eHarmony Advice http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice Dating Advice and Relationship Advice Tue, 15 Aug 2017 17:26:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 15 Reasons You Should Date a Kayaker http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/dating-advice-for-you/dating-a-kayaker/ Tue, 15 Aug 2017 17:26:53 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33650 Few scenes are as serene as watching a kayaker glide across a lake. And few scenes are as exhilarating as watching a kayaker navigate roaring rapids. Along with the passion and skill kayakers bring to their sport, they have many qualities that carry over to romantic relationships. If you have a chance to date a […]

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Few scenes are as serene as watching a kayaker glide across a lake. And few scenes are as exhilarating as watching a kayaker navigate roaring rapids. Along with the passion and skill kayakers bring to their sport, they have many qualities that carry over to romantic relationships. If you have a chance to date a kayaker, here’s why you should . . .

1- They know how to pull their weight.

This is true literally—they wouldn’t go anywhere without their own exertion—and likely will be true in your relationship.

2- They are explorers.

With more than 70 percent of the world covered in water, kayakers are eager to see as much of it as they can.

3- They are thrill-seekers.

Your dating partner is always ready to get out and experience life to the fullest—and will be delighted to have you join in the adventures.

4- They are calm, even in tough times.

Skilled kayakers know how to roll their craft, a technique to right an overturned kayak without getting out of it. This is an important ability for all aspects of life.

5- They are natural team players.

When you kayak together, you see how the other person works in tandem. Even if your partner has a single-person kayak, you can suggest a day on the water in a tandem boat. Teamwork is an essential part of every relationship.

6- They have an eye for beauty.

They spend hours on the water, observing landscapes and picture-perfect vistas. That’s the kind of person who will appreciate your unique beauty.

7- They can plan a great date. 

No need to wonder about weekend plans—load up the kayaks and get set for fun. And your dates will be budget-friendly. After the initial investment in equipment, kayaking is free. Just head to the nearest river, lake, or ocean.

8- They are goal-oriented.

Paddling long distances takes perseverance. And that’s another quality that will benefit your romantic relationship.

9- They are forward-looking.

They continually paddle onward, looking back only to see how far they’ve come. Don’t you want a life companion like that?

10- They are self-sufficient.

After all, a kayak is propelled by muscle and manpower. It’s up to the individual to move forward. You definitely want that mind-set in a romantic partner.

11- They handle the unpredictable with ease.

Kayakers encounter placid water, choppy surf, and whitewater. Since daily life is full of unpredictable circumstances, this ability will benefit a long-term relationship.

12- They will show you new sights.

You’ll be introduced to a colorful vernacular. You’ll learn the meaning of “boof” (a whitewater maneuver used to launch the kayak up and over an obstacle), “baja sleigh ride” (when a kayak fisherman hooks a fish big enough to pull him in circles), and “pushing rubber” (paddling an inflatable raft).

13- They are toned and tanned.

This may not be the top reason you would date someone … but it sure doesn’t hurt!

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Here’s How to Know If Your Relationship is Equal – And What To Do http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/dating-advice-for-you/relationship-not-balanced/ Tue, 15 Aug 2017 17:23:38 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33666 Consider your relationship (or your most recent one): have you ever stopped to ask yourself if your relationship is equal? And if it’s not, how much that matters to you? Though there are many layers to the fabric of emotional intimacy, when two partners decide to share their heart, their bed and sometimes a name, […]

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Consider your relationship (or your most recent one): have you ever stopped to ask yourself if your relationship is equal? And if it’s not, how much that matters to you? Though there are many layers to the fabric of emotional intimacy, when two partners decide to share their heart, their bed and sometimes a name, there’s a natural push-and-pull in power that psychologists say is healthy, but can be massaged to be more balanced. Especially in terms of household responsibilities, emotional support and decision-making, putting in the extra effort to discuss what will make each of you feel happier and maybe more importantly – heard – can bring you closer and strengthen your bond.

“It makes people feel more like true partners, that they are valued, and that they are a respected half of the relationship. The equality makes people feel more respected, understood, and that they have equal say and contributions in a relationship,” psychologist and love expert, Dr. Nikki Martinez Psy.D., LCPC says. “This creates more harmony, more willingness to express their thoughts and opinions, but also more willing to hear the other persons in return, as they know that each person’s thoughts and contributions will be of equal weight.”

Here’s how to know if your relationship is unbalanced – and how to meet in the middle in a way that is comfortable (and likely, refreshing) for both you and your partner:

Is your relationship unbalanced?

Think about your day-to-day dynamic again. Do you make the majority of the choices? From what you eat for dinner to how you spend your weekend (or ahem, how often you have sex), if you’re the only one making actionable decisions, you may need your partner to step up, while you take a back seat. As licensed clinical psychologist, Sarah Schewitz, Psy.D, says, “While some couples do agree upon a head of the household who makes most of the decisions, this can often leave the follower feeling unimportant or misrepresented. It can also lead to the follower becoming dependent on the leader and losing confidence in his or her ability to make decisions on their own.”

Dating coach and CEO of Blush Online Life Coaching, Kali Rogers adds that what’s most pivotal in determining the balance in your relationship is that it’s a dynamic that both you and your partner agree upon. The friction typically comes when one partner feels like what they say, think and feel doesn’t matter, while another partner doesn’t take time to listen and understand their frustrations. Whatever give-and-take works for your couplehood, make sure to communicate calmly and effectively about what balance looks like and means to you.

…so talk about your expectations.

The easiest way to figure out if your significant other is satisfied and feels like your partner, and not just someone who is along for the ride or bossing you around? Schewitz says it’s simple: discuss what you need. “When couples first come to therapy with me, I often have them create a relationship vision together so they can get clear on what each of them wants in an ideal relationship,” she says. “Making sure that each of you have equal amounts of what you are looking for in a relationship is a great way to find a balance.”

Separate the issue from the person during disagreements.

One way that a relationship might lean heavily toward a particular person is in the heat of an argument. But Dr. Martinez says this is when you need to tread lightly and remember that what you’re upset about is the specific incident and maybe not the person you’re dating. “This means not resorting to personal attacks, being an active listener, and being willing to hear the other person out. This makes each person feel heard, respected, and that each of your thoughts and opinions hold equal weight in the relationship,” she says.

Do an audit every few months.

Do you remember what you were wearing on your 21st birthday? Or maybe what you wore on your first day to high school? It’s probably pretty safe to say that your style preference have matured and transformed in the past decade (and some change). Your relationship will go through many stages too, and while you might be able to successfully avoid a goth period (let’s hope, anyway), Schewitz says it’s a smart idea to take a breather every few months or so to figure out if you and your partner are still happily chugging along.

“It’s so easy to get into a daily routine that sometimes we don’t stop to think about whether it’s actually working for us. Plan a night or a weekend getaway every couple of months where you both get to share how you feel the relationship is going and anything you’d like to work on or change,” she advises. “Review all areas of your relationship; intimacy, emotional connection, finances, parenting, division of household chores, and decision-making.”

Make sure you’re both getting the self-care and me-time that you need.

Did your mama ever told you that nothing can grow in shade? She’s right (like she is about most things) – and if you’re always lingering over one another, spending all of your free-time wrapped up in the ‘I don’t know, what do you want to do?’ puzzle, then you’re not getting the personal fulfillment that you both deserve, and let’s face it – crave. “If you are not taking care of yourself, you won’t have much to offer to your relationship. Self-care is a requirement of a healthy, balanced relationship,” Rogers says. “Whatever you need to recharge, whether that’s painting, time with friends, movie night, yoga, or eating right – do it. Without it, you won’t have the energy to be your best self and pull your weight in your relationship, and balance will not be achievable.”

Allow gender roles to be fluid.

Especially now, when the majority of households need two incomes to make ends meet (and to go on a vacation once a year), pigeonholing either parties into traditional roles is silly. As Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., says: “ Nowadays, men and women can more freely choose the kinds of lifestyles and jobs they want without these being gender-bound. For example, women can take on jobs once predominantly reserved for men, while men can engage in more domestic activities like cooking, and also spend more time with their children. Let each other be who you are so that each partner feels empowered to be themselves and, consequently, feeling more empowered with equality in your relationship as well.”

Remember that equality looks different to everyone.

You can’t keep up with the Joneses (or the Smiths or the Carters or anyone) – and comparing yourself to other couples will never benefit the relationship you’re in. In fact, it could make it worse. While you should invest in the extra effort to communicate and find a medium that make you both feel respected, Schewitz says you should also realize that nothing will ever be perfect, and to kindly ride the ebbs-and-flows of your relationship.

“No relationship is ever fully balanced. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses and it often makes sense to have the person who is stronger in a certain area take on those responsibilities. Or perhaps one person prefers taking the lead and the other prefers following. If it works for your particular situation, that is great,” she explains. “Relationships are also unbalanced in the sense that there is usually somebody pursuing for closeness and somebody pulling away. These interactions can be very subtle but they occur in most relationships, especially if you have been together for a long time.”

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Run Away Now: How to Spot a Self-Centered Man, Instantly http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/dating-advice-for-you/how-to-know-if-he-is-a-self-centered-man/ Tue, 15 Aug 2017 17:18:43 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33653 Near the top of everyone’s list of turn-offs in a prospective partner —or even a casual date—is excessive self-absorption. No one enjoys feeling their only role is to smile and nod in amazement at someone else’s incredible life, or to constantly cater to another’s opinions, tastes, wants and needs, without reciprocation. If you’re already well […]

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Near the top of everyone’s list of turn-offs in a prospective partner —or even a casual date—is excessive self-absorption. No one enjoys feeling their only role is to smile and nod in amazement at someone else’s incredible life, or to constantly cater to another’s opinions, tastes, wants and needs, without reciprocation.

If you’re already well into a relationship with such a person, you have no trouble recognizing self-centeredness. But is it possible to see it coming, long before you’ve invested time and energy in someone who is destined to disappoint you? Yes, it is.

Here are five common ways a self-centered man may give himself away, even at a distance:

His online persona screams ‘me, me, me’

Granted, no one ever presents a fully accurate self-portrait on social media sites. But the kinds of things we choose to post speak volumes about what we value most. In the case of the self-centered man, the message is loud and clear: He cares most about himself.

Where others might share photos of the scenery after a day at the beach, he posts a selfie showing off how he looked without a shirt. If he’s stuck in traffic and angry, all his social media fans know about it. They’ll also know what he ate for lunch, his heart rate on the treadmill at the gym and, for that matter, the fact that he goes to the gym every day. He rarely posts something others might find useful or inspirational.

His body language is toward inwardly, not outwardly

What do we mean? In theater it’s called “upstaging.” That’s when an actor chooses his position to purposely obscure someone else from the audience. In a crowded room, a self-absorbed man will be sure he can be seen—and heard—by as many others as possible. That means he’ll rarely be found on the margins or—under any circumstances—with his back to the bulk of the crowd. He will always adopt a posture of dominance, never deference.

He doesn’t just have eyes for you

No matter who he’s talking to at the moment, his eyes never stop roving—because he’s dying to catch someone admiring him as much as he admires himself, or to be aware the moment someone better has arrived and he can stop wasting his time with you. Fleeting eye contact reveals another telling clue: Even when not talking, he’s not really listening.

He only wants to talk about himself.

If a man is self-absorbed, he’ll be unable to go very long without directing the conversation toward his favorite subject: himself. Reveal that you’ve just returned from vacation in France, and he’ll tell you all the reasons he hated it there — or loved it — without any apparent curiosity about your experiences or opinions. Mention sports and you’ll learn that he was once roommates with Peyton Manning’s cousin, or that he could have played college ball himself, if not for that injury (or whatever).

He doesn’t spend much time with men

More than anything, the self-centered man dreads competition. He’s unlikely to spend much time around other men — or women—who steal his thunder or displace him from center stage. Pay attention, and you’ll notice him quickly drift away in search of people who are more agreeable.

In your experience, what other “tells” give away a self-centered person?

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Finding Love: 15 Thoughts and Behaviors to Help Guide You There http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/dating-tips/finding-love-15-thoughts-and-behaviors-to-help-guide-you-there/ Wed, 09 Aug 2017 20:43:29 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33708 Your ability to stay aligned with your goal of a healthy relationship is bound to be put to the test as you navigate the highs and lows of dating. There are times when you may feel the urge to give up, crawl up on your sofa, and never date again. You could feel rejected and […]

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Your ability to stay aligned with your goal of a healthy relationship is bound to be put to the test as you navigate the highs and lows of dating. There are times when you may feel the urge to give up, crawl up on your sofa, and never date again. You could feel rejected and let down when someone you like doesn’t feel the same. You will also feel the adrenaline pumping when you meet someone new, and actually hit it off. In a nutshell, dating will test your capacity to stay present, be confident, handle anxiety, be vulnerable, and be patient.

Knowing deep down you want love and companionship, but feeling burnt out by what it takes to attain your dating goals, commonly presents an internal conflict for most single individuals. When in doubt about what to do, remind yourself you don’t have to make any major, rigid or permanent decisions on whether to give up on dating, and acknowledge that it’s natural to feel confusion and impatience when things aren’t clicking in the ways you had hoped.

If you are going to make the commitment to put yourself out there, it is important to approach your love life with a healthy and reality-based mindset and not give up prematurely. It’s about tweaking beliefs and behaviors that may interfere with dating. It’s also essential to grasp what it really means and what it ultimately takes to create the relationship of your dreams.

Below are 15 signs you are approaching dating with a healthy mindset and acting in ways that promote connection.

1. You allow yourself to take breaks from dating when necessary, but don’t give up on your relationship goals. This means having control of your impulses, and refusing to give in to urges to quit online dating after a few bad dates.

2. You do more than simply show up for dates. You engage, share, contribute, try and be present. I like to tell my clients they can go on 100 dates, but if they are not present, open and emotionally available, forming a connection will be nearly impossible.

3. You give potential partners a true chance. This may mean you go on multiple dates with the same person (even when the first date wasn’t a perfect 10) and you give yourself time to figure out how you feel about someone by taking the opportunity to get to know them better. Remind yourself you don’t have to rush to decisions.

4. You take emotional risks and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Believing being vulnerable is weak is a problematic perception. In fact, love, connection and intimacy are all based on vulnerability. Bonus: you understand that being vulnerable does not mean oversharing or moving too quickly. It is about developing trust over time.

5. You believe in authenticity. You don’t hide who you are, disown the qualities you aren’t proud of, or change who you are based on someone else’s wishes.

6. You work on yourself and participate in self-discovery and reflection. You remain open to learning about yourself as you date. You reflect on what’s working well for you and what needs improvement without shaming or judging yourself. You are willing to learn from your hardships and miserable dating experiences.

7. You are clear on the type of partner you hope to attract and the kind of relationship you aim to create. While you are open-minded about your dating life, you have a strong sense of your desires and goals.

8. You heal dysfunctional patterns and old relationship wounds so you don’t repeat them. You own it and let go of blaming others for your own life circumstances. Also, you are willing to say goodbye to and end relationships with toxic people.

9. You believe in love. While you may be persuaded otherwise, if you want love, you must believe it exists.

10. You focus on feeling deserving of love even when your mind tries to convince you otherwise. If you can’t think of ten things you have to offer to a partner, start a list right now and let it grow as you reflect on your strengths, accomplishments, personality traits and values. Long story short — be confident and believe in your worthiness.

11. You ditch protective behaviors, such as playing games or drinking too much on dates. When you like someone, you go for it even though it’s scary and anxiety-producing.

12. You understand dating is more than just picking the next person to ask out or profile to message. It’s about intention and deliberate action that is in line with what you are looking for.

13. You put your happiness in your own hands. You give your power away when you wait for someone else to bring you joy and make you feel good about yourself. Always validate yourself, create the life you want in this moment, and treat yourself with kindness regardless of your relationship status!

14. You try multiple dating methods to see what works best for your personality and relationship goals, as well as meet a wide range of like-minded singles.

15. You understand love is a choice and an action (not just a feeling). It is something that grows and shifts through continued efforts and nurturance.

By using the fifteen points above as an assessment tool for how you are currently approaching dating, you can ensure you are tackling your dating life with thoughts and behaviors aligned with love.

About the Author:

Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Nationally Certified Counselor and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Rachel is a co-author to Sexy Secrets to a Juicy Love Life, an International Bestseller, written to support single women in decreasing frustration about single-hood, leaving the past behind, cultivating self-love and forming and maintaining loving relationships. Rachel also serves as a Relationship Expert for http://www.datingadvice.com/ and other dating and relationship advice websites. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!

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Looking for Love? 5 Things You Need to Know http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/dating-tips/looking-for-love-5-things-you-need-to-know/ Tue, 08 Aug 2017 23:14:34 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33693 What does it mean to be in love? Here are 5 things you need to know: Love is a responsibility, not a right. A long-lasting relationship works like two people carrying one of those egg baby projects from high school. Remember that experiment where kids carry around a hollow egg without breaking it for a […]

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What does it mean to be in love? Here are 5 things you need to know:

Love is a responsibility, not a right.

A long-lasting relationship works like two people carrying one of those egg baby projects from high school. Remember that experiment where kids carry around a hollow egg without breaking it for a week? The point was to scare them from teenage pregnancy. I think this would be a great exercise for two people to do before marriage— or as crazy as it may sound, before entering a business partnership. If you forget about the egg (what you’re supposed to cherish) for too long, it will crack and you’ll have to spend all kinds of time figuring out creative ways to tape it up. The more neglected it gets, the more energy it requires to keep it together. Better not to drop it at the bottom of your backpack in the first place.

It takes determined practice to consistently consider the impact your actions will have on another human being, much less an egg. If you’re not ready for real effort, tough discussions or to compromise your expectations about what you get from the relationship, you’re not ready for the responsibility of someone else’s love.

You can fight for love, but you can’t force it. Wanting someone is not the same as loving them. Wanting someone just so they will love you back is selfish. The point of love is to give yourself away, not take what you can get to feed your own needs. If you and your partner can both get in that mindset, get ready for a mind-blowing connection.

Love needs to change over time.

You probably haven’t had the same haircut or handbag for 10 years. It might be time to give your relationship style a makeover too. Most of us expect our long-time love partners to be a solid rock we lean on while we venture out into the world and experience new things. But, being a rock is boring, so is hanging out with one.

Give your relationship room to move. In all of your relationships — lovers, friends, or the people that work for you — the potential for both of you to amaze is only as big as your expectations and imagination.

Trying to keep the important people in your life from letting their talents emerge just because that’s not what you signed up for way back when — and it makes you uncomfortable — not only keeps them from thriving, it keeps you from expanding too.

Heat rises, baby. With care, you can rise individually — as partners. If you float in different directions, you can celebrate, love, and admire each other in new ways. If you’re too afraid to let the other person in your relationship grow upward and you press them down, their energy will just go sideways.

The trust you built over time will turn to resentment. Expect that you should both evolve with experience. And when your partner says, “You’re not the same person you used to be,” take it as a compliment.

You don’t fall in love. You choose it.

Love might feel like a lofty emotion, but you’re not on a cliff and you don’t fall off of it to be “in” love. Love is a deliberate choosing to give your energy and vulnerability to another person.

Not to be a buzz kill, but the dreamy, hormone-driven, “can’t get him out of my head” feeling will not last. That’s just a fun chemistry experiment the universe is putting you through to make you pay attention to another human being for one reason or another. The key is to figure out the reason for the attraction.

Yes, love can be super exciting, but it’s also a thoughtful decision. Sometimes the whole reason you got reeled in was because you’re supposed to learn something about yourself or be challenged to grow.

Look closely at your behavior in the moments between attraction and commitment. Is this relationship filling a void that is missing for you — to feel needed, wanted, or complete? Did you take the bait because you’re starving? Or can you see past the initial buzz and notice how you make each other better?

Healthy love does not take you to a dark place. It helps you build resiliency and character. It lights your way to become the person you were meant to be. Most importantly, healthy love is a decisive act. It’s a verb. You can’t really love someone while you are un-tethered to your real self — or while you are falling. You have to be grounded in who you are before you can have something to give. And make no mistake; love is way more about giving than taking.

You don’t fall out of love. You choose that too.

Not loving someone anymore isn’t something that happens outside of your control. It’s a decision one or both of you makes to walk away from a bond that either feels too restrictive or has frayed from too much wear and tear. Don’t convince yourself that you just “grew apart.” You both stopped trying. Or, it wasn’t a healthy relationship to begin with and at least one of you found the strength to move on.

Even more, don’t convince yourself that infidelity “just happened.” You didn’t just “fall” in love with a new person. You turned your back on the person you loved first. And somewhere along the way, you made the decision to open yourself up to someone new. Be deliberate about this one.

Broken trust or neglect in a relationship is a lot harder to repair than cracks in an egg. There is always space — a pause between inhaling and exhaling — when you can stop yourself from betraying someone you were once “in” love with and examine your motivation.

Relationships do need to end, sometimes. But even that can be done gracefully and with intention toward growth for everyone involved.
Done in a panic or with reckless anger, you will just repeat the same relationship cycle over and over until you’ve worn everyone out — and blown your potential for the wholehearted connection you likely craved this whole time.

You control your love. Love doesn’t control you.

People say, “You can’t help who you love” all the time. Not true. Love is your responsibility. The health of your relationship depends on the well being of your mind, body, and soul. Care for yourself as though you are valuable. Act nobly when you remember to and be the person you want to be loved as — your highest self (probably not the one slamming the door in anger).

Move through your relationship like it’s fragile and tender…because it is. You’re going to get bored some days. Setbacks will happen.
Grace and acceptance are muscles that you each can either choose to build or you can each choose to let get so weak there’s no way back. If that’s not you yet, the good news is you can choose to change your habits if you value the outcome.

Here’s the rub: you won’t know the outcome. You can’t control another person or make them love you. You can only choose to be vulnerable and offer your best, most grounded self to another in the hope that, together, there is a better version of both of you to become. And in the process, pay attention to the egg.

Sharon Demko is a Co-Active® leadership coach, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and professional trainer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sharon works with clients one on one, or in teams in organizations, to build strong minds, bodies, and spirits. For more info, visit her website.

Article originally posted via YourTango.

More at YourTango:

3 Myths About Love That Keep You From The Relationship You’re MEANT To Have

4 Questions SMART Women Ask Themselves BEFORE They Go Looking For Love

5 Things Strong Women Do That Attract QUALITY Men (And Keep Them Interested!)

 

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15 Reasons To Date a Gardener http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/dating-advice-for-you/date-a-gardener/ Mon, 07 Aug 2017 20:51:34 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33638 Gardens add so much to our daily lives—color, fragrance, spice, sustenance, and creative inspiration. Whether a tiny container garden or a vast plot of intricate designs, these spaces bring joy to those who pause to look and enjoy. Of course, it takes dedicated people to make gardens and orchards thrive . . . and the […]

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Gardens add so much to our daily lives—color, fragrance, spice, sustenance, and creative inspiration. Whether a tiny container garden or a vast plot of intricate designs, these spaces bring joy to those who pause to look and enjoy. Of course, it takes dedicated people to make gardens and orchards thrive . . . and the qualities these people possess with plant-life translate well to romantic relationships.

Here’s why:

1: They’re patient.

They know that the best things in life take time. Gardeners understand you can’t force fruit to ripen or a tulip to pop out of the ground. Likewise, they know you can’t rush a relationship into reaching its full potential.

2: They appreciate beauty.

Gardeners are committed to creating something beautiful. They invest their time and talents in developing something amazing from scratch. Sounds like what happens with romantic relationships.

3: They value uniqueness.

Given the vast array of plant species in the world, gardeners recognize the value each has to offer. They know that every person, like every plant, has unique aspects that are highly appealing.

4: They know the importance of giving space.

Garden plants need plenty of room to set down roots—and so do new relationships.

5: They encourage the best in others.

Gardeners want to help each other succeed, offering helpful tips and lots of encouragement. That generous spirit will likely flow into your relationship as well.

6: They know that growth requires consistent nurturing.

Likewise, a budding romance needs to be steadily cultivated and cared for.

7: They are eager to learn and develop.

They know that gardening—like many aspects of life—is a process of trying to improve their craft. A romantic relationship also requires two people intent on improving as individuals and lovers.

8: They are adaptable and flexible.

When one approach to gardening isn’t working, they’re ready to try new approaches. That’s a good perspective for relationships as well.

9: They know that getting to the root is essential.

Anyone who has pulled the tops off weeds quickly realizes the futility of a quick-fix approach. Digging down to the root is the way to resolve the problem. That’s a key principle for resolving relationship conflicts as well.

10: They find joy in simple things.

They know that the best life experiences often come from humble pleasures, such as trimming a bonsai tree or plucking a carrot out of the ground.

11: They know how to deal with setbacks.

Every gardener has stories of their handiwork being destroyed by weather, disease, or pests. It can be discouraging, but devoted gardeners don’t give up when trouble appears. That’s a quality you want in a romantic partner.

12: They have vision.

Gardeners are able to picture the end result of their efforts, a valuable quality that will guide their choices all along the way. As romantic partners go, you want someone with a long-range view of your future together.

13: They are creative.

For gardeners, a plot of dirt is like an artist’s canvas. They enjoy experimenting with variations in color, texture, and form. Count on your partner bringing plenty of creativity to your romance.

14: They love to share the fruits of their labors.

You will be the regular recipient of fresh-cut flower bouquets, vine-ripened tomatoes, and salad straight from the garden.

15: They love to get dirty and sweaty.

Interpret that any way you like.

 

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5 Clear Signs He’s in Love With You http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/dating-advice-for-you/signs-a-man-is-in-love/ Fri, 28 Jul 2017 20:51:42 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33631 Love is a small word with huge implications. When it’s a healthy kind of love, it can help you become your best possible self and enrich your life with a new kind of happiness and meaning. When it’s unhealthy—or just not the right match—it can literally gut you, leaving you feeling broken and devastated. The beginning […]

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Love is a small word with huge implications. When it’s a healthy kind of love, it can help you become your best possible self and enrich your life with a new kind of happiness and meaning. When it’s unhealthy—or just not the right match—it can literally gut you, leaving you feeling broken and devastated.

The beginning stages of a relationship can be a tricky time because a man might say those infamous three words without feeling it, or he can feel it for a long time before he’s ready to say it out loud. Typically when a man loves you, it’s obvious. You don’t even have to ask because you just know it. (This article covers it really well.) The reason it can sometimes seem confusing is that men and women often experience love in different ways.

To save you the time and energy spent playing the he-loves-me-loves-me-not game, here are the five greatest signs that he definitely is in love with you:

He makes you a priority in his life.

When a man loves you, spending time with you and being there for you are at the top of his priority list. It doesn’t matter how busy he is, he will carve out the time you both need to feel fulfilled in your relationship. He will make sure you know that you’re special to him, that he cares about you, that your happiness matters, that being with you, and there for you, are important to him.

If you find that you have to fight for his time and attention or there is always something higher on his to-do list, you might have reason to raise an eyebrow. And sadly, if you do feel like you’re only getting leftover scraps when it comes to his attention, he most likely is not in love with you. When a man loves you, you don’t need to strategize ways of getting into his heart—it’s just there, right on the line, waiting for you to take the bait.

His actions are louder than his words.

You’ve heard it before, but this timeless saying is always true, especially in matters of the heart: actions speak louder than words. And this is especially true when it comes to knowing if a man loves you. Words are easy, and words can be cheap.

Love isn’t merely a feeling, it’s a verb, it comes across is actions. When a man truly loves you, he shows it. He goes out of his way to make you happy because your happiness is more important than his own, he is there for you even if it’s inconvenient for him, he sacrifices for you, he puts effort into the relationship. It’s easy to be a great and loving partner when it’s all sunshine and roses, but how does he react when things get real? That is where his true feelings lie.

He doesn’t give up.

Even for a couple who share common interests and who are working toward the same goals, relationships are never easy. But when a man loves you, he is committed to making it work, no matter what. He doesn’t threaten to leave at the first sign or trouble. He is in it and he plans to see it through, even when it gets really tough. He is fully invested—and he wants to do whatever it takes to make your bond not only strong, but amazing.

When you love someone, quitting isn’t an option until all other options have been exhausted. You don’t just leave unless things are clearly beyond repair. If a man isn’t willing—or able—to go all in, then he’s not the right match for you.

He pays attention.

When we love someone, we can’t get enough. We want to know everything, to fully immerse ourselves in their story. When a guy loves you, he pay attention to everything you say and do. He sees your potential, your strengths, your weaknesses, how you experience and process the world. He’s in love with who you are as a human, not just as a partner.

This is different than a man who merely loves the way you make him feel. While this narcissistic type of love has become commonplace these days—it isn’t real. A mature, stable love is when a man loves who you are—and sure, he may feel good being with you—but that isn’t the reason he chooses to stay.

You feel it in your gut.

When a guy loves you, you know it. It feels like peace, it feels like home, it feels safe. You don’t wonder and worry how he feels. You don’t spend each day in the relationship like it could be your last, wondering when the proverbial other shoe will drop. You feel a calmness in knowing.

Now at the same time, some people are carrying a lot of hurt and pain and may have deeply rooted trust issues that make it impossible to ever feel secure. If this is the case, then work on it! Do whatever it takes to break through the walls surrounding you so that you can let someone else in. This is why it’s so important to be your best self before you enter into a relationship, to clear away the clutter and really see what’s in front of you.

Sabrina Alexis is a bestselling author and co-founder and editorial director of A New Mode, a women’s lifestyle site with a focus on dating and relationships. Join the A New Mode mailing list for daily relationship advice and answers to all your burning questions.

 

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10 Reasons Your Breakup Just Made Your Life (So Much) Better http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/dating-advice-for-you/breakup-changes-your-life-for-the-better/ Mon, 24 Jul 2017 17:55:10 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33656   They say you never know a good thing till it’s gone. But when it comes to breakups, there’s another phrase that rings true: hindsight is 20/20. In the aftermath of a messy split, it can be hard to have clarity. So if you need a reminder, here are 10 reasons why your last breakup […]

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They say you never know a good thing till it’s gone. But when it comes to breakups, there’s another phrase that rings true: hindsight is 20/20. In the aftermath of a messy split, it can be hard to have clarity.

So if you need a reminder, here are 10 reasons why your last breakup was a blessing in disguise:

1- Date night just got easier.

You may be tempted to think that because the relationship is over, date night is a thing of the past. Not so fast! Devote that time to caring for yourself. (The best part is, no arguing about where to eat!)

2- You can be yourself again.

With the relationship in the rear-view, you can let your hair down. Dig out that sweater she hated. Catch up on that Netflix original series he wouldn’t watch with you. Get reacquainted with the “you” who was stifled while you were in a relationship.

3- You know what you want.

A bad relationship can be just the thing you need to teach you what to avoid next time.

4- Enduring pain fosters empathy.

Your breakup may have been brutal, but it taught you to have compassion for others— a trait that translates into every facet of life.

5- You have learned who your true friends are.

There’s nothing like a breakup to expose false or fair-weather friends. On the flip side, you’ll know who your true friends are by who shows up to camp out on your couch with ice cream and a box of tissues.

6- You aren’t responsible for anyone, anymore.

There’s a funny saying about breaking up with someone: it’s the fastest way to lose 200 pounds. But seriously, the best thing about a breakup is that your ex has to take his baggage with him.

7- You lost your excuse.

Unhealthy relationships come in every form imaginable. The worst relationship is one you hide behind. With the excuse of your significant other out of the way, you can finally face your fears and pursue your dreams.

8- You don’t have to hang around folks you don’t like.

Let’s be real: Your friends tried to warn you about him. And his were no walk in the park, either. Now that he’s out of the picture, you can simply enjoy the company of your friends again (without having to endure his).

9- You can hog the covers.

Or sleep in the middle of the bed. Or have five pillows all to yourself. And you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone!

10- The best is yet to come.

Closing the door on a relationship can be painful. But now that it’s over, you can open yourself up to better relationships in the future. You never know who is waiting just around the corner . . . might be the person you’ve really been searching for all along.

 

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Is It Love… Or Just Sex? Here’s How to Know http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/dating-tips/stop-confusing-love-with-sex/ Mon, 24 Jul 2017 17:38:55 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33664   Here’s a common scenario: You meet someone new, and one look is all it takes to light the fuse of sexual fireworks. You can barely keep your hands off each other — and the excitement of it all feels like falling in love. But is it really? Can simple lust masquerade as something more? […]

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Here’s a common scenario: You meet someone new, and one look is all it takes to light the fuse of sexual fireworks. You can barely keep your hands off each other — and the excitement of it all feels like falling in love.

But is it really? Can simple lust masquerade as something more? Is it possible to spot the absence of real romance soon enough to avoid making a bad investment?

The answer to these questions is “yes.”

It’s easy to mistake the explosive chemistry of physical attraction with long-term romantic potential. But if you’re willing to honestly assess your actions and feelings, it’s also not hard to recognize the truth. Here are 7 signs you might be confusing love and sex:

Your attraction is more physical than emotional.

What was the first thing about your partner to catch your attention? Was it his or her sense of humor, or an act of kindness you observed? Or was it their fashion-magazine appearance and manner? There’s nothing wrong with looking good, or with appreciating that trait in someone else. But if that’s not accompanied by a deeper reason for attraction, you may be headed for disappointment.

You say ‘yes’ to sex to keep someone around.

When you’ve just started dating someone new, there may come a moment when it’s clear he or she expects sex as the next step — and that their interest may wane if you don’t agree. Saying yes can be an easy way to avoid asking the question: Why do you feel their interest might sag?

You are lovers, but not really friends.

The sex is really good, maybe even great. But what else do you have in common? What would you talk about if one of you were physically incapacitated after an accident? Do you know personal details about them that their most casual friends don’t also know? If you have trouble answering questions like these, chances are sex is standing in for deeper connection.

Your time together is all spent in bed (or getting there).

Do you go out together to public places where the idea is to have fun or get to know each other better? Or do you mostly “hang out” at home where sex is instantly available?

When sex is done, you want to leave.

Lust alone is often all it takes to draw lovers together. But when the sex is done, lust by itself can produce the reverse reaction — like magnets that cling together until you flip them to opposing poles. If either of you can’t stick around to cuddle or spend the rest of the evening together, then the potential for real love is probably small.

The sex may be good, but you still feel unsatisfied.

Researchers have recognized that the biochemistry of sex — through the release of hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin — is meant to engender feelings of well-being and bonding with your partner. But that can’t overcome your own intuition about the relationship’s true potential. Beware if you feel empty after sex, rather than fulfilled.

You resist introducing your partner to friends and family.

Is this person someone you can’t wait to show off? Or do you intuitively suspect that the people who know and love you best will see the truth you are trying hard to deny? If you’re tempted to keep the relationship a “secret,” chances are it has little lasting potential.

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5 Tips for Dating as an Introvert http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/dating-advice-for-you/5-tips-for-dating-as-an-introvert/ Wed, 28 Jun 2017 23:30:38 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33607 Most people describe dating as a mixed emotional experience filled with excitement and hope, and heightened nerves and insecurities. If you consider dating to be draining and rough, you are far from alone. If you identify as an introvert, you may be prone to increased dating fatigue, dread, panic, and over-thinking. You may experience the […]

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Most people describe dating as a mixed emotional experience filled with excitement and hope, and heightened nerves and insecurities. If you consider dating to be draining and rough, you are far from alone.

If you identify as an introvert, you may be prone to increased dating fatigue, dread, panic, and over-thinking. You may experience the internal conflict between the desire to connect in romantic and social ways and the craving for time alone. You may be so exhausted from the work week that spending your weekends dating isn’t leading to anything satisfying. Or the process of getting a date may feel like so much work that you are already drained by the thought of showing up and meeting someone new. Truly putting yourself out there, saying yes to dates, and showing up for them may seem like an obligation instead of a hopeful adventure.

When on a first date, the date may feel like nothing more than small talk when really you are looking for something deeper and more meaningful. While small talk may not be your cup of tea, understanding it is the first step to connecting with a stranger will lead you in the right direction.

Dating can create negative feelings, but you have the power to put a positive spin on your romantic life through intentional dating strategies and self-care practices that fit your introverted self. By owning who you are and being willing to make dating work for you and your personality preferences, you will experience more success.

Here are five dating strategies for introverts:

1. Be mindful of the timing and scheduling of dates.

It is essential to pick a time and environment that allow you to thrive and feel comfortable. If you know you will be drained after the work day or another social outing, give yourself a break and don’t pressure yourself into going on a date directly afterwards. Make sure you replenish your energy after life events or daily activities that drain you before going on a date. Also, pick date locations that make you feel comfortable.

If you are going for a meal, drink, or cup of coffee/tea, it can be helpful to pick a place you’ve been to before, which will ensure greater comfort, allow you to focus on your date, and give you an increased sense of control and safety. A loud, crowded bar may not be your scene, but maybe a coffee shop, hike or picnic in the park is more like you. Or try a fun activity, like painting or walking around a museum, which will spark meaningful conversation without the pressure of constant communication. Aim for fun, yet low-key dates and plan for dates on the shorter side that can always be extended.

2. Engage in daily self-care practices.

Get to know yourself, your energy limits, and what works for you in terms of rejuvenation. Ask yourself what you need to achieve restoration and balance and let go of any judgement about your answer. If you know you function better with daily alone time, make it a part of your schedule. This may involve the uncomfortable dilemma of saying no, but putting yourself first is worth it. During your quiet time, put down the technology and focus on recharging your energy. Also try a daily mindfulness or meditation practice (research shows that just five minutes goes a long way), find a creative outlet, or take up journaling or yoga. Self-care also includes engaging in positive thinking, treating yourself with kindness and compassion, and not judging or shaming yourself for your personal needs. By incorporating self-care practices into your daily life, you will be ready to date without compromising who you are.

3. Stay aligned with your goals and values.

Let your goal of finding love drive your behavior, while resisting the urge to allow your emotions to run the show. Expect dating to be (sometimes) challenging, exhausting, and anxiety-provoking without allowing these emotional experiences to convince you to give up. You are allowed to feel scared, tired, panicked, burnt out, and frustrated about dating, but understand these emotions will pass if you accept their existence and keep yourself grounded in the process. When feeling emotionally drained, bring your goals of companionship, love, intimacy, relationship health, etc. to the forefront of your mind and align yourself with these goals (versus temporary feelings).

4. Set personal boundaries and follow dating rules that best fit your personality.

Throw out the “dating is a numbers-game approach” because it is bound to produce intimidation, pressure, and anxiety. There’s no point in going on three dates a week if you are going to feel exhausted and not show up as your best self. Let go of the burden to meet as many people as you can as quickly as possible because it will only result in stress and fatigue. Focus on going on dates with potential partners you have had multiple positive interactions with, and who you have developed a sense of positive rapport with (over online dating messaging or the phone). Pace yourself and schedule dates spaced out with time for rejuvenation and self-care in between. Only you can control how many dates you go on per week, how many hours a date lasts, etc. and setting personal boundaries is important for your health and well-being.

5. Be authentically you.

Be authentic and own your personal and emotional needs instead of trying to be someone you are not. Be proud of who you are and don’t fake extroversion! Give potential partners hints about your personality through your online dating profile, as well as on a date. Let it be known that you value alone time, enjoy reading, curling up on the sofa, etc. if these activities resonate with you. It is important to let your date know you are an introvert, especially if you are interested, so he or she doesn’t feel rejected or misread your signs of needing space. Also be mindful of finding a partner with a personality type that doesn’t exhaust you.

By going slow and balancing your own needs with your goals, dating will feel more positive. The more positive you are, the better your dating life will go. Don’t be afraid to replenish yourself through alone time, and make space for solitude. These practices are important to who you are, so embrace your introverted nature and have fun.

About the Author:

Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Nationally Certified Counselor and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Rachel is a co-author to Sexy Secrets to a Juicy Love Life, an International Bestseller, written to support single women in decreasing frustration about single-hood, leaving the past behind, cultivating self-love and forming and maintaining loving relationships. Rachel also serves as a Relationship Expert for http://www.datingadvice.com/ and other dating and relationship advice websites. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!

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Why Every Woman Needs a Weekend to Herself http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/about-you/why-every-woman-needs-a-weekend-to-herself/ Mon, 20 Mar 2017 19:11:30 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33592 Unlike most college-aged kiddos, my sights were never set on studying abroad. I never dabbled with the idea of taking time off to backpack around Europe or do a gap year in Asia to find my zen. Instead, I was that overly high-strung type-A personality that began saving to move to New York from North […]

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Unlike most college-aged kiddos, my sights were never set on studying abroad. I never dabbled with the idea of taking time off to backpack around Europe or do a gap year in Asia to find my zen. Instead, I was that overly high-strung type-A personality that began saving to move to New York from North Carolina from age 15, worked overtime to graduate early from college and made the 800-mile journey sans job or apartment. I knew where I wanted to build my life and that I wanted to be a writer, so I didn’t consider a passport as necessary as my metro card.

I stayed on the straight-and-narrow path of becoming an established writer until an emotionally traumatic breakup with a guy 8 years my senior threw me for a loop. I had been living in New York for just over two years, and while everything was still glimmering with hope and possibility, my heart was broken from so many failed promises. It was after a night of restless sleep and wrestling with mascara-stained pillow cases that I remembered the map of the world that I’ve hung in every apartment I’ve ever rented. Just like there was so much love I had left to experience, there was so much of the world I’d never stepped on.

I decided it was time to take a trip, all by myself.

And though my first voyage was domestic – to Puerto Rico – my yearly tradition of exploring the world independently has taken me from Cancun, Mexico to London and many more destinations. I’m still holding out for that magical man, wherever he might be, but in the meantime, I’m working on exercising my passport and thus, my world perspective by traveling as much as I can. If you’ve considered taking the first step on a solo trip, let me be the first to tell you: every woman (and every man, for the matter), should travel alone, at least once or as often as they can.

Here are some reasons why:

You get more than a room with a view.
My most recent solo trip – in Cancun, Mexico at the J.W. Marriott Resort was in the start of New York’s dreary winter season and was a much-needed break from bundling up and long work hours. Every time I travel solo, I have a tradition of dropping off my luggage at the door and allowing myself to take time while I settle into the room. I pop open some wine (or order it from room service), put on the plush robes that are included, and open the windows or the patio doors. In Cancun, the simple act of looking out into the ocean instantly made my stress from the city float away. I wasn’t the single, 20-something woman living in the city, trying to find love or figure out my path, I was just a traveler overlooking the endless vast of the blue waters below me, smelling the salt air and sipping on some well-deserved vino. Those quiet moments while traveling alone are so precious and the distractions of those around you, your growing to-do list and your own internal dialogue are easier to wish away, as you allow yourself to live in the moment.

You make your own rules – and friends.
When I visited London, I badly wanted to shop for antiques in the historic, colorful streets of Notting Hill, so I hopped on the tube and navigated my way through the various connections. After finding an old necklace to call my own, I settled in at a cafe for some reading and coffee, and was greeted by a group of friends who wondered where I was from. And when I did that first trip by myself to Puerto Rico, a threesome of local medical students invited me to drink with them, telling me all of their stories from the island. And when I was in Mexico, meeting friendly strangers was never difficult, especially when you share an affinity for snorkeling or parasailing. When you take a weekend by yourself, you get to call the shots and build your own adventure. There are no time constraints and no deadlines to meet – you get to experience the culture and meet those who create it, without worrying about anyone else’s opinions.

You can splurge on what means the most to you.
I try my best to save costs whenever I travel anywhere, thinking the more I save, the more places I can check off my bucket list. But there are certain amenities and experiences that I want to have in every region I visit, and to me – the keeper of my wallet and financial decisions as a single woman – those things are worth the cost. I often upgrade my flight for a small fee (or with the help of a travel credit card) to sit near the front of planes so I’m last on and first off. I always bring back a souvenir that’s locally made and can be proudly displayed in my home. And I dine at restaurants that are highly recommended. While in Mexico, I enjoyed a luxe meal at Porfirio’s, where the guac had grasshoppers and the churros were brought out on a mini-truck to the table. And yes, while the decor was incredibly romantic, with rose petals floating in fountains, I didn’t feel sad to be alone. I felt thankful to have the experience and the delectable food in my tummy.

It builds your confidence.
Likely my favorite part of solo travel isn’t even how I feel when I arrive, but when I leave. My last night, as I go to bed with the door open in Mexico, letting the waves rock me to sleep or overlook the skyline in London, in awe of it’s charm, I think of how far I’ve come as a person, as a woman, as a professional. The legs that get me to these destinations are my own, the journeys I go on are from my own savings account and doing. The dreams that I’ve made come true are due to my own hard work and spirit. The sense of accomplishment – and gratitude – is enormous when I pack my bags and look back on the hotel room one last time before hitching a ride to New York. It’s a reminder that while I might be single and I may crave a partner to share these experiences with, I’m damn proud of what I’ve created, without any man, any person, any help, at all.

And though he will come one of these fine, fine days, I hope I always have at least a weekend… just to myself.

Lindsay Tigar is a 26-year-old single writer, editor, and blogger living in New York City. She started her popular dating blog, Confessions of a Love Addict, after one too many terrible dates with tall, emotionally unavailable men (her personal weakness) and is now developing a book about it, represented by the James Fitzgerald Agency. She writes for eHarmony, YourTango, REDBOOK, and more. When she isn’t writing, you can find her in a boxing or yoga class, booking her next trip, sipping red wine with friends or walking her cute pup, Lucy.

 

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First Date: Planning For Success http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/first-dates/first-date-planning-for-success/ Wed, 22 Feb 2017 23:19:05 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33579 Somewhere between deciding that I want to go out with someone and our first date, there is a question that I dread. “So, what do you want to do?” Occasionally, I’ve gone out with guys who had it all planned, who invited me into a narrative they’d already created, but for the most part, the […]

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Somewhere between deciding that I want to go out with someone and our first date, there is a question that I dread. “So, what do you want to do?” Occasionally, I’ve gone out with guys who had it all planned, who invited me into a narrative they’d already created, but for the most part, the decision is collaborative.

Perhaps I’m a little more anxious than some might be about this, but it does feel like there is a lot riding on our first activity. I don’t want to lock myself into something that requires a couple of hours, for instance, unless I already know my date well enough that I’m sure we’ll have plenty to talk about. Whenever I need a reminder of why this is important, I remember one date which started with dinner and ended with two rounds of miniature golf. We didn’t have enough to talk about to get us through dinner. As we putted brightly colored balls, I watched a young couple, probably in high school, a hole or two in front of us. They were chatting and flirting, he was helping her set up her shots. They clapped for each other when each sunk the last putt. In other words, they were doing a mini golf date right. From inside my awkward and strained version, I vowed, never again.

But all rules are made to be broken, right? Once, I met a first date at a hockey game. It could have been disastrous, even though I love hockey. I worried that our interactions wouldn’t be as smooth as they had been so far, but I went anyway. I was nervous that day, and nervous driving over, but as soon as I connected with my date, I felt calm. We talked and laughed all through the game (I can’t even remember who won). That first date turned into a relationship.

Sometimes, I get hung up on money. It can be awkward to talk about who’s paying for what on a first meeting. I always try to pick places that I can afford, and I speak up if I’m worried about that. More and more, it’s a conversation I’m trying to have early, before emotions are entangled. That way, everyone is on the same page, and no one feels taken advantage of.

In the moment, sometimes I have difficulty remembering my favorite mid-priced places to eat, or the coffee shops I like in different parts of town. To combat this, I’ve made a list. Now, when someone asks me where I’d like to go, I can suggest crepes, craft cocktails, or well-brewed tea.

Familiarity is another perk I’ve discovered in developing relationships with my favorite first date places over the years. Often, I’ll go a little early and check in with a barista or bartender, letting them know I’m on a first date. More often than not, they offer to check on me, or to develop a signal, just in case I’m in distress. I still might be nervous, but it’s awfully nice to feel like I have some backup.

Unless I have a good reason, I try to stick to coffee for a first date. No one expects more than an hour from me, and I can graciously escape if I’m ready to be done, but an hour can also easily turn into two or three if things are going well. It’s not expensive, and there’s plenty of time and space to get to know each other without a server dipping in, or the distraction of a movie, a play, or a sporting event.

On a first date, I’m learning that my entire job is to pay attention. I want to get to know the person I’m meeting. Even if I know him already, I don’t know him in this context. But more than that, I want to tune in to how the date makes me feel. Most of the time, I’m nervous until it starts, it’s a sort of stage fright, but if I can’t relax as the date goes on, I want to pay attention to that and honor my intuition. Too many bells and whistles can make it hard to notice when I’m uncomfortable, or when I simply don’t feel a connection, but it can also make it harder to see the sparks when they start to fly.

In the end, when I’m thinking about what to do for a first date, I try to remember that they are supposed to be fun. Both of us hope that we’ve met someone special, but I can’t allow myself to think about forever the first time we spend intentional time together. Instead, I concentrate on the person in front of me, someone who has chosen to be brave along with me. I set aside all of my hopes for a relationship (or do my very best), and keep my mind focused on that person and the present, one moment at a time.

caraCara Strickland writes about food and drink, mental health, faith and being single from her home in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys hot tea, good wine, and deep conversations. She will always want to play with your dog. Connect with her on Twitter @anxiouscook or at www.carastrickland.com

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A Mindfulness Survival Guide to Online Dating: 10 Tips http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/dating-tips/a-mindfulness-survival-guide-to-online-dating-10-tips/ Thu, 16 Feb 2017 21:58:48 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33564 Can mindfulness and online dating coexist? Let’s be honest – browsing the wilderness of online dating can feel like sending your ego straight into a land mine field. Not only does online dating encourage a judgmental attitude – it requires it. We find ourselves making snap decisions based on superficial criteria, and ourselves being evaluated […]

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Can mindfulness and online dating coexist?

Let’s be honest – browsing the wilderness of online dating can feel like sending your ego straight into a land mine field. Not only does online dating encourage a judgmental attitude – it requires it. We find ourselves making snap decisions based on superficial criteria, and ourselves being evaluated by the snap decisions of others. We are at once too good and not good enough. With every profile “like” and unreturned message, the ego experiences a subtle roller coaster of pride and devastation.

And the actual dates? They require the emotional balance of a tight rope walker. It’s no secret that the average person in real life bears little resemblance to their best photo, which happens to be their profile head shot. Is dinner too much pressure for a first date? (Yes.) Is it disrespectful to date more than more person at a time? (No.) When is the right time for sex? (Depends.) In our world of feedback loops and curated reality, intentions and values vary from person to person as widely as the millions of channels on YouTube. Every person is a universe unto themselves, an algorithm of preferred music genres and sex positions. The options for today’s single person have never been more diverse or readily available. Meanwhile, true love is nowhere to be found.

If you are the type of person who values mindfulness and meaningful connection, this routine can be more than a little frustrating. But in truth this is nothing new. Each generation rewrites the dating rules in their own image. Our technological advances have given us a power of connectivity that, while spectacular, is still an experiment. Mindful online dating is possible; we just need to decide how it’s done. Below are 10 guidelines that I created after years of trial and error.

1) Show your true nature in your profile

You don’t have to tell your life story (please don’t), but avoid overly obvious information (“I like to travel”) in favor of more revealing anecdotes (“A book that taught me a lot is…”). This will help filter deeper connections from superficial attractions from the start. One approach I take is listing my Instagram to show women my thoughts and beliefs.

2) Know what you are looking for

Without a game plan, online dating can become a frustrating maze of aimless swiping and dead end conversations. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a long term partner, new friends, or a fun hookup. But it does matter that your intentions are clear. If you want to stay sane, it’s important to know which two or three things, and types of people, you are looking for.

3) Avoid app addiction

Don’t be that guy/girl who obsessively checks their messages in social situations despite having checked them 15 minutes ago. Those sweet nothings will be waiting in your inbox tonight. Set aside two times per day to read and send messages, and practice app abstinence the rest of the day.

4) Be genuinely curious

It’s easy to forget that the person on the other side of the screen is a living, breathing human being. Instead of thinking “what can I get from this interaction?” you will have a better chance of making interesting connections if you slow down, forget about yourself, and actually pay attention to the other person.

5) Don’t take rejection personally

Snap judgements are a reality of online dating. There simply isn’t enough time to give the same focus to every profile. When your message is ignored, or somebody stops talking to you, don’t worry about the reason why. There could be a million things going on in that person’s head that have nothing to do with you. Meet and release every new profile with grace.

6) Set an intention before each date

Pretty much everything (dates, business meetings, etc.) goes better when you set an intention in advance. It can be simple – “I want to share a meaningful connection” or “I want to learn something new.” Taking five minutes to set an intention before a date may not seem like much, but it will give you clarity, purpose, and the power of presence.

7) Use each other (to expand your comfort zone)

Staying home is easy. Meeting new people can be difficult and even annoying. But going on regular dates is a good habit because it forces us into uncharted territory and keeps us open. Try meeting people outside your ethnicity and social niche. Dating is like working out. It can be hard, but we walk away stronger and with a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

8) Drop expectations

Expectations are the quickest path to disappointment. Here’s a newsflash: not every person you meet is going to be “the one.” Instead of trying to fit others into a preconceived role, simply remain in the moment and allow each interaction to be what it is. Your date may not result in a relationship (most don’t), but it can still be a meaningful human connection.

9) Let it happen naturally

When a date goes well, men are usually thinking one thing (sex) and women are thinking another (relationship). Slow down. There is nothing wrong with jumping into sex or a relationship, but trying to rush things from a place of neediness can be counterproductive. Allow the dynamic to unfold naturally. Keep having fun. Obsessing about the end result can sabotage an otherwise good thing.

10) Embrace the break up

Every relationship has a natural lifespan. It may be one date. It may be one month. It may be a lifetime. Attempting to force an unnaturally long lifespan onto a relationship will ultimately lead to resentment, unhappiness, and dishonesty. Even if your desire is to settle down with “the one,” when something is not working it’s important to leave relationships as gracefully as you begin them. Just because a relationship ends doesn’t mean it was a failure. Trust that it served the purpose it was meant to serve.

 

About the Author:

James McCrae is an award-winning strategist and writer at the intersection of business and creativity. He works with individuals and organizations around the world to unlock creativity and turn imagination into results. His books Sh#t Your Ego Says, Inspiration Is a Habit, and Turning Imagination into Results outline practical strategies to create success based on inner purpose. An avid supporter of basketball, burritos, and Kundalini Yoga, James lives in New York City. 

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9 Bad Pieces of Dating Advice to Quit Now http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/being-single/9-bad-pieces-of-dating-advice-to-quit-now/ Wed, 08 Feb 2017 19:13:33 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33542 My single friends and I often joke about the advice we’re constantly given by our parents, our coupled-up friends and basically, anyone who hears yes, we’re ‘still single’ and yes, ‘still looking.’ The words of wisdom are never delivered with any malicious intent and really, are meant to raise our spirits and ensure we don’t […]

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My single friends and I often joke about the advice we’re constantly given by our parents, our coupled-up friends and basically, anyone who hears yes, we’re ‘still single’ and yes, ‘still looking.’ The words of wisdom are never delivered with any malicious intent and really, are meant to raise our spirits and ensure we don’t adopt a mostly-bitter attitude toward finding our life partner. But the kicker that’s humorous – especially if you’ve been dating for quite some time, like I have – is that all advice seems to contradict itself. You have to put yourself out there, but not try too hard. You should try online dating, but don’t rely on it completely. You should play hard to get, but don’t be too unavailable or you’ll come across as unapproachable…

…and the list goes on.

As an effort to approach the New Year with a refined attitude toward love and to transition our mindset in a healthy direction, it’s time to let go of some of these tired, old fashioned ways of looking at love. Therapists who are trained to help their clients work through difficult times and take long, hard looks at themselves are better equipped to offer meaningful tips for dating that could actually benefit you in the long run, instead of, well, confusing you.

That’s why, they’ve decided to officially give you permission to stop following these bad pieces of dating advice. And best of all: offer you a different solution instead.

‘Don’t get your hopes up.’

It’s frankly a mantra I repeat in my head over-and-over before any date I have. Since going into date number one, I rarely know much more than the basics, I tend to remind myself to not get too excited. Licensed family and marriage therapist Dr. Wendy O’Connor says instead of being negative, I should actually be positive. “Quit being a downer and negative! Stay positive, motivated, ambitious. If the dating style gets old, boring or just plain bad, find inspiration. Find new interests, new groups. Inspire yourself and others will quickly follow. You will see your luck shift into positive outcomes. Positive thoughts become positive actions,” she explains.

‘You have to research your date and partner, so you’re not blindsided.’

As talented as you might be at identifying someone’s full name by piecemealing the information you know about them via a dating app, therapist Dr. Nikki Martinez, LCPC says to resist the temptation. You may think that you’re setting yourself up to not be shocked when you meet this person, or discover their unruly past, but in reality, you’re taking a lot of the magic of dating discovery out of your experience. “It is not healthy, it is taking you away from doing productive things, and it keeps you stuck in a time and place that is not good for you,” she explains. The same goes for once you’re in a relationship (or about to make things official) and decide to take a joyride through their personal phone. “This is a violation of trust, and a huge question mark to your relationship. If you can not trust this person, you either have some personal work to do, or you are with someone you can not trust. Neither makes for a healthy relationship right now, so address it ASAP,” she notes.  

‘Just join all of the dating apps, they’re all the same.’

Just like you wouldn’t go to a Chinese restaurant looking for Mexican food, Dr. Martinez says being strategic about the apps that you invest your energy, heart, and time into is important. Online dating can produce a relationship, but if you’re only swiping in an app that’s intent is based around casual encounters, you’re likely going to be feel disappointed. “There are many sites, and they are pretty clear what their purpose is. So, match your purpose. If you want to have fun, there is nothing wrong with that, but if you are looking for something serious and long term, don’t set yourself up for hurt and failure,” she explains.

‘Play hard to get.’

Your bestie who found the love of her life in college and your mom who stumbled across your dad at the ripe ‘ol age of 24 might offer some flirtatious advice about ‘playing hard to get’, but Marni Feuerman, LCSW, LMFT reassures you it’s actually bad advice. (Think about it: did those ladies in your life actually play the game, or do they just think that’s how you’re supposed to do it?). “Don’t play anything at all! Be yourself and be direct. This is bad because playing games don’t work in good relationships. You are likely to turn someone off rather than seem mysterious and alluring. If you value honesty and integrity, you need to act this way as well to attract someone with those qualities,” she explains.

‘If it’s not there on the first date, move on.’

While the image of walking into a dark room and the spotlight shines down beautifully on this stranger that you just have to meet is a wonderful story line, it’s often not how dating works. We all want to feel that spark right from the get-go, but sometimes, falling in love can take time and you may need more than just one round of drinks post-work to figure out if you have chemistry. Licensed clinical psychologist, Roudabeth Rahbar, Psy.D. says a second chance is not a bad idea. “You won’t always find chemistry on the first date. Or the second. It might not be until the 5th date that you feel that spark. Sometimes it takes time. If you’re enjoying their company and having a good time when you’re together, why not give it more of a chance than just the first date,” Rahbar says.

‘Maybe you’re just too picky.’

Raise your hand if you’ve felt personally victimized by this statement. Are we all in unison? I thought so. While not meant to be an insult in most cases, hearing that your standards are too high is a tough thing to not take personally. Even though you probably just grin and bare it, you can feel reassured that it’s actually bad advice – kind of. “Although there is some truth to that, the problem is we’re all different. So if you only like a certain race or ethnicity then stick to it. When you know what you want, go after it! The more we date, the more we realize what we like and what we really can’t tolerate. At the same token, don’t have a laundry list of must haves, you will never find anyone that meets all those criteria,” Rahbar says.

‘You’ll meet your perfect partner when the time is right.’

It’s comforting to place any of the responsibility of meeting the right person out of your hands and give it to the universe, but as the experts explain, meeting a partner requires some effort. And the realization that perfection is a myth. Licensed professional counselor Crystal Bradshaw says, “By discounting potential partners who don’t check off all your ‘must-haves’, you may be walking right past that perfect partner. Instead, take time to get to know someone, even if they don’t share your views on something or hold all the same interests. The secret is that they show interest in what interest you, they respect your point-of-view on something even if it’s different from their own,” she explains. “When we get to know someone we can appreciate them for who they are and see how they can enrich our lives. So get to know someone, you may find that the closer you get to them the more attractive they become in your eyes.”

‘Really analyze the hell out of your last date.’

Okay, so no one gives you this advice but your friends will likely go down the long, treacherous, overreacting road with you if you invite them. But Bradshaw warns that over thinking every move, action, word, and facial expression can be detrimental to any relationship, especially a new one. “The clients I work with who are seeking a relationship have one thing in common: they overthink things when it comes to relationships. Why? They have been hurt by previous partners, and in hindsight see the red flags they excused away; they have become hyper vigilant to anything that seems like it could be a red flag. They don’t want to go through that experience again,” she explains. “It’s wise to think things through, to consider other angles, to question things; it’s a way to look out for yourself, and it makes total sense. But be careful, you could be taking it to the extreme and making something out of nothing, missing what’s right in front of you. Sometimes you get in your own way when you overthink things and you can come across as indecisive, insecure, not confident, and it can begin to take a toll on your self-esteem. These things can damage your chances if you are on the dating scene. And if these traits are seen by the wrong person, the person who looks for someone who is insecure and not confident, then you may not realize you’ve set yourself up to walk into a unhealthy relationship dynamic.”

‘Don’t tell them you like them too soon.”

Similar to playing hard to get, letting someone know that you’re feeling those tingly, this-could-be-something vibes from them is scary. It not only makes you feel vulnerable, but many of your friends might warn you that you’ll freak them out for coming on too strong and they’ll ghost on you. Grant H. Brenner, MD, says to engage your backbone and be honest. “For people who are serious about meeting someone special to them and nurturing a real relationship, it is important to be open and honest. Honest in the sense of speaking from one’s heart – not in the sense of using honesty as an excuse to say mean things or be critical or blaming,” he explains. “If you can’t be open with whomever you are dating, or you are worried that they are playing games or going to take advantage of you because you feel vulnerable, something is off in the relationship.”

 

Lindsay Tigar is a 26-year-old single writer, editor, and blogger living in New York City. She started her popular dating blog, Confessions of a Love Addict, after one too many terrible dates with tall, emotionally unavailable men (her personal weakness) and is now developing a book about it, represented by the James Fitzgerald Agency. She writes for eHarmony, YourTango, REDBOOK, and more. When she isn’t writing, you can find her in a boxing or yoga class, booking her next trip, sipping red wine with friends or walking her cute pup, Lucy.

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Spending Valentine’s Day With Someone I Love: Me http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/being-single/spending-valentines-day-with-someone-i-love-me/ Tue, 07 Feb 2017 23:09:21 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33532   Even though I’ve been unwillingly single for most of mine, I’ve never hated Valentine’s Day. I’m pretty sure it’s because my birthday is the next week, and I’ve never tried to reverse the childhood idea that all of the flowers, balloons, and chocolates are to celebrate me. But as I got older, I realized […]

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Even though I’ve been unwillingly single for most of mine, I’ve never hated Valentine’s Day. I’m pretty sure it’s because my birthday is the next week, and I’ve never tried to reverse the childhood idea that all of the flowers, balloons, and chocolates are to celebrate me. But as I got older, I realized that most single people found Valentine’s Day annoying, or depressing. The day, and the marketing leading up to it, were reminders of what they didn’t have, and what many of them wanted.

A few years ago, I was getting ready for a trip overseas, and I needed to do a couple of errands downtown. On Valentine’s Day. Though I’d never have said it out loud, the engagement ring commercials I seemed to see every time I turned around were wearing on me. I was ready for Valentine’s Day to be over, even if we skipped straight to Easter baskets. My palms began to sweat just thinking about finding a parking place and dealing with crowds of couples. I might not hate Valentine’s Day, but I also don’t make dinner reservations, or try to see a movie that night. That evening, I thought, is for the couples. I’d never ventured inside.

I found a spot in the crowded parking garage and went about my business. I’d worn my red high heels to celebrate the day, and they clicked purposefully on the sidewalk. When I left my car, I’d vowed to get my errands done as quickly as I could so that I could get home and relax, far from romantic expectations or the question: “Why is a nice girl like you single?” But once I was walking through the balmy air, warmer than usual for February, the sun filtering through the trees, I slowed my steps. Couples walked down the street, hand in hand, and I smiled at them, feeling that I belonged here, too, downtown, on Valentine’s Day.

One of my stops was to buy some yoga pants, the kind that would make me actually want to go to yoga. I braced myself for a crowd of last minute shoppers, this place always seemed to be hopping, but the store was empty. It was just me and several employees, looking bored. They perked up as I walked in.

“What can I help you find?” The saleswoman looked so eager to please, I was tempted to ask her if she had a Valentine’s date somewhere in the back. Instead, she walked me through all the different types of athletic pants, why they had been designed, what they were made of. She brought me piles of colors and patterns to try on, and when I mumbled about my muffin top, she said, “It’s winter, give yourself a break. I think you look great.” When I tried on a pair of pants that made me feel strong and sexy, I thought this might count as the best date I’d ever been on.

This feeling connected with the work I’d been doing in therapy lately, mingled with Brene Brown’s words from her TED Talk about vulnerability and shame (which I’d watched countless times) echoing in my ears, reminding me that I was “worthy of love and belonging.” How could I forget, as I was feeling healthy and ready for a relationship with a wonderful person, that I was already in one with myself?

I have a tendency to say what I’m thinking to strangers, which is how I started talking about being single on Valentine’s Day with the guy who was ringing up my perfect yoga pants.

“I don’t have anybody,” he said. “After work I’m just going home and playing video games.” He said it matter of factly, trying to appear casual, but his eyes looked sad.

I gave him a warm look. “You have yourself, and you are somebody,” I said. “If you don’t treat yourself like a person, how can you expect anyone else to?”

“You know what?” he said. “You’re right.”

After that year, it’s no longer enough for me to let Valentine’s Day pass without sorrow. I got a taste of what it felt like to celebrate it, to allow myself into the club. I loved being one of the Valentines.

These days, I take advantage of the sales on filet mignon, and sear one just for me, with buttery mushrooms on top. I buy the frivolous bottle of rosé sparkling wine, pouring myself an effervescent flute. Sometimes, I’ll pick up a bouquet of tulips and watch them open, slowly, to the light.

I’m not afraid to go out into the world on Valentine’s evening and enter into it. I belong there, not by virtue of being in a couple, but because I am a person. I’m doing my best to remember that I’m very good company, even if I’m the only one there to enjoy it. As I go, I hope that other people see me walking, head held high, and feel the permission to do it, too. I hope that they hear the rhythm of my red high heels, worn just for the delight of it: you are lovely, just as you are, the taps seem to say. Won’t you be my Valentine?

 

caraCara Strickland writes about food and drink, mental health, faith and being single from her home in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys hot tea, good wine, and deep conversations. She will always want to play with your dog. Connect with her on Twitter @anxiouscook or at www.carastrickland.com

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5 Ways to Get Over the Pain of a Breakup http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/breaking-up/5-ways-to-get-over-the-pain-of-a-breakup/ Mon, 30 Jan 2017 22:58:28 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33520 There is a literal pain that comes with the loss of a relationship: a sharp, palpable pain that most people feel at the point that their lower ribs connect. It’s a pulsing, weepy pain that digs into your diaphragm, and takes your breath away. It’s a pain that defies distraction, repels food, and throbs even […]

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There is a literal pain that comes with the loss of a relationship: a sharp, palpable pain that most people feel at the point that their lower ribs connect. It’s a pulsing, weepy pain that digs into your diaphragm, and takes your breath away. It’s a pain that defies distraction, repels food, and throbs even through sleep.

For many broken-hearted people, this physical pain is one of the worst parts of going through a bad break up or divorce. For one thing, it scares them. They can’t make it go away, so they wonder when it will ever stop, or whether they will ever feel better.

Furthermore, maddeningly, it feels like contact with their ex is like the only thing that will stop the hurting. This is true even if they know intellectually that the relationship with their ex is toxic, and any contact will only bring more pain in the end. They still crave the temporary relief it might bring.

If you are in this aching, confusing place here are some tips to help you get through it:

1. Stop beating yourself up.

Most people who are going through this experience believe that there is something wrong with them for feeling the way they do. This is because there is a powerful, and false, myth circulating in our culture that you should just be able to “get over” a relationship without such massive pain and devastation.

Not true. Everyone who has lost a deeply cherished relationship goes through what you are going through. The people for whom breakups were easy simply weren’t bonded to that particular person as deeply as you were to your ex. You hurt so badly because you loved so deeply.

But ironically, the people who experience this sort of devastation often feel ashamed and like there is something wrong with them. So they hide / numb / suppress the pain, and try to get through it alone. You are not alone. And there is nothing wrong with you. On the contrary — you are good at bonding and attaching to others. That is a wonderful thing, in the context of a healthy relationship.

2. Reframe this as withdrawal.

Human beings are built to bond, and form extremely powerful attachments. There are physical systems in your brain and in your body that emotionally weld you to other people. These systems have a great deal in common with the physical systems of addiction. When your attachment bonds are broken, you go into withdrawal.

Heroin addicts, deprived of their fix, writhe sweating on their beds in physical pain, craving the only thing that will make it stop — even though they know, intellectually, it could kill them. They often literally trade their lives for the hope of a few more hours of peace in the arms of Morpheus.

Similarly, heartbroken people lay curled on their beds like shrimp, in the grips of pain that feels like being slowly impaled through their solar plexus. In their agony, they crave the temporary peace of contact with their ex, even though they know it will almost certainly only lead to more disappointment, rejection, and shame.

The difference is that heroin addicts know that they’re in withdrawal. And they know that if they can make it through a few days, it will get better. People suffering through the pain of a breakup have no such assurances, and just feel scared and helpless.

Reminding yourself that you are in physical withdrawal will help you make sense of what is happening. It will also help you remember that this is temporary, and a sign that your recovery has begun.

3. Give yourself time.

Would you expect someone going through the agony of withdrawal to function like nothing was wrong? Of course not, but somehow we don’t allow broken hearted people the time and space they need to put themselves back together again before we brightly encourage them to get out there and date, make some new friends, or enthusiastically take up a new hobby.

Recovery does not work that way. You are going through something big, and you are allowed to not be okay for a while. Embrace your sadness. Feel your pain. Acknowledge the losses. The paradox of grief is that the more bravely we allow it, and allow ourselves to not be okay for a while, the faster we heal.

This is a fragile, vulnerable time and giving yourself time and space to heal from this emotional injury, just like you would a physical injury, will help strengthen you so that when the time is right you can start moving forward again.

4. Go cold-turkey.

Decide to be done. If it’s too hard to think about never seeing your ex again, commit to not connecting with them today. And that means not interacting with them literally, virtually, or in your mind.

This last part, “mind cleansing,” is the hardest, but the most essential to your recovery. It’s one thing to stop having contact with your ex, cut the digital cords of social media, and avoid likely run-ins. But just because you’re not with your ex physically doesn’t change their constant presence in your mind. And herein lies the issue: Every time you think about your ex, it reinforces your emotional and physical bond.

It can be enormously difficult to redirect your thoughts and come mindfully back into the present moment over and over again. But developing this kind of mind control, and stopping yourself from going down the angsty rabbit-hole of daydreams, rumination, and rehashing will set you free quicker than anything else

5. Don’t panic.

People can get really worried about themselves when they are wracked with pain, and feeling like they are falling apart in the aftermath of a breakup. When you can’t stop thinking about your ex even though you know you should, and you can’t “get over it” as speedily as everyone wants you to, it’s easy to get tricked into believing that there is something wrong.

There isn’t. You’re in withdrawal, and your body feels it. You’re craving something that you can no longer have. Embrace the process of recovery, give yourself time to heal, and have faith in the process. You’ll be on the other side soon.

 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, LMFT, BCC is the founder of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching in Denver, Colorado, author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

 

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eHarmony: How the New Communication Experience Works http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/online-dating-tips/eharmony-how-the-new-communication-experience-works/ Tue, 10 Jan 2017 21:44:13 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33479 Well hello! By now you’ve hopefully experienced the new and improved eHarmony — there’s a lot of useful stuff to introduce but before we do, we’d just like to say one thing; you had everything to do with this. That’s right. You spoke up and we listened. You told us what worked and what didn’t and […]

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Well hello! By now you’ve hopefully experienced the new and improved eHarmony — there’s a lot of useful stuff to introduce but before we do, we’d just like to say one thing; you had everything to do with this.

That’s right. You spoke up and we listened. You told us what worked and what didn’t and we committed ourselves to go above and beyond, to think differently, and to take all our new research and turn it into actionable change that would make a difference. The end result was an entirely redesigned communication experience that we hope will make it more enjoyable and easier for you to find that special someone.

That being said, communication is key in any successful relationship. It is also vital in making the right first impression, which is why we’ve put so much time into updating our communication experience. Now, taking the first step feels a bit warmer and more natural in the Guided Communication process.

What is Guided Communication? It’s designed to help you get to know someone at your own pace; if you want more control of the conversation you can go with Quick Questions or you can skip this step and go directly to sending custom messages.

Sending pre-written Quick Questions that ask the hard stuff for you (but in a more welcoming way) efficiently gets to the heart of what you’re looking for. Quick Questions also takes the pressure off of you since the questions come from us. The goal is to help you learn more about someone, easier.

question rev

 

Here’s how it works:

We provide fun yet meaningful questions for you to choose from, so you select the most important ones to ask. Then send them to your match. Your match will then choose from the pre-selected answers, making it a fairly quick process. Your match then gets to send you Quick Questions of their own. You can send as many Quick Questions as you want to. Oh — did we mention that the Quick Questions process is free? Yup! However, if you prefer to write your own answer to a Quick Question you must be a subscriber to do so.

Speaking of subscriber benefits, in addition to having the option to send a custom message to someone, you’ll also get to see everyone’s photos. So if you prefer to skip the Quick Questions and directly connect with people it might help to put a face to whom you’re getting to know.

What should I say?

Great question! It’s important to be you, but it’s also important to pace your communication and keep your initial responses fairly straightforward. That means try not to throw out your contact information in the first message because you could come across as a little too eager. Basically, exercise good judgment and remember that an ideal response is prompt, courteous, friendly, and humorous. We want to make sure that your first impression looks good.

New Inbox

We also want to make sure that your Inbox is looking good…and neatly organized. The new Inbox offers a clearer way to see your communication history with everyone. Now you can see every message you’ve ever sent or received in one place.

messages inbox

Finding unread messages is easier — messages that you know you need to respond to are highlighted with bold text. You will always know how many unread messages you have now because of the numbered badging on the icon.

Match Profile

If you’ve never talked to a match before and would like to message them just go to their profile and click the “Message” button now. If you’ve talked to a match before and are visiting their profile, you’ll see an alert that displays a count of unread messages so you are aware if there is any information that you need to respond to.

message send

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. We encourage you to get in and get familiar with it — it’s got everyone talking and we hope this new and improved way to communicate makes it easier for you to find someone truly special.

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5 Ways to Combat Loneliness This Time of Year http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/about-you/5-ways-to-combat-loneliness-this-time-of-year/ Wed, 21 Dec 2016 18:36:55 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33466 While this season brings excitement, spirit, and joy, it also typically brews sadness, loneliness, jealousy, discomfort, disappointment, and anxiety for many of us. These feelings can become especially overwhelming as you reflect on your life circumstances and come to terms with being single. So, why does this time of year bring up difficult emotions, particularly […]

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While this season brings excitement, spirit, and joy, it also typically brews sadness, loneliness, jealousy, discomfort, disappointment, and anxiety for many of us.

These feelings can become especially overwhelming as you reflect on your life circumstances and come to terms with being single. So, why does this time of year bring up difficult emotions, particularly loneliness?

Holidays breed high expectations and high anticipation as there is pressure to celebrate, shop, eat, gather, give, cheer, etc. While there are many positive effects of celebrating the holidays and the new year, the pressure can be intense. For example, the culture of gift giving leaves most people feeling burdened by the need to find the “perfect” gift, handle financial stress, and avoid over-spending. There may be a feeling of obligation to participate in the extravagant nature of the holiday season.

You might also face many questions as you get together with people who you don’t see regularly. It can be difficult to talk about a dissatisfying dating life or a painful breakup. Being honest might be too anxiety provoking, awkward or stressful. Friends, family, and co-workers may bombard you with questions about your personal life at gatherings, events or parties, causing you to want to avoid social situations and retreat. Feelings of isolation may be also triggered if you don’t feel connected or included in holiday get-togethers or you are struggling to make plans.

Another common reason for loneliness? The end of the year is a natural time for contemplation, reflection, and assessment. Your mind may negatively or harshly judge you or this year as you ponder what went wrong in your love life and why you are still single. Falsely believing that love and happiness are present for everyone but you fuels negative beliefs about yourself and others. These flawed beliefs induce feelings of sadness, loneliness, and loss.

It is essential to remember reflection is good and healthy, but not when it leads you to beating yourself up or believing that the grass is always greener on the other side. Make sure you don’t let the negative outweigh any positive growth or accomplishments that took place throughout the year. The key is to grow from reflection, not to self-shame. Have compassion…always.

No matter where your loneliness originated, it does not have to take over or control your life. To combat loneliness around the holidays and to avoid suffering more, here are five strategies:

  1. Show up for yourself

Validating your emotions and acknowledging how you feel (even if the feelings are completely uncomfortable or miserable) are both important for healing and feeling better. Feelings that are unacknowledged tend to persist and intensify, so remember to do the opposite. Be present with your emotions and resist shaming yourself for feeling lonely or avoiding how you feel. Give yourself permission to feel and understand that you are not alone.

  1. Manage expectations of yourself and others

Many of our ideas about the holidays are not reality-based. Instead, these ideas are fed by our culture and imagination, as well as false hope of perfection and control. Be careful here and give yourself a thorough reality check. If you have social anxiety, expect to feel anxious as you walk into your office holiday party. If your parents are struggling in their marriage, expect that the vibe at the dinner table might be a little off or contentious. I am not at all suggesting you approach life with a negative outlook; this is about having realistic expectations.

  1. Seek company and get out

When you feel lonely, it is common to feel inclined to isolate more. Being alone and feeling unhappy about it naturally leads to rumination and more negative thoughts. It is also more apparent that you are alone in the absence of others. Isolation strengths loneliness, so doing the opposite, and seeking connection and company is healthier. Contact a friend, take a social risk, go to a movie, walk around a museum, exercise, read in a coffee shop, etc. Be out in the world and don’t give into the temptation to hibernate for days on end.

  1. Practice self-care

If you’ve read my other articles, you might think I sound like a broken record when it comes to self-love and self-care. However, taking good care of yourself and treating yourself well are the very means to increasing self-esteem, especially during difficult times. Include yourself when brainstorming gifts for others and remember that nice, compassionate gestures don’t have to cost a penny. Like to cook? Try out a delicious recipe on yourself. Like the outdoors? Take a walk or hike. Like the festive lights? Check out holiday events or décor. With a greater focus on giving to others around the holidays, remember to give to yourself. Bottom line: Self-care is essential and healthy; not selfish.

  1. Volunteer and take deliberate action to make a difference

Volunteering and getting involved are powerful remedies to loneliness because they build a bridge for you to feel needed and achieve a level of intimacy. When you surround yourself with like-minded people who share similar values, passions and interests, you feel connected and secure. Giving back also reinforces that you have an impact on the world. It also gets you out of the house. Get involved by researching volunteer opportunities and organizations that interest you. You will feel better by giving, so remember to be a part of the world and avoid attempting to solve loneliness with further isolation.

 

About the Author:

Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Nationally Certified Counselor and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Rachel is a co-author to Sexy Secrets to a Juicy Love Life, an International Bestseller, written to support single women in decreasing frustration about single-hood, leaving the past behind, cultivating self-love and forming and maintaining loving relationships. Rachel also serves as a Relationship Expert for http://www.datingadvice.com/ and other dating and relationship advice websites. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!

 

 

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Want an Amazing Life? It’s All in Your Head http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/about-you/want-an-amazing-life-its-all-in-your-head/ Tue, 13 Dec 2016 18:15:49 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33445 Positive thoughts are accompanied by positive changes in your body’s biochemistry. Negative thoughts, on the other hand, tend to depress both your immunity and your mood. And remember that both types of thoughts tend to attract their physical equivalents. That is why getting a handle on the quality of your daily thoughts—and choosing them more […]

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Positive thoughts are accompanied by positive changes in your body’s biochemistry. Negative thoughts, on the other hand, tend to depress both your immunity and your mood. And remember that both types of thoughts tend to attract their physical equivalents. That is why getting a handle on the quality of your daily thoughts—and choosing them more deliberately and consciously—is a powerful tool for making your life easy.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And it actually is simple. The problem is this: It is estimated that we think about 60,000 thoughts per day. Of these, 80 percent are negative and habitual, e.g., “It’s too late for me to [blank].” Or “My father was right. I’ll never amount to anything.” And on it goes. Thoughts, like genes, are handed down in families and tribes, and they are highly contagious. For example, if you are brought up in a family that believes rich people are evil, chances are very good that you will have exactly the same thought. Thinking differently from your tribe is a considered a betrayal. And, as you will remember from an earlier chapter, tribes punish what they consider betrayal with shame and abandonment. Because shame and abandonment are painful, most people don’t want to risk changing their habitual thoughts, lest they no longer fit in. I’m bringing this up now so that, when you meet the inevitable resistance that arises with changing thoughts, you’ll know you’re on the right track!

Luckily, we all have the ability to change the way we think. In his magnificent TED talk, Dr. Joe Dispenza goes into great detail about how thoughts and their accompanying feelings actually change the neuronal patterns in our brains. Repetitive thoughts and feelings of joy or compassion actually create new connections in the brain, and the old ones—of depression and sadness—eventually fall away. But only with repetition and dedication. What we’ve learned about the brain is that it gets good at whatever it does the most. Repetitive thoughts create faster and larger neural pathways in the brain much the same way as nature trails in the woods become easier to follow and walk on the more people walk on them. As the popular axiom goes, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” The ability of the brain to change its wiring with different thought and movement patterns is known as neuroplasticity. And that quality stays with us for a lifetime, which means that it’s never too late to change your thought patterns and thus improve your life.

Changing your thoughts takes repetition, self-love, optimism, patience, and discipline. When you begin to pay loving attention to your thoughts—no matter how negative they are—you will gradually upgrade to more positive ones quite naturally. The end result will be that your life is forever changed for the better. Your thoughts and the associated chemicals that affect your body will all be working for you. So let’s get started with some tried-and-true ways to change your thoughts.

Loving Your Inner Innocence

Spiritual teacher Matt Kahn points out that what we call “the shadow” is really our inner child and inner innocence that has been ignored and shamed for so long it will do anything to get our attention. To emphasize this point, in one of his lectures on YouTube, he recounted a time in his life when the power of his inner child became obvious. He was communing with ascended masters and other high-vibration spiritual guides when a voice in his head said, “Go f**k yourself.” It was the voice of his inner child, whose needs he had been ignoring. It turns out that the inner child loves four-letter words for emphasis.

When I heard this, a lightbulb went on for me. Of course! Almost every single one of us, including me, tends to have a deep-seated belief from our past that what we have to say or contribute is not good enough. This belief comes from the overstimulated nervous system—and subsequent unconscious beliefs—of our inner child. And the inner children of our parents, and their parents, and so on.

You will not be successful at changing your thoughts sustainably, let alone your behavior, until you have loved this part of yourself. You must love it as you would a five-year-old in pain. So while you’re catching yourself thinking negative thoughts, first say something like “I love you. You’re beautiful. I value you. I forgive you. You are precious” to the child inside who is just letting you know how she feels. Put your hand over your heart and say these words out loud. Like you mean it. Because just putting an intellectual layer of “choose the thought that feels better” on top of the pain of your inner child is not going to work. She needs your love, and she’s going to keep demanding it until you pay attention. So start by understanding that those negative thoughts are simply coming from the aspect of yourself that needs love. Attend to this part first, and then watch how easily you can change your thoughts.

Limit Exposure to Negativity

Aside from loving your inner child, there are quite a number of things you can do to help you change your thoughts. The first is to limit negative outside influences. This includes much of mainstream media, music, video games, and the Internet, along with anyone who drains your energy. Remember that our entire culture is set up to feed our egos and keep us afraid. We’re constantly being bombarded with things that keep us stuck in fear and negativity. Anything that elicits fear, anger, fatigue, or a sense of powerlessness needs to be cut out of your life—or at least reduced as much as possible.

Let’s take mainstream news, for example. It’s fine to stay informed about the world. And quite frankly, you’d have to be living under a rock not to be informed these days given the 24/7 news cycle and the Internet. But just be media savvy and know your sources. Mainstream news chooses the most extreme situations from all over the globe—then adds powerful, evocative music and replays scenes of pain, anger, and mayhem repeatedly 24/7. Mainstream news is a business that is supported by advertisers who have a particular point of view. Most commercial television shows, for example, are supported by Big Food and Big Pharma, and the content of the shows they support is generally in alignment with the message they want you to believe. If you are media savvy and know how mass media works, then fine. You won’t be unconsciously imbibing the negativity.

But I, for one, am rarely able to maintain my usually optimistic cheery mood after I’ve watched the evening news. So I don’t watch it. Why? Because no human being has nervous, endocrine, and immune systems that were designed to process the negative news from all over the planet that’s being piped into their living room on a daily basis. Frankly, most of us have enough on our plates with frustrations from our own jobs, neighborhoods, and families, let alone the entire planet.

The reason why it’s so important to avoid negativity is because it disconnects you from your power to make a positive change in the world and in your life. It does just the opposite. It deadens us and renders us powerless. How can we possibly make a difference in the face of so much pain and destruction? It’s paralyzing to stay in this low-vibration state. So you must do whatever it takes to raise your vibration to a higher level characterized by optimism, hope, and joy.

When you are connected to the Divine part of yourself, you are aligned with the power of pure positive energy. And that pure positive energy creates a magnetic field that draws in more pure positive energy. This is the kind of energy that thrives on inspiration and the lifting up of others. It builds things up, rather than tearing them down. It is the exact opposite of the energy that produces vandalism and rampages of violence. Aligning with pure, positive energy inspires you to take a walk in nature, smile at strangers, and become a force for good. And that pure, positive energy is what uplifts and heals the planet. Powerfully so. And that is scientific fact.

The Power of Affirmations

Chances are that you’ve heard of using affirmations as a way to change ingrained negative thought patterns. But what exactly are affirmations, and how do you use them?

Affirm means to state as a fact—strongly and publicly—and/or to support emotionally. Thus an affirmation is a strong statement spoken or written as fact that supports you emotionally in order to bring forth or emphasize something you desire. An example of an affirmation is “I am free, happy, and healthy. Happiness is my birthright. I was born to be joyous.”

To use affirmations, you simply say them. Look in the mirror and speak them aloud. When you do this, you are literally creating new neural pathways in your brain. It doesn’t happen right away, but remember what I said at the beginning of this chapter: Your brain gets good at what it does often. So give yourself time and also make sure that the very act of affirming something is enjoyable. Affirmations that are done as a chore and without your wholehearted attention won’t create much change in your life.

What Goes into an Affirmation?

Affirmations are strong statements, set in the present tense, that express some desired outcome in your life. For example, “Life supports me in every way.” Or “I am healthy and completely pain free.” Pretty simple, right?

There are, however, a couple of traps you can set for yourself when coming up with affirmations. It’s important not to sabotage yourself with an affirmation that’s a real long shot for you.

An example would be, “I happily make $1,000,000 per year, tax free” when you are saddled with debt and are working for a relativity low wage. It’s too much of a jump for your brain to handle that new prosperous reality. And your body and mind are likely to rebel.

Also keep in mind that you don’t want to make the affirmations too detailed or specific, such as “The love of my life, who has a great job, makes a lot of money, has a wonderful relationship with his family, and is compassionate to all beings, is already here.” Tosha Silver calls this “giving God a shopping list”—a great term. But it’s much more effective to make a broad, general statement about how you want to feel: “The love of my life, who makes me feel happy and alive, is already here.” When we give God our “shopping list” of specific things we want, it limits what the Divine can do through us. And trust me, we want the Divine part of ourselves to lead us, because the Divine knows what we need better than our limited intellects ever could.

Remember that affirmations don’t actually make things happen. Instead, they can raise your vibration so that you are more receptive to the desired outcome.

I wanted to develop the kind of mind-set that would attract abundance. And I had to do this fast. Besides reading the books, I created some pro-prosperity affirmations. These weren’t simply about money—though some were. They were about prosperity in all aspects of my life. They were about how I wanted to feel. How I wanted to live. How I wanted to interact with the world. These were some of my favorites:

I am now experiencing perfect health, abundant prosperity, and complete and utter happiness. This is true because the world is full of charming people who now lovingly help me in every way.

I am now come into an innumerable company of angels.

I am now living a delightful, interesting, and satisfying life of the most widely useful kind.

Because of my own increased wealth, health, and happiness, I am now able to help others live a delightful, interesting, and satisfying life of the most widely useful kind. My good—our good—is universal.

Today I am reborn spiritually. I completely detach myself from my old way of thinking, and I bring Divine Love, light, health, joy, wealth, success, pleasure, prosperity, and abundance into my experience in concrete, definite ways.

I soar above all problems and obstacles as I triumphantly move forward to claim my Divine birthright of unlimited wealth, health, love, prosperity, and abundance.

I accept only harmony, peace of mind, radiantly good health, personal love, and overflowing financial abundance as the natural conditions in my daily life.

There is great power in my joy, pleasure, and vision of a delightful life.

I said these affirmations out loud—every day, over and over again—while walking fast on a treadmill. I wanted the words to get into my body, so I said them with great enthusiasm to boost my vibration as high as I could get it. These statements helped make me into a far more solid container for abundance than I had been before. Little by little, day by day, they gave me the energy and inspiration I needed to do the nuts and bolts of becoming financially literate.

The power of affirmations in my own life is indisputable. I suggest that you create some of your own to help you shift in whatever way you need to shift. And add new ones regularly. Start each morning with a few. And put them on your bathroom mirror. If you’d like, you can sign up for daily affirmations delivered to your in-box right on my website.

northrup book*Excerpted from Making Life Easy: A Simple Guide to a Divinely Inspired Life, available now.*

About the Author:

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness, which includes the unity of mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Internationally known for her empowering approach to women’s health and wellness, Dr. Northrup teaches women how to thrive at every stage of life. A board-certified OB/GYN physician, Dr. Northrup graduated from Dartmouth Medical School and did her residency at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston. She was also an assistant clinical professor of OB/GYN at Maine Medical Center for 20 years.

 

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After the Relationship Collapse: 4 Things to Consider http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/relationships/after-the-breakup-4-things-to-do-stat/ Fri, 02 Dec 2016 00:00:27 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33420 It might have been a huge blow-up where you and your partner both said awful, hurtful words. It could have been a slow-building tension that brought coldness and distance. The effects are the same… your relationship feels like it has collapsed. The strong foundation of trust, communication, respect, and even love has been shaken and feels […]

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It might have been a huge blow-up where you and your partner both said awful, hurtful words. It could have been a slow-building tension that brought coldness and distance. The effects are the same… your relationship feels like it has collapsed. The strong foundation of trust, communication, respect, and even love has been shaken and feels destroyed.

You might be very upset, not sleeping or eating well and fearful about your future. You may also be feeling justified about what you’ve said or done. After all, your partner did something awful!

When your relationship has fallen apart, try this:

1. Be honest with yourself about what happened.

The first thing we recommend you do after a relationship collapse is to assess the state of your union. If your mind is racing ahead to what you think the future might hold or to what you guess your partner will do next, stop. If you’re replaying in your mind your version of what went down between you two, stop. Slow down your thinking and, instead, get very clear about literally what happened.

This is going to be your biased perspective, so be as choosy as you can about what you believe is true. Think about what was actually said and the actions that really happened. Go with observations and verifiable information when at all possible.

If, for example, you’re “sure” about your partners intentions or feelings, ask yourself if you really know this. Keep returning to what was said, what was done, and how you feel about it.

2. Be honest with yourself about what’s in your best interest.

Next, we invite you to consider the wisdom of repairing your relationship. We do NOT think that people should throw away a perfectly good relationship just because mistakes (even big mistakes) were made or an argument happened.

But, we also know how important it is to make conscious choices about one’s life…this includes the conscious choice to stay in or to leave a relationship.

Think about what is in your best interest. Think about where you stand right now with your partner and also about where you want to go in the future. Remind yourself that you deserve to have the relationship you truly want.

It’s also helpful to review what you know about your partner’s actions and stated intentions.

For instance, if your partner had an affair, get clear about whether or not the affair has actually ended. If it hasn’t, do you have any indication that your mate is planning to stop cheating? If he or she has vowed to end the affair but has done nothing to follow through, consider that as well.

The decision to stay in or leave a relationship is yours to make.

3. Be willing to own your role.

You’ve probably heard the saying that it takes “two to tango.” As uncomfortable as it is to admit, this is almost always true. What your partner said or did may have been a huge betrayal, but there is probably a role you also played in the relationship collapse. With gentleness and self-love, try to determine what your role was and is.

This isn’t about you taking the blame or being the only one at fault for what happened. That’s not helpful either! This is about you owning the part in your relationship that contributed to the collapse.

This might have been your tendency to say “yes” even when you mean “no.” This may be your habit of jumping to conclusions or to shutting down and withdrawing when things got tense. Find out what your role is and ask yourself if you are willing to make some changes.

4. Take your next best step.

The advice we’ve given you so far has all been what we call “advance work.” This is vital if you truly want to repair the damage of the relationship collapse. It is rarely a wise idea to rush to any action without taking some amount of time to get clear within yourself about where you stand, what your role is, and what is beneficial for you.

When couples have the same argument or they break up and reunite over and over again, it’s often because neither of them has done the advance work. They are merely repeatedly reacting to one another and building up even more hostility and pain. As you do the advance work we’ve recommended, you’re going to begin to know what is your next best step.

This might not be an action or decision that you are necessarily happy or comfortable with, but it will feel certain and right for you. Your next best step might be to offer your partner a heartfelt apology, to set a firm boundary, or to seek help from a professional.

Whatever it is, take your next step and keep checking in with yourself as you take another and another. This is the way to rebuild trust and connection and to re-discover your love for one another.

More at YourTango:

50 Love Quotes That Express Exactly What ‘I Love You’ Really Means

4 MUST-DO Tips For A Successful Monogamous Relationship

7 Critical Things Couples With Good Communication Do WAY Differently

 

Originally posted at YourTango

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Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater? 5 Surprising Truths About Trusting a Partner With a Past http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/relationship-questions/once-a-cheater-always-a-cheater-5-surprising-truths-about-trusting-a-partner-with-a-past/ Thu, 27 Oct 2016 21:57:19 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33210 Who can you trust? That’s the gamble, and when it comes to choosing a partner, fidelity is a core aspect most of us require. Yet the adage, “once a cheater, always a cheater,” isn’t always true. Here are five guidelines you can use right now to make the wisest choice if you find yourself drawn […]

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Who can you trust? That’s the gamble, and when it comes to choosing a partner, fidelity is a core aspect most of us require.

Yet the adage, “once a cheater, always a cheater,” isn’t always true. Here are five guidelines you can use right now to make the wisest choice if you find yourself drawn to a partner with a past. 

1.Weigh Their Past

Factually, odds are highest that your sweetie will treat your relationship boundaries like they treated those boundaries in other relationships. In study after study, past behavior is your crystal ball; it’s the single best predictor of how any of us will behave, given similar circumstances. It’s one reason why someone who cheated with you is likely to cheat on you.

Overlook this rule of thumb, and you’ll get hurt again and again. People tend to do what and whom they have done before.

2.Note Their Timing

The recent past is particularly important. How long ago was the affair? A person who cheated last month and says it won’t happen again might be telling the truth.  But the person who had an affair once, ten years ago, and never did it again, is far safer.

Timing also matters in the context of their former relationship. Most people, including people who have had an affair, aren’t willful philanderers. But a statistically small group sees “getting some” — strange as that is — as their right. If they’ve cheated early in the passionate love phase of a relationship–during serious exclusive dating, engagement, or in the honeymoon phase of marriage—that’s a red flag you’re with one of them.  

3.Examine Their Habits

Was their cheating a one-night, one-time thing, or something they turned to often? Repeated acts are likelier to recur; they become habits. And especially in stressful times, people return to their habits. 

All relationships go through stresses. Are you okay with a partner whose default is soothing themselves in another’s arms? 

4.Explore Their Insight

What reasons does your new love give for their past infidelity? Do they offer excuses–or remorse? Do they give themselves a pass–or did they commit to change even if they were never caught, because in their view, affairs are wrong and they don’t want to catch themselves violating their own moral code? Do they accept responsibility for their choices and behavior, or do they pawn it off on their ex’s failings?

It’s a safer bet for you if your would-be mate takes it all on the chin: my fault, my responsibility, and my choices led to this. Remember the saying, the first step to change is knowing you have a problem? Ownership is key. If your date defends, excuses, and finds just cause for their past infidelity, prepare for more. 

Bonus points if they acknowledge a basic moral code of fidelity. A person who uses rough times in the relationship or flaws in their ex as an excuse for infidelity is a person who most likely will be unfaithful again.

5.Consider Yourself

During prep for this article, I heard from many people who basically said, “Even if you gave me all the data on best-cases, I would never again date someone who cheated. A partner was unfaithful to me, and I would always be waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Or, “I trusted someone with a past, and they cheated on me too.”

If that’s you, the psychological strain is just not worth it. Under those circumstances, it’s likely best to avoid everyone with a history of infidelity, no matter what might indicate it wouldn’t recur. Living with constant fear is contrary to loving yourself, and besides, most people have never cheated on anyone. Choose from among them!

So, who can you trust? You can trust everyone–to be who they already are. Take a clear-eyed view of your partner; accept that you aren’t going to change them; weigh the available evidence; and get honest about your own comfort level.  You have the tools you need.

img01Then—trust accordingly. It’s not a guarantee. Science has few of those. But it’s the way to bet.

Dr. Duana Welch is a relationship coach and the author of Love Factually, the first book that uses science rather than opinion to help men and women put all the odds in their favor for every stage of dating. You can get a free chapter and learn more at http://www.lovefactually.co/

 

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15 Ways to Get an Old Love Out of Your Head http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/about-you/15-ways-to-get-an-old-love-out-of-your-head/ Tue, 25 Oct 2016 22:17:46 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33188 When a relationship comes to an end, the process of healing and moving on hopefully begins. The person you’re trying to let go of may be a recent part of your love life or an old flame. Now comes the task of wiping the slate clean, so you’ll be ready when a new partner enters your […]

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When a relationship comes to an end, the process of healing and moving on hopefully begins. The person you’re trying to let go of may be a recent part of your love life or an old flame. Now comes the task of wiping the slate clean, so you’ll be ready when a new partner enters your life.

Here are 15 practices that will help you leave the past behind:

1. Keep a realistic perspective of the person. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and every relationship has good and bad times. Acknowledging both assures you that your old love was not, in fact, ideal.

2. Clean your emotional house. Honestly inventory the strong feelings left over–pain, anger, regret–and then take time to heal. Proven techniques for doing that abound. Find the ones that make sense to you and get to work.

3. Clean your physical house. You might still have reminders of the relationship you’re trying to leave behind — photographs, mementos, and letters. Boxing them up can have a cleansing effect, a signal to your subconscious mind that a new beginning is underway.

4. Burn the bridge completely. If you know the relationship with your ex is truly over, then there’s nothing to gain from trying to be “just friends” or other variations. The best break is a clean break.

5. Watch your language. Meaning, watch how much you talk about your old relationship. The more your ex’s name comes out of your mouth, the more that person stays in your thoughts.

6. Close anything left open-ended. Whether they left your life weeks ago or years ago, you might have things you still need to say, amends you need to make, items you should have returned, or feelings you want to convey. Bring closure by taking care of what you need to.

7. Turn off the instant replay. Your mind can get stuck reliving the past, either adding fuel to your smoldering anger or romanticizing your memories. Either way, remember that you have sole possession of the remote control and can choose to direct your thoughts elsewhere.

8. Get involved in new activities. The process of leaving an old love behind is helped greatly by finding new pursuits that bring you joy, especially those that connect you with interesting people.

9. Resist the urge to follow the person via social media. Yes, of course you want to know what they’re up to! But if you really want to get that person out of your head, don’t fill it with current images and updates.

10. Tighten your ship. Let the breakup be an opportunity for honest self-assessment — so you’re that much better prepared for your next relationship. Are you a little too controlling? Argumentative? Clingy? Now’s the time to deal with it.

11. Forgive your ex. Holding a grudge ties you to the past, keeping you psychologically connected to the person and experiences you are trying to put behind you. Let it go — and set yourself free.

12. Forgive yourself. It’s just as likely you’ve said and done things yourself along the way you are not proud of — and equally important to put them behind you.

13. Practice gratitude. One time-honored way to move on from the past is to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Like magic, the words “I am thankful for …” will empower you to step forward.

14. Activate your support group. Enlist trusted friends and family to your cause, people who will inspire excitement about the future.

15. Expect new love to appear at any moment. Looking ahead with anticipation will help you stop looking back with longing. Romance can appear anywhere, anytime. Your job is to be fresh and ready when it does — not stuck in the past.

More: 15 ways to know it’s time to break up

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6 Tips for Successful Dating in the Digital Age http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/date-tips/6-tips-for-successful-dating-in-the-digital-age/ Mon, 17 Oct 2016 22:59:24 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33168 Technology has exploded our dating options and put dating effectively on amphetamines. The sheer quantity of choices gives us the feeling that we can and will meet someone through technology. How could we not? And yet, precisely because there is so much choice, we often don’t give the person we’ve met a real chance. If […]

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Technology has exploded our dating options and put dating effectively on amphetamines. The sheer quantity of choices gives us the feeling that we can and will meet someone through technology. How could we not?

And yet, precisely because there is so much choice, we often don’t give the person we’ve met a real chance. If anything isn’t to our immediate liking, we dive back into our device, back into the land of possibility. Sometimes we do this even when we like the person we’ve met, because we can, and there still could be someone better.

Technology creates a climate of always chasing better—something else.

Rather than focusing on the relationship in front of us—giving it our full attention, we look outside for what we might be missing out on. Consequently, it can feel like no one is ever good enough to stop searching for better. As a result, relationships that, before technology, might have turned into successful partnerships, never get the chance. It was difficult enough for a relationship to get out of the starting gate before technology, but now, despite or maybe because of all the possibilities, it can feel nearly impossible. There’s more potential but the potential remains unrealized.

These days, when a relationship does start, the primary form of communication is often texting. This can create a host of challenges that didn’t exist before technology. When we begin dating, we don’t know someone well and yet we text as if we do, sometimes communicating dozens of times in a day, sharing banter, minutia, and whatever else comes to mind. We communicate as if we are integrated players in each other’s lives, which we are not, at least not yet. So too, we now text with a flirtatious confidence, sometimes sexual, that does not match the actual level of intimacy we’ve achieved. Then, when we meet our person in the flesh or even on the phone, we have to play a game of emotional catch up, to try and bring the real relationship into sync with the virtual. We feel embarrassed and awkward, overexposed. We are building a relationship between two avatars, but not these two humans. But we can’t turn back, we’ve gone too far down the virtual road, and so are frequently left to continue in the virtual relationship, or nothing at all.

Dating in the age of technology presents challenges that can be difficult even for the most confident of daters. It is now possible to know if and when someone has read our text, which means that if our recipient has indeed read our words but not responded, or chosen not to read it at all, to leave it in the dreaded unopened, we are forced into the often unkind and frequently brutal hands of our inner dating critic.

With the help of modern technology, we are left to live a good portion of our dating life inside the maze of our own personal narrative. While we naturally craft our own story about what is happening within the relationship, technology exacerbates the storyteller within us by providing just enough information to send our mind into a tailspin, but not enough to set us free.

Technology is remarkable for many tasks, but if what we really want is to find meaningful connection with another human being, then technology is probably not the right means to achieve that end. Online dating allows us to meet people we would never get to meet, it provides options and inventory, but after we meet, we still have to be willing to do the real life work that real life relationships require. If we’re over the age of three, getting close to another person takes time and effort, but when we put in that time and effort, the infinitely possible can become infinitely real.

Tips for successful dating in the age of technology:

When beginning a new relationship, Do NOT use texting as your means of communication. Use it only as a last resort, for example, when running late for a date. Make an explicit agreement with your partner to communicate by telephone first, and email as a second option. (Or better yet, stop by in the flesh.)

When beginning a new relationship, REFRAIN from surfing the online dating world (chasing the better) until you are sure that the new person you are considering is not going to be your person. Give each person you date your full attention, one at a time.

When on a date, DO NOT keep your phone on the table or hold it in your hand.

When on a date, DO NOT check your dating profile.

CONTEMPLATE the following questions: Am I using my virtual dating life to avoid something in my real life? Is dating another distraction that keeps me from dealing with areas of my life or myself that need my attention? Do I really want a real relationship and if so, am I willing to do the work to create it?

RECOGNIZE that real relationships (with humans, not robots) take effort and time, are not easy and never without discomfort. REMIND yourself, when confronted with these challenges, that this is precisely the work that real relationships require, where the seeds are watered so that something worthwhile can bloom! Finally, honor yourself for putting in the effort to achieve something you desire.

 

About the Author

nancycolierNANCY COLIER is a psychotherapist, interfaith minister, author, and veteran meditator. She is the author of Inviting a Monkey to Tea: Befriending Your Mind, Discovering Lasting Contentment (Hohm Press, 2012), and her new book The Power of Off: The Mindful Way to Stay Sane in a Virtual World (Sounds True, November 2016). She lives in New York City. For more, visit nancycolier.com.

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Emotional Abuse: What to Look For http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/relationship-problems/emotional-abuse-what-to-look-for/ Mon, 17 Oct 2016 18:51:16 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33156 When you consider what domestic violence is, you likely have those scary images in your head of an outraged partner physically attacking his wife or worse, their children, resulting in a frantic 911 emergency call. While – of course – violence is not only terrifying but damaging, the much more common type of abuse has […]

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When you consider what domestic violence is, you likely have those scary images in your head of an outraged partner physically attacking his wife or worse, their children, resulting in a frantic 911 emergency call. While – of course – violence is not only terrifying but damaging, the much more common type of abuse has nothing to do with someone using his hands, but rather, his words. In fact, therapists often say that many people (especially women) are emotionally abused every single day without realizing it.

“Emotional abuse can happen in any relationship once in awhile or continuously. I think that most people at one point in their lives have experienced some form of emotional abuse. Berating a person, yelling at them, calling them names, making them feel less than, all of this would constitute emotional abuse. At the base of emotional abuse is that the victim is made to feel bad about themselves. Emotional abuse can be dangerous if the person allows themselves to be abused, and then begins to put themselves down,” explains Dr. Dawn Michael, clinical sexologist and relationship expert.

You’re getting yelled at for nothing.

Every couple – no matter how much of a match you are for one another – has disagreements. Therapists actually say that arguing within a relationship can be healthy, as it helps you better communicate to your partner and can help widen your own perspective. But there’s a difference between bickering over who last walked the dog and your partner screaming at you inappropriately. “We call this the feeling of ‘walking on eggshells’ or in other words, when even the smallest mistakes you make has the person getting mad at you. This in turn can cause a person to become nervous around that person and make even more mistakes,” Michael explains. “This one is particularly insidious because if you do something small that they don’t like, your expectation would be that they either brush it off or say nicely not to do it, but a person who yells at the small stuff is usually a person that is controlling and has very little patience and therefore allows little mistakes to upset them. For instance, one time you don’t put the toothpaste cap on and they scream at you and tell you that you don’t care about them because you left the cap off.”

They say sly remarks that beat your confidence.

Though your boyfriend might tease you for the way you peel an orange or the crazy way you like to eat your french fries with ranch dressing and ketchup, an abusive partner will carefully say certain things that rub you the wrong way. Not only is it a tactic to always have the upper hand, those remarks overtime beat down your confidence and lead you to rely more solely on him for your own self-worth. “An emotionally abusive partner will put you down, instead of lift you up. Instead of complimenting you, they put you down, which can make you feel bad about yourself. They may say that if you were smarter you would have a better job, or if you lost weight people would like you more. It can even be putting you down to make you feel small so they feel better about themselves. This is not a nice person!”

They always result to name-calling.

Of all the things your partner should call you – derogatory and demeaning names are not terms of endearment or affection. Instead, they are a way of making you feel negative about yourself or to win an argument. “When couples argue it is not that they argue because all couples do, but how they argue. When name calling is a part of the argument its effects are lasting,” Michael explains. “Once it comes out of your mouth you can’t put it back in. Name calling is very immature as well as a way to gain control rather than resolve a problem and what happens over time is that the person being called names just begins to lose all respect for the other person.”

What should you do?

In so many words: stand up for yourself and get out of the relationship stat. “If your gut tells you that it is feeling abusive, then it is. Don’t brush it under the covers and take it, stand up for yourself and let that person know that you are not going to take it from them, if they can’t get their anger under control them they need to get help,” Michael says. “There are only so many times a person can apologize for being abusive. If they continue to do so then tell them that when they act that way you will not engage with them and walk away from them until they can cool down and be respectful. If you find yourself fighting back stop yourself, and walk away, because then it just becomes heated with no resolve, don’t stoop to their levels.”

Learn more about emotional abuse and how to get help.

 

About the Author: Lindsay Tigar is a 26-year-old single writer, editor, and blogger living in New York City. She started her popular dating blog, Confessions of a Love Addict, after one too many terrible dates with tall, emotionally unavailable men (her personal weakness) and is now developing a book about it, represented by the James Fitzgerald Agency. She writes for eHarmony, YourTango, REDBOOK, and more. When she isn’t writing, you can find her in a boxing or yoga class, booking her next trip, sipping red wine with friends or walking her cute pup, Lucy.

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Are You Emotionally Needy? 8 Signs That Point to Yes http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/relationships/are-you-emotionally-needy-8-signs-that-point-to-yes/ Wed, 12 Oct 2016 18:00:57 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33139 We are all emotionally needy to some degree in relationships — meaning simply that, during a difficult time, we need more emotional support than usual. We all long to be understood, supported, loved, and accepted. It’s OK to reach out and ask for help — sometimes. And that’s okay. Yet, being overly emotionally needy — […]

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We are all emotionally needy to some degree in relationships — meaning simply that, during a difficult time, we need more emotional support than usual. We all long to be understood, supported, loved, and accepted.

It’s OK to reach out and ask for help — sometimes. And that’s okay. Yet, being overly emotionally needy — too demanding, clingy, annoying, fragile — can spell trouble for your relationship.

A person should be able to stand on their own, tolerate aloneness, and manage their own ‘stuff’ for a healthy relationship to exist. How we go about expressing our needs has a lot to do with our personality and our attachment style — our style based on how we learned to relate to our parents and how emotionally available they were…or not.

There are 3 styles of attachment that help create how secure or insecure we feel in relationships: secure, anxious, and avoidant.

Secure people present themselves as warm and loving and were most likely raised with caregivers that were consistently caring and responsive. Avoidant people often come across as dismissive, often minimize closeness and were raised in an environment that was less emotional and one in which insecurity and neediness were not tolerated.

However, people with an anxious attachment style are the ones that present and who are seen as overly needy. Some of the key characteristics are:

•Minimizing or denying their needs and look to others to fill their emotional gaps and emptiness in a way that often becomes manipulative.
•Worrying about their partner’s love and ‘search out’ for all the mannerisms and nuances that might indicate that their partner doesn’t love them.
•Emotionally overwhelmed and will reach out and ‘need’ their partner more to make them feel secure or constantly remind them of how they feel.
•Insecurity and oversensitivity to any slight.
•Had parents (or a parent) who was inconsistently nurturing. This created inner angst and turmoil and contributed to their anxiety — especially around relationships. 

However, this often leaves their partner emotionally tapped out and overwhelmed by their neediness. They are worn out. And yet, anxious people do the very thing they fear the most will happen — they push their partner away. Their behaviors are counterproductive, yet hard to stop doing in the moment.

For the other person, there is nothing they can do to help this person. You cannot encourage growth, compliment them, or reassure them — enough. They have an insatiable and exhausting emotional ‘neediness.’

Are you emotionally needy? Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do you look at your romantic partner to make you happy?

2. Do you look to your partner to fulfill all your needs in love, sex, and support?

3. Do you look to your partner for constant reassurance and validation? Are you looking for others to make you feel good about yourself — always looking outside ‘self’ for reassurance? And even if you get it, do you depend on it all the time? Do you feel abandoned if your partner is not available? Are you afraid your partner will not be there for you?

4. Do you get upset if your partner doesn’t react in a certain way, doesn’t meet a need?

5. If you are alone, do you do things to fill the void with other distractions? Or when alone, do you go over past conversations or worry that he/she might leave? Is it difficult to be alone?

6. Is your relationship the center of your universe? What about your relationship with other friends or family? Friends or your kids?

7. Does it bother you if you are not included in your partner’s plans?

8. Do you get jealous of things that he/she is doing without you?

You can overcome being emotionally needy. Here are 7 ways to do so:

Become more aware.

Awareness is the first step to recognizing there is a problem with how you relate to others and the increase in anxiety and anxious feelings relationships bring out in you. Begin to explore your anxious attachment style and start addressing how you can become less needy and clingy. Learn to connect the dots and understand what it is about your attachment style and upbringing that creates the neediness in your relationship. This will help you recognize unhealthy relationship patterns.

Be mindful.

Learn to sit with your anxiety and the uncertainties of life. Accept how you feel and don’t pass judgment on yourself. They will continue. Life is full of shades of gray, uncertainty, and unanswered questions. Uncertainty can also be an instigator for change.

Hold that text!

If you’ve reached out to someone (via phone, text, email), give them time to respond. There’s no need to do it again. There might be another explanation as to why they haven’t responded. It’s not always about you — so don’t personalize it. Overly needy people cannot wait. Silence is the worst.

Don’t suffocate someone.

No matter how close you are to another person, it is unhealthy to spend all of your time with him or her. They will feel overwhelmed and start to do things that back them out of the relationship. If it’s difficult for you to tolerate alone time, you will inevitably sabotage your relationship. Simply force yourself to back off in order to give both of you some space. Space in a relationship is key to long term success.

Improve your self-esteem.

If you struggle with being needy, odds are you probably lack self-esteem. Start doing things on your own, learn to be single, focus on yourself and what you did — or didn’t do — to contribute to the demise of the relationship. Engage in activities that are healthy for you and learn to feel more secure and confident. Remember: a person can boost up your self-esteem and make you feel good once in awhile, but this is not their job. It is our responsibility to do that for ourselves. Another person cannot be your only source of happiness. That’s a lot of pressure to put on another person.

Learn to trust.

Neediness is often associated with not trusting in others and often a fear of abandonment. If you start doubting someone’s feelings for you or fear being abandoned, you will start to put the ‘neediness’ wheels in motion — that actually provoke the person to want to run from the relationship. Do you feel abandoned? Are you afraid your partner will not be there for you? Are you looking for others to make you feel good about yourself — always looking outside ‘self’ for reassurance? Trusting that it’s okay to feel insecure in one another, but also asking yourself why you don’t trust the other person, is key.

Try to be more independent.

True non-neediness begins when you stop depending on others to take care of you and seeking fulfillment externally — because doing this only creates a black hole of never having enough. Ask yourself, what do I need to do to become more self-reliant and independent? What changes do I need to make to get me to a better and healthier place? Having more independence within the relationship is key to helping it thrive long term.

Making these changes in your life will help you get to the place you want to be! You will find yourself in a healthier relationship!

More at YourTango:

50 Love Quotes That Express Exactly What ‘I Love You’ Really Means

If He Doesn’t Have These 20 Qualities, He’s NOT Your Soulmate

4 MUST-DO Tips For A Successful Monogamous Relationship

 

Article originally posted at YourTango

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Searching for a Relationship: Do You Know What You’re Doing? http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/relationship-advice/searching-for-a-relationship-do-you-know-what-you-are-doing/ Mon, 19 Sep 2016 22:44:06 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33085 Do we know what we are doing when it comes to modern relationships, or are we just being hi-jacked by primitive emotions? There’s a scene in the 1996 movie ‘Jerry Maguire’, where Tom Cruise  famously says to Renée Zellweger, “You Complete Me”. It’s a dry your eyes romantic moment, but it’s at the heart of what goes wrong […]

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Do we know what we are doing when it comes to modern relationships, or are we just being hi-jacked by primitive emotions?

There’s a scene in the 1996 movie ‘Jerry Maguire’, where Tom Cruise  famously says to Renée Zellweger, “You Complete Me”. It’s a dry your eyes romantic moment, but it’s at the heart of what goes wrong in relationships.

We are drawn to another person for a sense of completeness. We hope that this relationship will heal or fill an empty space in our life. And for a short time we are wrapped up in a cloud of ‘feel good’ hormones and everything looks and feels better. Then, our brain chemistry normalizes, reality comes crashing in, and we notice that the partner we chose to fill our void, is trying to make changes in us to fill their own. Welcome to codependency!

Is there a better way?

Modern relationships come in many forms; dating online or in person, cohabiting, marriage, divorce, single-parent dating, remarriage, to name a few.

I’ve experienced all of these and as a researcher and writer on self-leadership, I have a few pieces of advice for those of you who are still looking for ‘the perfect relationship’.

  1. Would you live with you? Before we can successfully be in a relationship with another person, we need to be comfortable with ourselves. We don’t have to be perfect, that’s not what self-esteem means. We need to be comfortable with our imperfections. We need to know what we want, need, value, and believe or how else will we authentically communicate this to a partner.
  2. Learn from the past, don’t repeat it. Your past relationships are not failures, they are part of the learning process to understand what you want, need, value, and believe. If it didn’t work, be honest with yourself about why that was and avoid repeating the pattern. For example, if you are looking for someone to fix, to make your feel better, and they leave you after being ‘fixed’ – there’s a good chance that will happen again.
  3. Understand that the only person you can change is you. People to grow and evolve together but only when they accept each other as they are. The fatal mistake in relationships is to try and change something in someone else. You can communicate how a behavior makes you feel, but the choice to change rests firmly with them. And saying, “If you loved me, you’d do this…” is manipulation 101 and never ends well.
  4. Don’t settle. For a relationship to last, it has to be physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. We often try to settle for 2 or 3 out of 4. If the sex is great but you can’t enjoy a movie together because of a difference in intellect or education, then things are going to turn sour. If you can express your emotions with each other, but spiritually your values clash, then a schism is on the horizon.
  5. Communicate. This is the most fundamental of relationship advice – and the most powerful. Learn to authentically communicate your wants, needs, values and beliefs and listen openly to your partner without judgment. You are unlikely to be in relationship with your clone, and so there will be differences, but these conflicts can often be resolved by communicating in the following way; a) here’s what’s happening, b) this is what I feel, c) this is what I need, d) and so this I my request. The power of this 4-step communication strategy is that there is no blame. You are not making it your partners fault you have a feeling or an unmet need, but you are giving them an opportunity to adjust their perspective or behavior through a request.

Relationships can hurt because we open ourselves up to another, but they can also be a catalyst for us to be the best version of ourselves.

So here’s wishing you LUCK, when luck is an acronym for Laboring Under Correct Knowledge.

self leadershipAndrew Bryant is a motivational speaker, executive coach and author of ‘Self-Leadership: How to Become a More Successful, Efficient and Effective Leader from the Inside Out’ (McGraw-Hill 2012). Andrew has inspired and informed audiences as large as 12,000, facilitated breakthrough-learning sessions for senior leaders and been the coach for C-level executives of Fortune 500 companies. Sign up for his newsletter and receive a free chapter from his book: http://www.selfleadership.com/free. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn and Twitter

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5 Ways to Get Over a Difficult Dating Past and Find a Great Partner http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/dating-advice-for-you/33064/ Mon, 19 Sep 2016 19:48:51 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33064 Without resolution, awareness, and acceptance, your relationship history may have a strong influence on your current dating life. With a past that feels heavy, heartbreaking or disappointing, dating in the present may feel very draining and trigger anxiety and fear. Your past has a lot of influence if one of your greatest fears is having it be […]

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Without resolution, awareness, and acceptance, your relationship history may have a strong influence on your current dating life. With a past that feels heavy, heartbreaking or disappointing, dating in the present may feel very draining and trigger anxiety and fear.

Your past has a lot of influence if one of your greatest fears is having it be repeated. Therefore, you utilize behaviors designed to protect yourself, which makes it difficult to trust others and take chances toward intimacy and connection.

If the end of a previous relationship came as a shock or devastation to you, you may struggle to get close to someone new and approach dating with walls of emotional protection. If an ex betrayed you, you might be hesitant to trust a new partner and become fixated on determining if certain behaviors (for example, not responding to a text quickly) is a sign of cheating or future rejection. You might find yourself debating over giving into urges to check a potential partner’s email or phone for other clues.

If your past isn’t resolved, you may assume that the person you’re dating now will abandon you or break your trust just as your ex did, even if everything is going well in your current relationship. You may doubt if you are lovable, wonder what you have to offer, and beat yourself up about your relationship history and current singlehood. While these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are understandable as they can be protective in nature, they represent the past remaining unresolved and dictating each moment.

Here are five ways to approach dating when you have had difficult relationship experiences in the past:

Reconstruct and modify the narrative in your mind for healthy closure

It is true that you can’t erase the past, but you can take control of how you think about it, which is what matters most and drives your behavior in the present. Spend time thinking about the story you tell yourself about your previous relationships, your ex’s, and breakups. What is the feeling that accompanies these thoughts and relationship stories? If your narrative feels very negative, is filled with anger, blame, resentment or fear, see if you can modify it to feel more neutral or positive. For example, can you find the silver lining? Can you focus on what you learned about yourself, your needs, and relationships instead of staying stuck? Can you find some space to create a new and improved version of an unhealthy or uncomfortable narrative by making modifications to the story you tell yourself? Rewrite your story and change any scripts that are not serving you well.

Watch your assumptions about the past

Most of what happens to us in life is not personal. This concept can be especially tricky to believe in the relationship world because relationships involve vulnerability and breakups can by nature feel personal. Also, unfortunately not all relationship endings involve healthy closure or communication. This can cause your mind to run wild with false ideas about what happened and believe stories that may or may not be true. Your brain may naturally want certainty and closure so badly that it will create answers to unresolved questions regardless of how factual they actually are. Therefore, it is important to watch your assumptions about why an ex treated you the way he or she did or why your relationship ended, as well as how your ex is doing now, especially if you are bothered by their current relationship status. Always remember that thoughts are not facts no matter how believable they may seem.

View each dating or relationship experience as a clean slate

Work to detach yourself from previous romantic experiences and any associated emotions that cause discomfort or fear. While it is healthy to examine your part and explore possible relationship patterns, it is crucial to avoid making negative projections into the future or continuing to punish yourself because of the past. Take part in self-discovery while viewing each dating experience as a new and separate opportunity and isolating each individual experience from the rest, especially when you are emotionally triggered.

Confront your underlying fears and insecurities

It is natural to feel vulnerable in dating, especially if you’ve been rejected or hurt before, but learning to tolerate all of the ups and downs will lead you toward your goals. Simply put, facing your fears makes them less powerful. If you allow fears and insecurities to hinder you from dating and you don’t act on your relationship goals and desires, life will feel incomplete. In fact, inaction can breed even more anxiety, fear, and doubt, whereas taking action and getting unstuck leads to confidence and the ability to handle more. Work to resolve and own your fears and insecurities instead of avoiding triggering experiences, such as first dates.

Engage in behaviors that keep you open, ready and willing to experience what you are looking for

Set an intention to slowly take down any walls interfering with your ability to connect. Starting small is absolutely okay. Allow yourself to move toward your relationship goals despite any past trauma by being more vulnerable and letting go of a guarded approach. Let go of unhealthy tendencies or responses to relationship pain, such as controlling, passive-aggressive, mean-spirited or avoidant behavior, and utilize an open, calm, optimistic, and grounded approach. Take breaks if you need to, but commit to staying aligned with your goals and acting in ways that promote connection. Remember to breathe and invite love in.

Dating may not be easy and the past may be painful, but it is worth it to achieve great love and companionship. You have the power to control what you do with the past and to create the future you want. The past can end with a period and stay there or it can come with you. Choose to be empowered!

About the Author:

Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Nationally Certified Counselor and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Rachel is a co-author to Sexy Secrets to a Juicy Love Life, an International Bestseller, written to support single women in decreasing frustration about single-hood, leaving the past behind, cultivating self-love and forming and maintaining loving relationships. Rachel also serves as a Relationship Expert for http://www.datingadvice.com/ and other dating and relationship advice websites. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!

 

 

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The Second Half of Life Relationship Rules: 6 Ways to Keep the Fires Burning http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/relationships/the-second-half-of-life-relationship-rules-6-ways-to-keep-the-fires-burning/ Fri, 16 Sep 2016 23:20:51 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33050 Being married for any length of time is truly an accomplishment these days. Just last week a woman asked how long I had been married and when I said forty years this July, her eyes got huge and she said, “To the same person? How is that possible?” When we got married, people were taking bets […]

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Being married for any length of time is truly an accomplishment these days. Just last week a woman asked how long I had been married and when I said forty years this July, her eyes got huge and she said, “To the same person? How is that possible?”

When we got married, people were taking bets on how long our union would last. The average bet was between two weeks and two years because of our age difference and personalities. Let’s just say, my husband is calm, wise, and conservative and I am the exact opposite. I do remember feeling really shaky when I said my vows … “for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health, till death do us part.” Now that’s a huge promise! Could I really do this?

Flash forward forty years. We are still married, happy and love each other, although it hasn’t been an easy road and our relationship has been tested on many occasions, and I’m sure more will come as we navigate through our senior years.

Someone once said, “I married you for better or worse, but not for breakfast and lunch.” I never really understood that until now. Obviously, when couples first get married, it is exciting, challenging, romantic, and fun. And then if children come along, the marriage gets even more interesting and challenging as people try to raise their kids together. But after the kids are gone, and retirement looms, people start to feel displaced as their roles in life change. Who are we without our careers and kids? What do we have to talk about? And why do we keep bumping into each other in the kitchen?

So in order to keep a relationship going all the way to the end, here are six rules of engagement to keep the fires burning.

Stay Vibrant and Interesting! Continue to learn and try new experiences. You can do this as a couple or individual. No one likes to get stuck in a boring routine or a mundane life, so make sure you keep reinventing both yourself and you as a couple.

Have Date Night at Least Twice a Month. It’s important to have something to look forward to and it doesn’t have to be fancy. Just carving out a special time together is meaningful, thoughtful, and fun!

Make Sure You Don’t “Let Yourself Go.” Even though our partners have probably seen us at our most unattractive, we need to continue to make an effort to look appealing to our spouse. Try to stay fit, have good hygiene, and take good care of you. Doing so is imperative if we want to keep the intimacy going in the marriage. No one likes to sleep with a slob.

Listen! We have Two Ears and One Mouth for a Reason. Communication is essential for long-term relationships. To have someone who actually listens to you is one of the best gifts you can get from your marriage and give to your partner.

Never Go to Bed Mad at Your Partner. A friend once told me that when he and his wife have an argument that can’t be resolved, they “fight naked.” He said that it is impossible to keep arguing when you are in bed close to the one you love. My husband and I haven’t tried this one yet, but we won’t count it out.

Never Take Your Partner for Granted. Always show appreciation, even for small acts of kindness and help. And don’t forget to say those magic three words, at least once a day: I LOVE YOU!

These rules seem simple, but how many couples do you know who don’t abide by any of them? Are they happy? Are they fun to be around?  I saw an older couple at a restaurant the other day and they just sat there, ate their food, and never spoke or even looked at each other. It was sad!

So keep the fires burning and love the one you’re with. All it takes is a little effort, ingenuity, and a lot of love.

 

Sharkie Zartman, MA is a college professor, a former All-American volleyball athlete and award-winning volleyball coach. She hosts “Sharkie’s PEP Talk” on Healthy Life radio, is a certified health coach and is the author of five books, including “Take on Aging as a Sport.” She helps people take an empowered approach to life and aging so they can have optimal health and success at any age.                      

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15 Ways to Get a Handle on Life’s Hassles http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/about-you/15-ways-to-get-a-handle-on-lifes-hassles/ Thu, 01 Sep 2016 00:02:35 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33030 We’ve all had them — one of “those” days. And for singles, having one of “those” days might include one of “those” dates. Bad days–and the occasional bad date–are unavoidable. Here are 15 effective ways to better handle life’s hassles: 1. Identify your style. Are you a night owl or a morning lark? Are you […]

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We’ve all had them — one of “those” days. And for singles, having one of “those” days might include one of “those” dates. Bad days–and the occasional bad date–are unavoidable.

Here are 15 effective ways to better handle life’s hassles:

1. Identify your style. Are you a night owl or a morning lark? Are you a creature of habit or do you hate routine? Knowing these things about yourself will help you get more out of every area of life.  

2. Plan ahead. A little foresight goes a long way. So do some research on that must-try restaurant before you find yourself facing a two-hour wait (and a frustrated date).

3. And have a backup plan. You wouldn’t prepare a presentation without backing it up. Apply this same mentality to your dating life, and expect the unexpected. If that concert gets rained out, have an alternative ready to go.

4. Make an appointment with yourself. Give yourself a set amount of time each day to get organized. That way, you can enjoy yourself when it’s time to relax.

5. Be your own best friend. Dating can be challenging and sometimes hard on your self-esteem. So resist the urge to be your own worst critic. Self-reflection is one thing, self-scrutiny is another.

6. Unwind. If you’re constantly on the go, it may be time to slow down. Take your date someplace relaxing and soak in the peace and quiet — together.

7. Give thanks. Even when you’re in a rough patch, there’s a lot to be thankful for. Set aside regular times to recall the things you love about yourself, your life, your job, and your social circle. 

8. Lend a hand. One of the best remedies for feeling burdened is to give back. Going above and beyond for another person can enhance every relationship, and benefit you in the process.

9. Get perspective. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for feedback. Maybe they can see something you don’t. 

10. Live (and date) within your means. So many of life’s anxieties could be avoided by creating and sticking to a budget. Finding creative and inexpensive ways to live and date will reduce stress while adding joy.

11. Don’t date while distracted. Multitasking makes everything more difficult and less enjoyable. Disconnect from your devices and recharge with the person in front of you.

12. Act the way you want to feel. Most of us tend to think that our feelings dictate our actions, but the truth is just the opposite. Whether you’re at the office or out on the town, remember: If you want to be interested, you need to behave like you already are.

13. Scale back. If your life is bursting at the seams, you can be sure that the seam will soon split. Pare down your obligations so when an opportunity presents itself (either at work or play), you’re able to take it.

14. End the night on the right note. You may be having the time of your life, but it’s important to know when to call it a night. Quality sleep is the fuel you need to rise to tomorrow’s challenges.

15. Laugh about it. Turn that tedious work meeting into a hilarious dinner date topic. Odds are good that you’re not the only one who needs a laugh after a rough day.

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6 Reasons Women Today Have the Power that Counts the Most http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/about-you/6-reasons-women-today-have-the-power-that-counts-the-most/ Fri, 26 Aug 2016 21:16:01 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/?p=33019 Over the last several years, as an author, educator, and mentor of women, I have analyzed marriage from a multiplicity of angles—that is from material written by professional governmental, educational, and faith-based sociologists, scientists, and psychologists, as well as journalists, philosophers, and novelists. What strikes me overall is how each source (regardless of the author’s […]

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Over the last several years, as an author, educator, and mentor of women, I have analyzed marriage from a multiplicity of angles—that is from material written by professional governmental, educational, and faith-based sociologists, scientists, and psychologists, as well as journalists, philosophers, and novelists. What strikes me overall is how each source (regardless of the author’s personal background, purpose, or professional credentials) assert, or at least assume, these general trends in the Western world:

  1. There has been a titanic cultural shift in the roles of men and women. 
  2. This social transformation has left many men in a quandary over their identity. The lack of definitive social expectations leaves men at a disadvantage compared to their male progenitors, who knew for thousands of years exactly what was expected of a man.
  3. This adjustment is affecting men’s personal and professional relationships with women.
  4. Men are increasingly looking to strong women to help them direct their energy, inspire their dreams, and channel their ambitions in constructive ways.
  5. This progressive view is allowing more and more men and women to act as true partners in achieving family and professional goals.
  6. Of all the strengths women bring to partnership, one of the most vital is their natural orientation toward relationships. Women generally, by virtue of biochemistry, social tradition, contemporary cultural developments, or all of the above, are frequently more adept at relationship dynamics than men are.

Thus, in a nutshell, women today, either by design, development, or accident, depending on your belief system, are in a very powerful position when it comes to creating and maintaining truly rewarding relationships with men.

Of course, any relationship is a two-way street, linking two people who share responsibility for its outcome. But the truth of the matter appears to be that women have a disproportionate amount of influence on both the day-to-day and the long-term tenor of their marriage. The feminine energy we bring to the partnership is intuitive, relational, receptive, connective, intimate, and inclusive.

Musing over the idea that women in general (at least Western women) wield significant influence in their relationships, I am reminded of a conversation I once had with a student who took exception with this one aspect of Wife for Life (the body of successful marriage principles and skills I teach to women exclusively). I agreed with her—right out of the box—that each party in the marriage is responsible for 50% of the partnership.

“But aren’t you,” I challenged, “100% responsible for your 50%?”

She went on to concede that life is not really about numbers, and relationships that keep score inevitably fail. Plus–once we got off the principle platform–she admitted to reality: her man was persistently ignoring their troubles and resisting permanent change. Attempts to move the dial had repeatedly, frustratingly, topped out, at best, somewhere in the middle.

After our conversation however, my new friend made a new tact, fully embracing her relational power. With that simple shift, she felt suddenly motivated to learn and practice all she could about relationship dynamics, particularly marriage, so that, like thousands of others in my experience (including myself), she could move the dial past center, toward maximum. I watched her work day-by-day, week-by-week, year-by-year; her partner necessarily responding to, and learning from, her relational influence. She is now one of the most satisfied, successful wives I know, with a truly beautiful marriage—one for the family history books.

I believe that same outcome is possible for most intelligent women partnered with well-intentioned men because feminine intuition, inclination, and imagination is nothing less than potent, pure energy. Modern women really do have more power than ever before; and in terms of human happiness, it’s the power the counts the most.

Ramona Zabriskie, a wife of 38 years, is the multi-award winning author of Wife for Life: The Power to Succeed in Marriage and founder of the highly acclaimed Wife for Life University, a one-of-a-kind virtual school for wives that transforms marriages through a step-by-step, principle based approach via live mentoring, classes, and community. Watch Ramona’s free information-packed webinar, “Your Power to Succeed in Marriage” on demand at ramonazabriskie.com.

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