Joan Bragar, EdD
Coaching for Success in Life
Finding love at age 68 – A client uncovers old false beliefs about “being lovable”
My client, a 68 year-old professional woman, has spent her entire adult life without a committed intimate relationship. For 50 years Beth (nor her real name) has dated men, but no relationship lasted longer than six months. She said, “The men I like don’t like me, or the men who like me I don’t like.”
She felt deprived of the support and care in her personal life that she so desired.Beth is a bold and vibrant woman who still wants to live to the fullest, so she contacted me to engage in the Calling In the One
Though skeptical at first, she was willing to try to unravel what had gotten her into this situation over and over again. She wanted companionship – “someone who loves what I love to do, someone I can be adventurous with.“
Unpeeling the onion.
In our first conversation we identified that at age 18 her first boyfriend had broken off with her after a three-year relationship, and had started to date another woman. She had believed that this was a committed relationship, and this betrayal broke her heart. Out of that experience she took on the belief, “I’m not lovable”. She went on to create an active life, but one in which she had to be self-sufficient and take care of herself. This was a sensible course for someone who sees herself as “not lovable”.
From this early experience she also decided, “Men are not trustworthy”. Beth lived out the paradoxical adage, “We see what we believe”. For over 50 years she only saw men who were not reliable, or who could not be in a committed relationship.
When we first started the Calling in the One coaching Beth told me that she was not able to find men in her age group who were as physically, socially and mentally as active as she was.
She had dated several men from an online site, but they were not living life fully the way that she was. She said, “I deserve to have something more.”
I was shocked, when in our second conversation, she was very excited to report that she had met a bright witty 70-year old widower through the same dating site she had been on. He was fit, entrepreneurial, and very interested in her. They had gone on a great date and she saw real possibility.
Just naming the false identity “I’m not lovable” allowed her to see an attractive eligible man who was interested in her and her active life.
As part of the Calling in the One process we created a “Vision of Love Fulfilled” to guide her in the relationship she was creating. (See Beth’s moving and tangible Vision below.)
She also took on the assignment to open up space in her life and home to bring a partner in. She already had a queen size bed, but it was set up for one person, with only one bedside table. As part of her homework she added a second bedside table. She reported, “The end table coaching worked!“
In the second month of the relationship Beth’s new beau declared that he was head over heels in love with her. This surprised, delighted and concerned her. She could tell from his life and his friends that he was a committed man. He had been in a happy marriage for 40 years.
Still she was concerned that it was too early for her to commit to him. I corroborated that this was a mature adult woman’s judgment that she needed to take time getting to know him before committing.
To break through her barriers to allowing this relationship to develop, we looked again at the decision she had made at age 18, that “Men can’t be trusted”.
As we began to explore what had happened, we saw that her teenage boyfriend had not actually left her. She had left him to go on to college, creating not only a geographic distance, but a distance in values about what they each wanted in their lives.
So, though a tender 18-year old was heartbroken at what appeared to be a betrayal, the mature woman Beth could now see that she had actually chosen to develop herself in ways that didn’t include this boyfriend any longer.
She saw that she could give up the grudge she had held against him for 50 years. More importantly she could give up the covert agreement she had made with herself, “I will never to trust a man again”.
Beth now saw that she could upgrade this to a new agreement with herself, “I can trust a man who, over time, shows that he is trustworthy”.
And she made an amend to herself. She forgave herself for holding a grudge all these years, a grudge that had prevented her from having a rich personal life. She invented a new possibility for herself, “The possibility of being loved and cherished.”
Never too late for love
Beth sees that there will be a lot to learn to live inside this new possibility. After 50 years of making it on her own there is an entire world of practices that will open up as a promising man steps forward to love and cherish her.
Her beau is already introducing her to his friends and showing her, in a multitude of romantic ways, how much he cares for her. She is taking the stance that he is a wonderful man and she wants to take time to get to know him better.
She will have to learn how to be in a healthy loving relationship.
I am confident that she can do this because I have learned how to do this myself. I have seen many others who, through the Calling in the One coaching process, have transformed their beliefs and practices to bring healthy happy love into their lives.
“Now my work is peeling my own onion back to discover the things that aren’t working and discard them so that I can have this relationship work.”
Postscript. I received this text from her the day after she realized she had not actually been betrayed by her teenage boyfriend:
“I shared the revelation with (my new beau) that you helped me discover yesterday: that I caused the break up of my high school love, that I made up that I he dumped me and that I am unlovable. He hugged me and kissed me and reiterated that that is so untrue and that I am so so loveable. OMG. Thank you!”