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Done with Being Single

INTERVIEW: Done With Being Single – Experts Reveal Their Secrets To Finding & Keeping Love

Done With Being Single – Experts Reveal Secrets To Finding & Keeping Love
Interview with Kavita Patel
September 2012
New York City

PATEL: So, you wrote this beautiful article for Elle magazine called the Guinea Pig of Love: Lessons Learned and please [directs to viewer] check that out, Google it, read it.  [To Julia] So, you have been dating for a decade, can you tell us a little about that?

ALLISON:  Actually, a little bit over a decade. I had my first date when I was fourteen and I am thirty-one now — so, that’s a lot of dates. I actually have an Excel worksheet I write them all down.  [laughs]

PATEL: Oh my god, I love it!

ALLISON:  Yeah, it’s really sad.  I had gotten to this place in my life where I really felt as if it wasn’t going to happen for me.  I just wasn’t going to find this guy.  I had dated such a wide cross-section of people that I felt that I had seen everything there was to see.  Which, I mean, I don’t even know if that’s humanly possible but in as much as . . .

PATEL:  It felt like that.

ALLISON: Exactly. In as much as anyone could reasonably date in one lifetime, I felt like I had done it. And I just thought, well, I guess I’m going to have to freeze my eggs — I’m not even kidding, I really thought this — and prepare for a life of having a dog and a baby of my own and a house full of pink, because there’s no man to tell me to get rid of it.  I had resigned myself to that.  But right before I did resign myself, I went though a series of challenges. I wrote about it for Elle and I called it the Guinea Pig of Love series.  I had read every self-help book there was on the subject and I had talked to all my girlfriends, who are not the    most . . . I love my girlfriends but they’re not certified love coaches.  Be careful of that, by the way! [laughs]

So I decided that I was going to try some unconventional methods, some unconventional experts.  I tried everything from a Tarot card reader, to a Mind Architect, to a Love Coach, to a Pleasure Expert. Oh god, I tried everything.  And what happened was really remarkable.  I realized two things. First, I had no idea what I was doing.  Despite the fact that I had been writing about dating professionally for ten years, I actually didn’t realize I wasn’t as honest with myself as I think I should have been, or could have been, about how my behavior was affecting my relationships.  I was very good at getting a date, but keeping a relationship healthy I wasn’t good at.  And then the second thing I realized, was that the most important thing in many of our lives — well I would actually argue the most important thing in life, are our relationships.

PATEL: I would say the same exact thing.  They are the most important thing.  Like essentially at the end of your lifetime, you know, I hate to bring up death but . . . at the end of life, when you think back at everything you have accomplished and done, what stays with you is the relationships and the power of those relationships in your life.  Right?  And everything stems from there.  You know, how you feel, how you look, what you believe, how satisfied you’ve lived your life.

ALLISON:  Exactly. I was thinking relationships are the most important factor in our happiness, and yet we have no one to help us excel at them. Yet we go about our lives and we have a doctor for our health, and we have a mechanic for our cars, and we have an eyebrow waxer for our eyebrows, and a hairstylist for our hair, and a trainer for our bodies, but we don’t have anyone who coaches us on love?  This is deeply confusing!  I don’t know of any subject anywhere that anyone can do without coaching.  You go to the Olympics — they all have coaches!  There isn’t one Olympian who is like, “No-no-no, I got this! I don’t need any of your [motions quotation marks with fingers] help!”  You know there aren’t people like that!  NBA stars — they have coaches!  Everyone who wants to be really good at something has a coach! I decided I was not happy with sub-par relationships, so I threw myself at the feet of some pretty exemplary coaches.

PATEL:  Yeah, and I want to get into that in a moment.  And I really want, because there’s so many women out there that are sitting there like, “Oh well of course, you’re beautiful…”

ALLISON: [laughs]

PATEL:  You can find, you know, you can be on so many dates and you know have a lot of dates— I know you just mentioned you had a lot of dates but weren’t able to maintain relationships — but there was a deep sense for you around feeling undeserving of love right?

ALLISON: Yes.

PATEL: Can you tell us about that?

ALLISON: Well, first of all, my adolescence was awkward at best and [pauses] horrific at worst, I suppose you could say.  I felt incredibly unattractive, really dorky.  I just didn’t like the way I looked.  And I felt like I was never going to get a boyfriend.  Now, the truth is I actually always had boyfriends — real geeks, but at every point in my life I think I was loved more than I loved myself.  Sorry to sound really cheesy but . . .

PATEL:   What do you mean by that though?

ALLISON:  I would look in the mirror, you know, honestly even in my twenties I did this.  Sometimes even now I still do this.  I look in the mirror and just find everything wrong with me.  It’s not that hard to do!

PATEL: We all do it.

ALLISON:  Right — everyone does it.  And one of the things I went through when I was younger, even in my twenties; I got rejected all the time.  So my theory on this was just — if you’ve ever taken a lot of photographs, you’ll know this.  You take two photographs and you hate both of them.  But you take twenty and you get one photograph you really like!  And then you post that one photograph and everyone thinks you’re photogenic, but the truth is you’re not photogenic!  You just took twenty photographs!  That is how I feel about dating.

PATEL:  That’s a great analogy.

ALLISON:  It’s not that I got so many dates!  It’s that I tried twenty times and I succeeded maybe four of those times.  I got rejected the other sixteen times.  I really did.  In fact, I have been dumped more than everyone I know.  I’ve also gone out on more dates than anyone I know.  So it’s sort of a . . .

PATEL:  The ratio is the same.

ALLISON:  And I don’t think getting dates is as hard as people make it out to be.   I honestly don’t.  I truly mean this when I say this: if you take care of yourself in terms of your health and you try a little, or even sometimes not at all – that’s enough. Men love that!  They honestly just like a friendly person.  I always say, the biggest mistake women can make in dating, to get a date specifically, is to decide that it’s too hard.  I hear this all the time.  New York City is such a hard city to date in.  LA is such a hard city to date in.  San Francisco is such a hard city to date in.  People say this about every single city!  Well, it’s not possible that every city is a hard city.  Because in every city, someone is dating and someone is getting married.  So, I don’t buy it!

I have been to every city and I’ve dated in every city.  Here is the big determiner of whether you find it hard to date in that city: if you decide it’s hard to date and if you act as if it’s hard to date.  If you walk down the street in New York City, and you’re frowning and you have your iPod earbuds in and you have your sunglasses on and you’re looking at the ground . . . are you going to get asked out?  No!

PATEL: No.

ALLISON: But if you smile and talk to people?  I can’t even tell you how many dates I’ve gotten because I started the conversation.  I didn’t say, “Hey, would you go out with me and possibly propose to me in six to twelve months?”

PATEL: [laughs]

ALLISON:  I just said, “Hi,” in a really friendly way.  Men are so tired of getting rejected themselves that a lot of the time they don’t want to ask you out until you give them a small sign that you might actually go out with them.

PATEL: Yeah, that’s great.  So, I want to hit upon this first: the biggest thing is if you just make the choice to look around and smile.  It doesn’t even mean because a lot of women are like, “I’m just waiting for them to approach me,” “I’m old fashioned, I’m old fashioned, and I’m waiting for them to approach me.”  I’m like — it doesn’t matter!  You don’t have to do that.  It’s not required.  I don’t like that game or that rule.  Whoever made that up a long time ago, it’s total crap, and . . .

ALLISON: You have to give men some sort of bud of hope that they won’t be shot down.  Because, how would you like it every single time you asked someone out, they metaphorically chopped off your balls!

PATEL: That’s true!

ALLISON:  I mean, you’re going to have a Pavlovian response of [hand gestures].  You’re not going to want to do it!  So, I think a lot of women underestimate the friendly thing.  I swear to God this works.  And here’s the other thing that I find works: I tell everyone I’m single when I’m single.  Everyone.  I don’t have any shame about it.  There’s nothing wrong with being single.

PATEL: There isn’t.

ALLISON:  There isn’t something wrong with you.  For whatever reason, the universe has decided that that person hasn’t come into your path yet.  So, what I have found is – and this is actually the reason why I met my current boyfriend and a lot of my boyfriends along the way – I mention to people, women, men, my mom’s friends, random strangers in the street . . . I’m not even kidding!

PATEL: I love it!

ALLISON: … at conferences.  “I’m single, if you know anyone.”  It’s so easy!  If. You. Know. Anyone.  Four words.  And then you just trail off like ‘wink, wink!’  It works all the time because they might not be your target, but they might know someone.  And actually usually they do.

PATEL:  They do!

ALLISON:  It’s worked for me!

PATEL: And you trigger that in someone else and they’re like “Oh! I didn’t know you were looking,” or “I didn’t think about that before.”  And then all of a sudden you plant that seed and they’re thinking about all the men they know.

ALLISON:  I have had people contact me weeks and months later with men they have thought about because I planted that seed of what I wanted.  Don’t underestimate the kindness of random strangers to set you up.  That’s how I met my boyfriend.

PATEL:  I love it! That’s how you met him?

ALLISON:  Mm-hmm.

PATEL:  Tell us a little about that.

ALLISON:  So, I had given up completely on being ever together with someone really special.  I actually had a seventy-three-point checklist which I talked about on my show and was much maligned on the Internet like, “That’s so ridiculous, how could you have a seventy-three-point check list, you’re so picky!”  But the truth is, I sat down and I really thought through what I needed in a partner.  And these weren’t things like, “Drives a red Corvette.”  They were things like: is kind, is honest, is authentic, and is physically attractive to me. [gestures to Patel] I had had some problems in the past where I dated guys who I didn’t want to sleep with.  Because I didn’t think I deserved that.

I realized, through the help of my love coach, that I had a worldview I wasn’t even necessarily conscious of.  I could either have a guy that I was attracted to but he didn’t really love me or treat me well, or I could have a guy that treated me well and loved me, but I never wanted to sleep with him.  And those were the kinds of guys I dated.  I had a pattern.  I would alternate, one to the other, one to the other.  And I just never could merge those two.  What my love coach discovered for me is that all of this was based in a dearth of self-esteem stemming from my adolescence.  That I didn’t deserve to have everything I wanted in a man.  That I was never going to find it and that I had to compromise on some essential level with what I wanted.  And I will tell you, true story, my boyfriend is every single thing on my checklist.  It gives me goose bumps.
PATEL:  I have to give you a high five for that. [High fives Julia]

ALLISON:  Thank you!

PATEL:  I want you to also tell the difference between a checklist that a normal person may go through like, “I want an MBA grad, somebody that came from Harvard who makes a million dollars . . .”

ALLISON:  No, no, no!

PATEL:  Tell the difference.

ALLISON:  Ok, so there are two big things to realize.  The first is that your checklist can’t be an arbitrary collection of characteristics that you think might make you happy.  It’s almost looking at the end product of things and writing down that instead.  So “What is their exact job” and “What kinds of suits do they wear?”  These things are not important.

PATEL:  They’re not.

ALLISON:  But what is important are their internal characteristics.  I’m trying to figure out a great way of explaining this.  It’s almost as if you drilled down … hmm — O.K. here’s a good example: I thought that getting a TV show would make me happy.  No, it did not.  It did not!  What I really wanted to do was to influence people.  So, was the TV show the right way to do that? [Shrugs] I mean I don’t know.  Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.

PATEL:  But you put yourself out there.

ALLISON:  The key is to figure out what your core goals are.  What truly makes you happy; not what do you think makes you happy.  You might say, “Oh no, they are the same things!” Maybe, but I doubt it. They weren’t for me.

PATEL:  They’re not for a lot of people.  I think the distinction you’re making was that your checklist was almost like, “How do I feel with this person.”

ALLISON:  Thank you.  I was having a hard time describing because it’s hard to delineate.  There were a lot of men I dated who had all the characteristics on my checklist when I was, say, a college student— back then I wanted to be part of a power couple — there were all these things that I wanted, that I thought were important in a relationship. And they weren’t.

PATEL: I want to be whisked away on a private jet.

ALLISON:  [whispers] Yes, I had that.

PATEL:  [laughs]

ALLISON:  As it turned out, I tried all those things out that I thought I wanted.  There’s some value to trying out things that you think you want.  But then pay attention!  Are you really happy?  I am an entrepreneur and I have complete freedom with my schedule, which is very important to me, but the guy I dated before my boyfriend was in the military! You can’t get any more tied up than that in terms of schedule.  No freedom whatsoever!  I loved him, but it doesn’t matter because the kind of life that I wanted wasn’t compatible with him.

PATEL: Didn’t match.

ALLISON:  So, that’s the kind of thing where I see people running into these huge roadblocks, because they haven’t thought, “What kind of life do you want with someone?”  Not “Is he going to be a great boyfriend,” but “Is he going to be a great partner for you?”

PATEL:  And there’s a balance factor there too, right?

ALLISON:  Right.

PATEL:  I love that.  So you found a person that met everything on your checklist.  But your checklist was everything you wanted to feel with this man.  Everything you wanted to create with him in terms of a lifestyle, right?  Which is amazing.  I love that you’re saying this because a lot of people know what they want and they say, “Well, I know what I want, why can’t I have it?”  Or like, “I’ve created a list, I’ve done law of attraction, I’ve done that work but it’s not coming in.”  That’s the difference.

ALLISON:  Well, here’s the second big thing that I learned.  I do think its valuable to come up with a checklist of things that you feel are really important in your partner . . . the ways you want to feel with them, what values you want them to embody.  But you have to have two things after that.

The first thing is that you have to have enough self esteem — or whatever you want to call it — to know that you deserve that.  But, the second thing is a little tougher.  You have to be the woman that that man would want to be with.  And that was where things really changed for me.  My love coach Annie Lalla said to me, “Are you right now the kind of woman that this [hand gestures] man,” (because at that point he was imaginary) “would want?”  And I never thought about it that way! All I would think about was, “What do I want?  Where is what I want?” I was very self-centered.

So I switched my paradigm and I thought about it from this imaginary future partner’s perspective. I thought about who I was as a person: low self esteem, didn’t respect myself enough, all of these things . . . I hated my body, wasn’t comfortable with sex . . . a lot of other issues. . . perfectionist.  Why would he want to be with someone like that?  Now, it’s not to say that you have to be perfect.  You wouldn’t want your man to be perfect.  Even your perfect man isn’t perfect!  But you have to start thinking, “Okay, who am I?” and . . .

PATEL: “How am I doing?” and “How do I feel strong in who I am?”  And I want to go back to two things.  One is: women are going out there — and you seem to have this way about you so I want you to impart your wisdom around it — but how did you go out from date after date getting rejections, getting some yeses, but having a lot of rejections . . . How did you keep going?  Because a lot of women, they get one rejection and they’re done, you know.  And a lot of us are!  And it makes sense because it’s hurtful.  It hurts! Right?  So how did you keep going?

ALLISON:  I am a cockroach.  I have literally been called this before. I just keep going. But I’ve cried a lot.

PATEL:  A beautiful cockroach.

ALLISON:  I honestly cry a lot.  More tears than anyone I know.  I hit what felt like rock bottom romantically so many times. I would get to this place after a particularly bad breakup, or frankly – even rejections after two or three dates can be oddly painful.  I used to call them “paper cuts on my heart.”  A tiny little cut that shouldn’t hurt and yet because it’s cut after cut after cut after cut, you’re just like, “What is wrong with me?”

So, this is how I got through it.  One: I allowed myself to grieve after every single rejection.  Everyone says, “Oh, you shouldn’t be so heartbroken, you only dated him for four months,” or “You shouldn’t be so heartbroken – you went out on, what, four dates with him?”  It’s a rejection.  Allow yourself to grieve.  And then you can continue.  Part of the grieving process is that you get over it at a certain point.  But you only get over it if you allow yourself to grieve.  You don’t if you internalize it into this hardened ball or put on armor or  build walls — which I see a lot of women doing.  And I did this too, frankly.  I built up the walls. Walls are not attractive!

PATEL:  They’re not.  They’re not.  They push people away.  I mean that’s what a wall is.

ALLISON:  That’s exactly right.  You have to just know that it’s okay to be really devastated to get through it.  Because every single time I went through something like this, I would wake up day after day and I knew one day I would wake up and it would feel a little better.  And the next day, a little better than that.  And then you know that day that you have after a breakup —  maybe it’s three months down the line, maybe it’s six, I don’t know how long it takes.  Maybe it’s a month! And you’re like, “Oh my god! I feel like a human being again!”  And you feel better than you ever felt even when you were in the relationship!  And you think about all the things you can do now that you’re not with him! And then inevitably, I swear to God the second you feel like that . . . that’s when that new man comes along.

PATEL:  Yes, that is right.

ALLISON:  It’s because they can smell it.   They can smell it!  They’re like, “She’s happy.  I want it.  I want a part of that.”

PATEL:  Yeah, because a man ultimately doesn’t want to engage with a woman where he feels like he has to do all of it.  He wants to take on your happiness.  He does.  He willingly wants to do that.  But he doesn’t want to take on all your emotional stuff and your happiness and all of that at the same time.  Then they’re like overwhelmed and they’re like, “Whoa, you’ve got to take care of that for yourself.  I’m here to provide and I want to be there you, but I can’t do all of that.”

ALLISON:  See, you make a really incredible point.  Men . . .  [pauses] One of the things that I have learned is if they come to a situation where you are suffering somewhat — they can take on a little bit of that.  But the truth is, you really need to be in a good place, more or less.  And then down the line when you’ve established the relationship, then if something happens, he’ll be there to take care of you.  But the beginning it’s tough.  And I think that women don’t realize this, but you can’t fake it, unfortunately.  I’ve tried.  And that’s what [the 1995 bestseller] The Rules is about.  The rules are actually . . . basically, what the authors did was take a happy woman and reverse engineer her behaviors. They figured out what a happy, self-sufficient, just in love with life kind of woman would do, and then they wrote down all those things that a woman would do like, “forget to call you back,” you know . . .

PATEL: Not seem so available . . .

ALLISON:  Right!  She’s so busy having an awesome life!  The problem with that is (and they’re not wrong, by the way, about the symptoms) but the thing they don’t say is that men can sniff it out if you’re faking it! They can.  If you try to outsmart them, you will fail every time.  So don’t try to do that.  It will save you a lot of time if you just don’t try to do that.  If you’re having trouble exhibiting those symptoms of happiness, then you really have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what’s going on in your own life.

PATEL:  Yeah, you can’t fake that.  That is huge! I love that you’re saying that because a lot of people are trying to fake it.  They’re like, “Well, I tried that and it’s not working!”

ALLISON:  Well, here’s the other thing.  People kept saying to me, you should just be happy on your own.  You know, I will tell you what is true: I am happier with him.  That is not a question. I just am.  However, I am happier with him in the healthiest way.  I’ve had relationships where I’m very codependent on needing the self-esteem injections, almost like a vitamin boost every day.  That was my last relationship; I needed it all the time.  With this guy, I am genuinely happier with him.  But it’s not this clingy, clawing, needy happiness.  It’s like, “Oh my god, life is better with a partner!”  Anything is better with a partner! You can do more with a partner!  He can boost you up and you can boost him up.

PATEL:  I say all the time . . . my husband is like the foundation to the platform of a trampoline from which I achieve even bigger and better things in my life.

ALLISON:  Yes! That’s how I feel about my man. And I think that’s considered to be un-pc now to say that.  Which I find disturbing — because it’s just true.  The other point I would make about this is I try to envision it as: almost think of yourself as a daily special, or a deal or a value add.  What are you going to add to his life?  I know that with my boyfriend, I add so much to his life.

PATEL:  O.K. so now you’re in this relationship where you feel like you’re in a powerful place.  So, what was the shift for you?  I know you did all this work.  You worked with a love coach, you worked with witches, you worked with tarot card readers . . . Tell us a little about that and what was the thing that shifted for you?  And there may be multiple things, but what was one of the biggest things?

ALLISON:  The biggest thing was I had lost hope.  And I couldn’t believe that I had lost hope.  I happened to be an empirically optimistic person.  I came out of college with this sort of big idea of how my life was going to go.  I was engaged, and I broke off the engagement.  Then I embarked upon a series of relationships, a couple of which were actually pretty good, but I wasn’t ready for them as a woman.

And then at the age of twenty-six I got out of my last long term relationship and thought I would just try things out, date around.  And at the end of “trying things out” at thirty, I was a shell of my former optimistic self.  I turned into a bitch, frankly.  Because I just thought, “Great, you’re probably going to hurt me, this isn’t going to work out.” I’d even say that, early on.  I’d be like, “This will last a month.”  And the guy is thinking, “Uh, okay, I guess.”  I had just gotten very brittle.

When I was twenty-three and I was dating these older guys, guys a decade or so older, I remember asking them why they would want to date a twenty-three year old.  (By the way, I just still don’t get it.)  And they said, “Well, the women our age are hardened and they’re angry!”  To men they’ve never even met before!  Men who’ve never even done anything to them!  And I remember at twenty-three not understanding that, and now at thirty-one I get it.  On a visceral level I understand that anger and that deep sadness.

I was heartbroken and I didn’t know how to reclaim that optimism.  My love coach told me, “Every cynic is a failed idealist.”  I really was an idealist and I thought my Prince Charming was going to come along and I just had to wait and not do anything.  And the truth is, that wasn’t the case.  I really did have to work for it.  Going through the therapy that I went though was key. And it really was therapy, albeit unconventional therapy, but it was therapy nonetheless.  In fact, I think it was far more effective than traditional therapy.

PATEL:  Absolutely agree, yeah.

ALLISON:  It was work!  It was the hardest work I’ve ever done, I think. Because it involved me going to places that I did not want to look at.  I didn’t want to look at my childhood.  I didn’t want to look at how my parents influenced my models for what a relationship is.  I didn’t want to look at my past relationship behavior.

PATEL:  Ok, so I’m going to stop you right there.  One of the biggest things I teach about is really what you’re bringing to the table to these dates every time is all of this stuff of how you see men from your parents.  And how you see relationships from what their relationship looked like.  So what did you discover about that?  I really wanted to focus in on that.

ALLISON:  So, I discovered I was modeling, in many ways, my parent’s relationship. Now, they’re happily married since 1978, so in some ways that was good, but in others, it wasn’t quite right for me. For example, my mom is a very strong woman and . . . without getting into it too much . . . I was dominating men, for lack of a better term.  And as it turns out that’s not very sexy.  Not just for them, but frankly, for me too.  I wasn’t achieving the proper balance of feminine and masculine energies.  That’s not to say that a woman can’t put on her masculine and go out into the work world and kill it.  But as I got older, I developed my masculine more and more.  And if you think about the masculine energy as being an energy that gets stuff done, accomplishes things, is direct, is forceful, is just very direct. I had gotten very sarcastic and rather cutting with my humor.  Whereas the feminine is open, warm, loving, nurturing, loves music and dance . . . Just in general, okay?  I’m not . . .

PATEL:  Yeah, these are general categories.

ALLISON:  Generalizations. And men and women both have both of these energies in them.  I was putting forth this intense masculine energy that was basically completely emasculating all the men I was going out with.  And I also then wasn’t feeling taken care of or feeling sexually attracted to them . . .

PATEL:  Because you were taking care of them constantly.

ALLISON:  Yeah, I was being a mom to them.  Not sexy.

PATEL:  Who wants a mom?  Another mom?

ALLISON:  No one!  They didn’t want a mom and frankly, I didn’t want to be a mom.  That’s not to say that you can’t be sweet and take care of him when he needs it . . . like my boyfriend got sick a couple weeks ago.  I love taking care of him in that situation, so it’s not 100% of the time.  But in general . . .

PATEL:  But you see him as your partner, your equal.  You’re not looking at him as if like, “I need to save him.”

ALLISON:  Right, that’s exactly right.  And I was doing that with other guys.   I was trying to metaphorically arm wrestle them.

PATEL:  And in your parents relationship?

ALLISON:  My mom is very, very strong.  That was what I was bringing into my relationships.

PATEL:  Just to drill down a bit, you admired your mom for being strong.

ALLISON:  Oh, yeah!  I completely admire my mother for being strong and I admire my father for being sweet and kind.  By the way, nothing wrong with either of those.  It’s just not quite the relationship that I wanted.  It wasn’t giving me the relationship that I wanted.  I can’t speculate as to what my parents want – I think they want what they have!  But I know I want a man who I feel is stronger than me, or at least as strong as me.  And what I was doing was I was trying to test him, (not a good idea), to see how strong he was.  I would set up these tests . . . like I would insult him through sarcasm.  You know, I thought I was being funny.  And the guys would just be like “I’d hire you,” “I’d hang with you.”  Or they’d want to be friends with me.  But they didn’t want to marry me.

PATEL:  Yeah.  So, what was the belief that you had that kind of shifted things?  And I know you worked with a love coach so was that the thing that had the biggest impact?

ALLISON:  My love coach was amazing. And even, hysterically, the witches were really helpful.  I used them all as coaches.  So, I did energy work, I did a lot of healing yoga.  Jena’s Pleasure Camp actually was really big for me.  Because one of the other huge issues I had was that I was not okay with pleasure. I was raised in a Protestant work ethic household where you work.  You’re not really encouraged to play.  That was a huge barrier to me enjoying my relationships.  Who wants to be with Miss Stress-a-Thon? No one wants to be with that!  Frankly, I don’t want to be with that.

But I was putting forth this, “I must work all the time and be perfect and be powerful and strong and never let go . . .” and then I would inevitably fall apart because you cannot be like that all the time.  And the guy would be like, “What just happened?”  So, from Jena’s Pleasure Camp I learned that men need a safe harbor for their sexuality.  And that I wasn’t actually comfortable with sex.  Which, by the way, was not something that I knew.  I thought I was fine with sex!  Then I found from my love coach, Annie, that I need to come to terms with my patterns and trying to break those patterns.

PATEL:  Because what I’m seeing is you rejected your parent’s relationship.  Okay.  If I were to ask you: did you reject it a lot, or did you put it on a pedestal?  What did you do?  If you could put a percentage on it.

ALLISON:  I think I put it up on a pedestal.  And because it wasn’t the right relationship for me, I kept running into this problem.  Because I would recreate their relationship and I’d be like, “This doesn’t feel right . . .” then I would destroy it.  And then my parents — I mean they cried when I left my fiancé, who was very much like my father.  You know, my parents live in the same house I grew up in, they lead a very steady, very stable, very “normal” life . . . It’s just not me!   It’s just not who I am.  But they absolutely love each other and I was like, well, my parents are happily married and I want to be like that!  But if I recreated that relationship, it’s not right for me.

PATEL:  For you, right.  And you didn’t know you were doing that.  It was not conscious.

ALLISON:  Not conscious at all.

PATEL:  I kind of rejected my parent’s relationship.  But when you put them up on a pedestal, this is what I see.  We recreate that.  And then you’re like,  “wait, I want more than that,” or different . . .

ALLISON:  I’m glad you brought this up because here is the other thing that happened that was crucial.  I stood up at a conference my love coach happened to be attending; this is how I met her, actually.  And I said to a hundred plus people, “If you know anyone, I’m single.”  And by the way this was not a love conference.  So, it was mildly inappropriate.  But, I got a couple dates out of it [smiles].

Anyway, my now love coach came up to me and she said, “I don’t think you really want to get married.” And I said, “I absolutely do!  Are you kidding?  I’ve been working on this the last three years, I definitely want to get married.”  And she said, “No, you don’t.”  And I said, “Why do you think that?”  And she said, “Because you would be married if you wanted to get married.”  I said, “That seems rather circular and doesn’t make any sense to me.”  And she said, “There is something deep in you that you haven’t confronted yet that you are not willing to give up in order to get married.”  And I said, “Well, what would I be giving up, loneliness?” [laughs] And she said, “No, no, no, I think that there’s something else.  What is it that you value most highly?  Other than lack of loneliness?”  I said, “Well, I value my freedom, my independence, my ability to make autonomous decisions, my ability to travel at will,” … all these things I started listing and she said, “Mm-hmm.  Exactly!  What does marriage represent to you?  When you get married are you going to have to give up that stuff?”  And I started thinking, “Well, that’s what my parent’s marriage is . . . it’s very settled in one place.”

It had not occurred to me that I had created basically a Venn diagram where in these two circles there were no points of intersection.  So, of course I couldn’t get one set of the things I wanted!  Because in my head, in my belief system, it meant giving up another set of things I deeply wanted.  So, what she helped me do is realize that there is an intersection in my venn diagram, that I needed to create that overlap.  It doesn’t look like my parents marriage, but you can create your own rules!  This was a revelation to me!  ”I can create my own rules?  What are you talking about?”  And she’s like, “Yes! You can marry someone who will give you that freedom! You don’t necessarily have to settle down in one place.  You don’t necessarily have to have a 9 to 5 job.”  I was just…

PATEL:  Floored!

ALLISON:  Floored! Unbelievable.  It seems so obvious now, but it really wasn’t at the time.

PATEL:  And that released something for you.

ALLISON:  Oh, that was crucial.  Crucial!  Because all of a sudden, I thought, “Oh! Well maybe I can have a husband and freedom! Hmm!”

PATEL: Try that on for size!

ALLISON:  Yeah.  So that was just mine.  Yours may be something completely different.  But for me, that was what I wanted.  And I believe a lot of people have that . . .

PATEL:  That block. That thing they don’t want to give up but feel they have to because their parent’s relationship is their role model.  So, we think we have to give that up, but we don’t.

ALLISON:  And it was totally subconscious!  I did not realize.  I suppose it would work with anything that you want right?

PATEL:  Yes, absolutely.

ALLISON:  If you haven’t gotten it, and you’ve been trying for a while . . . there’s got to be another reason!  There has to be something you’re afraid of giving up, deep down.

PATEL:  Absolutely.  Awesome.

ALLISON:  You pulled that out of me! I had forgotten about that one! I’ve gone through so many limiting beliefs one by one.  Like, I’m in a jungle with a machete or something.  Which is what it feels like.  It feels like you’re in a jungle and you’re never going to reach that river or whatever you’re looking for.  And you can see trees all around you and you think, “I’m not going to make it through.”  But, you will. You will.  If you keep going you absolutely will.

PATEL:  Ok, and this is great! And Julia, you are amazing because you have so much wisdom around this and so much to share with women.  I think that’s where BRAVO’s Miss Advised came from and how much you had to share with women through that forum. And you continue to.  So, there were lots of nuggets in there.  [gestures toward viewers] Please take the two or three things that she said that really resonated with you and get into action around it!  Because we see this all the time.  If you’re not doing the work, if you’re not trying to really go through those areas where you don’t really want to go to sometimes, it’s going to be hard to find love.  So do that work.  Do that work.  And I think one of the big things that you were saying overall was to be the person that you want to date, essentially, right?

ALLISON:  Yeah, I like that!  Be the person you want to date.  That’s actually a great way of summarizing it.

PATEL:  And also, go deeper.  Go deeper.  It’s not just how you look, it’s not just how you feel.  Even if you’re just confident and you come to that date with that confidence, and you jazz yourself up . . . there’s more to it that you’re bringing to the table.

ALLISON:  Think about how you’re making him feel.   At the end of the day, as women we think so much about, “What do men think of us, what do men think of us?”  Think more, “how does he make you feel? Does he feel like a man around you?   Does he feel strong and smart and capable?  Do you believe in him?  Does he feel that you believe in him?”  All these things are important.  And I swear to God.  The most important thing is never, ever give up hope.

PATEL:  And you gave up hope but you kept going!  So, what I want them to get is keep going!

ALLISON:  Yes! You’re right. You can give up hope but keep going! Keep a small flame; like a pilot light! A pilot light of hope.  So, if someone comes along with a match, or a lighter they can light you up.  Just as long as you have that pilot light.

PATEL:  That’s right.  And keep going.  Keep going!  Don’t let the setbacks or the hurt . . . and we’ve all been through the hurt and it’s devastating . . . but grieve it!  And get back on the saddle.  So awesome.  Julia imparted so much great information to all of you and she has more to share.  She is a lovely writer.  She is amazing as you can see on camera and on through her videos.

ALLISON: Thank you!

PATEL:  So, where can they find you?

ALLISON:  You can find me in three places online.  Well, lots of places, [laughs] but three primary places. One is my website and that’s xojulia.com, the other is my twitter feed that’s @juliaallison, and you can find me on facebook.com/juliaallison.  [Smiles] Thank you again, Kavita. This has been an honor to share with your viewers.

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