Ashlee is one of those women who can walk into a room and make every head turn. She is a tall, slender brunette with blue eyes and a wide smile. But good looks aren’t Ashlee’s only attractive attribute; she is also smart, well-traveled, and outgoing.
But Ashlee has never had a satisfying romantic relationship. She’s had numerous boyfriends—in fact, she’s rarely single for long—but their interest in her lasts only a few months. She eventually receives a break-up text or is ghosted without any warning. Ashlee cannot understand why she is unable to hold someone’s interest and is beginning to worry something is wrong with her.
Felicity is a sweet, shy, 28-year-old editorial assistant whose fiancé abruptly left her two years ago. She knows he was probably not right for her, but even now Felicity still hopes he will regret his decision and come back. She is hardly ever approached when she is out and can’t bring herself to join any dating apps. On most nights she sits at home, reading a good book and feeling sad.
Karen has a type-A personality and is married with two children. She met her husband 10 years ago and fell in love at first sight. Their passionate love affair lasted until their first child was born. Now her husband seems disinterested in her, and Karen is becoming increasingly resentful about their marriage. She doesn’t understand how the love they once shared has soured to this point. She is currently contemplating a divorce.
Reina is a savvy businesswoman. She loves the thrill of being an entrepreneur, and men often ask for her advice on their own business affairs. But Reina is selective, so she does not date much. She has been involved with a guy named Danny for the last ten months, and although she really likes him, he is unwilling to commit. Reina assumed she would have her own family by the time she turned 35, but with her birthday just around the corner, she’s frustrated and perplexed that she is far from that goal. Reina feels like time is running out.
These four women are composites of clients I’ve worked with over the years. I chose to highlight their stories for a very specific reason: Their romantic situations illustrate common problems and patterns seen by many females today; in fact, you might even see yourself in one of their narratives. However, for all that they have in common with other women, I chose them as examples because their stories differ so greatly from each other—from their ages and backgrounds to their work lives and personalities. Most importantly, their relationship troubles appear to run the gamut: from feeling hopeless about finding love, to giving up on it when it’s difficult and disappointing. Everything about these four women and their love lives seems unique, yet at the core they all share the same problem: They don’t have the love they want and they aren’t sure why. They might suspect it’s because they are picky, or guess it’s a lack of self-confidence, but that’s not the real story. They might say it’s falling for the wrong guys, but there’s more to it than that. Beneath the surface lies the one obstacle preventing them from love. It is a hindrance to them, and millions of other men and women, mostly because it’s misunderstood and therefore never brought to light and improved on. Because it’s never identified as the true source of their problem, it only worsens as the years go on. I call this obstacle, this hindrance, this pervasive problem that prevents so many from ever having the real experience of unconditional love, the Curse.
As a dating and relationship coach, I’ve worked with hundreds of people, mostly women, throughout the course of my career. Some of these people had problems that were simple and easy to fix. They sought my help after reading my first book, You Lost Him at Hello, and simply needed a refresher course on relationship building. A few lessons on appropriate date conversation or how to handle texting, and they were back on track and heading into a commitment. Others, however, needed much more guidance.
They initially requested help for the same small difficulties: Frustrated by a man’s lack of contact or sudden loss of interest, they wanted to know what they needed to do—or stop doing—to get better results. It seemed that no matter what rules they followed, what precautions they took, or how many different guys they dated, their relationships never reached a happy place. Other women seemed to have no luck with the opposite sex at all, rarely feeling interested in anyone or resorting to pining for someone at a distance.
In either case, dating and relationships brought these females anxiety, confusion, turmoil, and disappointment. Even if one of these clients ultimately got the commitment she desired, she never received the love she was hoping to have. It was as if these women were fated to be bad at love. Their love lives had a distinct pattern, and following a set of relationship rules or learning a bevy of dating tactics was not improving anything.
I’ll admit, at first I was confounded as to why these clients had such trouble, especially being such smart, beautiful, capable people. I was just as disappointed and frustrated when another promising relationship fizzled or unexpectedly fell apart. Then suddenly I saw it. The origin of their problem revealed itself to me and with the understanding of what it was came the understanding of how to help. The Curse and all it’s troublesome patterns was finally out in the open after showing itself the most surprising place: my own relationship.
You likely picked up this book because you yourself may feel hopeless when it comes to love. Perhaps none of your relationships have worked out the way you’ve wanted, and you can’t quite figure out why. Maybe you are currently in a relationship or marriage that you thought would make you happy, but instead you find yourself dissatisfied and aching for something more. Your family and friends may not understand your struggle, but the fact remains that you have always had a difficult time finding and keeping love.
Much like Ashlee, Felicity, Karen, and Reina, it’s likely that you, too, are suffering from the Curse. I know it may seem strange that a person who cannot attract men initially would share the same problem as someone whose long-term relationships stall just short of the altar. Or that a woman who can’t get past a third date has the same obstacle in common with one who has been in several relationships or even married. But after years of research and coaching countless clients, I have found one thing to be true: No matter what the problem or pattern, no matter how old or young you are, or whether you’re a man or a woman, if you are constantly frustrated and discontented with the lack of love in your life, it is likely that the Curse is at the root of it all.
As you read this book, you will learn what the Curse is and discover it affects people in different ways, making it so difficult to identify. People who have diverse personalities and are involved in different types of relationships can still share the same problem; the only difference is when it appears and how it causes trouble for each individual. For some, the Curse is ever present and therefore inhibits them from meeting people or getting past a first or second date; for others, it can show up like clockwork a few months or even a year down the road. If you seem to encounter relationship issues at the same point in time, it is not a wild coincidence. Everyone’s Curse has different triggers. They are so strong and so rooted within us that we can often predict when things are about to go awry, despite not knowing the real reason why.
But the Curse can do much more than just keep you single; its toxic effect is multi-symptomatic. It can fool you into falling in love with someone who is wrong for you, and it is the reason why some people repeatedly attract the same bad relationships over and over again. It can trick you into blaming yourself for all the problems in your love life, or convince you that you are completely innocent of fault despite evidence of the contrary. The Curse is notorious for pushing real love away and only attracting people who have no love to give. The saddest consequence by far, however, is that it can keep you lonely and unfulfilled, depressed, and aching for more even if you find the right person and get married.
But don’t despair! In the pages to follow, we will define the Curse and reveal its five main manifestations. You will see how it affects people differently and causes them to unknowingly make choices that sabotage love. You will learn where it stems from and how you may have fallen prey to it yourself. And finally, you will discover the tools needed to break free of this affliction so you can finally find love and live lovingly ever after.
If you are ready to break the pattern of bad luck in your relationships, and are willing to do what it takes to have lasting love, get comfortable, let down your guard and turn the page!
Why Is Love So Hard For You?
A young woman came to me one day, frantic to speak with me. The guy she had been hanging out with had not texted her in four days, and she was baffled as to why he suddenly stopped all communication. This was not the first time she had been ghosted. In fact, this was quickly becoming a pattern. She sat there, with her head in her hands, and through sobs told me that her life was terrible. Yet again, she failed at a chance for love, and she felt certain it meant something was wrong with her. With tears in her eyes, she looked at me and said something I’ve heard before from countless other women:
“I think I’m just cursed.”
Confused as to why she couldn’t get the guy or the relationship she wanted, this bright, beautiful female believed that there was absolutely nothing she could do to change things for herself. She told me that although she maintained a confident exterior, deep inside she was insecure and believed that she was somehow less than other women. Why else would she still be single? Something about who she was had to be innately unattractive or not good enough, and eventually all the men she was interested in came to see it—at least, that’s what she had come to believe.
I asked the young woman how often she thought there was something wrong with her.
She replied, “All the time.”
“Tell me more about that,” I said.
“It’s an internal dialogue that keeps playing in my head. It’s always there, unless I have a day where I’m too busy to think about it, but even then it’s a feeling I carry around … that I’m never going to be as good as other women, and I’m doomed to living life alone.”
“Do those feelings subside if you start dating someone? Do you feel better and become more hopeful?” I asked.
She replied, “Maybe for a brief period of time, but it doesn’t last. When I’m dating someone, I usually worry about how much he likes me, or I’m afraid he will meet someone better and dump me. I live in constant fear that one day he will disappear and I’ll have to start all over again. I feel like I’m always waiting for guys to realize that I’m not what they want.”
“So, your thoughts really don’t change depending on your situation,” I said. “In a relationship or not, you still feel scared and unsure of yourself.”
The woman got quiet for a moment as she searched for the answer. “Yes, that’s right,” she said. “I keep hoping that when I find someone, those thoughts will change. But in truth, it just magnifies them. I wish I could feel differently, but I don’t know how or if it’s even possible.”
I asked the young woman to come back the next week and see me, but I wanted her to pay close attention to the thoughts she had every day until then. I asked her to write them down and bring them to our next meeting. She agreed.
The following week, she came to my office with a piece of paper. She had done her assignment and recorded her thinking throughout the week. I asked her to read her homework aloud, and this is what she came up with:
I’m worried that no one will ever want me.
I’m scared that the next guy I date will dump me.
I feel like I’m not normal and other people are better than me.
I’m angry that all my friends have boyfriends but I don’t have anyone myself.
I feel like I can’t really trust anyone because they will probably leave me.
I wish I had more confidence in myself.
I feel like I always do or say the wrong things.
I wish I knew how to act around guys so they would like me and want to be with me.
I am afraid I will always be alone.
I’m afraid I won’t be able to have kids because I’ll get too old and my window will pass.
I wish I knew my future so that I could stop worrying about this.
I feel hopeless that my life will always be this way and nothing will ever change.
The woman put the paper down.
“What do you think?” she asked. “I’m all over the place, aren’t I?”
“Actually, I don’t think that at all,” I told her. “I think you are only in one place. There is a common theme here. Do you see it?”
The woman seemed confused, but took a guess. “Most of my thoughts are negative?” she asked.
“There is negativity, but that is just the tone of your thoughts, not the common theme of the thoughts themselves,” I said. “What is at the center of each of those thoughts you have?”
The woman continued to stare at her paper, searching for what I meant. For a few minutes, she seemed at a loss. Then, as if by surprise, the answer appeared to her. “Me,” she stated. “I’m at the center.”
“Is that bad?” she asked. “I know I’m insecure and that doesn’t help with my confidence.”
“I don’t think confidence is your problem. Your lack of confidence is just a symptom of what’s really going on with you,” I said. “Let me ask you this: What do you think it looks like to a guy if he’s on a date with a girl who is constantly thinking about herself the way you are?”
She thought for a minute. “I’m not sure what it looks like. I really never thought about it in those terms,” she said.
“That’s okay, but think about it now. If you were a guy, out with a woman who was furiously thinking about her life, where it was going, and what people thought of her, what would that look like to him?” I asked.
“I suppose if I had to guess I could look nervous or distracted? I might not be as friendly or engaging because my mind is elsewhere,” she said.
“I would think so,” I agreed. “What about taking this a step further: What do you think you look like in a relationship where you are constantly thinking about yourself and what will happen to you?” I asked.
“I probably seem anxious,” the woman said. “I know I overreact to small things because I’m so concerned about what’s going to happen to me if things don’t work out. I might seem clingy at times because I don’t want to get dumped. I know I can text a little too much and ask for reassurance too often. On the other hand, my fear of losing someone also makes me play hard to get, so I may seem cold and standoffish because I’m trying to keep guys attracted to me,” she admitted.
“If you are always thinking about what you want or what’s going to happen to you and acting from that motivation, the guy you are involved with probably feels like he’s in a relationship with a highly moody person, don’t you think? One minute you are needy and clingy, but the next you are cold and withdrawn. Tell me this: Have you ever been in a relationship with a man who is constantly thinking about himself and what he wants, never thinking about you or your needs?”
The woman didn’t have to ponder that question. “Yes, I have—it was awful!” she said. “I don’t know why, but I guess I’ve always thought it was okay for me to behave this way. That a guy acting this way would mean he’s a jerk, but a woman acting this way is normal or expected.”
“And what way is that?” I asked.
The woman paused. “Too focused on myself… I didn’t think it was a problem until having this conversation, but I’m much more concerned with myself than I am with any guy.”
“It’s interesting how much you want to be with someone and how badly you want love, and yet even when you are with that person, you are still thinking about you and your life instead of him,” I said.
“Yes,” she agreed. “It is interesting…”
In case you are wondering who is narrating this story, my name is Jess McCann. I’m a dating and relationship coach as well as an author of self-help books. I started my career in this line of work back in 2007, not long after I had my first awakening about relationships which led to teaching single women how to apply sales strategies to their dating life in my book, “You Lost Him at Hello.” The second awakening, which brought a deeper and more profound level of love to my life and to the lives of my clients, is what this book, “Cursed?” is all about.
Over the last decade, I’ve noticed a lot of change in the relationship arena. Getting married and having a family is still a big priority for most people, and we now have more ways to connect with each other than we’ve had in the past, but cultivating real love is seemingly more elusive than ever. People go on dozens of first dates that never turn into seconds. Some carry on virtual courtships for weeks, only to have the other person suddenly go dark on them. If a match is made and there’s equal interest on both sides, sex is often expected but commitment is not, so the only certainty is confusion or disappointment. One of the most interesting, yet troubling trends I’ve noticed, however, is that while the female population is historically at its peak—with women being more beautiful, successful, and capable than ever before—there is a growing subset who have a pattern of relationships ending (or never getting off the ground) and only the vague explanation that something was “just missing” from the relationship. Like the young woman who sobbed in my office, too many women today are displaying a pattern of unproductive attempts at love, and I am frequently the last-ditch effort, as they try to identify why despite being on their A-game in all other areas of life, the same unwanted outcome keeps happening over and over again.
Most new clients begin a session with me the same way. “I think the problem is me. I’m doing something wrong, but I don’t know what it is.” I came to call the problem “the Curse” after so many women contacted me, half-joking that the only explanation for their pattern of unsuccessful relationships was being cursed with bad luck. Why else would every guy lose interest after three months? What other reason could there be for every boyfriend going on to marry the next woman he dated? Whether a guy disappeared, or a boyfriend wanted space, many women would speculate that yet again, they were victims of doomed circumstance.
In truth, they weren’t far off the mark. In my opinion, there is a curse causing the repeated demise of their relationships, but it has nothing to do with misfortune or voodoo. What I came to witness in my coaching practice was that many people were unintentionally sabotaging their relationships. To a degree, they knew this but couldn’t put a finger on how it was actually happening. As I listened closely to their backstories, followed them on each date, and in and out of every relationship, the Curse became clear. It was not what they were doing, but how they were thinking that created their unsuccessful patterns. The Curse is a mindset —one that has long been present in our society, but has recently grown and intensified due to technology and social media. It is a mindset that is extremely detrimental to relationships. I should know. For a long time I had the Curse myself.
What is the mindset? How could a person both want love and simultaneously work against having it? Although behaving in a way that contradicts your primary life goal might seem maniacal, we humans do it all the time. We do it because we have different facets of our brain at play and they don’t always cooperate with each other nor are we conscious enough to notice them. It’s why we might vow to start getting more exercise but then find a reason every day to avoid the treadmill. Or we might pride ourselves on being the most helpful person in our community but then we get behind the wheel of our car and road rage takes over. It’s also why we choose to date the bad boy with little future potential, even though a really good guy is standing right in front of us, ready to commit. It’s actually very easy, and in some ways inherent, to behave in a way that counteracts what we aspire for. Regardless of what we say we want, the unconscious part of our mind can have conflicting thoughts and ideas, and unfortunately, the unconscious mind is usually our commander-in-chief.
So what could be happening in your unconscious mind that is thwarting your chances at love? If you have a strong pattern of dissatisfaction, drama, or lacking in your relationship(s), or the theme of your dating history could be “same story, insert different guy,” it’s possible that your unconscious mind has become conditioned to excessively ruminate about yourself and your life, much like the client in my opening story. That might not appear to be a significant problem in regards to a relationship at first, but consider this: If you are constantly fixated on yourself, what you want or don’t want, what will make you happy or unhappy, after so many years you can and will condition yourself to only see life from your perspective. That can lead to several big problems when attempting to build a relationship with another person; the first being a skewed perception of who that person is. Assessing if someone is a good person and ready for a relationship is essential in choosing a partner, right? But too much ruminating on ourselves can interfere with that assessment. This is why you or someone you know might have held on to a rocky, unhealthy, or even a non- relationship with a person who everyone else saw as non-committal, untrustworthy, or just uninterested. If we are too driven by the wants of our unconscious mind, and more specifically who it wants, we often end up ignoring any facts that conflict with those desires.
But even if the men (or women) you’ve dated have been nice and normal, self-focused thinking can stop a relationship in its tracks. Eventually you will default to prioritizing your own thoughts and emotions over anyone else’s, and you won’t even be aware that you are doing it. Think back to the last time your boyfriend or spouse was mad at you. How much of the argument was him pointing out something that you’d done that you were completely oblivious of? Even more telling, how much time did you spend defending yourself, claiming you did no such thing?
The bottom line is this: An easy way to ruin a new romantic opportunity is to make judgments and act on assumptions based solely on your point of view. A fast way to destroy rapport with someone is to repeatedly overlook or misread his feelings and favor your own. If we agree that the key to a happy, committed relationship is putting the other person first, then wouldn’t constantly obsessing about ourselves and our wants, be the cause of its demise? Love might be what you consciously desire, but if your unconscious thinking has become accustomed to focusing on yourself, you will unintentionally subvert any chance at love that comes your way.
As you will read more about in the pages to come, unconscious thinking that is centered on ourselves not only affects how we perceive and react to our romantic situations, it also stifles our ability to truly connect with other people. For many of the women I’ve coached, this is where the big breakdown would happen in their love lives. They felt lost when it came to understanding or relating to their person of interest, and they struggled to form a solid and trusting bond. Unable to form a connection, they relied heavily on attraction as a means of enticement. While attraction alone may get you a date, or even into a relationship, it cannot sustain or deepen into love. The end result would frequently be the sudden dissolution of the relationship, with the other person citing that “something was just missing.” In my opinion, that “something” that was missing was true connection.
Before I go any further into explaining the Curse, I want to stop and prepare you for what you are about to read. The first half of this book may cause a guarded reaction within you because you are going to learn the particulars of the unconscious thought habits you might have that create your relationship patterns. Point is —it’s going to involve some heavy self-reflecting and for certain people that might be painful. It is vital that you lay down all your defenses at this point and accept your humanity of being imperfect. If you allow shame and criticism to dominate your thinking as you take in the material, or view the information as yet another example of how you aren’t worthy of a partner, you will not benefit or grow from this book. So I implore you, when you come across concepts that strike a sore spot within, do not jump to self-blame or self-defense, as you will be engaging in one of the very thought patterns this book is attempting to help you end once and for all. I also want to point out that the unconscious, self-focused mindset we are going to discuss is not exclusively a woman problem. It is a human problem; so men also suffer from this condition of the mind. For that reason, you may see examples in the chapters to come that bring more understanding to someone you’ve dated in the past. That will hopefully be helpful to you, but as best you can, attempt to take the information to heart for yourself more than anyone else. You are the one who is here reading this and that means you’re the one who can actually benefit from the material. Regardless of how toxic your ex was, or how selfish your partner can be, we can only change our relationship destiny when we take ownership of our own habits first.
To read more of “Cursed? Why you still don’t have the relationship you want and the 5 Cures that can transform your love life” go to Amazon.com.
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