Darcy is a fashion consultant in NYC. Like most people in the fashion industry, she not only works in it, she lives for it. Darcy goes to great lengths to make sure her image is perfect. Every extra penny in her paycheck goes to enhancing her wardrobe or maintaining her appearance. She’s a petite blond with a very outgoing personality; so finding a boyfriend would seemingly be easy for her. But Darcy has been on dozens of first dates in the last two years and none of them have resulted in a second. She is active online and is approached when she is out, but over the last few years a pattern has emerged and the initial attraction she gets from guys never lasts long.
One day Darcy called me in a frenzy.
“It happened again!” She cried hysterically.
“What did?” I asked.
“The guy I went out with last night hasn’t texted me. We had a great time. He was so funny and cute. He even said we should go out again. I don’t understand it. This happens every time I go out with someone! What am I going to do? Everyone around me is getting married and here I am without even a boyfriend. My friend Jackie isn’t even that attractive and she is dating this unbelievable guy! I’m getting older with each passing day and my eggs are going to shrivel up and die soon!”
I reassured Darcy that at twenty-six her eggs were not in jeopardy just yet. I knew that lacking in initial attraction was not her problem, because she was asked out quite often. However, Darcy was losing the interest she did get in a very short amount of time. Something she was doing or saying on the first date was turning guys off so much, they didn’t want to sit through round two and get to know her better.
Darcy was a nice girl with a very attractive exterior. She wasn’t mean spirited or lacking in confidence. But she did have a habit of constantly talk about herself and her life. She also spent a great deal of time comparing herself to everyone around her. This had a big impact on her socially and romantically. She was jealous of her friends who so easily met their significant others. It seemed so unfair that she struggle with love while other people found it so easily. It wasn’t uncommon for her to skip bridal showers or engagement parties. It was difficult for her to act happy for others when she was so miserable herself. Even just seeing a couple holding hands on the street was enough to send her into a tailspin.
Darcy didn’t see her habit to compare herself as a problem. She assumed her lacking love life was due to the fact that she was inexperienced in the relationship department. She had only had two boyfriends in her lifetime, the last of whom cheated on her repeatedly, and the one before disappeared without warning. In her opinion, her inexperience was a strike against her marketability. She was sure that all the guys she went out with wanted someone just a little bit sexier, thinner, and a lot more seasoned.
Before she went on dates, Darcy prepped herself for hours. She spent half the day doing her hair and make-up. Quite often she would texts pictures of herself to her friends asking how she looked before she left the house. When she arrived on her dates, Darcy was excited but also consumed with nervous energy. While she tried to be engaging and personable, she didn’t realize that most of the time she was rambling on about herself. Whenever she did stop and let her date get a word in, her mind churned in analysis of what she said. She wondered how she had come off to him. Did he still think she was attractive? Did she wear the right dress? Who else was he going out with, and was she as pretty? Instead of being present and working to get to know her date, she was on a continuous search for clues that he liked her enough to go out with her again.
Darcy would do a little Internet searching before, after, and sometimes even during, her dates. She would click through the guy’s pictures on Instagram or Facebook looking for any signs of him hanging out with other girls. If he did have pictures with females, Darcy would compare herself to all of them and stress about not being as beautiful. After hours of comparing and analyzing, she always was quite sure her date was not going to call her. And although he never did, it wasn’t for the reason she thought.
“The Curse” of The Contestant (An excerpt from my newest book: This is one of five “Curses”)
The Contestant “Curse” is the easiest to spot. The reason I call them Contestants is because they act as if their entire life is a competition. They spend a lot of time comparing themselves to others, and feel as if they always have something to prove, whether it is to other people or just to themselves. They also thrive on attention from other people. In all of their relationships they view themselves as the “leading role” and anyone else is either supporting or an audience member.
Contestants often vacillate between feeling really good about themselves and extremely bad. If she is having a good day, and believes she is measuring up to her preset standard, a Contestant will have very positive self-focused thoughts about herself. But on days when she goes too long without reassurance or approval, her “Curse” begins to turn those positive self-focused thoughts into negative ones. When that happens, she will frantically begin searching for a way to get attention and give herself a boost. She might post a selfie online hoping to get flattering comments, or text someone she has little interest in, but who she knows will lavish her with compliments. It’s not unusual for a Contestant to collect male followers, or have several virtual relationships going at the same time. The more guys that are interested in her, the better she feels about herself. Most Contestants use men to maintain a happy, confident feeling. This is one of the reasons why they have trouble deeply connecting with one person, and why they are the most unfaithful of all Curses. If something goes wrong with their relationship, they have little problem turning to someone else who will make them feel better. Some Contestants may even keep a side relationship going for no reason other than their thirst for attention is more than what one man can provide.
Guys who date this type of woman find her to be high maintenance, attention-needy, narcissistic, and dramatic. Men who are in a relationship with her find her to be exhausting, moody, and selfish.
Living to Win
Because life is viewed as a competition, Contestants feel happiest when they are seemingly “winning”. At times they might just seek a personal “win”, for instance, getting a certain amount of likes on a post, but often their need to win attracts them to romantic situations where their can be winners and losers. Their Curse confuses love with winning, so it unconsciously seeks out situations where it can put it’s worth to the test.
Darcy, for instance, held on to her last boyfriend for two years, despite the fact that he cheated on her twice, and they broke up every few months. When I asked her why she persisted in trying to work things out with him, she admitted that if he finally decided to be faithful to her she would feel like it would validate her worth because she would be considered “good enough to change him”. She wanted to be “the girl” who was so special he reformed. A Cursed motivation if I ever heard one! She felt if she let him go without accomplishing that, however, it meant she was just the loser who was not good enough to commit to, and the next girl he got involved with would ultimately be dubbed the winner.
Of course, the truth was that Darcy’s boyfriend was a selfish man, who was Cursed himself. He believed he was Superior to women and because of that, he thought he was above fidelity. Committing to one woman was lame and no fun because it didn’t fulfill his insatiable need to always feel like he was dominating something. Because Darcy was Cursed too, however, she couldn’t see this. Instead she spent most of their relationships trying to make herself worthy of her boyfriend’s love. This is one of the Curse’s cruelest tricks. It makes you hold on to the false hope that one day you’ll be enough to change someone, as if your worth has anything to do with them committing.
If you are a Contestant, you might be attracted to people who need fixing because correcting them feels like an achievement. You don’t realize that your motivation to change someone is more for your benefit than theirs. Darcy wasn’t looking to make her relationship work because she loved her boyfriend. No, she was looking to make it work so she could feel like a winner. Is a woman using a man to heighten her feelings of worthiness any better than a guy cheating on her? In Darcy’s eyes, she didn’t see it that way but the reality is she did not love her boyfriend any more than he loved her.
Normal, healthy relationships don’t provide a struggle, and so if you are a Contestant, you might also naturally gravitate to men that are currently in a relationship, or even married. Triumphing over another woman and winning the “prize” of a man’s love is exactly what this Curse wants. Even if you are kept on the side for years, you will have trouble letting go and moving on because you will feel like you “lost” the guy to someone else. Of course, if you do get the guy, and there is no competition going on, you might get bored and restless. This is why Contestants are often in drama-filled relationships. Anyone who is emotionally available and genuinely wants to love you, isn’t challenging. If someone you are dating turns out to be a nice, normal guy, you may find yourself picking him apart, asking him for space, and causing drama to create a win/lose situation for yourself. The guy will have no idea where your hot and cold behavior stems from and might assume you are just afraid of commitment. He may at first play your little back-and-forth game, but if he’s a decent person, your behavior may push him to anger, resentment, and finally, disinterest.
If you seem to always gravitate towards “challenging” guys or situations, you may very well be a Contestant who is just searching for opportunities to win in order to feel good about yourself. Holding on to an unhealthy and unpredictable relationship provides the opportunity for you to have daily wins. If things go well one day, you feel you’ve succeeded in the game. It’s important to recognize the attraction you have to someone may not be anything more than a Curse tendency or preference. It’s very likely is not your real self being genuinely drawn to someone.
Their habit to self-obsess has Contestants tanking in the dating department. Whether it’s getting a guy interested or keeping him that way, The Contestant often sabotages her chances. This Curse has one goal in mind when it sits down in front of a man and that is to “wow” him and gain his approval. If the Contestant feels she has done a good job of impressing, she will deem the date a success. However, she doesn’t realize that while she’s busy thinking of new ways to dazzle her date and gain more interest, she’s oblivious to how the date is actually going.
This was the biggest reason Darcy had difficulty getting second dates. When she sat down with men, she not only talked too much, but she talked about things that were so centered on her own interests and so motivated by her own attention seeking nature that men quickly became bored with the conversation. Darcy repeatedly suffered from the most frequent effect of the Contestant Curse -when you spend most of your time thinking about yourself, you automatically spend most of your time talking about yourself.
If you asked her, Darcy would deny monopolizing any conversations. She knew to ask her dates questions and felt she did a good job inquiring about their lives. What she didn’t realize was as soon as the guy started talking, her Cursed mind immediately related whatever he was saying to her own experiences and opinions. “I have something to say about that!” she thought. Or, “I can impress him with this story!” Before her date could even finish completing a sentence, Darcy would jump in with her thoughts, leaving the guy feeling like she really didn’t care what he had to say. Even though she was going through the right motions, because her intention was coming from a self-absorbed place, she was never fully engaged as a listener, and therefore, never really engaged with any man she went out with. Paying attention to someone else, even someone she liked, was short and fleeting because her mind would always subconsciously wonder back to, “How can I show him I’m interesting”, or, “How do I get him to really fall for me?”
There are Contestants, however, have mastered dating and having guys pursue them. They have figured out how to play “the game” so guys initially fall hard for them. They are good at flirting, don’t answer texts too soon, and they know how to play a little hard to get. But just because they can skillfully maneuver the “getting him interested” phase, doesn’t mean they sail effortlessly into a serious relationship. They don’t. Many find it quite difficult, in fact, because they are only confident in the beginning stages of dating when the guy is in pursuit of them. If the chase slows, even for a brief second, they begin to question themselves as well as the guy’s feelings.
Betsy had a history of 2-3 month relationships. When she reached out to me for the first time it was because she had recently met someone she liked and was worried that his interest was starting to fade. When I asked her what signs she was getting that indicated a loss of interest, she said it was mostly a feeling that she was losing the upper hand. After two months of dating, she felt that her boyfriend wasn’t trying as hard to win her over as he did in the beginning. Even though he was still contacting her and asking to see her on a regular basis, she felt that he wasn’t paying as much attention to her anymore.
Normally when Betsy began feeling this way, her self-focused thoughts and emotions would take over. She would often start playing harder to get in order to provoke attention. In previous relationships, she would cancel plans to incite a fear of loss, or purposely flirt with someone else in order to make the guy jealous. She wanted to know what to do this time in order to make her boyfriend want her more and focus more attention on her.
What Betsy did not realize was that she was fighting the normal progression of any relationship. At some point, the chase must end so the real relationship can begin and true love can develop. I told her she needed to recognize that her focus in her relationships was concentrated on how much attention and reassurance she was getting from the guy and her attempts to incite jealousy or worry was all in order to feed this self-absorbed craving. It’s only natural that men will relax a little and be more themselves the longer you date them and that is a good thing. If you expect them to bring you flowers every week, plan lavish dates your whole life, or focus 100% attention on you everyday, you are not only signing up for major disappointment, you are going to drain your partner of all his energy and love for you. The truth was that the men Betsy dated were not truly losing interest like she assumed, she just didn’t understand the transition period from dating to a relationship. She didn’t know that eventually she had to stop making the man chase her and start giving back. Because she was Cursed, she perceived relaxed behavior on the guy’s part as disinterest and tried to stir up his emotions. She would spontaneously get mad at little things, or give him the cold shoulder so he would chase her again. Most guys interpreted these attention-getting attempts on her part as drama and backed away. In the end, it was simply Betsy’s hunger for attention that eventually caused men to lose interest and nothing else.
In the beginning, men don’t mind that the relationship is one-sided and they are expected to do all the heavy lifting, but as the relationship progresses over the course of a few weeks or months, they expect the relationship to balance out. After all, a relationship, and especially marriage, is a partnership and men are looking for potentially partners – someone who they can love but who will also genuinely love them back. They want someone who they can rely on and receive support from. Someone who will think about them. The Contestant is not a good candidate because she needs too much from him, and by comparison, gives very little in return.
I read your post about “The Chase” (and being dissatisfied when it’s over once the guy you’ve been pursuing shows genuine interest- like I thought I wanted!) That’s my issue. I want to know where you think this stems from and how I can correct that mindset (if I should) so that I can be in a happy, healthy, lasting relationship (not just with men, but with people in general). I didn’t always have this subconscious mindset, and I can’t remember when it changed, or if it was there all along and only in recent years I’ve become aware of it.
Thanks so much for your time.
I’ll start by answering your questions in reverse order. First off, no you didn’t always have this mindset. It is not something any of us are born with, but it is something that frequently develops overtime. You asked if you should break it? Well, let’s put it this way, if you don’t stop being dissatisfied with men who are interested in you, that means you either won’t ever get married or you will marry someone that does not genuinely like you. Both sound like unfavorable outcomes, don’t you think? If you want a happy, healthy, relationship then as obvious as this sounds, you need to be happy and healthy yourself. This mentality, which I call The Curse, and is the subject of my third book, causes you to only look for what is not right or what is not happening in your life. This mindset keeps you focused on that which is lacking, completely disregarding what you already have or what is easy to come by. Why? One, because we live in an instantly gratifying world and especially if we’ve had parents that contribute to this mentality by either giving us whatever we want, or the opposite, making us always want from them. We have trained our minds to be this way for so long that by the time we are adults it is just automatic. The minute we obtain something we spend little time in a state of gratitude for it, and instead, immediately jump to, “what else?” or “what’s next?”. This is what leads us to chasing men. Once a guy likes you, you don’t spend any time appreciating him because you have not learned to be grateful in your own life. The second reason is that this Cursed mindset doesn’t really seek love. It only seeks validation of self. Meaning, you think you are looking for love, but what you are really looking for is a boost in self-esteem. And men who lavish you with interest are nice for a day, but after just a short time, you get restless with them because you know they like you and that boost they initially gave you has waned. So you go looking for someone else. Someone who won’t let that feeling fade for you. A guy that keeps stringing you along for instance. One who’s interest ebbs and flows. This kind of man will constantly keep you chasing him and therefore, every time you have a small win with him (like he calls after so many days of not calling), your self-esteem gets another boost.
How do you break this mindset so that you can get married, have babies, and ride off happily into the sunset? I won’t lie to you. It is a process that takes time. There are many ways to break the Curse. The first way is just to simply be aware of it. Next time a man disappears on you, or lets you down, instead of thinking, “what can I do to get him re-interested?” (which is you looking for validation of yourself and your worth), think, “this guy is obviously flaky and I’m seeing a flaw in his character.” Likewise, the next time a guy shows you he likes you, instead of thinking “ugh, he’s too into me”, think, “I’m so grateful that he appreciates me and that someone really likes me!”
Be aware in other aspects of your life were your thoughts gravitate to what you don’t have. With your job. Your friends. Your wardrobe. Your body. If you are the type that is always shopping because you never have enough, always gossiping because you thrive on drama, or always pursuing the next job, promotion, award, or accolaide, it it very possibly that you are also only attracted to men (or women) who aren’t available and really don’t care about you. Being cogniscient of your thought patterns will help you slowly change them and begin to break the horrible mindset of the Curse.
For more on The Curse, check my website or amazon periodically. It is scheduled to be released later this year.
Actually it’s neither. If you are wondering why Tierra acts the way she does, I can tell you why with certainty. She is not a bad person. She truly believes what she says when she declares, “They are all so mean to me! I haven’t done anything!” The problem is that Tierra has something that many women suffer from. After all, we all know women like her, don’t we? Attention needy, competitive, defensive, but then can be sweet as pie. You may wonder why some girls act like this, and if they are even conscious of their behavior. The answer is, no. They don’t know how they come across, because they have what I call, the Curse. No it’s not a spell, it’s just what I used to describe this mental state because it not only brings out a dark side, it also prevents people from finding love. Most Cursed women don’t know why their relationships never work out, so they usually say, “I must be cursed!” Hence the name.
The Curse is hard to explain in a 500 word blog, but in a nutshell, when you are Cursed, you only think about yourself and you only see things from your viewpoint. It’s almost impossible to see things from another person’s perspective. You may know people like this, but they only act self-centered some of the time. Their Curse may just come out in certain instances, like when boys are around, or when they are in competition at work, or perhaps when it comes to grades at school (and who knows, maybe Tierra’s Curse only surfaces while on Reality T.V.) But, suddenly your sweet best friend, becomes a darker version of themselves. You think, “What happened? Why did she change? Why does she get like this in these circumstances?” Well, that’s the Curse.
I guarantee that when Tierra was little she was a different person than she is now. As children, we are not Cursed. But as we grow up and experience life, the Curse slowly descends upon us. One way the Curse gets us is through our parents. Perhaps we were told over and over that we are SO beautiful and perfect, that when we went out into the world and others did not praise us similarly, we felt disappointed and disliked. When parents are too doting, they don’t realize they are teaching their children to receive love only, and not to give it. If this is Tierra’s case, she would then try her whole life to get love from a man…at any cost.
The Curse also happens when you are abandoned as a child, or neglected. You want love so bad that when you grow up, it is the only thing you want, and you will stop at nothing to get it. However, you again, are seeking only to receive love because you have not figured out that you actually have it to give.
Either way you get the Curse, it’s what makes someone like Tierra act the way they do. They get their feelings hurt very easily and they crave attention constantly. The Curse always wants more for itself. The person who has the Curse doesn’t have the ability to think of others because the Curse keeps the focus only on yourself and what you want. Cursed people often vacilliate between feeling entitled and feeling victimized. The Curse can often turn someone into a People Pleaser, which you might think is a selfless quality, but think again. The reason People Pleasers please is because the want something from you – attention, love, acceptance. So although it seems they are doing a good deed for another, the motivation is to gain something for themselves. All forms of the Curse stem from craving attention, which is often confused with love.
Again, Tierra does not know how she comes off, and truly believes she’s being attacked for no reason other than jealousy. I guarantee she WANTS to be a good person who is likable, but as typical with all Cursed people, she does not know how. When you are Cursed, you’ve been thinking a certain way for so long, that you don’t know anything else. You are trapped in a thought-pattern you can’t break. And the real you is buried deep inside until you make a change to break the Curse.
Here are some signs of the Curse (they vary in people):