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Attraction And Dating
How to successfully navigate the Honeytrap!
Copyright Leanne Halyburton 2018
This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any matter whatsoever without the prior permission of the author/publisher except for brief quotations in a book review.
How to successfully navigate the Honeytrap – the beginning!
Gemma was unsettled and anxious; she had been chatting with a guy called Mark on an online dating site, and they had arranged to meet up the following week. Rather than looking forward to it with an open mind, she was trying to figure it all out in advance. Questions bounced around inside her head, demanding to be answered: “what does he really think and feel about me? Will it develop into a relationship? Is it likely to lead to commitment?” The day of their date arrived, and she had, in her mind, already drafted out the story of how it was all going to unfold! As it happened, Mark was different than she’d imagined him to be, and although they had a pleasant evening, she wasn’t really attracted to him. She felt cheated, having wasted all that time and emotional energy – again – on yet another man who wasn’t going to be a part of her future.
Alex flirted with Christie at work, making it clear that he fancied her. She became distracted, thinking about him constantly, analysing his every word and action, trying to decipher what he was thinking and feeling. One evening she joined a group of her co-workers (including Alex), for a drink, and one thing led to another. They ended up at her place, and he stayed the night, leaving early the following morning. At work, he was friendly and flirty, but didn’t approach her to arrange a date. She felt crushed and embarrassed, but also confused… there had been a connection, she was sure of it, and she believed that he had felt it too. Christie secretly grieved, feeling something meaningful had been stolen away from her. She told herself that no-one had ever made her feel the way Alex did, and her life became a series of highs and lows: high when he singled her out for attention, low when he didn’t.
Karen had had a couple of dates with Robert, several weeks apart, though they chatted often, usually online. He talked about his future plans, occasionally hinting that she might be part of them, but never really committing to anything. There were times when he didn’t respond to her messages, and several days would pass before she’d hear from him… always cheerful, and usually late at night. She described him as her partner, whilst wondering when they would actually be together as a committed couple. She also wondered if he was talking with other women, the way he talked with her.
So… what was it that these disappointed ladies had in common? Well, two things: one, they had entered into the Honeytrap; two, they were jumping the gun… but more of that later.
We all want to love, and be loved in return… of course we do! We want to enjoy the heady excitement of falling head over heels in love, savouring the knowledge that the object of our desire can’t stop thinking about us and believes us to be absolutely amazing. And sometimes this DOES happen instantly, for real, and forever. But this is a book that definitely needed to be written, for those times when it doesn’t work out that way, despite positive early indications – and for all of those who find themselves falling at the first or second hurdle, again and again and again. How do I know? Because almost every day I work with women who are running into the same old pitfalls; who are experiencing the same highs, lows, frustrations and disappointment… and all in the name of attraction and dating! And although this compact guide has been written primarily with women in mind, it doesn’t mean that men won’t find anything useful within its pages!
Now, I have to be honest. There is probably nothing particularly groundbreaking here. I don’t believe that there is some currently unknown, mind-blowing truth that has yet to be unleashed upon the human race. I believe we already have access to everything we need to know, philosophically speaking at least, and that it is just a matter of really understanding and utilising that knowledge. Some will disagree with me and they are entitled to do so, as I am entitled to remain unfazed. Centuries old ‘self-help’ books contain the same life insights, advice and nuggets of wisdom that can be found in more modern versions; the delivery and style may be different, but the content and the message is more or less the same. Which goes to show that we human beings are always a work in progress! We can reach different stages of openness, understanding and acceptance, at different ages, and at different times, and those ages and times are unique to the individual. Someone aged 20 may ‘get’ something that another, aged 40, doesn’t, simply because of the way in which they process their experiences, and what they are currently open to acknowledging and understanding.
So, as I said, don’t expect to find anything groundbreaking here. However, do expect to find a set of observations and realistic insights, some of which appear courtesy of an irritating concept commonly known as ‘the bleedin’ obvious’ (and who amongst us hasn’t needed to be reintroduced to that little nutmeg, occasionally?), presented by someone who has produced literally thousands of consultations for the lovelorn, the brokenhearted, the rejected and the furious, not to mention a (thankfully) small number of would-be bunny boilers (male and female); someone who has figured out at least some of what doesn’t appear to work, and why, within the weird and wonderful world of attraction and dating!
Okay, so let’s start with the Honeytrap… because that is where it all begins!
The Honeytrap is the gateway to the Honeymoon Period, which in turn is the gateway to the committed relationship. There ain’t no shortcuts, though the time spent in each of the first two ‘zones’ varies from person to person, and is dependent upon a number of factors. Not everyone who enters into the Honeytrap automatically makes it as far as the Honeymoon Period… and out of those who do, when the initial excitement finally starts to settle into ‘normal life’, not all will find that they have a relationship with genuine long-term potential.
I encourage those I work with to be wary of overly idealistic, romantic thinking and expectation, mostly because I have rarely, if ever, seen it lead anywhere productive. There is nothing wrong with genuine romance, and the world would definitely be a sadder place without it. However, unrealistic notions can crush the life out of a potentially promising relationship before it’s even had the chance to get off the ground. They can also cloud our judgement, leading us to hang onto something that should have been nipped in the bud long before it ensnared us within its thorny tentacles! Everyone who is in a committed, mutually supportive relationship has had to pass through the Honeytrap first – it is an inevitable part of the process. Some are lucky, and don’t have to visit more than once or twice; others feel as if they are there so often they should be paying rent and utilities! The trick is to enter with our eyes and mind wide open, and our feet firmly on the ground! So, having said all of that, let’s now take a closer look.
The Honeytrap – how we find our way in.
We enter into the Honeytrap the second we become romantically attracted to another person, suspecting, or knowing for sure, that the attraction is reciprocated. It can feel exciting, hopeful, and scary, all at the same time! The way they look appeals to us, and if they are saying all the right things, too, it can be incredibly seductive. However, if we have been through this process several times already, it is likely that our protective force field will be ready and waiting to snap into place at a second’s notice… even though we are desperately hoping that this time it won’t be necessary! So, we can see that there are two ways in which our experience of the Honeytrap could be disempowering: the first is to tightly close our eyes, cross our fingers, and leave our heart wide open; the second is to be on 24 hour guard duty, fully expecting our heart to be burgled and trashed… a case of ‘when’ rather than if. Neither are ideal, but we can navigate our way through this stage in a more empowering and enjoyable way, if we adopt a conscious, considered approach!
The first and biggest pitfall to be aware of!
Jumping the gun. Getting ahead of ourselves. Prematurely trying to figure out where an attraction is heading. Making future plans way too soon. Most of us have been guilty of this, including me. I remember, maybe 15 years ago, becoming newly single after 18 years and joining an online dating site. I started to chat with a guy and we made arrangements to meet. I remember him pulling up outside my house on his motorbike, and me, 28 lbs lighter than my current weight, sashaying out to greet him in my high heeled boots and tight jeans, all coy and smiley. We had a lovely ride out, and that evening he picked me up in his car, whisking me off for a meal and a fantastic evening. My previous relationship had become increasingly dark, miserable and stressful before it ended, but for the first time in years I actually felt attractive and desired… and highly optimistic! I had already received an invitation to an anniversary dinner, and I immediately asked my friend if I could bring along my new love interest: I so badly wanted to be normal… to be part of a loving couple, mingling with other normal, loving couples. Of course, she said yes, but the guy in question politely declined, saying he had to work that night. And he wasn’t lying. He worked a lot, always worrying and fretting about money. Over a period of weeks he began to display some pretty questionable behaviour, including frightening and accusatory mood swings. I was already so emotionally bruised I hung on, almost accepting the way it was unfolding, as if it was all I could expect to experience. Confused and sad, I kept going back in my mind to the first few wonderful times we dated… and it was that that kept me stupidly hanging on. I wasn’t in love with him; I hadn’t known him long enough to even begin to be able to make that claim. I was in love with the way I’d felt when I first met him … when he was behaving like a loving, attentive, reasonable and sane human being! I had fallen headfirst into pitfall number 1, and was paying the price for my failure to take sufficient time to get to know a love interest better before becoming too emotionally invested. Just typing this now makes me cringe with embarrassment. It wasn’t as if I was a teenager – I was a grown woman! I finally woke up and and ended the dubious connection, feeling, quite frankly, dirty. All the signs were there, including the fact that he kept his dating site profile up and running whilst seeing me. Also, he made comments which suggested he was repeating old patterns of behaviour, stuff he’d already played out with other women. I fell into this particular pitfall more than once over the years, which is why I am qualified to talk about it and offer advice!
Throughout my career I have worked with many, many women who have entered into the Honeytrap and have already begun the process of jumping the gun. And in my experience, they are not always open to suggestions of caution, or at the very least only pay lip service to it! But that’s okay; the best way to learn is through our own experiences, and hindsight is always a step or two behind genuine wisdom. However, that doesn’t mean to say that we can’t consciously choose NOT to throw caution to the wind and into the deep, dark depths, simply because we are in the grip of an all-consuming attraction!
So, what’s the answer? Well, it is pretty straightforward: when entering into the Honeytrap, we need to tread carefully and slowly, allowing ourselves enough time to work out what is real and what isn’t. This will enable us to remain in control of our own emotions, and therefore be less vulnerable and more empowered. Remember, the Honeytrap can be a place of illusion and fantasy, and the best way to navigate it is with our feet firmly on the ground, a smile on our face, and an attitude of “okay, let’s play awhile and see how it pans out!”. I believe that this is worth repeating, because knowing something intellectually does not mean that we accept it emotionally. I have heard hundreds of clients sigh “I know, I know!” when presented with the ‘bleedin’ obvious’, whilst clearly resisting, in favour of their old habits and how they want things to be. Having said that, if we all listened to and immediately acted upon every piece of solid, no-nonsense advice that came our way, life would be a breeze and zillions of motivational speakers and self-help authors would be out of work! The fact is, we often need to hear something again and again until we actually absorb it. We often have to really hurt before we learn. And where feelings of romantic attraction are concerned, we initially tend to allow our emotions to run the show… and emotions aren’t generally known for being too interested in common sense!
One of the first indicators that we are rushing things is when we start asking a particular question before we’ve even had time to find our bearings in the Honeytrap. And always it is anxiety and insecurity that is the motivating force behind the premature asking of this question… which just so happens to be: “IS this person THE ONE?”
Asked too soon, this question can be the kiss of death for a budding relationship. It can also be the thing that allows a not-really-going-anywhere attraction to loom larger and for longer than it deserves. The moment this question arises, everything changes. We now potentially have something to lose, which can cause us to feel incredibly vulnerable. We find ourselves overthinking the situation: “why hasn’t he been in touch today? Is he really interested in me or just stringing me along? I’ve been hurt before; what if he’s a liar and a cheater, like my ex?” These are reasonable questions, but we don’t actually need to be asking them at the initial stage of attraction, because if we are genuinely taking our time the important things will reveal themselves! No-one (apart from sociopathic predators, who tend to pick their victim very carefully, but who also tend to be the exception rather than the rule, thankfully) can maintain a facade, long-term. If we are allowing ourselves to enjoy what is only just developing, without emotionally over-investing, and without harbouring any premature major expectation, we can feel safe and strong, rather than insecure and anxious. At any point, we can say “well, it’s been interesting, but I don’t actually feel like taking this any further.” No hard feelings, no blame, no drama. And if the other person doesn’t feel like taking it any further with us, then it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. It might sting, especially if we had started to fall for them, but we’ll get over it… because we didn’t allow ourselves to become too dependent upon a specific outcome, and because we didn’t make it about our sense of self-worth. Sooner or later, in the real world, bad habits and tendencies will make themselves known, as will genuinely positive traits. We can figure it out, without losing face, dignity, and hope, if we give ourselves a chance!
Now, I am not pretending for a single second that it is actually easy not to jump in wholeheartedly when we meet someone who sets our pulse racing, especially if they appear to feel the same way about us. But all that glitters is not gold, and first impressions are not always correct. Talk is cheap, and it is actual, consistent action, demonstrated over a reasonable period of time, that is a greater indicator of what might actually be real.
Experience and observation has led me to conclude that men tend to express their truth through their actions, more so than through their words, simply because of the way they are ‘wired’ (different to women, obviously!). If a man’s words and actions consistently match (not just for a week or two!), you can probably take it that he means what he is saying and doing, even if we don’t want to hear it! If his words and actions don’t match more than they do, then it is best to pay attention to the actions rather than the words; by doing so you will understand more about his true feelings and intentions. A man could be behaving in a sulky, moody, and uncommunicative way, whilst still making us a sandwich and a cup of tea. What he’s demonstrating is that he’s peed off with us for whatever reason, but he still cares. Annoying, but not too serious, unless he makes a habit of it (in which case he needs to either explain properly and clearly why he is habitually cross with us, or take his miserable face and sorry ass someplace else!). Alternatively, a man could be promising the world, or talking as if he is absolutely entranced by us, hanging onto our every word… from behind the safety of his phone or laptop, without ever really intending to follow through with action. Women can often be won over by this kind of behaviour, without ever having had any, or much, actual ‘real’ contact with the object of their desire… because they are thinking and operating in the way that they were designed to! Expression through verbal sharing is natural to most women, and they cannot help but respond, especially if they feel listened to and appreciated, and, on top of that, desired. I am absolutely not suggesting that all men are liars, and that, when entering into the world of dating, women should immediately and automatically be on their guard. Of course not! There are liars, cheaters and play-actors out there of both sexes. But the warning signs are almost always there, even if we claim not to have been aware of them!
Speaking of warning signs, I am reminded of a story from my own life, from the long-ago days of the 1980’s. I was working in the bar of a busy hotel that was often frequented by groups of contractors. One particular guy singled me out night after night, doing his best to persuade me to join him for a meal. He wasn’t my ‘type’, and for a while I resisted his advances, but eventually his persistence paid off, and I agreed. To cut a long story short, I ended up falling head over heels for him, and we spent all of our spare time together. He was a long way from home, and he told me all about his family, showing me a picture of his niece, a lovely baby girl… who looked exactly like him. He gave me money to buy presents for her, and he arranged outing for us to meet up with his brother… which was cancelled at the last minute. He had a large tattoo on one arm, bearing two names: his, and that of a female. He explained that these were actually his parents’ names, and that he himself had been named after his father. He asked me to pack up and move in with him when he returned home, and even spoke about having a baby (which was definitely not on my agenda!)… and so, when one of the girls who also worked at the hotel told me that she suspected something wasn’t quite right about ‘him’, I was immediately defensive and dismissive. How could that be, when he had told his family all about me? When he was asking me to uproot my life and return with him to his home city? She explained that a woman regularly called the hotel, asking for his room number, and my heart sank; I had already secretly begun to suspect that Mr. Wonderful wasn’t quite what he appeared to be, whilst desperately trying to pretend otherwise – to myself. One night, in his sleep, he’d mumbled his ‘mother’s’ name, and he’d begun to tell stories that didn’t quite add up. He once recounted a pretty shocking event that had occurred earlier that day, and I mentioned it to the colleague he’d been working with, expecting him to say something like “oh yeah, it was unbelievable !”. Except that he didn’t. He looked at me as if I was weird and shook his head, indicating that he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. The bottom line was that the guy I had fallen for, hook, line and sinker, was a compulsive liar. He was married (yes, to the poor girl whose name was tattooed on his arm), his niece was actually his daughter, and his family had absolutely no knowledge of, or interest in, my existence (obviously); and on top of all that, the guys he worked with all thought that I knew he was married. And so, before any poop could hit any fans, he was whisked off in a van, allowed to escape to another job in a different city. However, fate placed me outside of the hotel seconds before he was driven away; I walked over and tapped on the window, asking the question that had been cruelly eating its way through my heart and mind: “why?” And he replied, “because I wanted you.” And then he was gone.
I bet, whilst you were reading this sorry tale, you heard the unmistakable clang-clang-clang of warning bells going off left, right, and centre. And I bet you were wondering why I couldn’t. Well, the answer to that has to be that I probably didn’t want to hear, more fool me. But at least I got to experience what can happen when we go rushing into the Honeytrap with our fingers crossed, our heart wide open, and our eyes and ears closed to an increasing number of insistent ‘signs’! And I was, at the time, devastated, giving up eating in favour of sitting in the bath howling my eyes out (ooh, the weight I lost!). But time and life moved on, as it does. I thought about him less and less often, and the tears dried. Feeling restless and in need of change, I bagged myself a new job and relocated to another part of the country, where, whilst out one evening in a pub around the corner from my office, I was shocked to see him walk through the door… and I thought “really? You broke your heart over that?” Someone was passing around photos of a wedding they’d recently attended, some of which were handed to me – and there he was, with his wife, glass in hand, smiling at the camera. I genuinely felt nothing for him, but I felt sad for her. She was pretty, and appeared to be relaxed and happy. I wondered if she had any clue at all that her husband was a liar and a fantasist… or had it just become easier for her to turn a deaf ear to the insistent sound of those wretched, clanging bells?
So yes, the Honeytrap can definitely suck us in, chew us up and spit us out, if we don’t understand its ways. And if you think I am exaggerating with all the above, or that no-one could possibly be as vulnerable as I am suggesting, here are a few examples of the kind of statements and questions that pop into my inbox on a daily basis:
I have attached a picture of a guy I met online. I am wondering if a romantic relationship will develop between us? We haven’t actually spoken yet…
I met this guy, and we went out a couple of times. He really pursued me, but after I slept with him he changed. He takes ages to respond to my texts and doesn’t seem interested in meeting up again. Is he going to change his mind and want to see me again? And if so, when?
I started to talk to this guy online, and he said he was going to come and see me. I have never felt this way about anyone before, and I can’t stop thinking about him. But all of a sudden, he says he has things going on, and that he can’t spare the time right now. I wonder if he is already seeing someone or talking to other women? He told me that he felt a connection with me, but now things have changed and I feel devastated. How do I get him to like me the way he used to?
I met a really nice man at a friend’s party, and we really hit it off. He flirted with me all night, and I thought we had connected in a big way. He took my number, and promised to call me, to arrange a date. That was three weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him. He hasn’t been in touch, and I wondered if he’d lost my number? I did tell him where I work so he could always contact me there. When do you feel I will hear from him, and what will happen between us when I do?
I have been seeing a guy from work, but he only comes around a couple of times a week, and always at night. We haven’t been out on a date together, and at work he ignores me, saying he doesn’t want other people knowing his business. When are he and I going to become a proper couple? I know he was hurt by his ex-girlfriend, but I really love him, and just want us to be together.
So, you can see how easy it is to become caught up in the Honeytrap, and not just caught up, but stuck. In most cases, situations such as these are not going to progress to the Honeymoon Period (I say most cases because in all areas of life there is always the odd exception to the rule!), and the questioners are starting to become too emotionally invested, too soon. It is too easy to become disempowered when we find ourselves waiting around, playing guessing games and second fiddle, hanging on for the next message, text or phone call… emotionally high one minute, miserably low the next.
Being in too much of a hurry can also cause us to become habitually frustrated and resentful, putting us in defensive mode from the offset. We may have been in and out of the Honeytrap with just one particular person, or with a number of potential love interests, but either way it can leave a ‘here we go again’ taste in our mouth, putting us on the back foot from the very first hello. I have heard many women (including me!) say, “but he pursued me!” as if the guy in question possessed the superpower of mind control, rendering them powerless to resist. It is never true; we tumble because we want to, and because we hope that what he is saying is true and sincere. If the guy is sincere, he will respect our decision to take things more slowly, and we will get to understand more about him as a human being, rather than just as a love interest. But how long should we allow? Well, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to say that if we haven’t advanced to the Honeymoon Period, and are still in the Honeytrap with the same person, going around in circles or backward and forward, three months down the line, we probably need to check out, unless of course we are genuinely happy with the situation. By that time we should at least have begun to figure out whether this person is actually a) a psycho; b) a friend, rather than a potential partner; c) not interested in allowing things to develop beyond a certain point. And remember: it is consistent and repeated action that speaks and demonstrates the truth, not a million fancy words or false promises! I have worked with far too many women who have become ensnared by persistent and persuasive, but empty and meaningless BS, like insects on flypaper. It doesn’t have to be that way, unless we allow it to!
So, if we adopt the right approach, it shouldn’t take too long to be able to make a reasonable assessment of where we are at. For example, the lady who hits it off with a guy at a party, but hasn’t heard a peep from him three weeks later, is receiving a fairly clear message: he is probably not open to taking the situation further right now, for what could be a whole number of reasons. It might be that he does suddenly make contact, falling over himself to offer an apologetic explanation, but the chances are slim. And what she doesn’t want to do is sit around, waiting and hoping. She needs to say, and mean it, “well, if he gets in touch great… I will take it from there. But in the meantime, I am going to see it as a pleasant, fun interlude, chalk it up to experience and get on with my life.”
The fact is that some of us will go through the process more times than others do, before becoming part of a decent, mature, mutually supportive relationship; the fact that we don’t like that fact doesn’t alter the fact! Ironically, often the keener we are to fall in love and leap directly from the Honeytrap and into a committed relationship, the more we push the possibility away. However, forewarned is forearmed, as they say… and I am here to help, with this little guide!
Of course, we can’t always be blamed for jumping the gun, especially if we are receiving signals that seem to imply genuine interest. Many, many women have explained to me how strongly a guy has come on to them (not the same guy, obviously!), pursuing them with vigour, refusing to take no for an answer… only to lose interest once they have succumbed to his advances. And this generally leads them to feel bad about themselves, embarrassed and foolish. “Why did I sleep with him? I thought he really liked me… I believed all the things he said to me… I’m so stupid!”
However, it is my observation that not all guys who chase a woman to the ends of the earth are players. Some fall in love easily, and really, really want to be in a relationship. They too get sucked into the Honeytrap, their insecurities come rushing to the fore, and they forget to apply the brakes. And strangely enough, these men often end up being deemed clingy and needy… and therefore not attractive or desirable! Either way, if a guy is majorly full-on, very early in the process, my advice would be to tread with care. If he is sincere, and genuinely interested in a potential relationship, he won’t lose interest the moment he gets his way. I am not suggesting that sex should be used as a tool to ‘test’ a man’s intentions, because obviously women are as free to sleep with guys as guys are to sleep with them. But even in these modern times there is still a bit of a stigma attached to the idea of women having ‘casual’ sex, and I often see them struggling with their feelings about themselves, after jumping into bed with a guy who quickly hotfoots it off into the sunset (or at the very least claims that it was only ever supposed to be a bit of fun). I say “if you want to sleep with a guy, and you are taking good care of your sexual health and contraception, then do it… but with a healthy attitude!” I am not into the ‘girl power’ stuff (probably a generational thing), and some women see sexual freedom as a means of becoming the same as or superior to men, as in “I’m a strong, independent woman and I can do what the f**k I like – I don’t need a man to take care of me, and I’ll never be anyone’s little woman!” Horses for courses. I am not making any judgement here as we’re all entitled to our own beliefs. I am just not referring to that particular approach here. When I say do it with a healthy attitude, what I mean is, if you choose to have sex with a love interest because you want to, regardless of whether or not it develops into something more, and you know for sure that you won’t be beating yourself up about it later, then you are not disempowering yourself. You are making a conscious, considered decision (which is probably at least part of what girl power is about, I imagine), and one that you are perfectly happy with.
However, if sex becomes a form of exchange (I will sleep with you, and in return you will recognise that this IS a big deal! I am opening up to you… and not just physically… and there will be an unspoken understanding that it will lead to something more) the chances of us getting short-changed are pretty high.
And if sleeping with a guy before you are in a ‘proper’ relationship is definitely NOT your thing, then of course you must be true to yourself! At the end of the day, it is all about honest, genuine choice, and a sense of peace with whatever decision we commit to.
So, let’s have a quick recap: if a guy is incredibly full on and persistent, right from the start, it isn’t always a good sign. The chances are that he’ll either be the kind who loves the chase, but who quickly loses interest as soon as he feels that he has ‘broken through’, or the kind who falls in love easily, and is intensely keen to be in a relationship, because he feels lost when he is without one. Generally speaking, women appear to have a tendency to favour guys who fall into the first category, quickly becoming bored with those who fall into the second category. Not always, but generally speaking (and it will be down to the individual to decide which kind of guy she’d rather run into!). The best way to not disempower ourselves is to not emotionally over-invest before understanding more about the dynamic of the relationship, and to not ask “is this person the one?” too soon; to take our time getting to know more about the person in question, enjoying the situation, without overthinking it, becoming too intense or anxious. As for sex, if we are going to sleep with our love interest, we need to be honest about our motivation, and make a choice that sits well with us. If we are taking care of ourselves, and don’t see sex as a form of exchange or emotional sacrifice, and we know we aren’t going to feel bad about ourselves if it turns out that there is no real potential there, then fine… we are free to get on with it! If, however, we believe that sex should always lead to something more ‘serious’, or that by having sex with a guy we are ‘opening up’, and therefore he should understand and appreciate how meaningful it is to us, then we really need to think, not just twice, but several times! The question is absolutely not about moral judgement, but about keeping ourselves on an even keel, and making choices we will be able to live with, today, tomorrow, and further down the line. And if we believe that sex should only occur between two people who are involved in a genuine, committed relationship, then we must be true to ourselves, and hold out for the kind of partner who feels the same way. It isn’t about withholding physical contact in order to manipulate a response or prove a point, and it should never become an issue. It is just about what feels right to us, individually. Okay, quick recap now complete!
Here is question I am often asked, to which there are a number of possible answers…
What makes a guy behave like a player, blowing hot and cold, messing around with a woman’s feelings and emotions?
He might be a serial time waster, for no other reason than he’s an attractive jerk who’s learned that he can behave as badly as he wants, and have the ladies coming back for more!
He may still be immature, regardless of age, clocking up the ‘conquests’ because he hasn’t actually learned the art of ‘relationships’ (it isn’t something that we all just automatically and instinctively know how to do), and therefore keeps himself within the safety of his own comfort zone, involving himself only in the preliminary attraction/dating stuff.
He may have an underlying fear of emotional intimacy; the moment he realises that things are progressing with a woman to the point at which he will need to emotionally give more of himself, he panics and runs. The Eagles’ song, Take It Easy, reminds me of this kind of guy. He can come across as genuinely caring and sincere… and he probably is, until the old fear kicks in (which can happen before or after entering into the Honeymoon Period), making this one trickier to recognise than the player.
He may not be emotionally free. There might be an ex, alive and kicking, trapped somewhere inside his inner world… a reflection, rather than a reality, standing on guard duty at the door of his heart, protecting him from the possibility of further pain and disappointment. Again, he could appear to be open to the idea of developing a relationship, only to slam the door shut the moment he fears it is beginning to open…
However, there is another reason that sometimes leads men to start off incredibly enthusiastically, only to suddenly lose interest and back off: he finds that the woman has moved very quickly from being fun and fascinating, to insecure and demanding; she needs to know everything he’s thinking and feeling, and what the future holds for them as a couple, before they’ve even begun to get to know each other. Yes, that does happen, I am afraid! None of us want to admit to desperation, quite naturally, and the very suggestion that we might be coming from that place is typically met with immediate defensiveness and resistance. It hurts our pride, reveals our vulnerability, and hammers a nasty dent into our self-esteem.
So, what is it that might lead a woman to respond to a guy’s initial interest this way? Well, in most cases, it is the past. She will have come up against players or commitment phobics, probably more than once, and is now on edge, wanting to believe that this time it is ‘real’… and she tries to rush it through, to get to relationship status as quickly as possible, so that she can feel emotionally safe. And of course, it isn’t only women who respond this way, either. The guys who are full on right from the start, who become clingy and needy (and who generally tend not to be attractive to women!), are coming from exactly the same place. Loneliness and low self-worth also tend to be tied up with the need to quickly pin a developing relationship down, dotting the t’s and crossing the i’s. Sadly, it rarely turns out well, and the emotionally destructive cycle continues. The only way to break it is to… yep, you guessed it…next time adopt a consciously relaxed approach, taking things slowly and allowing breathing space. Simple though definitely not easy, but it beats going around and around in the same old frustrated, anxiety-inducing loop, watching our self-worth turn to mush. We can, of course, want and demand a committed relationship right now, and rant that it isn’t fair, and ask “why should I have to put up with this s**t?” And no-one could blame us. But life is what it is, attraction and dating is what it is, and the trick is to figure out what works and what doesn’t… something we can only do through experience, be it our own, or even someone else’s. I can talk to you about this stuff because over the years I have exposed myself to some really questionable situations, dating wise, and because of the stories told to me by thousands of other women with dating/relationship dilemmas. Our experiences could help you to make your own process a little smoother and easier. As the little old lady said as she peed in the sea… every little helps!
Okay, well, that’s the number 1 Honeytrap pitfall dissected, discussed, and explained! The second biggie on the list is…
Pitfall number 2 -The Honeytrap Fantasy
It is definitely true that all of us will, at some point, be briefly delusional where attraction and dating is concerned; at the mercy of our emotions, our hormones, and our desire to find the ‘perfect’ relationship. Fantasy is a completely necessary part of life, and without it, romantic and sexual attraction might not even exist! One of our greatest assets is our powerful imagination, and we are born with the ability to create incredible stories and scenarios within our mind – it is a natural part of the growing up process… and we start young!
When I was in my early teens I dedicated two years of my life to David Cassidy, and even sold my one and only Rod Stewart album in order to be able to buy a ticket to see him perform live (note I didn’t say to hear him sing. Who the hell could hear anything above all of that screaming?). I hungrily consumed every word and every picture that Fab 208 published about my idol; I went to sleep thinking about him, woke up thinking about him… and in my mind, he was perfect. I remember seeing some young guys getting changed on a beach, and was shocked to notice that they had armpit hair… and I immediately created a David who didn’t have sweaty fluff sprouting from his pits. But David Cassidy wasn’t my first love, because I had already worshipped and adored Micky Dolenz of the Monkees (I still have some of their songs on my phone), and I brooded with childish envy and sadness when he hooked up with Samantha Juste. I had innocent romantic daydreams about Micky (hey, Daydream Believer), and in them I was older and sophisticated, and he thought I was amazing. But it wasn’t too long before I was turning Jack Wild into my own personal hero (I think I had reached the ripe old age of 10 or 11 by this time). I had grown up listening and dancing to the stage soundtrack of Oliver Twist, and when the film came out, I saw it again and again and again… and fell head over heels in love with the Artful Dodger.
But my very, very first love was Paul McCartney… and even now, whilst watching old Beatles’ films, I can see why… he was a real cutie! For a while I was convinced that I was going to grow up, move to Liverpool, and marry the sexy moptop. A friend and I used to play a game in which we were the Beatles’ girlfriends, but she liked Paul too, and because she was older and a little scary, I had to settle for John. I think that’s what eventually lured me away from Paul – too much competition. And in the end, it emerged that David Cassidy wasn’t the sweet, clean living boy next door he had been portrayed to be, and Jack Wild sadly turned to alcohol and ultimately lost everything, and Paul McCartney married Linda, and was reported as being incredibly mean with money. And Micky Dolenz… well, he’s still kind of cute, and is probably someone who’d be up for a laugh and a good conversation (I recently heard him being interviewed, and he sounded fun!). I thank them all for the dreamy hours we shared inside my head, and in my bedroom. I thank them all for playing leading roles in my secret, prepubescent fantasies; I couldn’t have made it through without you all, but I’m so glad we parted company… otherwise I might have turned into Helen Reddy’s Angie Baby!
Luckily, as an adult we still have the capacity to fantasise, but we need to use it for the good rather than the bad; to enhance rather than oppress our life. And the Honeytrap Fantasy is not the kind we want to become too tangled up in because it isn’t fun, and it creates smoke screens that prevent us from seeing things clearly and realistically.
We can believe that we truly know someone, because we have been chatting online for weeks or months, or because we have been casual friends for years. We can decide that this person is our soulmate, because we have such intense feelings for them, even though we aren’t actually in a ‘normal’, everyday relationship with them, doing all the usual ‘normal’ everyday things together. And sometimes, on rare occasions, this could be true… but, taking into account a huge amount of fairly convincing evidence, gathered over a number of years, it seems reasonable to conclude that it often isn’t true. And if there is a particular subject that is likely to evoke a furious and defensive response, it is THIS one!
I know for sure that no-one can really begin to know and understand another human being until they have spent honest, genuine time together, in ‘real’ life, doing all the things that ordinary, everyday life requires of us. I am not suggesting that we have to be in possession of a love interest’s complete history, with references and a DNA sample, before we can enter into a relationship with them; obviously there are certain processes to go through, whilst really getting to know one another. I am only explaining that it is my observation that romantic illusion and fantasy has the capacity to lead the dreamer into ultimate disappointment, heartache, and even bitterness, over perceived wasted time. The imagination is an incredibly powerful tool, with the capacity to create inspiration or desperation; if we come to believe in something that isn’t true or real, we’re likely to find ourselves heading in the wrong direction.
For example, the guy we met at the party, who enjoyed our company for a few hours without any real intention of taking it any further, is reborn in our mind and heart. We create our own version of him, based on a few fun, sexually charged hours. We start to believe that he and I are destined to be together, because the ‘connection’ we experienced was so strong.
Or the guy who only calls around to have sex with us is just afraid of his own feelings; “he’s been hurt by a cheating ex, and now he is struggling to trust. He really cares for me – after all, he tells me how sexy I am, and how much he likes me. The only reason he doesn’t want our colleagues to know about our relationship is because he needs time to get used to it, and wants to avoid gossip and interference. If I just hang on, and am always available, he will ultimately tell others that he and I are together.”
Or the guy who pursues us, relentlessly and passionately, only to step back the moment he gets what he wants, is “just afraid of his own feelings; sooner or later he will miss me, and realise that what we had was really good. He will realise how much I care for him. I just know that he is my soulmate – the connection between us is way too strong for this just to be a fling.”
Romantic fantasy can also cause us to experience painful confusion and hurt feelings, when it leads us to believe that we have actually passed through the Honeytrap and entered into the Honeymoon period (remember that this would mean that we and the person in question have reached the stage at which we are an actual, confirmed couple. We might still only be at the early stage of a developing relationship, but there is no doubt that we both see ourselves as the other’s partner, regardless of circumstance). However, it sometimes happens that we find ourselves viewing someone, who is still technically a love interest, as an actual partner, and this could be because we have received a series of mixed messages and/or empty promises, or even because we ourselves are reading the situation incorrectly. Either way, certain warning signs will make themselves known, if not immediately, then sooner or later; however, it can be incredibly painful to acknowledge and accept them, especially if we have already become emotionally over-invested.
So, what would this situation look like? Well, we may have been communicating for some time with our love interest, and have met up once or twice, several times, even… but still, the situation remains on the fence, not exactly developing or genuinely moving on. And there’s always a reason for this: “he has been too busy to be in touch on a regular basis, but he says that we will be together in the future… it’s just at this moment he has some stuff he needs to sort out.” Or sometimes a fall-out occurs, to which he reacts a little too keenly: “we were talking fine, but then we had a silly argument, and I haven’t heard from him for several weeks/months… but we are still partners… aren’t we?”
It could also be that we are partners of sorts, but without it being an ‘exclusive’ situation, in the other person’s mind. It might be that we have to ‘book in’ with them, in order to be able to speak to or see them; we can’t just show up, or make plans, without having to give them lengthy notice. They may continue to have regular connections with other women that cause us to feel uncomfortable, becoming angry or impatient when we express our feelings, accusing us of overreacting. This is a disempowering scenario that can keep us hanging around in miserable limbo, still wanting to believe that this is a committed relationship.
Having said that, I am aware that it is possible for an individual to be horribly fooled into believing that they really are in an actual, confirmed relationship, by an accomplished and persuasive manipulator; the kind of circumstances under which vulnerable women and men are conned out of their entire life savings, specifically sussed out and targeted by an unscrupulous, sweet-talking thief who moves on from one victim to the next. Here, I am not talking about the extreme cases; I am referring to the problems of the common-or-garden, everyday world of attraction and dating!
The Honeytrap Fantasy is also often at play when a woman becomes involved with a man who is not free. Regardless of what she believes, whilst under the heady influence of passion and sexual desire, she isn’t going to get to experience him warts and all, good, bad, and indifferent… the way in which his partner has done, maybe for years, and is still doing, right now. The relationship will be based more on fantasy than reality, and under these circumstances it is usually believed that the love interest is down-trodden, misunderstood, and unappreciated by the uncaring partner. Sometimes that is true, and sometimes it isn’t, but either way, this is a subject that requires a careful approach, as it is almost always met with defensiveness! Sometimes it does work out that the mistress becomes the wife or partner, but the fantasy world of snatched moments, intense and passionate liaisons, secret conversations and weekends away, will ultimately have to come to an end… for obvious reasons. If the compelling attraction was mostly tied up with excitement, intensity, and romantic escape from sexual boredom, pressure or drudgery, then it isn’t unreasonable to ask how that would translate into everyday life. Waking up next to each other, every single morning; realising that he is moody and snappy until he’s had his first coffee and cigarette; that he sometimes forgets to lift the seat when he takes a pee; that he doesn’t always do his share of the housework; that he allows his children to talk to you any way they see fit, because he feels guilty about the situation; that he’s lousy or mean with money, leaving you feeling stressed and worried. In other words, the stuff that goes on every single day behind the closed doors of billions of people living ‘ordinary’ life on planet Earth!
However, let me make it clear that I am not making any kind of moral judgement here; I am just explaining the ways in which we can be fooled by, and sucked into, the Honeytrap Fantasy. And earlier, I wasn’t suggesting that genuine, tried and tested long distance relationships are not real; of course they are. But the fact is, the most destructive aspect of the Honeytrap Fantasy is that it has the suffocating capacity to hold us prisoner, preventing us from attracting someone with whom we can develop a genuine, mutually supportive, two-way relationship that has long term potential.
So, how do we know for sure whether we are still in the Honeytrap, or have advanced to the Honeymoon Period, alongside our love interest? Well, if we are both talking and behaving as a couple, and if we do things together and go places together (out in the open where everyone can see us!), on a consistent and regular basis, the likelihood is that we are in the beginnings of a relationship. Which means that we have entered into the Honeymoon Period. We might not see each other every day, but there is no doubt that we aren’t just friends, and that we are both seeing this as more than a casual fling. And we’re jointly committed to at least seeing where it goes from here, even if we are taking it slowly.
Okay, let’s have another quick recap: we can embrace and enjoy the Honeytrap experience all the more if we have our eyes and mind wide open, and our feet firmly on the ground, because if we do, there’s less chance of it fooling us, tying us up in emotional knots, or overwhelming us. Becoming prematurely attached to a specific outcome, too keen to pin it all down too soon, can hurt us more than help us, and certainly chips away at our self-esteem. Falling in love with a fantasy version of our love interest, for whatever reason, is more likely than not to lead us into a limbo state, aching for a real and satisfying conclusion that is unlikely to come about… leaving us feeling a bit like an inflamed boil that never quite comes to a head!
Pitfall number 3 – Unrealistic expectation
So what’s THIS, now? Aren’t we done with the Honeytrap, and all the things we can do that are wrong? Umm… well, sorry to say, but, erm… no. On top of jumping the gun, and creating a fantasy, we can also harbour unrealistic expectations that are only likely to lead to disappointment and disillusion. There’s no end to it, is there? And what would be an example of an unrealistic expectation, anyway? Well, here’s one, for a start:
Some years ago, a jaded, miserable customer snapped at me “well, it’s alright for you… YOU have a partner!” Now, at the time, my own life was stressful and exhausting, and my relationship was proving to be incredibly hard work. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, punch her on the nose, or chuck her out by the seat of her pants. So I laughed, and asked her if that’s all it took to be ‘happy’ – and her hostility was palpable. Her expectation, at that moment in time, was that YES, having a partner would transform her life; she would be happier. The problem was, this lady was surviving by the skin of her teeth, rather than thriving, and she believed that a relationship would fill the emptiness, pump up the flatness, and quench her emotional thirst… without her herself having to delve into her own inner world and focus on healing some of the damage. Of course she wasn’t in a place in which she was open to hearing that, because she felt jaded, miserable and let down. But let’s face it, we’ve all been there, to one degree or another, whether it is our love life, our work life, or our family life that has dragged us down to the bottom of the swamp (well, I know I have, anyway). However, the fact remains that her expectation was unrealistic and unreasonable; who on earth would possibly be able to fulfil it? Who would even really want to try? It’s not exactly a sexy proposition, is it… make me whole and happy!
I know a young woman who became very disillusioned when her marriage didn’t turn out the way she imagined, and she and her husband hovered on the brink of divorce for quite some time. However, although I felt sad for them, I also wasn’t entirely surprised. As a teenager, she was obsessed with boys and romance… and when I say obsessed, I am not exaggerating! It was all she could think and talk about. And the desire for a perfect, roses-round-the-door life followed her into marriage, as she pictured herself and her husband, along with their new baby, strolling along the river bank, laying out a picnic on the grass, and acting out an assortment of other misty, dreamy scenarios… only to find that reality had other ideas. She was devastated, and her husband did what men often do, when faced with the fact that the woman they love is unhappy, and worse – disappointed with them: he retreated. Unable to face something he had no idea how to fix, he made himself busy with work, and projects in the garage, and she fell into depression, telling me that she just wanted him to ‘be there’. I asked her where ‘there’ was, but she couldn’t really explain, because it was more of a feeling than a location. Luckily, I am very pleased to report, they actually survived this unhappy time, and grew beyond it, into something more solid and real than all the romantic notions and unrealistic expectations put together!
The two examples above are pretty extreme, but definitely not uncommon. I have jokingly warned some of my overly idealistic customers that the man they believe is the answer to all of their prayers, the one they cannot stop themselves thinking about, the one who is their soulmate, the one who makes them feel the way they never have before, the one they just have to have, in order to ever be happy and complete, will, one day, be plonked on the couch in his baggy t-shirt, jeans, and sweaty socks, mesmerised by the TV as he mindlessly chomps his way through a pizza… after which he’ll dump the plate on the floor, before walking past it to grab himself a cold drink from the fridge! Unfair and cynical, I admit, but I am only teasing (and probably unconsciously reliving parts of my own past!). Every one of us has the absolute right to fall hopelessly in love, and many of us will do so more than once. But sometimes the drama of it all becomes bigger than the attraction itself, clouding our judgement, skewing our perspective, and preventing us from developing a genuine, honest relationship that actually has the capacity to survive the times that are less than ideal and glamorous!
Where attraction and dating is concerned, not only is unrealistic expectation non-productive, but it doesn’t emanate from a good place, either. It doesn’t come from a genuinely loving mindset, from a willingness to be open to giving love a chance. Unrealistic expectation is usually about us, and our own need to have things the way we believe they should be. One of the most breathtaking examples I can bring to mind is the lady who stated that she wanted to meet and marry, within a year, a partner who would fulfil her every want, need and desire, and accept her exactly as she is… before asking me if I could see it actually happening. Of course I couldn’t, and when she really thought about it, she realised that yes, maybe she was being a bit unrealistic. She was hoping to guarantee a completely problem-free relationship, with a man who wasn’t going to challenge her in any way, shape or form, whilst loving her, warts and all. And not because she was a completely self-centred, self-entitled piece of work, but because of what she’d already experienced; because of emotional fear. She desperately wanted to outrun her past and write a completely different future, and most of us could probably relate to that to one degree or another. But still, she has a better chance of jumping to the moon and back, than finding a guy who is willing to even begin to attempt to fulfil those expectations!
Further examples of unrealistic expectation:
I want a partner who loves me unconditionally
The one who expects to be loved unconditionally would first have to love unconditionally! Never have I come across anyone who genuinely loves their partner unconditionally… me included. I have, however, heard from plenty who claim to love unconditionally, whilst bitterly complaining about all the things their partner is doing wrong! Having looked at the subject from every angle, it appears to me that there is probably only one form of genuine unconditional love, and even then, not in every single case. Most, though certainly not all, parents love their children unconditionally, and most, though certainly not all, children love their parents unconditionally. They might not always like them, but they do love them! However, the belief that ‘true’ romantic love should be absolutely unconditional tends to die a death as couples make it through the Honeymoon Period and into an established relationship. Couples who make it long term are always learning how to tolerate each other’s strange little ways, and choose to stay together, despite the ups and downs… which, I suppose, is a testimony to the stronger power of conditional love!
Partners should tell each other everything
I am sure there are partners out there who do tell each other everything, but I bet they are few and far between! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to know everything about anyone, except for the stuff I need to know! If we were going to be completely open about everything, there’d be no more slipping new clothes and shoes into the wardrobe, saying “What? This old thing? I’ve had it for ages… don’t you remember, I wore it at John’s leaving party?” knowing full well he wouldn’t remember if we’d been wearing a bin bag that night. There’d be no more secret eating and drinking; no more caving in to the kids’ demands for this or that latest thing, whilst warning them to keep quiet about it. And on a more serious note, some people couldn’t possibly cope with knowing absolutely everything about their partner, and the relationship would crumble under the pressure. There are definitely things we do need to know, and some that we don’t. I believe that everyone is entitled to their own past, and to their own harmless little secrets!
I want a partner to be so in tune with me that he automatically knows what I am feeling
Men and women are wired differently, as we all know. It seems to me that sometimes we women are not actually looking for a man; we are looking for a woman with a penis! We might expect our partner to be able to communicate with us in the same way that our female friends do, and to ‘read’ us in the way that our best girlfriend does. If so, we’re probably going to be disappointed, but it won’t mean that our relationship is a bad one, or doesn’t have potential. It takes time and effort and patience for two people to really get to know and understand each other, and even then, our different wiring will continue to be the cause periodic misunderstandings!
The interesting thing about unrealistic expectation is that it can actually survive the Honeytrap and the Honeymoon Period. However, it will create misery, if allowed to continue in a committed relationship. It also often leads us to become a little too attached to the word ‘should’, and the belief that we are being let down. I am not suggesting that we shouldn’t have ANY expectation whatsoever, and that we should just tolerate all manner of unsavoury or abusive behaviour; of course not, that would be unreasonable and unrealistic. I am talking about romantic expectations that cannot be met, for any length of time, in the real world!
Pitfall number 4 – Drama and distraction
This one is just a quickie, but worth mentioning! There are actually two pitfalls here, the first being drama, something that is often mistaken for passion – as in, the more of it there is, the more intense and exciting the experience! Romantic drama has the power to become so addictive that we can find ourselves believing it has to be present in order for a love attraction to be real! There is absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of drama every now and then… but if every time we meet with a romantic opportunity we turn it into our own version of Gone With The Wind, and/or start to obsess over every detail, moving through our day with little else in our head other than the object of our desire… we have definitely fallen into the pitfall of drama and the pitfall of distraction!
We don’t even need to have a love interest in mind in order to become seriously distracted by the idea of romance. Not having a committed relationship can be a very painful experience for those who feel that without one, something huge is missing from their life. They think about it constantly, and are more likely to take even light-hearted flirting or banter seriously. I have worked with a number of women who are particularly prone to this kind of response, and I wish I could help them to move beyond it, and quickly. It hurts them, and rarely, if ever, leads to a genuine, healthy, solid relationship.
On a lighter note, I remember the lady who told me that real love should leave her breathless; that it should be so intense that even the touch of her lover’s hand should leave her, and him, hurting… in pain, aching with passion and desire. I laughed and said, “that sounds like really hard work!” In hindsight, she laughed too, a little embarrassed. But hey, we’re all entitled to our dramatic fantasies, as long as we don’t habitually confuse them with real life!
And one last thought on this subject (just throwing it out there for consideration): if we sell our soul to the devil of romantic desperation, how interesting do we become to the intelligent, thinking, productively functioning love interest? Probably not very, beyond the initial attraction. Having said that, we might not even be looking for that kind of person anyway…
Pitfall number 5 – The Past
We can’t have the future whilst we are holding onto the past with both hands. None of us can completely free ourselves of what has already been, but if we are too focused on our ex, or how hurt we have been in the past, we are creating blocks that will make it almost impossible to move forward. Eventually, we have to choose: keep looking over our shoulder, or turn our attention to what lies ahead.
For example, the Honeytrap is filled to the brim with those dancing around in circles with an ex… even if the ex remains unaware, because he has moved on. Sometimes, however, the ex is trying to have his cake and eat it, as they say; he is hinting at a reconciliation, whilst being involved with someone else. This has nothing to do with love… it is more about ‘territory’. The Honeytrap then becomes a no man’s land for the one who is emotionally stuck, afraid of what I call the ‘void’… the space that lies between where we are currently at, and where we’d ideally like to be. The void is scary to most people, and smacks of the unknown, which is why it is easier to look back, rather than ahead… even if what we are looking at, over our shoulder, is painful. Better the devil you know, as they say.
It is hard to let go of something that has been important to us, and a relationship doesn’t even need to have been a long one, in order to have left its mark upon us. We may have believed that our ex was ‘the one’, and that we were going to make a life together… and now we are afraid to trust our own judgement. We want to get over it, and be happy with someone else, but the risk factor rises every time we enter into the Honeytrap, only to be ejected before we’ve got our bearings. We might have experienced some really tough times with our ex, but even the worst relationship will produce a few good memories – and it is these that often prove to be incredibly seductive, especially when we find ourselves at a low ebb, or a little lonely, or without an exciting vision for the future. And sometimes our ex finds himself feeling the same way, and so he gets in touch, poking around in the embers of the past, hoping to find a flame to fan. Occasionally the fire genuinely reignites, but more often than not, there’s too much ash and not enough kindling… and what we really need to do is to get out the dustpan and brush, sweep that stuff up, and clear the grate for a brand-new fire!
However, struggling to let go of an ex is not the only way in which the past makes our experience of the Honeytrap painful; keeping old hurts alive, overlaying the future with our memory of what has already passed, is guaranteed to seriously affect our chances of attracting and developing a new and healthy relationship. A young lady recently asked me if she would ever be able to have a relationship in the future, given that she hadn’t had the easiest of times with her ex. Though worded in different ways, this is a question that has been put to me many, many times, by women in all age groups. And my answer always begins with “Of course you can enter into new relationships… but only you can choose whether or not to consistently allow one, two, or even three unwholesome experiences to convince you that the future will only bring more of the same”. It absolutely isn’t easy to keep believing that we can and will meet someone who will genuinely love and want to be with us – but what is the alternative? Give up and close off completely (some people do that), or take heart from the fact that billions of people’s hearts were broken before they found honest and lasting love? The process obviously becomes more risky when we are doggedly seeking ‘the one’ (as previously mentioned, several times!), because then we have more to lose than someone who is, say, window shopping, with a view to buying!
A selection of statements that have been uttered at the threshold of the Honeytrap:
I want to attract a partner who loves and respects me, BUT… I can’t trust because I’ve been hurt.
This one better not be just another lying, cheating waste of skin and space!
All men/women are the same, deep down inside, and he/she needs to prove that I can trust them, before I actually do.
I need to know if this person is going to offer me commitment and security… I’m sick to death of time wasters!
I really can’t face another failure… I have to be able to make a relationship work!
It is easy to understand the frustration behind the above sentiments, but if we are starting from one of these viewpoints (influenced by the past), the process itself is likely to be more uncomfortable than we’d ideally hope it to be. So, what can we do to reduce the anxiety and wariness, when treading that well worn pathway through the Honeytrap? Well, the first thing we need to do is to bring our sense of humour along with us, and leave our intensity at the door! Then we need to remind ourselves that this journey doesn’t have the power to hurt us unless we allow it to, and that somewhere out there, maybe still a dot on the horizon, is a compatible partner with our name on them (and vice versa)… and that it will take as long as is it takes in order to align ourselves with them. We can become impatient, we can cry and rant and rage at the injustice of it all, but that won’t hurry the process, and in fact it is more likely to cast an energetically negative force-field that could possibly not only delay their arrival, but even divert them away from us. Love can be such an uncompromising bitch at times, but she appears to respect those who refuse to be crushed by her antics more so than those who crumble at her feet (even when they have perfectly good reason!). The only answer is to work with her, rather than against her! If we don’t give up, and are willing to use the Honeytrap as an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, whilst having some fun, we will learn how to navigate her rooms and hallways. And if we feel that we have tried enough, and don’t have it within us to try anymore, here are a few interesting questions that might just shift our perception:
When we were first learning to walk, how many times did we fall down and bump our head and knees, before deciding to give up and quit?
When learning to read and write, how many times did we repeat the same sounds, letters, and words, before deciding that it just wasn’t worth the effort?
When learning to tie our shoelaces, button our coat, use a skipping rope, or ride a bike, did we become so disheartened that we decided to simply live out our life without being able to do any of those (and other) things?
Or did we just keep trying until we got it right?
If we really think about it, we have all already achieved so many worthy things, and often against overwhelming odds; we have proved to ourselves just how strong and determined we can be. Passing exams, even if we have had to retake them; losing an impressive amount of weight; learning to swim, despite a fear of water; overcoming shyness; landing a job, after months or years of unemployment; recovering from an accident, becoming fit and mobile again; learning a new skill; saving to buy our first home; leaving the comfort of a job that feels safe to us, for a new and challenging position; standing up against an injustice; offering up our own work for public scrutiny… the list is endless, and each of us will continue to add to it, throughout our lifetime. If we can do all of those things, we can definitely handle the world of attraction and dating in a less desperate, or fearful, or defensive way! But you know, there is something we have all experienced, something that has the capacity to drive us crazy, especially where romantic love is concerned – something that definitely has the power to influence the way in which we approach the Honeytrap…
Pitfall number 6 – The pain of rejection!
Rejection hurts like hell, and has the capacity to lead us into some pretty self-destructive patterns of behaviour. There are those amongst us who are particularly susceptible, of course, but every last one of us will experience the gut-wrenching pain of rejection – not just once, but many, many times, throughout our lifetime. How much power we allow it to obtain will dictate how often, and how deeply, it cuts us. I believe that we ourselves can become so attuned to rejection that we actively seek it out, albeit unconsciously. I know for sure that I myself have fallen into this trap, and operated from there for years… as have many of the women I have worked with. But it isn’t all bad! A certain amount of rejection is necessary, if we are to define and refine our passions, expand our horizons, and live up to our own, unique potential. Every successful person on this planet has experienced failure and rejection, as an absolutely unavoidable part of their journey. We can choose to view rejection as an educator, or as evidence of our own powerlessness and lack of worth… and the choosing begins with awareness, and some critical thinking!
I remember heading home from a women’s seminar in Liverpool, with two ladies I haven’t been in touch with for years, sobbing my heart out. My life was going through a massive transition, and emotionally speaking, I was bloodied, tattered and torn… but also relieved and hopeful! It was the end of one long, dark phase, and the beginning of something I had worked very hard for. I still had a long way to go, but I was definitely seeing the encouraging glow of the light at the end of the tunnel. The course was made available to me, free of charge (otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to attend!), and I was really looking forward to it. There were different sessions to choose from, with different speakers, but I chose to spend most of the day with one particular woman, and I was eager and keen to join in; to be part of the ‘sisterhood’; to feel ‘normal’ again. I responded wholeheartedly, arm shooting up to answer questions, filling in all the little test papers that were handed out… but when the audience were asked to offer up an example of an occasion on which they had been surprised by their own strength, I realised I had misjudged. I laughingly recounted how, not long before I left my now ex-husband (a very recent event, at that time), I had been so angry, so at the end of my tether, I had actually picked up an armchair, and thrown it across the living room. I tried to follow suit with the couch, but couldn’t quite manage it – and the room fell silent. The American lady stared down at me from the stage, and using her hands to demonstrate, she replied “You know, you’re kind of UP HERE, and maybe you really need to be DOWN THERE… you’re kind of FULL ON, and you need to STEP BACK…”. I was immediately whisked back in time, to the day my school history teacher slammed her hand against the table, screaming “STOP being so STUPID!”, when I laughed a little louder than I intended to at one of her jokes. I was 13 again, self conscious, idiotic, and lesser than ‘the others’ who always had the sense to recognise where the line should be drawn – and who would never publicly admit to morphing into the Incredible Hulk. And I realised that she was talking about emotional strength, not physical strength… but then, so was I. I left the hotel feeling lonelier than when I arrived, and it took a little time for me to understand that it was my problem, but also my opportunity: something life had put before me, to figure out. I certainly didn’t like it, and I really didn’t want it, but hey… when did medicine ever taste like chocolate fudge cake?
So, what has this got to do with the Honeytrap, and the world of attraction and dating? Plenty, actually. Rejection has the power to shape and form the way we perceive ourselves, and what we allow ourselves to accept. By the time we enter into the Honeytrap, many of us will already be staggering under the weight of unexplored and unresolved rejection… and you can guess the rest. And those who are struggling with layers of old rejection don’t necessarily appear to the outside world as downtrodden and sad; they can just as easily present themselves as strong and feisty individuals. Repeated rejection can either lead us to keep focusing on the hurt, and all the times we have been let down, or to defiantly but defensively rise up, over and again, where dating and relationships are concerned.
Looking back, I can see that my childhood was awash with genuine rejection, as was, and is, the same for billions of others. I have spent much of my life feeling ridiculous; too this, too that, and too the other. I was never a conformist, and somehow just didn’t feel as if I fitted in or truly belonged anywhere. Most of the pain I experienced emanated from within my inner world, and from my own perceptions… from the way in which I processed my experiences. I expected rejection, even though I didn’t relish it. I learned how to survive, and was often forceful, determined, headstrong, and unwise. I put myself through some real crap, almost seeking rejection out, as if to pre-empt it. I even chose to work in industries that were guaranteed to invite rejection. The world of advertising sales, the arena of intuitive consultancy, and now, self-published writing! I was good at selling; I put my heart and soul into it, and endeavoured to provide the best service I could, but it was always going to deliver a far higher number of no’s than yes’s! Intuitive consultancy is always going to produce some degree of conflict and disagreement, because it centres around and focuses on people’s problems, ego’s, emotions, disappointments, fears, hopes, wishes, and dreams. I have periodically been publicly dragged over the coals on the internet, as well as being accused of being a con artist and a charlatan (by people who don’t know me, and are unlikely to ever meet me). And as for writing and self-publishing, it is a highly competitive market that requires not only blood, sweat and tears, but also endless amounts of patience and self-belief… with a sky-high potential for being completely ignored or badly received! If you analyse your own life, up to this point, you will be able to recognise some of the ways in which rejection has influenced your thinking, your beliefs about life, and your decision-making.
So, we can see that it is clear that feelings of rejection start in childhood, and continue to present themselves throughout our lives. Rejection can lead us to repeat the same old patterns again and again, or to close off to anything that could render us vulnerable. Or we could always choose to learn from it and grow. When I started to accept and appreciate myself more, I noticed that I felt the pain of rejection less. I reasoned that if I stopped automatically criticising myself, then maybe life would, too. Of course, that doesn’t mean I was saying to the world “hey, this is ME, take it or leave it!”, letting myself off the hook for everything. I still have a desire and a duty to continue to grow into the best possible version of myself. But I accept myself now more than I used to (my strong personality, my restless mind, my outspoken, expressive way of communicating, and my slight eccentricity), because I know that I am coming from a well- intentioned, positively-motivated place… well, most of the time, anyway! I still hurt, I still feel wounded when I know that I have given my absolute best, only to have it thrown back at me for being less than good enough, but there is no way of avoiding that – for any of us. Even the thickest skin has the odd weak spots!
Going back to the subject of love and relationships, throughout the years, I allowed myself to become programmed to believe that I was responsible for another human being’s misery, lack of fulfilment or success. I wasn’t perfect, and I made mistakes and bad decisions; but I also tried my best, using the knowledge and the resources I had available to me at that time. Bearing the weight of blame for someone else’s dissatisfaction and frustration, year in and year out, created a set of beliefs that were hard to shake off. I carried them forward with me, allowing the pattern to repeat, jumping from the frying pan into the fire. But I can now see that the men I involved myself with, who found it so easy to dump the blame for their own inadequacies and perceived lack of personal achievement onto someone else’s shoulders (in this case, mine), were unconsciously reacting to their own past experience of rejection. We all blame, and we all accept blame for stuff that has nothing to do with us, and in an ideal world we’d all strive to find a healthy balance! Unfortunately, there are those who consistently refuse to accept any responsibility at all for their own beliefs, feelings, and actions – the ‘blamers’. And there are others who unhealthily accept more than their share of responsibility – the ‘blamees’. If we enter into the Honeytrap as a seasoned blamer, the odds are that the one we are to attracted will end up disappointing us, just as all the others have done. If we enter into the Honeytrap as a battle-scarred blamee, the chances are that the one we are attracted to will end up treating us badly, whilst assuring us that it’s all our own fault. The cycle continues, piling new layers of rejection onto the old, confirming our worst beliefs about ourselves, and others. The only thing we can do is to recognise that we have developed an unhealthy emotional habit, and consciously work on breaking it, bit by bit, step by step.
The agony of rejection also has the capacity to turn a usually rational and sane individual into an illogical, emotional mess. There is a situation I come across again and again, often involving the slightly older woman (as opposed to those in their teens or early twenties), in which she has fallen for a man with ‘issues’ – usually anxiety, depression, and a fear of commitment or intimacy – who has pursued her with every ounce of his being, only to suddenly back off and close down, leaving her confused and devastated. She becomes fixated, trying to figure out what went wrong, what she did that was wrong, and what she can do to put it right. She convinces herself that this man is the only one for her, that no-one ever made her feel the way he did, and that if she just loves and understands him enough, she could be the one to fix him. She lets him know that she will always be there for him… and he either ignores her, or he tells her that he just needs a little time, and that he will get back to her – when he is ready (which he never will be).
She gets up each day, and goes through the motions. She does what needs to be done, smiling for the benefit of the outside world, whilst sobbing silent tears inside. She believes that the cause of her pain is the loss of this emotionally damaged man, but I believe that she is wrong; the cause of her pain is rejection. To receive love and appreciation is heart-warming and uplifting; to then have it suddenly snatched away is heartbreaking. Intellectually, she knows better, but emotionally, she starts by blaming herself, and then progresses to feelings of resentment – bitterness even, if it is allowed to drag on for long enough. She feels as if she is existing in a kind of emotional limbo, and that is the illusion that rejection creates – it lies to us! It can persuade us to hang onto an attraction way beyond its sell-by date, and to yearn for someone we probably wouldn’t even want to be with, if we actually got to spend real time with them, in the everyday world. And most of its power comes from the fact that the rejector usually has the last word, leaving us with not only a sense of unfinished business… but also with one agonising, unanswered question: WHY?
And one ‘why’ can lead to another, especially if rejection has previously left its mark on us. Why did my mother love my sibling more than me? Why did my father abandon me? Why didn’t my schoolmates accept and include me? Why was I overlooked and unappreciated by my employer, failing to be given the promotion I deserved? Why did my ex let me down, so badly? Why did my new love interest appear to be so keen on me, only to dump me as if I’m nothing? Why, why, why?
The frustrating fact is, there are questions to which we can never receive an answer or explanation that will make any sense to us. We can drive ourselves crazy, we can bang our sore and sorry head against every wall we can find… and still be none the wiser. People who reject others because they themselves are screwed up are never going to be able to explain their behaviour, and they certainly aren’t going to admit to being screwed up. We need to be able to recognise that what is often hurting us more than the loss of the affections of our rejector is the rejection itself – if that makes sense! We need to save our mental and emotional energy for our own healing, dust ourselves off, and move forward. It might not seem fair, and it certainly isn’t easy, but it makes more sense than allowing ourselves to remain trapped and alone within the sticky walls of the Honeytrap, watching as our unpredictable love interest slides away in the opposite direction.
Almost everyone who enters into the Honeytrap has experienced rejection. Those who are particularly emotionally raw will either jump in with both feet, eager to prove to themselves that this time it really is love, OR enter with their protective force-field already firmly in place, ready and waiting for the ‘inevitable’ rejection! Thinking about it, the Honeytrap can actually present a valuable opportunity for self-learning and enlightenment, if we can be brave enough to view it that way. And in fact, it would be smart to view it that way, because then we would be guaranteed to get something productive out of it, whichever way things go!
So, let’s have a final recap!
We are not going to be intimidated or overwhelmed by the Honeytrap. We accept that it is a necessary part of the process that will ultimately lead us to become aligned with a mutually compatible partner – and that it will take as long as it takes. However, where the potential pitfalls are concerned, we do have the power to save ourselves at least some time and emotional energy, by adopting a consciously aware approach.
We are not going to prematurely jump in with both feet, our head and our heart, asking “is this person the one?” before we’ve had enough real time to get to know them better.
We are going to keep our feet firmly on the ground, paying quiet attention to the details and the signs.
We are not going to make a love interest, or our romantic yearning, the be-all and end-all of our personal universe – we still have a life to live, and goals to be achieved!
We are going to pay attention to what is going on within our inner world, recognising our own patterns and tendencies, and we are going to take responsibility for anything we recognise that needs to be healed; we are not going to expect a new love interest to do it for us.
We are going to recognise and accept that rejection has left its mark on us, and that the moment we enter into the Honeytrap, the old wounds will surface to remind us of their existence; we will be kind but firm with them!
We are going to keep our sense of humour to hand, we are going to be true to the best version of ourselves, and we are going to have some fun!
We are going to steer away from negative conversation with habitual man/woman bashers, and we are going to remember that it is possible to be a victim without becoming a victim.
We are going to face the energetic ocean that separates our current location from our intended destination, with courage, enthusiasm and belief… because we know that looking forwards is far more empowering than looking backwards!
And this is all going to be EASY?? Hell no. Absolutely not. No way. But if some of it helps even a little bit, then hey… the effort just has to be worth it!
Happy Honeytrapping xxx
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