Ferne Kotlyar

Why is it so hard to find love? 

When you’re in the pits of a no-romance stress, it can feel a little bit like trying to climb out of a muddy hole during a rainstorm. There’s nothing to grab onto, and every time you think you’ve found a root or a branch to hold onto, you lose your grip. Sadly, lots of us languish in the between-places of finding love because we don’t have the tools to dig ourselves out of the dating trap. 

That’s especially true if you’ve had a run of bad luck on dating apps. If the people you’re meeting all feel boring, self-absorbed or unengaging, it’s easy to start to get jaded and cynical about dating in general. When nothing comes your way after giving things a sincere effort, it’s easy to want to throw up your hands and say, “I give up!” And then you go on to forego all dating advice and become an a-romantic hermit… which nobody (not even you!) wants. 

But if you really want to find a great relationship, you can’t give up. Now, this isn’t going to be another run-of-the-mill milquetoast love advice column where I tell you to keep your chin up and wait for the right lover to come along. The truth is that unlike in rom-coms and steamy love novels, finding a great partner actually does take work, perseverance and patience. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. 

Finding the right partner 

Let’s cut to the chase. If you really want help finding love, the most important way to start is by focusing on what you do want to attract, rather than what you don’t. In the past, you’ve probably checked off a list of red flags that make someone un-dateable to you. But the problem with focusing on what you don’t like is that when you pay attention to what you want to avoid, you end up finding more people you don’t want to be around.   

By contrast, creating a list of green flags can help you accurately define what you want in a potential partner. It’s important that you work to get clarity around your ideal relationship, and make a checklist surrounding it. Ask yourself:

  • What’s my perfect partner like?
  • What’s their nature?
  • What do they look like?
  • What do they sound like?
  • How do they interact with me and the world?
  • What kind of person are they?

I’m not bullshitting you: this works. How do I know? Allow me to let you in on a little secret. I was in your position, once. That’s right: I wrote this exact same list myself. When I was divorced and trying to date people, I had the exact same problems that lots of people having trouble with love experience. I was dating lots of people who were absolute mismatches for me. And then one day, someone told me to write a list of all the things I wanted. So I took out my journal and wrote a list. Do you want to know what was on that list?

I wanted a guy who was kind, warm, good with my family, and loved me like there was no other person in the world. I eventually met someone who met all of those qualifications and then some — and because I’d made that list, I knew he was the one when I met him. 

This can happen for you, too. But first you have to pull up your shoelaces, put together your list, and enter the dating market with an enthusiastic mindset. Only then can you start sincerely finding people who might be the right fit for you. 

How do you know if you’re dating the right person?

Once you’re out there in the dating field, it’s time to start a little process I like to call “shopping.” It’s similar to when you’re going to the grocery store — you’ve got your cart, you’re in the aisle, and you’re ready to go. The problem is, while there’s pretty much everything you could ever imagine in the grocery store, your cart’s limited in size. So you have to make choices about what you want to take home with you, and what you’d rather leave in the store.  

Let’s keep this metaphor going. If you’re going down the bread aisle, and you prefer multigrain bread over Wonderbread, you don’t put Wonderbread in your cart. Same goes for other aisles: you put oranges in your cart, but not apples. If we take this metaphor and extrapolate it into the dating game — for instance, let’s say you see a couple holding hands and being affectionate in the street, and you decide you want that — you start to put that in your mental “shopping cart.” 

Do that for every romantic thing you witness and like. That goes for people having intellectual conversations together, people flirting in ways you find attractive, people being affectionate with one another, and everything else you enjoy. This helps you move your attention toward the kinds of positive experiences you do want to have, instead of the kinds of interactions you’d rather avoid. 

That’s what this is all about. It’s about getting you out of your mental headspace of “there’s nobody interesting or attractive out there for me,” and moving you toward that space of openness, intrigue and possibility. The truth is that it’s not all too difficult to weed out the right kinds of lovers from the wrong kinds — but you have to know which lovers you’re looking for first. 

That’s an abridged version of my most important dating advice for those of you currently lost in love. But if you’re looking for an in-depth conversation on someone who’s going through the exact same thing you’re experiencing right now, you should head on over to my podcast where my daughter, Ferne and I, discuss life advice, dating tips and so much more.  

Unless, that is, you want to keep meeting more Mr. and Mrs. Wrongs… 


Episode Transcript

[00:00:05] Kim Ades:
Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching™ and you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast with our special episode of the week: Fridays with Ferne!  

Ferne is my daughter and every week she comes to us with a special case. She throws it at me, I have no idea what she's going to give me week to week, but here we are. Friday once again.  

Ferne, welcome!  

[00:00:32] Ferne Kotlyar:
Hi, thank you so much for having me! Always a pleasure to be here.  

[00:00:36] Kim Ades:
So what's on your agenda for today?  

[00:00:39] Ferne Kotlyar:
All right. So today we have a case about a young lady named Jess. And so she's 26 and she's never been in a real relationship. 

Yeah, sure, she's had summer flings here and there, you know, a little excitement from time to time, but never a serious relationship. Now she's 26 and the way she always imagined her future is that she was going to get married and have kids and have a really... you know, that fairy tale, Barbie doll life with the, you know, being a soccer mom and whatnot. 

But she's really struggling to find somebody. So she's on dating apps, she's going on dates, but everyone's dull and boring and she can't even hold the conversation with someone because they're all so, you know, useless.  

And she feels like any guy she's ever liked in the past has not liked her back. And any guy that likes her has been... weird and creepy and not at all her type. And she doesn't know what to do.  

She feels like she's putting herself out there. She feels like she's trying super hard. She feels like she's doing everything right. And yet nothing's coming to her and she feels frustrated and stuck and she doesn't know what to do. 

[00:01:55] Kim Ades:
Gee, I think I know someone like that.  

[00:01:57] Ferne Kotlyar:
Oh yeah?  

[00:01:58] Kim Ades:
Yeah. Weren't you in that exact situation maybe a year ago?  

[00:02:05] Ferne Kotlyar:
Maybe. [Laughs]  

[00:02:07] Kim Ades:
[Laughs] Maybe. Let's just go back. What was the advice? What did you do?  

[00:02:13] Ferne Kotlyar:
You told me to write a list of all the characteristics I wanted in a guy. 

[00:02:20] Kim Ades:

[00:02:21] Ferne Kotlyar:
I did. I wrote that list and I still felt frustrated. And then one day, out of the blue, some guy came along that checked off all my boxes and then some.  

[00:02:33] Kim Ades:
And then some. And you're dating this guy right now?  

[00:02:36] Ferne Kotlyar:

[00:02:38] Kim Ades:
And he's awesome?  

[00:02:41] Ferne Kotlyar:
Really awesome.  

[00:02:41] Kim Ades:
So awesome?  

[00:02:43] Ferne Kotlyar:
Yeah. [Laughs]  

[00:02:44] Kim Ades:

[00:02:45] Ferne Kotlyar:
Makes me feel super giddy. 

[00:02:47] Kim Ades:
Yeah, we can hear it. 

[00:02:49] Ferne Kotlyar:

[00:02:50] Kim Ades:
So this is a story I'm very personally familiar with. Ferne was this person, perhaps she was a little younger at the time, but she described the situation exactly right. Every guy was useless, every guy was creepy, every guy was dull, every guy was boring. And, to be honest, she was focusing on what was wrong with every single guy. 

And so what happens is when you're focused on what's wrong with every single guy, you end up getting more of all those guys that have all the things that are wrong with them. All the people that are not a match for you. And so in this case, I did tell Ferne to start to focus on, first of all, identify what it is that she wants. 

And very often we're out there, you know, trying to get something without real clarity about what it is that we want. So step number one is: do write a list. Write what's on your checklist, characterize the person, you know, what's he like? What's his nature like? What does he look like? What does he sound like? How does he interact with you? What kind of person is he? Write that list.  

In fact, I wrote that list. When I was divorced and I was dating people, I had the exact same experience. I dated a lot of different people who were an absolute mismatch for me. And then one day someone told me to write a list of all the things that I wanted. So I took out my journal and I wrote a list.  

I wanted a guy who was kind, who was warm, who was good with my family, who was loving me like there was no other person in the world, and all of those things. And I got that in spades with my husband, Allan Friedman. Some of you may know him.  

And so I recommended to Ferne, and I recommend to this 26 year-old, Jess to start by writing a list. Write a list of all the things you're looking for. 

In addition to that, start what I call shopping. So, you know, when you go to the grocery store and you have your cart, there's a lot of things in the grocery store. You're not putting all the things in your cart. You're putting in the things that you want.  

So if you go down the bread aisle and you like multi-grain bread, you put in that bread, you don't put in wonder bread, right? If you're going down the fruit section and you love oranges and maybe watermelon, you put that in your cart, as opposed to putting everything in your cart.  

And so what you're really doing is you're starting to select the things you want. By the same token, when you go in the street and you start noticing relationships, I want you to put those things in your imaginary cart. 

When you see, let's say a couple walking down the street and they're holding hands and you say "aw, I want that", put it in your cart. When you see a gentleman holding the door for his wife, you say "aw, I want that", put that in your cart. When you see two people talking and it's kind, and it's sweet and you think "that's what I want", put that in your cart.  

When you see people having an intellectual conversation and they're stimulated and they're really engaged with each other, and you say "I want that", put that in your cart. I'll give you one more. And when you see people flirting with each other and just having a good time and laughing, and you say "that's what I want", but that in your car too.  

What you're really doing is you're turning your attention to that which you want, as opposed to that, which you do not. And when you start to put those things in your cart, your energy level elevates, and you start to become a match for those things, you start to draw towards you those things that you are looking for.  

Prior to doing this, you're attracting the very thing you don't want because you're so focused on all the bad negative experiences you've had. And so this is the way that we turn our attention, we pivot towards what we would rather have.  

Unfortunately, a lot of times when we're dating, it's kind of like being on a basketball court. We have the ball in our hands, we say "okay, we're going to score", and what happens is we dribble the ball and unfortunately we're aiming towards the net of our opponent. We're like, "oh my God, we're scoring in the wrong direction".  

And so what this exercise is about is giving you the ball, handing it to you, but then turning you in the right direction, the direction of looking for what you want, being aware of what you want, getting excited about what you want and starting to focus your energy in that direction. 

What do you think?  

[00:07:26] Ferne Kotlyar:
I think that all makes sense. I do think though, in basketball you're supposed to aim towards your opponent's net, but I got the idea.  

[00:07:33] Kim Ades:
You know what I mean.  

[00:07:35] Ferne Kotlyar:
[Laughs] So I understand all of that, but I think another piece of Jess's struggle is that she's 26 and she feels the pressure to get married. She thinks she should be at least with somebody by now in order for her to have kids at a specific age, in order for her to have kids before it's too late.  

How does she get over that stress and pressure in order for her to focus on what she really wants?  

[00:08:00] Kim Ades:
Well, first of all, we need to look at like the window of when relationships can happen, they can happen anytime. And so we want to release that stress and that pressure. We want to let her know people can get married at any time and still have kids.  

And so, very often what happens is we are stuck. We have a very specific image of what we're looking for and if it doesn't fit exactly that model or that picture in our brains, we feel frustrated and disappointed. 

And what I also always want to share with my clients is that rather than focusing on the specifics of what you're looking for, it's very important to focus on the essence of what we're looking for. And the essence is really "I want to be in a wonderful relationship. And when I'm in a wonderful relationship, if we want to have kids, we can have kids of our own, we can adopt, we can... lots of different options there". Right? But focus on the essence of what you want.  

There's one more piece to this, and I think it's important. And I think that part of the frustration is often with single people is they have the mentality that says "I will be happy when I'm in a relationship", and that mentality prevents them from finding the right match or it ends up that they find a person who's really not a good fit for them. So they either find nobody or they find somebody and then they settle, and that's all not ideal. Right?

And so what we want to do is we want to help people find it within themselves to be happy without a partner, without anybody in their lives, and get excited about what is in their lives. Get excited about what could be, get excited about the relationship they're looking for. And when they're in that state, a person shows up.  

And so, all of those pieces are required. In Jess's case, we need to reduce the stress. We need to eliminate that fear of, you know, "things aren't going to work out for me. I'm running out of time". All those things cause her to attract the wrong person, to be stressed and uncomfortable in the conversations, are probably preventing her from really getting to know someone, perhaps she's discounting people too soon, and on and on and on. So she's not really in a position to find the right person.  

[00:10:28] Ferne Kotlyar:
And so do you think that the right person just kind of shows up? Or she should go out there and look for the right person? Like, should she put herself more on dating apps? Go on more dates? Should she keep pushing it or should she just let it go? Like, where's the balance between there?  

[00:10:43] Kim Ades:
I think that she can happily be on dating sites as long as she's having fun with it. If she's not having fun with it, it's not working. Right? So the idea is how can I have fun with whatever I'm doing? When I'm having fun, I draw towards me those things that I want and I like.  

If I'm not having fun, if I'm forcing it, if I'm miserable doing it, then I'm not going to bring towards me what I'm looking for. Because when we have that energy that, you know, kind of "everybody's useless" kind of feel to us, what happens is we miss the opportunities that are right in front of our nose. Right?  

So there might be someone wonderful in front of her, she's already moved past the guy. Maybe he's a little shy. Maybe he's a little uncomfortable. Maybe he's not great at talking on dating apps, but she's already discounted him. And so the idea is start having fun, start being open, start relaxing, start, you know, looking for what you want, start getting excited by what's possible in the future. And from that vantage point, then we start dating.  

[00:11:50] Ferne Kotlyar:
Makes sense to me and definitely worked for me too. I'm a super happy where I'm at.  

[00:11:56] Kim Ades:

[00:12:01] Ferne Kotlyar:
So if you were to give Jess one more piece of advice, one last summary of... advice, what would it be?  

[00:12:09] Kim Ades:
It would be to, you know, focus on what you want rather than on what you don't want, and focus on the aspects, the characteristics that you're looking forward to and excited about, and reduce the pressure. There doesn't need to be pressure. Pressure raise an outcome you typically don't want. So reduce the pressure.  

[00:12:24] Ferne Kotlyar:
Makes sense. Well, thank you so much.  

[00:12:27] Kim Ades:
Thank you for giving me a new case. I liked this one. It was fun to work with. Very familiar.  

For those of you who are listening, if there's a case you want to share with us, please reach out. 

My email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com.  

Ferne, what's yours?  

[00:12:43] Ferne Kotlyar:
Mine is fernekotlyar@live.com.  

[00:12:49] Kim Ades:
fernekotlyar@live.com. Please reach out to us.  

And if you're listening and you like these episodes, please like, please share, please do all the things that you're supposed to do with podcasts, and give us some feedback. We would really love to hear what you think.  

Thanks so much until we see you next week. Have a great day!

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