Read an Excerpt
Assume You're Perfect
You're single, and your mother says you're too hard to please, your sister says you're too assertive, and your friends say you should play hard to get. You argue with them, but you suspect that they may be right. You've begun to believe that you're too picky, too pushy, or a princess. Right? Well, here's a news flash: even if they are right, it doesn't matter. The odds are that you would still be single even if you were perfect!
The real problem isn't you at all. It isn't your hair, your weight, your job, your hobbies, your accent, your family, or your perfume. It isn't that you're too choosy, cautious, or combative. It isn't that you're too shy or too social, too spoiled or too stingy, too career-minded or too marriage-minded. Somewhere, there is a guy for you . . . actually, many guys. But all you need is one. And he'll fall in love with you as you are. To him you'll be perfectly lovable. Take the case of Marianne:
Marianne just got engaged. Her friend told me that Marianne ran into an old flame (her Mr. Big!) at a party and they started seeing each other again, for what must be the fourth time. Her friend said she was in despair that Marianne would do this to herself again. But listen to this!
They went on vacation together to a pricey resort, and this time Marianne decided to stop trying so hard to please him, and instead she decided to do whatever she wanted to do (sleep late, go to the spa). If he went to play golf at dawn, well, so be it. She was prepared to be dumped again and was just going along for the ride. But instead of breaking her heart again, he proposed!
Had Marianne's boyfriend proposed this time because he thought she was too needy before and now saw her as more independent? Had things changed because she was trying too hard before and now was more relaxed? Had her boyfriend found her too available before and now hard to get? Her friends had plenty of theories about the relationship. But it was none of these things. Marianne asked him. She said, "Why now?" "Well," he said, "I'm over forty now, and I'm ready to settle down." He said he'd always loved her but just wasn't ready. It wasn't her--it was him!
This floored Marianne's friend. Why? Because she realized that she was doing exactly what most single women do to themselves--she blamed Marianne for her boyfriend's reluctance to move ahead, when it really had very little to do with her. She was perfectly lovable all along; she was just dating someone who wasn't perfectly ready.
The Primary Principle
The truth is, there's someone for everyone, and eventually every one of us will find our prince. And we don't need to change who we are to make that dream come true. We do, however, need to change how we date, how we see men, and, most of all, how we see ourselves. We need to understand just when the problem is not us. We need to understand just how the problem is not us. And we need to understand just why the problem is not us. But it's not easy to stop blaming yourself. After years of having the wrong ideas about dating and going about it the wrong way, it takes practice to get it right, but you can do it. What follows are the strict directions, exercises, tests, and drills that will help you find a fairy-tale ending while dating in the real world. They are the same psychological prescriptions I've given to patients for almost two decades . . . and they really work!
Dating the wrong way is trying to reinvent yourself again and again, and then changing yourself still more. All that time and effort focused on yourself, blaming yourself, being dissatisfied with yourself, is a huge drain. Instead, it's time to get practical and realistic.
Dating is hugely simplified when you assume that you're perfect but that no man is ever going to be. When you assume that you're perfect, you realize that 90 percent of your dating efforts--constantly reinventing yourself to seem like Ms. Right for Mr. Wrong--have been a waste. The problem was never you. It was him.
Write this principle on a Post-it and stick it to your mirror and refrigerator, write it on a card and put it in your desk, print it in your daily planner, and make it a screen saver.
It's not you, it's him.
It should become your mantra and your credo. Repeat it to yourself at least five times a day. Why? Because what we think leads to what we feel and do. Does that surprise you?
Choose What You Think
Most of us grew up believing our emotions rule us. We were taught that when we're feeling "down," we have "down" thoughts and behave that way. When we're feeling "up," we have "up" thoughts and act "up." But psychology's biggest discovery of the past two decades is that it really works the other way around. We can choose what we think, and what we choose to think leads to how we feel and what we do! I'll say it again. You can change what you feel and do by changing what you think.
This is great news. This means you can change the way you feel about dating the minute you change the way you think about dating. This means you can change the way you feel about yourself the minute you change the way you think about yourself. It doesn't take years of therapy, counseling, or analysis. You don't have to review all your "issues," work out your family relationships, or sort through your "baggage" first. Things can change today.
When you think differently, you will feel different. When you feel different, you will act differently. Sounds too simple. Just try it. Researchers at Harvard's Thorndike Lab find that it works. Cognitive and behavioral therapists find that it works. Alcohol and drug rehab counselors find that it works. Physical therapists find that it works. Ministers, priests, rabbis, and spiritual advisors find that it works. My patients, clients, and I find that it works.
Turn Dating on It's Head
Now take this new approach and apply it to dating. As I said before,
Assume that you're perfect as you are . . . perfectly lovable, that is.
Assume that you're entitled, therefore, to be loved by a perfect man . . . just as you always wanted.
Assume, however, that there is no perfect man . . . in the whole world, and every man you meet will be imperfect . . . in many ways.
Assume that if he doesn't find you lovable, that's proof that he's imperfect . . . at least for you.
In other words, always assume that it's not you . . . it's him!
Once you start assuming that you are perfectly lovable just the way you are, everything will change--how you think will change how you feel, which will change what you do.
You'll start to look at each new man through your eyes instead of looking at yourself through his. You'll see dating as your opportunity to see if he's someone who might become special to you or someone you should say sayonara to.
Along the way, you may be tempted to fall back on your old doubts about yourself, especially if you've had some problems with romance lately. But you can practice your new thinking by focusing clearly on the primary principle:
It's not you, it's him.
Once you make that assumption, everything men say and do will be information about them, not you! If a guy doesn't treat you as perfectly lovable, you'll feel like a curious observer, a stern judge, or an amused bystander instead of wondering what you did wrong. You'll wonder what's wrong with him, not what's wrong with you.
Once you make that assumption, if a guy does treat you as perfectly lovable, you'll respond with grace and not jump in before he changes his mind or act as if he's your only chance at marriage.
Once you make that assumption, you'll stop blaming yourself for being single! It's never been about you. It's always been about him. If he didn't follow up, it's his problem.
If he didn't appreciate you, it's his problem.
If he didn't commit to you, it's his problem.
You'll stop asking yourself why. It may have been timing, a previous entanglement, or his insecurity. You may never know. What you will know is that it's a numbers game, and it's time for you to move on. If he didn't like your humor, you'll look for someone who does. If he didn't like your friends, you'll find someone who does. If he didn't like your family, you'll be sure the next guy does. You'll stop trying to change yourself when romance fails, and you'll change partners instead. You'll choose to fall in love with someone who's madly in love with you.
You'll react with zero tolerance when you receive zero.
It might be the opposite of anything you've ever done since you started dating. But that's the point. And the time to start is now!
Do What You Want, Wear What You Want, Go Where You Want
Maybe you've heard from your mother, friends, or dating manuals that the key to finding a guy is to "go where the boys are." Hang out at a sports bar, sign up for a wine-
tasting class, or take up boating. All that's fine if you like rooting for the home team, sipping wine, or sailing the open seas. But if you don't, forget about it. Somewhere there is a guy for you, and you don't have to find him at the gym if you hate working out. By doing things you think guys like but that you don't, you're assuming you're not perfectly lovable with the interests that you already have. You'll soon find out that it's not your interests that are preventing you from meeting men.
Faking It Doesn't Work
What happens if you sign up for wine tasting just to find a guy, even though you can't tell red from white without looking, and you're fine with that? Or you tell a guy you meet that you like the same hobby he does just to make a connection? Well, you're not showing him the true and perfectly lovable you. Instead, you're pretending. Worse than that? You're assuming that you aren't good enough for him as is. (You don't see many men joining a book clubs or taking spinning classes just to meet a woman.)
Now, say you start dating that guy. Either you'll have to keep up the "I love wine" act forever, which would be tough, or you'd have to confess. Telling him the truth at such a late date would send the wrong message again: that you don't believe that who you are is just fine. The right message? "I can be me."
To make matters worse, after a while you're likely to realize that you don't really connect, since the common ground you started on was all pretend.
Here's what happened to Audrey when she faked it:
Audrey started dating Joe. He loved fishing and anything to do with the water. She got seasick just watching The Love Boat (well, almost). But to keep the flames burning she pretended that she loved the water and the activities that went with it. After a few months, Joe booked their first vacation together: a trip to a remote island off the Bahamas. Not only was she horribly seasick on their daily fishing trips, but she was also bored. There was nothing else to do on the island but water sports. It was no vacation, and Audrey spent her precious time off from work throwing up in the ocean.
Think of what your (happily) married friends told you when they met The One: "It's like we speak the same language." "I'm so comfortable with him." "He really gets me." "He likes me just the way I am." That's what your goal is, and the only way to find the guy who loves you just the way you are is to be . . . just the way you are.
If a guy's really into you and finds you perfectly lovable, you don't have to be a carbon copy of him. He can be him. You can be you. And he can still be madly in love with you even though he goes fishing and you go shopping.
Do his thing if you care about him and want to do him a favor--it will make both of you feel good.
Do his thing if you care about him and he asks you to do him a favor--it will get you some IOU points and show him that you're a sport.
Do his thing if the two of you are compromising: he'll go bike riding with you, so you'll go fishing with him--it will tell you if he can compromise and if he appreciates your flexibility.
Do his thing if you think you may actually like a new activity or change your mind about an old one--and let him know you're testing it out, so that he will try hard to make it great and he won't expect you to do it forever (unless you find you love it).
Do his thing if you find him so perfectly lovable that you want to and he finds you so perfectly lovable that you know you don't have to.
Rx: Do his thing if it's a favor or fun--never if it's a fake.
From the Hardcover edition.