Suzy is a 41-year-old woman who applied to work with me in September. Here’s what she said on her application.
“I had several serious relationships in my 20’s but spent most of my 30’s working. I date but stay cerebral – nervous to develop an emotionally intimate relationship with a true partner.”
Like many of my clients, Suzy is an alpha — driven, opinionated, sexual, and unabashedly feminist – but she has beta level confidence when it comes to men.
Suzy cheerfully acknowledges that she’s not everybody’s type. But the point is: she doesn’t have to be.
This lack of confidence was reflected in her choices.
Instead of dating prolifically in her 30’s so that she could fall in love and start a family, Suzy retreated to the safety of career development. Nothing wrong with that.
The problem is that life didn’t turn out the way she’d planned. Suzy always saw herself as a Mom, and now, at 41, she was under the gun to figure it all out fast.
With my help, Suzy started online dating — a medium where she has never been successful. After all, she’s not in her 20’s. She has an average body. She wears glasses. Suzy cheerfully acknowledges that she’s not everybody’s type. But the point is: she doesn’t have to be. All she had to do was make the most of her strengths and find the discipline to get online with consistency.
Here’s what Suzy said after one month of working together:
“I talked to a guy from Match this evening, have 2 guys from HowAboutWe emailing me, getting beers with another guy tomorrow evening and I didn’t see Thomas tonight but he texted to say he was sorry to miss me and wants to hang out soon…. Regardless of the outcomes, these are great ego boosts and makes me confident that I CAN DO THIS. SO weird how guys sense other guys sniffing around. I find that fascinating.
And thank you for reminding me that being SANE is an advantage in the dating pool. I took that as a major compliment.
Thanks again for everything, Evan. I feel like I may have turned a corner this week – mentally, if nothing else….Couldn’t have done it without you.
What did Suzy do that resulted in this shift? Nothing much. New photo/profile. Got online every day for a half-hour. Wrote to one guy per day when she wasn’t satisfied with the quality or quantity of the incoming emails.
Within weeks, Suzy found a guy she liked. Just as importantly, the guy, Stuart, really liked her, too. Naturally, Suzy immediately started fast-forwarding to the future — “Is this guy going to be my husband or not?”
During our phone session, I instructed her to not worry about whether Stuart was going to be her future husband, and instead contemplate what was important at this critical juncture. If Suzy is 41 and Stuart isn’t sure if he wants kids, was she willing to go down that road? Would she hold out hope that she could find a man who wants to have his own biological children, who’d propose and impregnate her quickly, and that she’d be able to carry to term when she’s 44? Or would she be okay being the world’s greatest aunt?
There was no right answer. This was Suzy’s own personal dilemma. But at least I was able to get her to confront this existential life choice, instead of avoiding it, as she was so adept at doing during her 30’s. It was a tearful conversation, where Suzy found herself at a crossroads and had to decide if she could be happy letting go of her original dream and creating a new dream with a new man.
Here’s the email that she wrote to me on Thanksgiving morning:
To get your point of view today about kids versus not kids was very healing for me. To know it’s okay to let go of that vision was really helpful. It’s nice to hear a guy’s perspective too. Sometimes women get weird about this topic.
I wanted to share some additional insights I had after we hung up – you help so many women, I thought it might good to write this down.
But first, a little Thanksgiving Thank You: Thank you for helping me make huge strides in a very short amount of time. I felt more confidence dating in the last 2 months than I have in the last 20 years. It’s truly a gift that I have you to thank for. Whatever happens with this dude doesn’t really matter because I believe now. I believe I deserve a great guy. And I believe I will find one. Thank you for that.
My thoughts after our talk today:
For a women to have to let go of the dream of having kids is so deep, so fundamental…I can’t find words to describe it. A few years ago when I was dealing with the melanoma and realizing that the door was shutting before I wanted it to, it felt like a huge, gaping wound deep in my chest. Lame imagery but it’s all I got. At certain times, it was far too easy to go to that dark and ugly place. Some women probably get stuck there which is why I think your words are powerful enough to help them get un-stuck.
I’ve had a lot of dreams. I’ve had a lot of disappointments. The one reason I worked so hard to heal my ulcerative colitis and refused surgery was because I wanted to be able to have kids naturally. That was my main motivation to drinking terrible tasting Chinese herbs, and give myself embarrassing home remedies while my peers were out getting wasted and enjoying their twenties.
That’s the thing – every woman doesn’t just have the dream but all the years leading up to what she thinks is rightfully hers. We are told from Day 1 that one day we will grow up, find our prince, have babies and live happily ever after. Stupid and ridiculous fantasy but oh-so-ingrained in our psyche. It’s our birthright. We may not be able to become president. We may not be able to fight in a war. We may not be able to do a lot of things. But having kids is the one thing we believe we will get to do no matter what.
And it’s a very, very cruel thing to realize that something that you feel was supposed to be yours, the thing you’ve been in line with all the other girls waiting patiently with your hands outstretched, only to look around and see that your hands remain empty. Your womb remains empty. That little room you decorated in your head remains empty.
So you walk away and try to suck it up.
To let go of the dream while everyone around you is partaking in that dream is the worst part. Magazine covers, commercials, TV shows, baby this, baby that, smug friends, clueless peers – reminding you of the lost dream. Teenage girls, young college grads, idiots everywhere, people who never see their kids in Manhattan, people who abuse their own babies – they all have your dream. I know you and your wife struggled to get/stay pregnant and can understand this.
I liked being reminded by you that my life can still be fulfilling. Most of us are made to feel “less than” for not being mothers.
I liked being reminded by you that I can still find lots of ways to have kids in my life. It’s true that many of us are the glue that nobody sees or recognizes, making a big difference in one or more kids’ lives. I’m crazy in love with my nieces and nephews. And I get to enjoy them on a different level than I would if I was a parent.
I like being reminded by you that a lot of us don’t get what we want and we have to adjust to being happy with our actual reality. Everyone is disappointed in life at some point or another. I agree that being happy is a choice.
I really, really needed to hear that today.
I take responsibility for landing here. I know I co-created this situation (to borrow a phrase from your friend, Katherine) for a lot of fairly valid reasons.
One of those reasons was that I didn’t want other kids to get sick like I was at a young age. I made a promise to myself that I would do what I could to help LOTS of babies. And I didn’t want to be an absent mom, a distracted workaholic mom – not my style. Full-on mama mode or not at all. I made a choice somewhere along the way. I accept that I got myself in this situation.
Regardless of how I landed here, I guess I still want to hear that it’s okay to be sad about letting the dream go. That it can feel heartbreaking on many levels. That it’s totally unfair that Charlie Chaplin could have babies well into his 70’s. That I have every right to mourn the dream. But that the key is to not wallow in that grief, or spend my life wishing for something else. Because you’re right: the trick to happiness IS finding a way to be happy with whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.
And that after I grieve for an appropriate amount of time that I should then put the dream in a little hope chest. With that blanket I imagined passing along to my kids. And the little gender-neutral art piece that I picked up a flea market. Then I need to close that chest – while I release the dream.
And know that a beautiful one is coming instead. One that I couldn’t have imagined when I was 8, 16 or 23 years old. But if I keep looking through the hope chest and being sad, I won’t see this new dream. This one that will fulfill me on so many levels. The one that may end up being better than the one that I thought I wanted.
And it’s going to be fucking awesome. I need to get ready for it. Be open to it…and most importantly, that my path may not be the same as others and that’s okay.
I have made my choice. I want a partner more than I want kids. It’s hard to write down and say out loud but there you have it. It’s also difficult to reconcile that one may not go with the other. But I can accept this reality. Hard, especially in my family, but I can do it.
That’s where I arrived after our talk but only because I was able to write this email and send it to someone that understood. So thanks for listening.
You’re doing good work, Evan.
I just read this again and immediately started to tear up. It may be the most poignant email I’ve ever received — and I’ve received THOUSANDS of emails.
By making peace with her choices and carrying herself with confidence, Suzy has come as far as any of my clients have ever come in only three months.
But, of course, her story is just beginning.
The same woman who couldn’t “develop an emotionally intimate relationship with a true partner,” is on the way to doing just that. Here’s what she wrote last week:
Thank you again for EVERYTHING, Evan. Stuart and I are still doing well. We both want to make it work and even making plans for next month (big for me!). I’m selfishly glad that you didn’t become a screenwriter because you have a beautiful gift and we need you doing THIS work! What could be a better career than helping people find love? Keep up the wonderful work. You’re the best!
I am so proud of Suzy for taking her love life seriously, trusting in the process, and creating this exciting new relationship. I told her not to write me a testimonial until she’s officially “in love” but I’m very confident that I’ll be hearing from her soon.
The most important thing in the world: HOPE
So if you’re a little lonely this New Years Eve, and you are hoping to find the man of your dreams in 2014, please accept this small gift from me.
It’s a link to my Success Stories page.
You may see it as shameless self-promotion.
I see it as the most important thing in the world: HOPE
Without hope — for a great guy, for a loving marriage — you’ve got nothing.
Check out my happiest clients and consider whether you’re going to have hope and take action next year.
That’s what Suzy did, and that’s why she is flying high right now.
Warmest wishes and much love,