Leona’s Love Quest: Taking the Fear out of Relationship Failures

Sad young african american

As some of you have already noticed, my perspective on life and relationships has changed since I went on the Matthew Hussey Retreat. However, taking more risks and pushing myself out of my comfort zone has not been easy. I can even foresee the potential for things to get even worse. I always tend to get a little melancholy around the holidays and as the weather gets cold I find it more and more difficult to get out of bed and stay motivated. I know that probably sounds pessimistic, but I’ve learned that I actually have a greater chance for success if I build a strategy for failure. When things go wrong the most important thing to do is to get myself back on track and boy did things go wrong recently with the Friend Zone Guy.

Months ago (when we were no longer dating but still remained friends) I had asked him to build me a bookshelf and it had been sitting in his apartment finished for weeks. I would have just left it there, but I owed him money for it and he had some books I wanted back. I also thought tying up those last few loose ends would then signify the end of our association. Just when I was feeling optimistic about moving forward with my life his online dating profile popped up in one of my searches. First came the unmistakable feeling of schadenfreude over the failure of his relationship. Then followed an absurd glimmer of hope that he might finally come to worship me as the goddess I am instead of sticking me back in the Friend Zone. I knew no good could come of this. Things only got worse after he delivered the bookshelf and return my belongings.  I was fine until he told me how depressed he was over basically driving away the woman he was madly in love with. Then I just totally lost it.

It was the words “madly in love” that set me off; then my thoughts went racing. Madly in love with her?! Her!? Why her?! What made this woman so freaking desirable? What did she have that I didn’t? Then just couldn’t contain my thoughts from spilling out my mouth. “I guess just wasn’t exotic enough for you, huh?” I spewed resentfully.  “Was I stuck in the Friend Zone because I’m not West Indian?  Am I not black enough for you because I’m well-educated and didn’t grow up in the ghetto? Why are you even here right now? I suppose now that you’re lonely you want to be friends?”  I cringed at every petty, pathetic, low-value, insecure word that I uttered, but I couldn’t take them back. My anger only dissolved into self-pity.

“Isn’t there anything you can tell me? I don’t understand why this keeps happening to me and you’re the only person I know who might give me an honest answer.” I pleaded.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” he replied. “I’m dealing with my own issues with rejection.  I can only say that most men are attracted to confidence.”

“I know, but how am I expected to stay confident when I keep getting rejected?”

“You can’t be confident in spurts. You just have to be.”

I just have to be. The crazy thing is that deep-down inside I honestly believe that I’m a fucking catch. I only act like a maniac because I can’t get anyone else to see me that way.  If I didn’t think I deserved better I would have settled for any number of mediocre matches I met a long time ago. Because I connected with the Friend Zone Guy I became too focused on all the reasons why I liked him.  I thought he’d just be happy that an awesome woman like me was interested, but men don’t value what they don’t earn.  Even if he tries to convince you he’s not worthy of your attention by acting all self-deprecating, really it’s all just an act. Once he starts giving you the Groucho Marx routine- you know that joke about not wanting to belong to any club that would accept him as a member- I advise you take your offer someplace else.

Giving away my acceptance so freely killed what little attraction I had managed to create with the Friend Zone Guy. If not, I’m sure my last little episode put the nail in the coffin. I didn’t just fail to handle this situation with dignity, I failed spectacularly.  Thankfully the retreat advised me to prepare for failure while finding my way to impenetrable core confidence. Failing at anything is unpleasant to say the least, but failing at relationships has been particularly soul-crushing for me. It still can send me into a negativity spiral of rejection, self-loathing and hopelessness, but I don’t have to stay there for long. Here are some of the strategies I learned at the retreat to overcome the fear of failure:

  1. I CREATE A MINDSET FOR GROWTH THAT ACCEPTS FAILURE AS PART OF THE PROCESS. Sometimes the fear of failure can be more intimidating than the failure itself. Only a fixed mind avoids challenges and waits for perfection.  Sometimes you can do everything right and things still don’t turn out the way you had hoped. Even our failures can provide us with something to learn from. I have learned that anyone who needs to be convinced of my value is a waste of my time. I was also reminded that comparison is the basis of all misery. I am better served channeling the energy I’d waste on being envious into celebrating all of my wonderful qualities or motivating myself to do better.
  2. I BASE MY SUCCESS ON EFFORT BASED ACTIONS INSTEAD OF RESULTS. The only real failure for me is inaction. When I learned to enjoy the journey, it became easier for me to ignore the bumps in the road. I won’t allow this failed relationship to keep me from finding the kind of love I desire and deserve.
  3. I PRACTICE GRATITUDE. I still have fond memories of the time I spent with Friend Zone Guy and I am glad that we met. If we hadn’t I’m fairly sure I would not be living in this apartment I love in a beautiful neighborhood that brings me joy every day.
  4. I REMOVE THE JUDGMENT FROM FAILURE AND FORGIVE MYSELF. I give myself a clean slate to deal with yesterday’s problems, accept the challenge of today, and move on towards the future.  If I keep beating myself up over what went wrong in the past, I won’t have the strength to figure out what to do next.

These strategies work not only for my relationships, but any goal I may set for my life. Of course no one wants to make a habit out of failing, but I can’t allow failure to keep me from moving forward.  Lord knows as overworked as I’ve been lately, I’ve been falling short of my health and fitness goals and I’ve only crossed off one letter on my alphabetical list of places to meet men.  I am not exaggerating either. I manage the costume shop at the university where I work and when we go into dress rehearsals I leave home at 8:45am and don’t get home until nearly midnight. There is no time for grocery shopping or cooking so sometimes I’ll purchase three meals a day for two straight weeks. I enjoy my job for the most part, but it does not pay well enough to do that or generally provide the kind of lifestyle I desire. I also lost my part-time assistant to a better job offer this year and I wasn’t given the budget to replace her.  After opening night, I spend most of my weekends completely broke, surrounded by piles of dirty laundry, and watching bad Lifetime movies in my pajamas. In fact, I’m beginning to realize if I don’t make some major changes to my work environment soon, I may never get to the rest of my list.

Other than strategizing for failure, what suggestions do you have for managing a better work/life balance until I can improve my situation?

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