HOW TO ACCEPT YOUR INNER REBEL AND FIND HEALTHY LOVE, TOO

We adopt all kinds of defensive postures throughout life. The “Rebel” is a powerful one, and can give you a little bit of swagger when you’re feeling vulnerable. Each woman has her own version of this pose, depending on her individual style. Here are some variations you may have tried on at some point—or maybe you have your own spin:

  • Bad Girl
  • Outlaw
  • Femme Fatale
  • Ice Queen
  • Black Widow
  • Vixen
rebel love doesn't have to be bad love

Of course, true rebellion is more than a pose. Even at an individual scale, we must fight against injustices aimed at our self-worth, and against past or present abuses of every kind. We may choose to live "off the grid" or otherwise opt out of conventionality. This type of rebellion is empowering and essential to human freedom.  

But what I’m talking about today is different: rejecting “ordinary” human experiences because we mistakenly believe we aren’t welcome in the regular world—a choice that actually limits your options rather than opening up new ones. Or adopting a dark mask to cover up feelings of pain and emptiness. Feelings of isolation, in particular, can lead us toward a tough-girl stance. The irony is that such a pose may drive people further from our lives, making real what was originally just perception. 

Men notice right away when a woman is trying to appear tougher than she feels, and they know it is a sign of weakness and insecurity. That is a Playground 101 Rule, and boys learn those lessons early in life! Guys who seek out and flatter "tough girls" are often manipulators, knowingly preying on the weak and vulnerable. 

When I was younger and single, I’m embarrassed to say that I thought of myself as a femme fatale, and shielded myself with sarcasm. My armor was a cutting sense of humor that would have made Liz Lemon seem sweet by comparison. It was a hard-shelled act that covered up feelings I had a difficult time acknowledging. Though there was a lot that I enjoyed about being single, I experienced loneliness and depression, too. It’s hard to watch your friends effortlessly pair off, and to rely on guy-buds for the kind of domestic chores you’d rather be sharing with a fiancé or husband—all those hours wasted with Mr. Wrong, assembling a new Ikea dresser. At my lowest point, this is how I felt:

  • I am lonely
  • I feel left out
  • I am defective
  • No one will choose me
  • I am unchosen

Then, life would pick up, I’d shake the blue feelings, and the pose would be dropped for a while. Over time, as I learned to relate and date in a more healthy way, I was able to connect with men in a softer—and truer—way. I didn’t need or want the armor anymore because my confidence was real. And I had faith that someday I would find happiness with the right man.     

But sometimes we get stuck in a particular pose, because it works for us and we’ve become used to it. And then we start to lower our expectations to fit around that false idea of ourselves. This is what happens when we internalize the Bad Girl/Bad Boy ideas, and start to identify with all that is wrong and broken.

I met with a client recently who was so used to wearing a mask of dark cynicism that she often didn’t notice it, herself. But her dates certainly did. Her hard sense of humor was turning off men who were initially very attracted to her. She went on plenty of first dates, but guys seemed to disappear afterward. She believed that she was showing these men her “true self” by regaling them with the bitter commentary she entertained friends and coworkers with. To her dates, she just seemed angry and depressed—not the gorgeous, fun girl that those who know her well get to experience. In letting only a tiny sliver of her personality shine, she was actually masking her truest self, and revealing only her darkest side. 

Several years ago I met with a client who had been referred to me by her mother. The daughter had a taste for “bad boys” and her mom was concerned. Again, it was a similar situation. During college, my client had adopted a classic bad girl pose; it fit so well, and made her feel so powerful, that she really started to believe that “bad love” was her thing. Of course, if all you know of love is on-again, off-again drama, you may believe that romance with a “nice guy”—someone dependable and accommodating—is not meant for you.

But my client was exhausted by the drama and pain that came from pursuing unavailable men. She was ready to break free from the limitations that she, herself, had placed on her love life. She eventually connected with a great guy who treats her like a queen. Now they live the rebel life—together—and are happily raising their twin sons in an artist colony in New Mexico. 

There is nothing wrong with a woman finding emotional strength and validation as an outlaw warrior for whatever cause she believes in. Maybe being an outsider fuels your creative spirit and is a perfectly healthy expression of who you are. But beware the idea that as a rebel, you somehow are destined for broken men and a broken heart. Being true to yourself means taking care of yourself, also. Everyone deserves healthy, lasting love. 

Robyn Wahlgast is a Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Book a private consultation or subscribe to her FREE dating and relationship newsletter and get priority access to all new blog posts and advice. 

3 REASONS WHY THE 'IT GIRL' DOESN'T ALWAYS WIN AT LOVE

Don't settle for applause when what you desire is a love connection.

Don't settle for applause when what you desire is a love connection.

Let's face it, men like you. Maybe your friends even call you a man magnate and envy your ability to gather a crowd of admirers wherever you go. At work, the buzz is that all the single guys are crushing on you.

And yet, despite these conquests, your social sparkle hasn't yet manifested Mr. Right. It seems so unfair—shouldn’t it be an asset to be popular with the boys? And aren’t you increasing your chances of getting paired up when you make eligible men the center of your social universe?

Here are 3 reasons why being on the most-wanted list doesn’t necessarily help you score in romance—along with ways to tweak your game so that you are sure to win.

1. Your regularly-scheduled appearances have him yawning and reaching for the remote. If you enjoy being at the center of a group, that’s a bonus—you are probably better than most singles at getting out and meeting new people. But the problem comes in when your attendance at events is so consistent that everyone has your schedule memorized. Do you always go out for beers on Wednesday nights with your work buddies? Maybe one of your office mates has fantasized about asking you out one-on-one, but since you’re so available his drive to approach is quickly disappearing. What’s the rush, thinks Mr. Lazypants, I’ll see her tomorrow night with the crew.

From now on, make for the elevator as soon as each workday ends, and go to the gym or out with non-work friends instead. Interested in a cute guy who volunteers at your church coffee hour? Say hi after the service, but skip the small talk and donuts, and go for a run with other friends instead. If a man is interested in taking things to the next level, he will get the idea that he’d better take action or you’ll leave him in the dust.

2. He’s starting to see you as a wingman rather than the main attraction. Being entertaining and fun are terrific qualities to have and can net you an appreciative male audience, but your opportunity for flirtation could get lost in the snorts and guffaws. To ensure that you remain a glamour girl—and not just the funny girl—dress up your wit in a little seductive mystery. Learn to punctuate your routine with silence, and generously share center stage with others. If you are naturally an extrovert, go ahead and have your moment in the spotlight (we love that about you) but then disappear rather than holding forth all night. Maybe one of your fans has a secret crush on you; by leaving him wanting more, you have the chance to ignite desire and haunt his thoughts. Isn’t that better than being his silly little sister?

3. You may be substituting applause for true connection. When you’re the It Girl surrounded by appreciative guys, it’s easy to believe that a lasting relationship is right around the corner; surely someone in the group is The One, right? We fool ourselves into thinking that since we easily attract a man’s attention we are somehow well on our way toward capturing his heart. But amor may be as elusive as ever; he may admire you but not in that way. If what you really want is to be part of a couple, be careful not to confuse bro affection with the real thing. Instead, sign up for speed-dating or Meetup activities and start being more purposeful in your social choices. Don’t feed your need for attention at the expense of fulfilling your need for an intimate connection.

Male friends are wonderful and we value having them in our lives. But if you are a single woman who is searching for her Mr. Right, don’t get lulled into complacency because you find yourself hanging with the boys on a Saturday night. Keep your relationship goals in focus, and start turning down some of those group hang-outs. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that by shaking up your routine, you’ve sparked new interest and turned a friend into something more.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Book a private consultation or subscribe to her FREE dating and relationship newsletter and get priority access to all new content.