HOW SETTING HEALTHY BOUNDARIES IN DATING LEADS TO A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP
When it comes
to dating, I need you to understand that how you set boundaries and your level
of honesty sets the stage for the quality of the relationship.
example, in one of my unhealthy past relationships I would notice behavior
(deleting texts from other males, lying, and more) in my partner that made me
very insecure. After numerous failed attempts to increase the security (trust
and commitment), I told myself to “ignore her behavior.”
Dr. Gottman’s research highlights, “adaptation to negativity [and
insecurity] is dysfunctional.” While negativity happens in even stable
marriages (remember the 5 positive to 1
negative interaction ratio), in connected couples it gets repaired.
When a red flag is shown, it gets addressed, boundaries are put up, and the
relationship improves. Dr. Gottman goes on to say that, in marriages that work,
partners notice even lower levels of negativity in the relationship and take
action on it.
means honoring your needs and finding a partner who will work with you to meet
those needs as you meet theirs. It also means being realistic and knowing, as
Esther Perel often highlights, that your partner cannot accommodate you 100% of
the time or fulfill every single one of your needs. The key determining factor
of the success of the relationship long-term is your willingness to bring
up your needs in a gentle and honest way (Hint: “I” statements + a
positive, actionable recipe for success) and your potential partner’s
willingness to work with you to find a win-win solution.
starts by knowing yourself and your needs. Unfortunately, many of us are taught
that our needs are “too much” and so our blueprint for love convinces
us to seek someone who validates this belief system. Since our self-esteem is
low, we often “settle” for bread crumbs of love. I know I did.
And with low
self-esteem, it makes it difficult to be honest about your needs and put up
healthy boundaries. It’s not uncommon for someone to tolerate really unhealthy
behavior so they don’t have to be “alone.” Sadly, this mindset
doesn’t lead to a healthy, happy, and fulfilling relationship where your
significant other and you support each other on becoming the best couple and
individuals you can be.
Young children don’t measure your love for them by how much money you put into their college funds, how clean the house is, or even the number of gifts you give them. As Dr. Anthony P. Witham once said, children have their own way of spelling “love”: T-I-M-E. Here are a few pieces of communication advice to make sure you are there for your children.
Take the time—trust me, you have it
Take some time every day and spend it with your kid. If you have more than one kid, make sure they each get some one-on-one time. Block time out in your busy schedule if you have to—just make sure you do it every day. Even if it’s only 15 minutes per day, it can make a huge difference in building good, quality communication habits with your kids and do wonders for your relationship.
Trust me: you can spare 15 minutes. You’re not that busy (even if you feel otherwise).
It’s vital that your attention is focused on your kids while spending time with them. Slow down and be present. That means putting your phone down, shutting your laptop, turning off that show, and devoting your undivided attention. You’ll be surprised how much of an impact it will make.
“When you’re overwhelmed with your responsibilities, it’s easy to toggle into automatic pilot with your kids,” says Dr. Harley A. Rotbart. “But if your mind is elsewhere during the precious moments you’ve worked hard to preserve, you have lost your kids’ childhood just as surely as if you hadn’t spent the time with them at all.”
Don’t just hear them out: listen
Your kids know when you’re really listening and when you’re just giving them the absent-minded nod followed by the “Uh huh, sure, honey,” run-around routine. When you take the time to be with your kids, make sure you’re listening. Open your ear holes and soak it up. It will not only help you build stronger bonds with your kids, but it will also make your children feel valued and loved.
Ask your kids about their feelings on things they care about. And you don’t know what your kids are into, now might be a good time to find out. Have fun with it. Laugh a little. Play and joke a bit.
But remember, you’re listening. This isn’t a time to lecture. This is a time to teach. You don’t have to do much at all besides pay attention and listen. And you don’t have to agree with everything your kids say to be a good listener, either. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about showing them that you love them. Make an effort to open up your ears and shut your mouth.
Do not tell your kids what you think they should feel, and don’t just assume you know what they’re feeling either. Let them express those feelings in their own way and in their own time.
Patience is a key element in showing that you care. And whatever you do, don’t minimize their feelings by saying things like “That’s dumb,” or “You’re silly, you shouldn’t feel like that,” or “Don’t worry. You’ll get it when you’re older.” Their feelings are real and should be considered and respected.
“When kids feel valued, loved, heard, and respected, they develop an identity based on these responses,” says Támara Hill, child/adolescent therapist. “Most children don’t demand much; they simply want to have a place in the world and in the lives of those they love.”
Don’t just be a role model: be a good one
When your children are grown, they’ll put you into one of two categories. Either you’ll fit into the “I want to be just like them,” category, or the “I don’t want to make the same mistakes,” category. These are also known as the “good role model” and “bad role model” categories.
Growing up, my dad’s most famous saying around the house was, “Do what I say, not what I do.” As teens, this was funny, especially when Dad got in trouble with Mom for saying it. When you’re dealing with little kids who can’t always communicate vocally, however, your example is paramount.
Use tones and words you want your children to mimic, because they will. If you’re yelling at your partner in front of your kids, don’t be surprised with the yelling starts between siblings. If you laugh when you say, “Stop, that’s not right,” you’re going to confuse your kids. Be clear and precise. Use words they will understand to describe what you are feeling. Doing that will help your kids to learn to get in touch with their own feelings and express them the same way.
Being a good parent is all about showing your children you love them. This comes with taking the time to be there, knowing how to listen, and being a good role model. If you can master those things, you’ll have a better chance of succeeding as a parent. Don’t miss out on their lives. They don’t stay kids for too long.
MY WIFE WANTS TO OPEN THE RELATIONSHIP. IS OUR MARRIAGE OVER?
Jamie slumps on my therapy couch, his head in his hands. “My wife says her attraction to me has waned. She asked me if we can open our relationship, but that’s not something I want. What do I do?”
As a psychologist and sex therapist, I work in the world of sex and intimacy every day. I consider my job as a psychotherapist, author, and educator especially important because we don’t talk about sex enough–even with our partners.
There is so much mystery and shame around exploring our sexuality. I’ve heard dozens of spouses confide that they don’t feel passion for their mate anymore. They bravely share their fantasies about finding sexual excitement in new ways. So I’m eager to help Jamie understand the challenges of long-term love and explore how he and his partner might move forward.
Even though his wife’s concerns have thrown him into a panic, I reassure him that sexual desire disconnect is a common problem in long-term love. His wife, like many people, longs for the easy excitement and horniness she felt when they were dating.
In the beginning, attraction comes easily. Lust is a biological cocktail of dopamine, oxytocin, hopes, and expectations garnished with a giant splash of novelty. And it’s powerful. When we’re drunk on love the object of our affection grabs us like a rottweiler does a squeaky stuffed toy.
His wife used to daydream about him and feel a delicious sense of thrill. Sexual arousal flushed her body during a business meeting. The passion was visceral, and it felt fantastic.
But after a while novelty wanes, the relationship settles down, and the erotic is replaced by the every day. I call this Marriage Incorporated: two people love each other but their relationship becomes a business instead of a romance. Kids, careers, soccer practice, tax returns, and peeing with the door open. They do everything together but each other.
Sex falls way down the priority list. And when they do make love, it’s pretty boring. The typical sexual encounter in a long-term relationship is less than seven minutes from nudge to snore. Last week, one patient told me when her wife wants sex, she asks, “Is your mouthguard in yet?” So much for romance!
What’s more, the infrequent sex may lead to orgasm but it’s devoid of passion, creativity, and sizzle. There are no surprises in the predictable routine of “nipple, nipple, crotch, goodnight.”
And gee whiz, one day couples realize they’re not attracted to their mate. Marriage Inc. has replaced Passion Inc.
Here’s what Jamie’s wife did right. She started the conversation about attraction, passion, and their sex life. This is the best-case scenario. She didn’t cheat.
Sneaking around for secret sex is a common way that a partner who has lost attraction recreates sexual thrill. Because even though 95% of people in ongoing relationships state they want sexual exclusivity, reported infidelity rates range from 20-50%.
So research on sex, desire, and monogamy challenges us to face the facts. Wanting monogamy is one thing—actually creating sustainable passion is another. It’s more normal than you think someone to fantasize about sex outside their relationship.
But instead of having an affair Jamie’s wife is proposing an open relationship, or consensual non monogamy (CNM). The details are worked out by each couple, but the basic idea is simple: partners openly agree to engage in sexual exploration with other people while staying emotionally exclusive.
While he may be shocked that his wife is floating the idea, approximately 4% of North Americans are in a CNM relationship, and up to a quarter of men and women report being willing to at least consider engaging in this alternate relationship model.
As difficult as it is, together they are starting to face the facts, which is what I hope all couples with sexual desire disconnect will do. His wife longs for more sexual passion but she doesn’t want to leave the marriage. She thinks new experiences will satisfy her. And they might, but only for a while. Novelty, by definition, doesn’t last.
So if we need novelty to “make us” attracted, we have to keep seeking new partners, new thrills, or new taboos. So what can you do about it?
Talking honestly about these big—and very threatening—feelings and ideas is a brave and intimate act. And it can be a pivot point to a far more satisfying relationship. But not an open relationship. Because Jamie wants monogamy. And that’s okay.
As with any sexual behavior, don’t agree to something you don’t want. As a sex therapist I am not opposed to open relationships on a philosophical level, but in real life, this model doesn’t work for most couples. In my clinical experience, even when the terms are negotiated and both partners are on board, jealousy, guilt, and unresolved relationship issues often tear couples apart in an agonizing failed experiment.
But what if he can become the new partner she seeks? Instead of opening their marriage to other people, what if they open their marriage to each other?
If his wife is willing to play ball, I suggested he commit to changing their relationship from the inside out and vow to re-ignite desire, attraction, and sexual thrill with each other. Since almost all of us want monogamy, but passion fades with familiarity, the challenge is to make monogamy hot again.
Five Tips to Make Monogamy Hot Again
Bring Buddha into the bedroom Mindful sex makes the familiar exciting again because attraction is all in your head. When you nibble a delicious chocolate truffle, you enjoy it fully here and now, even though you’ve had hundreds of chocolates before. Why? Because paying attention to this truffle with mindfulness makes the familiar experience fresh, alive, and sensory-each chocolate tastes new and interesting.
You can create erotic novelty the same way by getting your head into bed. Research shows that mindfulness practice increases sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction.Instead of kissing someone new, kiss your same old partner for the very first time in this moment. When you are mindful of lips, tongue, heat, and breath, excitement can surge, and this kiss feels new and exciting. Experience the thrill you used to feel, one kiss, one breath, at a time. Pleasure is available right now, with the one you are with.
Treat sex like exercise Just do it. Sure, in the lustful dating days spontaneous desire swept you away and you tumbled into bed like a pair of mating otters. But in long-term relationship, it helps to schedule sex. Just like you do with the gym, commit to your sexual workouts, get going even when you don’t feel like it, and afterward you will always be glad you did.
Make a weekly sex date and no matter how tired you are, or how compelling the couch and Netflix seem, honor your commitment to your passionate life. Couples who make love on schedule often discover they start having sex in between sex dates—it’s as though their sexual fitness increases.
Have gourmet sex Complacency and laziness lead to boring sex. Many of us forget the vast possibilities for sensual exploration that two bodies multiplied by five senses offer us. When is the last time you licked the back of your partner’s knees, or blew gently on their neck?
The erotic menu is vast. So stop relying on fast food. Shake up the old routine of “nipple, nipple, crotch, goodnight.” Get creative and curious and vow to surprise each other with a lingering five course sensory feast. Give each other a slow, erotic, sensual massage, or visit a love shop and get some sexy toys to bring the play back into foreplay.
Explore your dark sexual energy When a person seeks an affair or open relationship, they are longing for the excitement of the taboo. And let’s face it—taboo is sexy. We all have what I call “dark sexual energy.” This is the raw, primal aspect of our sexual desire. But often we hide this side of our sexual self from our partner. So, instead of denying this part of your eroticism, take a risk and share it with your mate. Tell them, in explicit detail, one of your secret fantasies.
Now there is a difference between fantasy and reality, so you may not choose to act this scenario out, but it can be highly arousing to expose our deepest sexual desires to our beloved. And explore something new—visit a fetish party together dressed in leather and lace, or have a quickie in the spare bedroom at your boss’s dinner party. Create excitement with sexy scenarios. Kick Marriage Inc. in the butt and re-ignite the fire of lust.
Expand your orgasms with tantric sex The typical climax orgasm lasts for 7 seconds for men and 21 seconds for women. Imagine extending that to minutes, and beyond. If regular orgasm is a firecracker, tantric orgasm is a bonfire. You can learn to play with your sexual arousal by changing how you breathe, connecting more deeply with your partner while you make love, and staying intently conscious at orgasm (instead of swooning into fantasy or zoning out).
Read my book or take a course in tantric sex. With practice, you can experience orgasm all over your body and have multiple waves of pleasure. Put the OM into Oh My.
Love is beautiful and the best gift anyone can give and receive. When two people decide they are compatible enough to spend the rest of their lives together, they commit as husband and wife. They make wonderful future plans and begin their journey right after the wedding.
What to Expect:
In this journey, there are things to love and hate about each other, rules to be agreed upon, which will govern the new relationship. Although the good times will always outdo the grays, there will be moments of insecurity. Whereas most people might think infidelity is the only giant to be overcome, there are more frequent hurdles to overcome.
Committing to a marriage is more than just fidelity. It involves standing together through thick and thin. Accepting each other’s weaknesses that were not noticeable before exchanging the vows, laughing and sometimes crying together.
Reality in Marriage:
Things really change after the honeymoon. In the awakening into reality, many give up thinking there’s someone better out there for them. The fact is, nothing in life grows overnight. Marriage isn’t an exception here. Every good thing under the sky takes time to build.
There will be days your husband/wife will want to be alone. That doesn’t mean she/he has stopped loving you. Everyone needs some alone time to quiet their mind. It is healthy and necessary for a happy relationship. The best you can do is allow them the space.
Simple decisions will become almost difficult. In marriage, they say two become one. Well, this is easier said than done. It is not easy to blend two completely different personalities – not with each partner expecting the other to become more of what they fantasized.
You don’t get to choose your living room color by yourself. If you had a certain pattern on your spending habits, you cannot continue the same. Everything must meet right in the middle of both your choices. You basically do away with the freedom to make major decisions.
This is where balance is very important because if one feels over-powered, they are more than likely to seek other options. You’ve heard people having a big wedding only to divorce a few months or years later. That happens because of unrealistic expectations which couples have when they exchange their vows.
No matter how compatible you are with each other, there will definitely be days when you will experience conflicts. In such situations, you must learn how to maturely deal with disagreements before they get out of hand.
It is unrealistic to expect things to always flow smoothly. You will experience small and, sometimes, huge cracks along the pavement. If you are committed to making your marriage work, forgiveness, patience and apologies are very important.
Avoid Breaking Up:
I believe most divorces are due to arrogance of one or both partners. When nobody is willing to take responsibility for their mistake and work toward being a better person, a marriage union turns into a roller coaster of unsolved issues, leaving both partners wanting out.
To keep and grow a healthy relationship, discuss issues with your partner as they arise and watch very carefully the words coming out of your mouth. Careless use of words can break a relationship to a point of no repair. If you listen more and speak less everything will work out very well because it gives you time to think and choose what to say.
Things can get a little bit rocky during the first years of marriage. Learning to adjust into the commitment and giving away most of the freedom is the biggest culprit. With patience, however, everything starts settling down.
DATE LIKE YOU DID IN THE BEGINNING AND THE PASSION WON’T END
We are supposed to find love by dating around. All across the globe, different pairs of strangers meet every night at restaurants hoping that the person sitting across from them is “The One.”
Many dates will be awkward enough to signal the server over immediately for the check. Other dates will last for hours. Some couples get lost in the world of sharing their hearts, and when they go on a second and a third date, they put on their best behavior
The new love birds shop for attractive clothes, exercise more, eat well, and groom themselves. One of them will plan the date by picking the restaurant, the dance class, or making a reservation at a hip speakeasy neither has been to. A lot of work goes into seeing each other again.
And this is something we often forget. Dating iswork. It takes an intentional effort. And this effort is created by the desire to impress and please your mate. It is the essence of romance. It is our gestures; the care we put into the way we dress, the places we take our lover, and even the surprises that produce excitement, novelty, and emotional connection.
Date nights are like gasoline to the flames of romance. Yet, 44% of long-lasting couples in America go on one date a year. 1 These couples forget to add wood to the fire to keep the heat burning. And as their relationship goes through time, the fiery passion turns into lonely embers in the night.
“Couples who stop spending romantic time together lose sexual interest in each other.” – The Normal Bar
The authors of The Normal Bar surveyed 70,0000+ individuals and found that more than 60% of men and women in the United States desire more romance.
Globally speaking, women generally wanted to enhance the romance more often than men. But more than one-third of the men said it bothered them a lot that their lover wasn’t more romantic.
When you’re done falling in love, you must learn to stand in love. To wilfully create it. The authors of the Normal Bar propose that Romance is a simple loop that reminds us of this.
And romance is created by the desire to be loved by your partner, to impress them and your desire to love and want them more. This happens in small ways, such as showing admiration for each other, and making each other a priority by continuing to court each other.
The vast majority of the Normal Bar couples who are extremely happy intentionally spend alone time together. No kids. No work. Even after partners share a mailbox together, they still “date.”
The research is in: Date night boosts happiness, emotional connection, and intimacy.
Fortunately for you and me, men and women have similar expectations when it comes to the ideal romantic date.
Women want to feel sexy, have a delicious meal at a nice restaurant, drink some wine, and end the evening with some quality love-making at home (or a high-end hotel if there are kids at home). 2
Men enjoy pleasing their partners by taking them out to dinner at a favorite spot, followed by going somewhere private where they can give and receive full-body sensual massages. Or maybe take a bath that finishes with having sex… “all night long.”
Throw in some heartfelt surprises such as a love note, more affection, and a serious makeout session, and you have yourself the international recipe for an ideal romantic date.
The 3 Excuses for Why You’re Not Dating Your Spouse
Couples who don’t do date night don’t prioritize their time together. The kids, work, and everything else take precedence, and their relationship slowly erodes.
If you do nothing to improve your relationship your relationship will get worse over time.
When asked why they’re not dating, couples come up with three excuses:
We don’t have enough time!
No, you just value spending your time on other things than the passion of your relationship. All of us have to make sacrifices by choosing one thing over another.
A 75-year study on what makes a good life proves that the way to live a meaningful life is not fame or wealth, but by having meaningful relationships. And meaningful long-lasting relationships are cultivated by two people committing to each other.
Commitment to your partner enables you more freedom because you’re not distracted by looking where the grass is greener. Instead, you are focused on making your current lawn lusciously green. It is this investment in your relationship that allows you to go to the depth that the gold of love is discovered.
We don’t have the money for a fancy restaurant or a sitter.
One of my favorite date nights with my partner is getting froyo. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. It only has to be with your partner.
If you’re struggling with having the money for a babysitter, get creative! In The Normal Bar, the authors suggest doing “Block Dating,” which means connecting with other families in your neighborhood and rotating who takes care of the little ones. Every other week, you’ll watch their kids so they can spend the evening on a date. It’s a win-win for the whole block because you get your turn too!
We want to do different things.
Of course you do. You’re different people. Take this opportunity to push each other to do things you normally wouldn’t do. This may require some negotiating.
In Stan Tatkin’s book Wired for Dating, he talks about how his wife Tracey wanted to go to her favorite spot for a drink, while Stan wanted to see a new movie. While Stan is not a fan of just going out for drinks, Tracey prefers to emotionally connect and feels that having a drink together is a perfect way to do that.
So they went to the movie and then talked about it over drinks. While this is a simple example, it shows that your partner’s desire can be an opportunity to learn something new about both of you. It’s your responsibility to find something interesting in the thing you are doing with them, not theirs. Ask questions, explore why they enjoy it, and find delight in their joy.
The Skills of Great Dating
Try something new + learn something new about your partner + intentional together time = Great date
Couples often settle into the relationship and take each other for granted. When fun and novelty fall to the waste side, it can be toxic to a bond. By discovering fun activities that are interesting to both partners, you bring in new and different experiences that spark new levels of intimacy.
Additionally, a great date is built on expressing a real curiosity about your partner’s life. Here’s how to do it:
“Be Interested, not interesting:” 3 Everyone wants to feel valued and admired. Your ability to pay attention to the details of your partner’s life does this.
Ask questions: Remember when you could talk for hours and never got tired of learning new things about each other? This doesn’t have to end. There are always new things to learn. Your partner’s inner world is always changing. You can do this by asking open-ended questions that lead to the heart, such as:
What is a secret dream of yours?
What and who are the most important things in your life right now?
What is your biggest struggle?
If you want more ideas, I highly recommend picking up Dr. Gottman’s card deck: Open-Ended Questions. (Hint: you can even bring them on a date! I do.)
Focus with all your attention: Once your partner is talking, truly listen. That means no cell phones or other distractions. Don’t plan on the next thing you’re going to say. I like to imagine a conversation with my partner as getting a tour of her heart. I’m not sure where it’s going to go, and if I see something I’m curious about, I stop and ask my partner about it.
Show responsiveness: It’s helpful to nod or mm-hmm to indicate to your partner that you’re truly listening.
Date Night Ideas
Struggling to come up with date ideas? Here’s a few ways to brainstorm:
Date Night in a Jar: Pull up Yelp and Google and search for date ideas in your town. Select ten, write them on a piece of paper and put them in a jar. Have your partner pull out one – there’s your date!
Create a bucket list. My partner and I did this recently, and every weekend of our summer is packed with dates and fun things with friends.
Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. proposes a very simple approach to rekindling the flames of dating. If your partner feels emotionally unavailable, you may have a habit of diagnosing your partner and the relationship.
You might accuse your partner of having intimacy issues and blame them of being afraid of getting close to you.
This makes things worse.
Instead of complaining about how you don’t date – plan a date.
Such as, “there’s a new steakhouse in town, want to check it out on Friday?”
Before diagnosing your partner’s intimacy issues, try taking steps to create closeness with them to see how they respond.
The frequency of dates in a relationship is also important. If you only go out a few times a year, The Normal Bar shows that it’s simply not enough for long-lasting relationships. Dating has to happen often enough to become the norm of the relationship. Once a week, or even twice a month will do wonders, not only for the emotional connection but for the sexual connection as well.
Just because you sleep in the same bed every night doesn’t mean dating should end. Make dating a priority. Plan it. Prepare for it. Get excited about it. Think of new places to go, new things to experience, and make romancing your partner a new normal in your relationship. Court and seduce your lover with the same energy you had at the beginning of the relationship, and the fire of passion will continue to burn.
According to the Normal Bar Study based on surveying 70,0000+ individuals across the globe ↩
THE HONEST PATH TO FINDING A LIFELONG PARTNER WITH RACHEL RUSSO
I’ll be honest, dating can be difficult. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed with the number of possible ways to find a life partner, with deciding whether to go on a second date or cancel and eat Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy, or with knowing when to commit to someone. It can feel like a game you just don’t want to play.
That’s why I sat down with Rachel Russo, New York City matchmaker and dating coach, to discuss how you can find someone to create a lifelong partnership with.
In our interview, Rachel and I tackled:
The most common troubles people have when dating and how to solve them
Handling rejection and how to honestly reject others in a mature way
How to take advantage of current dating spaces, both real-world and online
Common Dating Troubles
Years ago I wrote about my frustrations with being a first dateprenuer. I felt lost in a maze called dating, only to find myself running into dead-ends because my dates weren’t “perfectly compatible.”
And that’s a problem.
As soon as I would finish a first date, even on my way back to my car I’d already be back to swiping on dating apps and seeing who else was out there. With the appearance that everyone and their grandmother were available, I believed I had millions of choices.
The problem is that this way of dating plays right into what is called the Paradox of Choice. It’s when you have so many options, you actually choose NOT to choose.
This is a perfect example of one of the struggles with dating. You go on a date, you connect with someone, but then you’re worried about missing out on someone even better. Even if the person you’re on a date with is amazing, you’re worried about not connecting with Janice or Jacob who might be, in your mind, a potentially better fit.
“[W]hen choosing a long-term partner.. [you are also choosing] a particular set of irresolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next ten, twenty, or even fifty years.” – Daniel Wile, After The Honeymoon
To learn more about the more common troubles of dating, watch the interview here.
The Upside of Healthy Rejection
Have you ever thought about the language of rejection in romantic relationships?
“She broke my heart” or “He hurt my feelings” or “Her cheating was like a stab in the back.”
Our attachment system, a primal survival system, is designed to keep you close to others for your safety. After all, your ancestors who stayed closer to the tribe tended to survive long so they could procreate. Essentially, we are hardwired for connection.
This is why rejection is so painful.
But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong or unhealthy. Just because something doesn’t feel good doesn’t mean it’s not good for you.
People who build muscle in a gym tend to undergo difficult workouts and associate a positive meaning to the unpleasant sensations involved, which makes it easier to tolerate.
“This is the skill that’s perilously missing today: the ability to de-couple meaning from feeling, to decide that just because you feel something, it doesn’t mean life is that something.” – Mark Manson, F*ck Your Feelings
You cannot change how icky rejection feels if you do it to someone else or how hurt you might feel if you get rejected by someone you like. What you can change is the meaning. Which paradoxically makes your feelings easier to tolerate. This is classic Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Let’s look at this as an example:
Let’s say that Alex is interested in taking Lucy on a date. Alex saw her in a coffee shop, and he thought she was beautiful. He walks up to her and says, “Hey there… [slightly awkward small talk]… I was wondering if I could take you out on a date?”
Lucy is not interested in dating someone since she just got out of a 3-year relationship and wants time to focus on herself and her career.
Would it be better for Lucy to agree to go to on the date, even though she is not interested, or would it be better for Lucy to be honest with Alex and tell him that she’s flattered, but isn’t in a space to date at this point in time?
If you think the latter is better, Rachel and I would agree.
Agreeing to go on a date in order to not hurt someone’s feelings will, in the end, hurt their feelings more than it would have if you had been honest and kind and tactfully rejected them in the first place.
As Rachel says, it is far worse to string someone along and waste their time than it is to just be honest about what you may or may not be looking for. This also means NO GHOSTING or benching.
Being rejected shows you who is and isn’t for you. Rejection can enable you to find someone who will meet your needs and someone whose needs will be met by you.
With the plethora of online dating options, you may choose one of the more prevalent apps such as Hinge, Bumble, Tinder, or Match.
While these apps are great, they also put you in a large dating pool with people who have a wide range of interests, which makes it harder to sort through who will be a good fit for you. This means more effort on your end.
Luckily, there are websites that help filter for certain values such as fitness and physical health, mindfulness, and more.
“If you are like most [people], the most important decisions you make about [dating] won’t feel like [a dating] decision at all. Where you decide to live, study, work and hang out are not just random, superficial lifestyle choices…The fact is, you can’t meet the right [partner] if you’re in the wrong place. This means that your city, your college campus, your workplace, your gym, and your favorite coffee shop are not just physical locations. They’re what scientist call ‘mating markets.’” – Tucker Max and Dr. Geoffrey Miller – Mate: Become the Man Women Want
Essentially, the best dating advice is to make dating an extension of your personal life because your local dating zone comprises all of the potential partners whose dating zones overlap with yours. 1
And when you’re having fun doing things you love, you’re probably way more attractive than if you are doing things you don’t enjoy.
In summary, the best strategy to authentically finding a life partner is to understand yourself and use that information to do social activities that lead to connections with other people who have similar values as you do.
LOOK AT YOUR PARTNER THROUGH ROSE-COLORED GLASSES (SERIOUSLY)
When you started dating your partner, you probably had glowing things to say about them. You noticed every gesture (flowers for no reason!) and every sweet compliment. Fast forward a few years, you both may have collected hurtful emotional bumps and bruises along the way, making it hard to focus on the good things. It’s easy to fall into a rut and imagine that your partner doesn’t care, even if they still do. Does this negative perspective hurt a relationship? Let’s take a look at what the research says.
Dr. Gottman defines the negative perspective as an overriding sense of negative regard, where even neutral or positive actions from your partner are skewed in your mind to be perceived as negative. This often manifests itself in feelings of loneliness, powerlessness, and eventually one or both partners distancing themselves from each other. When your feelings are predominantly negative, every action, bid for attention, joke, or mistake can be interpreted through this new negative lense – whether or not it deserves to be seen that way.
If you find yourself constantly questioning your partner’s intentions, not giving them the benefit of the doubt, you may be experiencing the result of weeks or months of being in the negative perspective.
Dr. Gottman suggests that it’s never too late to reinvigorate your relationship with positive feelings for one another. This requires a deliberate effort to think about your partner in a more favorable light. Successful couples create a culture of goodwill in their relationship and purposefully strive to see each other through rose-colored glasses.
But what does positivity in a relationship actually look like? Here are some ideas for how to start thinking the best of your partner.
“I love it when…” Try starting your sentences (even complaints) with “I love it when.” For instance, instead of “Why haven’t we gone on a date recently?” try this: “I love it when we go out together. Remember when we went to that restaurant that night? I had so much fun. Let’s do that again!”
Write down your appreciations Try making a list of all the small things you notice your partner do or say. Dr. Gottman encourages couples to catch their partner doing something right. Start in the morning and continue through the evening as if you’re tracking their good habits. For instance: made coffee, poured my cereal, called me in the afternoon, paid the bill after I forgot.
An awareness of these small moments builds a habit of mind of seeing your partner in a positive way. When it is time to voice your appreciation, it will be easier to recall one moment out of many. Of course, they may also be negative moments, but try to actively engage your mind in remembering the good ones.
Build up your partner Find moments to tell your partner about how amazing, brave, and sexy a certain behavior has been. Here are some examples.
Did they collect old clothing for donation? “Babe, you’re so thoughtful and giving – not just to this family!” or, “Thanks for coming out shopping with me on Wednesday, even though it was boring for you, I’m glad you came.”
Your attitude is your responsibility. You have the opportunity to adjust the narrative you want to tell yourself about the relationship. This narrative is important because it affects the intensity of your arguments, and ultimately your long term-success as a couple.
Now, after doing these exercises, it becomes easier to state your complaint or positive need, because you have a perspective of your partner which may be more akin to the perspective they hold of themselves.
For instance, when you are in the positive perspective, you are more inclined to recall that you are asking someone for whom you’ve built up regard and love. Within the context of appreciating your partner’s efforts all day, it feels easier to to approach your best friend with your needs from a place of warmth and affection.
If you were not paying attention to your partner’s actions all day, your request might gloss over their good behavior. Your partner may think you haven’t noticed their efforts at being caring and attentive. Unknowingly, you create a culture of negativity. So, paying attention matters. Sound like a lot to keep in mind? Maybe at first, but remember that the Gottman motto is “small things often” - this includes noticing the small things and appreciating them.
To build a culture of good feelings in your home and in your relationship, you have to start taking responsibility for your mindset. Where the mind goes, words and actions will follow.
Saying you’re sorry is easy, but learning to apologize the right
way with these 8 essentials and 3 ways can save your love and bring both of you
Flowers and cards can say, “I’m sorry” but alone, they just don’t cut it
when you are trying to give a sincere apology to the person
When we honestly apologize to someone, it is because we want
We want to be let off the hook for whatever wrongdoing we’ve
done, or hurt we’ve caused.
And you can’t always receive the forgiveness you seek when you
simply flop down a bouquet with a generic thank-you card.
Apologies take effort, and you should take the time to formulate
a genuine apology with the following eight steps.
The 8 essential steps of apologizing to a lover
#1 Find out what exactly happened. Don’t guess what the issue
is, ask your boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse to clearly tell you what you said
or did to hurt them.
#2 If you are at fault in the situation, then you should take
responsibility for your actions.
Placing the blame elsewhere is immature and will set you back
further, possibly risking your relationship.
#3 You should prepare your apology, taking into account what
you want to say and how you want to say it. Also, you should keep the delivery
of your apology, such as the time and place, in mind.
#4 Say sorry sincerely. If you’re not genuine, the apology
will definitely fail and you will be back to square one.
#5 Be grateful and thank the person for listening to you.
Depending on what you’ve done, that could be more difficult than you
#6 Don’t assume you will be excused, and instead ask for
#7 Remember to be patient. Sometimes, accepting an apology
can take time, and your partner needs space to think about what comes next.
#8 Follow through on your word. If, in your apology, you
agree to do something, or stop doing something, make sure you honor those
Now, while these are the fundamental steps to creating a
meaningful apology, you also need to take into consideration the differing
degrees of an apology.
While a modest sorry might be acceptable if you forgot to call,
that won’t fly if you’ve done something severely untrustworthy like break an
Depending on the amount of hurt you’ve caused, and the nature of
the situation, you can apply the eight essential steps of apologizing to one of
these three different degrees of apologies.
The 3 differing degrees of apologies
#1 The Simple Apology
The first degree of apology is for those small things that
we could just let pass by without any apology at all.
But, if you truly love your partner, you will want to
acknowledge even the smallest wrongdoing, and give a short but sweet apology to
let them know you care. Your partner will be thankful that you are concerned
with all of their wants and needs, and have taken the time to address why they
For example, my boyfriend’s work involves being contracted out
to many different fundraising, and promotion events, that often run late into
the night. I attend many of these events, but when I don’t, I simply ask him to
send me a quick message so I know approximately what time he will be home.
If I don’t get a text, I wake up well into the night freaked
out, worrying that something bad has happened. My anxiety is probably the
result of losing too many people to road accidents, but it is still something I
need his help with soothing, when he is going to be working late.
One night he forgot to text me, and I sat up until 3:30 am
trying to contact him. His phone died, and he didn’t think to send a message
from a friend’s phone. I was upset, all I needed was a quick update so I didn’t
need to worry.
When he got home and I confronted him about the situation. He
was defensive at first, and didn’t seem to think he had done anything wrong.
After I explained where my anxiety came from, he offered the perfect simple
He kissed my forehead, hugged me and said, “I’m sorry that I
worried you. Next time if my battery dies I will borrow someone’s phone and let
Short and simple, and yet effective. If he had chosen to shrug
it off instead of apologizing, I most likely would have harbored secret
resentment over that. It was something little, yes, but it still mattered to
#2 The Nice Gesture Apology
No one is perfect, and sometimes, even the most organized person
can forget an important date, event, or responsibility.
I’m not a freak over birthdays but a nice good morning birthday
kiss, and tea in bed would be nice. But this year, my boyfriend forgot, and all
I got was a rushed goodbye kiss, and no mention to expect anything fun later
Thanks to social media, my boyfriend realized his blunder
mid-day and called me, and he promised to make it up to me. He organized a nice
gesture apology in the form of a dozen heart balloons *I’m not really one for
roses*, and a delicious birthday cake.
A good gesture apology doesn’t need to be too big, but it can’t
be too small either. It should be just enough to let your partner know you are
#3 The Wholehearted Apology
The third degree of apology is for those of us that have really
messed something up big time. This apology isn’t for forgetting to call, or
mixing up a birthday. It is in response to something that could cause serious
The wholehearted apology is somewhat less concerned with what
you do, or what gifts you bear, and more about what you say, and how you follow
Imagine you have done something you cannot take back, and many
consider a deal breaker – you’ve cheated on your partner.
No amounts of flowers or chocolates are going to offer your
partner the apology they need if monogamy was something you promised each other
in your relationship.
The wholehearted apology thus should begin with some deep
reflection on why you are in this situation in the first place, and where to go
next. Even if you’ve done something so big that it might mean the end of your
relationship, you still need to offer a well thought-out, wholehearted apology.
You need to think of exactly what it is that you want to say,
and how you want to say it. You need to be honest, and insightful. Don’t say
things that are typical, and what your partner is expecting. Say the truth,
even if it sucks.
Wholehearted apologies are the hardest, because sometimes, you
won’t be forgiven. The best that you can do is to offer your sincere regret,
uphold the promises you made after the apology, and try to learn from your
Apologizing in love
While these essential steps, and different degrees of “I’m
sorry” can help you out if you’ve made a mistake in love and need to apologize,
they are not fail-proof.
Not all things can be forgiven. If you’ve done something truly
menacing or cruel that could likely have a lasting impact on a relationship,
regardless if an apology is given or not, forgiveness might be hard to come by.
It’s best to steer clear of such a situation from the beginning,
and instead be honest and trustworthy throughout your relationship. Then you
won’t need to do so much apologizing.So the next time you’ve fumbled in love and want to apologize and say
sorry, in a small or big way, keep these 8 essential steps and 3 different
kinds of apologies in mind. And for your relationship’s sake, do the right
10 REASONS YOU & YOUR SPOUSE NEED A ROMANTIC GETAWAY
Just think of it, when was the last time you two got away,
together? If it has been awhile, this list will motivate you to book your next
1. Getaways are romantic.
Just think of it, a chance to be alone with your spouse, without kids, work,
household responsibilities and all the stress those things carry with them. No
matter where you two go on your getaway, just being alone will bring back the
aura and romance of your honeymoon.
2. Getaways are like mega-dates.
Seriously. On a getaway, even a short one, you can fit what would have been
eight date nights into one weekend! You could take a pottery class, go hiking,
eat out, see a play, shop for clothes, dance, hot tub, and more. However, it is
important to note that big getaways without regular dates in between will not
offer the nurturing that your marriage needs. You need both. Getaways don’t
make up for a year of no dates.
3. Getaways help you strengthen your friendship as husband and wife.
You can finally do fun things together. All day. Every day. You can laugh,
play, joke, work-out, and experience new things – together. Just like the best
friends that you are.
4. Getaways give you time and space for romantic sex.
We don’t need to say much more, do we?
5. Getaways offer you a chance to talk about more than day-to-day
When you getaway, you are together 24/7 for a few days at a time. You can talk
about goals, dreams, big plans, hard things, struggles, and more. You can flirt
and ask each other questions like you did back when you were dating. You can
talk about people you observe, the adventures you have, or where you want to
eat. Getaways give you a great chance to talk about everything and anything
under the sun. Oh, and they are a great place to try out the 36
Questions That Will Help You Fall in Love With Your Spouse Again.
6. Getaways give you a break from
the hum-drum of every day life.
You and your spouse need something to look forward to.
Something that is just for the two of you. A time and place where you can do
things you never get to do together. It’s so nice to relax in a bed that
someone else makes and to eat food that you don’t have to prepare yourself.
Which leads us to #7…
7. Getaways give you a chance to recharge.
There is something renewing about getting away – stepping
away from all the stress of everyday life. It’s important to try to unplug a
bit too, so that you don’t waste your whole getaway on your
phone or tablet.
8. Getaways help you create happy memories.
All marriages need huge positive deposits into their
emotional bank accounts. Getaways will give you huge boosts to your marital
self-esteem. Plus, you will create thousands of happy memories and inside
jokes. Take lots of pictures, and look back on them from time to time, bringing
a back a whole bunch of “remember when…” statements and laughs.
9. Getaways give you a chance for adventure.
Plan your getaways together, as husband and wife. Take turns
picking where you want to go and what you want to do. Having adventures
together, which invites the novelty of trying new things, will bring back a
host of happy, butterfly feelings for each other. Plus, everyone has a deep
sense of adventure that needs to be unleashed from time to time, right?
10. Getaways help you fall in love all over again.
It’s true. Getaways are the perfect combination to help you
and your spouse fall in love again. They take you out of your normal home, your
normal stresses, and your normal marital conflicts and offer you a fresh
chance, a new start. A chance to treat each other with respect and kindness, to
show extra love and affection, and to really enjoy each other in intimate
Yes, a romantic getaway is just what you and your spouse
Can you believe it is 2019? Seriously, where did the time go?
With the new year comes a fresh start, a clean slate, and new opportunities and adventures. We’ve all probably packed on a few extra pounds during the holidays and it’s time to get to work on those New Year’s resolutions!
What are your resolutions and goals for the year? What do you want to accomplish? Who do you want to become?
Have you shared those goals and resolutions with your spouse? Have you set goals and resolutions together?
The Power of a Personal Cheerleader
Whatever your goals may be, sharing them with your spouse could very well be the key to seeing them successfully completed within the next twelve months. Studies have shown that making your goals known to a trusted friend dramatically increases your success rate. This is largely because when you make your goals known, you feel a sense of accountability. There’s a little extra drive and motivation to reach the finish line when you know someone’s there waiting for you.
Who better to choose as your trusted friend than your spouse! He or she already know you inside and out and understand you better than anyone else. They know your strengths and weaknesses and are very much invested in you and your personal development.
You spouse can and should be your greatest cheerleader! They can pick you up when you’re down and remind you of the vision you have for your future self. They can provide much-needed motivation to keep you moving forward with your goals when things get hard.
I once read the story of a couple I greatly admire. In an interview about their marriage, the wife commented that her husband always gave her “wings to fly.” What an awesome compliment! That is something my wife and I have been aiming for ever since.
So here’s my first challenge to you – sit down with your spouse and let them know what your New Year’s resolutions are. Ask him or her for support and help so you can accomplish those resolutions. Ask them to help keep you on track when you’re slipping, and offer to do the same for them.
By being each other’s cheerleaders, not only will you each find more success in reaching your individual goals, but you’ll grow closer together in the process. Then, definitely go out on a fancy date and celebrate your successes together!
The Power of Couple Resolutions
Along with individual goals, there is great power in setting couple resolutions together. My wife and I have found that there are few things that drive unity more than working together towards a common goal. And there is incredible satisfaction and fulfillment found in achieving goals together as a team.
Your couple resolutions can be anything you can dream up! Here are a few ideas of couple-goals to get your creative juices flowing:
Go on at least one romantic getaway during the year (plan it well in advance so you can enjoy the anticipation and build up together!).
Save an extra $X dollars each month.
Run a marathon together (or maybe just a 5k…).
Get scuba certified together.
Intentionally make time to talk for fifteen minutes every day.
Whatever your couple resolutions may be, just make sure you have some! Set resolutions that are meaningful for both of you. Create a vision of the kind of marriage and life you want to create together. Then, work each day to fulfill that vision. Sure, some days you’ll see more progress than others. In fact, some days it may feel like you have taken a step back. However, by the end of the year you’ll be able to look back and proudly admire how far you’ve come together.
Couple resolutions are powerful because they build connection, create happy memories, and nurture friendship. You and your spouse will feel closer together as you work in unity to achieve common goals. Kind of magical.
So just remember, by setting meaningful couple resolutions together, and diligently working towards them, not only will you be able to achieve great success as a team, but you’ll certainly nurture your marriage in the process!