Relationship Advice

7 Ways to Nurture Your New Relationship

 

iStock-541824336 copy.jpgOne of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is the opportunity to share life’s joys with someone else. Unfortunately, so much of us are conditioned to seek the things—and the people—either out of our reach, or that might seem to satiate what we see as the current shortcomings in a current relationship. It is easy to start believing the grass is greener instead of investing in what we have. To save time, we want to know who “checks all the boxes”, and are quick to nix a future with anyone who might not follow the image we had in mind. For these reasons and so many more, we unintentionally jeopardize and sabotage our relationships.

 

Strong relationships take work and self awareness. The strongest relationships are built on a firm foundation between two partners who share the same values. To nurture a new relationship or breathe some new life into the one you’re currently in, try the following:

 

  1. Foster dependability.

Can you count on your partner to do what he or she says they’ll do? Can you be relied upon in the same way? If you are unsure if your partner will have your back during the hard times, you might ask yourself, “what’s missing?” You or your partner might not be taking the relationship as seriously as it should be for long term viability.

 

Take your promises seriously and only say what you’re sure you can deliver. If for any reason you fall short, acknowledge your mistake. Try to anticipate your partner’s needs in advance, so you can practice dependability without expectations.

 

What it looks like: Knowing that his girlfriend had to get her oil changed, Paul offered to pick her up from the mechanic to spare her a long wait time. When he arrived to pick her up, he asked the mechanic about the flashing engine light and proceeded to fill her tires with air. Though his gesture was a simple one that took 15 minutes, his actions spoke volumes about his commitment and dependability.

 

  1. Honest communication.

Be honest with each other at all times — even if the consequences may somewhat hurt the other person. When your partner is communicating, listen with an open mind, without interruption, and notice the tone of their voice and facial expression. Not all conversation is verbalized; sometimes your partner will tell you everything you need to know without any words.

 

What it looks like: Annie knew it was ridiculous to feel jealous of her boyfriend’s attractive female coworker, so she kept this to herself. “Why bring drama into this? Obviously, they just work together,” she thought noting her own insecurity. When she learned that her boyfriend had an upcoming work trip with the attractive coworker, she started acting distant and passive aggressively. Finally, she fessed up. “I’m sorry to say, but I feel jealous and insecure.” When her boyfriend learned what was going on, he reassured Annie and suggested that she join for the next happy hour so she could meet all of his coworkers.

 

  1. Asking for emotional support.

Expressing vulnerability is the cornerstone of building an emotionally supportive and sound relationship. Talk to your partner about the things that scare you, that embarrass you, that challenge you. Talking about these uncomfortable things is not just an exercise in your communication skills, it is an opportunity to build trust.

 

  1. Fine tune the romantic intimacy.

As your communication skills improve and your relationship evolves, so will the way you express physical connection. If you refuse to communicate about what you want in the bedroom, be prepared to have a less than fulfilling love life. If you intend on staying in a monogamous relationship, give your partner a chance to satisfy your needs.

 

  1. Balance alone time with partnership.

The cure for trouble in a relationship is not always more face time. It’s important that both people feel they can take space when they need it and return to their partner without anger or resentment waiting at home. It’s important to honor the urges we have to be by ourselves, but realize the impact our absence can have on our partners. If you feel an urge to be alone, make it easier for yourself and your partner by letting him or her know in advance that you need some time. Some reassurance that your absence is not the result of anything he or she did will help a new partner understand your needs without confusion.

 

  1. Assess the way you fight.

In any serious relationship, disagreement is inevitable. Arguments will arise, and they may escalate into some heated conflict. If you find yourselves disagreeing often, ask yourself, “How am I contributing to this?” Sometimes the need to be right will stress the relationship in ways that are neither necessary or helpful. You will not be able to control your partner, but you can control the way you approach conflict.

 

What it looks like: A former client called crying after her boyfriend stormed out after an argument. “Every time we talk, I end up having to repeat myself, and finally I lost my mind and told him, “’You never listen to me and that’s why this relationship isn’t working.’” After calming down, the client realized that, when she lost her temper, she couldn’t acknowledge her boyfriend’s efforts to understand her. Instead of attacking his short comings, she started the conversation appreciating his efforts before moving into new ways they could improve the relationship together.

 

  1. Maintain your sense of self.

Do you lose yourself in a relationship? Establishing and maintaining your boundaries is necessary to keep your standards firm and your self respect intact. Letting a partner decide what you should and shouldn’t tolerate will lead to resentment from you and loss of respect from your partner. To compromise your personality to “fit” your relationship will ultimately ruin any chance at long-term sustainability.

 

These tips will help you nurture and build a strong, loving relationship, but they will only work their magic with consistent reinforcement. The effort and sacrifice will pay off, however, when you find yourself in a loving, sustainable relationship.

Harsh Truths: 6 Reasons Why Your Relationship Fell Apart

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Relationships end for a variety of reasons—some we can control, others we cannot. Before your next relationship, consider asking yourself if any of these issues are sabotaging your efforts at finding a deep, committed relationship.

 

  1. Your ex is STILL coming up

We all have a past, but when the past becomes the fodder of our present, you are creating a rift between you and your partner’s ability to connect. Talk of past relationships not only reveals that you’re not moving forward, it also jeopardizes your chances of a future. If you find yourself beginning sentences with “My ex and I…” or “When I dated X…” consider taking some time away from dating to understand why you’re still telling these stories.

 

  1. You couldn’t trust

It’s no surprise that trust is the crux of all healthy relationships; without the bond of trust, a couple will miss an opportunity to experience true intimacy. Aside from cheating, trust issues can also indicate jealousy, game playing, and possessiveness.

 

If relationships have ended because you couldn’t trust, ask yourself if it was because of actual events (i.e. your partner lied to you, broke promises, hacked into your phone) or if you are feeling unable to trust without cause (i.e. you feel jealous even though your partner has never strayed). Being able to differentiate feelings that stem from actual events versus unsubstantiated paranoia will help you uncover barriers to intimacy.

 

  1. You were Mr./Mrs. Right Now, not Mr./Mrs. Right

The relationship is guaranteed to fail if you find yourself on either side of this equation. Not all relationships are built to last—and that doesn’t make them any less important to our growth—but if you are looking for a life partner, meeting someone who is open to the same is crucial for long-term success.

 

If you are with someone until you land your dream job, move, lose weight, or meet someone better, you are wasting your time and your partner’s time. If your partner is not your priority, you aren’t ready for an enduring long-term relationship. If you’re wondering if you’re the top priority—you’re not.

 

  1. You harbor contempt

Dr. John Gottman, a leading expert on couples’ studies, concluded that the single, best predictor of divorce is contempt. Contempt, a toxic combo of anger, disgust and frustration, stems from a superiority complex. When we are unable to see our partner’s point of view because we believe they are less intelligent, sensitive, or competent than we are, we are making it impossible to communicate about the things that bother us.

 

In addition to contempt, there were three other closely related patterns of toxic communication: criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling (shutting down, no eye contact, etc.)

  1. You were emotionally dependent

If you are unable to make yourself happy, you will always seek someone who can distract you from the uncomfortable feelings you have towards yourself. Not only is it unfair to expect your partner to keep you afloat, it’s dangerous to allow someone else to hold the keys to your happiness. Codependent people usually don’t keep high standards when it comes to how others treat them, so it’s more likely that they end up with a partner who doesn’t treat them well. There are many ways to heal from codependency, but they all start with a belief that you—and you alone—can make yourself happy.

 

  1. You stopped appreciating your partner

A lack of appreciation comes in many forms. Perhaps you’ve stopped making an effort—to make fun plans, to keep up your appearance, to remind your partner how special they are. Taking someone for granted is a quick way to kill the romance and up the apathy.

 

When someone is asking what is best for “us”, compromise ensues. If you stop appreciating your partner’s efforts, it’s easy to stop asking “What is best for us?” and replacing it with “What is best for me?”

 

Of course not all reasons our relationships end are because we are at fault. Without the right timing, otherwise compatible people won’t be able to connect for reasons outside of their control. Age, seemingly just a number, will start to matter if he’s 28 finishing grad school and she’s 34 looking forward to starting a family. Life situations can also affect our chances of connection. If he’s ready to move things forward while she’s healing post divorce, the couple will not be able to connect on the same level. Situations can change, broken hearts can heal, and different phases can pass, but if the timing is going to be ‘off’ for more than a few months, it is better to make a clean break and revisit at another time.

 

Dating: Is it Really just a Numbers Game?

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After a bad date, string of bad dates, or zero dates, you might hear someone encourage you to try again with the old adage: “Dating is just a numbers game.” Sounds like a straightforward concept, but is there truth to this?

 

Although more dates increase the odds of meeting someone, you are not making the most of your dating experiences or your time unless you are learning more about yourself or figuring out a better picture of what you’re looking for.

 

MEN: If the “numbers game strategy” involves asking every woman you meet on a date in hopes one says yes, you are missing the point. However, if you are employing some level of discernment beyond visual cues, you are more likely to find a meaningful connection.

 

WOMEN: If your “numbers game strategy” involves going out with men with whom you haven’t had a single meaningful interaction but who are simply interested in you, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Give yourself a chance to establish baseline connectivity before committing to a date.

 

When dating becomes a numbers game, it pushes us into a quantity over quality mindset, overwhelming our capacity to connect. One, it becomes easier to be more casual, passive about dating if each date is just an outing—not finding an opportunity to really connect. Two, you risk dating burnout. And, three, to achieve stronger, more meaningful interactions—the kind that last—we must know ourselves to filter potential candidates effectively.

 

Think you might be stuck on a lackluster romantic hamster wheel? Try asking yourself the following questions:

 

Does this person offer me chemistry and sustainability?

The chemistry makes things interesting, but what good is amazing chemistry unless it can lead to a deeper, enduring relationship? Unlike chemistry, the sustainability question requires logic. It may feel like you’re conducting an interview but getting clear answers on whether a potential partner is in a place—geographically and emotionally—to invest in a relationship will ultimately save you time and energy.

 

Am I aware of myself and what I am looking for?

Some of us carry negative habits and energy which can block our ability to receive and give love. Left unaware about the things we do to make ourselves less loveable will make it harder for a partner to connect. Furthermore, without knowing our blind spots, we won’t be able to select the right person to balance us.

 

Am I willing to take responsibility for the impact I have on another person’s emotions?

 

Taking responsibility for the way you date will make you more conscious about who you date. When you are deliberately seeking sustainable relationships, you’ll fine tune your ability to sniff out the relationships that don’t serve long term needs.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Get Over a Break Up ASAP

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Both sides of the break up coin are agonizing. The person initiating the split has to fill the role of bearer of bad news, usually wounding the heart (and ego) of someone who he or she cares for deeply. He or she usually experiences guilt, confusion, and a unique type of stress that stems from knowing the end is near. On the other hand, we have the person receiving a final decision. Stripped of all opportunity to direct the course of the relationship, this person is left vulnerable, helpless, shocked, or disappointed.

If there was connection—real connection—pain is to be expected from all parties involved. We also know that every relationship that doesn’t make it to the next level will end with a breakup, yet we still find ourselves hurting after every split.

So, how do we heal from heartbreak faster?

  1. Avoid Numbing Agents—Shopping, food, alcohol, rebounds, pills, and drugs used to mask the pain will only prolong the agony of loss. Deriving relief this way will only push you deeper into depression, debt, or weight gain.

 

  1. Feed Yourself Well—When your heart is hurting, it’s even more important to monitor what goes in your body. Excessive sugar will crash your system; processed food will challenge your energy; and not eating will stress your heart even further. Now is the time to treat yourself to the best food you can get your hands on.

 

  1. Bring Yourself Joy—It’s easy to fall out of love with yourself just because someone else has. So many factors lead to relationships ending; we forget that so many of those reasons have nothing to do with who we are.

 

  1. Follow the Good Vibes—We tend to feed off of the energy around us. Experiment with a new crowd that offers you a fresh start. Science reveals laughing and smiling are instant mood lifters, so give yourself an opportunity to absorb the joy around you.

 

  1. Remove the Reminders—Pictures, cards, and other reminders should be out of sight. There is no need to live among reminders of relationships past. The mementos, seemingly innocuous, can derail your path to healing. Also, consider un-following—not unfriending—your ex on social media. You can always change the setting when you’re in a better place without anyone finding out.

 

  1. Keep it Simple—This is harder than you think. Attending parties he/she might attend? No. Finding reasons to reach out? No. Keeping in touch with his/her friends? No. It’s easy to think you can “be adult” about crossing paths, but the heavy emotional charge has a way of clouding better judgment.

Ironically, the things we are least likely to do during a break up — eating right, visiting friends, meeting new people—are the things that will help us heal the fastest. Giving yourself the time to cope with loss is going to fast track you to a better place with a better partner.

6 Signs He’s Boyfriend Material

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During the first stages of dating, it’s tough to know if your current date situation is worthy of a more in depth investment—with your time and your emotions. Here are 6 telltale signs that the one you’re seeing has the stuff that boyfriends are made of.

 

  1. He remembers the little things.

Men who are genuinely interested keep track of information that is specific to you—your favorite movies, foods you dislike, places you want to see. Though they may not appear actively engaged, you’d be surprised with how many details they’re absorbing.

 

Here’s what it looks like: He knows you get cold—even when it’s 70 degrees outside. He will make sure you know where to find a blanket or he’ll set aside his favorite sweatshirt or oversized sweater just for you.

 

  1. His values his family.

Staying connected with the parents and siblings reveals that he’s able to maintain relationships with the ones who matter most. Even if drama lingers at home, he has a way of seeing the bigger picture. A guy who prioritizes his family will be more likely to invest in a family of his own and sustain a relationship with you through for the long haul.

 

Here’s what it looks like: He talks about his sister’s upcoming visit…and hopes you will be available to meet her.

 

  1. He has excellent follow though.

If he says he will call, he does. He doesn’t just talk about plans; he actually makes them. If he’s serious, you won’t need to push or prod to see action; he’s happy to orchestrate gestures—big and small—to keep things interesting.

 

Here’s what it looks like: When my client’s date had to fly out for work travel, my client said he would pick her up when she returned. Unfortunately, the date’s plane was delayed. Despite an 11:30 p.m. arrival, he was there to drive her home.

 

  1. He puts you first.

There is nothing more telling about a man’s intentions than the way he prioritizes your needs over his. We’re not talking about a man doormat; we are talking about someone who is committed to ensuring that his date is comfortable and happy.

 

Here’s what it looks like: My friend felt ill at a basketball game with her date. Instead of asking her to stay till half time or getting annoyed about losing out on the great seats, he found her some Advil and quickly escorted her home. The next day he called to check on her.

 

  1. He communicates with you often.

Despite his busy schedule, he always makes time to check in. It’s not the length of the message that counts; it’s the frequency. You might get a text, a phone call, or even a social media nod. Whatever it is, you won’t be left wondering if or when you’ll hear from him.

 

Here’s what it looks like: After two weeks my friend’s date left for international work travel. Between the time changes and the work load, she didn’t think she would hear from him for days. She was pleasantly surprised when he bought a new sim card and called her when he checked into his hotel.

 

  1. He’s interested in growing and evolving.

He realizes that he’s a work in progress and wants to better himself. If he’s aware of his faults and interested in working them out, you’ll save yourself the un-winnable battle of trying to change someone. Openness about his desire to grow and change can be an opportunity that brings you closer together.

 

Here’s what it looks like: When my client first started dating in the wake of a painful divorce, he felt aloof and noncommittal. When he first met his girlfriend, he wasn’t sure how much to divulge about his past. Knowing that a lack of communication caused havoc in his first marriage, my client opted for transparency. He realized that for true intimacy to exist, he needed to experience vulnerability. His openness strengthened their bond and left both my client and his now girlfriend feeling secure about their relationship.

What is Cuffing Season and Why Does It Matter?

With holidays approaching, you may find yourself wanting a relationship more than usual. As the days get shorter and the weather cools down, singles are looking for a relationship that will tie them over the next few months, but perhaps not endure into the spring. This heightened desire for a semi permanent relationship occurs during “Cuffing Season”.

Cuffing season begins during that stretch of fall when the weather begins to cool off and everyone you know starts coupling up. It specifically describes the desire to couple up or “cuff” ourselves to a partner during the chilly months—and stay together until spring. The trend is undeniable, but what causes it? Is this preference to cozy up just a preference or are we biologically engineered to get monogamous during the cooler months?

Is “Cuffing Season” actually real?

Short answer is yes—winters yield a higher rate of conception; spring yields changes to Facebook relationship statuses. When Hinge, a popular dating app, polled users, they discovered that men were 15% more likely to look for a relationship in the winter than any other season. Women were 5% more interested in a monogamous relationship, too.

Is “Cuffing Season” the result of biological impulses?

Experts agree that although people tend to pair up during winter months, the urge to couple up is not substantiated by any biological impulse. In fact, humans have evolved to a point beyond mating seasons. Scientists note that humans associate cold temperatures with loneliness, which could prompt the urge to get monogamous, but ultimately, the need to “cuff” ourselves to each other isn’t a biological or evolutionary response.

So, how do I handle the “Cuffing Season” urge?

Those urges to couple up aren’t easy to avoid. Between plus-one invites and fears of experiencing the holidays alone, you might find yourself approaching relationships from a place of neediness instead of real affection. Make sure the chemistry is real by taking any relationship you start this winter on the slow side. Gift giving, family travel, and plus one invites might add a little more complication to your dating life than usual. Don’t let the stress of the holidays rush your love life. Remember, spring is right around the corner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Divorced? Here are the Top 5 Questions She Needs Answered

 

Dating after divorce isn’t easy but, with nearly half of all marriages ending in separation, it’s not unusual. However, for some women who haven’t been married before, your divorce can pose some challenges. Many daters associate divorced people with excess baggage. Being upfront and willing to talk openly about your past can clear up these misconceptions and help your date clear up any doubts that are getting in the way of a potential relationship.

Knowing what to reveal about your divorce is half the battle; you also need to know how to talk about your experience.

Here are the top 5 questions women ask themselves when dating a divorced man and tips on how to answer them effectively:

  1. Does he have a crazy ex wife?

 Your date is trying to figure out how your ex wife will affect the relationship you share. She might wonder, “Will his ex be a source of perpetual drama?” or “Is the ex wife vindictive?” Whether or not your ex has handled the divorce maturely is irrelevant; your date just needs to know that you are able to handle any backlash from your past. Although tempting, you should never throw your ex wife under the bus. Not only is it unattractive, it reveals underlying anger on your part that can be perceived as a red flag.

How to discuss: “We were both ready for those divorce papers and once everything was finalized, we both moved on to better things.”

  1. Is he in a rush to get married right away?

To make up for a failed marriage, some men are overly eager to get it right the second time. This question has a way of answering itself, but it’s best to avoid talk of marriage early in the courtship.

How to discuss: “After being married X years, I know myself better and have a clear picture of the kind of woman I’d like to share my life with. I also know that being in a rush to make that happen would ruin the fun.”

  1. Is he afraid of getting married again?

A painful divorce could deter anyone from round two, so it’s important to convey that you are open—but not rushing—to marriage. She wants to know that you won’t let a bad experience get in the way of a future with her.

How to discuss: “Marriage didn’t work out the first time around, but I’m excited to figure it out again and share my life with the right person.”

  1. Why did they get divorced?

In the early stages of dating, you can answer this question sufficiently without going into much detail. Even if you made some serious mistakes during your marriage, you can address them later once the relationship has progressed. In the meantime, stick to a message that reveals how much you learned and evolved from your first marriage.

How to discuss: “Marriage for us wasn’t right in so many ways—it’s hard to pick just one reason why it fell apart. I’m glad I went through it because I’ll make a better partner next time around.”

  1. If kids are in the picture, what does that picture look like?

If you have children, absolutely mention them early in the relationship; they should never come as a surprise to your date. She will want to know about the relationship you have with your kids and the role they will play in your courtship.

How to discuss: “I have two kids from my first marriage, and I share custody with my ex wife. I’ve got the kids on weekends, and I love being involved in their lives. I try to give them as much stability as possible, so I generally keep my relationships and kids separate in the beginning. Would love for you to meet them one day when the time is right for both of us.”

Remember, your divorce is not a deal breaker, it’s just a part of your story. Being open about your failed relationship and framing it the right way will help your partner realize that although your first marriage was broken, it gave you an opportunity to be a better partner in your next relationship.

 

The best first dates, start with you being you. Read tips on being the best version of yourself on a date here