Aug 22, 2009

"The Way We Were..." and how to get it back (your 5 a day to relationship health)

One thing that strikes me about the relationships people confide in me about is their tendency to fade from that passionate "can't keep our hands off each other" stage to a lesser "yeah its ok i suppose" mundane sort of existence. And what makes me further curious is the fact that there are two groups of thought:

The Realists believe is that is normal. There is no permanent happy ever after. The honeymoon period always ends at some point in the relationship and after that its simply time to work at staying together. They accept their lot in life through 'fear' or 'laziness' and don't try for anything more.

The Idealists believe that this means the relationship is over as 'love' should be easy not hard so this person is obviously not the 'One' for them. They seek perfection.... either in a 'romantic-i must find my soulmate' sense or a 'practical-i can do better' kinda way.

Like i say i'm curious about the people behind these views but i'm not one of them. I'm not sure of the label i would have but if i had to call myself anything i would say i'm a 'Creator'. I won't tolerate the mundane and i won't seek happiness elsewhere. Someone once told me that 'happiness' is already right where you standing. Not in another country, career or person. If you have to go looking, then you will never find it or have it for long.

Anyway digress ;) So what does a 'Creator' do?

Well i believe we focus on maintaining the passion,
excitement and all that 'feel-good' emotion. We keep the relationship alive so that neither of us want to leave it. In other words.... maintaining the attraction.

And how is this done? Well attraction is a very complex yet simple concept. I could either write pages and pages in detail on what attracts men to women and what attracts women to men. I could breakdown physical, emotional and mental ways to create and build up attraction, but to be honest it only really boils down to 5 things once you are in a relationship. (Meeting or Dating? Well thats a different story!)

So those 5 things?

The 'Feel-Good' Factor:
It stands to reason that both men and women want to feel good about their lives. And feeling great about love is a big part of that. Many couples start to feel bad about the relationship when one or both is not longer fun to be around. Any negative emotion (anger, sadness, neediness etc) directed towards the relationship can cause these bad vibes and if its more that say 20% of your time spent with each other.... then you're messing with the foundations of your future happiness together. If one of you is constantly freaking out or angry about something the other is doing or saying then they have turned into a person that is not inducing 'happy' emotions in their partner.

If someone doesn't feel good around you (say if you are one causing the bad vibes) then its more difficult for your sweetie to want to invest more time and energy into you and the relationship. The easy road is often the road out of the firing line. And then you're one your own.

In the most basic sense.... whatever emotion you feel, your lover will feel too by way of your actions when you are close to them. Remember feelings are guided by thoughts and you can control what you think. Ditch the negative re-occurring insecure rant and adopt a relationship pep-talk instead. Focus on the good and the rest will follow ;)

Emotional Maturity & Understanding:
The way you act with each other from day one when 'bumps' in the road appear is more important than the actual 'bump' itself. So for example how you act when your partner makes a mistake or does something that upsets you and doesn't realise (triggering your insecurities by jealousy, lateness, distance etc). If your girl/guy genuinely cares they won't be doing anything maliciously to upset you. It will be without realising. Emotional experience should bring about an open and understanding response.... not an over emotional or negative one. The person who has messed up will feel bad enough and putting them in a situation where they can't 'make it right' or 'give reassurance' will only trap them into thinking "I can't make this person happy" and/or "If this is what they are like now, how will things get any better in the future the longer we are together?". After a short period they will feel like they have to walk on eggshells just to keep the peace (and trust me they will do anything to keep it, even leave).

Make changes in your 're-actions' and break negative patterns by putting yourself in their shoes and arguing their point of view in your head for 5 minutes. Don't compare their behaviour with others or your own (men are just as different from other men as men are from women and vice versa). Each person will have personal baggage and reasons for who they are and how they behave. As long as they can understand the depth of your hurt just once it is unlikely they will fail to try to avoid the error in the future, especially if they care. And if you're the reason for all the drama... don't do what doesn't work (defend yourself & your actions repeatedly). Understand why they are upset and make it up to your lover in a way they can forgive.

Connection & Attraction:
One thing couples, especially women, do too much of is talking. Having a serious 'talk' with your babe will not inspire feeling of connection or attraction if it comes to more than 2% of your relationship time together. Keep it short, sweet and direct to the point and follow it up with 'fun' after (never go to bed on an argument, unless bed doesn't include sleeping...).

The rest of the time KISS. And i mean keep it simple ;) I say always try treat your girl/guy like its your first few dates. So flirt, kiss, laugh and tease, touch their arm, hold hands and talk about light-hearted rubbish that means nothing. Keep your expectations of what they can/will do for you at early stages of dating level and you will never be disappointed (i'm not saying they won't do more, but your attitude to what they do for you should be to never expect too much. With pressure off, acts of service towards you will be a pleasure not a pain). The more you act like the first stages/flush of love... the more it will be, and any issue or problems that arise will be easier to tackle and it will be more worthwhile solving them between u both.

Actions speak louder than words. So 'do' stuff together that creates a bond between you and shared memories and experiences. Again this links in with the feel-good factor i mentioned earlier. People who feel good when together are likely to develop strong emotional attractions for each other. Emotional attraction is not dependant on physical, intellectual or social attractions. All of these are powerful when meeting and dating, but the latter three are short-lived in actual relationships and can only be re-kindled/maintained (not usually created otherwise we'd all start fancying our friends!) long-term with a strong emotional attraction.

'Icing' on the cake. Not the 'main' ingredient:
Every couple should be better and happier together. That goes without saying. Cake tastes sweeter with icing than without. However cake by itself is just dandy and satisfying. In fact you can live quite happily without any icing your whole life. You aren't bothered if you don't have it and can quite easily get some if you fancy it. A guy or girl in your life should be exactly like that - an additional (quite exciting/sexy) character to a fantastic, fun-filled adventure story that is your life. People want others around to bring something better, not to fill a void or complete someone else. This neediness shows when the girl/guy is less likely to hang out with friends, develop or maintain interests outside the relationship and is controlled by their partner through fear of losing them. When a girl or guy doesn't have much going on in their life besides the relationship its like an unconscious signal to the their partner that they are 'needed' rather than 'desired'. And that too much focus is on the relationship as their source of happiness. Once again there is a pressure (not pleasure) to perform. And no one wants or can cope with that kind of responsibility.

So make sure your life is complete and you have interests outside your love-life. I know its a well known fact but its because its true. One way of looking at it is "if my lover left me today... what do i have?". If all you have is your job and your family then its time to make some positive additions to your life that removes your dependency your partner for their time and attention. Go make them miss you.

No one needs to be rescued:
Nobody likes to be nagged or asked to change. Your partner should love you for who you are, not try and 'fix' you. And vice versa. People will change when they want to for their own reasons and nothing else. If they do it will be short-lived and without much effort. Also people are selfish and will do things for themselves first and foremost. Nothing motivates change like your own misery or happiness (punishment or reward). It then stands to reason that if a guy or girl has behaviour you don't like its easier to manage if they are benefiting from changing their ways not just to make you happy. Couples stay in relationships because their flaws are handled in a way that is indirect rather than head on.

Take time to praise or indicate in passing or better still reward good behavior. Point out what actions you liked or didn't care for in 'other' relationships. Call out their bad behaviour immediately and why it makes you feel bad. Do it once, allow them to make it up to you, then let it go. The more you go on about something they did (or didn't do) the less it makes an impact. If you can't forgive yet and you still feel angry or upset then take yourself away without being 'cold' or giving the silent treatment. The key is to no longer be actively interested... only passively interested. Your lack of activity in the relationship will make more of an impact than any negative emotion you can throw at them. And they will be less likely to associate you with feeling bad (cos you're not there). And if you're the one being asked to change but your lover is going about it the wrong way, call it out as you would any other bad behaviour. You need to know how far you can push against their boundaries if you are to have any respect for them in the future.

Ok so thats the big 5 a day. Go and indulge ;)

As usual
i'm free to chat on msn or by email about relationship stuff so don't be shy. I get quite a few emails a week and girls (mostly) call me or ping on msn so if i can't get back to you right away that why. I do answer everyone though so please be patient!

Until next time... xoxo

Aug 12, 2009

How to forget a guy in seven days....

A very dear friend of mine called yesterday (well actually she pinged me on BB messenger) but the result was the same. The guy she once said those three little words to and meant it, was no longer wanting to hear them. They were breaking up, and it broke my heart to hear the pain she felt in losing him. It was not in her nature to be tenacious, yet here she was looking for every reason to pursue him still.

I think one thing women need to work on is not being a victim when it comes to the end of road. As the 'fairer' sex i know we love to play the damsel. We are conditioned to let the guy make choices for us and then weep inconsolably at the outcome. But that doesn't mean we have to be the one drawing the short straw. Oh no..... accepting it is almost half of the battle. Its gaining his respect in one hand, keeping your dignity intact, and its a step in the direction of getting over the loss.

We have all been there. The darkest hour? You know the one. When you're just packing away the groceries and a piece of paper falls to the floor, which turns out to be an old love letter from 'him'. Suddenly the panic and pain hits you in the chest, and the tears you buried surface bringing with them all the heart-wrenching emotions, blazing full colour right there in your kitchen next to the fridge. It totally sucks. He's gone and you feel like you will never, never get through it alone... not without him.

Maybe you're going through this right now? But i can tell you... there is a choice. Even if the 'break-up' is not what you wanted, there is a way to get through it that doesn't have to entertain such drama. As i've experienced my share of heartache, i've realised a few things.... drama begets drama, and usually the thing that hurts most of all is your ego, and fear of loss. If you'll listen here are a few thoughts that have carried me through to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And you can do it, however long you were with him, and however close u were together. The only thing holding you back is limit of the perception you have of yourself and your self worth.

Day 1. You broke up. Maybe he ended things with you or maybe it was mutual but you feel like it was less your choice than his. You'll probably be feeling the ache of loss right now inside. That loss is just a hole where he used to make u feel 'loved' and 'accepted'. Remember that is the ego demanding that you fill that void either by chasing him or by crying, feeling sorry for yourself and generally just moping. Do yourself a favour and realise that this loss just means you have lost your connection to yourself, the person that matters most. How to reconnect with you? Treat yourself like you want the world to treat you... you matter most. Cook yourself an amazing meal, dress up and do your make up, go out with a good book and sit in the sun or in a bar with a glass of wine. Date yourself. Leave room for no one else. You deserve it.

Day 2. You spent the whole night awake and in tears. You don't want to do anything but stay in bed, cry and hug your pillow... well don't, you are not a victim anymore, so don't act like one. The things he has done to hurt you (and breaking up with you is hurting you) can't be repeated now that he is not allowed to be close to you. He is no longer allowed to make you feel as small as you felt when he left you. He lost that right so don't keep giving it to him. The only way to be the victim is if you let your mind decide you are one. And don't pay any attention to the mind and the shallow thoughts it has about how 'weak' you are. You wouldn't let a friend tell you such things, so don't allow you.

Day 3. You woke up and he wasn't there and body ached to feel him next to you. The body is the most treacherous of all. It wants physical contact and your memory of what it was like is causing you real pain because you know its will never be with him again. Ok cut the crap. Firstly if you've been crying all night you will now look terrible and thats no way to abuse yourself for the sake of a guy. And secondly, how do you know you will not feel an embrace that good with someone else. It happened before it will happen again. Take a deep breath, get up and put on some loud, summer tunes that make you feel like dancing and be bold. If you do happen to recall memories of you together picture them small and at a distance, devoid of colour and grainy.... like an old movie. Put on some sexy underwear and blow kisses at yourself. Imagine that some new guy is going to get very lucky one day because u are now free to flaunt it elsewhere after being taken for granted for so long.

Day 4. Burn it or get rid of. I'm not talking material things here. I'm talking about your emotions that lend a sad tear of regret to the relationship. The worst thing that holds people back is thinking that they could have avoided this outcome or that they still can avoid it. I've got news for you.... its happened and by treating it like whats done is done is the only way to get through it faster and smarter AND with his respect. Don't ask him for answers to ask him to consider a second chance. Where you are now will teach you how to avoid mistakes in the future, but with someone else. Because you can only apply these lessons at the time to reap the benefits, not now and not later. Write out a list of things that you won't accept from any guy full stop, and see where he failed you. Take note that he did fail you and how you let him. Promise yourself that you won't let anyone else treat you as badly... and that if he wants a second chance he would have to earn your trust. He is the one being rejected.

Day 5. No contact... for a while. You don't have to cut him out of your life forever. Just for now will do while you sort out yourself and your life. If he is worth it you guys will be friends again. Don't worry too much that you will never see him or speak to him again. Thats being a tad over the top. It may feel like you can never be friends but you don't know the future and feelings fade. If you're finding that you need to call him then just remember that contacting him for anything other than 'polite conversation' makes you look weak and sets you back to day one every single time. No emotional stuff ok? It drains both you and him. He will find reasons to avoid you to keep from 'hurting' you (yes men are idiots). Just keep it light, short and sweet. You want to be his 'cool' ex... not his freaky, stalker, still hung up on him bunny boiler ex.

Day 6. Either have options or none at all. Us girls aren't like men and sometimes we need to close ourselves off to other guys. While this is ok for a while, realise that men operate on the 'options' side of things and so he'll have a head start in the 'seeing someone else' game. If you're ok with that then by all means become a nun and become best friends with your rabbit. However dating can be good for the soul. Just dinner and drinks and mild flirting make the ego happy. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that the first guy you meet is the standard you're stuck with for the rest if your life and this is what has become of you. Imagine you've just be given your first unlimited store card and you're trying it out whatever seems to take your fancy. Just have fun. Later you'll get more discerning at what you want and you'll know in as little as a few minutes if a guy is worth dating, and if he's worth your time/effort or not.

Day 7. Think of where you want to go in your life. Write a list of all the things you want to have, or things that you want to do. Then go and live/get that list. Do something nice for yourself to look forward to or get involved in something satisfying and worthwhile that doesn't involve a guy. Going away is always good or even better start studying (think julia roberts in pretty woman) or even throw yourself into a business or get creative. Notice i didn't say work? You need to add more round edges to yourself to fill the void in your ego and build confidence in yourself and spend more time with you, not work yourself into the ground! Many girls say that they don't know what to do now. Well use this opportunity to do something you could never have done when you with that guy or with anyone. Go out and just have fun with life. You never know where it will take you and who you will meet ;)

So there we have it. I'm not saying it will only take seven days but i see no reason why it shouldn't. Time is just a concept created in our minds. A minute can feel like a day, and a week can fly by in the blink of an eye.

This post is dedicated to my best and closest friend ,who i can't be there for this week, but i am thinking of her lots! xoxo

Aug 9, 2009

Is the 'juice' is worth the squeeze?

When it comes to relationships i often wonder if any guy is 'worth' it. What makes a guy different from the rest, that i would change my behaviour enough for the kind of compromise spending time with someone can demand?

Lately i've been too absorbed in my own love affairs and confused feelings to write anything of value on the matter. Truth is i simply don't know. But i'm exploring. I've asked a lot of men and women this question. And caught up in reading the 'TrueBlood' series, where the heroine Sookie encounters a variety of men problems, i'm beginning to understand the motivation behind putting yourself out there or not. And what have i found.... well that each situation is different and each coupling is unique,

but the main thing it comes down to is 'how they make you feel'.

Its always been about how someone makes you feel. And if you feel good enough for the majority of the time you spend with them, you will always seek them out to spend time with them because they make you happy/comfortable/safe/understood etc.

I used to think building up a deposit full of 'good shared emotions' with someone could set enough of a foundation so that if the shit ever hit the fan, you would still have those good feelings to fall back on - so you realise why you are making the effort, why this person is worth the squeeze. But this isn't the case. All it takes is a few well aimed blows at your achilles heel to knock off your rose-tinted glasses off and you no longer feel good about that person or good when you are around them. In fact you may feel a only tiny amount of negative emotions, but in the right forumula, they skew your view of the whole relationship enough to potentially want to leave it. I won;t divulge the storyline of the series but TrueBlood (the book version) has many examples of this happening between Sookie and her guy(s). He crosses one line, that is very important to her, and he is dust (no pun intended!).

For me i can tolerate a lot of guy drama. I'm a very understanding girl (that doesn't mean i would sit there and take shit from a guy either... I have my boundaries). Despite this there is one thing that i find i won't stick around for. And that's having to 'convince' someone i'm worth it too.

How do i feel when a guy makes me question what i'm worth to him? Well I feel like i've tried and failed. I feel disappointed. I feel tired, despondent and very alone. Like i'm fighting for something no one else wants. And i don't like to feel that no one has my back. That i'm exposed. I've never been good at sales. If the buyer doesn't see the value in the jewel i'm offering i lose interest. I've played all my cards. Its at this point i feel theres nothing left but to hold up my hands and walk away. Possibly increasing the initial price so he'll never have another chance at buying in to play another round ever again. Time wasters beware.

It turns out this is an 'emotional trigger for me. These are 'triggers' that can be traced back to an event or a series of events that led to an emotional reaction.

Mine I think it stems back to when i was going through a messy breakup with my long term ex. He would constantly play with my heart by changing his mind over if we were worth another go or not. He drew me back in several times in the subsequent years after we broke up (yes. years!) and i let him. In the end i learnt the hard way how to end it once and for all. My emotional baggage means that if anyone starts to remind me of my ex... i get restless and wary enough to feel that should be making a hasty exit. The feeling is not a nice one. Its choc full of old insecurities and fears and anyone who manages to flip these 'emotional triggers' gets associated with bad memories and emotions. No matter why they choose to exhibit that behaviour (Because most of the time people don't act the same way for the same reasons. And even if you know that... your 'emotional memory' won't.) And you will react according to habits in your chemistry, not through logic or reason.

So how does a guy trigger this emotion in me? The usual suspects - pulling away, seeming distant, sudden lack or passive communication, and of course.... telling me 'he isn't worth it' or 'he's not good enough for me'. These are all sins of my long term ex who just really did/said all those things because he knew he only wanted me around to boost his own ego and felt guilty for it. I stuck around because i 'thought' he just wanted space/time to miss me or to think and because i felt he was worth it and was good enough for me, but his low self-esteem prevented him from realising such a fact. If only i had cottoned on that he was only telling me these things just to get rid of me 'in a nice way' that made him look like a martyr.

I do wonder why he didn't just say 'I don't feel the same way and i'd rather you realised that now than later. You're lovely but i don't feel the connection with you that i'm looking for. I think we should end this now to avoid you getting hurt and allow me to find it with someone else.' but he didn't and i guess men will always say what they think women want to hear, rather than just the truth.

So anyway...

how do you know what is a 'trigger' for another person's baggage and insecurities? As the last thing you want to do is cause your lover to link you to their shitty past. In my experience you need to:

1) Know their boundaries and relationship history. What has caused them hurt and pain in the past? What do they tolerate well or not? What are they likely to get sensitive or 'over-react' to?

2) Build trust based on honesty. Be aware of your behaviour in similar situations that have caused them pain in the past. Even if your reasons are different and you can't avoid it, at least be honest about why you are acting this way so they can understand your reasons.

3) Be understanding about their irrational fears. Sometimes you'll feel like getting all defensive. This creates barriers of miscommunication through fear. Remember this isn't always about you. No one likes to open their heart and say what they are thinking, especially if they're likely to get shot down. Your reaction primes their future honesty on the matter. If you get shitty or don't understand.... they won't be likely to open up again ever.

And if you have these triggers?

I can only relay what i'm going through right now, which is so over whelming... the 'juice' just doesn't seem worthwhile going to all that effort. I do think my emotional trigger is not one to be taken lightly, and sometimes we have them for survival. Like learning that a flame will burn if you put your hand in a fire long enough. There are others though that are just plain over protective and can prevent you from finding happiness. Sometimes risks are part of life and even if the 'juice' is not that great, at least you can say you squeezed. It takes courage to do that without knowing what you're gonna get... i should know.

Reminds me of that age old saying.... "you should never regret the things you have done.... only the things you haven't".

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