Month: December 2017

Your New Years Guide to Ghosting

 

iStock-653123384 copy.jpgYou’ve met someone new. You’ve been out on a few great dates. All signs point to a promising future and then nothing. Your date—and any hint of a relationship—disappears into thin air.

 

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. You, like so many others, have been ghosted. When I was dating ages ago, way before the term “ghosting” made its debut, I called this “pulling a Houdini.” Ghosting happens when someone ceases contact without explanation. In lieu of a break-up conversation or a gentle letdown, a ghoster simply disappears in the hopes that the silence will send the message.

 

In this era of digital dating, the rate of ghosting is higher than ever. In one study by online dating site Plenty of Fish, results showed that 78% of people between the ages of 18 and 33—have been “ghosted” at least once.

 

If you’ve been ghosted…

 

Realize that the ghoster’s lack of communication isn’t about you. Ghosting happens when someone tries to suppress their own uncomfortable emotions and, in an effort to numb them, avoids communicating. Ghosting isn’t meant to be malicious; ghosters generally consider their actions to be “nicer” than an upfront conversation.

 

Getting ghosted can be extremely painful. Many people on the receiving end are left not only questioning the validity of the relationship, but also their own judgment. They may wonder why they didn’t see it coming or read the signs. Feelings of abandonment and loss ensue.

 

Though you may not receive the closure you need, you do have the power to write your own ending. A simple message may help you tie up loose ends even when your date has opted for a less thoughtful route.

 

Possible closure messages include:

 

  • “I enjoyed spending time getting to know you. Unfortunately, it seems this wasn’t the right time for us. I’m not expecting an explanation but, if you’d like to chat, I’m available.”

 

  • “Given how close we became, I would appreciate a quick conversation to understand your feelings. Though I’m not expecting to hear from you, some communication could help us land in a better place.”

 

The goal of your closure message is to make a definitive request for communication while also demonstrating that you are moving forward regardless of whether it happens. The request shows that you have self-respect while also giving someone an opportunity to make right or, at the very least, exit the relationship with integrity.

 

An additional thought… If you suspect that you are being ghosted – for example, if you haven’t heard from a date in a couple days and feel like calling it off before getting hurt, reconsider his or her schedule. It’s tempting to assign intent to a lack of communication, but in the preliminary stages of dating, not many people know how to prioritize their personal lives, careers, and new relationships.

 

You could send a message like this:

 

  • “Looks like your week is as busy as mine. Wanted to double check for Tuesday.”

 

If you’re planning to ghost…

 

You’ve been set up with a new date. You’ve exchanged texts and you’re looking forward to meeting. You have a date on the books and then something changes. You might have received an awkward message or a sudden drop in messaging that is causing you to reconsider that first date. Finally, after much deliberation, you send a quick message: “Schedule got a little hectic on my end. I’m sorry I won’t be able to make dinner. Maybe we’ll meet another time!”

 

You thus have canceled the date without an alternative proposal for a new time and are hoping that your date will understand and move on. (I am not even addressing extreme ghosting here, which is even worse and horribly rude – i.e. blowing off the date and not even contacting the person.)

 

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Most ghosters have also been the victim of ghosting, so you can choose to perpetuate the cycle, or not. Although you might argue that this is a case-by-case decision, the way you end a relationship is a reflection of your personal brand. Approaching others with respect and honesty will help you attract someone who subscribes to the same thinking.

 

Before calling it quits, realize that going out with someone is the only way to know if he or she is worth pursuing. Throwing in the towel before meeting isn’t helping you find the love of your life any quicker; it’s just an excuse that’s keeping you from growing and learning.

 

One message you could send if you’re thinking about ghosting:

 

  • “Hi! My week is crazy. I’m thinking it might be better for me to go out for coffee instead of dinner. Does this work?”

 

This message might not be ideal, but keeping the date casual might be better than nixing the date completely.

5 ways people unintentionally sabotage relationships

 

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It’s impossible to break patterns without awareness. Whereas ending a relationship is seemingly straightforward, ending relationships without fully understanding why is a dangerous pattern—a pattern that can’t be broken unless we employ serious self-reflection. Focusing on the outward makes us feel powerless to make changes; it’s easy to surrender to a victim mentality. Below are the most common ways men unintentionally sabotage relationships:

 

  1. Holding on to a relationship fantasy.

Believing that the grass is always greener—that there is better elsewhere and anything less than perfect won’t do—is a mechanism that shields people from deeper levels of intimacy. If you believe better is just around the corner, there is no reason to invest fully, emotionally or otherwise, in the current relationship.

 

The belief that better exists is usually rooted in fear—fear of commitment, fear of losing one’s individuality, and the fear of pain. Believing that something better exists outside of the relationship mitigates the fear. Looking deeper within will reveal that the greener grass mentality is a projection of the discomfort we have within ourselves; idealizing something or someone who isn’t real soothes those uncomfortable feelings.

 

What to do: Take an objective look at your relationship patterns.

  • Are you constantly seeking change?
  • Why did your last relationships fail? What was your role in that?
  • Are you content?

Figuring out what you idealize in a partner might be a good starting point to figure out what you’re missing within.

 

  1. Inability to address pain openly.

Emotional intimacy can only be achieved through vulnerability. Being unable to share openly and truthfully will inhibit emotional depth and closeness. In The Real Rules of Life: Balancing Life’s Terms with Your Own, Ken Druck, PhD., writes that men learn that anger is a “good” male emotion as it demonstrates toughness and makes some men feel like they are in control. After years of programming, it’s no wonder that many men act aggressively in the face of stress, fear, sadness, or loss.

What to do: Learn to identify your emotional needs and learn how to get these needs met in and out of your primary relationship. This is a process; a therapist can help make it easier.

 

  1. Taking feedback personally instead of objectively.

Criticism can be highly triggering; hearing something that challenges a strong ego can cause an emotional reaction. Not only does this reaction reveal insecurity, these emotional reactions make will make it harder for your partner to communicate openly.

 

What to do: Stop Defending.

According to Robert Taibbi, LCSW, the best way to handle your partner’s concerns is to affirm your good intentions and seek a better understanding of your partners needs. Trying to build a case that refutes your partner’s point of view might stroke your ego, but it will ultimately prolong resolution.

 

  1. Failing to recognize your partner’s love language.

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman describes the most common ways people feel loved: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. If you haven’t discovered your partner’s language, reading this short book will help you learn how to express feelings more effectively.

 

Often times we express love in the way that makes us feel most loved, but that is not necessarily the way your partner will feel most loved. Additionally, learning your partner’s love language will help you avoid situations that could be especially devastating. For example, if your partner’s love language is words of affirmation, non- constructive criticism or failing to express appreciation will be very painful for a partner who is more sensitive to verbal communication.

 

  1. De-prioritizing the relationship.

Complicating factors—work, children, aging parents—can certainly detract focus from the relationship. Situational distractions are inevitable, but letting distractions, and the distance that follows, get out of hand is a dangerous pattern that gets in the way of valuing your partner.

 

What to do: Schedule couple time.

Date night, Skype dates, weekend getaways—whatever you choose is irrelevant. The most important part is that you choose something. Be intentional. The 9-5 autopilot lifestyle can easily suppress passion and spontaneity. The busier you are, the more important it will be for you make room for quality time.

 

350 dates in one year….what not to do on your next date!

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An interesting piece of feedback I hear from a lot of men and women who juggle working with a professional matchmaker, and dating apps, is how often their respective dates almost brag about how many people they date. This is a major “no no” when it comes to dating 101.

A friend I had a conversation with the other day mentioned that one man she is interested in, told her last year alone, he had over 350 dates with women. She chalked it up to being a Silicon Valley “data driven” type but the truth is, it’s not only daunting to imagine but a turn-off. 350 women! Who on earth has time for that unless unemployed and loving the hamster wheel lifestyle, yet with no real purpose or intention to settle down with one person?

My advice is not to talk about how much you have been dating recently. I think part of the psychology behind what fuels someone to mention all the dates they go on and people they meet is to showcase how desirable one is to the opposite sex. As in, the more I mention to him all the men that are emailing me for dates, the more he will think I am attractive.

The reality is, most of the time, if you share these conquests of sorts, you will appear as though you are not serious about finding a relationship. Instead, you’re in what I call “play mode” and not “serious mode.” There’s no denying play mode is awesome but be supremely careful with the information that comes out of your mouth and the image you project on dates. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to play the game right.

My advice is to focus on the man or woman who is sitting across from you on your date and show genuine interest in them. Be present, intentional, and motivated to find the right match with the “perfect” chemistry that works for you. If your date pokes around to see if you are actively dating and appears curious to hear stories, simply “don’t go there.” No need to lie or fabricate the truth but you can delicately switch topics with grace and dignity, while focusing on your date and not entering the slippery slope that is “TMI.”