A friend of mine is taking a dating sabbatical. She just lost her job due to corporate restructuring. She gained a few pounds over the winter. And for once, her dating calendar is not wall-to-wall excitement. She's in a bit of a slump.
All of us have been there at one time or another. We've just gotten dumped, lost the big promotion, suffered some sort of personal setback and things just aren't going our way. Our self-esteem takes a hit. We end up hanging out in our pajamas with the cat on Friday nights, watching Breakfast Club and Die Hard 2 on TNT and gnawing on a log of frozen cookie dough or eating Captain Crunch right out of the box.
When we venture out of the house for more junk food/another horrible day at the office/our best friend's wedding, it feels like the world, our world, might just be spinning in the wrong direction.
For some people, the answer to the personal slump is to stop dating altogether. When we're at our lowest, we tend to attract different people than we do when we're up and feeling like we're walking the world on a leash. Why? Confidence attracts. When you feel good, you believe you deserve every good thing (and person) that comes your way. You take more time with your appearance, eat better, spend more time with friends and have a better outlook on life in general.
On the other hand, when we feel bad, the same thing applies. We take less time with our appearance (why bother?), we eat comfort foods as though fat and sugar were going to be outlawed next month, and we tend to stick close to home. Which means, if we do happen to meet someone fabulous, it's highly likely that we'll kill the relationship before it even starts. Why? Our actions reinforce what we already believe -- we're not worth the effort, and this date, like everything else this week, is going south
. Like attracts like. Which means, if you're good-looking and successful, you'll attract others who are good-looking and successful. But those characteristics are entirely subjective. Which means, you only have to feel good-looking and successful to attract others who are good-looking and successful. If you feel like crap, you're automatically demoted a few links on the food chain, and your prospects diminish accordingly.
So when you're faced with a temporary slump, aside from riding out the storm by hiding out like Quasimodo, chained to the television with a crate of pork rinds, what can you do? You can fake it. Fake it until you make it.
Am I suggesting you go around pretending to be Lithuanian royalty, or an NFL kicker? No. (Even though nobody ever remembers their names, and they are quite petite, as professional athletes go…) And, I'm not suggesting you fake being richer or better educated or better connected than you really are. Frankly, it's a bad idea to pretend to be something you're not. But there's nothing wrong with pretending to be yourself. At least until your normal self gets back. As any publicist or PR pro will tell you: it's all about the spin.
The key to faking it is to live the life you want until it's the life you have. All you need is a little adjustment in perspective. The key to feeling like your old self (or, your new self, if you're trying to move up) is to live the life you want, be the person you want to be, and let the details follow.
Think of your overall attractiveness like a credit score. Losing a job, getting dumped, or even losing one eyebrow in a freak depilatory accident is like making your car payment a few weeks late. It's not the ideal situation, but frankly, when you average out the numbers it hardly makes a dent.
Your life isn't just the sum of your accomplishments, it is also the impact you make on your friends, family and the world. A slump is not a life sentence, it's a slump. And it wouldn't be a slump if there wasn't a way back up. Lisa Daily is the author of Stop Getting Dumped!