Mandy Hale On Love, Loneliness and Brutal Honesty
I’m excited to be interviewing Mandy Hale – blogger turned New York Times best-selling author and speaker – affectionately known around the world as “The Single Woman.” Mandy was invited by Oprah to cover her Lifeclass: the Tour events as part of OWN’s “VIP Press Corps” in 2012. Mandy’s many best selling books include: The Single Woman: Life, Love & a Dash of Sass , I’ve Never Been to Vegas But My Luggage Has and Beautiful Uncertainty!
Q: Mandy – I’m delighted to share you with my audience. You and I originally met a few years ago thanks to Twitter. Yes, social media was our matchmaker! I always love what you share in social media – your advice on love and relationships. As my readers know, I used to have a tendency to date Prince Harmings – guys who are either “trouble” or “troubled” – or a little bit from each category. Can you share a little advice to my readers on how you suggest they stop dating Prince Harmings – or stop being Princess Harmings to men?
A: First of all, thanks so much for interviewing me! I love your message and it’s an honor to share a little of my story with your readers.
I think the first thing that any man or woman needs to do before they enter into a romantic relationship is make sure they’re healed as much as possible from past heartbreaks. It sounds really simple but a lot of people tend to be addicted to relationships and even treat them as “bandaids” for all past hurts and wounds. There’s no way you can be a healthy partner or attract a healthy partner until you first become a healthy person. My last relationship ended pretty badly two and a half years ago, and I took a complete dating hiatus. I knew I wasn’t in the kind of emotional shape to attract the kind of person I hoped to attract and I also knew I needed to take time for ME, just to breathe and let go and heal. That’s not to say that every failed relationship or breakup should require a two and a half year break from dating. It’s different for everyone. You have to really trust your gut and follow your instincts because you’ll know when it’s time to get back out there again. And you’ll also know that when you DO get back out there, you’ll be whole and complete and healthy and not looking for someone to simply fill an empty space. I definitely think when you approach dating from a place of self-worth and self-love and contentment with who you are, you’ll no longer attract the Prince Harmings. And you definitely won’t be a Princess Harming!
Q: Your most recent book was called , “Beautiful Uncertainty.” I read it and loved it! Throughout the pages of your book you prompt readers to never settle and to make sure they do not miss out on the beauty that can be found in what you call “seasons of waiting.” What are some helpful tools you recommend for embracing this waiting period and its incumbent uncertainty?
A: I think just remembering that every season of life serves a purpose…the difficult seasons, the happy seasons, and yes, even the waiting seasons. I firmly believe that anything we’re waiting for is only delayed because we’re not ready for it or it’s not ready for us. I try to look at waiting not as punishment, but as preparation. I can look back at times in my life when I was waiting impatiently for something…to be able to fully chase my dream of being a full-time writer is a great example, as that was a three-year wait…and I can now see clearly why it came to me when it did and not one moment before. You can get frustrated with the waiting, or you can get thankful that whatever you’re waiting for isn’t going to get here before you’re ready for it. And you can also choose to wait with purpose. You don’t have to just sit around, twiddling your thumbs. You can get out there and live your life to the fullest and take chances and follow your dreams and chase your goals and trust that all the things you’re hoping for will arrive when you’re most ready for them…and not one moment sooner or one moment later.
Q: So many people put up with relationships which bring lots of emotional pain. I’ve joked that we all need to remember that it’s called a “love life” not a “stressed out all the time life.” Why do you think people settle for relationships which bring heartache? Do you recommend any tools for people to improve their “self-love life”- so they can improve their love life?
A: I think some people are so terrified of being alone, they’re willing to settle for whatever warm body is in front of them at the time to avoid that. And that’s a recipe for unhappiness. Learning to love yourself is a difficult process…for some, a lifelong process. It might surprise people to hear that I still struggle with self-love at times. And I’m in counseling for that very reason (and for several other reasons). The first thing you have to do is get really honest with yourself about how you feel about YOU. Do you like yourself? Do you show yourself grace? Do you say kind things to yourself? Or are you constantly mentally ripping yourself apart and beating up on yourself and calling yourself terrible names in your mind? I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum, but I’m happy to say that I’m getting closer to self-love every single day. And the only way I’m getting there is through brutal honesty, therapy, vulnerability, and a desire to learn and grow and get better. I WANT to love myself. I want to be kind to myself. I want to learn to value myself enough to stop accepting people into my life who don’t value me enough. So I’m taking active steps to get there. For me, active steps means counseling and journaling and making a concerted effort to look at myself through the eyes of grace instead of criticism. But everyone’s self-love journey is different. I think the first step to learning to love yourself is learning to be honest with yourself. Once you can do that, you can start to figure out exactly what you need to do to pursue healing and self-love and a positive self-image.
Q: Are there any recommended questions people can ask on their first few dates – as a screening process – so people can better see and understand the person sitting across the table from them – and get a better sense if their dinner date might make a good potential partner?
A: I would have answered this question completely differently even just a month ago. I’ve been on a new dating journey and it has opened my eyes to so many incorrect ideas and notions I had about dating for many years! I think first of all, you have to get the deal breakers outta the way. Whatever those are for you. Is smoking a deal breaker? Is divorced a deal breaker? Is the person having children a deal breaker? (I also want to add in here, don’t apologize for your deal breakers. You have the right to set standards and boundaries for your life and no one gets to tell you you’re being too picky! It’s your life.) Once you’ve established that the person meets the very basic criteria for what you’re looking for, I say remain flexible. Don’t judge a person too quickly based on some stock question you might ask them. We live in a somewhat disposable society and the tendency to just swipe left on someone because they don’t fit every last bullet point you have for yourself is an epidemic. No one person can possibly fulfill your every need or check your every last box. It just doesn’t work that way. Someone who may have a different political persuasion or a complicated past or a habit you don’t necessarily love might also be someone who will make you laugh and treat you with respect and honesty and bring unimaginable happiness into your life. I’m not saying SETTLE. I’m saying REMAIN OPEN. Leave room for people to surprise you. And you know what? They just might. 🙂
Q: Thanks so much, Mandy! Where can people find you – so they can read more of your work?