Breaking Down “Dating Rules” With Love Coach Shamia Casiano
As an INFJ on the Meyer-Briggs scale, Shamia loves connecting with other introverted women who want a fresh start so they can feel Sasha Fierce in all areas of their life, especially relationships. Shamia has been featured in Ebony magazine, Thought Catalog, Divine Caroline, The Loop, and is a guest contributing writer for Ms. In the Biz, the online destination for women in entertainment. Shamia has also spoken on the Sex-Data Blitz panel for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology pre-conference in Austin, Texas. She’s a Jersey girl living the beautiful bi-coastal dream life along with her husband, Elliott and their three year-old doggy, Lucky. http://shamiacasiano.
Mailande: Hi, Shamia! Can you tell me a bit about what you do and who you are?
Shamia: I’m a love coach for introverted women. I started as a relationship blogger a few years ago, just sharing my experiences with my then-boyfriend, now-husband. I was just offering a bit of insight, hoping that other couples could relate to our story. He was my first boyfriend, and I wanted to capture the dynamic of how you navigate going from being single to being in a relationship. I was into sharing – and, to be honest, sometimes oversharing! – and people really connected with that. So people started asking for my opinion via email or comments or Facebook messages, and I started publishing questions and answers on my blog.
Mailande: And things just grew from there?
Shamia: Yeah. Then, organically, I started thinking, “I wonder what I could do with this!” I came across Marie Forleo and Denise Duffield-Thomas and Leonie Dawson, these women entrepreneurs who help other entrepreneurs. I had a day job at a bakery in New York City, and there was no room to grow, and I felt discouraged. So I decided to see if I could become a relationship coach.
My business has evolved through so many different things. I was like, “What if I just coach newlyweds? What If I just coach millennials?” Then I noticed that a lot of my advice was targeted at people like me, who are introverts. So I went with that. I wanted to go beyond other advice I saw out there, like “Put on a cute skirt and throw some makeup on and you’ll be good.” I wanted to get into the why, the psychology behind how we think, and explain to my people that it’s more than what you wear or how you look. It’s how you carry yourself in finding someone that’s compatible with you. It all came to that.
Mailande: Cool. So what were some of the challenges that you experienced as an introverted woman before you met Elliott [ed note: Elliott is Shamia’s husband], when you were a bit younger?
Shamia: Great question. For me, it had a lot to do with trusting people. I consider myself social, but I need a little bit to come out of my shell. The biggest challenge was really understanding that I shouldn’t take everything personally. I know that as introverts, we’re a lot in our minds. We like our alone time to just self-evaluate and criticize ourselves sometimes, and sometimes we judge ourselves in ways that are much harsher than what anyone on the outside is thinking.
For me, it was a lot of mental stuff as an introvert: getting over not wanting people to know too much, or wondering what they would say if they knew this or that, or stopping myself from being vulnerable. That’s something I come to again and again with clients: it’s okay to be vulnerable, and you actually need that for a healthy, successful relationship.
Mailande: Gotcha. So you’ve taken your own experience and become a dating coach for introverted women, which is awesome. What issues do introverted women have that you help them overcome? Are they similar to what you experienced, or there are other things that they deal with?
Shamia: It’s similar to what I experienced. I think that it helps that I’ve been there to be able to guide them toward an outcome that makes sense for them. For a lot of them, the question is “Where do I go to find men? How do I find the guy who’s interested on the things that I’m interested in?” That’s the number one issue that introverted women I know deal with, because on top of being independent, they’re so in their own minds that they don’t always think outside of the box in terms of where they can find guys. That was my thing when I was younger: I just saw my immediate surroundings and I was like, “Oh, I haven’t met someone yet. I’ll probably never meet them.”
That thinking can spiral out of control and get you down. That’s what I help my clients with the most, just getting rid of the mental blocks that stop them from seeing the opportunities around them.
Mailande: Yes. Are there any quick tips that you can share for readers who might be thinking about that?
Shamia: The first thing I’d say is that you’re often limited by your social circle. Start investing in a hobby in new ways, or try something you’ve always been a little intimidated by. Think of something that your ideal guy would be into, too, and go there. For instance, I’m a huge gamer, so if I were looking for a guy, I might go to tournaments or local meet-up groups – something a little outside of my comfort zone, but still in the vein of something I’d enjoy.
Mailande: Cool. Then, I wanted to just dig in to this for a second. I want to talk about the phrase “put yourself out there,” because a lot of times, people say that and you’re just like “What does that even mean?”
Shamia: When I say “put yourself out there,” I just mean really start aligning yourself with your dreams and goals in a way that you haven’t before. So many people have things they’ve always wanted to do, but something always holds them back – they don’t have time, it’s just a silly dream, things like that.
Those reasons are things we tell ourselves to protect ourselves, to keep ourselves from being vulnerable, which is what happens when we really admit and go for what we want – and, like I said before, allowing yourself to be vulnerable is what you’re going to need in a relationship. Practicing that now, in whatever ways you can, helps you build up those skills for when you do meet a person who is right for you.
Mailande: It’s taking personal risks to be the person that you have always dreamed of being. When you’re in that state, it makes it easier to connect and be vulnerable with other people.
Shamia: Yes, exactly. You nailed it.
Mailande: Haha, I try. Thank you. Next up: how do you feel about dating apps or online dating? If you have an introverted client who’s interested in trying that out, what would you tell them? Where should they start? Should they do it at all?
Shamia: I think that just depends on which app you use or how you present yourself within those apps or dating sites. I have no issue with free dating sites like Plenty of Fish and Tinder. You just have to remember that a lot of your counterparts are there for hookups or just temporary stuff. If you are really serious about finding someone, or even just being in a long-term relationship rather than the casual hookup, then that’s something you need to really stick to when guys on those sites solicit certain things from you.
If you’re really someone who thrives in a long-term relationship, it’s really about sitting down with yourself and deciding what’s important to you a partner. If you jot down a few things and then come across someone on one of those sites who doesn’t have those attributes, you know it’s not a fit. That’s just part of getting serious about how you look for someone and who you’re looking for.
If you go use paid sites or services, you really put some skin in the game. You really have to take it seriously, because your money is there. I sometimes encourage my clients to look into that if they’re really serious about online dating but don’t have time to go on eight dates a week!
Mailande: Yeah, it seems very time consuming! If I came to you and I was like, “Shamia, I am looking for love. I would really like to try out maybe like one site.” Is there one that you would tell a women who’s not interested in hookups to go to? I’m not so very familiar with them, so I’m curious.
Shamia: I would say that Match.com is really good. They have a really great success record for meaningful relationships and engagements. They also encourage meeting in real life, which is something that I also encourage. Obviously, be safe about it, but meeting offline is what really helps build sustained relationships. People like to see and hear each other.
Mailande: I’m curious, how do you feel about dating rules? Are there any that you feel super outdated, or actually still relevant? I feel as though we still hear a lot about them, and they often contradict each other. Are there any that you actually prescribe or reject I’m curious.
Shamia: Yes. I’m so glad you asked that, because I’ve built a lot of my foundation in my blog about not following the rules.
Mailande: I love that.
Shamia: The whole “don’t call him first” rule is a no-go. I think that rules like that are meant to take the power away from women in dating. How many times have we been in a situation where we liked the guy, but we weren’t sure if he liked us? We never told him that we liked him. Now, he’s with someone else. And I can guarantee you that the other woman actually let him know her feelings. The whole mind-games-and-manipulation thing isn’t healthy, because when you do get into the relationship, you’ll have built it on an unstable foundation, and you won’t be in the habit of communicating honestly.
Let’s say you call a guy and say “Hey, I really loved our date and I just wanted to let you know that I would really love to see you again. I’m free this day and if that works for you, let me know.” I think that if a guy is turned off by that, then he isn’t the guy for you in the first place.
With that said, though, you have to be coming from a place of warmth and confidence. If you’re coming from a place of desperation, people are going to sense that. It’s not just going to be him. It’s going to be your friends: like, “Girl, you need to calm down!” I’m not saying that you shouldn’t put the ball in your court, but you also have to say to yourself, “Why do I want to call him first? Why do I want to text him first?” Is it because you don’t like uncertainty? Does it get you anxious? Do you need to be in the driver seat all the time? If those are the reasons, then that’s when you might want to take a step back for a second and figure out your motivations. If it’s just about enjoying his company and feeling a connection, that’s a different phone call, you know?
Mailande: Yes definitely. Okay: If a woman is ready to find true love, what’s the first thing she should do to support that mindset in her own life?
Shamia: Making space. A lot of women, including me, can get too wrapped up in what’s already going on. It’s important to acknowledge that you’re ready to have someone in your life by making time for it. I don’t mean that you have to go out and look for someone for three hours a day or anything; it’s actually more about self-care, focus, and treating yourself the way you’d want to be treated in a relationship. It’s about sitting down for 15 minutes a day and really taking a step back to think through and write down your dealbreakers and your compromises. It’s about opening up that time and space energetically to the world that says “I’m ready for love.” And in that same space, you create room for someone else in your life. If your actions don’t align with what you’re saying, you’re not going to find what you’re looking for.
Mailande: On that note: as a coach, what kind of mistakes do you see women making over and over and over again? If you could get everyone to stop doing just one thing, what would it be?
Shamia: Definitely the self-talk about men and relationships. I know a lot of women who, after a breakup for instance, will tell themselves (and other people) “Oh my God. I hate men. Men suck. They’re awful. All men cheat. All men lie.” That doesn’t help them or their cause for wanting to be in a relationship. You have to watch your inner monologue; as humans, we love to fulfill our own prophesies. If you’ve experienced pain from a relationship, it’s easy to be burdened by your exes and carry that into the next relationship. Taking time to heal yourself and acknowledge the part that you may have played in the issues you experienced helps you learn from them instead of carrying them around.
Mailande: Anything else you want to share?
Shamia: I would say don’t give up. Get outside of your comfort zone, give people the benefit of the doubt, and see where it takes you. Allow live to be an adventure! Recognize that there’s an ebb and flow to everything; everything is temporary. If you’ve been hurt, or you aren’t sure you’ll ever find what you’re looking for, remember that the pain will pass. It’s always possible to find what you need. That’s what I want people to remember.