Are You Your Own Worst Frenemy?

Are You Your Own Worst Frenemy?

Are You Your Own Worst Frenemy?

Are you Your Own Worst Frenemy?

My Journey

Twenty years ago when I was newly single, I joined a spiritual group lead by Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements. I had spent my entire life blocked by anger and fear, and I knew it was time to make some major changes if I ever wanted to be the kind of person I wanted to be, fall in love, and find someone to spend the rest of my life with.

While I was active in Don Miguel’s group I was just starting to date again, and I made it a point to practice The Four Agreements (1. Be Impeccable With Your Word, 2. Don’t Take Anything Personally, 3. Don’t Make Assumptions, 4. Always Do Your Best) on every date. I also added a bonus one for myself: Enter Each Date With a Beginner’s mind. I practiced letting go of all my judgments and preconceptions about dating and relationships, opened myself up to new possibilities, and learned to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Slowly but surely, my entire perspective shifted, along with my dating. It was like I was seeing the world with a whole new set of eyes. I stopped being so defensive and shut off when I met someone new and started to see each date as an opportunity to open my heart and become more loving and accepting of others and myself. Eventually, I met the love of my life—my husband, Benjamin Shield.

The Frenemy is Your Enemy

Now, as a dating and relationship coach, I encourage my clients to practice The Four Agreements and date with a beginner’s mind. As their coach, one of my main objectives is to help my clients see the ways they’re blocking love and help them take the necessary steps to break through their walls. More often than not, it’s The Frenemy that gets in the way. In my forthcoming book, Naked Dating®, I talk a lot about The Frenemy. The Frenemy is my nickname for that critical, fearful inner voice that keeps you from taking risks and going for what you really want in a relationship. Everyone has a Frenemy and, left unchecked, it will wreak havoc on your dating.

Sylvia’s Story

Case in point: Six months ago, I was in a coaching session with my client, Sylvia, whose Frenemy was in full swing. A guy she had been emailing on Match and hadn’t heard from in a few weeks popped up out of the blue. “Hey,” he wrote. “What happened to you?” implying that she had been the one to drop the ball.

“Did you email him back???” I asked her.

“No way!” Sylvia declared, looking at me like I was out of my mind. “I wrote him last. He’s got a lot of nerve making it seem like I was the one who stopped communicating.”

I agree that his approach wasnt the best, I replied, but have you ever considered that he was just trying to get the ball rolling again? Maybe you should give him the benefit of the doubt. Just write him and say something playful like, Actually, you never answered my last email and I was wondering what happened to you! So, where do we go from here? Ill give you a little hint: if you ask me for my number, I just might give it to you ☺’”

Yeah, I dont know, she insisted. Why should I make it easy for him? I want a guy whos excited about me and pursues me.

Sylvia was missing the point. This guy had reached out to her. Maybe he didn’t use the best approach, but he made an effort. She was the one who wasn’t open; she wasn’t open to him and she wasn’t open to my feedback. She had a lot of walls up, walls that no man in his right mind was going to work to get through, especially if he hadn’t even met her yet. As long as her Frenemy was calling the shots and she was being defensive and closed off, no one would pursue her. I tried everything I could to convince her to write him back, even just for practice, but she wouldn’t budge.

I hear women say all the time that they want a man to chase them, but then their Frenemies will make the man jump through too many hoops to get their attention. If he makes one misstep—it can be something as simple as dropping the thread of communication for a couple of days or failing to ask them a question about themselves in an email exchange—these women will write him off, claiming it didn’t seem like he was interested.

Maya’s Story

Interestingly enough, the day after my session with Sylvia, I coached another client, Maya, around the same issue. Maya had also been emailing with a guy who’d stopped writing and then resurfaced a few weeks later. Even though they’d only exchanged a handful of emails, Maya was worried she might have said something to turn him off. By the time we met, Maya was feeling rejected and her Frenemy had put up a wall to protect her. Like Sylvia, she felt that if a man was excited and wanted to pursue her, he wouldn’t have let the communication drop.

Maya’s Frenemy had convinced her that she shouldn’t respond to the email, so she was shocked to hear what I had to say. Before she made any rash decisions, I encouraged her to write him a playful email asking where he’d disappeared to. After all, what did she have to lose?

Maya hesitated, but in the end, she agreed to take my advice. “I really hear what you’re saying,” she told me. “You’re telling me to keep an open mind and give people the benefit of the doubt. I also hear you saying I need to be more playful and ease up on men, and you’re right. I can be so hard on them. I guess I’m just afraid of getting hurt again, so I push them away before they can reject me. Even if this isn’t the perfect guy for me, I really do need to practice opening up and asking for what I want.”

That evening I got an email from Maya saying that she had not only written to the man we’d talked about, but she’d also sent a playful email to another man who she had stopped writing. Both wrote her back immediately and an hour later she had not one, but two dates lined up for the weekend. It’s been a few weeks now and she’s already been out with the first guy five times. Imagine what Maya would have missed out on if she had followed her initial knee jerk reaction and written him off for not making a move?

Fear of being exposed

So, back to Sylvia. Want to know what happened with her? When she first started coaching with me, she had told me about her many years of deep self-exploration and how hard she’d worked to get to a place where she liked herself. After our session, she wrote me a long, detailed email reminding me about all the self-help work she’d already done. Then she went on to defend her reasons for not emailing the guy back. It was clear to me that there was more at play: she didn’t want to go out and date because dating is risky. What if she got her heart broken and found out that, for all her introspection, she still doesn’t have it all figured out?

At this point, there was nothing left for me to say. She had come to me for coaching because some part of her knew she was getting in her own way. I could see that her sense of self wasn’t really as solid as she wanted to believe. She was terrified of rejection, and rather than risk getting hurt, her Frenemy had put up an even bigger wall.

In Zen Buddhism, there’s a quote that goes along with the concept of beginner’s mind, and it kept running through my head as I read her email: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” Sylvias Frenemy was the consummate expert and it wasnt going to budge at least not on my watch.

Are you a Sylvia or a Maya?

When you find yourself getting reactive and your Frenemy is telling you to cut off communication with a person you’ve been talking to online, see if you can let go a little, stop making assumptions, and look at the situation with a beginner’s mind. There’s nothing to be lost by giving someone the benefit of the doubt. If you want things to change, you are going to have to stop listening to your Frenemy, take some risks, and be willing to give more people a chance. Ask yourself: do you want to date like Sylvia or like Maya? I promise you, Maya is getting a lot more dates, she’s having a lot more fun, and she’s going to meet someone… or, maybe she already has!

Are you having trouble opening up and giving people a chance? Book a free consultation with me and see how I can help you take down your walls and start dating with a beginner’s mind!

Are You Your Own Worst Frenemy

Screw the Chase

Screw the Chase

Screw the Chase:

Why sleeping with a man shouldn’t be about the “hot pursuit”

If you listen to most of the dating advice out there, the answer is yes: a man will lose interest if you don’t play hard to get. But, while it’s true that some guys may lose interest, this shouldn’t be your primary concern when deciding whether you’re ready to sleep with someone.

In my 13 years as a dating coach, I’ve seen it all. I’ve had clients who dated men who had no intention of getting into a relationship and pushed for sex. I’ve also had clients who dated men who wouldn’t sleep with them right away because they said they were interested in pursuing a relationship and wanted to get to know them first. I have male clients who say they don’t lose respect for women who have sex with them right away, and I’ve read countless studies that suggest having sex early on doesn’t necessarily diminish the odds of having a relationship.

In one such study, Dean Busby, of Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life, surveyed 2,035 heterosexual married individuals with an average age of 36. Forty percent of the participants reported sleeping with their spouses within the first two dates… so clearly, many men aren’t just in it for the chase.

So, what should you be thinking about?

At the end of the day, the smartest thing a woman can do is to avoid playing games or following someone else’s rules, and start thinking about what’s in her own best interest. So, maybe it’s time you stop worrying about what a man is going to think of you and start taking yourself into consideration. What makes you feel appreciated, respected, and secure?

This might not apply to you, but most women say they feel more secure in a relationship when they wait to sleep with a man. They feel that if a guy is willing to wait for sex and spend time getting to know them first, it shows a certain level of maturity and she feels valued as a person. In fact, there are many statistics that show that when couples wait to have sex and establish a deep friendship first, they form a stronger emotional bond that can stand the test of time.

Good things come to those who wait!

You may have heard me say this before, but I encourage my clients—men and women alike—to wait between one to three months before having sex.

This isn’t because of what your date will think of you, it’s because you need to take the time to get to know someone before you sleep with him. It’s naïve to think you can know someone in a few hours or a few days. Something else to consider is that having sex too soon can create a false sense of intimacy. Even though pillow talk feels deep, it only seems so because you’re naked… and because you just had sex! Your body is literally flooded with hormones that are designed to make you feel a strong biological connection to the person lying next to you.

In the 13 years I’ve been coaching, every client—male and female—who took my advice and waited to have sex has come back and told me they were glad they did. It changed everything for them. Not one person regretted waiting.

No matter what your body is telling you, I encourage you to take the time to get to know someone before you jump into bed. If you really want a meaningful, lasting relationship, it’s wise to slow down and get emotionally naked first. The sex will be that much better.

Why He Won’t Marry You

Why He Won't Marry You

Why He Won’t Marry You 

Falling in love never felt so good

If you’re a woman who dreams of getting married, and especially if you want children, there’s nothing more devastating than hearing the love of your life suddenly start to question if he’s really the marrying kind. You distinctly remember that he was one who mentioned marriage in the first place. It was a couple of months after you’d started dating. You were at Trader Joe’s laughing and shopping together. You couldn’t believe that two people could have so much fun doing something so ordinary. Just as you were reaching for an avocado, you felt his arm around your waist. He spun you around, looked deep in your eyes and said, “I think I could get used to this. I might even marry you one day.” Your heart exploded. These were the words you’d been waiting your whole life to hear.

When reality sets in

Fast-forward two years later, and everything’s changed. The man who claimed he wanted to spend the rest of his life with you is having second thoughts. The more he applies the brakes, the more hurt and anxious you feel… and with good reason. You’re almost 35. You want kids now more than ever, and your biological clock is t-i-c-k-i-n-g! Any man in his right mind knows you don’t mention marriage to a woman unless you mean it. Did he mean it? And if he did, what made him change his mind?

In the early throes of passion, it’s easy for two people to make big promises to each other: marriage… children… a chocolate lab and a white picket fence. When a relationship is shiny and new and there are no issues or problems getting in the way, a man might really feel like the woman he’s with is The One and imagine spending the rest of his life with her. Sometimes, it’s even the man who sets the wheels in motion and brings the issue of marriage and children up first. But then, months or years down the line, things change. One day he’s talking about diamond rings and babies, the next day everything comes to a screeching halt. The man who claimed he wanted to spend the rest of his life with you is starting to rethink everything.

What the hell happened?

He led you to believe that you were on the same page, that one day you would get married and start a family together, so you invested precious years of your life in the relationship. Now, it feels like your whole life is unraveling. What the hell happened?

As a relationship coach, one of the biggest reasons I hear men give for questioning marriage is that the dynamics of the relationship have changed. A partnership that once felt easy and harmonious is now rife with anger and fighting, and the man doesn’t know how to deal with it.

When clients discuss this issue during their sessions, the women often claim the fighting and anxiety is a result of their partner’s hesitation to propose. Or, they’ve proposed, but they’re evasive when it comes to discussing the wedding. The women are convinced that all their troubles will be resolved once they walk down the aisle. But the men are afraid the fighting will carry over into the marriage. The men say that they believe there’s something about the way the women are pressuring and pushing to get their way that isn’t going to stop just because they’re married.

A vicious cycle

The more anxious and angry a woman gets, the more a man will dig in his heels. Men don’t want to be mothered or told what to do. They don’t want to be given ultimatums or deadlines and made to feel like they’re being pushed into doing something before they’re ready. Women, on the other hand, face very real deadlines, and the thought of missing out on marriage and a family can be traumatizing, not to mention anxiety provoking. It’s a vicious cycle.

Of course, there may be other factors at play as well: marriage, children, and a home all cost money. Though times have changed and many women are out-earning men, many men still feel it’s their duty to be financially responsible for their partner. There’s also tremendous pressure when it comes to taking on debt to finance a lavish wedding, not to mention the financial burden of children. Women also need to consider other, deeper issues that may be driving their partner’s fear, like coming from a broken family, having a father who cheated or a mother who was alcoholic. These difficult early life experiences can cause many men to feel avoidant and harbor a real fear of commitment, which is a serious issue that can be hard to discern in the midst of all the drama and fighting.

Getting to “I Do”

The very best thing a couple in this situation can do for themselves is to seek the help of a therapist or coach. I put my clients through some very structured listening exercises so that they can really start to hear each other’s perspectives and gain a deeper understanding of what’s happening on both sides. I encourage my clients to recognize that, in this situation, there are two people who are hurt and scared, and help them learn to come from a place of love rather than anger and desperation. Until both members of the couple understand where the other is coming from, it will be very difficult to move forward.

It is heartbreaking to find yourself in a position where the person you want to spend the rest of your life with won’t commit. With a ticking clock and your whole future hanging in the balance, it’s understandable that you would feel anxious and hurt. If you’ve found yourself in this situation and don’t know where to turn, I encourage you to set up a consultation and see how I can help.

He Lost Me at Marie Calendar's

 

 

 

 

There’s a Big Difference Between Being too Picky and Having High Standards

There's a big difference between being too picky and having high standards

There’s a Big Difference Between Being too Picky and Having High Standards

 

He Lost Me at Marie Calendar’s

I once had a guy take me to Marie Calendar’s on a first date. It could have been a Sizzler or Chili’s or The Olive Garden. For some people this wouldn’t be a big deal, but they’re just not the kind of places I hang. It wasn’t about money; it was about originality. A cute ramen noodle shop or a hip hamburger joint would have been fine by me. Some people would think I was being shallow for rejecting a man on this one criterion alone, but there’s a big difference between being too picky and having high standards. I knew for certain that Mr. Marie Calendar’s wasn’t my guy. I’m not a chicken potpie kind of girl and I never will be!

When I told this story to a client yesterday who is dating and struggling to figure out if her own standards are too high, she was shocked. “You didn’t want to see him again just because he took you to Marie Calendar’s?” she inquired.

“Yep,” I replied, confidently.

“But don’t you think you were being too picky?” she asked. “What if he had all the other qualities you were looking for? Wasn’t it superficial to write him off just because of his choice of restaurants? I mean shouldn’t you have given him another chance?”

“No. He was a sweet guy, but it was obvious to me that our taste was very different and I knew it wouldn’t work. I feel that, on a first date, someone is trying to make a good impression and his choice of restaurants says a lot about his preferences. It shows his taste and style. The evening was pleasant and I was appreciative that he treated me to dinner, but I knew we weren’t a match.”

When you’re dating, it’s important to trust your gut, draw your lines, and stick to them. It would have been the same situation if my date had told me his idea of a great vacation was going on a Princess Cruise. I went on one once and it’s not something I ever want to do again. There are plenty of people out there who enjoy Princess Cruises: just not me.

Narrowing the field

You need to look for a partner whose values align with yours. For that to happen, you need to know what’s important to you and take a stand for it. Asking for what you want doesn’t mean you’re being too demanding, but keep in mine that each time you add another criteria to your list, it will narrow your dating field a little (or—in some cases—a lot) more.

Recently, while attending an eHarmony luncheon, Grant Langston, Vice President and head of Brand Marketing, addressed this issue. He gave the example that, if you want to date someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, it will cut your dating pool by 75%. This might seem like a lot, but if you don’t drink alcohol and you don’t want to be around it, then you need to draw that line. If you aren’t attracted to men who are bald or stocky or actors or high school grads, you don’t have to date them. Just know that each non-negotiable on your list will cut away another chunk of the pie, and you might only be left with a sliver.

It’s important to set your standards as high as you feel necessary, but if you find fault with everyone you date, then your friends are rightyou’re being “too picky.” When I was dating, I didn’t find fault with everyone. There were plenty of people I liked very much and that I was willing to date. Those relationships didn’t work out for a variety of reasons, but not because my standards were too high.

When no one is good enough

If your standards are impossibly high and no one can reach them, it might be because you’re afraid of the very thing you claim to be looking for: a serious relationship.

You might actually be looking for shortcomings and flaws in your dates as a means of protecting yourself from disappointment or rejection. If no one meets your standards, then you’ll never have to enter into a serious relationship. If you never enter into a serious relationship, you’ll never get hurt. It’s self-sabotage at its best.

There is a difference between having high standards and being too picky, and only you can answer that question for yourself. You have to gauge if you’re being discerning or if you’re being fearful. At the end of the day, you get to set the bar wherever you see fit. Just remember that you need to be true to yourself and your values and know that it might take time and patience to find the love of your life. If you have the courage to stand for what you want and keep dating, you might not just find someone who meets your expectations, but who exceeds them. I did.

Are you afraid you’ll never meet someone who meets your standards? Book a consultation and see how I can help you work through your blocks and find love.

He Lost Me at Marie Calendar's

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