By Molly Godfrey
I was speaking on a podcast recently and one of the main questions the women had for me was “How do you even date in a time like this?” Well… it’s a great question. Honestly, there is very little frame of reference – couples have been dating long distance for ages but this level of unknown, where no one has the answers, is a pretty unique storm. Nonetheless, my clients keep me inspired and are finding ways to stay connected, get themselves out there and continue to make progress with all things relationships and intimacy.
There are a few key areas I wanted to highlight because this couldn’t be a better time to reflect, slow down and do an honest assessment of what’s working and what’s not in relationships. Here’s the thing: love, connection and intimacy are some of our most basic needs. Without them, we simply cannot move forward in our lives. At the peak of my career, I was closing seven figure deals and had every material thing I could have wanted – but at the end of the day, there was always a lingering feeling that something was missing.
No, I didn’t “need” a partner and my life was “fine”. But I didn’t want “fine” anymore. I wanted depth, play and the aliveness of love. I wanted more connected sex than just the casual hookups, one night stands or the “situationships” I most often found myself in. There was a part of me I wasn’t getting to know that I wanted touched. There is simply an experience that happens in connection. We get to know parts of ourselves we cannot access alone. Biologically we are wired for partnership, whether we like it or not. You can dig your heels in on your self-sufficiency but science makes the rules on that one.
Here are some common places I see women get stuck and struggle in. The overall emotion women express to me when we initially connect is a feeling of frustration, hopelessness and disdain for the modern dating world – virtual or not. I promise there is a solution but first, let’s look at the problems.
Problem # 1: The B.S. Stories We Tell Ourselves
I’ve had the privilege of living in three major cities (Boston, LA, and now NYC). I even lived abroad briefly in Paris. When I first arrived in NYC after moving from LA, people’s first responses were: “Oh you’re a dating and relationship coach. That’s interesting, no one here dates. New Yorkers don’t commit, they’re always on the go.” I kept hearing it again and again and again.
One woman said, “I’ve almost debated leaving NYC because I’ve had such a hard time dating here.” WOWZA. I just couldn’t believe how much I kept hearing about NYC’s terrible dating scene. It just didn’t compute. I have plenty of friends in serious, committed relationships that live in NYC. I even coached a few men in the city who told me all they wanted was to be in a serious relationship. Something wasn’t adding up. I just simply didn’t share those beliefs. My unhappy single friends said similar things about LA…and likewise in Boston. It’s easy to blame our external circumstances, but here’s the thing: You go where you go.
Our beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies. You’re welcome to believe the collective beliefs are true if you want. My question is, how’s that mentality serving you that “NYC is a horrible, awful city to date in.” That you’ll never get past the first date, men only want sex and everyone can have a relationship but you.
So often we hold onto unproductive beliefs because A) We have a fundamental view of life that it has to be hard and difficult. We have to struggle to succeed. We see the underdog stories – the blood, sweat and tears. Struggle, difficulty and strife = success. B) We don’t have a frame of reference for the “good”, those wires don’t exist in our brain or nervous system YET. We need support to take new actions, to learn and trust, take risks so we CAN have the “good” even if it’s uncertain. C) Imagining the “good” is very vulnerable, it’s unknown and so we don’t allow for it or we sabotage it when it appears.
I work with women to do this deep work. Whether you create a new dating profile on a different app, or change your pictures/ bio, it won’t get you different results. It’s your mentality.
Problem #2: Lack of Education & Clarity
There are just some learned skills when it comes to relationships and human behavior that can make or break your dating life. They’re really quite simple and completely game-changing. If we want to be in a relationship, it’s in our best interest and our responsibility to learn how they operate.
There are nuances that make you a better partner, a better listener and a better communicator. Romantic or not, emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills are the keys to success in work and life. When women get more in touch with their own body and needs, there’s no stopping them.
Problem #3: You’re Using “Girlfriends” the Wrong Way
This one is the hardest for me to see. I love women. There is simply magic that happens when women are connected. Magic like no other. I would not be where I am today without the deep and connected bonds I have had with my closest women friends and female tribes. We are powerful forces beyond all metaphysical logic but sometimes we don’t aim our power well. The biggest mistake I see in potential clients or women who are stuck is that they use their girlfriends as therapists and coaches.
We all have unique experiences, biases and frames of reference for how we see the world and relate to others. Your girlfriend’s advice is from her life experiences but they don’t necessarily match how you are seeing the world. Your needs are going to be different. She likes you, she’s your friend and often what I see is she may reinforce the beliefs that are keeping you stuck. She may say, “Yeah! He was a jerk!” instead of giving you the accurate reflection of truth you need to move forward. It’s safe to go to our girlfriends for comfort but be willing to get really honest and evaluate if you’re using your friendships correctly. Are you one-downing each other? “No, I had the worst date this week. No, I’m having the more stressful week at work”. Misery loves company. Gossiping, complaining and overly processing our problems instead of taking action and making different choices is the biggest place I see women drain their power.
It’s hard to watch and I used to do it all the time. Create an agreement in your friend group to only “one-up” each other. Pull desires from each other, the things you really want. Set time limits on “vent sessions”. Support and back each other to go after the scary, risky thing. Hire a coach, a therapist, or get a trusted mentor for your deeper personal problems. I don’t go to my friends when I’m having relationship problems or really even out seek their advice. First, I get honest with myself. I get still and I listen. My own intuition and my own body knows best.
I regret taking the advice of others that was well-intentioned but from their frame of reference. Then I resented them for the ill-fitting advice. From these experiences I learned discernment and to always trust myself first. From there, I use my own reflection and take it to an expert, who can give me objective, unbiased advice. I pay them to tell me the truth and guide me in the right direction. Just like I have a business coach for my business needs, I want the advice of an expert. My girlfriends and I spend our time celebrating, connecting, laughing. We hold space when times get tough but it’s important to keep everyone in their right role.
Molly Godfrey is a relationship coach and published writer based out of Brooklyn, NY. She works with women 1:1 (all over the world!) to help them develop their backbone, return to their feminine nature and create the deep, connected relationships and sex lives they’ve been craving. You can find her on instagram at @askformolly or at www.mollygodfrey.com