Handling the Clutter

Handling ClutterLet’s be honest.  We are never going to get rid of all of the clutter we carry around.  Life is still going to happen and problems are still going to arise in our lives.  We can only learn to manage the stress and clutter it creates.  Dating after 40 can turn into quite the juggling act.  If it was not so stressful, it would almost be funny.  By the time we reach our 40’s most of us have demanding careers.  On top of this, many have children that demand just as much time and attention.  Being a taxi driver for our kids, cheerleader at games, along with the cook, maid, and many other roles can take its toll on us leaving us feeling physically drained and mentally exhausted.  There is never enough time in a day to get everything done we feel we need to accomplish.  Just the thought of fitting dating and a potential relationship into our busy schedules can be overwhelming.  Do not be mistaken here, a man will not arrive to rescue you, and you should not be searching for that because that will never lead you to the RIGHT man!

Clutter Word Cloud

Since I do not have children, I would be amiss in advising anyone on how to prioritize where children are concerned.  They should always be a priority, which is why I genuinely admire men who put their kids first – they should!  However, with the rest of our busy lives, we need to really evaluate what is important and what is not (it will be different for everyone).  Is dating important right now?  Or is your career in high gear and you need to focus on that?  Sometimes it just is not the right time to date, even if we want to find someone.  In order to attract the right man, we need to be in the right place in our heads.  If we are so busy with everything else in our lives, we may not have what it takes to attract the right man and have a healthy relationship.  Sometimes things in our lives need to be on hold until we can give them the priority in our lives they need in order to be successful at them.  I am only talking about finding a significant other here.  If one is already in a relationship, then the focus needs to be different.

 

So how do we get to the place we need to be to find Mr. Maybe if we are bogged down by life?  One suggestion would be to make lists of things we need to rid ourselves of to rid our minds of the clutter it creates there.  Then we need to get to work and systematically tackle that list.  While it may not happen over night, we eventually get to a place where we have room in our lives, minds and hearts for finding Mr. Maybe.  There is nothing sexy about this approach, but there is also nothing sexy about carrying all the clutter into a brand new relationship that has not even had the chance to root yet!  Rid yourself of as much as you can.  Sure, there will still be some clutter left, but it will be manageable, and you will be open to receiving the relationship you deserve!

Sources of Clutter

Invisible clutterClutter is a huge problem for many of us, and it gets in the way of having happy, healthy, and fulfilling relationships.  While we try to keep much of it hidden, clutter has a sneaky way of finding its way into our lives and wreaking havoc when we least expect it!  As much as we push it back down, it keeps pushing its way to the surface and makes itself known in conflicts with others in our lives and turmoil within our own minds.  So where is all this clutter coming from?  Well, we create more of it every day we are alive.  It is how we deal with it and what we do with it that is the key to not allowing it to rule our relationships and thought processes.

Couple ArguingPast Relationships

Past relationships are a big source of clutter that prevents us from having good relationships now.  I am sure you are a lot like me in that you were hurt really badly by someone you were in a relationship with.  Did you work through the inner turmoil that it left in your head?  Did you jump right into a new relationship without processing the pain?  If you jumped into a relationship, more than likely there will be some residual effects of the prior relationship.  I once went out on a date with a very nice man who could not stop talking about his ex-wife very negatively.  I am a firm believer in second chances because I realize not everyone is as comfortable as I am on a date, so I gave him a second chance.  On date number two, he did the exact same thing!  If this ever happens to you, run for the hills!!!  This guy seriously needs to get over the anger he feels toward his ex-wife before he steps into a new relationship.  His anger toward his ex will play a part in any relationship he has until he deals with it.  And trust me, you cannot help him!!  This is something he needs to take care of himself.

Another type of relationship clutter is how a previous partner made us feel about ourselves.  I am sure everyone knows at least one women in a relationship with a man who insists she look a certain way.  This creates insecurities for the woman and eventually she may even believe she is not good enough without looking that way.  As women, we all feel insecure about our looks at times.  We do not need help finding fault with our looks!  If you ever start dating someone who comments on your looks and it is not a compliment, go the other way!  If you are happy with you, do not allow anyone to take that away from you!  Each and every one of us deserves to be loved for who we are – not who someone wants us to be!

Women ArguingFriends

We all have friends who seem to have it all.  It seems like life and relationships just flow to them and they never have to work at anything.  More than likely, they have things in their lives we do not see, but we think it is all a bed of roses for them when their reality may be quite different.  This may make some people feel insecure or feel like there is something wrong with them because their lives are not like this.  Don’t believe the hype!  You never know the real story unless you live it.  Do not compare yourself to your friends because we all travel different roads to get to our destinations.  While we mostly do this to ourselves, there are times when our friends can be brutally honest and make us feel very insecure about ourselves.  As women, our friends are very dear to us, but they can also hurt us in ways they many times do not even realize.

Cluttered-Mind-ARTFamily and Our Individual Histories

While most of us have families that are a source of comfort and peace, others may not.  Even in the most ideal family situations there is a family dynamic that can create havoc in our minds and affect our future relationships.  It goes without saying that traumatic childhoods involving abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, violence and a myriad of other things will definitely create mental clutter for the person who has lived through it.  If you have been through trauma as a child, as I have, my suggestion would be to deal with that prior to trying to date.  While I am no expert in this field, I know from personal experience the mental clutter this creates and the problems that arise as an adult seeking a “normal” relationship.  The fact is that even if we seem fine to our peers, many times there is a lot of mental clutter we have that stands in the way of happiness and finding Mr. Maybe.  In fact, many times we end up with Mr. Wrong because of this kind of clutter.  For this reason, as I suggested before, we need to spend time alone and really deal with these issues. Even with good family relationships, people sometimes take on roles in the family that carry over into their dating and love relationships (caregiver, problem solver, etc.).  The result of us not dealing with the clutter is that we end up going in circles and never getting to our destination in dating.  I challenge everyone to look into their own lives and find that clutter that is holding you back from getting to your destination in dating!  We need to get off this wheel!!!

Spinning Your Wheels

How Much Clutter Do You Have?

Clutter2What is clutter?  Merriam Webster defines clutter as “a crowded or confused mass or collection.”  So what does that have to do with dating?  A LOT!  While most of us think of clutter as something we have in our home, what we may not realize is that we all carry around mental and emotional clutter – the collection of  life experiences that clogs our brains and prevents us from moving forward with our lives in a healthy way.  Think about it this way – what often happens in the home of someone who has a lot of clutter?  They tend to become complacent and the clutter starts to accumulate.  This can happen in our brains, also, if we are not paying attention.

In verb form, to clutter means “to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.” With this definition, it is easy to see how clutter would prevent us from successfully finding the right person for us.  Our brains can be scattered and disordered, which prevents us from moving forward to the right person.  Did you ever notice that some people date people who are very similar to a previous partner?  The same issues arise in the new relationship as they did in previous relationships.  Well, this is because they are not moving forward and are stuck in their own clutter.  Having a lot of clutter absolutely reduces our effectiveness in finding the right partner because there is no room in our brains to properly process the reality of the other person.  Our brains contain so much chaos, excess, and frustration, and it overwhelms us to come to the right conclusion because we cannot even find room in our heads for all the information we need to make that decision.

Clutter Cloud

So what is all this clutter that is clogging our senses and making us unable to logically find the right person?  Some of it is baggage from our past and emotional baggage we gain throughout our lives and have never dealt with.  Some of it is from our daily lives, which tend to be a lot busier than they were a few decades ago.  We are so busy today with so much on our plates, we rarely take the time to assess all the “stuff” we are carrying around that is preventing us from living our fullest lives.  Some never even give this a thought.

I know when I was younger, I never realized all the emotional baggage I carried from my childhood.  It took me until well into my 30’s to understand it all and where it all came from.  But once we realize that it is there and what form it takes, we need to understand it and recognize exactly how it is manifesting itself into our lives today.  Some of us may need to seek professional help to really get to the core, but if that is not an option, understanding that it is there will at least help some.  I challenge you to assess what your clutter is.  Write it down!  If you are not finding the relationship you want, more than likely you are carrying around some kind of clutter that is preventing you from finding what you need!  It is important that you take time to really be alone and honestly assess the emotional clutter that is preventing you from living a happy life.  You only have things to gain by truly understanding what is blocking you from your dream of a healthy and fulfilling relationship!  Throw as much of the clutter out the door as you can!  There may be some left, but we will explore that. too!

It Starts With You!

Pointing FingerIf you are like me, when you were younger you dreamed of a time when you would meet the right man and he would sweep you off your feet, and life would be great!  Well, that is the image of life that we are sold when we are young, but the truth is that for the vast majority of us, that is not what actually happens.  Many of us aspire to this, but in our quest for the ideal, many of us do not stop, step back and really evaluate ourselves.

While I am NOT a professional relationship counselor, I have learned some things from my own mistakes and would like to share what I have learned.  I am not saying this applies to every person out there, but I am simply giving my observations and assessment.  Before we can be truly happy in a relationship, we need to know who we really are.  What are our likes and dislikes?  What do we really stand for and what do we want to stand for?  What are the things that make us happy, or make us sad?  If this is not enough, most of us carry some kind of clutter from our childhoods that prevents us from finding and keeping truly satisfying relationships.

I made the unfortunate mistake of getting married very young.  I did not really know who I was, and was certainly in no position to be there for someone else.  Of course, that did not end well, but I learned a lot!  I realized that while my age said I was an adult, my brain did not.  I did not even know who I was when I got married!  As a matter of fact, it took me until I was in my mid 30s to even have a sense of what I stood for, and this still evolves every day!  Now I am not saying that most people take this long.  I seem to have gotten off to a slow start in this area.  However, it is important we know who we are before we decide who we want to be with!

What I found to be super helpful is actually NOT dating!  Spending time with yourself and doing the things that are important to you and enjoying life as you would like to really helps to establish a sense of self that will enable you to find a good partner for you!  If you are always in a relationship, as I was, you never get to figure out YOU!  I was always in a relationship, and doing the give and take that is involved, but never really finding ME!  It is not until I spent several years alone that I got some real clarity of who I am, who I want to be, and the type of man I would want in my life.  This is important because you can find the best guy out there, but if he does not fit into your life as you see it, you are compromising some of you to be in the relationship.  Is there a perfect fit?  Well, by our 40s, we all carry a lot on our plates, so it is safe to say that perfection is probably not reality.  However, if we take a real honest assessment of who we are, we have a much higher chance of finding who we want to be with!  Let’s take that journey!

Let’s have fun with this!

Blog Main ImageThis blog is for all those who find themselves dating at a time when  they thought they would be settled down and never have to think about this again!  While dating at any age can be challenging and frustrating at times, dating in your 40’s and beyond has unique challenges.  I invite readers to share their thoughts and experiences and get the conversation going!  The main focus of this blog will be finding the right person, not the nuances after a relationship has been established.

Let’s face it, by the time we get to our 40’s we all have some horror stories about dating.  Unfortunately, are we get older, it is harder to meet single people in a natural setting.  With many relying on dating web sites, it is no wonder so many of us are frustrated!  Who has not arrived for a date and not been able to locate the person they are to meet because they look nothing like the picture of the person we thought we were meeting!

Have you already given up on finding Mr. Maybe?  That’s right, I did NOT say Mr. Right.  At this age, I am not sure there is such a thing as Mr. Right, but Mr. Maybe is definitely out there!  I say Mr. Maybe because by our 40’s we have already established lives, careers, habits, and baggage (and yes, we ALL have baggage of some kind).  Even when we find that special someone who seems like the perfect match, our already established lives can get in the middle of a relationship and create all kinds of challenges we would not have had in our earlier dating years.  Let’s have fun with this subject!  After all, isn’t dating in your 40’s sometimes a comedy?  We have to laugh and enjoy our lives, so let’s do it together!