Calling BS! on the directive: “you need to be alone!”

In therapeutic circles and with well-meaning friends, you’ll hear the advice: you just need to be alone  or you need to just take some time for yourself after heartache. You might hear the opposite as well -from your friends and your mom- you just need to get back out there and meet someone!

You’re not surprised that I’m going to say BS to both of those approaches, right?

First of all, you’re HURTING.

Getting back in the saddle is almost always the wrong approach. Remember the beginning of Romeo and Juliet? Romeo was gaga on Roseline and his buddy suggested, “you just need to meet another chica.” He did. That night. And he winds up dead by the end of that adventure.

Go there if you have a death wish, I guess. I’m not sure why anyone would pattern their love experience after Romeo and Juliet. But it’s tragic, all right. And it has some lovely, artful declarations of passion and devotion. I’ll give Shakespeare that. Good one.

For those of you looking for a saner love adventure, please keep reading in Modern American English:

When you’re HURTING, you don’t need to punish yourself.

So many people, systems, and sometimes even practitioners will suggest a time frame or course of imposed quarantine for the heartbroken or lovelorn. You’ve probably even heard experts advocate an imposed period of mourning: one year for each 4 years of the relationship. At minimum: no dating for at least a year.

Does this make you tired even listening to such advice?

So much is going on for you that rule setting, framework impositions, giving yourself a deadline or rigid structure is probably the last thing you need right now.

You might need comfort, some tenderness, and fun.

If that sounds simplistic, that’s because it is. And simple is good. You can work with simple. You can move through simple. You can let simple guide your choices.

Find comfort. Give yourself some comfort.

Is it comforting to go to the movies or eat a gourmet meal or spend time outside.? Do those things. Is it painful too? I know it can be painful to do everything when your heart is hurting. Choose the activities that ARE the most comforting. That can mean sleeping in. It can mean working out like a maniac. It can mean paying for a massage. It can mean going to the sauna or getting some heat and light therapy at a tanning booth.

And yes, I know, in moderation. I’m not advocating skin cancer activities, etc. Notice I’m NOT saying drink alcohol. That usually makes people feel much worse when they’re hurting already. It’s a depressant! I’m also not saying smoke cigarettes. THAT is not comfort; it’s a great way to AVOID feeling anything and therefore it won’t get you THROUGH your pain. This is also probably not the time to try to FORCE yourself to give up those habits (if they are regular habits) either.

You do not need to do this by yourself either. It’s okay to find someone to enjoy comforting activities with you.

Find tenderness. Spend time with people you know love you. If your other relationships have been neglected, rekindle them. Get in touch with supportive family and friends.

If your family and friends do not know how to be tender and supportive, don’t spend time with them. Avoid them. Minimize exposure while you are vulnerable.

And pay attention. Surely there are kind people in your realm. Notice small tendernesses: when clerks are friendly and sweet instead of all-business, when that infant in a stroller smiles at you, when someone at work asks how you’re doing. Notice. And count it as tenderness.

Create tenderness in your life as well: hug your dog. Force your cat to snuggle. (Yah, good luck with that.) Get outside yourself and BE TENDER to others. Smile at strangers. Ask your friends how THEY are doing.

Be tender with yourself. Be gentle. Be kind to yourself. Part of this is learning to ask helpful questions and abandon stupid ones, I explain it in context here in this podcast on midlife dating basics.

Find FUN. I love William Glasser’s outline in Reality Theory of the five basic human needs. He says and I agree we need: survival basics, love & belonging, power, freedom, and FUN!

You do not have to have fun all by yourself. In fact, though it’s possible, having fun with others is even better. Plan fun. Give yourself permission for fun. Take time for fun!

Notice when you’re enjoying something, anything. Laugh at a comedy. Watch some silly animals.  Join a mutual-interest Meetup group. (Google this if you don’t know what I’m talking about; they are everywhere!) Play. No matter if that looks like online gaming with strangers, planning a stupid board-game night with your nieces, or going on a rock-climbing date with that girl you’ve talked to ten times at the gym, do it!

The next relationship is not going to save you. Nor do you have to quarantine yourself from engaging with objects of interest and attraction for a specified period of time. But DO find and create comfort, tenderness, and fun! These are never a waste of time and before you know it, you will be in good shape to LOVE again.

 

 

 

 

 

Old Love, Love Matters

Love Matters

At least part of you knows already that the quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life. A seventy five year study at Harvard proves it. Watch the TEDtalk on this. It’s beautiful (and less than 13 minutes.) See. Love Matters.

Most of you suspect that having a loving partnership is central to the whole equation of a good life.

And yet, if you are a heterosexual female, it can be so hard to admit life would be better with a loving man in it.

Ladies! It’s time to get over the message that says “you don’t need a man, baby. After all, you’ve come a long way!”

That is really old propaganda. It served its purpose. We smoked. We felt tough. We took care of everything. We practically became men. Trouble is, that message is a long time dying. And it gets in the way of being open to the right men.

Let it go.

And if you’re male, even the swankest among you know life would be better with a loving partner by your side. Read this account of New York bachelors and the lonely life.  Dudes, you are not alone.

Love matters.

Having healthy love in your life increases health in all areas of your life.

Women have traditionally been given more credit for prizing relationships more. And yet, mid-life women (the entire Erik Erickson span of mid-life up to late middle life including ages 35-75) are actually the ones who may be getting in their own way the most!

Now, of course, to be fair and honest, there are plenty of men messing this whole thing up too. AND, men are less complicated than women. (It’s a fact.) And sometimes, from the perspective of the work I do, straightening men out is easier because of it. Often, one or two tweaks does the trick!

Here’s why:

  1. Good men respond well to honesty and emotional maturity. Men who do not respond well to this are, simply, not quite grown up yet. Call them Boys; it fits.  They might get there, but age is just a number, not a maturity rating. And this goes for both men and women. Not all women are automatically emotionally mature.
  2.  If she’s not, most grown-up men will pass. They’re tired of drama and working hard to please a woman who can’t be and they are not so interested in the chase like they once were. And let’s face it; they don’t have to. Men have plenty to choose from; the ratio increases in their favor as we all age. Men still die earlier than women.

SO, BONUS, MEN! If you survive just a little longer, you will have more age-appropriate mates to choose from!

This is great news for you and maybe a bit of a wake-up call for the other gender!

On the flip side, yes, there are men who are jerks, for whom mere talk of improving relationship is a pariah. They’d never attend a relationship seminar or go to a coach or counselor because they know it’s not them, it’s always everyone else.

Ok.

So, get smart, ladies and join me in NOT dating them. Don’t have sex with them. Don’t stay in relationship with them.

There ARE scads of men out there who ARE interested in having an emotionally connected and mutually supportive, lasting secure and thrilling partnership. I guarantee it. I meet them all the time!

Love matters.

All of us can get a little stuck. We can struggle for good reason. We can come up against something that just doesn’t work and doesn’t make sense.

By now, you probably realize I am all about helping people understand one another and themselves and then helping them have healthy relationships. It’s what I do!

Call me if consultation or an appointment makes sense for you.

Not ready for that? Stay tuned here; I’ll keep writing about this stuff. Read the archives.

Next time, I am going to answer the directive that says “you need to be alone” and “a relationship will not save you.”

 

Dating is not a game! Or is it?

Remember when you were 20-something and it seemed (relatively) easy to connect with a potential partner?

You’ve lived through failed relationships and disappointments since then, so it’s pretty clear what you knew back then did not net you a long-lasting, healthy relationship. Probably for a myriad of reasons. For starters, they don’t teach this stuff in school!

Plus, times have changed. Dating has gone all cyber-wacky. We’ve changed all these years later.

Yet some of the same things both men and women worry about are exactly the same:

  • Who does the initiating?
  • Is dating a game? Or is it serious stuff?
  • What are the rules?
  • Is sex an expectation of dating and if so, when?
  • Do I have to give up being myself in order to attract a mate?
  • Am I ever going to find someone?
  • Can I please avoid all the heartache?

You’d think we’d know more by now and be over some of this or at least have an answer. But humans are humans are humans are humans at every age. So until we learn it, we don’t know it. And until you know it for yourself, everyone else knowing it is not a benefit to you. Plus, it’s one thing to know it on paper and in your head and an entirely different thing to know it in your heart and experience it in your life.

You gotta DO relationship in order for all that knowledge to count for anything.

And you’re scared.

For very good reason. Go back and read the second sentence if you forgot why.

Here is some GOOD NEWS:

Some people do have fun dating (and this is not because they are wild and crazy and just don’t care! Well, not most of them anyway.)

Some people do have happy, long-lasting, secure marriages.

Some people seem to have easy success with their love relationships.

Are they just lucky? Born under the right stars? Reared by the right parents and the rest of us got a bum wrap?

No.

Okay, I’ll allow that some people do have healthier, more loving parents who not only equipped them with more of the right stuff to get them fully functional in the world but also probably set a better example.

Not you? You’re not alone. Keep reading because I am talking to the whole rest of us…

Too bad for us, right? We’re just doomed to relationship hell and struggle and heartache?

Also, NO.

(I wouldn’t be in this business if that were what I believed, of course!)

Here’s the BIG BELIEF that completely rules out all others:

If someone else knows how to do it, then I can LEARN how to do it. Say that to yourself aloud. It’s true. Say it a hundred times until you believe it!

And WHAT you learn is really based on what you want. We get to this in every seminar on relationships and in every couples or individual therapy alliance. If I don’t eventually ask you what you want, I’m not doing my job. We often start there because WHAT you wants drives what you will have. And if you’re not sure what it is you want, that’s okay too. You’ll discover and decide as you go along.

But some of you already know the thing you crave is LOVE. You know you were placed in this world with an imperative to love and be loved. And you want to have a successful, fulfilling relationship before you leave this earth. You want to put into action the knowledge that other people seem to have mastered. You’re daring to dream that someone somewhere will want to make a rich and fulfilling life with you.

Trust me, it happens. It does. It still does. It is not too late.

And some of you are wondering if you just have bad luck, if you attract all the jerks or crazies, if you will ever get this right. Remember, all of us are scared sometimes. We’re human, after all. And being human has scary parts. Love has scary parts. Dating has scary parts. Other people do have the potential to disappoint us, to wound us if we let them, to complicate our happiness, and, even in the best scenarios, to leave us when they die first.

It’s a pretty scary venture.

And yet, many of you are still willing. You want what you want. You’re willing to learn a thing or two. You are willing to see if your current relationship can be saved even while you’re asking if it should be saved. You are looking for a mate even though you’ve been disappointed a hundred times. You are harboring a glimmer of hope you’re just waiting for someone to fan.

I am that someone. I have hope for you aplenty. You can do this. Sometimes getting the right help is the first step.

It can start with attending a seminar. Ladies register here.

It can start with a free consultation or with a first session. Call me at 513-530-5888.

It can start with some good reading and contemplation of change. Keep reading right here and keep in touch. Subscribe to the blog and never miss a post.

When you’re ready, I’ll help you make life great.