“James, I want you to fix me.”
I was taken aback. She explained:
“I want you to tell me everything I’m doing wrong. I want to know the right way to do it. I’ll change, and then I’ll finally meet the right man. I just know everything will work out once I know what’s wrong with me.”
I sat in silence for a moment. This woman was attractive, friendly, and confident. She had a decent career and good people skills.
“Okay,” I said. “Tell me what you think is wrong with you.”
She pulled out a list. She’d had it since New Year’s Eve, when she spent a few hours thinking hard about her life and what was stopping her from having the life she wanted.
She read it out loud to me. The list included being too nice, too talkative, too naïve, and falling in love too fast. She also considered it a problem that she was too heavy around the hips and thighs, was starting to show her age and didn’t know how to dress for dates.
“Can you fix me?” she asked again. “I’m tired of going through life like this.”
“No,” I said.
She looked shocked. “But why? Am I too far gone?”
Then I told her what I’m going to tell you now.
Each flaw we think we have is a beautiful imperfection.
Brené Brown has a wonderful book, The Gifts of Imperfection, in which she writes that wholehearted living requires us to stand up and proclaim:
“Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”
We often think we must fix every place we are imperfect or broken to stand a chance at love. Men are no different. We all want to hide the places we feel vulnerable so that the opposite sex only sees the shine and polish of a perfect potential mate.
The ironic thing is…
It is those places in which we are vulnerable, imperfect or wounded that endear us to the right mate.
Imperfection is endearing. It’s beautiful in its own way. The Japanese have a phrase for it: “wabi sabi,” or the beauty of that which is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
From a masculine perspective, the feminine is always flawless.
A woman thinks she’s showing her age around her eyes. A man sees a smiling woman with a twinkle in her eye.
A woman sees a few extra pounds around the hips and thighs. A man sees an hourglass figure.
A woman spends hours selecting the right outfit for a date. A man sees a nicely-dressed woman.
It’s hard for women to see themselves as men do. If a woman is friendly, nice, confident and chatty, then a man feels good in her company. He’s not noticing all the 1001 mistakes she thinks she’s making. He’s just there, with her, enjoying the experience of her.
And here’s the real saboteur. It’s her thinking that results in a bad feeling. Her feeling that she must be doing something wrong.
Maybe they say goodbye, and she immediately notices he didn’t ask for her number. She berates herself for coming on too strong. She feels depressed, goes home, and eats a pint of ice cream in front of the television. Meanwhile, he’s strolling home with a spring in his step, feeling happy because he enjoyed himself talking with an attractive woman.
Everything is perception.
“Why do your flaws have to be fixed for you to have a chance with men?” I asked my client. “Perhaps, if you could learn to love your imperfections, a man could, too.”
She nodded slowly. I could tell she wasn’t convinced.
“Perhaps,” I told her, “trying to be perfect is what is pushing men away. A man needs to know you’re not perfect in order to be imperfect around you.”
We all need permission before we can show our true selves around others.
The easiest way to give someone permission to be authentic is to let down your guard first. Stand in your imperfection. No need for apologies, humility or self-effacement. Simply be who you are, even if that’s not who you think he wants.
It’s incredible how fast people connect when they drop their defenses early in a relationship. They get to know each other at a deeper level. As a result, they can make better informed decisions about whether a romantic relationship is possible.
The chink in the armor is where the light gets through.