late Blooming Bride, which documented my journey from single life to first-time midlife wife. It included dating tales, my relationship fails, bad choices, breakups, dating advice, and menopause. I shared my pain, triumphs, night sweats, and never skimped on honesty.

A year ago, the VoiceAmerica Talk Radio Network contacted me to see if I’d want to turn the blog into a podcast. I agreed, but only if my husband Robby could join me. “Dating advice podcaster” seemed to fit with the other hats I wear as life coach, dating coach, and fitness professional, so we said yes and they said yes.

So began “Done Being Single,” a podcast that covers all aspects of dating, being single, and finding love later in life. I like to joke that between Robby and me, we have a combined 107 years of single life under our belt. We were pros at being single, and we know our shit.

After being in the dating trenches for so long, Robby and I come to the podcasting world with tons of knowledge and wisdom about love, but we’ve had help along the way in the form of top notch therapists, relationship experts, personal development influencers, and thought leaders of all kinds, who’ve come on the show to share their wisdom. All of our guests have given us incredible insight, for which we are grateful.

In the year we’ve been on the air, we’ve amassed over 80K active listeners, and recorded close to 50 episodes, ranging from sex tips to self-improvement, prenups to personal growth, manscaping to money, dating intervention to dating single parents.

The following is a snapshot of what I’ve learned from some of our guests (included are links to their full interviews):

Gay & Katie Hendricks, personal growth pioneers, authors

“Everything You Want Is On The Other Side Of Fear”

http://bit.ly/2P8iLAJ

Love is a fear-based emotion. People have a fundamental fear of getting close, a fear of criticism, and a fear of not being enough; they despair and feel helpless. Gay & Katie describe limiting beliefs about love as “Upper Limit Problems,” self-sabotage when things start to go well. When you feel unlovable, think of someone you love–a friend or a mate–and love yourself just like that.

Arielle Ford, relationship expert, author, personal development teacher

“The Magic Is In You”

http://bit.ly/2uXcr5K

Arielle, one of the original practitioners of the “Law of Attraction,” believes our ability to love matches our state of being. We draw people, places, and experiences that align with our vibration. If you think you’re a loser or unlucky, that will be your experience, and you’ll manifest those unconscious beliefs and thoughts. You need clarity about what you desire, believe that it’s already yours, then take action steps to manifest it.

Lori Gottlieb, psychotherpist and best-selling author

“Is Good Enough, Good Enough?’

http://bit.ly/2UM5dQo

Our episode with Lori was about settling, not lowering your standards, but having higher standards about the things that matter to you. People need to change the way they think about settling. If you settle for less, you’ll not only compromise to be with another human being (because humans are imperfect) someone’s going to compromise to be with you. There is no perfect person, but there is someone perfect for you.

Guy Finley, self-help writer, spiritual teacher

“Admit It, You Suck At Relationships”

http://bit.ly/2Gcuw61

Guy believes love is about fulfilling expectations, and seeing our partners as a special kind of mirror. The things we see in them that disappoint us–their faults or limitations–are actually things we see in ourselves that we blame on them. No one can disappoint you without your permission. No relationship can grow when blame is the game two people play. We get too attached and dependent on our partners for our happiness.

Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell, psychologist, author, podcaster, fellow late blooming bride

“The Best/Worst Dating Advice You’re Ever Going To Hear”

http://bit.ly/2Uch5qw

Love can’t fix people, nor can you heal people with your love. It’s not your job, and it’s not sustainable. If someone is a project, they’re not your partner, and they will never be emotionally at your level. If you’re thriving in terms of your own growth and development, that’s the kind of person you will attract. “Water seeks its own level,” as she says. Fixing someone never works, because once you fix the fixer upper, the dynamics aren’t going to work anymore.

Ken Page LCSW, psychotherapist and author

“Forget New Years Resolutions, Make Valentine’s Resolutions”

http://bit.ly/2IosFMV

People are victimized by dating advice that says you’re not sexy enough, feminine enough, confident enough, etc, Fixing those things in order to find love is just a path to hell, as Ken says. It looks like self-help, but it’s really self-hate. If you really want to find love, you’ve got to work less on your attractiveness, and more on your attractions. Ask yourself: With whom does my heart feel safe? With whom does my heart feel right? When that becomes your question or filter, your search for love will change.

Lou Paget, sex educator

“Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask”

http://bit.ly/2IkghyA

The best partners aren’t the best looking, or have the best so-called body parts, the best partners are secure with themselves. Everyone wants to be loved, they want to love, they want to be heard, they want to be understood, and they want to know they’re making a contribution. Be honest with yourself, and about what you want. Honesty is your most seductive behavior, nothing has more magnetic appeal than for someone to see you as you are.

Allana Pratt, intimacy expert

“Too Picky, Or Not Picky Enough?”

http://bit.ly/2VxYJBP

Allana says love can’t happen if we’re not in communion with ourselves. We need to be present, secure, and have a connection with self. We wear masks, create limiting beliefs, put up obstacles, and make excuses not to get vulnerable. When we seek love and approval, we give our power away, and hold people responsible for our happiness. We need to let go of judgment of self, and feel the divine on the inside.

Of all the lessons I learned about love though, here’s the biggest:

How you love and who you love, all comes down to SELF-WORTH.

No shocker there, but after interviewing the best in the business, and hearing the stories, complaints, and experiences of our listeners, I can confirm that love is all about how you value yourself, and what you feel you deserve.

No matter what we talk about on the show, no matter who the guest is, no matter where the conversation goes, it always circles back to self-worth.

Another thing I’ve learned about self-worth? You can never have enough of it. So go love and have love, just start with yourself first.

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Tune into Done Being Single www.donebeingsingle.com.

To learn about Treva’s coaching services, visit www.trevabrandonscharf.com.