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Health & Wellness

Dating driving you crazy? How to get sane

Have you become “that girl”? The one who’s insecure, jealous and a shadow of her former self? In “Ms. Typed,” Dr. Michelle Callahan helps empower women to toss their counterproductive dating behaviors out the window. Here is an excerpt.

Have you ever caught yourself doing crazy things in a relationship and wondered, What is wrong with me, and why am I acting like this? Have you looked back at how you behaved in a past relationship and asked yourself, Who was that woman, and how did I become her? When riding the relationship roller coaster, sometimes we find ourselves acting out of character and doing things that we aren’t proud of. The crazier things get in your relationship, and the longer they stay that way, the greater the likelihood that your unusual behavior will become a habit rather than an exception to the rule. And before you know it, you seem to have become someone new whom you don’t recognize and whom you don’t want to be but can’t seem to get rid of.

Maybe you used to be confident in relationships, but then you started feeling insecure, and now you need more reassurance that everything is going to be okay. Perhaps you used to date more often, but now you feel you have to dress sexier or have sex sooner than you’d like in order to hold a man’s attention. Was dating and being single fun, until one day you couldn’t stop worrying about when you are going to meet Mr. Right, get married, and have some kids? Were you once comfortable with your boyfriend hanging out without you, but now you worry about where he is, who he’s with, and if he’s cheating? In the past were you able to find men who you felt were worthy of your time, but now you feel like you’re settling? There are so many ways in which we find ourselves moving away from feeling self-assured and smart in relationships to feeling vulnerable and desperate. Where did this version of you come from? Where is the real you, and how do we get her out on a date?

We all have a dating type or personality that explains how we typically behave in dating relationships. But what if you had so many bad dates and disappointing relationships that it started to have a lasting effect on you? And instead of being the vibrant person you are meant to be, you’ve become jaded, cynical, jealous, fearful, desperate, resentful, or distrustful. When those changes start to affect your personality, you become Ms. Typed.

Ms. Typed is a woman who has taken on behaviors and personality traits that don’t reflect who she wants or is destined to be. When it comes to dating, she is believed to have a less-than-desirable dating personality, but that personality isn’t the real her. It’s just who she has allowed herself to become as a result of her negative experiences and circumstances. Because she is behaving out of character, she gets mistyped, both in her own mind and by the men she dates. Both she and her dates think she’s someone else, because her real dating personality is hidden deep inside, and her true greatness doesn’t always shine through.

We all go through experiences that shape who we are, and sometimes as a result of those experiences, we develop negative or counterproductive thoughts and behaviors that sabotage our love lives. Instead of eventually getting ourselves back on track, we sometimes have dating experiences that are dominated by that negativity, and our real personalities get lost. We start to believe that we are that “other” person, and our dates meet Ms. Typed instead of that awesome person stuck living in her shadow.

It isn’t your destiny to be a drama queen, a booty call, a mistress, or a stalker, but under certain circumstances you may have allowed yourself to become one or all of them. As a result, you may have lost sight of your true self, which caused you to behave in ways that are out of character for you. The longer you acted that way the more it became a regular part of your behavior and personality, and before you knew it you started acting like someone else. But what if you were mistyped? What if, instead of finding your way back to your old confident self, you stayed out of character? If you are Ms. Typed, you have taken on a dating personality that is probably more of a coping mechanism than a choice.

If you can’t seem to figure out why you are always having problems with the men you’re dating, consider the possibility that you’ve been mistyped and you’re bringing a lot of counterproductive behaviors to your dating experiences that you need to let go of. When you mistype yourself and take on a personality that isn’t who you really are, you cause men to mistype you as well. So if the man you are dating doesn’t even know the real you, and he only knows you as Ms. Typed, then it’s no small wonder that your love life might not be working out! If you aren’t being your best self, then men aren’t meeting and dating your best self. They may be dating an angry, prudish, or judgmental you. Your past relationships may not have worked out because the man you were dating didn’t get along with the woman you were pretending to be, but he might love the real you if he could ever get to meet her!

When you’ve been mistyped, every man you date seems like Mr. Wrong. He’s married, he’s got a girlfriend, he’s a workaholic, he’s a deadbeat, he’s a player, he’s a mama’s boy. You keep running into the same type of man or the same situation over and over again because you’ve taken on a counterproductive dating personality that attracts that type. Your dating personality, or dating type, affects what type of men you attract and are attracted to. So when you keep having that same drama over and over again but with different men, you need to look at your own behavior to understand how the things you say and do may be undermining your relationships.

When you wonder why Mr. Wrong seems to be after you, you should look at your dating type to figure out what you’re doing to reel him in. If you’ve been mistyped, and you want to change the way you are acting in relationships, it’s even more important for you to understand your dating type. Men also have dating types. There are certain types of men whom you attract and certain types of men who are attracted to you.

Knowing your dating type will help explain what you do to attract different types of men, and what you do that keeps you from being a man’s preferred type. Some men don’t even know what type of woman they want to date, but they can definitely tell you what type they don’t want, and sometimes — even though you don’t mean to, but because you’ve been mistyped — you act more like the type of woman he’s trying to avoid. If you or the men you date have mistyped you, then this is your opportunity to find your way back to the woman you are destined to be. Discovering your real dating personality will help you figure out who you are, what you want, and what you need to do to get it. Once you know that, you can choose to become whatever type of woman you want to be.

If you know in your heart that you are one type of woman, but you somehow feel stuck acting like the wrong type of woman, I am here to help you find your way back to your true dating personality. Ms. Typed gives you the opportunity to discover your current dating type and understand how different the real you may be from the way you have been behaving. I will explain how your experiences may have driven you toward some of your unhealthy behaviors and created a counterproductive dating personality that has prevented your success in dating. This book provides the tools you need to transform yourself into the type of woman you want to be, and therefore discover your true dating personality. When you think about the dating mistakes you’ve made in the past, you might believe that those mistakes represent who you really are, but I’m here to tell you that you are probably just Ms. Typed. I wrote Ms. Typed to help you get that load of negative experiences and memories off your back, and out of your head and heart, so that you can finally be free of your difficult past to pursue an exciting romantic future.

You know in your heart that you’ve probably been Ms. Typed in some of your relationships, and it’s time for a change. You need to reconnect with the real you. If you aren’t currently dating, you may be asking yourself, Why am I still single? Why do I always attract the wrong type of person? Why don’t men return my phone calls? Why do my relationships end after we have sex, or only exist to provide sex? This book will help you understand yourself and your past relationships, so that you can discover your true dating personality and prevent remaking the mistakes of the past.

It’s far too easy to become Ms. Typed. Maybe one day you look in the mirror and remember the old confident you, and you wonder what happened to her. Or you know deep in your heart that you are greater than your circumstances, but you just don’t know how to turn your love life around. Maybe a bad breakup or a string of bad relationships has made you feel less and less like the woman you’re supposed to be. We all know a woman who is so amazing and has so much potential but somehow always ends up with jerks in dead-end relationships, and we wonder why someone like her would end up with someone like him (or why someone like yourself would end up with someone like your ex). I’ll tell you why. It’s because she and you are Ms. Typed.

Not only will this book help you rediscover your true self, but it will also help you create a strong foundation to get your romantic future back on track. If you don’t start acting as if you expect to meet Mr. Right right now, then how do you expect to be ready for him when he finally shows up? So many women go to bed at night and pray for their “soul mate” or a “good” man to show up in their lives. But what if he showed up and you were so caught up in your past and acting like Ms. Typed that you didn’t even recognize that he was “the one”? Under those circumstances, would you really be prepared to put your best foot forward and be in a good mental space to start a relationship? Of course not! Being Ms. Typed makes you vulnerable to dating drama that the real, healthy you would resist. And worst of all, when you are being Ms. Typed, you aren’t being yourself. So until you get rid of her, when Mr. Right shows up, that’s who he’s going to meet!

This book can help you start your personal evolution from Ms. Typed to the true, happier, and healthier you. This way when Mr. Right walks in the door, not only will you recognize him, but with your newfound confidence, health, and inner beauty, you’ll have him saying to himself, Now, that’s my type of woman!

Why did I write this book?
I have always been fascinated by dating and romantic relationships. As a teenager my friends and I spent hours discussing who did what and why. I couldn’t wait to get to college and graduate school to study psychology. I have always been particularly sensitive to the disappointment and pain that women experience as a result of romantic relationships. In graduate school I studied how marriages change over time, how domestic violence physically and mentally impacts married women and their children, and how dating violence affects single women. My doctoral dissertation focused on how teenagers cope with experiences of physical and psychological abuse in their dating relationships and how that abuse affects their psychological well-being. I have always been committed to discovering solutions to women’s self-esteem and relationship problems. First, I had to study and understand their experiences, and then I was determined to help them find ways out of these difficult situations. The younger the women were, the more frustrated I was that they had no support or resources. No one tells us how to act in relationships, least of all how to be smart and protect ourselves and by “protecting ourselves,” I don’t mean acting defensive but just being well informed about how men are, how relationships work, and how sex impacts us physically and emotionally — everything!

Right after I finished my doctoral program at the University of Michigan, I started my postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University’s School of Epidemiology and Public Health, working on a research project studying teenage girls at risk for STDs and HIV. The time I spent interviewing these girls helped to change the course of my career and my life. When I interviewed them, I wasn’t supposed to be doing anything more than reading off questions and recording their answers. But their pain and their needs were so great that it felt almost impossible to record what they were saying and then ignore it. They wanted to talk to me and I wanted to talk to them, but we weren’t supposed to. I resisted as much as I could, but I knew then that I had to find a way to communicate to women everything I understood about the psychology of relationships. A few years later I started my own relationship and life coaching business, and I started working with the media and providing relationship advice on television. I am always looking for ways to take the research we create in academia and communicate it through the media. For over fifteen years I have studied and worked with women to understand their relationship challenges. I want to help women find ways to cope with their relationship stress and resolve their dating dilemmas.

I decided to write a book about being mistyped because I saw dating types in myself and in the women around me. I have been Ms. Typed, and I was surrounded by other women who were as well, but we had no idea what to do about it. One of the reasons I wrote this book is that I wish it was available to me when I was struggling with feeling like Ms. Typed. I have had my share of dating disappointments. There was a time in my life when I looked back over my dating experiences and felt embarrassed by how often I acted out of character and in ways that didn’t represent who I was (or who I thought I should be). I thought I was a “keeper,” but I wasn’t acting like it! There was the amazing me who I knew I could be, and then there was the “other” me who often showed up for dates. My head kept saying, You’re smarter and stronger than this, but my body kept acting like it didn’t get the memo! I felt trapped in a dating personality that didn’t fit who I knew I was supposed to be.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was Ms. Typed. Once I realized that I needed to change, I decided to take some time away from dating so that I could think things through, give myself some time to heal, and return to the dating world as the real me. So I put myself through the makeover process that I use with my clients, much of which is included here in this book as the Ms. Typed Makeover Kit. Doing these exercises was part of a life makeover for me. Stepping away from dating and focusing on me helped change my entire life. Soon afterward, I quit my job, started my own business, started working in television, and met a wonderful man — and the list goes on!

Excerpted from “Ms. Typed” by Michelle Callahan. Copyright (c) 2009, reprinted with permission from Crown, a division of Random House.