Relationship Advice

Friends with an ex: Worth the time or time to move on?

 

iStock_000042224340_Small.jpgAfter sharing love and a life together, severing all contact with an ex sounds like a harsh outcome to say the least, but is maintaining ties with an ex worthwhile? Traditional advice seems to support “clean breaks” and “moving on”, but is there something to be said for pursing friendship in lieu of separation?

 

Is friendship with an ex even possible?

 

According to The Journal of Social Psychology, friendship after a breakup is more likely if you and your ex were friends prior to the relationship.; the transition is easier if both parties have experience in the platonic realm. Conversely, if sparks flew shortly after meeting, you stand to endure more pain and awkwardness as the romance falls away.

 

The nature of the breakup will also impact the opportunity for friendship. Naturally, break ups that included heated endings—arguments, cheating, or any sort of perceived hostility—jeopardize chances of friendship. However, if the dumper used “de-escalation” tactics—or slowly started pulling away, the ex-partner has time to adjust and consider an alternative dynamic.

 

Why stay friends?

 

If you do decide to remain friends, have an honest conversation with yourself about your motivations. According to a research study published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, your desire to remain friends after the relationship probably falls under one of the following reasons:

 

Reliability/sentimentality: your ex “gets you” and you can count on him or her to have your back.

 

Pragmatism: your ex makes your life easier. Your ex has resources you want—connections to business prospects, money, or skills you need.

 

Continued romantic attraction: You’re still in love.

 

Children and shared resources: Joint loans, kids, mortgages, etc. are obligations that make severing contact difficult if not impossible.

 

Diminished romantic attraction: Although the passion has waned, you still share an emotional connection.

 

Social relationship maintenance:You have similar friend groups or family friends.

 

Sexual access: Maintaining enough connectivity to ensure sexual opportunities or, simply, a friends with benefits situation.

 

Although reliability was the prevailing reason for friendship among both women and men, men were more likely to rate pragmatism and sexual access higher than women.

 

If you are pushing for friendship, be sure it’s friendship you’re actually looking for. To get your answer, ask yourself the following:

  • Are you scared to lose support, advice, and comfort?
  • Are you trying to avoid grief?
  • Do you want the benefits of partnership (i.e. sex) without a formalized commitment?

 

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might be more interested in filling a void than pursuing a true friendship. If you find yourself pursuing contact for these reasons, the pain and stress of the breakup are probably encouraging some unhealthy rollercoaster emotions.

 

Using friendship as a crutch while your relationship dies will prolong the agony of heartbreak. The sooner you cut ties and take time for yourself—on your own—the sooner you may have an opportunity to pursue friendship.

 

What does creating space for friendship with an ex look like?

 

Firstly—and this may sound dramatic—defriend your ex on Facebook. According to research that appears in the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, monitoring an ex on Facebook “exacerbates feelings of distress…and increases feelings of sexual desire and longing for an ex partner.” Although people who de-friended exes still experienced some setbacks in personal growth during their breakup, ultimately they reported less negative feelings than their stalker counterparts.

 

Instead of focusing on the friendship with an ex, you might find more value in revisiting your platonic relationships. The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships revealed that cross-sex friends who have always been platonic offer more satisfaction than cross-sex friends who have been lovers. Without sexual attraction or a need to get more serious, platonic friends share a pure connection.

 

Regardless of what you decide, give yourself—and your ex—and opportunity to adjust to the being single. If you do decide to pursue friendship, realize that the strong emotional connection you continue to share could complicate—at best—or preclude—at worst—your chances of establishing a new, totally fulfilling relationship.

New Year, New Resolutions: 7 Ways to Make 2019 Your Year for Love

 

iStock_000027212743Small.jpgIf you’re ready to make 2019 a year of unforgettable connection, I want to give you the best chance of success. The road to love does involve some work; it’s more than just taking risks, it’s also about letting go of the habits that hold us back. To get your 2019 started right, follow these 7 tips to simplify and expedite your path to a meaningful, fulfilling love life.

 

  1. Ditch the lukewarm arsenal of safe bets.

If you’ve been dating, chances are you’ve met some great people but, as great as they are, just aren’t a great fit for you. If you’ve accumulated a collection of “friends” and have found yourself “staying in touch” late at night or spending all your precious free time together, it’s time to cut the cord. Every moment you spend with someone who isn’t your match prolongs the wait for the right person. Harsh? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely.

 

Example: As much as I should love having a glorious, no strings attached relationship, I’m going to try my luck at finding something serious. I want you to know that you didn’t do anything wrong; it’s just that I’m planning to try something new. Wanted to make sure you weren’t left wondering what happened.

 

  1. Let your on again, off again relationship rest in peace.

If you broke up, the relationship is, well, broken. If you have separated or called it off, and are thinking about trying again, ask yourself: “What has actuallychanged?”

Loneliness summons all types of uncomfortable feelings—like regret—while also only allowing you to see the good times and forget the reasons that led to the break-up in the first place.

 

Don’t let these lonely feelings fool you into trying again with someone you were certain wasn’t right for you or someone who was certain you weren’t right for them. The relationship isn’t right, especially at this time, so give yourself the space to grow.

 

  1. Leave the ghosts of your past where they belong: the past.

Heartbreak is a part of life. If you’ve looked for connection, you’ve experienced the pain of losing it. Spending time discussing the ghosts of relationship past will only allow them to keep haunting the future. Each time you choose to relive the happy moments of a past relationship or rant about where an ex went wrong, you resurrect a broken relationship from the dead. Give your new relationship every opportunity to thrive; keep the ghosts at bay.

 

  1. Evaluate how much you want a relationship. Align your behavior accordingly.

Just because you are single doesn’t mean you are seeking a relationship; behavior is the only true indicator of what you truly want. I say this—as obvious at it seems—because so many times people want a relationship but do not do the work to be in one. If you want to be in a relationship, get matched, say yes to new people, make a move. Do something! It might not feel good, but it will prove that you are actively pursuing your personal goals.

 

  1. Refuse to negotiate the red flags.

If you like someone, it’s easy to let the feelings of infatuation cloud better judgment. Instead of making excuses for someone else’s error, re-claim your power by making very intentional mental notes.

 

If your date, for example, is going hard on the drinks and you find yourself unimpressed or concerned, you can try one of two approaches:

 

  1. I have noticed that my date is drinking beyond what makes me comfortable. I am choosing to note this for now. If it happens again, I will choose to be with someone who makes me feel less concerned.
  2. I am uncomfortable with my date’s drinking and have decided that I want to be comfortable. I choose to move on.

 

Every time you make an excuse for someone, you are stripping away your ability to make a choice. Once you break the habit of being forced to accept to being able to choose, you will feel much more aware of your standards and much less open to people who don’t meet them.

 

  1. If the present fulfills you, don’t let the future stress you.

Have you met someone who makes you feel fantastic? Get familiar with those feelings and let yourself experience them totally! Too many times, I have seen clients sabotage happy, functional relationships in their efforts to “know where it’s going”. Sometimes, the most challenging part of a blossoming relationship is allowing it to unfold organically. If you do find yourself pushing for answers early on, consider the source of your fears and giving yourself time to sort them out before they jeopardize your next connection.

 

  1. Discover what makes you most magnetic.

Whereas people have their preferences when it comes to physical looks, no one argues with the allure of a happy person. That happy energy—the joy of genuine contentment—is universally attractive. Discovering those things that make you feel alive—cooking, hosting, fixing, building—whatever it is, will help you broadcast something special. Cultivate your own happiness and let that new energy work for you.

 

If you’re intent on making the magic happen this year, consider outsourcing some of the work to the professionals. I receive dozens of new clients who want to meet people beyond their traditional circles. Get in touch! Maybe I’ve just added your next match to my rolodex.

 

I’m sending you best wishes for happiness and love in 2019!

Warmly,
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Amy Andersen
Founder & CEO
Linx Dating LLC 

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Here’s what the science says about coming on too strong…

How often has the following happening to you:

Your great date has suddenly disappeared.

  • You always initiate contact with the person you’re trying to see.
  • You’ve heard “I’m just not ready” or “I think we’re moving too fast” within the first few dates.

If this sounds familiar, you’re probably coming on too strong. This type of oversharing can be attributed to the misalignment between how someone sees themselves versus how others perceive them. At University of Texas, researchers applied the self-verification theory to explain why people continually overshare. In an effort to get people to view them the way they view themselves, some people reveal too much too soon–overly personal details, traumas, and strong feelings.

To feel happier, people want to be viewed the same way they view themselves. The person who comes on too strong believes he or she is putting your anxiety at ease by confessing their own feelings. That person believes he or she is providing important information you need to have right away, because he sees himself as a romantic or someone in love. If the feelings are unrequited, or incongruence happens, the self-verification theory notes that the oversharer will experience a negative outcome.

People who come on too strong tend to keep doing so, because they believe–on a fundamental level–that they are doing the right thing and when incongruence strikes, it’s especially debilitating because it jeopardizes the way the person sees himself.

So, how do I know if I’m coming on too strong?

Take a minute to evaluate your date’s responses. Did your date ask you lots of questions? Did (s)he initiate kissing, touching, or contact of any kind? Did (s)he propose a time or place to get together again? If not, slow down the pace until you see reciprocal positive signs that invite attention.

But, what’s the problem with telling someone how I feel?

There’s nothing wrong with sharing feelings, but it’s in your best interest to apply some objective, non-emotional thinking to ground you. For example, it’s been two dates, and you’re feeling very interested. Understand that the other person involved only knows you as much as he or she has experienced with you to that point. That person won’t know that you’ve turned down countless dates or are hard to get; they only know that it’s been a short period of time, and that’s all it took to win you over.

Without having had to “earn” your affection with positive behavior or sufficient time to show you who he or she really is, the other person won’t be able to figure out a legitimate reason for you to have such strong feelings.

When someone says too much too soon, it suggests an immediate need to fill a void versus a well-considered, intentional selection based on someone’s unique character. Just as you wouldn’t want to feel like your partner could be with anyone, and that you were just the first to come along, you shouldn’t give any reason for the person you’re dating to feel this way.

So, when should I express my feelings?

There is no “right” time to voice strong feelings. The only “right” thing to do is to try to understand what your true motivation is for doing so. Are these strong initial feelings stemming from a place of neediness? Has it been a while since you’ve met someone halfway decent? If you feel a sense of urgency to share the love, spend time figuring out the why.

 

7 Practical Ways to Make Your Long Distance Relationship Work

 

iStock-925386886 copy 2.jpgMaybe you’ve met someone on vacation or you’ve decided to look for love in more than one (local) place—and found it. Either way, you want to see where the relationship is going, and you don’t want distance to get in the way. To make the best of your long distance relationship, we suggest these 7 practical ways to help make that (temporary) distance a mechanism to bring you closer.

 

  1. You spearhead constant communication.

Naturally, you and your long distance partner will share bigger life events, but it’s talking about the small stuff—the daily minutia—that will make your relationship feel “normal”. Ask the small talk questions and try to track the recurring characters. The goal is to get enough information so that you can hear updates without having to ask the who, what, or why each time.

 

  1. You make being accessible a top priority.

Work schedules and sleep schedules across different time zones can make connecting more difficult, but not impossible. A little bit of planning can bridge the gap.

  • Send What’s App messages before bed so that your partner can wake up with you.
  • Spend one lunch break, breakfast, or dinner together via skype. Yes, that’s right. Pull out the computer with your glass of red.
  • Download WhatsApp or Facebook messenger to avoid unnecessary costs associated with international messaging fees.

 

What it looks like: One client went for a 30 day meditation retreat in northern India. Although she prepped her partner well before her month-long departure, she sensed his skepticism and slight resentment over her plans. To bridge the gap and stay true to her break from technology, she wrote him a letter or post card almost every day detailing her thoughts and realizations. His inability to communicate back left much to be discussed upon her return. Instead of creating distance, the month apart ultimately brought them closer together.

 

  1. Try different types of communication.

Spice up your communication style with something new. Take a break from the texting or phone and opt for a video call. After so many texts, you can miss important nuances and forget the little personality quirks that make your partner unique. The point is to make distance seem more like a slight inconvenience than a real barrier. The phone calls will give you insight to tone and mood; the video chats will help you decipher the real emotion. Even snail mail might help you see a more serious, intentional emotional side.

 

  1. Be romantic.

You won’t be around to make her coffee or buy her flowers, so find new ways to make her feel loved. Coordinate a flower delivery—out of the blue—to show that yes, you value romance and will make that happen regularly once you’re together. Use this temporary time apart to provide a preview of coming attractions.

 

What it looks like: One client started dating a man shortly before he fielded a work assignment in Germany. Whereas she wasn’t interested in dating across continents, he had different plans. Shortly before Valentine’s Day, the man got in touch with the client’s closest friend to figure out the perfect romantic gesture. Together, they decided the client needed a anti-stress holiday. He reserved a hotel room and a spa day for both women and arranged for a bottle of champagne and cheese plate to be delivered shortly after they arrived. The thoughtfulness and surprise factor was all the client needed to wait out his return.

 

  1. Always have a meeting in the works.

To survive the hurdles of distance, it’s easier to have a goal—like a meeting that’s right around the corner. Have the next meeting in the works before you end up apart. Whether it’s a short trip or a long holiday, all that matters is that you two know you have definitive plans to be together.

 

  1. Get a credit card with travel perks.

It’s as obvious as it sounds, and yet lots of couples miss out on the perks. Find a card that pays you back in miles or upgrades or lounge visits. If you’re anticipating time apart, get a card that’s going to make it even easier to get together.

 

  1. And, finally, remember just how little time you’ll be apart in the grand scheme of things. Something special is worth the wait. If you’re meant to be together forever, one week, one month, or one year, will hardly matter. Linx has brought so many couples together who are separated by cities, states, and countries. Couples have navigated these waters by following the aforementioned tips and ultimately overcoming distance, to say “I Do!”  💍 ❤️

He wants to try polyamory. What do I do now? 5 Questions to ask yourself before proceeding

 

iStock-859766444 copy.jpgThe popularity of non-monogamy—the practice of engaging in many intimate relationships—is on the rise, but is it the right path for your relationship? If you’ve found yourself in this situation, the most important piece of the puzzle is getting clear about what you want.

 

It’s important to understand what a polyamorous relationship entails. Firstly, it is a relationship built on consent. So, if you or your partner engages in another relationship without the consent of the primary partner, that’s not polyamory, that’s cheating. Also, polyamory is not exclusively about having multiple partners – if that were the case, you’d be describing an open relationship.

 

Sound a little complicated? Well, I’d agree with you. I’ve seen the invitation for multiple partners complicate functional relationships for years. To be fair, the relationships were on shaky ground before the discussion of additional partners was on the table, but each time the conversation about additional partners came up, someone was left feeling disappointed.

 

I believe the best decisions come from a place of honesty. Before you decide if polyamory is for you, consider the following:

 

  1. What led you to this decision?

If your partner surprised you with the proposition, it’s already looking like an unnatural evolution of your relationship. However, if you did some deep soul searching and believe that multiple partners will help you become the best version of yourself, I think you should listen to that voice.

 

  1. Are you doing this to please someone?

Compromising your picture of the relationship to paint someone else’s will only backfire. Instead of ensuring closeness, you’re building a strong case for resentment and contempt. In addition, it is common for jealously to flood the brain.

 

Ask yourself: Will my partner’s feelings towards me change based on my response?

 

  1. Are you doing this to fix something “broken”?

Compromising your needs in an attempt to “get the relationship back on track” or “try a new experience together” are just falsehoods to help us cope with the knowledge that the relationship is flawed on a fundamental level.

 

Ask yourself: How, specifically, will my partner’s new relationship with someone else strengthen our relationship?

 

  1. Are you able to speak openly about jealousy, sexual health, and feeling insecure?

Are your lines of communication open enough to discuss some of the harsher realities of polyamory? Some common drawbacks include feeling jealous, insecure, and secondary. Will you be able to talk about the physical implications of more than one sexual partner? Are you able to talk about feelings of insecurity at the risk of sounding needy? If any of this gives you pause, consider how much stress the polyamorous relationship could put on the level of communication with your partner.

 

  1. Are you able to set boundaries? Are you prepared to leave if they are crossed?

This point echoes the sentiment above; are you able to communicate openly about your needs in the relationship? If you are entertaining a polyamorous relationship, are there certain people off limits to your partner? If you are not able to voice these concerns for fear of upsetting your partner, you will sabotage your emotional well being.

 

Are you dating a narcissist? Watch out for these signs

If your partner is constantly seeking attention, validation, or admiration while keeping your needs secondary, you could be dating a narcissist. The narcissism diagnosis gets tossed around frequently, so it can be difficult to differentiate between a true narcissist and someone who just loves attention. To know if you’re dating a narcissist, look out for the following signs:

Grandiose Personality—Your partner believes that he or she is the reason other people are leading better lives. Because they believe they are more important than everyone else, it’s challenging for them to fathom how other people could survive without their contributions.

What this could look like: When your partner discusses a work project, he takes credit for the final product without any acknowledgement of colleagues. He tries to tell you that despite everyone pushing back or “getting in his way”, he single-handedly found the answer.

Grand displays of affection (initially)—If your partner laid it on thick in the beginning—i.e. flowers, gifts, or saying “I love you” soon after meeting—you experienced what psychologists call “love bombing”. This technique is used to move the relationship forward quickly, but on a false pretense—one that is self-serving as opposed to genuine.

What this could look like: You were swept off your feet, but that narrative quickly changed when you communicated needs of your own. The exchange of gifts comes easily, but the exchange of real communication has barriers.

Your partner is living in a fantasy—Since reality doesn’t back up that grandiose personality, your partner will create a narrative that does. You might hear your partner tell stories that speak to unlimited power, brilliance, or importance. These stories are protective mechanisms to help offset shame or a lack of self worth.

What this could look like: Your partner tells a story about that time she got a scholarship to an ivy league school, but she doesn’t end up going. When you ask why she took out loans to attend a state school instead, she becomes furious and combative. Your innocent question is met with rage and anger, as it potentially challenges her fantasy.

You partner turns the conversation on you—Whenever you discuss a problem with your partner or have some constructive criticism, the conversation seems to be redirected at you. A narcissistic person will try to make you feel guilty, overly sensitive, or just plain wrong about the issues you’re experiencing. Gaslighting is the formal term that describes this kind of emotional devaluation technique.

What this could look like: You tell your partner that you are upset when she shows up late for plans. Instead of apologizing or offering up a reason, she flips the conversation on you. She might say something like, “Why are you so controlling?” or “Would be really great if you could loosen up”. Gaslighters know that if you question your own feelings, you will continue to doubt yourself and the poor treatment you are receiving.

Your partner is a bully—To affirm those feelings of superiority, narcissists will frequently demean others. Your partner harbors a fragile self esteem so tearing people down—especially publically—is a way to preserve his sense of self.

What this could look like: The waiter delivers the wrong meal to your table. Instead of asking for a replacement, your partner escalates the situation from mistake to confrontation. After embarrassing the waiter and asserting dominance, your partner will not feel any shame or remorse for making a scene.

 

Is She Ready to Commit? 7 Questions to Ask Yourself

 

iStock-629605642 copy.jpgShe might be interested, but is she willing to commit? To know for sure is a time-consuming process. Standing by until she’s ready or doing every little thing to change her mind will challenge your patience and sanity. Those loving feelings you have now can snowball into frustration and resentment if your partner’s intentions stay ambiguous. To avoid pursuing a woman who isn’t ready to commit, ask yourself the following questions:

 

  1. Is she emotionally available?

 

Intimacy begins with trust, and wounds of the past can make trusting someone new very difficult. If your partner struggles to communicate her feelings, she might be protecting herself from another heartbreak or letdown. If your partner constantly rehashes stories about her ex, she’s not ready to commit emotionally. As long as she fixates on the demons of her past, she’s still living among them. Over time, she’s more likely to let go of the anger or sadness, but as long as she’s processing, give her time. Your efforts to be her knight in shining armor are impressive, but they won’t be fully appreciated until she’s moved on from the past.  Keep in mind that this one is all about degree – though you don’t want write someone off too quickly, you should also move on if the wounds seem too fresh.

 

  1. Does she want you to be the best version of yourself?

 

Everyone has blind spots; does your partner take time to help you discover and improve the ones that are problematic? If so, she’s showing a willingness to invest in your well-being.

 

Maybe you’ve slipped back into workaholic tendencies. Maybe you’re struggling with aging parents. Whatever it is, it’s a problem you can solve together. You’ll notice her feedback doesn’t feel like criticism. Instead, she spends time figuring out the root cause of the problem in a calm, non-judgmental way. If she’s looking for the best long-term fit, she will want her partner at his best—even if it involves tough conversations.

 

  1. Does she make an effort with your family?

 

Everyone has a couple challenging relatives but, no matter how much we may wish otherwise, they’re still family. A woman who’s interested in a long-term relationship will take them as they are. She’ll let your overly political father vent, she will let your perpetually unemployed brother crash at your apartment, and she won’t hold it against you.

 

If the relationship is casual, she’ll avoid intertwining herself in your life. She might meet your friends, but family requires a different type of effort.

 

A woman who is ready to commit will do her best to make a solid impression. She will help your mom figure out FaceTime. She will spend 45 minutes talking to your dad about his fishing trip. She might have 100 more interesting ways to spend her time, but she wants to cultivate relationships with the people who’ve known you the longest. Because your family is an extension of you, she will make them a part of her life.

 

  1. Does she allude to a future?

 

If commitment is on her mind, she’ll start gauging your interest in future plans. Testing the waters about kids or marriage can be too forward, so listen for softer cues. She might want your thoughts on pet ownership or ask about your lease. If vacation days are numbered, she might ask about holiday plans well in advance.

 

If she’s trying to make long-term plans, she sees you in her future.

 

  1. Does she introduce you to friends?

 

Meeting the friend group is another way she will integrate you in her life. If you’re playing a bigger role in her life, she’ll want her leading ladies to know you. Watch for invites to group outings or impromptu meet ups where she’s already with a close friend. If she’s inviting you to high exposure events like company outings, family gatherings, weddings, she’s also publicly acknowledging that your relationship has legs.

 

  1. Does she want to impress your friends?

 

Just like family, your friends are an extension of you. Because these people are important to you, they are important to her. If she believes that you are the best long-term partner, she’ll want your friends to see her as your best match. Their opinion of her is not something she’ll take lightly. To make a good impression, she might make an extra effort to befriend a colleague’s wife or take initiative to plan a couples’ trip.

 

  1. Does she demonstrate willingness to compromise?

 

When the relationship shifts from an “I” to a “we”, your partner will make decisions differently. Because she’s focused on what’s best for the relationship, her needs are best met when both of you can come to an agreement, even if the outcome is not exactly what she had in mind. If she’s only looking for casual fun, there’s no reason for her compromise. Without a future, there’s no need to make sacrifices.