The Honest Path to Finding a Lifelong Partner with Rachel Russo

THE HONEST PATH TO FINDING A LIFELONG PARTNER WITH RACHEL RUSSO

Kyle Benson

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.

I fantasized about all the amazing women I could possibly get along with. In essence, I was always looking for something better.

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.

In the interview, Rachel points out that if you can get 80% of what you want in a partner, you should stop looking and start committing. Research on long-term committed relationships support this by highlighting that 69% of relationship problems never go away. Ironically, this doesn’t prevent your relationship from thriving.

“[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

Connection, Lifelong

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.”

“When human beings experience threats or damage to their social bonds, the brain responds in much the same way it responds to physical pain.” Matthew Liberman – Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

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.

Find out more by watching our interview.

Dating Niches Have the Riches

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.

It’s also helpful to think about demographics and dating.

“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.

Every city, every local store reflects a culture with specific values. Finding a culture that shares your core values is going to make it easier to find a partner who shares those values.

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.

Watch the interview above for more.

Look at Your Partner Through Rose-Colored Glasses (Seriously)

LOOK AT YOUR PARTNER THROUGH ROSE-COLORED GLASSES (SERIOUSLY)

Sanaa Hyder

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.

How to Apologize and Say Sorry to a Lover

HOW TO APOLOGIZE AND SAY SORRY TO A LOVER

Team Lovepanky

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 closer!

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 you love.

When we honestly apologize to someone, it is because we want forgiveness.

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 understand.

#6 Don’t assume you will be excused, and instead ask for forgiveness.

#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 promises.

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 important vow.

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 are upset.

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 apology.

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 you know.”

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 me.

#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 that day.

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 truly sorry.

#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 relationship turmoil.

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 up.

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 mistakes.

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 thing!

10 Reasons You & Your Spouse Need a Romantic Getaway

10 REASONS YOU & YOUR SPOUSE NEED A ROMANTIC GETAWAY

Nurturing Marriage

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 trip today!

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 life. 

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 settings. 

Yes, a romantic getaway is just what you and your spouse need. 

The Power of Couple Resolutions

THE POWER OF COUPLE RESOLUTIONS

Nurturing Marriage

Happy New Year on Tuesday!

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!

​Happy New Year! Can you believe it is already 2016? 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 (btw, did you know that by far the most common resolution is to lose those extra pounds?). What are your resolutions and goals for the upcoming 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 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. 
  • Take a class or join a club together.
  • Hike a fourteener. 
  • Read 12 books together. Here is a shameless plug and a good place to start. 


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!

The Art of Letting Go (to Heal a Broken Heart)

THE ART OF LETTING GO (TO HEAL A BROKEN HEART)

Angel Chernoff

“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.”
― Dorothy Allison

I loved him like a brother, and he treated me as such. He told me I was a genius and that the world needed to hear my music. He was a ball of passion, and when he spoke it always felt like a battle cry to fight for a better life. I was working as a teacher, spending my summers with struggling artists who gave me that energy and community I craved. When I met him in Toronto, I felt like I found new family in my own hometown.

His family wasn’t so abundant—his parents struggled with addiction and were trying to take the earnings he made producing music. It was killing his spirit, and I could sense it. So without consulting my parents, I invited him to live with me. He was the brother I never had.

We got matching tattoos and promised each other that there would always be two of everything. We hustled the music, threw shoes, networked, and talked about what we could do artistically and for the scene in the city. The summer had ended and now I was back to grinding the 8-5 shift. It was killing my soul to be working knowing there was so much to create. Then he came to me with an opportunity that changed my life forever.

It was a songwriting deal, worth $120,000, to write 10 songs for an unknown artist who apparently had major connections. We’d get paid to write the songs, and with that money we could be full-time artists. Without much thought, due diligence or reflection, I took a leave of absence from work, and we moved into a rental property that I purchased as a responsible adult. Then we got straight to creating.

They Never Did

He explained the money would come soon, but weeks went by with no word. Weeks turned to months, and with no income, I was quickly accumulating debt by swiping credit cards, and negotiating a bigger line of credit. I wasn’t worried, when the money came in, it would wipe the debt clean, and we’d have plenty to play with.

He told me about all the friends that owed him money, and how we could start collecting to cover the bills, but he wasn’t finding much luck. As the months went on, I began to ask him more questions, and he became more and more defensive. One day he went out of town to collect some money from a family member. A mutual friend disclosed to me that he had been asking people to lend him money, and that in fact, no one owed him anything. I called him to clarify this, and he immediately hung up, and I never heard from him again.

He literally left his belongings in the apartment and never came back for anything. Clothes, a computer, keepsakes, it was as if he fell off the face of the earth. I was confused, devastated, and heartbroken. I had never had my heart broken by a friend before; it was a foreign kind of betrayal I couldn’t wrap my head around. Beyond the betrayal was the slow sinking reality that I was in deep trouble with my finances. I had accumulated over $80,000 in debt and had no way to pay it off. It turns out the songwriting deal was never real—he had forged documents, changed names, and was planning on borrowing money from others to cover it. When that didn’t work, he ran out of options and ran away.

That was seven years ago. The years that  followed were the hardest years of my life. I fell into deep despair and turned to NyQuil and muscle relaxers to numb the pain. I blamed the world and everyone around me for not warning me of his sleazy ways. I stayed in bed for weeks, and ate very little, hoping the cavalry would come to save the day.

They never did.

A Challenging Time

During the worst moments, I thought the worst thoughts about him. How dare he do this to me, after I let him in my home, and allowed him to live with me for a year rent-free. I was nothing but amazing to him! I treated him like a brother! And this is what I got in return?

But I learned to let it go, gradually.

Of course, I didn’t let it go because I thought what he did was OK. I let it go because I could not afford to carry such a heavy burden of resentment and regret with me. If I was ever going to get myself out of the mess I was in, I needed less baggage…

I needed a different mindset.

He wasn’t evil, he was scared. He bit off more than he could chew, and instead of facing the consequences of his actions, he ran away. All of that was out of my control. And for me to maintain my sanity I had to focus on what was in my control.

What was always in my control was my thinking and expectations. I expected him to be honest with me, because I was honest with him. But that’s not how things work. As I write this story, I am at a friend’s house in Austin, TX. I can hear the neighbour’s dog barking really loud. If I went over and stuck my hand through the fence, that dog would probably bite me. I can’t assume or expect him not to, just because I don’t plan to bite him. Dogs do what dogs do. Scared people do what scared people do.

So I forgave him, little by little, and began taking more responsibility for what happened. It was hard work. But doing so helped me let go of the resentment and regrets that were holding me back

Truth be told, it’s easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves, and cast ourselves as the victims in life. And it’s not only easy, it’s quick and convenient too. It gives us an immediate opportunity to feel connected and significant. We connect with ourselves because we feel like no one else understands what we are going through (as if I was the first guy to ever be betrayed by a friend). It also gives us a subtle high of significance, because we start to convince ourselves that life is conspiring only against us, as we question what we did to deserve its wrath.

This quick fix doesn’t last though, and what accompanies it is a long and drawn out feeling of powerlessness. We have no power because we’ve blamed everyone and everything except ourselves. Thus, for me to find power in my situation, I had to take some of the responsibility, because only in those areas would I find the power to improve my circumstances.

Again, it took plenty of practice, but I gradually became more mindful of my expectations, and instead of kicking myself (with my 20/20 hindsight) for all the danger signs that were right in front of me, I decided to extract the wisdom from my past experience. I promised myself I would use that wisdom until I was glad I went through such a challenging time.

I Am Cavalry

Over time, my broken heart healed, I got stronger, I got back on my feet and spent the next four years getting myself out of the hole. Through selling my possessions, finding odd gigs here and there, touring, and writing my book Unlearn, I finally got to a $0 bank account—no debt.

And gradually, I began to feel sincere gratitude for the journey I was on, and what I went through to get to where I was.

Figuring out how to go from $80,000 in the hole to $0 also helped me grow from $0 to a bank account with decent savings. My struggling days taught me the value of minimalism. I became a dramatically better judge of character, and looking back I realized how resilient I really was.

I no longer hope for a cavalry, I am the cavalry. I am no longer afraid to lose because with loss comes learning. I don’t question whether I need to trust others, because I know I can trust myself. Challenges and resistance make us stronger, so either we make ourselves uncomfortable so we can grow, or life does it for us.

We Can Choose

Although I’ve now completely forgiven my old friend, and even thanked him for the lessons I’ve learned, it all happened internally. I never made any proclamation or tried to contact him. After the passing of a mutual friend, he tried to reach out, but I didn’t need that energy in my life. I had already let it go, and there was no need to re-introduce it back into my life.

We need to let things go and forgive others, not for their sake, but for ours. We need to rid ourselves of the weight we carry around holding grudges, regrets, and the other burdens that try to pile up. We also need to let go so we can create a space where self-love exists, because most likely we’ll need that space to forgive ourselves, too.

I have indeed forgiven. And I am truly grateful.

Had I not gone through such a heartbreaking experience, I would have never dug deep into myself to write Unlearn. I would have never crossed paths with the amazing Marc & Angel, or read their books. And, most importantly, I would not have grown into the person I am today.

We can’t see into the future, but we can choose how much of our past we deliberately carry with us into today.

We can choose to let go and move forward, one day at a time.

Now, it’s YOUR turn…

I would love to hear from YOU in the comments section.

What do you need to let go of (or forgive), to move forward with your life?

Anything else to share?

Please leave me a comment.

Pursue Your Partner at Every Stage of Marriage

PURSUE YOUR PARTNER AT EVERY STAGE OF MARRIAGE

Hannah Eaton

We met Marcy and Jack during our first group dance lesson. Unlike many of the dating or engaged couples we’d danced with, Marcy and Jack had been at this marriage thing for quite some time. Forty years to be exact. They first started dancing in preparation for their daughter’s wedding.

The wedding came and went, but Marcy and Jack kept returning for dance lessons week after week. With practice, they continued to hone and improve their dance skills as a couple.

And yet, they tapped into something far greater than dance. They began to experience and integrate an idea central to healthy relationships—continual, purposeful dating and practice is not only helpful, but is central to cultivating and maintaining meaningful attunement, connection, and intimacy in romantic relationships. 

While healthy marriages require us to put in this intentional effort, and to pursue one another on a continual basis, many dominant paradigms in our culture tell us otherwise.

Myth: Marriage is a destination

“And they lived happily ever after.” Disney’s multi-billion dollar industry thrives on this idea. The message is spoon fed to us as children, and reverberated throughout our culture. It’s confusing when our own romantic experiences fail to live up to this standard, which they almost always do. 

So we either destroy this idea, feeling disappointed that it’s not our story, or we hold onto it tightly with the hope and dream that we can harness it if we just find the right person. However, the reality is such that even if we find the “right person,” we soon realize that everything is not simply sunshine and roses. Marriage is not a destination. 

Marcy and Jack know this. They know that marriage, like dance, is a continually unfolding journey in which they are active participants, shaping and molding their shared reality. They know that if they take a few months off from dance, and neglect their practice, it will be apparent in the quality of their dance and interactions. 

Maintaining regular practice not only helps keep them connected and attuned as they dance, but it also allows them to reach new heights and depths with one another. Every time we see Jack and Marcy in our group lessons, we are continually impressed by their new moves, gracefulness, and attunement with one another. 

Whether you’re a newlywed, or have been married for forty years like Marcy and Jack, there is immense value in creating and continuing practices that support the ongoing health and connection of your relationship. As John and Julie Gottman explain in their book, Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, “Happily ever after is not by chance. It’s by choice.” It takes work.

Myth: Love should always feel organic in marriage

One of the most common narratives we see in Hollywood movies and TV shows is the journey of a couple meeting, with perhaps some turmoil or conflict early on, and then a quick resolution, finished off with a hopeful closure. 

Perhaps this is because the full picture of marriage is not depicted as being as sexy or exciting as the hot pursuit earlier on, or perhaps it’s assumed that the public doesn’t want to see the reality of married life: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Either way, it’s doing our culture a disservice.

A second paradigm is ripping through our culture like wildfire—if you don’t feel the love anymore, then why stick around? As a therapist, I hear it all the time: “We just fell out of love.” While love (the noun) may initially bring two people together, it is love (the verb) that makes it last. 

Love is a choice that you make every morning when you wake up. It’s the decision to choose to cherish your partner, especially when you don’t feel like it. It’s in these times, in particular, that your partner likely needs your love the most. In truly healthy marriages, each partner wakes up in the morning, and makes the decision to purposefully practice and cultivate more love for their spouse. 

Marcy and Jack understand this principle. Forty years into their marriage, they are still intentionally “practicing” and choosing one another to keep that connection alive. Like all couples, there have been ample times when they may not have felt the connection or attunement, but nevertheless chose to be there for one another. 

They are proud of their growth and major improvements as a couple on and off the dance floor, and yet they realize that their “work” is never done. They have signed up for a lifetime commitment of pursuing and practicing the art of loving one another, and one way they do this is by their weekly dance lessons.

Myth: Courtship is only for the early years

A third faulty paradigm I see is the notion that courtship and dating is only for the early years. We date, we flirt, we woo, in effort to court one another. And then we’re all set. We know one another, we’ve tied the knot, and suddenly it’s no longer important to date one another as we did early on. 

It’s become so normal for couples to indicate they have grown apart and fallen out of love. Life got busy and suddenly they’re just living with a roommate. It’s understandable how this can easily happen, and yet, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Find ways to court and pursue your partner daily. We all want to feel loved and desired, regardless of what stage we are at in our relationship. Of course, the ways in which we like to be pursued may evolve over the years, which is why it’s all the more important to continue to update your Love Maps

Take time to remember how your partner likes to feel loved—surprise them with flowers, or bring them coffee in bed in the morning. Take time to experiment and explore new ways you can flirt with them. It’s in these small moments of connection that our relationships flourish.

At 62 and 65, Marcy and Jack are still intentional about planning and having regular date nights together. They’ve established a ritual of carving out sacred time for one another, and dance together on a weekly basis.

They recognize that dancing and date nights aren’t just for the youth—they’re for couples at all stages of their relationship. 

It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how long you’ve been married. It always feels good to have your partner pursue you. 

In what ways can you pursue your partner on a daily basis? 

In what ways can you choose your partner every morning when you wake up?

In what ways can you date your partner so that, 40 years into marriage, you’re still dancing like Marcy and Jack?


This is part four of a four-part series on relationships and dance. Here are parts onetwo, and three.

Reasons Some Men Mistreat Women

REASONS SOME MEN MISTREAT WOMEN

Sheqoz


He hurts your feelings because he doesn’t care for you

1. You Fell in Love too Fast:

Hi there beautiful, so you’re now having sleepless nights because of the way your boyfriend treated you at the restaurant in front of everybody? You need to wipe off those tears and put a smile on your face. He just doesn’t know your worth because he cannot see it. He probably wanted to spend just one night with you but it turned out to be an ongoing thing because you became too attached.

Women tend to fall in love too quick which is very unfortunate. When a man first asks you on a date, he’s probably thinking of the cookie and nothing more. Once and if he wins the game, he’s on to the next plan. While the woman becomes hooked immediately and starts seeing a future husband. This results to the woman noticing lack of interest which she then define as cold.

2. He’s Seeing Someone else:

Girls love attention and to be cuddled every once in a while. It is something learnt from childhood. The habits we develop as babies stay with us for a lifetime. We just don’t bring them out all the time. I believe there’s a little girl in every grown woman and a little boy inside every man. For this reason, a woman notices very slight shift in the attention she’s used to getting. Unless your boyfriend is going through some emotional issues, the way he treats you should not change suddenly.

You see, men call themselves players but they don’t play it very well. They don’t know how to balance their game. If your boyfriend has someone else, he will treat one of you lowly.

3. He Wants Out:

Yeah sweetie, this one is harsh but it is what it is. I’ve had friends go through this and finally the big shock. Men are known to create cold atmosphere or treat women ill just to find a loop out. If your boyfriend is treating you like trash, baby girl just pack up and leave while you still have your dignity. It can turn ugly and leave bad scars on your little delicate heart. You know he’s not gonna be man enough to tell you straight up.

4. He has no Respect for Women:

I know of men who verbalize their disrespect for all women in general. They do not respect even their own mother for reasons best known to them. The problem is, they still date women. These are the beauties who become victims of violence at the hands of the man they claim to love. It is so awkward that l lack words to describe them. When you’re in a relationship with this type of men, they find ways to make a slave out of you. Sadly, they still physically abuse you whenever they feel like.

5. He’s not all that into you:

I know this is a bitter pill to swallow, but truth will set you free. Have you ever heard women complaining of how badly their men treat them regardless of all the nice things they do for them? If a man is not into you, not even money can buy his love.

Using money to trap a man will only keep him around while he’s filling up his belly with your money. In today’s world especially, there are men out there who stay with a woman for the gain. Once they get everything they want they dash for the door very fast.

Thought for the Soul:

“Others cannot mistreat us, if we deny them the power to do so.”

5 Ways Volunteer Work Can Help Heal Depression

5 WAYS VOLUNTEER WORK CAN HELP HEAL DEPRESSION

Team Lovepanky

Getting through depression is one of the toughest things a person can live through. But there is hope! Find out how doing volunteer work can help!

Depression, like most mental health issues, is surrounded by a stigma that makes it nearly impossible for those who suffer from it to discuss the problem openly and get the help they need, when they need it.

In our culture, admitting you have a mood disorder is more or less like acknowledging you are too weak, frail and lazy to handle what life throws at you. Seeking help kind of makes it worse, because now it is as if you’ve added an “incapable of solving own problems” stamp on your forehead.

But that’s not the whole truth, is it?

If you or someone you care about is struggling with depression, you know there is so much more to it.

You’ve seen firsthand the holes this self-feeding fire can burn through a person’s life. You’ve witnessed the person that once was slip through the cracks of what used to be a complete human being and into a puddle of self-loathing and isolation.

How do people battle depression?

Sadly, therapy is not always an option. Medication can fail as well, as it often doesn’t perform as expected, or has side effects that are unbearable.

So how is one supposed to get better? In a society incapable of recognizing the signs of a person who needs help, how can someone find their way to recovery? And it’s also equally important to ask how one can handle it without being judged, being told to suck it up and get a grip, without being shamed into hiding?

How can volunteering be beneficial to those suffering from depression?

An avenue not thoroughly explored, yet one absolutely worthy of the attention is volunteering. Its nature is humble and unassuming, yet combines multiple factors that promise to bring improvement and stability to the mind.

#1 The thrill of the unknown trumps the feeling of worthlessness. Mastering new skills or dusting off old ones does not necessarily cause a revolution the first time around, but it does leave a mark. It marks a place and time of accomplishment- the moment your hands and mind gave birth to something good, something meaningful.

Once this happens, there is no going back. It would be like trying to undo the sunrise. Little by little, or hopefully with full jet power, the feeling of being useful and needed can help keep the depression at bay.

You will recognize your ability to make a difference and that as your efforts grow, so do the results. The value of such a realization is invaluable, as it is one of the first milestones on the road to a depression-free life.

#2 Passion, purpose and direction will stop looking like words from motivational posters. If we lose our way, whether on an actual trip or while going through life, we tend to resolve to these options – going back to a point where we knew where we were, taking chance turns in the hope they will bring us to where we want to be, or reaching out for help. The reality is that these don’t always work out and then we lose ourselves completely.

It’s this feeling of being stuck, this time we spend being stranded, that cripples us mentally and emotionally. We doom ourselves to repeat the same numbing routine until we finally give up and accept it is all there is for us, or worse – it’s all that we deserve.

Breaking the cycle seems pointless, because if you were good for anything else, you would have found out by now and started doing it, right? Wrong. Depression lies. Remember this. Depression lies.

Who knows, maybe you’ll turn out to be an amazing cook, great with animals, really handy and capable of fixing and building things, a researcher with a keen eye for details, an influential public speaker or an organizer able to set up a massive event in the blink of an eye. You really never know until you try, and once you do know – there will be no stopping you.

You will make life fall in line with what you want it to be and continue on a road paved with hard work and fulfillment.

#3 Finding your happiness in the joy of others. Does this sound too cheesy? Too much like a Sunday sermon? Even so, it doesn’t make it any less true.

Humans are hardwired to mimic other humans’ smiles. This, in turn makes our brain send out feel-good signals all over our body, especially the face, which results in, you guessed it, more smiles. Think of it as an eternal loop of positive emotion injections.

You’d be surprised how much smiling goes on while charity happens. And even if you choose a field that does not suggest a lot or any actual human contact, like animal shelters or online databases, this doesn’t mean there won’t be grins involved. Gratitude, appreciation and respect can clearly be detected, despite the method of communication being body language or electronic.

Alleviated stress and reduced anxiety are self-generated doorways to higher confidence and life satisfaction.

In other words, volunteering provides a natural, healthy boost to your mental health, and it has the potential to rekindle your zest for life and help you like who you see in the mirror. The benefits it produces when fighting depression could be compared to those of a long standing meditation habit.

#4 Volunteering builds a solid support group around you. We’ve all heard stories about the bonds formed by soldiers fighting side by side, police officers patrolling in the same car, even wild animals brought together by unusual circumstances.

These bonds are formed from the simple yet concrete-strong foundation of going through the same experience, with the same goal, as part of the same team. Show up and do what you are there to do – this is pretty much all it takes.

Volunteering brings together people from all walks of life, and although these combinations seem random, even chaotic, they work out. The idea that unites them usually tops whatever it is that divides them. This translates to those people being there for each other much more than you’d expect.

#5 It’s the right kind of selfish. It’s commonly accepted that charity work is an act of selflessness, an island of altruism in our otherwise hectic and competitive lives. But reality is never this one-sided.

Don’t get us wrong, all the positive statements people make about it are undeniably true. Dedicating time and efforts to a cause, without expecting any financial or material gain, is as noble as it sounds.

Yet you do gain something, don’t you? Or at least find something you thought you’d lost along the way.

For instance, it gives you a reason to get out there, something constructive to take your mind off whatever it is that is torturing you, self-respect, a feeling of identity, of acceptance and belonging, of being connected, a spark of creativity and thirst for life like you never knew them before.

Bottom line is that volunteering is about rewarding yourself just as much as it is about serving others. Probably even more, because once you start seeing yourself in this new, better light, you will have shrugged off some of the burden depression has you carrying. And this, right there, is what can help you heal.

Volunteering is a two-way street where both, those helping and those being helped, exchange mutually positive feelings. Though you extending your help will be much more obvious, the act of volunteering allows you to receive positive vibes and emotions from those who reward your charity with their gratitude.

The Value Dating Economy

THE VALUE DATING ECONOMY

Kyle Benson

It’s Easter. You’re in the grocery store, and you can’t stop staring at the blonde girl buying flowers. You feel a pull towards her. She’s beautiful.

You’re obsessively strategizing ways to introduce yourself. When we become attracted to someone, we don’t necessarily choose who it is:  there’s never a logical reason behind it.. Attraction and love is a complicated process. I remember meeting this beautiful blond who modeled for Cover Girl, but the moment our hands touched, I felt revolted by her man hands. She was an amazing person, but for some odd reason this was something I just couldn’t get over.

Let’s explore how the process happens.

Miguel and Maria are at a wedding of a mutual friend. As they approach each other, there’s tension building between them. From the second they noticed each other; the two enter into a nonstop exchange of information.

This reduces uncertainty, and it weighs the value that each person offers the other. Miguel and Maria were making judgments and assumptions about one another before the first word was even spoken.

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There is something about Miguel’s well-groomed hair, strong physique and neatly trimmed facial hair that Maria finds unique. Maria’s soft voice and green eyes excite Miguel. As they begin to play verbal ping-pong, they can sense the excitement and energy of something more than just a conversation.

They find similarities in each other’s personalities, which increases their chemistry and connection. This develops positive feedback loops as they to continue to get to know each other.

As Miguel talks about his life growing up in Puerto Rico and his childish tendencies of stuffing food in his mouth like a chipmunk, it makes Maria smile. As he explains that he saves the storage for later, she giggles and lightly hits him on the shoulder. As soon as she does this, the distance between them decreases unconsciously. It continues to shrink until they both give in to the urge to kiss.

What’s happening here?

What causes Miguel to get so excited about Maria, rather than his best friend Kelly? She’s similar to Maria. They’re both attractive Latina women with green eyes? What is it about Miguel that turns on Maria more than her friend John, who is well-groomed and in good shape, just like Miguel?

When you meet someone, your mind immediately seeks to remove uncertainty… Are they a psychopathic killer? Is she going to try to use me, or try to make me do something I don’t want to do? Do they like me? Will I like them? 

Your unconscious is forming an assessment based on countless factors. Their physical attractiveness, fashion style, ethnicity, accent, body language, their emotional energy, and the content of the words coming from their lips. You’re assessing whether those words match the intentions you’ve already assumed about them.

At some point, we began to move past a place of uncertainty. We start to ask ourselves new questions that predict the value of our future relationship. 1 Is this someone I want to keep as a friend, someone I just want to sleep with, or someone I want to seriously date? All of these evaluations are happening simultaneously as the verbal and nonverbal conversation continues.

Anyone else’s behavior is filtered through your mind by your own perceptions, feelings, and thoughts. The Cover Girl model may have a husband that loves her hands, because his mother’s hands were rough and calloused from working hard at the local mill when he was young. Meanwhile, I find them disgusting and discomforting.

In its simplest form, human interactions can be reduced to value feedback: a nonstop loop of expressing, receiving and interpreting of verbal and nonverbal.

When you talk to an attractive girl and she doesn’t reply, you receive negative feedback. You might interpret that reaction as she’s being rude. You might interpret that she’s hard of hearing. Or you might interpret it that she’s attracted to you, but she’s playing hard-to-get.

You expressed yourself by talking, but you received nothing from her in the conversation. This makes it feel like a one-sided conversation, and your brain interprets the experience. What your brain interprets out of her response is crucial to what happens next.

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When the feedback loop is positive and to our liking, we find the person attractive. More compelling. Your attraction to each other is dependent on the appraisal method we use to value ourselves and others. It’s in this sense that we attract what we are.

Everything in life has a value, and just like happiness,  our value differs from anyone else. It’s based on the quality of experience we have or desire to have throughout our life. Maybe you value religion more than money or physical attractiveness more than intelligence. and so on. To make this process a little more simple, I am going to take a few exemplary items of what may make someone attractive, and provide a value that will total 100.

24-year-old Kelly unconsciously values the following things:

Religion = 4

Socio-economic status = 25

Attractiveness = 37

Age = 5

Political ideology = 1

Intelligence = 6

Hobbies = 2

Partying = 12

I’ve purposely skewed Kelly’s values to demonstrate how demographics play into attractiveness. Obviously, Kelly is a wild child. She cares deeply about superficial values, such as wealth and attractiveness, over intelligence, hobbies or age.

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She’d be perfectly happy to date a club owner who is  in his mid-thirties. She wouldn’t care if his life didn’t contain much outside of partying. People tend to place a higher value  on things which either makes them feel better or compliment and advance their own perceived value.

 Kelly’s best bet to meet someone would be to spend a majority of her time going to nightclubs, rather than attending a meditation retreat. This validates the point of this demographics. Our matching of similar values are contextually driven and contextually matched.

Some may even consider Kelly a stereotypical gold digger . Such women tend to come from poverty. She’s contextually driven, which means she values money more than anything else, and she will seek out a man that is very wealthy because she believes that money makes her life valuable, which contextually matches her values. Not that this is true every time; a woman can also be a ‘gold digger’ if she’s from a very wealthy family, and was raised to believe money was important.

Every single one of us have a unique value system to account for our unique preferences. It’s much more than your political beliefs or your cultural preferences. It’s a contact super glued to your eyeball that filters, sorts and processes all of the information you receive. Once this information is received, it is assigned a value.

Playing soccer has a specific value to me.

Watching Dexter and eating ice cream has a high value to a girl I know

Shooting guns has a specific value to another friend of mine.

Our value is derived from our biological programming, our own preferences (if we choose them), and socialization that is relative to our specific cultures. I like to think of matching values as a car key. The feedback is the key; the unique shape is the value. Whether it starts the car is dependent on whether the key matches the keyhole.

So ask yourself, right now: what are your values?

If I were to use the same listed values as Kelly, my list would be:

Religion =3

Socio-economic Status = 6

Attractiveness = 16

Age = 7

Political Ideology = 9

 Intelligence = 30

Hobbies = 20

Partying = 9

It’s clear that I value knowledge and intelligence, because I love a mentally stimulating conversation. I feel more emotionally connected to a person who is going to challenge or broaden my views of the world.

Understanding your own values will enable you to consciously select environments, and meet women who share those same values. Those are the types of relationships we want. We want them with women that have similar values, because those are the women who will make you happy. That’s what relationships should be about. Not the number of times you’ve gotten laid.

  1. Sunnafrank, Michael. “Predicted Outcome Value In Initial Conversations.” Communication Research Reports 5.2 (1988): 169-172. 
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