By Dr. Jacqueline Plumez

Adapted from Chapter 4, Bitch of a Date: The Bitch Makes Three a Crowd, from The Bitch in Your Head: How to Finally Squash Your Inner Critic, by Jacqueline Plumez, Rowman & Littlefield, 2015

The Bitch

Most women (and many men) live with a litany of self-critical statements running through their minds, wearing away their self-esteem, and limiting their aspirations.

How could you be so stupid? Nobody wants to hear what you have to say. Don’t even try, it will never work. You look fat. Who do you think you are?

I’ve labeled this inner critic as “The Bitch in Your Head”. Learning to identify The Bitch is the first step in taking power away from self-defeating statements. Anything you say to yourself that is too mean to say to your friend, mother or daughter is The Bitch. You don’t let other people talk to you that way, so why let yourself?

I know the word Bitch is sexist and ugly. I never use it in my personal life. But in my work as a psychologist I’ve found this word resonates with people. As soon as I label negative thoughts as “The Bitch in Your Head,” people know what I’m talking about. Don’t you, dear reader?

The Bitch in Your Dating Life: Three Makes a Crowd

Dating involves competition, rejection, sex, body image, major differences between men and women, a lack of clear rules, and ticking time clocks. No wonder it provides such fertile ground for your inner critic to make you miserable. Negative thoughts around dating and relationships are counter productive–they stand in the way of intimacy and success.

Here are three common thought patterns to watch out for.

1. Thinking all the other women (or people) out there are more desirable

Prettier, younger, livelier, sexier and thinner. Yes, there are people who will outshine you in these ways. That’s why it’s self-defeating to compete in these categories–they all fade with time.

Focus instead on who you are as a person—what are your interests? Your best personal characteristics? These are what will attract the right mate for you, instead of the right mate for the person you’re comparing yourself to.

2. Focusing on what the guy (or gal) thinks about you, as opposed to what you think about him/her.

You will make yourself crazy if you keep wondering “What does (s)he think of me?” If you are obsessed with that, ask! It’s much more productive to focus on what you think about him/her – Do you have common interests? What are the good and bad qualities in this other person and do they work for you and your life?

3. Idolizing the one who got away.

Stop obsessing about how your ex is the most wonderful person in the world. Stop telling yourself bull like you will never find anyone as good. That train left the station! There probably were good reasons you were not the right match. Use your energy to be open to new people.

Here’s the truth: dating is like a casting call. Just as there are many people who are attractive and perfectly nice, but not your type, so it is with the people who reject you.

Here’s the no-lose plan: Make your life enriching and happy while you keep looking for the right one. Don’t give up until you find the type of love that feels right–don’t stop until you find what you are looking for. In the process, watch out for your Bitch and make sure that voice isn’t putting you down. Build yourself up and be your own best friend.

For more follow Dr. Plumez on Twitter @BitchInYourHead.