Hitting the five zero a few years back was overshadowed by a hectic work schedule which left little time for celebration. If I’m brutally honest though, with 2 marriages and single motherhood on my resume, it felt more like my life was in desperate need of an overhaul to break this unhealthy cycle. How could I get on the path to achieve real and sustained happiness in my personal relationships?
The reality is, unfortunately, that I am just one of thousands in this situation across America. We grew up in households with parents who were ill-equipped to teach us how to form relationships and what our roles should be; they themselves muddled through with limited input from their own parents. This has resulted in a generation of co-dependent women who seem to attract imbalanced relationships, without the means or skills to dig themselves out of this dilemma.
What is really going on?
Today’s intelligent and business-savvy women are high in “book smarts” which overcompensates for their lack of EQ (emotional intelligence quotient). In literal terms, their hearts become a magnet for the wrong type of relationship.
Michael Noer created a furor back in 2006 with his article in Forbes Magazine which suggested that men should not consider career women as marriage material. His rationale came from studies which concluded that professional women had a higher propensity to cheat and/or get divorced, and were less likely to want children. This theory was further fuelled by the American Journal of Marriage and Family, whose studies demonstrated a higher divorce risk where wives were the main bread winners.
There is a wealth of evidence which supports the notion that successful women are incapable of sustaining meaningful relationships for a variety of reasons; these include being too controlling, lack of tolerance for a less successful partner, and the resentment from their partners for their financial success. Surely this then begs the question why is this happening and how can we stop it?
Pride comes before a fall
Dr. Robert Holden, author of Success Intelligence, is at the cutting edge of psychological relationship research and offers the following explanation: "To have a successful relationship, you have to have a developed EQ which is emotional empathy and a respect for each other's feelings. Women are often so headstrong that they override what their heart is feeling. Without the engagement of the head and the heart, relationships are not a safe place to be, but the smart woman is headstrong enough to tell herself that she will be able to make this work." Women have become embarrassed to admit that they take the lead in their relationships, and subsequently how this power and control has caused major damage to their relationships.
In other words, we fall at the first hurdle because we’ve been conditioned to bypass our intuition and it gets us into trouble. Case in point, my intuition ringing warning bells that landed me in ER for a severe panic attack before my wedding ten years ago to my second ex, only to realize with clarity that I had married the wrong man. At the time, I kind of knew that the marriage was doomed but convinced myself that with our religious upbringings, "I" could make it work.
How to change your Modus Operandi
What energy vibe are you leading with when you meet a guy?
* Do you find the signals you give are at complete odds to what you are feeling?
* I don't want you to meet my children?
* I'm seeing other men so I don't want you to get too close?
* I'm a financially self-sufficient woman who has her kids, career and only needs a man for sex?
These vibes can be incredibly emasculating. When men respond by being detached, our emotional side kicks in and we wonder - why isn't he falling in love with me?
Let's be honest, most of us sensible girls aren’t very happy. Often we are the real victims because we just accept that any romantic situation is OK, when in reality it's not. We have gotten used to wearing this very confident façade which is really to disguise our fear of not being in control and lack of self-acceptance. Intimacy involves a higher potential for rejection and the risk of being hurt and dealing with painful and scary situations. So, we become relationship jumpers because "there was no love there and he didn't stimulate me", "we rushed into it too quickly without knowing each other", or "he was my rebound guy".
Getting to happy
What advice can I give to successful career women who are often (secretly) unhappy and unsuccessful in love?
· Be willing to admit when you've got it wrong
· Don't be too quick to lead with your body or looks
· A sense of humor or succession of compliments is not a fair exchange for you or your money
· Leave your dominance and competitiveness in the office
· Don't love carelessly or unconsciously
· Stop playing the victim role. Be open to embracing the joy of being a woman and having a rewarding career.
Finally, work on developing your EQ. Learn to have emotional strength that is about surrender, openness and a willingness to let go. This is absolutely essential because it determines the quality of your relationships with others. It is unreasonable and unhealthy to expect other people to love you more than you love yourself.
For too long, women like me and others have failed to recognize while building our careers that integrating the emotional and intuitive side of life is just as important. Whether you are in your 30s, 40s, or 50s, the time is now to educate our young women to wake up -- use your head and intuition. Test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, and not some sentimental gush.
Ask for help
Fast forward to the present day and we need to honestly evaluate whether Mike’s predictions were mere ramblings or an accurate sign of things to come. Look at your circle of strong sisters, are they in happy and healthy relationships or just applying an extra coat of lipstick and giving the impression that they are “in control”?
Why wait until your next breakup or your power and control triggers surface before making a change? If you hear another “it’s complicated” excuse from a friend, have the tough conversation and have her confront her fears. In order to have a healthy relationship, you must put in the necessary effort to change your attitude about what you are really looking for and prepared to give in return. If you’re feeling lost and really don’t know where to start, stay tuned for some practical steps to gain clarity on getting to happy.
In the meantime, feel free to get in touch with any relationship questions or concerns that you may have – firstname.lastname@example.org
Debrah Mathis, PC, ELI-MP is a highly sought-after Business, Life and Career Coach in Dallas, TX. My mission is to develop individuals, couples & families with the tools & skills needed for better work-life integration in this new economy. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Follow @EngagetoSuccess, and LIKE Engage to Success Facebook Group page.