Relationship Counseling for Individuals and Couples
Author: Beth Luwandi
Licensed Professional Counselor and Life Coach, Beth helps couples and individuals resolve conflict, connect, and face the challenges of modern life, including grieving losses, healing after infidelity, and managing multiple stressors. Her approach is practical, skills-based, and tailor-made for you.
What’s the stuff that gets you through these cold, spare-feeling months after the holidays?
Here in Cincinnati, as I write, it’s late January, cold, with a dust of snow on the ground and spurts of gusty wind, so the reflective, winter hibernation feeling pervades. Even if it’s sunny and warm where you are, I’m sure you can relate.
Are you getting enough love, connection, warmth, belonging, appreciation? Maybe it’s respect, a commanding rhythm to your day and comfort you crave. Maybe you really want a solid plan for the new year and to feel grounded, certain, and safe.
What matters most?
For me, especially this time of year, it ends up being a sense of purpose. And you might guess my central purpose is all about helping people.
I want to help people have great relationships…with themselves first, then with their mates, children, friends, colleagues, and families. People make up communities that reflect the quality of those inner circles. It’s all very important. And it’s best to start from the inside out.
I also want to have the good stuff in my own life. For me, good relationships are good life. I’m not the only one who says so either. Check out this Ted Talk on Harvard’s study. It’s good for us to have healthy intimate relationships and resolved relationships with our children, our siblings, and within families.
It’s good stuff
Sometimes people think relationship work is “fluff” because it’s not tasking, or doing kind of movement.
We might think it’s not measurable.
But it is.
So much good, measurable research has been done for decades. Gottman, Sternberg, Adams, Tatkin, and so many others have amassed real measurable results to the question “how do healthy relationships work?”
Let that be a comfort to you. If it’s measurable and DO-able, then it’s also measurable and DO-able for YOU.
Anyone can learn to enjoy healthy, good, loving relationships.
How you’re made matters
It’s also important to know that our normal way of coming at life influences everything. We’re built a certain way, we’ve been influenced by our environments and experiences, and we move through the world in a particularly dominant pattern.
Maybe you’ve heard me talk about Whole Human Theory Therapy (TM). It draws on decades of research, brain science and methods testing to meet each individual person -and pairing when couples come to me- with an understanding of your current and dominant movement through the world
That’s just where we start. It’s not enough to recognize the way you’re made, the ways you’re different from others, or get a revelation that not everyone thinks the way you think. Then we get to use who you are essentially to do things that matter for you in getting the kind of growth that will allow better relationship.
In short, truly knowing yourself and then knowing how to use that is what will get you to enough…enough of what matters most to you.
Want to know more
about the way you’re made and how it affects everything you do…including the struggle in relationships you might be facing right now? Shoot me a message and let’s get together.
In the meantime, everyone can benefit from this reminder:
I hope you’ve learned this sweet trick. It makes everything in life so much better. Everything goes easier and more smoothly.
Breathe deeply. Let go. Allow yourself to relax. Loving kindness. Let it be your intention.
And I mean be gentle with yourself first and then with others. Most people who are harsh with others are even harder on themselves.
You might know this is you. Still, it’s no comfort to those who might be withering from the weight of your words… or your silence and withdrawal. Speak to yourself -and others- in the kindest way you can.
Be gentle. Go gently.
If that’s difficult for you, it’s not surprising. Most of us believe that we have to be hard on ourselves (and others) in order to…get enough, have enough, be enough. But it’s not actually true.
You’ve been seeing your therapist for a while now, and lately you’re wondering if you should scale back or if it’s time to say goodbye for good. How do you know?
She’s probably “really nice” so breaking up can be hard to do. There’s a good time to move on and there’s a good time to hang in there and really get to the next level. But how can you tell the difference?
There are several legit reasons for scaling back or even ending a relationship with a therapist. You might be thinking about the money. Or you’ve met your goals. You might think you’ve done as much as you can with this particular person. Maybe there’s an actual conflict: in interest, approach, or opinion. Maybe you realize you go away feeling worse than when you came in with no good tools to approach things differently. (Yuk!)
Before you ghost your therapist, and before you go in even one more time, do yourself a HUGE FAVOR and get some things hammered out.
Here’s a little guide:
1. Clearly define your reason
Check in with yourself and write down what first comes to mind. Then take it a little further by examining it. For example:
You might be thinking, “okay, this is getting expensive.” Go further. Is it really getting too expensive or is it that you don’t detect progress?
When we make the decision to trust someone with our tender parts in hopes they can help alleviate our pain, we do so because it’s worth it. We value it. We are willing to make the investment of time, energy, and money.
When we stop being willing to invest (in any of those ways) it’s usually because we don’t see the benefit or payoff.
Is it really finances? If you’ve had a financial down-turn, tell your therapist. There might be a cheaper alternative, or a lower rate for a specified time. Maybe there are other options like a group that will help you achieve your ultimate goals or yes, maybe dropping back to twice a month or even once a month really is a good option.
But be clear (at least to yourself) about what is the real reason.
2. Examine your Original Goals
Maybe you’re past the crisis, that acute, intense sense of distress. Yay! You made it! It’s totally fair if that’s the only reason you enlisted a therapist. You may indeed be done; ultimately, you get to decide.
Often, if you ask her, you can find out with your therapist if there is more to do than just get past the crisis. Even if you decide not to proceed, at least you’ll have an idea the kind of growth that might be possible for you. You may as well make use of her expert perspective. At the very least, you can park it as a goal for “next time.”
Maybe this therapist is an expert at this area of your life but another area would be better served by a different kind of specialist. In that case, ask for a referral. A good therapist will make a great referral to another specialist when that’s appropriate.
Need to revisit your goals? Maybe it feels like your progress lacks structure. Did you write those puppies down somewhere? If you didn’t and/or you can’t remember them, check in with your therapist. Actually say, “I want to revisit my original goals today and see where I am with them.”
Every therapist worth her salt will be glad to go over them, refine them, and help you see clearly what you’ve achieved and decide how far you really want to go. Not there yet and feeling frustrated about progress? Say so and ask for specific ways to get where you want to go.
3. Identify the Conflicts
Here’s an inside tip: as therapists, we are always trying to balance support and challenge. Too much of one or the other and our clients just won’t grow. There will be some conflict (and maybe at several particular spots) along the way. Growth can be frustrating. Some of this is just part of the growth process. But some of it might be the frustration of not getting what you need from a therapist. Figure out which it is.
Does something get under your skin? Is a recurrent event or a particular response setting you off? Is your therapist reminding you of someone in your life? You can use that as an opportunity to experience something different in the safe environment of the therapy office.
A really good therapist is going to be savvy about sensing if there’s tension and she might be the one to say something about it in the moment. She could also be waiting for you to say something.
Therapists are human with their own personalities and foibles and sometimes they actually miss something that feels really obvious to you.
We can read people, but we can’t always read minds. 😉 So, to get the most from your time with your therapist, no matter how big or small that “irritation” is, say something about it. Here are examples:
“I don’t like it when you say that. I feel bad.”
“Can you tell me more about what I need to do? I need a tool to use in my real life.”
“Today I really need to talk this all the way through before you give me feedback.”
Or it can be as simple as “I’m getting really irritated. Can you help me figure this out?”
“When you said I’m being demanding what did you mean by that? Isn’t it good for me to have standards? I’m confused.”
Ask questions. Talk to the therapist about the relationship. Take the risk, even if it’s the first time in your life you’ve done this kind of confrontation.
4. Consider the Response
A relationship with a therapist is, above all, a relationship. In that way, everything you are learning to do in relationship with your therapist is a skill you probably need to hone in the rest of your life. It might be standing up for yourself. Maybe being honest isn’t easy for you. It might be finding a kind way to approach something. It might be being brave enough to broach a tough topic.
Sometimes you do have to find someone else, someone you click with more, someone who gives you more of what you need, someone who actually CAN help you meet your needs. Let that final decision also be based on your therapist’s response to your expressed need.
Worth the time and consideration
You owe it to yourself to be sure you’re getting the best you can from the relationship before you move on. You’ve invested time, energy, and money, right? Walking away prematurely might undercut all the good you’ve done so far.
On top of that, using relationship with your therapist to practice relating, take risks, and do things differently might be just what you need to grow.
Are you satisfied you’ve achieved your original goals? It’s okay to step back to a less frequent time-frame or even consider that you’re done with this therapist for now. Maybe you’re ready to do more, set new goals and keep moving forward. Could be, you legitimately need a rest.
When you leave in the right way, you can always come back for a tune-up whenever the need arises.
But if the relationship is really not working for you- and you’ve clarified your reason and goals, then you bring it up and you get dismissed or feel worse than before- move on with confidence.
Considering therapy? Honestly, I AM biased. I do believe we ALL can benefit from time with a good therapist. Getting the perspective of someone who is objective, studies humans for a living, and has the know-how to communicate what they see in a way that will benefit you is, well, just priceless. And finding the right one IS hugely important.
It’s not all just on the therapist, though. Go prepared.
When you head in for your session, there are a few skills and default thoughts you can leave outside the door, in order to have the best, most healing experience possible.
1. Argument. You’re not going to need this one inside.
Now I’m not talking about telling your truth. If the therapist is trying to identify how you feel and restates something you’ve said in a way that is just off, say so. As in “I wouldn’t identify it as anger so much as a burning desire to never see that person again.” Or “I don’t know, it just feels more blah than that. Like, I have a hard time even caring.”
But don’t waste your energy arguing with the therapist. You’re paying this person to learn what they know, so when they share an insight, listen, consider it. (And they should be doing this- reflecting back to you, offering perspective, coaxing your insight- about 30% of the time. They should not just “validate your feelings” and nod or ask “how does that make you feel?” like we see in the movies all the time.)
If you truly ARE paying them to talk at them and you don’t want any reflection at all, by all means, tell them. Some therapists will still take your money, but I wouldn’t consider that very ethical…or frankly, all that much fun. I like to see people grow.*
*The two exceptions might be if you realize you are a “verbal processor” and you just can’t tell anyone else the truth about your life right now OR if you are intentionally engaging what we call “narrative therapy,” a method that can be really healing in certain instances, like processing grief.
2. Thinking “I already know this.”
Yep. Some of it you do already know. And you’re not doing the right thing with the information or you wouldn’t be having the distress that brought you to therapy.
Just notice when you think things like that. Instead of the reflex of thinking “I already know that, why should I pay someone to tell me what I already know?” replace it with, “hmmmm, that’s interesting. That sounds familiar. How can I use that to do something different?”
Plus, consider the possibilities. Listen better. You might not know what you think you know. Besides, that thing you think you know? Usually there’s more to it than you considered previously.
3. Defaulting to “It’s really just common sense.”
If it were common sense it’d be more common. And if it were common sense to you, again, you wouldn’t be in the distress that brought you to therapy.
Yes, many of the central concepts of health and well-being are common between disciplines. You will find relationships between concepts and insight with things you’ve heard or read or tried before. Listen and go further. Lots of the things that trip people up are simple and many of the adjustments therapy offers can seem simple as well. But that doesn’t mean they’re easy.
A good therapist sees and can identify your sticky spots for you and will let you know the ways she sees you getting in your own way. Let her.
Get the Most from your Therapy
These reflex tendencies are usually born of a sense of inadequacy, actually. Arguing with the therapist displays some defensiveness. You might think it’s masking your insecurity, but it’s really highlighting it. Honestly, you don’t have anything to prove, least of all to your therapist.
Thinking you know things already closes you off to possibilities. Yes, you know some stuff. You are an expert at your own experience. Go you! A good therapist is an expert at people. She’s probably intuitive. She’s got an arsenal of tools and skills and frameworks with which to approach your challenge.
And the only thing you need to keep considering when you’re thinking “it’s just common sense” is “how can I use these insights in my daily life?”
After all, applying what you experience inside the therapy office is key to your growth and you deserve to grow as much as possible. Be sure you’re doing all you can to allow your therapist to help you.
Wondering when you know is the RIGHT TIME to break up with your therapist (or at least spend less time there?) Stay tuned for the next blog post.
Maybe you’ve noticed there’s information available on the new science of love. Maybe you’re thinking, what new science?
Well, most of us grew up believing (and experiencing) love as a great mystery, a wild intangible, a strange tangle of feelings and odd mating ritual.
Okay. Not in my house. There was no visible evidence of mating ritual going on that I could detect. There was not a huge expression of feeling either. About anything. And believe me, I’ve always been a curious sort, so I watched! Still, my parents did manage to bring eleven humans into the world so mating happened and I’m pretty sure they had feelings for one another; I just missed the rest of that mystery. But I digress!
I’ll give you a couple tips from research before I wind up this post and go see my next couple, so keep reading (or scroll down. I know you do that sometimes too.)
“New” science of love exists for many reasons.
We’ve actually studied it closely from a scientific behavior/observation stance for decades now. Sure, such study was on “attachment,” on “bonding,” later on “pair bonding and monogamy,” on “conflict resolution” and “communication.” Notice how none of these call it LOVE, but it really IS! These days, we’re not so shy about calling it what it is.
Then, along came the capability to actually study the brain in action. Yay, neuroscience! We can now see the brain with an FMRI machine (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and watch how different areas respond to different realities: thinking of the lover, responding to betrayal, being comforted by the lover, reliving a loss.
We can even pre- and post-test couples who engage Couples Counseling!
I wish I owned an FMRI machine and had scads of money to pay the neuroscientists. That stuff costs oodles of cash! It would be so cool if you came in for your first session talking about the issues at hand and we got a scientific reading of just what’s going on in your brain.
Would you say I could read your mind?
Fortunately, I don’t have to. We all reveal ourselves. Sometimes we just need someone to actually pay attention, recognize and know what they see, then be able to put into words the experience.
Good couples counseling does that for you.
It will also move you into a state of better functioning, relating, and connecting.
We actually know how secure, functional pair bonding happens, what it looks like, and what your experiences and interactions mean. Most importantly, good couples counselors know how to help you correct what’s actually hurting you so you and your partner both get the love you really want.
All the things people find troubling in relationship occur for very good reason. It’s almost always a perfectly normal and reasonable response to challenging circumstances. (And when it’s not i.e. there’s an underlying brain chemistry imbalance, well, good couples counselors can spot that too and they know what to do about it.)
And yes, it’s true: early attachment, childhood experiences, family of origin systems, birth order, communication styles, personality, previous relationship history, your overall health: body, mind, emotions… all of these things play into the sweet cocktail which becomes YOUR unique mix of relationship. Inevitably, eventually, invariably, one plus one equals conflict.
Do you really want to figure all that on your own?
Have you been reading all the “self-help” and “personal growth” books possible? It can be stimulus overload. If you do the wrong thing with the information, it has no positive effect on the relationship anyway.
It can even hurt or make things worse.
That’s why people decide to trust a specialist. I certainly recommend this. (You knew I would, right?)
You want someone with the knowledge and expertise to spot what is TRULY going on (not just what one or the other of you is experiencing.) Then you want someone able to fashion an approach that fits you and will solve problems, get you somewhere, and give you skills that will last.
We all want good love. Period. You deserve it.
Back to the Science of Love
John Gottman identified four indicators of major distress that, when left unchecked in any marriage, can lead to divorce within five years (or less!) Do you know what they are, how to spot them, and what to do about them?
He also identified seven principles that function in lasting, satisfying relationships. Gottman measured the ratio of positive versus negative interactions that sustain people and their connections. He and his wife, Julie, designed a whole approach to therapy that has helped thousands and trained thousands of therapists.
Other experts took early research on attachment theory and built an effective methodology for treating couples. Terry Real and his Relational Life Therapy effectively treats high conflict couples on the brink of divorce in a last effort to answer the question “can this marriage be saved?”
Sue Johnson developed Emotional Focused Therapy, an approach combining the tenets of Person-Centered Therapy with emotional regulation and intelligence between two people. This stuff is awesome, people!
Stan Tatkin’s Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy (PACT) heavily relies on science to move couples from their patterned responses into a secure, bonded, safe haven of connection. And it’s measurable!
Wouldn’t it be nice to DO RELATIONSHIP and enjoy it?
You don’t have to know all the science! Yes, you can go read their stuff. It’s great, let me tell you. Maybe you ARE a relationship geek like me and you LOVE all the science behind it. Have at it!
But if you want to save yourself that investment of time and energy and get answers as well as know HOW to apply the information, you deserve to go see a real relationship specialist who can fully see what is going on for you and your partner.
Obviously, you want someone who knows a lot and has a flexible approach to meet you where you are.
You want someone who can help you through the tough parts of making sense of what you learn and knowing how to do something different in your relationship. It’s not enough to know on paper what to do; it has to work for YOU.
Here are a couple researched tips.
1. Research indicates that the mere presence of a cell phone anywhere near your person, or your partner, elevates cortisol levels by 30-40%. In case you didn’t know, cortisol is a stress hormone. It being high is not a good thing. This was true even if the phone was “ringer off, face down.”
You can do something about that.
Leave it across the room in a designated area. Carve out time away from it. Make mealtime cell-phone free. Choose to forgo surfing on it while the television is on. Ever heard the advice to do one thing at at time. Well, do one screen at a time.
Does that sound like a tough thing to do? Try it. If it’s a real struggle, let’s talk about that!
2. Gottman’s research revealed the magic relationship ratio is 5:1. For every negative interaction, happy couples engage 5 positive ones when they are having a conflict or solving a problem.
On the opposite side, unhappy couples actually resist engaging positive interactions under some mistaken idea that the positive interaction will dilute the negative.
It will! This is a good thing. And yet, they resist doing it. They avoid doing it. They dig in their heels instead, hunker down and go to war.
No good can come of that.
Having trouble being positive while having a conflict?
Next time there’s a conflict, see if you can infuse humor or make a reassuring statement. Try starting by outlining all the things your partner is doing right. List things you’re grateful for at the same time you’re bringing up something annoying.
Maybe in addition, you’re having trouble feeling heard, getting through to your partner, or feeling truly cared for. Get help with that. It matters.
You deserve to have a happy, satisfying, and lasting love relationship. Let the “new” science of love help you get there.
I’m not sure I’ve been more ecstatic than I’m feeling this morning. Life just seems to get better and better and better.
Is this a midlife crisis
or the result of a successful one?
I’ve had A LOT of happy mornings like this one where I get out of bed and think, sometimes say outloud: I love my life! I’m so happy! Life. Is. Good.
Just last night, another mid-lifer and I were discussing how successfully navigating the midlife psychosocial crisis absolutely sets us up for “the best of life for the rest of life.”
(It has become one of the transformation projections I make with my clients. because I’ve seen it happen so many times! Maybe you’ve heard it as a tag line on my podcast.)
An eavesdropping listener asked if I’ve had a midlife crisis. I answered, “yes! Of course. We all have one; some of us just notice it more than others.
The midlife crisis gets a bad rap
for all the examples we first imagine:
a man growing out his hair and mustache, buying a motorcycle, and leaving his wife and children for a young babe.
OR a mom turning into a micro-skirt-wearing cougar and dating her daughter’s boyfriend or leaving the family. Ouch!
Sure, sometimes people do freak out in similar fashion, hence the clichéd stereotype. But like all stereotypes, applying them to everyone or thinking, ah, so that’s a midlife crisis, is just, well, a narrow definition. Not helpful. And not realistic.
Did you know we all have one?
A midlife psychosocial crisis, that is, not the stereotypical one.
We are all programmed to transition from one stage of life: our active, prime adult stage where we have been focused on work, procreating, pair-bonding- do you like those terms for adulting- to the next stage, which has been so expertly named “midlife.” And guess what, the stage can last 15 -25 years by some delineations. (It better, I say. I’m not declaring myself an “elder adult” until I’m 75 at least. But I digress.)
Of course, not everyone has children. Not everyone gets married. But financial survival, decisions and responsibilities regarding work and parenting children as well as navigating intimate relationships…these all occur in the active adult stage.
Then mid-life hits.
We become aware we are literally half way (or more) through our life on the planet and it inspires reflection. (And sometimes panic, sometimes intense panic.)
For some it’s a quick look back. For others that glance is filled with regret. For some, it’s filled with so much unpleasantness, they avoid doing it…for as long as possible.
The psychosocial crisis involves navigating between stagnation (and a fixed mindset) or regeneration (that state of renewal, re-focus, and movement) which will guide the rest of life.
Sometimes people’s unwillingness to process the past and their life so far actually lands them in the stagnation camp. They live out the rest of their days resisting reflection, personal responsibility, and growth forward.
Sometimes people get stuck in the past, fixated on its wounds without processing them and they can’t move forward (and that lands them in the stagnation camp.)
Most people long to go toward health.
That is why they will move toward regeneration: a contemplation of all that has gone on before, a renewal and reconsideration of values, and readjustment based on what one now knows.
After all, we DO know so much more at 50 than we knew at 30. By age 30, most of us had made significant decisions regarding what we would do for work, whether we would parent, who we would love. Then we proceeded to spend the next 15-20 years doing those things. After that amount of time, we realize -in a big way- that we are not going to be on the planet forever so we might want to make the most of the rest of our time here.
We might freak out a little over all the ways we’ve spent our time and energy up to this point. We might have regrets. Or grief.
Or something like that.
Midlife contemplation is inevitable.
All the fallout from a messy midlife contemplation is not inevitable though.
Whether you are the one floating in these rough waters or a loved one who affects you and your life is grappling with it, focused attention to all the aspects of this time of life can be much smoother with a counselor or coach.
But ya gotta find one who knows what she’s doing. 😉
I’m not the only one out there, but of course I’m recommending myself. Call or text me. Send and email. Just connect and let’s get started.
Keep reading to find out what researchers have determined is truly attractive, and what YOU can easily DO NOW to get more of the kind of love, connection, and goodness you really want in love, at work, and in life.
TOO MANY WORDS? Go ahead and skim. But get your key and follow along when we get to the list, smartie!
Here’s how to get the most from this post:
1. Keep reading. I’ll give you information about what is truly attractive (based on years of cross-referenced research, not opinion.)
2. You assess honestly and decide where you want to increase your attractiveness. Don’t shy away from the hardest things. We’re going to DO something about this. (When you get the Attraction Key, you’ll have a chance to specifically measure yourself in each of the ten areas.)
3. Go get your FREE Attraction Key and start unlocking your natural attractiveness. I’ll give you real wisdom on HOW to increase your attraction level by taking practical action one little thing at a time. You get to choose what to use.
4. Get to work trying out the simple adjustments in those areas, one at a time, for just three days at a time and observe what happens! You will get results. It will change things. It’s going to make your life a whole lot better. It just will.
What will happen: Real Attraction makes a Real Difference
You will feel measurably better. Your mood will lift. Your perspective will change. You’ll be more optimistic.
You’ll actually notice (without doing anything to consciously make it happen) that you are getting more done. Things will go more smoothly and when you face a challenge, it won’t seem as big.
You’ll notice others responding to you more positively. You’ll get more connection and attention where you want it and not where you don’t.
Life will BE better. You will be happier. You’ll experience more joy.
You’ll HAVE more of what you want and less of what you don’t.
If you’re not attracting what you want, figuring out how to STOP attracting what you don’t want and START attracting what you really want is KEY.
Grab your KEY now and use it as we go through the list. Or just keep reading to explore the top 10 things great men your age find attractive.
1-5. The top five Attraction Factors to a Great Guy
Men and women the world over reported these two qualities as the top two: kindness and intelligence. I bet that makes perfect sense to you. Don’t worry; intelligence IS something you can enhance. Being the smartest is not necessary. Being aware, interested, and willing to learn are all part of being intelligent.
Men list next playfulness, youthfulness, and being good-looking. That’s whatever he considers to be good-looking. Trust me, the range in that description is a lot wider than you might be thinking. Suffice it to say, it’s best if a woman takes good care of her appearance. This does NOT mean you need to alter your appearance or frame or style. Just take good care of what you’ve got. Grooming. Hygiene. Take the time to make an effort. It matters. (Don’t worry, ladies, we want men to do this too.)
As far as being playful and youthful, these two elements have to do with openness and warmth. Of course, men find this attractive! If you can truly play, it means you feel safe in the world, (or at least you feel safe in the moment) and it’s really attractive. Being youthful is not about looking like a 25-year old. Honestly, it’s not. That youthful approach to life is all about vitality and liveliness; it’s about sparkle and optimism. Think of this as being able to be carefree and light…at least sometimes!
6. Let him know you like him
On top of that, men want a partner who is actually interested in them. Some women have a hard time actually giving men this signal. Inside relationship, they think they shouldn’t have to do it! And when looking for a mate, lots of women think it makes them look desperate. But believe me, there’s a lovely difference. Here’s a tip: men are not good at taking hints. They don’t get subtleties. No one can read minds. Letting him know you’re interested can be just the thing he needs to draw closer to you.
Still, you can be a little subtle about this. You’re not going to give him the vibe you’d be interested in just anyone. It’s a bit of an art. Call it one of the womanly ones.;-)
That’s the top six. Then there’s…
7. The Less Tangible Things…like Confidence
…and those other seemingly less measurable qualities that show up as essential. These fall under the category of emotional maturity and both men and women expect this from other grown ups.
Both men and women find confidence irresistible. Some people think there’s a shortcut to this, but it really can’t be faked. You can read a lot of tips for “faking it until you make it,” yet go that route and sooner or later, the foundation will crumble. The tips in the Attraction Key are all about making this adjustment real and permanent.
In essence, the best guarantee of exuding confidence is a solid, healthy self-esteem, which, simply put, is a position and opinion about oneself that is not superior, not inferior, but balanced. Some people (like me) might call this a healthy self-love. People who truly love and accept themselves, human frailties and all, just ooze confidence.
8. Emotional Responsibility
Men really appreciate it when women take responsibility for their emotions. This doesn’t mean he gets to be callous or disregard your feelings. It simply means you don’t let your emotions get the best of you. You don’t make him responsible for them. Men appreciate it when their mate takes personal responsibility and not just after the fact.
If you find yourself needing to apologize, then doing so without excuses is the way to go. I wish I had time to get into the specifics of a Clean, Non-Blaming Apology (TM). More on that in a future post!
Healthy adults do not find fits of temper or jealous rage attractive. They don’t favor manipulative or controlling behavior. Grown-ups all expect some degree of emotional stability. They also expect personal responsibility. Real admission of real responsibility is so sexy. Let. Me. Tell. YOU! Swoon-worthy for some. Stabilizing and safe for others. Attractive for all.
If you have trouble because your feelings are so big and tough for you to manage, don’t worry, stick with me. I help people in this area all the time. I know it’s an absolutely legitimate challenge. There are reasons you feel the way you do. The key to handling them is NOT about stuffing them or hiding them or being more logical or acting more like a man. Not at all. But more on that will have to wait for another time.
Men say another element of confidence gets expressed when women know what they want in life, what they want out of relationships, and are not afraid of talking about it. We’ll get to communication in a minute, but you can’t skip the internal job of knowing yourself and what you will accept and not accept in life and in relationship.
Think of this as the flip-side to us wanting men to have a passion and purpose in their lives. That’s super hunky and attractive to us, right?
Men really don’t want a doormat, or someone who gives up her identity, passions, interests, and life to become a female counterpart to him. He’s not wanting you to wait around trying to figure out what will please him most. You knowing what you want, who you are, where you’re going, and what kind of life you want to enjoy (including what kind of relationships you want) is super attractive!
If you’ve ever done it, don’t ever give yourself away like that again! You don’t have to and it’s not attractive anyway. It always backfires.
Communication is key! The caveat is that women must express themselves without demanding or blaming someone else, especially the man in front of you. If demand or blame enters, the communication is no longer conveying confidence; it’s shouting insecurity and desperation. (We already talked about how unattractive that is.)
This doesn’t mean that we aren’t human, subject to a flash of insecurity or vulnerability. In fact, that softness and vulnerability is one of the beautiful places where real connection between humans happens!
But communication should NOT be a minefield to navigate on a regular basis. That just gets supremely exhausting for everyone and it will corrode a relationship (and its participants) in a big, fat hurry. No one wants to live like that!
If you don’t know how to communicate without demanding or blaming in those moments when you feel most vulnerable, start with this post all about Communication. It gets into some specifics of how to do that. It’s such an important skill to have!
There you have it. The top ten qualities good men find absolutely irresistible in a woman.
An Inside Job
You can’t change anything outside yourself. You can’t change another person. Don’t even fantasize about changing male sexuality or female emotions. Or anything else for that matter.
You can’t make anyone else do anything.
It’s just not possible to change someone’s feelings or thoughts or behaviors.
You know that, right? Do you really accept it and operate from that knowing and acceptance? Or do you sometimes still try to change and control and influence?
Honestly, I think people continue to try because it seems so much easier to exert all that external energy than to do the inside job.
But the inside job is required when it comes to healthy relationship and long term happiness and well-being. And the inside job is required for authentic attractiveness. The nice thing is…
The Inside Job works and it’s enough.
You can’t fake this stuff. But you can do something about each thing on the list of attractive traits and characteristics.
Kindness is a thing you can practice. You might not be able to be taller or totally drop-dead, movie-star gorgeous (Dang, I was hoping that was suddenly going to change when I turned 50!) but you CAN take good care of yourself and give attention to your appearance and grooming.
You might not be able to change your native IQ, but you can always learn more. It doesn’t have to be book learning either. It can be DOing learning. 😉 You can take care of yourself and play when it’s safe. You can experience more moments of youthful lightness.
Plus, you can definitely raise your Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ). Confidence, knowing yourself, and communication, are all qualities and skills you can foster, if you’re willing to do the growing. Get a practical start right now.
More than anything, investing in the Inside Job creates attraction naturally. It’s the kind of attraction that stays with you for life. It’s also the kind of investment in yourself that starts paying off right away.
Let me know how it goes. Whether you grab your Attraction Key or decide to go it alone, leave a comment below and let me know what is one small change YOU are going to make TODAY to raise your attraction level. I love hearing from you!
How do you survive after infidelity? Can relationships really be saved? Can they really come back better than ever? People present these questions to me all the time. Call me crazy, but
I love working with infidelity as a specialty.
I love it because it’s excruciatingly painful stuff, it’s devastating, it busts people and their lives wide open… but I know how to help individuals and couples heal after it. Seeing that healing happen and watching people enjoy greater health than they’ve ever known is beyond satisfying.
Let’s face it; infidelity is the worst.
Yet, we all know that infidelity happens.
A local training brochure that went out to psychotherapists here in Ohio claims 50% of committed relationships include infidelity. Yikes! I think that percentage has to be high. I just don’t want to believe that statistic. I bet you don’t either! Still, for some of us, knowing it’s a common issue can have the effect of making people who are experiencing it feel not so alone, not completely crazy, maybe even hopeful.
After all, if others live through it and heal after it, you can too, right?
We don’t lack science and research on infidelity.
People publish a ton of stuff on the reasons people cheat, the why behind it, the psychology of betrayal and studies on monogamy. Theories abound. Most can be twisted and contorted to support most any end-perspective.
Have you heard anyone say “we’re just not wired for monogamy” or “sure, that was easy back when life expectancy was 45?”
Some people believe “once a cheater, always a cheater.”
Others think “it always takes two.”
Still others think there is no more vile creature on the planet than “the adulterer.” Once marked, he or she is marked with the scarlet A forever.
What’s your perspective on infidelity?
Does it match one of the above? If it does, I’d venture to guess you’ve been wounded by it at some point. I’m also going to say that none of those perspectives are truly helpful.
Oh sure, those adages help us survive, to assimilate the knowledge of the betrayal, they help us “make sense” of a bewildering human phenomenon. But they don’t help us truly heal.
Sometimes we think healing after a broken heart just never really happens. We might think we’re wounded for life. Of perhaps maybe we think “time heals all wounds.” Actually, neither one of those extremes is very true.
Healing needs to be intentional. If it isn’t, time can pass without much real living taking place.You don’t have to sit in the wounding of betrayal for years, decades, the rest of life. You really don’t.
You don’t have to endlessly carry the weight of your infidelity either.
See what I suggested there? Infidelity is painful, painful, painful for both the betrayed and for the offender. If you could see what I see, you’d know the truth of this.
Infidelity changes people forever,
no matter what side of the equation they’re on. And many, many offenders avoid getting help from a professional because they sense they’ll be judged…by people who are supposed to be trained to actually help. The unfortunate thing is that often they are judged by those people. Or professionals are ill-equipped to address the complexity of the situation.
And that never truly helps. In fact, sometimes it can make things a whole lot worse. I don’t want that to happen to you. I’m on a mission to provide effective and easily accessible intervention for you… even when one or both of you are not “naturally inclined” toward therapy. Even if you’ve never sought help for anything before.
No matter how you’re made…
You deserve to thrive again after infidelity.
That’s exactly our aim when we work together. And it does not matter if you are coming in alone, as a couple, or if you are trying to resolve issues from an affair that’s current, newly terminated, or that happened a long time ago. It doesn’t even matter if no one else knows about it. If there’s healing needed, we’ll go after it for you- and in a way that makes sense to you.
Maybe you’re not ready to work with a therapist or coach one-on-one. That’s okay too.
Resources to serve you:
Check out the book:After the Affair: Healing for the Offender. If you’re the Betrayed or the Offender, this guidebook provides the truth behind why this thing happened and, even more importantly, gives you an effective guide through and beyond it. For some people, the book will be enough. For some, it’ll just be a start. It will be helpful for everyone involved.
Sign up for the FREE Coaching Club
To sign up, find the big, blue box and arrow top right or down below (depending on what device you’re on.) You’ll become part of a group of Friends I send Love Letters to about once a week. I’ll share things I don’t share anywhere else and I’ll reference helpful resources, give you inside tips, videos, and articles. Plus, you’ll be the first to know about events you can attend, groups and classes forming online and in person, and any new resources coming out. If there’s an extra-valuable added freebie, you’re one of the insiders and you get it first!
Free Reading and Listening
Keep reading the blog! Search topics for old articles too. And check out the podcast episodes. There’s one titled “After Infidelity” but even topics exploring the basics of attraction and how real love works are going to give you lots of great information too.
Keep in Touch
Let me know if I can help in any way. Call or email me. Let me know what’s up for you. Ask questions. Ask ALL your questions! No matter what you wonder, it’s very likely something that others are asking too. And who knows, it might spur a wider conversation here or in the Coaching Club and help tons of people.
No matter what side of infidelity you’re living on, we’ll make sense of this together, get the healing you need and want and get back to a life you recognize and love.
No one should go through life’s most painful things alone. You don’t have to. Let me know how I can help.