Interview With Haley Gage: Sharing Her Thoughts on Overcoming the Fear of Being Single Forever, Creating Authentic Desire and Much More
1. A common complaint that we hear from our women subscribers is “where are all the good men?” Some of them seem frustrated, lost, confused and have even lost hope that they can find a decent man to share their life with.
While part of this could be attributed to past relationship disappointments and hurts, some attribute their lack of success with their own feeling of self-worth and physical appearance. Even when they find a man that they are attracted to and they really like, the lack of self belief along with their inner skeptic tends to drive the man away from them.
How can women overcome this negative mindset and lack of belief that they would ever be able to find a decent man for themselves? What are some things that they can do to improve their self worth so that they truly believe that they deserve a quality man rather than feeling unworthy when they happen to meet one?
We deserve the best and should not have to settle, but unfortunately we believe the lies we see all around us.
Everyday we are inundated with images of thin, tan, perfectly toned hotties and we believe we are supposed to somehow look like her. It is everywhere and we can’t get away from it.
So what happens, we see these images enough and we start to think that is what everyone looks like. Then we start to look at our own selves and notice that we aren’t as young, pretty, rich, skinny, and our hair isn’t as shiny. We are falling in the trap. We see more, we fall farther. It’s a cycle and the only way out of the trap is to change our pattern of thinking and our ideas of who culture tells us we are.
Stop looking at others and turn your eyes on yourself.
You have a lot to offer but until you believe you are worth it and change your outlook you won’t believe you are good enough and neither will the kind of man you want to attract.
- What are you good at?
- What do you enjoying doing?
- What are your values?
- What do you like about yourself?
Know who you are and what you want because if you don’t then it doesn’t allow you to set the bar for the kind of man you want to meet.
If many of the women we see in media everyday had true self worth, they wouldn’t be all over the media.
What we see everyday dictates what the norm is. We let culture tell us what it means to be beautiful. The problem is, is limits the idea of beautiful to a thin and narrow road. Celebrate what makes you who you are. Just like we all have different taste in men, men have different taste in women.
Find your worth not in what society tells us to but in what makes you feel alive.
Our true self worth comes from our identity. Once we can find our identity that allows us to know who we are, increase our self worth, boost confidence, and give us a reality check that we are worth it.
Women are constantly falling into a trap because we don’t believe in who we are and that we are good enough for a great man. When the truth is we are absolutely good enough for a man, especially a well deserving one.
2. You mentioned the constant negative reinforcement by media and society on how they greatly influence our thoughts and perception about beauty and looks. Some women have told us that they have so much negative chatter in their minds that they are simply unable to make a positive change. For every positive step they take, they tend to have be pushed 10 steps back by their inner critic and negativity.
How can women detoxify the negativity in their mind and from external sources and make continuous progress to enhance their self worth and value?
Constantly receiving the negative reinforcement by media and society has been devastating on women attempting to gain self worth and confidence.
We can’t even begin to understand how many times a day we are exposed to unrealistic figures, lives, and standards of living. Not only that, the words magazines choose to put on their covers even sinks you farther into believing what you are doing isn’t good enough. Your sex isn’t up to par, your clothes are out of style, and your abs aren’t flat enough.
Who is setting these standards? I am not really certain who they are, but they aren’t realistic. How do we even begin to step back and remove ourselves from something that is so deeply ingrained in our culture?
Facebook, it’s the highlight reel of your friend’s lives (and maybe yours too).
A status will always say something really awesome that‘s going on, “Gone to Hawaii with the love of my life for 10 days. See ya!” It’s never anything like, “Got dumped. Again. Crying in my bathtub with a bottle of wine and chocolate.” What we see on Facebook is exactly what that person wants us to see, so when your life doesn’t match up to theirs it’s because you are only seeing one side. Just remember highlight reel.
Pinterest it’s all the most wonderful things in the world on one website.
This takes the idea of Facebook one step further by not only letting you put your life on the board but taking other people’s lives and pinning it on your board. But, that is where the problem lies, it is an illusion.
We are slowly buying into the DIY projects that Sally Sue can whip up together in what looks like 5 minutes and takes the rest of us 5 hours. Or the wedding planning pins that are supposed to be on a budget, but you’re wondering what budget they followed. It is like real life Barbies we are trying to compete with. And by the end of it you are defeated and sinking into a hole of what you have and who you are never being enough.
The list of social media goes on and on into Instagram, Twitter, Blogs, Flickr…the list is endless and none of it will help you get any closer to accepting who you are.
If you find that you notice yourself having more negative feelings after being on any of these sites, I would encourage you first to make a graph and put a scale of 1-10 on your mood and each time before you look at one of these sites mark where your mood is and then again after you have been on the website. If you find you constantly feeling worse it may not be a bad idea to delete your account(s).
There are other ways to stay up to date with loved ones without knowing their every move.
• You are enough. Wake up every morning and say it.–even when you don’t believe it.
• Put pictures up of real women you admire—your mom, sisters, Kelly Osborn…whoever it might be that makes you feel good about who you are and what you have to offer.
• If you like encouraging quotes, put them up in your car, on your mirror, next to your bed, wherever you look.
• Certain people may be triggers, know who they are and figure out if you need to limit your time with them or stop following them on social media.
• Have conversations with people. Real conversations about things that really matter to you.
• You are not alone in this battle.
I’ve said it before, comparison is the thief of joy and if we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, we are robbing ourselves of the most precious gift life has to offer—a life of contentment and joy in who we are and what we have to offer.
3. What would your advice be for women who would like to attract men into their lives and have great relationships, but are currently struggling to do that?
Attracting men into your life may seem impossible sometimes because you look around and think
1. All the good men have been taken: There are still great men out there but just like women aren’t all alike, men aren’t all alike either. Everyone wants something a little different.
2. Do any men even live in my city? Yes, men are in your city, you just might need to spread your circle a little. 3. Is there something wrong with me? There probably isn’t something wrong with you, but you know what you want, you just haven’t found it yet. Through conversations with men, there are a few things that they do (for the most part) all find the most attractive in women.
First, be yourself.
In the movie The Ugly Truth Katherine Heigl spends a majority of the movie being, what she is told, the “right” kinda woman to attract her hot physician neighbor, Colin. It works, and Colin likes her but she has added hair extensions and squelched her Type A personality to become some “loosey-goosey all caution to the wind” kinda woman.
And of course in the end, it’s too much for her to keep up with, she is miserable, and she breaks it off with Colin. In saying all of that, conforming to what you think a man “expects” and losing yourself will not work out in what you want long term. It’s a lie, it’s exhausting, and it’s just not you.
Confidence. It’s what I hear over and over from men.
Since I am not one, I don’t know what they see and what makes a confident woman stand out from one who is not, but they love it. LOVE IT.
Put yourself out there. Get on a dating website, pick up one of the many dating apps out there and just explore! Don’t be afraid to meet new people. A rule I always stood by is if a guy had the courage to ask me out, I give him a shot.
People can surprise you and who knows where one date with someone can take you. Something I hear a lot of is “he’s not my type” but has “your type” worked for you so far? You just may want a little something different but you haven’t figured it out yet. Be open to possibilities.
Most importantly, enjoy the season of life that you are in right now.
It may not be where you envisioned yourself, but it’s where you are right now. Live for yourself and enjoy having your time be your time. Find new activities, try something new, pick up a hobby…be content (which is far easier said than done).
There are things you are able to do now that you could not do with a boyfriend, fiancé, spouse, or children so take the opportunity to live your life without obligation to someone else and it will help prepare you for that time when you are sharing your life with someone else.
4. We get a lot of emails from our readers who often worry about losing the man that they are interested in. This can be ranging from issues like the man blowing hot and cold to a man communicating with them only via text messages to him taking her for granted and not making any plans ahead of time for a date to being hesitant to talk about how he sees their relationship progressing or discussing his thoughts about marriage etc.
I guess it’s quite natural for people in general to avoid serious topics or conversations especially when they are first getting to know the person. But for a relationship to progress and for a couple to build trust and feel emotionally connected, it is important to talk about what’s on your mind and discuss important issues.
What we see many women do is that they either avoid talking about these issues or pretend they don’t matter because they don’t wan to “risk losing him” or they have this hope that they can change the man later on as the relationship progresses In the process, they set a dangerous precedent by avoiding conflict altogether or by sweeping issues under the rug early on in the relationship.
So how can women overcome this fear of losing their man and cultivate the habit of openness and honesty early on in their relationship?
Losing a romantic partner is scary because of what has been invested into that person.
Thinking about it can give you a pit in your stomach. So, in relationships, we do what we can not to rock the boat. Relationships can be like Seahaven in the movie The Truman Show–the sun always shines, people are always “good”, everyone smiles, and there is never any traffic. Pure bliss.
And that is what we try to maintain in relationships. The problem comes when we can’t force the smiles anymore and we are looking for something real, just like Jim Carey in The Truman Show.
It’s not normal to dive into the nitty-gritty on date one—this is a chance to hit the surface and figure out what kind of person you are working with.
The first few dates can be like Seahaven, putting your best foot forward and feeling the man out. However, there comes a time when facing the nitty-gritty is necessary to take a relationship to the next level. It’s relatively easy to keep things on the surface, especially if he isn’t willing to dig deep.
What I see many women doing is compromising themselves because they are afraid of what direction tough conversations may take the relationship.
But ask yourself this, “Am I staying true to who I am and my values or am I sacrificing part of me so I don’t lose him?” What happens if the relationships ends? Will you be able to say, “I have no regrets and I didn’t compromise who I am.” That should be an end goal.
Having real life conversations isn’t easy, but they are crucial to a relationship and should be discussed on the early-ish end.
It is much better to find out that you and Bobby don’t line up with the idea of children in month 2 rather than in month 9 when much more has been invested emotionally. And truthfully, I believe many of these conversations should be had even before the boyfriend title is thrown around.
Others may believe that is too early, but I think once you’re on that track, it’s much harder to turn back when core values are not lining up. It’s those values that make you who you are.
In the end you want someone who respects you, not someone who you’re living in The Truman Show with. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t work out with his wife because it’s a relationship that never left the surface.
On the issue of changing a man, don’t hold your breath.
The only thing a woman can (maybe) change about a man is his clothes. Do not get into a relationship with the idea you are different and you can tame the beast, you can’t. He can change, but it’s going to be because he wants to, not because you want him to.
5. I have read a few experts that recommend playing hard to get as a means to woo men and retain their attention. Can you share your thoughts and talk about your views on playing hard to get to attract men?
This is a million dollar question. Thinking about it on the surface, it makes no sense.
Why would someone you are intentionally ignoring be interested? But for whatever crazy reason it works. I have a few ideas between what I have heard from others and what men have mentioned to me.
It’s in their genes. Men may be hardwired in their chemical make up to want to chase the woman.
Take the hunter-gatherer example, it’s what men have been doing since they first showed up on Earth. They hunt and the thrill seems to be in the chase. If we make it too easy for them, they lose interest. Peculiar, but it’s how the game works.
Everyone likes a little mystery, so revealing too much about yourself too soon takes away the mystery.
Men like to have things to figure out, it keeps them intrigued. Tell him just enough but leave him wanting more. Think about a good book, the chapter ends and you’re so curious what happens next you keep reading. You are the book, and he is the reader.
It may be that “playing hard to get” is actually a woman being confident and secure in who she is.
She isn’t consumed with when she’s going out with him next because she has other things on her plate she is excited about. She doesn’t need to take time to craft the perfect witty text back because she isn’t paying attention to her phone but to the people she is with. She knows she is enough with or without him. That’s attractive.
While I don’t agree with making up excuses and always being “busy”, you do want him to know you have a life, but you should squeeze him in somewhere.
Guys like a challenge, but they don’t like games. Give him something to work for, but don’t mess around with him and play him like a puppet. That’s not fair and it’s manipulation to get what you want. The flip side, as a woman, there are things you should expect which include him planning dates in advance, following through with plans, and being intentional in spending time together.
If he’s not doing those things, he’s probably playing his own game with you. Be smart, confident, play it right, and he will be intrigued. From the intrigue, only time will tell…
6. Can you share your thoughts on delaying sex until women get to really know a man? Some experts I have talked to especially warn against having sex on the first date because it creates a sense of pseudo-intimacy that prevents women from seeing things objectively.
For women who are interested in having a long term committed relationship, would you recommend that they delay having sex until they get to know the man and have him commit to exclusivity?
I cannot emphasize holding off on sex enough.
As much as we would like to be able to disconnect from our emotions and engage in a good romp, we really can’t do it the way we would like especially if we desire a long term relationship. Our bodies won’t let us. We release a hormone called Oxytocin when we orgasm and that hormone is responsible for attachment.
Oxytocin will give you the feeling that there is something more there than is actually there—circling back to the pseudo-intimacy.
It’s like an illusion. You are allowing a man to engage in something very intimate with you and unless you are in a committed relationship he has nothing to lose.
Take the time to get to know him and feel safe in the relationship with him before the physical commitment comes.
You will probably find the longer you wait, the less likely you are to start flying off the radar on him because you are secure in the relationship because of the foundation not being based on lust.
If all you take from this is “Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it” then that’s all you need to remember. Don’t do it. Be patient.
7. Some of our women subscribers feel that their masculine energy tend to intimidate men and drive them away. This is a common problem especially among successful professional women and entrepreneurs that require them to be more masculine at their workplace. However they find it difficult to transition to their feminine energy in their personal relationships.
In your opinion what does it mean to be feminine and can you provide insights on how women can embrace femininity without losing their identity?
People expect a lot from you, and you expect a lot from yourself.
These are great qualities and ones that should be admired in a woman, but in the same way, it can also become your greatest weakness. These qualities can cross over into your personal life and that is where it will take a conscious effort to make a shift in the way you relate to men outside of the workplace.
This can be a challenge and also one where you may not feel like you are being true to who you are, but there is a way to maintain that but allow the man to be the man in the relationship.
He wants to feel like he is in charge and when a woman steps in and takes that role it can be incredibly emasculating. I’m not saying be submissive, but I am saying generally, there is a role a man wants to play in a relationship and you want to allow him the role.
There could be a few things holding you back from being able to connect with men on a deeper level.
- One of those may be a fear of showing weakness or failure. That is difficult for anyone to do, but especially someone who is typically “in charge”. Your pride is on the line and an inability to let your guard down can keep things at a surface level that won’t let a relationship progress.
- Remembering you are not at work. You can let your hair down and not feel the pressure to perform. You should be able to feel relaxed and let loose a little bit.
- When there are too many chefs in the kitchen, what happens? Everyone leads and no one can take orders. Figure out how you can find that balance. Let go of the control.
- Reserve those work clothes for work and do not bring them out for dates. If you’re going on a date after work, bring some make up and a fresh shirt or skirt to change into. And maybe a saucy pair of heels. Feel the part of pretty. You might feel very restricted in your work clothes and not even know it.
- Practice not talking about work outside of work. It’s obviously a huge part of who you are, but it can drive people away when they aren’t able to figure out other interests you have.
- Passion and drive are incredibly attractive qualities and if your job is important you won’t have to explain that because it will naturally come out, but no need to force it.
8. Another common question we frequently get asked from our readers is when they should talk about marriage in a relationship. Some of our subscribers would like to get married soon, start a family and are quite wary of a ticking biological clock. For them, time is crucial and they don’t want to waste their time with the wrong men. Some men when asked about marriage respond “Maybe, some day I want to get married” or “Yes, I want to get married some day in the future.” Women are not quite sure whether they should wait or if they should move on when they hear this response.
What would your advice be for women in this situation?
Marriage and a family is something many people desire, not just women.
While women are often more forthcoming with that information, men know what they are looking for and if they want to get married. Obviously, it’s not something to dive into the first few dates, but probably in the first couple months it’s a good idea to be sure you are in fact on the same “Life Page.”
There are opportunities the first couple months where you can slide subtle questions in to find out where he lies on the topics of marriage and children.
If he’s talking about his niece or nephew, you can say something as simple as, “I love kids. Do you want children one day?” Gives him a chance to reveal something but in a non-confrontational way.
Or marriage, which is trickier, but it’s not hard to find something wedding or marriage related and slide an unassuming question in the conversation. No need to harp on his response, if he’s worth keeping around you can do that later. And if those innocuous questions freak him out, he’s probably not on your page.
For the sake of keeping it simple, if he doesn’t know what he wants or thinks “maybe eventually down the road”, and that’s not lining up with you, cut bait and get out.
It’s nothing against you, but if you were “the one” for him he wouldn’t be wishy-washy. He’d be ready to give you some pretty firm answers. It might not mean marriage in the next month, but you at least know you desire the same things.
If you wait around you are just spinning your wheels on a guy who is indecisive and not committing to you.
There are men out there (lots of them) who want to get married and have families, and if you stick around Joe Shmo you’re missing out on someone who wants to settle down and share a life with you.
9. What would your top 3 tips be for women who feel like they are doing all the work in the relationship or don’t know where they stand in their relationship or they are not getting the kind of commitment from their partner?
Every relationship is going to have it’s ups and downs, but also remember a relationship is a two way street.
If you feel like you are putting all the work into it, there is something that is off and either needs to get fixed immediately or you need to hop on out.
Three tips for those of you who are in that situation would include:
1. Have a little bit of patience with him.
Is there a reason he has pulled back? Is work going well? Is he under family stress? Did he experience something out of the ordinary that has shaken him up a bit? If so, give him some time and allow him to heal or seek help to move past this stumbling block. Figure out how you can come alongside him and support him in the way that is best for him. What would work for you may not be what works for him.
2. Talk to him.
A relationship is based on communication. If you’re not letting him know your needs he won’t be able to provide you what you’re expecting. He’s not a mind reader, even though that would be what every woman wants.
3. Let it go.
If you’ve done your part, you’ve talked to him, laid it out, and he’s still not getting it, it’s going to take a lot more than your patience for him to get things sorted out. You also don’t want to wait around for him if you’re sure of what you’re looking for.
This won’t be the easy thing to do, but sometimes it takes losing something great to realize what was there. That may be the case for him, and if it’s not there are other men out there that can provide you with emotional support and commitment.
10. What books or resources would you recommend for women that are looking to create long lasting fulfilling relationships?
- Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
- For Women Only, Revised and Updated Edition: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men, by Shaunti Christine
- How to get a Date Worth Keeping by Henry Cloud
- How to Meet a Man without Trying: Exceptional Dating Advice for Women by Suzanne Miles
- He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Turth to Understanding Guys by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (There’s a movie, too)
Some people may knock them, but dating websites are blowing up. Especially those that have lengthy interest and personality inventories have great success for some people.
Of course, some people will find certain resources helpful and others not as much, but it’s worth a look!
About Haley Gage
Haley Gage is a licensed associate professional counselor. Taking a direct and personal approach, she strives to meet you where you are and provide an environment allowing for reflection and growth no matter what you struggle with. Haley works with individuals dealing with depression, anxiety, relationship issues, stress management, body image, and substance abuse.
She is committed to providing clinical care while implementing a relational approach focusing on strengths to work towards your goals. She wants to take your desires and goals and make them feel tangible to you as we work together towards wholeness.
To know more about Haley, visit her website www.simplifiedatlanta.com.