eHarmony Blog http://www.eharmony.com/blog eHarmony experts’ take on dating, relationships and the science of love Wed, 23 Apr 2014 19:16:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Is ‘Radical Acceptance’ the Key to a Lasting Relationship? http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/23/is-radical-acceptance-the-key-to-a-lasting-relationship/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/23/is-radical-acceptance-the-key-to-a-lasting-relationship/#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 19:16:49 +0000 Jeannie Assimos, Director of Content http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=16562 Today’s incredibly wise guest blog comes from the CEO of YourTango, Andrea Miller. Rising above all of the petty grievances and learning to fully accept others is something we could all strive for in so many of our relationships. Enjoy this thoughtful post! “Andrea, just love him.” These were the surprising words a wise friend had […]

The post Is ‘Radical Acceptance’ the Key to a Lasting Relationship? appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
radical acceptance and dating tips 300x219 Is Radical Acceptance the Key to a Lasting Relationship?Today’s incredibly wise guest blog comes from the CEO of YourTango, Andrea Miller. Rising above all of the petty grievances and learning to fully accept others is something we could all strive for in so many of our relationships. Enjoy this thoughtful post!

“Andrea, just love him.” These were the surprising words a wise friend had for me when I called to consult her after having a particularly bad fight with my boyfriend, Sanjay.

I was ready to walk out of the relationship one night when we were at each other’s throats. I yelled at him, “You’re impossible. I love you, but I can’t keep doing this!” I left our Upper West Side apartment shaking with anger and hurt, storming down Broadway until I found a hotel to see if a room was available. I eventually returned home late that night, but realized that I had to do something different or our relationship would not survive.

I explained our drama to my friend, sharing how conflicted I felt. Her advice stopped me dead in my tracks. I suddenly realized the mistake I’d been making my entire life. I had been perpetuating the turmoil in our relationship by continuing to focus on Sanjay’s flaws. Instead, I needed to accept him as he was and commit to loving him. I needed to fully accept myself as well and not let the fear of rejection prevent me from being open and honest with my feelings. I have always been an extremely guarded person. Although I was raised by a loving family, I experienced considerable turmoil when I was growing up and learned to isolate myself emotionally, almost always avoiding conflict as a means of protecting myself. As a result, I had a very tough time opening up and sharing who I really was.

So when I finally met the love of my life, I wasn’t ready.

I wanted to be close to Sanjay, but found it very difficult to do so. I kept finding fault with him. I wanted him to change to fit me. Yet somehow we kept the relationship alive, and, after a few years of dating, we moved in together, choosing a sunny apartment across from the Natural History Museum. We had chemistry galore and loved each other passionately. Yet I would keep him at arm’s length when it got too difficult — which it often would. We fought — a lot.

Sanjay had his flaws. I had mine. But he was a truly good guy and we loved each other unremittingly. I realized that if we were to stay together, our path forward to a committed and fulfilling relationship would require a profound approach — or more so, a radical one.

What was that new approach? It’s what I have come to call Radical Acceptance.

I believe radical acceptance is the key to making a relationship not only work — but thrive. It’s been the key to making my relationship with Sanjay incredibly deep and rewarding.

So, what is radical acceptance?

Radical acceptance means loving someone fully for who he or she really is — flaws, short-comings, weaknesses, warts, and all. It signifies loving someone without judgment. It is love filled with empathy and compassion.

Radical acceptance is the essence of unconditional love. It creates so much safety that the “lovee” can truly be him or herself. To radically accept someone means: I know of your flaws, failures, weaknesses, and short-comings. I still love you.

Studies have shown that people feel good about themselves after they have given a gift. Radical acceptance is gift-giving on steroids, thus an immense opportunity for the giver to feel better, because it truly is the most powerful, valuable gift you can give to someone.

Just think for a moment how it would feel if you knew your spouse or significant other fully accepted you — ALL of you? Wouldn’t that be the most liberating and empowering feeling imaginable? In my observations, only a lucky few have achieved such a status — but it is my belief that almost every one can. I say almost every one because radical acceptance requires a considerable amount of work, so only those willing to put a lot of effort into their relationship can get there.

I came to the concept of Radical Acceptance over time based on my own experiences; by carefully observing and discussing others’ relationships; and by connecting the dots between the research my company, YourTango, has conducted on love, along with some powerful insights from a couple of other pivotal thinkers and writers in the love and relationship arena.

My wise friend who counseled me to “just love him,” certainly planted a powerful seed around the notion that I should quit analyzing my relationship with Sanjay and simply love him as he was. Then, after reading Thomas Moore’s brilliant book Soul Mates: Honouring The Mysteries Of Love And Relationship, I was led to my epiphany to start a media company devoted to love and relationships. I was moved by how Moore calls for people to embrace the darkness, the murkiness, the shadows of a relationship and the people in it as a means to truly connect on a soul level with one another. I was also moved by the Imago communication framework originated by relationship expert Harville Hendrix, who is an important source of inspiration for a key aspect of Radical Acceptance — indeed it’s the basis of what I describe as Radical Communication.

Over a number of years, I had unwittingly developed a crucible in which these sources of inspiration, along with plenty of heartache and soul searching in my personal life, ultimately crystalized into the concept of Radical Acceptance. As I thought through it, I determined that it was a powerful formula with five distinct steps (see below). And then I practiced and experimented extensively with them to be able to personally claim that Radical Acceptance truly works.

So how does it work? Radical acceptance provides the crucial cues to your partner that you are committed to your partnership and truly and fully love him or her. It then backs up these cues with a virtuous proactive cycle, including actions and communication, that just gets stronger and stronger as it is practiced.

When you practice radical acceptance, you essentially practice unconditional love … but so much more because it is so incredibly active and deliberate. It truly is a practice, starting with the active compassionate acceptance of yourself — flaws, shortcomings, weaknesses and all. You commit to loving your partner fully. You go the extra mile to communicate effectively with him or her, making a concerted effort to let him know that you do not judge him, that you truly do love ALL of him — including the parts that appear scary, foreign, difficult, weird or hard to love. You prioritize your partner. You dedicate yourself to the practice of radical acceptance and keep doing it, again and again and again.

So rather than letting Sanjay push my buttons and getting upset at the things that disappointed me, made me feel angry, and caused me to fight back, I decided that I would accept the parts of him that upset me and simply love him — all of him. To love him fully, to always have his back, to even love the traits that are hard to love. Wow. Talk about transformational!

There were a number of problems in our relationship that would cause us plenty of heartache. One set had to do with him feeling frustrated with me because I work so much and am reluctant to take time off. Even when I’m not working, I am often stressed and distracted. This has taken a serious toll on our personal lives. Sanjay wants to be supportive of me and my career success — and he has been — but he can also feel hurt, angry and frustrated, which comes out typically in the forms of criticism and a short temper. I have learned to accept that side of him and perhaps more importantly, I have learned that I must dial back on my work and ensure he knows that I am focusing on him and our kids more frequently so that he doesn’t feel frustrated in the first place.

Sanjay also tends to be quite vocal and impassioned in his criticism. This used to drive me crazy and led to a number of explosive fights. But I’ve now learned not to get defensive and get sucked into a downward spiral. Moreover, I have learned to look at both why he might be extra-critical and why I find this so painful and threatening.

I confess that this was hard. And it still is. I cannot claim to have mastered it. But I am committed to the concept of radical acceptance and can say (shout! sing!), unequivocally: It works.

Still, it’s not a quick fix — far from it. It takes wisdom, maturity, patience, compromise, a willingness to let go of the small things and the need to be right. And most of all, it takes a lot of work. It truly is a practice. I am discovering that it is the most important, meaningful work of my life.

All of us have parts that we consider weak, foolish, wrong, unworthy of being loved. We work hard to keep those parts of ourselves hidden. Having those weaknesses exposed can be scary — terrifying, in fact. But radical acceptance offers you alchemy, because it turns the scary stuff, the painful stuff, the things that make you want to run away, into blessings and opportunities. When your beloved is willing to love even those unlovable parts, and draws “out into the light all the beautiful belongings that no one else had looked quite far enough to find,” to quote a line in my favorite poem called “Love” by Ray Croft, you’ll feel an unparalleled level of commitment from that person. And that’s about as big and powerful as it gets. Why? Because it means that you are totally safe no matter what. It means you don’t have to hide. It means that you don’t have to fear rejection because your imperfections are exposed.

In addition to alchemy, it creates a beautiful virtuous cycle because, when you are free to be who you truly are, you are more likely to: 1) connect in honest, authentic ways, which enhances emotional intimacy. 2) Be open to sharing more of yourself because you exist in a safer realm. 3) Be less stressed and more compassionate, thus reducing the amount of negativity, blame, anger, and judgment in your relationship.

Radical acceptance means that you don’t have to keep having that same old fight over and over. And over. Even more powerful is that you reduce fear by creating an atmosphere where there is no judgment. Communication thrives and a collaborative environment takes root. As noted above, radical acceptance not only helped me be more accepting of Sanjay, it caused me to reflect on how I was contributing to Sanjay’s frustration, and take responsibility for my role in the friction.

Now, you may be thinking: Isn’t radical acceptance just another way of settling? Or passively allowing someone to be a jerk or abusive or self-destructive? Emphatically: NO, it is not. There are two important points to make here:

1. Radical acceptance makes you stronger. It is empowering. It is a bold, powerful choice. It is not rolling over. It is not resigning yourself to subsisting on crumbs. Frankly, it’s a lot easier to fight and stay stuck in old crappy patterns than to exhibit the strength and perseverence required of radical acceptance.

2. Two, radical acceptance works when it comes to what can generally be characterized as personalities flaws, bad habits, and differing styles and preferences — NOT character flaws. It is crucial to recognize the difference between these two concepts. He talks too loudly, doesn’t clean up after himself, spends excessive time watching tv, exaggerates, eats crappy food, is sanctimonious, has a short fuse, lacks confidence, stays up all night playing video games, is 20 pounds overweight, has zero fashion sense, picks his nose, is the son of a convict, goes three days without showering, gets melancholy, is a mama’s boy, gets easily distracted, mumbles, goes to the gym 7 days a week, is perpetually late … on and on and on.

These are not character flaws. They may be frustrating and annoying as hell — and God forbid you ever meet anyone with all of them — but if he is ethical, trustworthy, moral and compassionate — in other words, if he is a good guy — he warrants radical acceptance.

But: If he is truly a jerk, abusive, overly narcissistic, or any thing along those lines, radical acceptance is probably not the answer. There is endless room for exploring this issue and who’s really to blame: you or him. Charles Orlando, an insightful, colorful relationship expert who’s the author of the book and Facebook page, The Problem With Women … is Men, offers thoughts on why he treats you like crap and how this is one of the most-asked questions he receives.

Admittedly, there are gray areas with radical acceptance. I am not advocating radically accepting someone who has a debilitating drug or alcohol addiction, or some other behavior that is self destructive and clinically unhealthy. Yes, unconditional love from a partner can help an addict recover, feel safe, and learn to love himself. But that is better dealt with in cooperation with a medical and/or mental health expert on a case by case basis.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing more about radical acceptance and how it works. But just for now, briefly, here are the five steps to practicing radical acceptance:

1. Just love him … or just dump him. There truly is magic in commitment. If you’ve picked a good guy with integrity and compassion, just love him. Make that commitment and go all in. Sure, that probably won’t happen in the first five minutes. But after you have gotten to know one another, you need to decide if he’s worthy of commitment. If you can’t decide, if you can’t commit, then the default answer is clear. Just dump him.

2. Radical Acceptance requires radical communication. Successful communication is key to any mature, deep, meaningful relationship. Radical acceptance requires you both to be honest and to allow one another to express yourselves in an environment that is safe and nonjudgmental. There are things that she does that drive you crazy or parts of her past that you find difficult. Radical communication means that you acknowledge this but that you love her anyway. Radical communication offers a safe environment for you both to be really heard and seen; it offers empathy; it offers validation. This requires trust, maturity, and commitment.

3. You can’t love half of him. Sure, you love that he is cute, funny, successful. Who doesn’t love those attractive traits? That’s the easy part. Radical acceptance means knowing his weaknesses, insecurities, and mistakes and still loving him.

4. You have to put him first … not always, but often. Radical acceptance requires a real investment in your partner and in the relationship. You cannot radically accept someone if you never spend time together and don’t create the time and space for the process to take root in a deep, meaningful way. This is not meant to all be homework. You take steps to tune into him and his needs, problems, and concerns, but this is also where you get to have fun together, relax, explore, be goofy, and create wonderful memories together.

5. Great relationships are made, not born. Radical acceptance is a practice and a process! You cannot will it into being but need to do it. As the relationship proceeds you will discover many layers that lead to new insights and can change behavior and perspective, for both partners. You will get frustrated and disappointed, no doubt, in the process. But by continuing to do it, you will reap the rewards and win the ultimate prize.

In the long run, radical acceptance has given me a sense of profound grace. It has truly been transformative in our relationship. It’s helped Sanjay understand me better so that he can more fully accept me; it’s enabled me to be much more compassionate with him, offering more understanding, tenderness, and empathy. Radical acceptance has liberated me of so many dark thoughts, toxic judgments, and petty grievances. It has soothed an isolated heart aching to feel loved.

More at YourTango:

8 Questions You Must Ask Yourself Before You Commit To A Partner

After A Breakup, What Happens To Unconditional Love?

12 Unconditional Love Quotes To Celebrate Limitless Love

The post Is ‘Radical Acceptance’ the Key to a Lasting Relationship? appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/23/is-radical-acceptance-the-key-to-a-lasting-relationship/feed/ 0
Could You be Oversharing on Your Dates? Insights from Sarah, the eH+ Matchmaker http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/20/could-you-be-oversharing-on-your-dates-insights-from-sarah-the-eh-matchmaker/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/20/could-you-be-oversharing-on-your-dates-insights-from-sarah-the-eh-matchmaker/#comments Sun, 20 Apr 2014 14:45:07 +0000 Grant Langston Vice President, Content and Customer Experience http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=16492 Today’s blog is from Sarah, the matchmaker for eHarmony’s new service, eH+.  The new service gives you the benefit of a personal matchmaker who picks your matches and guides you to success. It’s eHarmony’s matching + premium professional matchmaking. We’ve all found ourselves on dates where the other person is talking incessantly about themselves while we’re strategizing […]

The post Could You be Oversharing on Your Dates? Insights from Sarah, the eH+ Matchmaker appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
EHPlus 03092014 MedWeb 2 237x300 Could You be Oversharing on Your Dates? Insights from Sarah, the eH+ MatchmakerToday’s blog is from Sarah, the matchmaker for eHarmony’s new service, eH+.  The new service gives you the benefit of a personal matchmaker who picks your matches and guides you to success. It’s eHarmony’s matching + premium professional matchmaking.

We’ve all found ourselves on dates where the other person is talking incessantly about themselves while we’re strategizing about the quickest exit. It could be that your date is a certifiable narcissist but in most cases, they may not even realize that they’re monopolizing the conversation as their chances of a second date are steadily evaporating.

I hear this a lot from my eH+ clients, they’re on a date and it’s as if the other person has prepared a two hour long monologue about their life and experiences.

Balancing personal disclosures is a critical component to successful dating. As you get to know your date and build intimacy, it’s important not to talk about yourself too much.

The Talker

You already know about yourself! So why do talkers appear to be so egocentric? A lot of times people feel that they must sell themselves by bragging or prove that they’re worthy of love and approval. You don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard, nor do you want to oversell yourself and then under-deliver.

I encourage my eH+ clients to put some thought into their intentions of dating and getting to know someone. Act interested in your date and what they have to say, too. It’s not an audition, it’s a date and by not listening enough you’re failing to draw the other person out.

Have you developed a genuine curiosity in your date? Show your interest by asking thoughtful questions to get to know him/her, but also remember you’re not interviewing or interrogating them.

Some of eHarmony’s favorite first date questions include:

1. Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
2. What kinds of things really make you laugh?
3. What’s your favorite place in the entire world?
4. Who is your best friend? What do you like about him/her?
5. Favorite movie of all time? Why so?

The Listener

Do you often find yourself on the receiving end of a talker’s non-stop personal soliloquy? With every passing minute and every additional word, your contempt for their disinterest grows. As a listener you’re in a great position to learn more about your date but don’t just passively receive, it’s important to also engage in the conversation. Working closely with my eH+ clients, I advise them to ask the right questions to subtly steer the conversation in their direction. You don’t need to wait for an invitation to talk and share about yourself.

For listeners, it’s important to remember that part of building a meaningful relationship is having an emotional connection with someone. To be able to do this you must express your thoughts, feelings, wants and needs.

Through my matchmaking experience I’ve found that many people approach dating with their defenses up; they don’t ever want to get hurt and they’re apprehensive about being vulnerable. I encourage my eH+ clients to push themselves out of their comfort zone a bit. If you want a different result than you’ve had before, you need to be authentic when you talk about yourself.

Reciprocity

It takes two people to have a conversation and whether you’re a talker or listener it’s important to be engaged, show interest and share things. The goal is a reciprocal conversation and exchange of ideas. You can’t possibly get to know someone without asking about them, their interests and passions but also allow your date the chance to get to know you as well.

Have you been out with someone who talked way too much? How did you handle it?

Learn more about eH+, personal matchmaking services by eHarmony.

The post Could You be Oversharing on Your Dates? Insights from Sarah, the eH+ Matchmaker appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/20/could-you-be-oversharing-on-your-dates-insights-from-sarah-the-eh-matchmaker/feed/ 0
Dating Rules: Selling Yourself vs. Being Yourself http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/17/dating-rules-selling-yourself-vs-being-yourself/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/17/dating-rules-selling-yourself-vs-being-yourself/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 20:23:55 +0000 Sara Eckel http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=16503 Dating guides frequently give strict rules about how to behave around prospective partners. There are dictates about who should pick the restaurant and pay the check, how far in advance the date should be requested, and how long to wait before sending the follow-up text. We’re advised to be open, but also mysterious. To wear […]

The post Dating Rules: Selling Yourself vs. Being Yourself appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
online dating best practices 300x199 Dating Rules: Selling Yourself vs. Being YourselfDating guides frequently give strict rules about how to behave around prospective partners. There are dictates about who should pick the restaurant and pay the check, how far in advance the date should be requested, and how long to wait before sending the follow-up text.

We’re advised to be open, but also mysterious. To wear makeup, but don’t try too hard. And always, always be positive.

In my book, It’s Not You, I rail against the dating gurus who tie us in knots of self-doubt with their narrow and often contradictory prescriptions for how to be lovable. Readers have questioned me about this. After all, doesn’t dating require a bit of salesmanship—choosing a nice profile picture, cherry-picking your favorite books and movies (your love of War and Peace is well documented, Bridget Jones’s Diary not so much), wearing smart clothes, and emphasizing the parts of your life that are going well (your promotion at work) over those that are not (your ongoing feud with your sister)?

It’s true. Showing up to a date in a wrinkled t-shirt and unwashed jeans is a bad idea. So is complaining about your back pain or your ex-wife.

But here’s what’s interesting about this question: Why do we assume that our best selves are fake? Why is the “real” you the one who falls asleep in front of the television with potato chip crumbs on her sweatshirt and curses her boss under her breath? As opposed to the one who rescues stray dogs and looks damn fine in a halter dress?

At the Buddhist meditation center where I study, I frequently staff weekend retreats. At the beginning of each program, we’re asked to create an uplifted environment. We make sure the cushions are straight, the flowers are fresh and the dining room chairs pushed in. We wear nice clothes and try to ensure that everyone who comes in the center feels welcome and comfortable.

Are we being fake? No. We’re merely treating ourselves and others with respect. We’re turning our attention not to what others think of us, but to how can we give them the best experience possible.

I think this principle applies perfectly to dating. Too often, dating is presented as a business transaction. We set our terms and conditions (“He’d better pay for my drink or I’m outta here”) and calculate our advantages (“I hope she realizes she’s not getting any younger, whereas I have all the time in the world”).

We try to sell ourselves. Our pitches will vary depending on how confident we feel or how hot our date is. Sometime we take on the slightly hunched or overly slick demeanor of the seller (“I have to get her to like me!”). And sometimes we see ourselves as the “buyer,” with the power to coolly evaluate whether or not this person is worth our time.

Seeing ourselves and others as commodities makes dating stressful and no fun. So instead, why not see the date for what it is: a meeting of two people, trying to connect. Instead of attempting to impress or get the upper hand, why not simply treat your date with kindness and respect? Wear a nice dress. Take an interest in her job. Compliment his wine-choosing skills. Ask if she’s warm enough by the window.

It’s not about scoring brownie points or playing by the rules. It’s about making the evening as pleasant as possible for both of you. That way, no matter what happens, you both win.

Sara Eckel is the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

The post Dating Rules: Selling Yourself vs. Being Yourself appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/17/dating-rules-selling-yourself-vs-being-yourself/feed/ 0
Braver than You Believe! http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/17/braver-than-you-believe/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/17/braver-than-you-believe/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:05:14 +0000 Monique A Honaman http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=16548 “Sometimes life knocks you on your a$$ … get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.”  Steve Maraboli I just read a book that I have to write about. In fact, I think every single woman should read it. If you are a […]

The post Braver than You Believe! appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
Sometimes life knocks you on your a$$ … get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.”  Steve Marabolihow to be brave 300x199 Braver than You Believe!

I just read a book that I have to write about. In fact, I think every single woman should read it. If you are a widow, it’s for you. If you have been through a divorce, it’s for you. If you have friends who are widowed or divorced, it’s for you.  Anyone who has experienced a “loss” will be able to relate to this book and will get lost in the stories.  Do I sound cliché if I say, “I laughed, I cried…?”

Written by Sue Mangum, “Braver Than You Believe: True Stories of Losing Love and Finding Self” is the story of six newly single moms who write about the worst event in their lives. Three of the six women found themselves widowed, and the other three found themselves confronting divorce. None of this was part of anyone’s “plan” for how their lives would play out, but as we all know, our “plan” often fails and we have to come up with contingency plans pretty quickly.

There are several things I loved about this book.

One, it wasn’t just six sad and tragic stories of six different women. The substance of the book comes from a year’s worth of emails that were exchanged amongst the women as they looked to create a safe space in which to grieve. They called themselves, “Single Moms After Loss: Talking Advising Healing Laughing Crying” or SMAL TAHLC (small talk!) for short. Nothing was off limits – which led to many of the tears that I shed, and the laughter that I shared – as I related to things with which they were dealing. The stories are crafted together in a brilliant roller-coaster of a ride.

Two, I loved how I nodded my head in agreement over and over as I read the book. I truly felt like I was a part of the group, or sitting around chatting over coffee with these women. I haven’t been widowed, but I have been divorced. I remember things I felt and thought during my divorce. To read these same issues being addressed by these women provided honor and validity to these emotions. We aren’t alone in going through life’s trials and tribulations. Others have forged a path. We can learn from each other. There’s comfort in knowing you aren’t alone, and you gain strength from seeing others persevere, survive, and thrive. It gives you hope and faith to see others travel through such dark times and come out alive and vibrant.

Three, I loved how no subject was off limits. These women address the questions that I know went through my mind, and so many other women with whom I speak. Things like: “Will I ever have sex again? (heck, I even have a whole chapter in my first book about this one!), “I thought I was religious, but is there really a God?,” “When should I tell my children that I’m dating?,” and “Wow…I’m happy…is that allowed?”

Aren’t all of our lives a soap opera? It was fascinating to gain an inside perspective in so many areas … often times like slowing down to watch the car wreck on the side of the road! I learned new things too. The divorced women shared “insights” as the widowed women started to date … often times “trusting” men who were still married, but who assured them that it was “just a technicality.” As we learned, that’s not always the case! Then there were the well-meaning friends, who just didn’t get how insensitive they were being! These were the women who were still married (and hadn’t endured the grief of losing a spouse to death or divorce) who said things like, “You are so lucky you get to do what you want when you want and don’t have to report back to anyone,” or “You are so lucky that you get ‘free’ time whenever your ex has the kids … what I wouldn’t give for some time alone!” I know I heard things like that when I got divorced.

If you are looking for a quick read, and an inspiring and relatable story, this book is for you. I bonded with the women in the pages of this book, and loved it when each ultimately accepted her new reality, and in several cases, discovered what Life 2.0 had in store for them. Yes, happiness is allowed, and you will find it again!

Monique Honaman 2013 HRLT2 265x180 Braver than You Believe! About the Author:

Author Monique A. Honaman wrote “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” (2010) in response to a need for a book that provided honest, real, and raw advice about how to survive and thrive through one of life’s toughest journeys, and “The High Road Has Less Traffic … and a better view” (2013) to provide perspectives on love, marriage, divorce and everything in between. The books are available on Amazon.com.  Learn more at www.HighRoadLessTraffic.com.

 

The post Braver than You Believe! appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/17/braver-than-you-believe/feed/ 0
Are You Dating a Narcissist? http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/16/are-you-dating-a-narcissist/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/16/are-you-dating-a-narcissist/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 22:41:43 +0000 Dr. Seth Meyers http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=16540 Dating a narcissist is, sadly, a fairly common occurrence for men and women, and knowing how to identify one is necessary for your sanity and self-esteem. Before we get to the signs to watch out for, understand that no one is a fool for dating a narcissist. In fact, these individuals often have a lot […]

The post Are You Dating a Narcissist? appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
am i dating a narcissist 300x200 Are You Dating a Narcissist?Dating a narcissist is, sadly, a fairly common occurrence for men and women, and knowing how to identify one is necessary for your sanity and self-esteem. Before we get to the signs to watch out for, understand that no one is a fool for dating a narcissist. In fact, these individuals often have a lot going for them: attractiveness, an outgoing personality, and well-cultivated social skills. The narcissist is usually well put-together, charming, intelligent, and focused on emerging in every social arena as superior. If you date a narcissist, he will work hard early in the relationship to let you know that he is an amazing catch and that he is highly desired by others. The narcissist is careful to set this dynamic up early in dating so that you know your place in the relationship: You belong in an inferior position to him, and that will not change. The narcissist can start to relax once he senses that you understand how lucky you are to be with him. (Cue the goose bumps – the toxic, scary kind).

Some traits or disorders are found more among men or women, but narcissism strikes men and women equally. A small percentage of men and women – under 5 percent – meet the criteria for full-blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but a much higher number of people have narcissistic traits. If you find yourself dating someone who is narcissistic, the summary version involves you feeling frustrated, angry and hurt. Check out the telltale signs below.

He loves to talk about himself.

Narcissists love talking about themselves and their accomplishments. They brag without even realizing it, and their conversations must focus far more on them than on you. A narcissist will talk at length about his day, but does not seem so interested when you talk about yours; a narcissist loves going out when she makes the plans, but she seems bored or pouty when you set the plans; the narcissist looks for comfort from you when he’s upset, but the way he comforts you when you are upset feels too quick and shallow to truly comfort you. In essence, the narcissist is simply not good at feeling empathy for you or anyone.

She loves attention and will do whatever is necessary to get it.

Narcissists are often extremely flirtatious, and relationships with narcissists usually involve frequent arguments about fidelity, jealousy, and flirtation. Narcissists need something called “narcissistic supply,” which is a psychological term that refers to the attention that fuels them. Sexual attention is one of the most basic types of attention, and narcissists try to get as much sexual attention as possible. If you date a narcissist, she may flirt with someone else right in front of you, or may show a little too much physical affection to a random person (e.g., putting an arm around the shoulder, getting “handsy”). Narcissists are famous for keeping the metaphorical door open with exes and others who show interest, as they need constant attention and reassurance that they’re desired and wanted. Sadly, narcissists are also motivated to flirt or elicit sexual attention from others as a means of solidifying their own power over the other person in the relationship. It goes like this: ‘See how much everyone wants me? Don’t forget it.’ The underlying message: Don’t forget I have more power than you in the relationship.

He can’t handle even the tiniest criticism.

Narcissists can’t tolerate the simplest whiff of criticism. Though they present an act to the world that suggests that they are completely in love with themselves, the truth is that they feel deeply insecure underneath the polished, self-loving exterior. In a relationship, two partners are bound to have the occasional problem with the other person; in a relationship with a narcissist, you simply aren’t allowed to have any problems with them at all. Narcissists desperately hang onto the belief that they are perfect, so hearing anything to the contrary must be totally blocked out and denied. If you criticize a narcissist too much, he or she will simply leave the relationship and dispose of you like an object.

She won’t take accountability when she’s wrong.

If a 24-hour hotline existed for the victims of narcissists, most calls would involve the lack of accountability. Simply put, narcissists won’t take accountability for what they’ve done that is wrong or hurtful. In an argument for example, a narcissist will say or do something but completely deny it a moment later. What’s more, narcissists often flip the negative behavior onto the other person and suggest that the other person is the one who said or did the terrible thing. To most people, this dance is confusing and crazy-making, creating the insidious doubt, Am I going crazy? Trying to get a narcissist to say they were wrong or to apologize in a heartfelt way is a losing game – it’s simply not going to happen. If you get an apology, odds are that it is issued as a means to keep the peace and get you off their back – not because they really mean it. With narcissists, the same bad behavior will keep popping up again because the narcissist’s personality is extremely resistant to change.

I pray for each of you that you don’t ever find yourself in a relationship with a narcissist. Making a relationship work with someone who is so emotionally injured and defensive is next to impossible, so why waste your time trying? There is simply no way to have a consistent or harmonious relationship with a narcissist. Because narcissists are calculating, it is often difficult to spot a narcissist at the outset. Within the first few dates, however, the narcissist will start dropping hints about his superiority. At this point, it’s your choice to decide whether you want to respond to the smoke that’s billowing around him, or passively hope for the best and sweep your instinct under the rug. My hope is that you run – and don’t walk – for the closest escape route. Your self-esteem and anxiety level will thank you later.

book Dr Seths Love Prescription lg 190x300 Are You Dating a Narcissist?About the Author:

Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.      

The post Are You Dating a Narcissist? appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/16/are-you-dating-a-narcissist/feed/ 0
4 Questions You Should Never Ask Your Partner http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/16/4-questions-you-should-never-ask-your-partner/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/16/4-questions-you-should-never-ask-your-partner/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:34:41 +0000 Jeannie Assimos, Director of Content http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=16527 Today’s blog comes from the wise duo Susie and Otto Collins, who warn us all about asking questions that can lead to more serious issues in our relationships. I am sure I am guilty of asking at least one of these in the past! Oops… If you’ve ever asked yourself the question: “Was it something I […]

The post 4 Questions You Should Never Ask Your Partner appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
bad questions to ask your lover 300x200 4 Questions You Should Never Ask Your PartnerToday’s blog comes from the wise duo Susie and Otto Collins, who warn us all about asking questions that can lead to more serious issues in our relationships. I am sure I am guilty of asking at least one of these in the past! Oops…

If you’ve ever asked yourself the question: “Was it something I said?” chances are, it was. Communication with your spouse or partner can be tricky business. You may have the best intentions and only want your beloved to move closer to you, but the way you choose to tell your truth and say whatever is on your mind can unintentionally cause a rift between you and your partner.

And if that rift is not addressed, it can grow bigger and become deadly to your relationship. You really know it if, after your “helpful” advice, or opinion-sharing, there seems to be more tension and disconnection than there was before.

Because of this, you may feel like you can’t be totally honest or that you have to hold back and only say what you think your partner wants to hear. Of course, this isn’t healthy either. Resentment and tension can form from silence and this is detrimental too.

For a relationship that’s open, honest and truly happy, you have to talk with your partner—even about issues you two don’t agree on. Set difficult (or even everyday) conversations up for success by NOT asking your partner questions like these:

1. “Why don’t you ____ anymore?”

It is helpful to talk about specific behaviors with your partner, but you put him or her on the defensive when you use an accusatory tone and allege that this thing (that you desire) never happens. It usually isn’t true and comes off as nagging or desperate.

Be sure to acknowledge it when your partner does what you like and appreciate—even it it doesn’t happen as often as you’d like. Do say to your beloved something like, “I love it when you hold my hand when we’re out together.”

2. “Is she pretty?”

You might not consider yourself to be a jealous person, but if a question like this comes out of your mouth, think again. You put your partner in an impossible position when you ask something like this. Will you even believe what he (or she) responds? Will a “No” quell your worries and insecurity? When you’re tempted to ask this kind of a question, pause and go within to soothe the stories of not being good enough that you may be telling yourself.

3. “Do I look fat in this?”

This may sound like a stereotypical question, but it’s possibly one you’ve posed to your partner before. It’s another impossible question because it’s usually about you and your self-criticism and doubt. There is no “safe” answer he (or she) can give you. No matter what your partner says, you’re still going to feel self-conscious and ugly if that’s the belief you have about yourself.

It makes sense that you want to know that you’re attractive to your partner, but you won’t be able to hear (or believe) a compliment if you don’t feel it from your own self first. Healthy self-esteem and body image are top priorities for a happy and close relationship.

4. “What’s wrong with you?”

It’s frustrating when the one you love is acting quiet or weird and you have no idea why. Your partner’s withdrawal from you can seem like a rejection. Instead of demanding to know why your partner is not his or her usual self, take a moment (and a deep breath) and get clear.

Maybe you already know what this change in mood or behavior is about but you’re overlooking the obvious or maybe you don’t know. Different questions like, “How can I help?” or “I love you and I am here to listen if you want to talk” are much more effective ways to invite your partner to open up to you.

Any other questions you can think of that we should never be asking our partners?

More at YourTango:

A Baby and His Rescue Dog Match

The Real Reason Older Men Like Dating Younger Women

5 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Commitment

The post 4 Questions You Should Never Ask Your Partner appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/16/4-questions-you-should-never-ask-your-partner/feed/ 0
How to Convey Confidence – Even When You Don’t Feel It http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/15/how-to-convey-confidence-even-when-you-dont-feel-it/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/15/how-to-convey-confidence-even-when-you-dont-feel-it/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:36:27 +0000 Dr. Seth Meyers http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=16519 Therapists often talk about the importance of being “authentic,” or true to yourself and how you really feel. As a psychologist who specializes in relationships, I completely agree – except when we’re talking about confidence. If you’re not a confident person by circumstance or nature, there are simple behaviors you can practice to become more […]

The post How to Convey Confidence – Even When You Don’t Feel It appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
Therapists often talk about the importance of being “authentic,” or true to yourself and how you really feel. As a psychologist who specializes in relationships, I completely agree – except when we’re talking about how to be confident 300x199 How to Convey Confidence – Even When You Don’t Feel Itconfidence. If you’re not a confident person by circumstance or nature, there are simple behaviors you can practice to become more confident. But make no mistake: Confidence is an opiate when it comes to attracting others to you.

Neediness and rabid insecurity are huge turn-offs in the dating world. The reason? No one wants to constantly reassure another person for years on end. We all want someone who is okay on their own, not someone who is going to come with gobs of emotional needs we inevitably fall short in meeting. Singer Bruno Mars comes to mind, as he sings in his song Just the Way You Are, “If you ask if you look okay, you know I’ll say…” I don’t know Bruno and have never treated him in my Los Angeles office. However, if he has a pattern of falling for insecure girls, it means he likes broken-winged birds and instinctively tries to save them.

Don’t ask for reassurance about your appearance or overall attractiveness.

Simply put, don’t be a date like the one Bruno Mars sings about. Sure, everyone wants to look good and be attractive to their date, but don’t ask your date to reassure you. You don’t need anyone to tell you how you look because, uh, you have access to mirrors – and mirrors don’t lie! Now, if your date tells you that you look good, hooray! Say “thanks” and move on.

You will convey confidence by not asking your date how he – or she –thinks you look. Trust me: Men and women can smell insecurities a mile away, so try to convey confidence in the beginning. As you get to know your date better and have a sense that you can trust him with very personal and private information, you can share some of your insecurities with him point-blank later. But wait until you know him and trust him – and you might even be more confident by then if you practice!

Get comfortable doing things on your own.

In my clinical work, I practically beg my clients to get involved in some meaningful extracurricular activity that provides a healthy social network: church, an adult sports league, volunteering for a political campaign, or an outdoor adventure group. When I talk about this with my clients, most of them frequently respond the same way: “Okay, I’ll ask my friend and see if she wants to do it with me.” No, no, no!

You’ll become a much more confident and secure person when you learn to venture out more socially on your own. If joining a group by yourself isn’t your cup of tea, then make sure to take yourself occasionally to lunch or the movie theater on your own. Worried about what people will think if they see you alone? If you run into anyone you know and they ask with whom you came, laugh and say, “Actually, I’m here by myself because I can have just as much fun on my own.” The more you seek out activities on your own, the more confident you will become. I promise! And as an aside, I’m living proof as a formerly insecure person myself.

Watch your body language as you walk around and enter a room or crowd.

Without you even knowing, your body language may be sending a sad or insecure message. I watch a lot of people enter a crowded room, and they often shrink: shoulders held low, eyes averting contact with others, and chin held down. People often fuss with their jewelry, bag or purse to have something to do while they feel nervous or uncomfortable. The truth: It doesn’t matter what anyone really thinks of you except for the people who you know well. A crowd of people, most of whom you don’t know? Blink and forget about them – but do it with a smile.

To convey confidence with your body language, walk, stand or sit with good posture; keep your chin up; make eye contact and give a little smile to random people; mouth a quiet “hi” under your breath to someone across the room. On a date, try the same behaviors and add these to the list: say supportive, encouraging things when your date reveals something about himself; mention something you’ve done in your life that you’re proud of; and talk about your interests.

No one is one hundred percent confident. We all have some insecurities – movie stars and presidents included. The point, however, is to understand that conveying confidence is important in two major ways: It attracts healthier partners to you, and you start feeling better about yourself, too.

book Dr Seths Love Prescription lg 190x300 How to Convey Confidence – Even When You Don’t Feel ItAbout the Author:

Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.      

The post How to Convey Confidence – Even When You Don’t Feel It appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/15/how-to-convey-confidence-even-when-you-dont-feel-it/feed/ 0
Can a Marriage Survive Adultery? http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/14/can-a-marriage-survive-adultery/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/14/can-a-marriage-survive-adultery/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 21:00:28 +0000 Jeannie Assimos, Director of Content http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=16510 Today’s guest blog comes from psychologist Dr. Alicia H. Clark, who brings a little hope and lightness to a very difficult subject. Through her experiences with many couples, she feels the answer to the title of this article is — yes. Betrayal, deception, mistrust. And very, very hurt. These are the emotions people harbor after finding out their spouse […]

The post Can a Marriage Survive Adultery? appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
Today’s guest blog comes from psychologist Dr. Alicia H. Clark, who brings a little hope and lightness to a very difficult subject. Through her experiences with many couples, she feels the answer to the title of this article is — yes.

can marriage survive an affair 300x200 Can a Marriage Survive Adultery?Betrayal, deception, mistrust. And very, very hurt.

These are the emotions people harbor after finding out their spouse has been cheating on them. Many of us know marriages which broke up because of an affair, but that’s not what I’m addressing here. In fact, if both parties are willing, a marital affair is something that can be worked through, allowing the marriage to not only continue, but in fact to thrive.

Here’s how to process an affair to come out ahead in your marriage.

1. Know That Forgiveness Will Be Possible

Before you even begin the path towards processing the affair, it’s easier to know there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. In my 25+ years of working as a psychologist, I’ve had the pleasure to witness countless couples revive their relationship after a marital affair. Just having in mind that once you begin to understand how the events happened, and each other’s feelings, forgiveness becomes possible. Not only can each partner forgive the other, but they can also forgive themselves. Forgiveness is a choice and a method by which we move forward.

2. Take Responsibility For Your Part Now

Dealing with the affair can be used as an opportunity for both parties to examine where they may have emotionally defaulted on the relationship. What holes are there? What types of support can they now start to implement? Success hinges on each party being willing to take responsibility for their role in the relationship atmosphere. This can be hard to absorb for many people in the throes of betrayal and pain, but it works.

3. Institute Kind, Open and Routine Communication

Free-flowing, yet always respectful, communication is key for restoring and maintaining intimacy. Before most marital affairs happen, healthy communication takes a dive. Misunderstandings are rampant and both parties were likely hurting. Fluid speech involves sharing your feelings as well as listening carefully to your partner’s experiences, and peppering your day by being in touch when you’re not together. To regain the spark, it might help to revisit the feelings you had when your relationship started to be serious. Start by sharing what you liked about each other then, and what you like now.

4. Be Willing to Stretch For Your Relationship

When things feel the most challenging — for example when you are annoyed or angry at your partner — take a step back and ask, “What can I do for him/her today? How can I give? What wishes can I grant them?” Reaching out to help can often alleviate the ill feelings we had.

5. Make Dates

Whether a two-hour leisurely picnic in the park or the full-on Broadway show night on the town, make sure to schedule in dates at least once a week. The caveat is that you have to get out of the house, preferably with smartphones off.

Using the above methods to restore a relationship’s positivity will inevitably lead to restoring trust and returning real, ever-present love. Obviously, these steps can be challenging, and getting the help of a professional can be instrumental in helping you both heal. Ultimately, as hard as it might sound at the beginning, a marital affair can be a turning point for recreating a solid, united, lasting marriage.

What do you think about this subject? Do you think it’s possible for a couple to get through a betrayal like this?

More at YourTango:

Dating Advice for Men from Women

How do I keep my husband from cheating?

Should Women Be Responsible for Confirming their Dates with Men?

The post Can a Marriage Survive Adultery? appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/14/can-a-marriage-survive-adultery/feed/ 0
Life Lessons: Think Twice Before You Speak (or Text!) http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/10/life-lessons-think-twice-before-you-speak-or-text/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/10/life-lessons-think-twice-before-you-speak-or-text/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 19:38:06 +0000 Monique A Honaman http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=16478 “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.”  Napoleon Hill I got a call last week from someone looking for some advice and perspective. She saw a text on her “tween” daughter’s phone from her ex-husband’s wife. It said, “I wish […]

The post Life Lessons: Think Twice Before You Speak (or Text!) appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.”  Napoleon Hill

saying things the wrong way 300x200 Life Lessons: Think Twice Before You Speak (or Text!)I got a call last week from someone looking for some advice and perspective. She saw a text on her “tween” daughter’s phone from her ex-husband’s wife. It said, “I wish I was your mom.” She asked me what I thought … because her initial reaction was one of extreme annoyance.

I wholeheartedly agreed with her annoyance.

My ex-husband would crack a gasket, flip his lid, and lose his cool if he ever heard my husband say to my son, “I wish I was your dad.”  My son has a dad. It’s my ex-husband. He’s a good dad. When I first remarried, my ex made it a point of asking me what our kids would be calling my husband/their step-dad. He wanted us to know that “dad” was taken. Of course it was! I assured him that “dad” was not going to be used, and that the kids would come up with a moniker that would be appropriate (and they have!). Being “mom” or being “dad” is an important title that is not to be thrown about loosely. It’s an honor, and it’s a commitment.

Let’s assume that all parents in this scenario are “good” parents! This young girl who fielded the text from her step-mom is put in a no-win situation. Guilt is never a good emotion, and it’s unfair for her brain to have to process this. “I wish I was your mom” conveys “I wish your mom wasn’t around.” If the girl agrees, “Yes, I wish you were my mom too,” then there’s an inherent feeling of taking sides against her mom. There’s that guilt. Regardless of the angst that many teen girls feel with their moms, there’s still an underlying level of loyalty and love. The other response is, “Not me; I’m glad you aren’t my mom.” That’s kind of mean to think, and it’s rejecting someone who just shared a personal emotion with you. Again, it creates a feeling of guilt against someone who does play a key role in this young girl’s life.

Why would any step-parent think that it’s OK to verbalize “I wish I was your mom/dad?” Whatever good intentions underlie the statement are completely lost in the delivery. While I agreed with the annoyance articulated by the woman who called, I also encouraged her to “take the high road” and give the benefit of the doubt to the step-mom. I’m sure she meant well. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. Nobody can be that clueless, can they?

“I am so glad I am your step-mom/step-dad!” How about rephrasing it this way? It conveys the same intention! It essentially delivers the same message, just in a way that is phrased more openly! It’s declaring something positive, not wishing for something impossible. The insidious negativity goes away. It removes the propensity for feelings of guilt to seep into the conversation.

Communicated this way, it honors both roles – mom and step-mom, dad and step-dad. It says, “I value my role as step-mom/ step-dad.” Phrasing it this way honors all players in the blended family. I get goosebumps when I witness my husband and my son bond over something, laugh, and share a special time together. It warms my heart when I hear him say, “I love being your step-dad.” It honors the special bond they have, yet it takes nothing away from my son and his dad.

What a difference a few words can make!

I wonder how many other things we say – perhaps with good intentions – that get interpreted wrongly or that serve to create guilt? Can you come up with any?

Monique Honaman 2013 HRLT2 265x180 Life Lessons: Think Twice Before You Speak (or Text!)About the Author:

Author Monique A. Honaman wrote “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” (2010) in response to a need for a book that provided honest, real, and raw advice about how to survive and thrive through one of life’s toughest journeys, and “The High Road Has Less Traffic … and a better view” (2013) to provide perspectives on love, marriage, divorce and everything in between. The books are available on Amazon.com.  Learn more at www.HighRoadLessTraffic.com.

The post Life Lessons: Think Twice Before You Speak (or Text!) appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/10/life-lessons-think-twice-before-you-speak-or-text/feed/ 0
How to Stay Hopeful, Even When it’s Really, Really Hard http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/10/how-to-stay-hopeful-even-when-its-really-really-hard/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/10/how-to-stay-hopeful-even-when-its-really-really-hard/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 14:25:05 +0000 Sarah Elizabeth Richards http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=16470 We all know dating can be disappointing. Yet there’s a big difference between feeling bummed about a great first date who never contacts you again and taking that short mental taxi ride to hopelessness territory. One reaction passes within a few hours, and the other can last days, generating overwhelming feelings and defeating thoughts that […]

The post How to Stay Hopeful, Even When it’s Really, Really Hard appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
online dating and staying hopeful 300x200 How to Stay Hopeful, Even When it’s Really, Really HardWe all know dating can be disappointing. Yet there’s a big difference between feeling bummed about a great first date who never contacts you again and taking that short mental taxi ride to hopelessness territory. One reaction passes within a few hours, and the other can last days, generating overwhelming feelings and defeating thoughts that usually don’t match reality. As soon as you see an elderly couple holding hands and wearing matching purple knapsacks in the airport, you go to that terrible place of “I’ll never have that! I’ll be alone forever.”

Hopelessness feels bad physically. It can start as a sigh or uneasiness in your stomach and eventually seizes your shoulders and makes your head spin. Hopelessness hurts emotionally. You taste a perfect spring strawberry and ache with longing because you wish you could share the moment with a partner. You refuse to watch romantic comedies. You can’t bear to look at your friends’ “happy couple” weekend pics on Facebook.

When you’re in this state, it’s hard to reassure yourself that all your efforts to find love will pay off eventually. The feelings have hijacked your perspective and self-confidence. Instead of saying to yourself, “Hmm, I’ve having a hard time right now,” you’ve somehow convinced yourself that you’re: A) Unworthy; B) Unlovable; or C) In serious denial because nothing ever works out for you.

Stop reacting! Here are some tips to climb out of the rabbit hole:

1) Stop thinking of love as a destination.

You probably won’t be single forever. You’re just unattached right now. Despite what we might have learned as children, there is no such thing as “happily ever after.” People fall in and out of love and often have multiple marriages throughout their lifetimes. We now live in a society in which there are more single people than married folks for the first time in U.S. history, according to the latest Census figures. So stop thinking of yourself as “not married” or “not in a relationship.” This shift in thinking will free you up to enjoy this phase of your life, rather than view it as a time when you were missing out.

2) Try to anticipate your dry spells.

No matter how full and fabulous your single life is, there are going to be times when you’re sick of your own company. If you see a week ahead of free evenings, and you know that you’ll go a bit stir-crazy running errands three nights in a row, plan something fun to do with friends or family. If going solo on Sunday afternoons feels particularly soul-crushing, accept that invite to the BBQ or find a meet-up group. The key is to schedule things ahead of time, rather than letting lonely thoughts fill your head.

3) Celebrate your alone time.

When I visited my grandmother as a little girl, we played a game called “having a party.” She’d serve me milky coffee in her fancy china cups and play my favorite jazz records, and we’d dress up in her gaudy 1970s beaded necklaces. She taught me a valuable lesson in celebrating the ordinary.

If you’ve been single for a while, the last thing you want to do is celebrate another date-less Saturday night. But it’s a little more bearable if you try to make your own party. Hold a Mad Men marathon. Make yourself a nice dinner with fresh asparagus from the farmer’s market. Pour yourself a glass of wine. This way you’re not waiting around for a significant other to enjoy your life.

4) Recognize everything you’re doing right.

The reality is that people who make an effort to find love usually find it. You can stay motivated when you remind yourself of everything you do towards your cause. Before you fall asleep, make of mental review of what you did that day: Maybe you responded to an email or posted a new profile photo. If you’re working on improving your fitness, maybe making it through a spin class felt like a small victory.

5) Remember this too shall pass.

If you’re in a bad place, give yourself a time limit on how long you’ll let yourself wallow there. Let yourself be in a funk for an evening, for example. The next morning, brush yourself off and send out a few emails.

What helps you get through the hard times?

About the Author:

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist and the author of Motherhood, Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Slate and Salon.

The post How to Stay Hopeful, Even When it’s Really, Really Hard appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

]]>
http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/04/10/how-to-stay-hopeful-even-when-its-really-really-hard/feed/ 0