What to Do When You Want to Feel Closer to Your Partner

“By letting our deep longing for love and connectedness be exposed…[we are] opening up the channel through which love can enter.” ~John Welwood When we feel disconnected from our romantic partner what we often want most is to genuinely feel their love again, to feel connected. And yet, it can be so difficult to simply share that longing. So instead of explaining or asking for what we want in a loving way, we complain about what is wrong, about how our partner isn't showing up for us. Or we simply withdraw. This is especially true for sensitive souls like me, who are a bit hard up on assertiveness. I was the girl once painfully called a “sheep” by the boy I had a crush on because I would follow my friends into social situations where they talked and laughed with the cute boys, but I could only sit smiling and mute at their side. There was just so much at risk in speaking, and my thoughts came slower when I was feeling nervous, which was often. Somewhere along the line, I ended up resorting unconsciously to using the tactic of complaining in an attempt to get the affection I wanted. No wonder my first marriage fizzled! About two years into my current relationship, which had been going wonderfully, I started to notice that I was generating negative interactions more and more frequently. My voice would get a little whiny when I wanted to do something with him. Or I would accuse him of not paying enough attention to me, or of spending too much time working. Sometimes tears would be the only outward sign that I was feeling disconnected. This tactic of trying to get what we want through accusation or complaint is very normal for many of us. Because if we straight out say what we long for we are exposing our heart. We are showing our vulnerability. And that can be very uncomfortable. This is doubly true for those of us like me who tend to be very sensitive and driven by feeling. We often feel shame about what is seen as abnormal emotionality. We prefer to appear as the culture expects us to be: strong and steady, certainly not needy! But because of our conscientious and caring nature, we tend to value and cherish deep connection above much else. This makes revealing our tender vulnerable heart in intimate relationship especially unnerving, as it seems so much is at stake. We prefer to stay safely guarded behind our complaint. It is easier to focus on what our partner isn't giving us. If we never share what we want outright, they could never reject us. Right? Wrong. What we often get in response is distance. Which feels to many of us remarkably like rejection. Ironically, it is the very act of showing our heart in this naked way that has the power to create that deep intimacy we long for. Scary as it may [...]

2018-04-17T06:26:01+00:00 By |

A 7-Step Plan for Finding Love After a Devastating Breakup

“Resilience in love means finding strength from within that you can share with others.” ~Sheryl Sandberg It took me a couple months to start repairing my broken heart after the toughest breakup of my life. I thought we were going to spend our lives together, but the gods of love had other plans. After I’d grieved in healthy (and not-so-healthy ways) I knew I could take two paths: stay stuck in my misery or pick myself up, dust off my sadness, and make a plan to move on. And now it’s time for you to move on and find love again, too. I know it’s not easy. For years I believed my ex was “the one” and the thought of finding someone new after our breakup was terrifying. But I got back on my horse and kept riding. I felt the fear of rejection, putting myself out there again, playing the “dating game,” trusting someone new, and wasting my time with people I didn’t connect with. But finding love doesn’t have to be complicated and scary if you follow a plan, just like anything else in life. You want to start your own business, take a vacation, or get out of debt? Make a plan. You want to find love? You’ve got to make a plan for that, too. If you don’t have a plan you’ll continue stumbling around in the dark hoping you’ll miraculously find true love. So if you’re struggling to find love and tired of the same old patterns leading you into the arms of the wrong people, then listen up… Step 1: Let go of your ex. Have you really let go of your ex and moved on from your breakup? If you haven’t let go, you’re not going to find love. Period. On the first date I went on after my breakup I talked about my ex. A lot. I knew I was breaking the sacred rules of first dates, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t about to hide my true feelings. Because the fact was I was still sad about it. It was clear to me that I wasn’t yet over the breakup. But I also understood that if I had my ex and my breakup on my mind there was never going to be room for new love to enter. Do you still have negative feelings around your breakup? Are you holding onto anger, shame, or resentment? If you want to find a new partner and true love, you’ve got to let that stuff go. Whether you’re getting over a recent breakup or a breakup that happened months or even years ago, you have to let go. How? First, stop avoiding and suppressing your negative feelings. We avoid dealing with our feelings in all sorts of ways: binge-watching television, eating, sex, alcohol, drugs, and telling people, “Everything is fine,” when we’re actually a hot mess. Instead of avoiding and suppressing, let your feelings flow through you and get [...]

2018-10-25T19:00:25+00:00 By |

4 Things You Need to Know to Have a Strong, Healthy Relationship

“To love is nothing. To be loved is something. But to love and be loved, that’s everything.“ ~T. Tolis Relationships are not always easy. If you lack the tools to engage properly with a partner and cannot show up in a healthy way, you will find your relationship is ten times harder and most likely prone to failure. I wish I had known these things when I first started dating, as it would have made my life much easier. If you want to have a healthy relationship, you must know the following: 1. How to communicate effectively My first love and I were together for four years, and our relationship failed because we could not communicate. I didn’t know how to express myself effectively, and I blamed him for all our problems. I never stopped to think about my part in everything and how I was failing to meet his needs. One of the major obstacles couples face, if not the major obstacle, is the ability to communicate properly. I don’t mean talk. I mean communicate. What we often fail to realize is that we talk at each other rather than listening and hearing and trying to understand. Anyone can talk, but not everyone can communicate. Communicating means you understand are able to express your needs in a way that can be understood by your partner, and that you try your hardest to understand them and their needs. Next time you are with your partner and they are talking, try listening. Sit and listen, and do not try to think of the next thing you are going to say or how you are going to contradict what they are saying. When people feel heard they will be more open to listening to what you have to say. If you cannot understand or refuse to try to understand what your partner needs because you are too focused on getting your point across and making sure you are understood, then you are talking and not communicating. Do you and your partner talk at each other? Do you always feel the need to be right and win the argument? Even if you win the argument you could lose something much more valuable. Although you may be winning the battle, you will be losing the war. It is a known fact that men and women communicate differently. The sooner we all accept this the easier it will be to stop being so frustrated and learn to understand each other. Throughout history men and women have had to adapt differently, hence a difference in communication styles. Studies have shown that women are able to use both sides of their brains at the same time while men can only use one side at a time. Men are protectors and providers, and their mode of communication is silent problem solving, whereas women are nurturers and we have learned to cope through talking and sharing of experiences. There is so much that can [...]

2018-04-17T05:52:28+00:00 By |

When the Euphoria Fades: Dealing with the Highs and Lows of Love

“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” ~Sam Keen   When we fall in love, we feel excited to experience some of the most joyful moments of our lives. Because love is supposed to be the source of the best feelings, right? But what about when that relationship churns up some hard stuff and leaves you feeling hurt, annoyed, sad, and irate? For many of us, especially deep-feelers like me, when we start to experience these inevitable lows in our relationship, we may conclude that something is inherently wrong with it. But what if that assumption is just smoke and mirrors? What if it is preventing you from truly experiencing the real love you crave? Believing something is wrong with your relationship might, tragically, lead you to conclude that the relationship has failed and should be ended, even though it’s actually pretty healthy and promising. “I’ve been annoyed with him a lot lately,” and, “We just haven’t been connecting much” are common complaints I hear from people I talk with. Followed frequently by the sentence of doom, “Maybe I made a mistake by marrying him.” “Maybe they aren’t meant for me.” I’ve made that same jump of reason in the past. Multiple times in my twenties, I ended relationships full of potential because bad feelings were arising more often than I thought they should. I thought it meant something was wrong with him or with us. Being someone who is highly attuned to what I feel, I have always taken my feelings really seriously. When I feel bad, I feel really bad. And when things feel, well, blah, I feel that deeply, too. As had been my norm in past relationships, when my partner and I began to get over those hormone-stoked, bursting-with-love early months of our relationship, I started to feel moments when things didn’t feel “good” anymore. When it all felt “dull.” When he wasn’t behaving how I thought he ought to. When we weren’t “connecting” like I thought we should. Like I had done in the past, I could have taken this as a sign that something was wrong with our relationship, and that he was the wrong man for me. But I was gifted with a powerful secret that changed everything at a relationship workshop we had attended together to preemptively deal with the normal stuff that sabotages great relationships (we were committed to this relationship thriving): This dullness was normal and healthy. What? As I let the power of this one mental shift sink in, and marinated in the subtleties of what it meant, my relationship began to full-on thrive—and continues to years later. My hope is that it can change your relationship for the better, too. Let’s Investigate This Further Imagine your emotional life as a spectrum from terrible to wonderful, with neutral in the middle. It is completely normal to spend one-third of the time on [...]

2018-11-15T18:57:14+00:00 By |

How to Keep Your Marriage or Relationship Strong and Beat the Statistics

“Good relationships don’t just happen. They take time, patience, and two people who truly want to be together.” ~Unknown You can`t take it anymore. Life’s getting boring, you fight over everything, your relationship has lost its spark, and you can’t look each other in the eye without feeling regret. Many marriages and relationships get to this place eventually. According to recent surveys, one of every two American couples gets a divorce. This means you only have a 50 percent chance at making your relationship work, no matter how well it began. The only way you can turn things around is by making some changes in how you interact. According to experts, these are the top eight tips that, if followed, will give your relationship a fresh breath of air. I’m not married, but I’ve applied these tips in my romantic relationship, and it’s gotten a lot stronger as a result. 1. Understand that there are usually underlying issues behind every fight. Most of my past arguments with my girlfriend weren’t about money, but they usually happened when I was struggling financially because I was feeling bad about myself. In the past, any time my girlfriend and I talked about finances, I would use aggression and humor to protect my ego and deflect the conversation elsewhere because I felt inferior. It wass't about her, but I made her think it was. So yes, at many times, it's not about you. It’s your partner being angry—even at themselves—that is causing problems. What to do then? Ask them questions to help them get to the root of what’s really bothering them. If they have the self-awareness to identify what’s going on and they choose to share that with you, let them know you understand their feelings and agree to talk through this issue when they're ready. It can be hard to be understanding and to not take things personally when someone gets upset or accusatory, but this is the most helpful thing you can do. And they will likely remember this later when the same thing happens to you. 2. Avoid the “The Four Horsemen.” According to John Gottman, marriage coach and bestselling author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, there are four signs to whether a couple will separate or stay together. Gottman calls them The Four Horsemen: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Avoid these horsemen and your relationship will be a lot more connected and peaceful. Criticism: Attacking the other person, not their behavior. Contempt: Too much sarcasm and cynicism with a sense of superiority over your partner. It’s a disguised form of disrespect and disgust. Defensiveness: Not accepting responsibility and blaming it all on the other person. According to Gottman, defensiveness escalates conflicts, which is why it’s so deadly. Stonewalling: This means disengaging and avoiding conflicts by all means. Leaving the room or not responding to your partner not only withdraws you from the discussion but from the relationship as well. 3. Cope [...]

2018-04-17T05:34:53+00:00 By |

There’s Nothing Wrong With Being Single: Releasing the Shame and Stigma

7 Ways to Find Happiness While Single!   “Single is no longer a lack of options, but a choice. A choice to refuse to let your life be defined by your relationship status but to live every day Happily and let your Ever After work itself out.” ~Mandy Hale In our society, being single is still heavily stigmatized. Being single is often perceived as something out of the norm. It is more acceptable to be part of a couple (even a dysfunctional one!) than it is to be single. And it is even more acceptable to be divorced than it is to be single. Unfortunately, our society makes us believe that being single is wrong, and your goal should be to find someone to be in a relationship with. Then and only then are you complete, happy, and more acceptable socially. Many single people feel lots of shame around being single. They feel like it’s their fault. They feel like there is something wrong with them. They feel like a failure. This societal pressure makes single people invest themselves in the wrong relationships, just to feel accepted. The reality is that being single is about being in a relationship with yourself. It is the most intimate relationship you will ever experience in your life. Being in a relationship with yourself should feel like the most natural thing, but it’s often regarded as an uncomfortable one. We find it easier to be with others than to be with ourselves. How crazy is that? I also want to add that it’s normal and healthy to want companionship. We want to connect with others. We are social animals. We are meant to be with others. Let’s don’t deny it. The problem starts when your desire to be in a relationship is fueled by the discomfort of being with yourself. The desperation for another person to save you from being single will only create more drama in your love life. That’s why it is so important to break thought the conditioning and become a happy single before you start looking for love. Ever since I can remember, I struggled with being single. I struggled with my status because I believed this collective conditioning around being single. I believed that it’s more socially acceptable to be in a relationship. I believed that there must be something wrong with me if I hadn’t found my life partner by the time I reached my thirties. That I was broken, less of a human being, and not complete, all because I was single. For the majority of my life, I desperately wanted to change my relationship status and escape all those thoughts and beliefs. I was ashamed of it. I felt like I hadn’t made it in life, because I couldn’t find a partner. I didn’t lke being on my own. I didn’t like being alone. I didn’t like having too much time on my hands. I used to make sure I had [...]

2018-10-25T19:03:52+00:00 By |

8 Tips So You Don’t Lose Yourself In Your Next Relationship

“Never lose yourself in a relationship. Love your partner fiercely, but always follow your unique dreams and desires. Be true to yourself.” ~Unknown All my previous relationships drained me. Not only because I was with the wrong men and kept trying to make things work where there was no way, but also because I was a queen of justifying, accommodating, and compromising. I accommodated men because I wanted to be liked and avoid rejection. I justified their lousy behavior because I wanted to be in a relationship and not be alone. I compromised on my values and romantic ideals just to have someone in my life. On the surface, I was an independent woman, strong, fierce, and full of energy and opinions. When it came to relationships, I'd lose my power and myself completely in them. I would become a meek mouse with no voice or opinions. I would put my boyfriend’s needs first and ignore mine. I would keep quiet about how I felt. I wouldn't question things. It took me a few love attempts and ten years of random dating to recognize my unhealthy patterns. Firstly, I was subconsciously copying the behavior of my mum, who needed to survive with my despotic dad in a very turbulent relationship. I didn’t know any better until I learned the hard way. Secondly, I didn’t feel worthy of love. I didn't feel like I was good enough for anyone. I was afraid to be myself, as I didn't feel like I had much to offer. Thirdly, I wasn’t happy with myself and my life and I believed a relationship would change that, so my desire to be in one was pretty strong. These patterns made me feel and act like I was desperate for love. So, once I landed myself a boyfriend, I'd do anything to please him and keep him in my life. I would be a cheerful giver. I would take all the responsibility for the relationship on my own shoulders. I would make my men's life easier by doing things for them and sometimes against myself. I would accommodate their busy schedules, moods, and issues. I would help them improve their self-esteem and lifestyle so they’d feel happier within. I would completely disappear in my relationships. Everything in my relationships was about the men. They became my main focus and the most important thing in my life. I would abandon myself. I would give up my friends, my passions, and my dreams. I would lose my own identity in the name of love. My main priority was to keep them happy so I could keep the relationships. But even all the crazy giving and accommodating wouldn’t keep dysfunctional relationships going. So, when it came to an end, I would have nothing left to give. Every split left me feeling empty. It almost felt like a little part of me died after every relationship. I didn't know who I was anymore because I was [...]

2018-04-17T05:20:50+00:00 By |

How to Keep Your Marriage or Relationship Strong and Beat the Statistics

“Good relationships don’t just happen. They take time, patience, and two people who truly want to be together.” ~Unknown   You can`t take it anymore. Life’s getting boring, you fight over everything, your relationship has lost its spark, and you can’t look each other in the eye without feeling regret. Many marriages and relationships get to this place eventually. According to recent surveys, one of every two American couples gets a divorce. This means you only have a 50 percent chance at making your relationship work, no matter how well it began. The only way you can turn things around is by making some changes in how you interact. According to experts, these are the top eight tips that, if followed, will give your relationship a fresh breath of air. I’m not married, but I’ve applied these tips in my romantic relationship, and it’s gotten a lot stronger as a result. 1. Understand that there are usually underlying issues behind every fight. Most of my past arguments with my girlfriend weren’t about money, but they usually happened when I was struggling financially because I was feeling bad about myself. In the past, any time my girlfriend and I talked about finances, I would use aggression and humor to protect my ego and deflect the conversation elsewhere because I felt inferior. It wass’t about her, but I made her think it was. So yes, at many times, it’s not about you. It’s your partner being angry—even at themselves—that is causing problems. What to do then? Ask them questions to help them get to the root of what’s really bothering them. If they have the self-awareness to identify what’s going on and they choose to share that with you, let them know you understand their feelings and agree to talk through this issue when they’re ready. It can be hard to be understanding and to not take things personally when someone gets upset or accusatory, but this is the most helpful thing you can do. And they will likely remember this later when the same thing happens to you. 2. Avoid the “The Four Horsemen.” According to John Gottman, marriage coach and bestselling author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, there are four signs to whether a couple will separate or stay together. Gottman calls them The Four Horsemen: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Avoid these horsemen and your relationship will be a lot more connected and peaceful. Criticism: Attacking the other person, not their behavior. Contempt: Too much sarcasm and cynicism with a sense of superiority over your partner. It’s a disguised form of disrespect and disgust. Defensiveness: Not accepting responsibility and blaming it all on the other person. According to Gottman, defensiveness escalates conflicts, which is why it’s so deadly. Stonewalling: This means disengaging and avoiding conflicts by all means. Leaving the room or not responding to your partner not only withdraws you from the discussion but from the relationship as well. 3. [...]

2018-10-25T19:05:21+00:00 By |

3 Relationship Myths (and Why We Need to Stop Believing Them)

“Love isn't always perfect. It isn't a fairytale or a storybook. And it doesn't always come easy. Love is overcoming obstacles, facing challenges, fighting to be together, holding on and never letting go.” ~Unknown When I started dating, I idealized love. I had many false notions about relationships, which I formed from my friends, watching movies, and reading romance novels. Many of the beliefs I had about how relationships should work caused me pain and disappointment because reality turned out to be different from what I expected. Dating became a journey of resetting my expectations and letting go of false beliefs. In order for me to find love, I had to let go of the myths I had around relationships. Myth #1: Opposites attract and make for more lasting long-term relationships. I found myself drawn to men who were very different from me during my early stages of dating. They were the stereotypical bad boys who rebelled against authority, the ones with a wild independent streak who were emotionally unstable. These were the type of men I was attracted to. They made my life exciting and helped me expand my boundaries. I thought opposites would create a balanced relationship, making for an ideal union. Luckily for me, none of them worked out. Looking back, it would have made for a bumpy, unstable relationship. We’re fascinated by people who are unlike us because they represent parts of ourselves that we’d like to let out and explore. We tell our friends we can’t help who we are attracted to, but often we are attracted to people who are wrong for us. While it's true that we can complement each other with some differences—if, for example, one person is more laid back and the other is more Type A—couples who are more similar have longer lasting relationships than those who are complete opposites. Dating someone similar means we get the support and validation for our core life values. There will be fewer disagreements on the most important issues and opinions that shape our lives. Core life values may be spiritual, religious, social, family, and health-related. Taking a closer look at what you prioritize in your life and where you invest your time will tell you your values. This also means that having similarities lead to more positive feelings because of the reciprocity rule in relationships: we like others who are like us. It’s exciting to date someone who is the opposite of you at the beginning. But as the relationship progresses two people with different life values will start to separate and head down different paths. Opposites attract like strong magnets for the short term, but if you’re looking for the long term, it’s similar core life values that will keep you together. Myth #2: You should be honest about your deal breakers upfront to save time. The other day I went to lunch with one of my friends, who is a serial dater with profiles on three different dating [...]

2018-04-17T05:01:07+00:00 By |