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I talk with men and women on a daily basis about life and love. And one of the most common points that comes up with all of them have to do with their beliefs about love, marriage, and the opposite sex. 

For example, I asked two very attractive, professional single women about their love lives. They willingly shared all the juicy details with me.  One, a dental hygienist, told me she had met the love of her life on Myspace a few years ago, and he wants to marry her. In fact, he asked her what would she think if he bought her an engagement ring for Christmas. Her answer: “Why are we talking about this?!”  When I probed her for more information, she told me she is scared to get married because all of the marriages in her immediate family ended in (an ugly) divorce, and she was certain that it would happen to her too.  The dental associate who was working on my teeth at the time said she hoped one day love would find her. “Are you dating,” I asked? “No,” she replied, “I just don’t go out enough. But it’ll happen for me one day–maybe.”

The beliefs these two women had about themselves and about marriage shaped the actions they did–or didn’t–take. One was sabotaging her chances for marriage, the other was passively waiting for it to happen.

The beliefs a woman has about herself, love, marriage, relationships, and the opposite sex is often the greatest hindrance to her meeting and marrying the man of their dreams, more than any other factor I’ve observed so far–age, race, weight, economic status.

Our beliefs are powerful because they shape our actions.  Some of the ways beliefs are formed are through the ways we’re groomed by our parents (whether they were married or divorced or single), our friends, our communities, the media, and our culture. We have the power to say “yes, I believe that” or “no, I don’t believe that” to these influences, but if we’ve experienced something that confirms what any of these sources say, it is often a challenge to believe anything else.

For example, many people believe that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. We’ve heard “experts” quote it as an undisputed fact and we may have even seen divorce happen again and again with our families and friends.

However, a 2005 article in the New York Times by Dan Hurley revealed that this supposedly fact-based belief is not accurate. In reality, 3 out of 5 marriages last until “death do us part!”

Question: What would happen if we collectively started believing that most marriages thrive instead of die?

Another commonly held belief I’ve heard over and over from single women, is that men should always make the first move when it comes to dating. These women are waiting for their Knight in Shining Armor to appear, sweep them off their feet, and ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after.

However, when I asked my Facebook followers what they thought about the belief that men should always make the first move, surprisingly, all of the women said “Yes, they should!” Their rationale was that a man isn’t a “real man” if he doesn’t approach them, that he doesn’t have backbone, and that if he doesn’t pursue a woman, he doesn’t recognize her value and will eventually want the woman to take the lead on everything.

However, most of the men said, “No!”  One man in particular said, “As the saying goes, “a closed mouth doesn’t get fed.” Also, I see a woman that makes the first move as confident. Confidence is attractive. (Very)”

Another man’s comment revealed the pressures most men feel when it comes to approaching a woman:

“Let’s see…men run the risk of getting flat out rejected, denied, charged with assault or harassment, called perverted names if signs were misread, slapped, or beat up when making the first move. Ladies at worst, may only face a polite decline. Who should make the first move? The one with the least to lose.”

The men’s comments flew in the face of traditional beliefs about men’s and women’s roles in dating.  But more surprising to me was how the women felt the need to defend their positions on why men should always approach a woman.  Instead of taking note that attractive, single men were telling them on Facebook (for all the world to see) that they don’t mind if a woman takes initiative and shows she is interested in man, my single sisters held on tight to their beliefs that a man should always take the first move. 

So, what’s a sister to do?

If you want to know if your beliefs may be keeping you from the marriage of your dreams, I suggest you spend some time journaling and reflecting. Actually write down the beliefs you have about yourself, about what it means to be in love, about what men should and shouldn’t do, and ask yourself: where did these beliefs come from? Did they come from your family? your religious beliefs? Your culture? Ask yourself:  Do I really believe this? Why?

Remember, you have the power to choose your beliefs. Choose wisely because they may be the only thing between you and the man of your dreams!