Don’t Waste Your Headspace on Unavailable Men

Since I was a little girl, I was in a constant quest for validation from the opposite sex. I longed for the validation of another to feel okay with myself. And when you’re still figuring out who you are and what you stand for, feeling temporary empowerment and fulfillment from another person seems like a good option.

I’ve liked all sorts of boys – and usually there was a certain “type” that would attract my interest depending on the phase of life I was in. In my teens and early twenties I was drawn to bad boys.  In my party promoting days I had tunnel vision for DJ’s and party promoters. Then I found myself in a relationship with the starving artist, who fell in love just as quickly as he fell out of love with me.

Our imbalance of finances and success proved to be a cancer in our relationship, and I realized that love does not prevail all. While the professions, personalities and appearances of the different people that came in and out of my life were different, there was a common thread. Almost each and every one was unavailable in some shape or form. Like attracts like. And in retrospect, I see that I was unavailable too.

Regardless of how great things were going in my life, I felt the need for a man to give me a sense of fulfillment. I centered my world around my boyfriends or the men I pined over – I dumbed down my success, negotiated my boundaries, made people a priority who only saw me as an option. I increased my giving – hoping that my investment would equate to a proportional increase in the amount of feelings someone had for me. I would feel heart pangs when the latest apple of my eye didn’t return a phone call, and would be ridden with anxiety wishing that the bad boy would “change”.

But then it hit me. After time and time again spending my energy and devoting headspace to unavailable men, I realized that it was time to close that pattern of my life. I learned my lesson. Or maybe it just took me a good three decades to really appreciate my worth.

Today I’m at a stage where there is great positive momentum in my life. I have a fruitful career, I contribute to society, and have created a loving and supportive community of friends and colleagues. And there’s so much more to do. There really isn’t time to waste mulling about, pining over, convincing, or trying to force a relationship to work. There are business opportunities to be had, contributions to the community to be made, youth to be mentored, impact to be created. And if you are devoting so much energy and headspace to people who don’t support and boost you in your momentum, then not only are you doing a disservice to yourself, but you are hurting your potential to contribute to the world.

So my advice to you ambitious, inspiring, positive, impact making women out there. If you’re pining over a man who doesn’t reciprocate effort, trust that there is nothing wrong with you, it’s just that he is not your right fit. If you have to convince someone that you’re worthy of his time and investment, try to take off your blinders of emotional attachment and see it as it is: a lose-lose situation with no happy ending.

If you are in a relationship that drags you down more than it supports you to rise, then seriously consider if that person is the right life partner for you. Your partner, on an overall level, should elevate you to grow and be a better person, and vice versa.

If you are single and dating around – try not to rush into labeling things just because it’s so engrained in us to follow the traditional path of dating/marriage/kids. Take your time to get to know someone, as only experiencing life events together coupled with time and consistency will reveal one’s true character.

If you are daydreaming and wishing on a star for your prince to come, be conscious not to idealize someone to fit into your fairytale, as you’ll likely be disappointed when reality hits.

And if you have met someone who supports you, appreciates your essence, and will be your rock and biggest cheerleader, cherish that person. Create a partnership with that person where the two of you will be a force stronger together than as individuals.

Whatever your situation, remember that life is too short to waste on mulling over the wrong fit. Your headspace is too valuable. There’s impact to be made and work to be done.

If it’s not fitting it’s because it’s not meant to. Listen to that inner voice to know when to close a chapter and  be open to the opportunity to start a new one. Look for the lesson that each person brings so that you can develop yourself and perhaps one day, you’ll be the “right” one so you can meet the “right” one.

I’d like to end off with a quote that inspired me to write this post, from Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In:

 

“When looking for a life partner, my advice is to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Something who thinks women should be smart, opinionated, and ambitious.”

Sheryl Sandberg

5 Comments

  • Reply April 3, 2013

    Miss Mindy

    You always have so much wisdom to share, Amy. Thank you for that! It’s almost as if this post was written specifically for me to read today. I’d been dating a man for four months and broke up with him about a month ago because my intuition led me to believe it was not the right fit. Basically, it felt like he was not interested in investing the same amount of energy into our newly blossoming relationship as I was. It felt off balance but he assured be that he liked me and wanted to see where things go naturally. I thought breaking up before I got more attached was the right choice, however, a couple weeks afterwards I found myself apologizing for the abruptness of the break up and telling him I missed him. I’ve seen him a few times over the past couple weeks and now I feel like I am compromising my boundaries but yet I still have this incessant need for validation from him. I too have grown so much in my twenties and in many ways consider myself a strong and ambitious woman. But my relationships with men always get the best of me and leave me doubting myself. Even when I consciously try to heed your advice and set boundaries, things always end up with me trying to force something that isn’t the right fit! It is beyond frustrating. This post helped a lot! I need to stop the emotional attachment and just realize that I am missing out on being a contributor to society and to my tried and true friends and family by wasting energy on something that is doomed for failure.

  • Reply April 3, 2013

    Sue

    Once again Amy, you’ve hit the nail on the head for me!!! I so look forward to anything you’ve written because it comes with so much insight and inspiration to move along in my life!!! I get validation that I’m moving in the right direction and encouragement not to just settle for Mr. Right Now!!! Kudos for another well written, thought provoking piece!!! Keep up the great works…Look forward to your next piece!!!

  • Reply April 5, 2013

    jane

    Thanks again Amy for another insightful piece. I check your website most days hoping for another of your articles to read because they really help me at this point in time. I’ve been going through a rough patch for what seems like the last year, but has got much worse in the last month. I seem to chase after men in the hope that they will solve my deep-felt insecurities and wave of depression. Each man is the typical good looking, cool, funny guy who is seeking some perfect model type. And after a few months of deperately trying to make them fall in love with me, they break it off as they realise my flaws and insecurities. I end up feeling more and more worthless and unattractive, too ‘broken’ to have anyone like me. Your articles remind me that no man should be able to have that effect and power over you and that no man is worth the pain and relentless pining. You remind me that I should not let some guy be able to stop me realising my ambitions and true potential. Thank you Amy, keep up the great articles!

  • Reply July 19, 2013

    Princess

    Wow I came across your site accidentally. You’re article is good, I can definitely relate! I’ve had my share of different types of guys, and I’m still wondering why those I like always leave me.
    I will bookmark this site. Thanks for your article.

  • Reply July 21, 2013

    Priya

    I’ve spent years going after men because I wanted a marriage, a family but before that I wanted to spend some quality years with my husband making good memories and having fun before the kids would come. Well, my dream never came true. I’ve hit the age that whenever I come across someone that person is divorced, has children and are often much older than me. Ain’t no doggy bag woman. I’ve missed out on a lot of things. I’m now in the phase of ‘now what’. How will I make my life without my dreams of having a good relationship and my own family fulfilled? I realized this week that I have to make a bigger contribution to society. It’s not about me anymore. I haven’t used my full potential and I haven’t lived up to my talents and abilities.
    And sure, maybe I can meet someone at an older age, but who wants a second hand relationship and a man who’s on his second tour while I was waiting to be number one. What’s the profit of having a relationship at an older age when you can’t have children anymore without risking having an unhealthy child, or when you have build up your life alone. I’ve built up my life alone while others could profit from each others support. Why should I share my the fruits of my life with someone at an older age while he hasn’t contributed to it at all.

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