Why Professional Success Doesn't Always Translate Into Romantic Success

You're smart, charming, accomplished, you know you're going places, yet something is missing. You've gone on blind dates and you're trying to keep up with the various dating apps, but it seems impossible to find someone who really gets you. Plus who has the time?

There are many reasons that professional success doesn't always translate into romantic success. Here are a few of the most common issues that may be getting in the way of finding your love-match:

1. You're trying to be perfect:

Most high-achieving professionals have this love-hate dynamics with perfectionism. While the goals and benchmarks are clear in your professional life (e.g., work at this company, nail the quarterly presentations, be mentored by so and so, etc.), in love, perfect is simply impossible. Not only is there no such thing as a perfect mate, the drive to be perfect could be getting in your way of finding love. It acts as a shield that makes it impossible to really see or reach you. In fact, the underlying message you're sending out is "Please approve of me." In trying to gain approval, you're hiding away all the traits and interests that make you relatable. Nothing about perfectionism says "I'm genuine, I'm open for the messiness that comes with love." 

2. You're afraid of vulnerability: 

Over the years (and I realize this may come across as a generalization), most of the my accomplished single clients had a deep fear of vulnerability. The pattern tends to be one of growing up with an emotionally absent parent (either physically absent or emotionally due to depression, addiction, etc.) and/or an overly critical parent (for whom nothing was ever good enough). This leaves a person in a constant state of anxiety around wanting to always be perceived as capable and tough as nails. Think of it as the shadow part of perfectionism. This defense mechanism may work wonders in your professional life ("I can take on any project you throw at me!"), but in love this can hinder finding or creating real intimacy. Vulnerability does not have to mean weakness. Vulnerability in terms of being open for love and belonging is actually a tremendous sign of strength. Even if you find a partner and get married, I promise you that until you can get comfortable with vulnerability, you will not have a truly satisfying intimate relationship. 

3. You're drawn to the familiar:

If you've grown up with an emotionally unavailable parent or one that sent the subliminal message that you're just not good enough, it can create a blue-print about love, the part you ought to play in intimate relationships, and what you think you need from a partner. Without going into too much detail in this entry, you may be going on dates with Mr or Mrs. Right, but disqualifying them because subconsciously you're looking to engage with someone who will active that familiar feeling of "you're not good enough." I know, you're probably sayin "No way! I just want someone to love me." And yes, you do deep down want that, but unless you've done some deeper work around your personal vulnerabilities you are most likely seeking out that person who is just a little more successful than you, or you're looking for the guy who always wants you just one more notch higher on the "perfect scale." Or that woman who thinks "If you just got this other promotion, you might be more of a catch." We tend to recreate the same frustrations that defined out childhoods. 

4. You have cast aside your feminine energy: 

One of the leading theories of Carl Jung was that we all have (men and women) both feminine and masculine energies. In our professional lives, that masculine energy (action, aggression, directness) are strengths that propel us up the corporate latter. However, when it completely overshadows our feminine energy (warmth, collaboration, connection, reciprocity) this can lead to a complete turn-off when looking for love. If you can't leave you "boss tone" at the office and bring it with you to your relationship, it is almost guaranteed that your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner will either become irritated or down right run away. Who wants to be berated, criticized, and undermined by the person who want to turn to for support, love, and encouragement? Try to pay attention to how you talk to others. Are you kind, warm, generous? Remember that how you talk to others is a reflection of how you talk to yourself -- that critical voice that tells you to work harder is the same voice that tells you you're not enough, and tells other potential mates that they are not enough either. Start by being kinder to yourself. 

 

To find out more about how individual relationship therapy can help you open up to self-compassion and love, contact me for a free consultation.