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Which of the following statements most accurately reflects your attitude toward dating?
Last year, I worked with "Heather," who checked off every negative perspective I offered. "Yep!" she said when I read, "Dating sucks." "Very true!" she added when I got to "I'm losing patience." And when I ended with, "I'm losing faith: No good guys are left," she paused for a moment...and started to cry.
I asked Heather to justify the perspective to me. Why did dating suck? Why was she losing patience and faith? With tears streaming down her face, she admitted that she never imagined she'd still be single at 39. I asked her why, in her opinion, she was single, and she explained that she's "unlucky in love"—that things never work out with her dates and that the men she likes overlook her or cheat on her. I challenged her and asked if it was possible that her dating success was less about luck and more about her choices in men, but Heather insisted she was cursed in some way. "Unlucky in love" was Heather's love label, and she was sticking to it.
I instructed Heather to pick a more positive perspective from the list and justify it to me—even if she did not initially agree with it. She quickly chose "Dating is funny" and proceeded to tell me a hysterical story about a blind date she had had a few weeks prior. When the bill for their coffees arrived, her date mentioned that her portion was $4.82. She didn't have correct change so gave him a $10 bill, and he took it. "The guy made money on our date!" she laughed. Heather said she has an entire repertoire of bad dating tales and could do a comedy tour with her material.
Next, I asked Heather to try on the love label, "Where I am is exactly where I need to be," but this label did not stick. Heather insisted that it was not in her life plan to be without a partner at her age, and she resented the fact that she was still single. She admitted that she finds it hard to get motivated to participate in interesting activities because she does not have someone special to share great moments with. She told me about how hot she was in college and how many men liked her then. She painted a picture of the future she imagined she would have with a family of her own. She was frustrated that she was not closer to realizing this goal.
Try a new positive label