11 Life Coaches Give Me Advice On How I’m Dating All Wrong

Living in a city like New York — where so many people are trying to advance in some way, somehow, all the time — I often find myself ashamed to admit the one (huge, big, massive) problem I have with living in Manhattan itself: Finding love. It’s not a surprise to anyone who truly knows me, but as a 27-year-old smart, successful, healthy and (mostly) happy woman, I not only feel tremendous guilt when I complain about being single, but I don't feel like the independent, confident woman that I really am.

Surely, I remind myself, there are much more important issues for me to worry about — Donald Trump becoming president, the government attempting to defund Planned Parenthood, how my male co-worker makes more money than I do.

Of all the things that keep me up at night with knots in my stomach and a heavy heart, it shouldn’t be the fact I wish I had a man to watch movies and make dinner with.

But here’s the cold, selfish, totally sincere truth: I’m lonely .

I’ve been going on endless dates for nearly four and a half years. I’m convinced I’m going to develop carpal tunnel in my thumb from so. much. swiping. I have nearly all of the things I’ve ever dreamed of having, living in the place I love more than anywhere in this big world (that luckily, I can afford to see!) — and yet. Yet. I long for love. And sometimes — well, more than sometimes, I find myself getting really down about it. And anxious that I’ll never quite meet that man that so many of my friends have found.

It was after some cocktails with my friends that one — jokingly — suggested I hire a life coach to really figure out how to move forward, change my mindset and cure that gut-wrenching fear that I’m not marriage material. They weren’t serious, but I considered it: I’ve been to therapy before and while I found it effective for some issues, for dating, it was mostly infuriating.

So why not try talking to a life coach?

Their purpose is to help you see patterns, identify solutions and give me actionable steps to move forward. I was lucky enough to talk to 11 amazing coaches, all with different backgrounds, and their advice was not only thoughtful, but encouraging, real and helpful. Here’s what I took away from them all — and what might just inspire you, too:

1. I Have To Allow More Time For Love In My Life

Gabrielle Loehr says : “You are living an active, full and adventurous life and you seem like you are enjoying the life you have made for yourself. That is something to be proud of, for sure! But remember, relationships take a lot of time. Your schedule sounds packed to the brim, so you are facing some tradeoffs that are inevitable because you have to make time to let someone into your life, much less to get to know them well enough to decide if you want to pursue anything with them. You might not be in a position where you are ready to make those tradeoffs on your time, which is fine — you are only 27.”

My response: It’s true: I manage a full-time job, freelancing, a 6-day-a-week workout schedule, taking care of a pup, a weekly 5-hour cooking class and my friends. Oh, and sleep? I’ve been taking inventory of the ways I can say ‘no’ so I can say ‘yes’ to love.

2. I’m Missing The ‘Belief’ Part Of The Formula

Karen Garvey says : “Everything in life is created by energy, the energy of thoughts, feelings and actions of your specific energy will be reflected back to you through your experiences. The basic formula is: Thoughts + Feelings + Beliefs + Subsequent Actions = Physical Reality. While you are mostly thinking positively and actively seeking opportunities to meet people, the part you’re really struggling with is believing. Ask yourself these questions: Do you believe that you can have the relationship of your dreams? Do you believe that men have the ability to be wholly committed in a meaningful relationship? Do you believe that you are worth having every element of your dream life coming true?"

My reaction: She sounds a lot like my mom! While I wholeheartedly believed in love, without a shadow of a doubt, when I was 16 (and perhaps all the way up to 25), the fatigue of dating has definitely dampened my spirits. I’ve been practicing answering those questions positively with confidence — and I won’t lie, it’s hard to even say them out loud. But I’m trying.

3. I Should Have The Same Confidence In Love That I Have In My Career

Kristy De Leon says : “I do find interesting that you so confidently packed up and moved to New York with nothing but the sheer conviction that things would work out. And they did! You also put in all of behind-the-scenes work to make it happen. With that portion of your life stable and successful, it is time to apply that conviction and behind-the-scenes work to yourself and how you view your love life. Control is a beautiful illusion. You trusted that if you worked hard that you would make it. But yet there was also an element of surrendering to the universe (or a Higher Power if you are spiritual), but you weren't 100 percent sure that things would work out. Nonetheless, you had such a strong belief that I am sure it radiated from your body and was easily noticeable in how you presented and what you did. You also associated very strong, positive, and confident words with your perspective about work. You wrote so confidently about your career and what you wanted from it, but had a dramatically different language and energy towards your love life. It is time to move that emotional confidence and certainty towards your love life.”

My response: It’s true: I’ve never, ever worried about being a writer. Because I knew I already was one, and one day, an editor would take note and hire me. (Many did, have and continue to.) Applying that same logic is tricky (ya know, because of that lack of control thing over love), but what if I considered that I was already someone’s love of their life? That I already had a happy husband? And that one day, I will meet him. Not maybe or possibly, but will.

4. I Need To Allow Myself The Freedom To Say ‘F*ck it.”

Melinda Fisher says : “Stop trying so hard! Relax and just enjoy yourself. F*ck up. Try dating a woman. Max a credit card sending yourself on the trip of a lifetime. Let go of your expectations of your life timeline, when this or that is 'supposed to' happen. Just love and explore and enjoy yourself and get really, deeply solid with who you are. Become even more uniquely you, your own perfect shape, and in the right time, you'll find the match to your puzzle piece. Not in your time, necessarily, but the right time. Even if you're single for another 4.5 years, you'll only be 32. It doesn't seem like it, but that is still very young. And it's waaaay better to find the right relationship—even if it hurts while you're waiting for it—than it is to settle for another bad one. You deserve so much better, and the right guy is out there, becoming his best self in the just right time for the two of you to meet.”

My response: I read her response while catching a downtown train to a 5-week culinary course I finally signed up for, just because I wanted to and was tired of focusing on dates. I chuckled to myself… and decided I would go ahead and book that trip to Spain.

5. I Have To Take Some Responsibility For My Mistakes

Elaine Cohen says: “I’m sorry to say this but, your bravery in breaking up with the man you said you had an unhealthy relationship with was minimized by going back and sleeping with him. I'm sorry! The truth is your soul took a hit for two years by continuing to sleep with him. You were deeply disrespecting and discounting what you knew was best for you. Be brave in seeing your part in the dynamic you have created there. Don't beat yourself up but be more honest about what you did.”

My response: Deep down, I knew it was bad. And deep down, I knew it was holding me back. It’s been many years since that ended, and she’s right, acknowledging the damage instead of saying I’m ‘completely healed’ isn’t healthy for me. Instead, I should acknowledge it hurt, take responsibility for what I did to myself and have the strength to fully forgive myself and let it go.

6. I Need To Break My Mental Cycle With Dating

Alionka Polanco says : “What stands out to me most about your story is the cycle you're in. Think about it: 1. Actively Dating; 2. Burnout; 3. Break; 4. Anxiety about not dating; 5. Actively Dating; 6. Anxiety about not finding the One; 7. Burnout —and on and on! That is exhausting and it makes total sense that you feel frustrated about finding your future husband. That being said, I invite you to pause, breathe, and think. What else is possible? I've laid out the cycle above so really look at each step and think, what are my choices in each situation?

My response: This is honestly why I decided to reach out to the coaches: I recognized this awful cycle in my dating life and perspective. It’s time to see what different choices I can make to make sure my love life stops feeling like Groundhog's Day.

7. I Should Leave New York City

Nell Wulfhart says : “You should leave New York. The numbers are against you there, and you're absolutely right in saying that so many NYC men in their 20s and 30s are not interested in settling down. You'd be better off in a smaller place. But truthfully, it's just luck —meeting someone you really connect with isn't something you can force. And people can sense when you're really seeking a relationship and they don't like it — makes them feel like they're not special, that you'd settle for anyone, even if that's not true.”

My response: I have to admit that this one was tough for me, and while I know I don’t want to be in New York forever, going to a smaller place not only is uninteresting to me, but wouldn’t be great for my career. I’m not to the age yet where I’d like to leave — unless it meant going to Europe for a year. The second part is true, and maybe that vibe is what’s turning men off.

8. I Should Take Off Six Months From Dating

Pam Bauer says : “If you feel dating fatigue, I suggest taking a break for six months. During this break you date yourself. The idea is to take the focus off dating. This means simply doing things that you enjoy. You can do things by yourself or with friends, but you do not consider anyone you meet as a potential date. The idea is to rekindle your interests, have some fun and meet new people who share similar interests without any pressure to become a romantic partner. Without the pressure you can relax and be yourself and let others be themselves too. Give yourself this opportunity to recharge and rejuvenate. You will return to dating with new enthusiasm (and probably some good stories!).”

My response: While the thought of ‘not putting myself out there’ romantically for that amount of time makes me nervous that I’m running out of time, I understand that frankly, a timeline is all in my head. When I really think about taking some time off from dating, I feel a huge sense of relief to simply, easily…. live.

9. I’m Not Attractive Right Now

Vikki Nicometo says : “My dear, what I am picking up from this is a young lady whose energy around having a relationship is a bit desperate, graspy, and not in a good place. With this energy, it's really hard to find and attract what you want. If your energy is like this, that will come across to potential dates. Even if it's very subtle energy. They feel this and are turned off. Also, you have so much pressure on having a relationship and being married: you can't imagine being happy without it. All of that pressure will keep you feeling unhappy, and people are drawn to people who are happy. Are you able to see how this belief that you can't be fully happy without being married, is actually what's causing your pain and keeping you stuck being single? You're obviously intelligent and attractive and have a sparkling personality, and my hunch is that if you can work through these issues and get to a place of peace and joy with or without a relationship, you'll likely attract your ideal mate. But if you try to do it with the energy you have now, you'll likely either keep getting what you've been getting or you'll succumb to something less than ideal out of desperation.”

My response: Ouch. While I think I’m coming across as picky, but hopeful and kind, I can easily see how I might come across a panicking, sad, sad, woman. Ironically, my word of the year is ‘joy’ and it’s how I’m approaching every single day: can I find the joy in the present, without worrying about tomorrow?

10. I’m Not Giving Myself Credit

Jennifer Coleman says : “You are quite a catch! So my first piece of advice is to remember that. Being single doesn't have to define you, living a fulfilled life does. You clearly have learned what you don't want (to date someone who doesn't value you as you deserve), so don't waste another minute with that. Never think to yourself, ‘I am doing all of these activities trying to meet someone to make me happy.’ Instead, believe that if you continue to do things that actually make you happy and content, one day you are bound to meet someone who enjoys similar things and would value and appreciate me beyond belief. You don't need a date to be good enough or to prove that you are a worthy partner. You already are.”

My response: As much as I believe I’m a great writer, great friend, a great daughter and have a killer right hook in boxing, I don’t think I’m a good girlfriend. Mainly, because I’ve been given very few chances to be one. It’s time I start reminding myself that I already am good enough, even if I’m single.

11. I Need To Change My Own Story, Instead Of Trying To Write The Happy Ending

Carmen Parks says : “The key is to focus on what is working in your life and being grateful for everything that you do have. When you focus on your lack of something you will continue to experience that lack. It’s a law of attraction perspective. You will attract whatever objects or situations that you focus your attention. Here’s what your new dialogue should be: ‘Over the last few years, I’ve met a lot of men online, through apps, through friends, through single groups and through activities that I love. I’ve had a few short-term relationships but none of those men were right for me. At this point I am happy with my life. I have an abundant life full of friends, family and wonderful activities such as yoga, running, boot camps, cooking classes, and going out. Every time I meet a new man who turns out not be the one for me, I know that I am one step closer to meeting the one I want to build a family with. I’ve learned a lot about myself and what is important to me in a relationship and I’m thankful for the experiences I’ve had.”

My response: Can I get a copy of that paragraph to carry around with me on dates? It’s a big reminder that I don’t tell myself enough. I tell ya what, thought, I'm definitely going to start. Today.

Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.

Images: Author's own; Radwandacocks-random/Tumblr; LaurieHalseAnderson/Tumblr; GIFSdancingtomusic/Tumblr; BullsBross/Tumblr; Pexels