Relationship Advice

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.

 

Why isn’t he asking me out again?

Have you ever been on a first date that you thought went great to later find out that Mr. Wonderful didn’t call you again? Paranoia can kick in, wondering if you are the one responsible for the outcome.  Here are a few reasons that we hear at Linx as to why guys don’t ask their dates out again and how you can go from dating purgatory to dating bliss.

-Her look is intimidating  (examples include: she wears bright red lipstick, or dresses almost ‘too together’ looking, she wears too much make-up…)

Our advice is wear basic make-up on the date and never wear red lips (men can’t visualize kissing red lips no matter how perfect your pout. Opt for a sheer pink, or neutral instead. Save the red lips once you are in a relationship. The look is too harsh.)  For make-up think: sheer pressed powder or sheer foundation, a little concealer under the eyes, neutral eye shadow, basic eye liner if needed, mascera, and finally sheer lips. 

For clothing, it’s so specific depending on the context of the date, but a good rule of thumb is to dress nice but not a look that screams high maintenance (example is wearing outwardly designer labels head to toe. LV purse, Dior logo jacket, Burberry pants, Hermes belt!). Less is more! Also, don’t wear black. Men are like hummingbirds and respond well to color. Color is approachable. Black is for date 5+ and certainly once in the relationship! 

With all of this said, we don’t think anyone should change themselves for a guy. If he’s truly intimidated by you, he probably isn’t worth your time.

-She competed with me

If a female exerts herself on the date by name dropping the schools she went to, her connections socially and professionally, and spewing her resume, guys might be impressed but it’s not what they want to hear on a first date. Like our advice above about softening the look to appear more approachable, the same principle applies to the conversation you have on your date.

This isn’t about hiding your accomplishments or lying about your goals, instead it’s about sharing surface level information, perhaps scratching the surface on date one conversationally until you’ve built some trust. When women focus the majority of conversation on business or academic pedigree on the date, many men place her in the friend zone bucket…instead of the future Mrs bucket. She’s “one of the guys” or just doesn’t “get” accentuating one’s femininity and revealing a warmer energy- which appeals to men of all ages, heritages, and personality types. Be the woman that men want to be around, not the type who feels the need to prove herself.

 

5 Easy Ways to Attract a Quality Woman

 

iStock-543806276 copy.jpgFinding someone single, attractive, and interesting is only half the battle. Finding someone capable of sharing a future can be a much more difficult task. If you find yourself dating—but never finding sustainability—with the same type of women, you need to think about re-evaluating your dating style.

Homework

Make a list of all the qualities you want in a partner. Now ask yourself: Do I possess these qualities? If the answer isn’t a definite yes, then it might be time to re-evaluate your expectations.

The best way to attract a quality woman is simple: Become that which you’d like to attract. Here are 5 ways to get her attention.

 

  1. Do interesting things.

Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, so many of us fall into routines—and the routine can get old. No need to make grand changes, you can spice up your schedule with relatively small tweaks. Opt for a cooking class, art show, or concert. Try a new lunch place. Meet people different from yourself. Say “yes” to new experiences, even if it’s ‘not your thing’.

The most interesting people have lived through vast experiences—not all of which were pleasant. Successes and failures all contribute to a well-rounded character, so it’s in your best interest to take some risks. You will surprise yourself, and she will appreciate you for it.

 

Homework

If you’ve invited to a networking event, dinner party, or frankly any social gathering, NEVER refuse an invitation. You never know who you are going to meet. Furthermore, try two new activities in the next 60 days. Diversify your routine and see what happens.

 

  1. Enjoy the company of women, without an agenda.  

When finding a partner is top of mind, your conversation will slant in that direction instead of evolving organically. Give each other a chance to develop some attraction. The anxiety that can stem from a potential rejection will influence your interaction. Let the date be a secondary objective and just talk.

The thrill of the chase can also get in the way of determining if there’s anything beyond physical attraction. Instead of pursuing the most physically enticing woman, try to find the woman who makes you feel the most comfortable. Establishing some semblance of emotional connectivity will help you establish a firm foundation, the basis of any real connection.

 

Homework

Before asking her out, ask yourself: Would I be friends with this person? If the answer is no, ask yourself why you’re asking her out in the first place.

 

  1. Put yourself in her world.

Imagine your dream woman. What kind of things does she enjoy doing? Art? Sports? Horses? Music? Go to places that attract the type of people you’d like to meet. It’s not impossible to meet someone special during last call at the bar, but the odds of making a real connection aren’t in your favor. You’re better off making connections in places more conducive to conversation or in places that group people together based on shared interest.

 

Homework

Generosity and altruism are always attractive, and it doesn’t necessarily mean opening your checkbook. Find an upcoming event that interests you, and volunteer your time.

 

  1. Be prepared to carry the conversation initially.

Let’s be clear: Women struggle with conversation as much as men, but men are generally tasked with breaking the ice. The good news is that you only need a few open-ended questions to get started.

The questions that are easiest to ask are going to be the same ones she’s answered from every other guy. Set yourself apart with questions that require her to answer from her emotional side, not her logical side. She mentions she completed a marathon. You could go with something obvious like, “Where did you run?” or, you could try something new like, “What is it like to cross the finish line after so many hours?” Giving her an opportunity to share an experience with you will, in some ways, allow her to relive it again with you.

 

Homework

Did your last date feel like an interview? If so, the talk-to-listen ratio wasn’t balanced. Remember, G*d gave you two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you talk. Next conversation, limit yourself to asking two consecutive questions. Give her an opportunity to learn about you.

 

  1. Let your actions—not your words—show her who you are.

If you’ve found professional success, and it’s serving you well, you shouldn’t need to spell this out. Talking about what you have, who you know, and what you can provide isn’t attractive; it’s validation-seeking behavior. A quality woman won’t be with you for your bank account or Rolodex; she manages her own finances and social network.

If you’re outlining reasons for her to be with you, she will wonder why you feel the need to convince her. Spearhead a more interesting conversation about common interests or something that has less to do with your success and more to do with things you enjoy.

 

Homework

Instead of starting with the basic questions and getting more specific, work in the opposite direction. See how long you can talk without mentioning what you do for work. Engineering the conversation this way will force you to talk about the life you lead outside of the office. If this is challenging, it’s time to take some serious vacation and turn your phone off.

 

Attracting a quality woman begins with a fostering a stable, healthy relationship with yourself. These dating tips are just a few ways you can capture some interest; living your truth and being comfortable with who you are is the best place to start.

 

 

Is He Ready for Commitment? 7 Signs that Point to Yes

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There is nothing more frustrating than heading towards a serious, monogamous relationship only to hear your could-be-significant-other say, “I just don’t think I’m ready to commit.” Unfortunately, many women blame themselves for this outcome instead of chalking it up to poor timing or different long-term goals. Save yourself time, energy, and heartache by choosing men who want—not be convinced to want—a longer term relationship.

At Linx, we work exclusively with relationship-minded men, and we’ve noticed a few qualities that set them apart from their more casual counterparts. Here are seven signs to help you spot the difference between contenders and pretenders.

  1. Is he thoughtful about the time he spends with you?

He wants to make sure he sees you. He doesn’t invite you to hangout or casually mention that you should drop by his weekend BBQ. Instead, he asks you out and figures out a time based on your schedule. You’ll also notice that his dates are somewhat tailored to your preferences. He may take you to the restaurant that has your favorite dumplings or the art exhibit you mentioned in passing. He wants to share great moments with you—and that starts with thoughtful planning.

  1. Can you count on him?

Being able to rely on your partner for support is a big part of a sustainable relationship, and he will want to show you that he can handle one. It’s easy to feel infatuated when everything is going well, but does he have staying power when things get a little, hmmm, complicated? How did he react when you had a blow up at work? Was he available when you were sick with a nasty cold? If he always shows up for you, he’s showing that he’s worth the emotional investment.

  1. Can you talk about anything?

He’s willing to be straightforward about his feelings for you. If he’s not verbal, he finds other ways to show how he feels. He reaches for your hand. He holds the door for you. He stocks his fridge with your favorite snacks. He learns how you take your coffee. Give him an opportunity to show you how he feels; if he’s interested in long-term commitment, he will be attentive.

  1. Does he bring up exclusivity?

Sometimes the cues aren’t always verbal. You’ll notice that his phone isn’t blowing up with texts or calls from other women, because he’s buried all old flames. If you’re his +1 to an event and notice that all other attendees are in couples, he considers you two a couple.

  1. Does he take it slow?

Having sex at the right time—not having sex in a vacuum—becomes the goal. There is no pressure or focus on the sexual aspects of your relationship, because he knows that this part will evolve at its own pace. Men seeking casual flings will put an enormous amount of focus on the physical. Dates may seem rushed or overly casual and may feel more like activities to fill time until it becomes ‘suitable’ to have sex. How would he respond if you nixed the date without spending the night? If you predict any backlash whatsoever, he’s probably more interested in sexy time than learning about you.

  1. Does he talk long-term plans?

He might not be talking rings or kids, but he’s making plans that go beyond the upcoming weekend. Whether it’s scheduling a concert weeks away or inviting you to an upcoming wedding, he’s starting to assume you’ll be in the picture.

  1. Does he make you feel secure?

When a man is seriously interested, he wants to make you feel safe—physically and emotionally. In large crowds, he will help navigate you. If someone appears aggressive, your man is on alert. He’s an extra pair of eyes and ears making your physical well-being a priority. You’ll also notice that your man wants you to feel your best. You won’t feel jealous of other women, because your man takes time to compliment, and remind you of all the reasons you are special.

If you’re wondering how to get him to commit, you’re asking the wrong question. The right man for you—a man who is ready for a serious relationship—will show you that he is worthy of your time and affection. If you are ready to meet a commitment-minded man, consider emailing amy@linxdating.com and tell Amy a little bit about yourself.

Signs that You’re Dating a Man, Not a Boy

 

iStock-500303866 copy.jpgAlthough the exterior looks great, your partner might just be a boy in a grown man’s body. Although we’d like to think age communicates a certain level of maturity, we all know it’s just a number; there will be 50-year old boys and 20-year old men. Maturity and self awareness—gifts that come with life experiences—separate the men from the boys. Here’s how to tell if you’ve found yourself dating a mature adult, or a boy who hasn’t reached full maturity.

 

Boys want to hook up, men want to invest in a real physical and emotional connection.

At some point, the thrill of the chase is just not that thrilling anymore when there isn’t a future. He may have been a playboy in the past, but if he’s ready for one woman, he’s stopped communicating with exes and flings. If he’s still chasing tail at the bars or toggling between dating apps, he’s not ready to commit.

 

Boys slink away, men spearhead difficult conversations.

If someone gets angry, is there silent treatment involved? If so, perhaps your partner hasn’t fully grasped the necessity of effective communication. Whereas boys might become passive aggressive or distant after problems arise, men will spearhead the issues directly. If you’re with someone who can accept criticism, apologize, and tell you if something bothers him, then you are dating a man with serious communication skills.

 

Boys need constant guidance, men handle their business.

If you’re dating a guy who needs you to carry him home after a night out or someone to make him apologize for losing his temper, you’re probably dating someone who isn’t fully self aware. A few wild nights are acceptable, a few wild nights that reveal your partner’s complete lack of self control or poor judgment indicate a lack of maturity.

 

Boys don’t think about their environment, men fine tune their living space.

This point might seem harsh and overly obvious, but how your partner lives reveals a lot about his personal habits. Grown men take pride in surrounding themselves with an environment that supports a healthy lifestyle. He might not live alone or have a lavish place, but you can tell he has invested in his surroundings.

 

Boys live in the moment, men are focused on the future.

A man who is ready to settle down will build a firm foundation—a way to support himself and take care of the people he loves. Although he’s living in the present, men tend to act with a nod to the future. Boys are more interested in the fleeting moments that have no real staying power.

 

Boys tear you down, men genuinely compliment you.

When boys feel insecure, they might resort to teasing or back-handed compliments to chip away at your confidence. Men, however, understand that a woman with self-esteem won’t respond to such behavior. If a boy finds himself overwhelmed by his overachiever girlfriend, he might want to downplay her accomplishments, whereas a man will not only embrace the success, but want to share her achievements with everyone.

 

After a string of unsuccessful dates, it can feel like you have a knack for attracting boys exclusively. Keep going; the right man is waiting for you and if he’s still not showing up, get in touch. We’d be happy to help.

 

 

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.