Are You Scaring Yourself Out of Love?
(FemiType #3: The Scaredy Cat)
We all know that dating over 40 can be a bit of a jungle with challenges, surprises and pitfalls. I’m sure you’ve encountered your share of Needy-men and Players as you meet single men. I get it, and you belong to a large, loving sisterhood. But it’s not only us gals who have dating disasters. Men have their fair share of icky, confusing, ego-crushing experiences too.
In my ongoing effort to help you empathize with those nutty creatures with whom we’re trying so hard to connect, I’m showing you my 6 “FemiTypes”: the over-40 women men date who send them running for the hills.
(Btw, I know that many of my readers are under 40. To you, this will either be super helpful or a stern warning as to what not to do as you “mature.”)
Previously I’ve introduced you to The Princess and The 18 Year Old. Today you’ll learn about The Scaredy Cat.
Unworthy and afraid
Deep down, The Scaredy Cat feels unworthy and afraid to receive love and attention, especially from potential romantic partners. She has been wounded by past relationships and hasn’t been able to move on emotionally. While she carries these wounds below the surface and they aren’t there for all to see, given the proper trigger (like a man not calling exactly when he says he will), her fear can take center stage at a moment’s notice.
She operates from contradictory perspectives: “I don’t deserve a good guy” and/or “There are no single good guys.” Because she says she will never open up herself to be hurt again, she makes her guy jump through all kinds of hoops to prove he’s okay and won’t hurt her. She needs him to show interest first. But when he does show his feelings, she questions it and ups the ante or runs.
When The Scaredy Cat perceives that she’s being let down, her walls go up and she overreacts. She projects her expectations into the future because this somehow helps her feel like she has some control. (She usually doesn’t actually know this.) She sees problems that exist only in her mind. She can’t relax and just get to know a man because she’s too busy picking every moment apart and questioning everything. She picks the bad guys because she’s familiar with them and (perhaps subconsciously) they prove her right.
“I ended what could have potentially been a relationship with a woman because she just wouldn’t get in the game. I’d do things like tell her I had a nice time and liked being with her, and she would respond with ‘Thanks.’ I’d compliment her and she’d shrug or give me some bulls*t about how it wasn’t true. All these ways I tried to let her know I was interested…and she just wasn’t buying it.
Then, after about four weeks of dating, I had to cancel our plans for the weekend. She hardly let me tell her what was going on before she unloaded on me. I explained this ridiculous deadline my boss had given me, and she says ‘Fine…just call when you have time for me.’ The attitude was like: how dare you…like I was some kind of jerk.
She emailed me a nice note after the call, but that was it for me. I really liked her but after that attack, forget it. It was way too much work, and I’m not going to pass tests or constantly have to prove myself to anyone. I actually still think about her and wonder how she’s doing. But I’m really glad I moved on.”
Charles was really digging this gal and hanging in, hoping she would accept his interest. But when he canceled their plans she probably had her dating life flash before her, remembering the feelings from the hundreds of times she’d been lied to or dumped in the past. (In truth there were probably only a few times, and whether she really was being lied to or dumped is up for interpretation.) She was going to make him pay for all the men who “done her wrong.”
So The Scaredy Cat unleashes on this guy. She’s probably used this shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later-you-better-not-hurt-me approach ton of times before. Understandably, Charles is overwhelmed and a little pissed off by her unbending and over-emotional approach to the situation. Coupled with her inability to accept his overtures and just enjoy getting to know one another, he wants no part of it.
A few guys to represent the entire species.
For sure The Scaredy Cat has dated or even married immature, selfish and/or unkind men in the past. If she’s like many women, she probably had a couple real creeps early on and is just repeating the pattern. In my experience, the truth is that the real bad guys in her life add up to maybe 10; and when you’re in your 40s, 50s or beyond, that’s really not a lot. Yet The Scaredy Cat uses those few guys to represent the entire species.
(As a recovering Scaredy Cat, I get this big time. It wasn’t until my 40s that I came to understand that real men weren’t like the two jerky man-boys who broke my heart early on: one when I was a teenager and the other in my 20s. It took me many years to learn that most men were awesome…and so was I!)
Because her defenses are so sky high, The Scaredy Cat turns away good guys whom she prematurely judges to be “just like all the others.” She tosses aside his compliments and attention. She focuses a very bright light on the one or two things that don’t meet her expectations. She is always looking for a sign that he’s slipped up and shown her that he’s just like all the rest.
When The Scaredy Cat overreacts to some perceived insult or omission on a man’s part, he’s blind-sided by her emotions. He probably ends it as fast as he can and voila…once again she is proven right: all men are______(fill in the blank).
Then her play can start all over again with the next guy. She’s living out a self-fulfilling prophecy of “I’m not good enough and all men suck.”
When a guy like Charles dates a Scaredy Cat, he can feel confused or just plain uninterested. His attempts to please her go unappreciated, and his emotional generosity is one-sided. The brick wall she has erected is just too high for him to climb; and since they barely know each other, it’s very easy for him to just leave.
Men need to feel appreciated and trusted. (This is huge!) They need to know that they’re enhancing your life. When The Scaredy Cat doesn’t receive well, holds back emotionally, and freaks out over slight disappointments, good men go running because none of their needs are getting met.
From Scaredy Cat to Grownup
There is hope for The Scaredy Cat! I know because I was one. It all starts with breaking down those emotional walls that took years to build.
Imagine feeling good about yourself and deserving of love. Then heap on an understanding of what would truly make you happy for the rest of your life. Do you see it? With this you can start trusting your own judgment! And then the fear and angst starts to disappear.
A little Scaredy Cat inside you
Do you think you have a little Scaredy Cat inside you? Can you look back and see how it has affected your dating and relationships? If she’s lurking, I urge you to stop, take a breath, and give yourself permission to acknowledge and verbalize what is fantastic about you. Then make a commitment to change the thoughts and behavior that are causing you to turn the good guys away
There are SO many good guys out there! I found one, and I have many clients who consistently have great dates and have found great partners! Once in a while these guys disappoint us. Sometimes we feel insecure or unsafe. But we can trust ourselves and knock down our walls.
In the next article we’ll talk about “Fantasy guys”.
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