Are You A Black Belt, But You’re Dating Yellow Belts?

Getting what you really want can make you feel vulnerable

As a modern-day Relationship Coach, the main complaint I hear from potential clients who avoid dating is that no one ever ‘measures up’. The people they’ve dated in the past never met their standards and they are always left feeling disappointed.

Essentially they are ‘black belt’ women — highly competent, very intelligent, and quite accomplished in all other areas of their life. Yet, they keep getting into relationships with men who feel like ‘yellow belts’ — who barely make the cut, don’t have a lot of skill when it comes to women and dating, and who generally miss the mark and fall short.

Black belts need to be matched with other black belts or else the bout is boring and unsatisfying; the yellow belt simply can’t compete.

After too many yellow belt experiences, the women who come into my coaching world have simply given up on dating. They think it’s the dating pool and the ‘men of the world’ which are to blame.

The truth is everyone shares 50/50 responsibility in relationships and we each have a part to play in how our relationships go. No one is ever 100% to blame. So if you identify as a black belt woman, it’s worth examining why yellow belts keep coming into your life.

Here are some places to start:

You Set People Up to Fail

Maybe you’ve been hurt in the past.

Maybe you’re afraid of commitment and of going ‘all-in’ again even though a serious relationship is something you really desire.

Maybe you’re afraid to admit just how much you really want love and companionship.

Maybe you’re afraid of being seen as too much if you express yourself fully.

For a long time my fear of abandonment was running the show in my relationships. I was in constant fear that if I was honest and showed too much of myself, people would leave. This was the starting assumption of every relationship: partners who actually stuck around, I unconsciously believed must be dumb.

The belief was always trying to prove itself right.

I consistently set up the men in my life to fail before they ever had an honest shot — by not communicating my desires and needs and expecting them to “just know” and then blame them later when they didn’t. By having huge lists of demands they could never realistically meet.

You may unconsciously be doing the same. If everyone you date appears to be a ‘yellow belt’, are you creating the circumstances for them to be so?

When someone fails you yet again, does it feel satisfying to point the finger and say ‘Hah, I knew I’d be let down again.’

Getting what you want can feel very vulnerable. You may unconsciously fear a successful relationship more than you fear another bad one.

Being deeply seen, appreciated, and receiving someone’s full and consistent presence can feel like a lot.

If you’ve ever struggled with insecurities, negative self-talk, or held beliefs in the past that told you you’d never be able to have what you want, or that you don’t really deserve what you want, the actual getting of what you want will confront older (and perhaps more comfortable) wiring in your brain.

Personal Responsibility is a lot of Work

Sometimes we push away the things we want out of fear of more responsibility. Being in a healthy relationship takes work. It requires that we are self-aware, can clearly communicate our needs and desires, and commit to self-honesty and vulnerability.

There is now someone else to consider when making choices and plans and someone is affected by the things that you do.

A relationship can end up revealing a lot about ourselves — our patterns, our triggers, and our old wounds. They can be our biggest catalysts for growth and sometimes we simply aren’t willing, interested, or able to look within and make the changes necessary to show up differently.

Change is hard.

Rewiring our nervous system out of old behaviors takes work and discipline.

If you’re consistently dating people that feel below you, people that you know won’t challenge you or tell you the truth — you may fear what a real, intimate, and honest relationship would require of you and instead settle for the easier route.

You Stay Protected in Your Insecurities

Have you ever met someone and thought:

“At least I don’t have it as bad as them!”

Yes, those people can help provide important contrast and provide the perspective that maybe our lives aren’t so bad when we feel in a spiral but keeping too many of those people in our lives, or being in close relationship with them can unconsciously keep us stuck in our patterns that we’re avoiding examining.

Sometimes we date people below us because it feels safe. Our ego likes being the smarter, more attractive, more successful one.

We may even keep our partners ‘small’ so that they don’t evolve past us, become too ‘shiny’ to others and leave us for someone we may perceive as ‘better’ than us.

Protecting our ego comes at a cost. Often our soul screams inside. Staying in a relationship out of fear — of being left or of not being the best, is not the foundation you want to create. That’s not a real relationship.

I am very guilty of dating men who didn’t always have their lives together. Sometimes they were still financially dependent on their parents well into their adult years, or they were lost and didn’t have any idea what they wanted to do but never took any action, and sometimes I wasn’t even fully attracted to them. Plain and simply, these men made me feel better about myself. They made me feel better about also feeling lost and insecure; being a couple of notches above them, meant I could avoid the level of honesty my life was asking of me.

These were not healthy dynamics, and a lasting relationship did not stand a chance. I wasn’t ready to begin the inner work necessary to get my life and relationships in better order.

Rescuing People Gives You Self-Worth

Lastly, we like to date people ‘below’ us because it gives us a project. We think we’ll make their lives better, we’ll save them, or we’ll be the ones that get them to commit or get them to get their lives together. If/when that happens (it usually doesn’t) then we’ll feel important, valuable, and like we have a purpose.

You can’t change other people and you shouldn’t want to, they need to come to that choice on their own. The relationship you want is with someone who is their own whole person and someone who is independently working on themselves.

You may last a few rounds but eventually you will tire of this game and be the one left feeling disappointed, depleted, and resentful.

I used to be very delusional in my relationships. I would make my relationships my “purpose”. I would be quite a few steps ahead of my partner and try to take them on a ride to change with me. They were usually very resistant, would protest, or would come along resentfully. Those relationships never lasted. I was keeping them in a state of helplessness and ultimately communicating they weren’t good enough instead of doing my own work to fight those beliefs within myself and do the healing I needed.

Learn to find your worth in pursuing your own individual purpose, making a contribution to the world, and orient that time and energy towards yourself and your own self-work. Your vibration will eventually raise and those that don’t have their lives together will stop coming into your field. To the best of your ability lovingly accept where people are at and don’t hold unrealistic expectations for them to change before they’re ready or before they desire to.

There’s a lot of reasons we date people who don’t measure up and who leave us feeling disappointed with no desire to pursue dating or a long-term relationship.

Yes, perhaps you have really bad instincts and potentially bad luck, but it’s a lot more likely you have subtle and unconscious beliefs that are in the driver’s seat and are hijacking your ability to see clearly and really discern what’s true or false.

Start with yourself. Do the internal healing work and get yourself support when you begin dating again if you want to avoid another disappointing experience. From that place, your fellow black belt will come along.

About the author
Go-to Relationship Coach for High Achieving Women in their 30's Follow Molly on Instagram or read more articles from Molly on Thought Catalog.

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