Hi everyone! I am a 31 year old woman who has had some pretty significant issues with dating the last few years. For most of my 20s, I was in a 7 year old long relationship with the same guy who was wonderful in most ways, but we had entirely different perspectives on finances. We argued a lot during our relationship and likely developed an unhealthy codependency. Having met him in my 20s, the only thing I knew about life 4 years ago was him and my career path. I had lost of my sense of self and had such a poor understanding of what it meant to be a complete person.
So when I started dating again, I had no idea who I was. Somehow, in my mind, I had developed this idea that being that cool sexy party chick was the ideal. I don't even know why. I think I was always the "cool girl" to hang out with in college and so I could easily get the attention of most of the guys I was interested in so I assumed a similar approach would work at this stage in my life as well. My taste in guys was also likely questionable back then...
Anyways, after leaving my ex, I reverted back to selling myself the way I did in college, and was confused when I seemed to only attract players or really socially awkward men who were very uncomfortable with themselves. I didn't get it. I thought, "Why doesn't anyone of value like me? I have a good job, I went to an Ivy League school, I make lots of money, I'm nice, I have varied interests." In retrospect, I didn't have any interests, I was merely trying to be what I thought people wanted and everyone else could probably tell.
Since I was really lonely and wanted some companionship, I spent a lot of time obsessing over my failures in dating. My friends seemed to be meeting men fine so I knew there was something that I was doing incorrectly. I kept digging myself deeper and deeper into the hole that I was in, thinking that if I would succeed if I tried even harder to be the laidback fun party girl and completely neglected developing my own personal interests. There was also a part of me that thought I shouldn't have to put much effort into dating since I am objectively physically attractive (only saying this because I have been told that I am). So I put minimal effort into my pictures and profile. I described my career in great detail and my interests consisted of "music, drinks, hanging out with friends."
After a series of failed attempts and perusing this board, I decided to take some time off and work on myself. However, my initial attempts to "work on myself" still consisted of trying to squeeze myself into this box of what I thought guys wanted, so I greatly overcompensated and tried to turn myself into this demure, innocent, child-like girl who was only interested in home-making, cooking, and fixing whatever other problem I thought I had that had transferred over from the last guy that I dated. The whole thing felt awkward to me and of course it did not get me anywhere either.
Finally, starting this year, I told myself that I would really focus on who I am, listen to my heart, and follow my interests. I picked up a number of hobbies that had nothing to do with trying to attract a man. After 9 years off, I started snowboarding again and developed the courage to go on snowboarding trips by myself even if my friends weren't interested. I decided that I would live life for myself and just be happy. If my friends wanted to come along, great. If not, that's fine too, I wouldn't have to wait around for them on the mountain and could board at my own pace. I stopped trying to be that cool chick, stopped trying to be Suzy homemaker, and just did what really spoke to my soul.
And I finally revamped my online dating profile and actually put some effort into it. I took out the references to live music and drinking (because I honestly didn't do it anymore) and added in what I actually truly enjoy: nature, art and photography, food. For the last year, I had been wanting to get a group of people together to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and I realized that I should add this fact into my profile. I don't know why I never thought of it! I was so stuck on trying to be a certain type of person that I didn't realize I was suppressing so much of my true personality. I think I feared being honest out of low self-esteem. I was afraid that I would have to live up to my promises if I revealed my true interests and for some reason I didn't think I was capable of that.
After making these tweaks to my profile, I immediately started seeing a different response from the guys online. The ones who I was interested in, who always seemed to ignore me before, suddenly were liking me back and wanting to chat and learn more about me. I had honestly never seen such a positive response before. And I think what was so reassuring about all of this was getting good feedback for finally pursuing life on my terms.
I've learned that whatever sort of weird preconceptions I had about men before were totally incorrect. Sure, guys are very visual and enjoy sex, but they aren't these mindless beasts who just want to hang out with a pretty face who will drink with them and make their beds. In fact, the good ones are probably turned off by that. They probably can sense the desperation and the attempts to be something that you are not. But if you have a vibrant life, a good attitude, a good work ethic, and you don't spend every waking moment of your life trying to build yourself into what you think other people want, people can sense that too. And the start to all of that is to really know who you are and to be that.
I know I have so much farther to go since I am just starting to figure this out. I have to learn how to take this knowledge and apply it to how I interact with people in my day to day life as well. In all honesty, it's probably still too early for me to start dating. But I am very hopeful, excited, and happy that I seem to have finally started to solve some of the problems in my life after many, many attempts.
I'm grateful for this sub as I wouldn't have spent nearly as much time really digging deep and trying to figure out what I've been doing wrong all of these years without studying the teachings here. I think I took it a little too literally in the beginning and focused way too much on trying to pursue what I had imagined to be the image of the "ideal" woman. But really, I think what this sub advocates for is growth in your personal life (develop your personal interests and work on your appearance), physical health (stay fit and active), and your mental health (stay open-minded, kind, nurturing). And to be honest to yourself and admit that dominant men can be very attractive and how to allow that dynamic to develop between you and him.
Anyways, I just wanted to share my latest learnings with this community. Dating definitely will be more difficult for me as an older woman than it was in my 20s, but I have a feeling the quality will improve greatly. :)