Is "Should-ing" on Yourself Blocking Your View of a Beautiful Future?

Bobbi Palmer of Date Like a Grownup shares how when a woman dating over 40 overthinks her situation, she might …"If it were a snake, it would 'a bit ya!" That's what Ethel Mertz always said to her husband Fred (Lucy Ricardo's neighbors in I Love Lucy) when he'd wander around looking for his glasses - which were always on top of his (bald) head. Do you remember that?

Well, this is what I could have said to my client Carol who hired me to help her break up with her boyfriend Hugh. Carol had been happily married for many years before she was widowed at the age of 53. She met Hugh a year or so after her husband died. They had fun dating and exploring Los Angeles, and they enjoyed each other's company.

Carol didn't take this relationship too seriously since he was the first man she dated other than her late husband. (They had been married 25 years.) She was ready for love again but knew she should "play the field" in order to find the right guy.

So, she called me to help her figure out how to do the dirty deed and let Hugh down easy. She then wanted to search for and find the Mr. Right for this phase of her life.

Great! Perfect! That's what I do. That's what I love to do, so we got to work.

I listened to Carol tell me about Hugh, their relationship and her reasons for the break up. I immediately saw the image of Fred Mertz with his glasses on his head. I could tell that Hugh was a good man. And I thought it was pretty clear that he loved her.

I also knew that Carol was not ready to hear this, so I asked her to put the break up on hold while we worked on discovering and defining the man and relationship that would truly make her happy for the long term. (This is Step 2 of my 6-Step Find Hope and Find Him system, Who is He: Getting Past Your List.)

She asked Hugh if he would wait a bit; and it was no surprised to me that he agreed. (That's what men in love do.)

As Carol and I worked together, and we defined and honed what she wanted, it became clear to both of us that she had already found her guy! She was just too busy listening to the "story" she told herself about playing the field and not jumping into anything.

You know all those stories you still tell yourself that may have been true when you were 25 but are silly now that you're dating grownup men? Like "I need to play hard to get or he won't like me" or "All men only want sex?" This "I should date more" was just another one of those stories.

The beauty of being "of certain age" is that you know yourself better than ever. Your well-earned life experience has taught you what works and what doesn't…for you. Unlike in your 20s or even 30s, you know yourself and what makes you happy, so you can (usually) trust your instincts.

Larry, my fantastic husband, and I were married within six months of our first date. Now this isn't something I would recommend for a 25 year old. But at this age we knew ourselves, we knew what we wanted and didn't want and, well, we just knew. There was no need to play any games or play the field. We didn't have to wait because other people told us to. We knew life doesn't last forever, and we both wanted to seize the happiness we felt together.

Which is exactly what I recommended Carol do: pull down the glasses from the top of her head and see and embrace the man who was right in front of her! Her husband was a good man who loved her deeply, so she knew what love looked and felt like. And she knew she was ready for love again.

Once she let go of the "should" of having to date lots of guys first, she was clear that her next great love was standing right in front of her.

I'm so happy to say that Carol and Hugh just celebrated their first wedding anniversary. (I do a little happy dance every time I think about them. To think she wanted to break up with him!)

I wish I could say there is a perfect guy for you already in your life. That would be nice, right? He may not be right in front of you, but I'm convinced he's closer than you think. Often what you need is staring you right in the face, whether it's loving feedback from a trusted friend, information that will get you where you want to go, or a kind word from a co-worker, or even true love.

So here's some homework: What "shoulds" are getting in your way of finding the man who will adore you for the rest of your life? What do you believe to be true that is holding you back? What are you looking for that might be right in front of you? Maybe it's not the man himself but rather the advice or the information you need to lead you right to him. (H-e-l-l-o…I'm raising my hand here!)

A student of Zen Buddhism would say "When the student is ready the teacher appears" or "True happiness is wanting what you already have." Or, as Ethel Mertz puts it, "If it were a snake, it would 'a bit ya."