Archives

Communication

Naked Truth: Do Both Partners Have to Work on the Relationship Together?

Naked Truth: Do Both Partners Have to Work on the Relationship Together?

Naked Truth: Do Both Partners Have to Work on the Relationship Together?

I recently started coaching a couple I’ll call Jake and Ashley. Jake can sometimes be a bit aggressive in the way he gives Ashley feedback. When he does this, Ashley gets reactive because she feels she’s being attacked and blamed for something she did wrong. On numerous occasions in our sessions Jake has sworn this isn’t the case. He isn’t “mad” at her. It’s just that he often doesn’t always have the wherewithal to approach her in a gentle way. He’s working on it, but he admits that he can come across somewhat anxious and abrasive at times.

Recently, Ashley came to see me for a private session. She had a list of incidents where Jake had “attacked” her and set her off. She was also hurt because she felt that this was Jake’s issue. He was the one who was abrasive. So, why did she have to be the one to stop reacting? Shouldn’t he be coming to coaching to work on himself?

Here’s what I told her:

  1. This isn’t an either or situation. Jake should work on his delivery just as much as she needs to work on her reactivity. Both are true.
  2. Usually in a couple, there is one person with a higher level of emotional intelligence. Often that person is the woman. Women are more naturally inclined to focus on their personal and emotional growth. This doesn’t mean the other partner should get a hall pass and not have to work on himself, it just means that one partner is able to grasp issues in the relationship faster and that partner is more likely to be the one to make the changes that are needed to balance out the emotional dynamics in the couple. In this case, Ashley is that person.
  3. It’s not true that two people have to work on a relationship together. When one partner makes changes, the other partner is also forced to change. So, just because one partner doesn’t like going to coaching, it doesn’t mean that the relationship is doomed. Each partner in a relationship has different strengths. You want to leverage those strengths. If one person is the primary breadwinner, the other person can focus more on maintaining the emotional stability in the relationship. Susan Page, one of my favorite authors, wrote a book on this very subject: How One of You Can Bring the Two of You Together.
  4. Finally, I offered Ashley this solution drawn from my own rather peaceful marriage. Whenever my husband is giving me feedback and I start to feel defensive, I calm myself by reminding myself of the following:

He chose me out of all the women in the world to be his partner, he loves me dearly, and I need to trust that his intentions are good and that any feedback he’s giving me is for the betterment of us and our relationship.

One of the many things I admire most about Ashley is how open and coachable she is. She agreed that she has more of bandwidth for personal growth than Jake. She was also willing to let go of the idea that they both had to be working on the relationship. They still come in for joint sessions, but she is also coming in once a week to do some additional work on her own. In our last joint sessions, when I filled Jake in on what Ashley and I had talked about, he said, “I really liked that part about what you said say to yourself when you start to feel defensive with your husband. When Ashley starts to get upset with me, I am going to remind myself that she loves me, that she chose me out of all the men in the world to be her partner, and that she means well.” When I looked over at Ashley, she was beaming.

 

Is your relationship struggling? Book a consultation and see how I can help!

Naked Truth: Is Someone You Love Pushing You Away?

Naked Truth: Is Someone You Love Pushing You Away?

Naked Truth: Is Someone You Love Pushing You Away?

Hi Lisa. I just lost a great woman I’ve been dating for the past year. It was going really well, but then she started nitpicking about things about me that never seemed to bother her before—my dog, where I live—and said she needed space to find herself again. I’m happy to give her that, but it’s been almost three weeks now and I haven’t heard from her. Her family says she’s confused and hurting. It’s painful knowing she’s suffering and there’s nothing I can do to help. I love her and her six-year-old daughter, and I was ready to ask for her hand in marriage… but I can’t wait forever. My question is, do I give her space and see what happens or just let her go?

Thanks,

Rick

 

Hi Rick,

I am so sorry you’re going through this. I can tell you really care about this woman. From everything you wrote, it sounds like she has an “avoidant” intimacy style that is causing her to push you away. She’s afraid of getting close and needing someone. The closer the two of you become, the more uncomfortable it gets for her. This fear is so powerful that it causes her to nitpick and push you away. What’s tricky is that she doesn’t know that her fear is what’s causing her to feel uncomfortable. She thinks the reason she starts to feel uncomfortable around you is because you’re not the right person for her.

There are some excellent relationship books that could help you understand attachment styles better. I would start with one called “Attached.” Ninety-nine out of a 100 of my clients who read it say they love it! Two other excellent books about adult attachment theory are “Hold Me Tight” and “Wired for Love.” Another option to consider—if she’s willing—is to see a therapist with her. If she is, in fact, avoidant, she will need the help of a therapist understand where her urge to run away is really coming from and how to stop it. You might also want to take a quick compatibility quiz on the “Attached” website. Here’s the link: www.attachedthebook.com/compatibility-quiz You can see what both of your attachment styles are. This information can be crucial to understand what’s happening. From what you’ve written, you seem to have a secure attachment style. When a secure person is in a relationship with someone who is avoidant, it can cause the secure person to become anxious.

My last word of advice: don’t get defensive and block her. I know she broke up with you and it’s really painful, but women are funny. Sometimes, we push men away when we really want them to come back. If you truly adore her like you say you do, I suggest you read these books (or listen to them on audio) and then give her copies. It will be a revelation for both of you. I would love to know how it goes. If you see a therapist, try to find someone who”s done some trainings with John and Julie Gotman or Sue Johnson.

I wish you the very best. I hope this helps, Rick. You sound like a good man.

Warmly,

Lisa

 

Are you struggling in a relationship or trying to figure out how to move forward? Book a consultation with me and see how I can help!

Naked Truth: Protect Your Marriage at All Costs

Naked Truth: Protect Your Marriage at All Costs

Naked Truth: Protect Your Marriage at All Costs

Hi Lisa. I am happily married to an incredible woman. Recently, several women from my past decided to walk back into my life after 20 years. How do I get them to back off before they jeopardize my marriage? The ring and paper don’t seem to be enough, and they don’t seem to be respecting traditional boundaries.

-Will

 

Hi Will,

Thanks for reaching out! The single most important person in your life should be your wife, and you need to do everything you can to protect the sacred bond the two of you share. You say these women “walked back into your life,” but I don’t think they just walked in. You had to have let them in. My guess is that you haven’t been clear enough with these women or that you are still trying to be nice and polite so you don’t hurt their feelings. I see this a lot with my male clients. The problem is, if you don’t take care of this, someone else is going to get hurt… and that someone is probably going to be your incredible wife. If these women aren’t respecting your boundaries, I would dispense with any niceties and tell them—in no uncertain terms—that you are flattered they are thinking of you, but that you are happily married and won’t respond to any further attempts on their part to contact you. Hope that helps!

Warmly,

Lisa

Is someone threatening your relationship? Book a consultation with me and see how I can help!

Naked Truth: Protect Your Marriage at All Costs

 

The Male-Female Dynamic

The Male-Female Dynamic

The Male-Female Dynamic:

Discover how to ignite more passion, intimacy & connection in your relationship

It’s crushing, right? You set out to be in an amazing relationship and the two of you just can’t seem to make it work! You know deep in your gut that you two are just perfect for each other, but emotional baggage and unhealthy patterns keep sabotaging your relationship.

Few things can be more frustrating or painful.

But, what if I were to tell you that you could transform your relationship into one that will make you the envy of all your friends?

A fellow relationship coach, Eli Deutsch, has asked me to participate in his brand new online video telesummit: “The Male-Female Dynamic: Discover How to Ignite More Passion, Intimacy & Connection in Your Relationship.” In this interview, I share my pearls of wisdom about how to get emotionally naked so you can move past the issues that are blocking the communication and connection in your relationship.

This free event features me along with 19 other experts, partnering up to help you to have the authentic, deep, connected relationship you long for. To watch my interview, click here: http://themalefemaledynamic.com/xiu9

 

Are you struggling in your relationship? Book a coaching consultation and see how I can help!

The Male-Female Dynamic

10 Words You Should Never Say During a Fight

10 Words You Should Never Say During a Fight

10 Words You Should Never Say During a Fight

Sticks and stones can break your bones, but fighting words can sometimes hurt the most — especially coming from someone you love. Conflict is inevitable in any committed partnership, and knowing how to communicate well can save your relationship from a breakup. Learning how to turn arguments into heartfelt discussions filled with intimacy (AKA the happiest relationship ever) is definitely one of our relationship resolutions. To learn the secrets behind diffusing the roughest spats, we turned to three relationship experts who’ve seen their fair share of lovers’ quarrels.  Read more on Brit + Co.

What I Learned from Cooking with my Boyfriend

What I Learned from Cooking with my Boyfriend

What I Learned from Cooking with my Boyfriend

My guest blogger this week is my lovely assistant, Tara. In this post, she shares some wisdom from the kitchen! -Lisa

Eight months ago, I took the plunge and moved in with my boyfriend of a year. Robby is the first (and, fingers crossed, last) guy I’ve ever lived with, and he just-so-happens to be a great cook. Admittedly, I have his ex to thank for that. They were together for eight years, and in that time she whipped him into the domestic god he is today so I might reap the benefits… and a few extra pounds. I raise a glass to her with every teeming plate of pasta al limone, miso glazed salmon, and juicy ribeye he puts in front of me.

Suffice to say, my guy knows his way around the kitchen—and, to his credit, ours is not an easy one to get around. Our building dates to the 1930s, and aside from the deep, farmhouse sink, it’s hard to find much charm in the lack of counter space, not to mention total absence of a dishwasher or garbage disposal. Yet Robby manages to excel against all odds. He moves around the kitchen like a pro, with authority and confidence, and sometimes it takes everything in me to refrain from jumping him mid-sauté on our ever-so-unfortunate linoleum floor.

I, on the other hand, don’t fare so well. I overcook pasta, I forget to prep, and most recently, chose the wrong sized pan while attempting jambalaya and stood in the middle of the kitchen, helpless and on the verge of tears, as I watched our supper spew over like molten lava. Robby chops veggies with the ease of a well-oiled machine; it takes me a good ten minutes to julienne a carrot. In fact, before I met Robby, I didn’t even know what it meant to julienne a carrot. 

In my defense, I spent a significant number of my adult years in New York before moving back to L.A., and let’s just say The Big Apple didn’t bode well for my culinary development. Aside from the occasional Thai delivery, all of my meals were consumed outside the apartment— and with good reason. The closest Trader Joe’s was a dozen subway stops away, and I didn’t want to wake the cockroaches.

My (Drunken) Inner Jewish Mother

Regardless of my lack of experience in the kitchen, something about cohabitation struck a domestic chord in me, and almost as soon as I’d unpacked my last box, I found myself overcome by the urge to feed my man. In other words, my Inner Jewish Mother took over. Unfortunately for Robby and me, my Inner Jewish Mother has the culinary skills of a twelve-year-old after guzzling an entire bottle of Manischevtiz. 

Robby was sympathetic to my ineptitude. He found my remedial veggie chopping endearing, especially because I do it as a lefty. But I imagine my clumsiness in the kitchen would challenge anyone’s patience, and Robby’s quickly waned. When I attempted to sauté onions, he’d tinker with the flame on the burner to make sure I wouldn’t char the pan. When he saw me struggling to peel garlic, he’d grab a knife and explain how much easier it is to get the skin off when you crush the cloves first… and then he’d mince it for me.

Most of my early attempts at cooking would end with me stomping out of the kitchen and plopping myself down on the living room sofa, angry and dejected, while he finished preparing the meal. Sometimes shouting would be involved, and I once threw an heirloom tomato at the wall out of frustration. In the end, the food would taste wonderful, but I would feel ashamed of my amateurish skills and resentful of Robby’s having taken over. While I don’t ascribe to the motto “a woman’s place is in the kitchen,” I hated feeling like I didn’t have a place in there at all.

Romanesco and an Epiphany

For awhile, I just stayed out. I watched from the dining room table, some combination of envy and bitterness boiling up inside of me, as Robby peeled and diced and sautéed, our apartment filling with the aroma of onions and garlic… a smell I came to associate with my own inadequacy. At the local Farmers Market, which we frequent together every Sunday, I would lose myself in the rows of fresh produce and imagine a day when we might live as equals in the kitchen, julienning organic carrots side by side. Then, on one of these trips, while staring at a particularly stunning array of romanesco, I had an epiphany: if I wanted to feel like an equal in the relationship, I had to learn to hold my own in the kitchen. 

Food was such a central part of our lives that my culinary woes felt as grave as trust issues or sexual dysfunction. I knew I had to step it up. I couldn’t keep deferring to Robby when I found myself struggling in the kitchen just because I knew he was a better cook. And I couldn’t keep letting him taking over, no matter how desperate my drunken Inner Jewish Mother was for a reprieve. If it took me ten minutes to julienne a carrot, then it took me ten minutes to julienne a carrot, goddamnit!

Sous Chef at Best

And so I made a rule, and I drew a line. When I was cooking, Robby wasn’t allowed anywhere near the kitchen. There would be no exceptions. If I had a question, I’d Google it. And if things got out of hand, there was always a fire extinguisher in the hallway. I managed alright, and slowly but surely, my skills began improving. But with each mediocre dish I made, I had the sneaking suspicion that something wasn’t right. I thought having the kitchen to myself would feel empowering; that all the sweat and toil would payoff when I set that plate of food down in front of the man I loved and felt the satisfaction of knowing I was fulfilling my womanly duties. The trouble is, I wasn’t having any fun. And the feeling I got setting that plate down on the table was never as gratifying as I had hoped. Mostly, I just felt insecure, tense, and exhausted. I was trying to play the role of master chef, but I was a sous at best.

Room for Two

Regardless of its scant dimensions, I knew deep down there was room in the kitchen for both of us. I peeled back the yellow tape, and I let Robby back in. Instead of continuing to let myself be intimidated by his culinary prowess and judging myself for my inferiority, I tried embracing it. I mean, how lucky was I to have a man who could satisfy me in the bedroom and the kitchen? I let Robby take the lead, and I quickly realized that playing sous chef wasn’t as bad as I’d made it out to be.

Since that fateful night, I’ve cooked plenty of meals on my own, but the ones that taste best are always the ones we prepare together. That isn’t to say we don’t bicker and bump elbows along the way, but like any good argument, there’s always something to be gained. Cooking with Robby has taught me the virtues of patience and perseverance, and the beauty of collaboration. With each meal we create together, we’re learning how to maneuver around the kitchen and each other’s idiosyncrasies simultaneously, and we’re getting closer. And as nerve-wracking as it can be sometimes, at the end of the day we subscribe to the adage, “what happens in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen.” Except for the food, of course— we take that with us.

Are you having trouble finding your footing in a relationship? Set up a coaching consultation with Lisa and see how she can help you transform your love life and forge a deeper connection with your partner.

The Rules are for Fools

Listen if you want to be Heard

Listen if You Want to Be Heard

 Listen if you want to be Heard

When I ask couples to tell me three things they want to get out of coaching, finding better ways to communicate is at the top of their list. I understand. It must be devastating for two people who have shared some of the most wonderful, positive feelings they’ve ever had to find themselves devolving into constant arguments over what are often petty matters.. What’s worse it that many of them feel powerless to stop doing it. When the dust settles, they might find themselves making promises to each other, but then they don’t follow through. Without strategies for long-term change, they get stuck in a continuous cycle of blow-ups and makeups that continue to escalate their feelings of helplessness and resentment. If nothing is done to break the pattern, it can permanently damage the relationship.

In my experience, when couples say they want better communication skills, what they really need are better listening skills. The real issue is that they’re not hearing each other. When tensions are running high and one partner is sharing, the other isn’t listening to what’s being said because s/he is too busy preparing a defense. They might have started out having a conversation, but then they devolve into a debate where both partners are just trying to prove that they’re right.

Break it down

If you and your partner came to me for coaching, I would start by showing you how to break your conversation into two distinct parts where one of you is the speaker and one of you is the listener. The speaker will share his or her side of the story in a way that is non-blaming and non-attacking, and the listener would only be allowed to reflect back on what he or she hears. This may sound simple, but it can be extremely challenging for the listener to listen without countering what the speaker is saying. It takes a certain amount of self-control and a willingness to hear your partner’s side in the same way that you want your partner to hear your side. In this exercise you’ll both have the opportunity to play each role—the speaker and the listener. In this first exercise, the goal is not to solve any problems or issues, but to listen in a new way and really hear what your partner has to say.

You can both be right

Stephen Covey says, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This is because, if you want people to understand where you’re coming from, you have to first be willing to understand where they’re coming from. Keep in mind that just because you understand where they’re coming from, it doesn’t mean you agree with their  point-of-view. It just means that, within the context of who they are, you understand how they could feel a certain way. Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t just one way to look at a given situation. Just because you and your partner have differing opinions, it doesn’t mean that one of you is right and one of you is wrong. You could both be right. The more you let go of your need to be right and open up to hearing your partner, the more compassion you will have and the easier it will be to resolve conflicts in a loving way. Now, lets get started!

 

Mirroring Exercise:

Think of a current issue or conflict in your relationship. With that in mind, choose one partner to be the listener and one to be the speaker.

Directions for the speaker:

Begin by using a soft start up—a gentle, loving approach intended to put your partner at ease. Think of two or three kind statements you can say about your partner. For example, “I love spending time with you,” or “Without question you’re my best friend.”

The second step is to use “and” rather than “but” language. If you use “but,” it will negate all the nice things you just said and your partner will immediately feel defensive.

For example: “I love living with you and sharing a home with you and it would be great if you would help clean the bedroom once in awhile.”

The third step is to present your perspective, using “I” language instead of “You” language. For example, instead of saying “You never listen to me” try “Sometimes I don’t feel heard.”

The last thing is to avoid using the phrase “It makes me feel.” Nobody makes you feel anything. You choose to feel a certain way. So instead of saying, “When you interrupt me all the time it makes me feel angry,” you would say, “When you interrupt me, I feel angry.” “When you do or say __________________, I feel _________________.”

Directions for the listener:

You might want to have a pen and paper on hand to take notes, because it can be difficult to listen and remember the main points when your partner has a lot on his or her mind. As your partner speaks, you want to be aware of your partner’s perspective. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and try your best to see the situation through his or her eyes. Even if you don’t agree with what he or she says, you want to understand why your partner feels that way.

Every so often, when your partner pauses, repeat what he or she just said back. Say, “What I think I heard you say is…” And then, in your own words, tell your partner what you think he or she was trying to say. If your partner doesn’t pause and you want to check in, simply ask, “Can I pause you for a second?” and then repeat what your partner just said. When you do this part of the exercise, be aware of your tone. It’s easy to come across as snarky or judgmental, even if you don’t intend to be.

 Your partner will then reply, “Yes that is what I said,” or “No, you didn’t quite understand me.” Remember, you’re not there to offer solutions or even ask questions at this point. Your only objective is to let your partner know that you truly understand what he or she just said.

Most members of a couple are so intent on getting their own point across that they don’t realize they’re not hearing what their partner has to say. This exercise is designed to get you to slow down and really listen to each other. Many of my clients who did this simple exercise for the first time came back to the next session and said that it was life changing for them. They said that it was a revelation to finally hear what their partner was saying and to be heard in return. I would love for you to give this a try and share your experience.  What new insights did you have into how you can listen better and how it felt to really have someone listen to you?

If you and your partner are having trouble communicating, book a complimentary consultation and see how I can help.  Listen if you want to be Heard

 

 

Five Things You Should Know About Couples Coaching

Five Things You Should Know About Couples Coaching

Five Things You Should Know About Couples Coaching

As a relationship coach, I know all too well the pain and heartache that can come when two people who were once so deeply in love are struggling to connect. It saddens me to think that so many couples suffer through their problems alone, only to call it quits because they don’t have the tools they need to break through bad patterns and emotional blocks. I’ve made it my life’s work to help struggling couples revitalize their relationships. More couples are seeing me now than ever before, but I’ve realized that most people entering into or considering couples coaching don’t know what to expect from the process, and many are hesitant to give it a try. Here are five things you should know about couples coaching:

  1. Coaching Isn’t Just for Couples in Crisis

I’ve met couples that have suffered through months or even years of hurt but avoided coaching because they weren’t married or thought their problems just weren’t serious enough for them to seek help. Couples coaching is a little like taking care of a house. You wouldn’t wait until your roof was on the verge of collapse before you made the necessary repairs, so why treat your relationship any differently? I coach many couples who have experienced major setbacks and are struggling to “save” their relationships, but I see an equal number who seek out coaching because they want to prevent certain issues from becoming more serious. These couples are crazy about each other, but they’re also human. They hit a bump in the road every so often and want to learn how to stop a negative pattern before it spirals out of control. According to John Gottman, author of “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” the majority of couples wait until six years after they admit they need help to actually seek it. By then, it’s often too late. You don’t need to wait until you’re on the brink of catastrophe to seek the help of a coach. If you recognize bad patterns or communication blocks in your relationship, do something about it today.

  1. Miracles Happen, but They Take Time

You can’t undo years of negative patterns or stunted communication in one or two coaching sessions. I wish it were that easy. The key to success in coaching is consistency. Make a commitment to yourself and your partner to see a coach at least five times if you want to reap lasting benefits. Food for thought: if half of all marriages end in divorce and the majority of couples seeking therapy quit before they reach the five session mark, maybe it’s a sign that people are giving up a little too soon. I suggest couples commit to seeing me a minimum of three times a month for three months. Most couples see some changes after the first couple of sessions, but they don’t see lasting change until around the three-month mark.

  1. A Good Coach Takes the Side of the Relationship

A good coach isn’t going to side with either member of a couple; she’s going to side with the relationship. At times it may seem like everyone’s against you—when your ego feels threatened or your coach won’t allow you to throw in that little jab at your partner you so badly want to get out—but at the end of the day, your relationship will usually win. Remember that, and learn to be okay with it. 

  1. At First, Things May Seem like They’re Getting Worse

I had a client email me recently in a panic. She and her husband had seen me for a couple sessions and she told me she felt like things were getting worse. She didn’t know what to do. This may sound surprising, but her reaction isn’t uncommon. Coaching brings a lot of stuff to the surface… stuff you haven’t been talking about and would probably rather not look at. Your partner may bring up a disagreement you thought was ancient history, or you may discover some new truths about yourself or your partner. A coach’s job is to listen to each member of the partnership, recognize patterns that might be contributing to problems in the relationship, and help facilitate discussion. It can be painful to rehash past arguments and disappointments in the moment—and even more difficult to take responsibility, but the long-term results can be transformative.

  1. Things will Get Better

Couples coaching is about building trust—trust in your partner and trust in the coaching process. As you delve deeper into the process and start understanding the patterns that drive your behavior, you will start to feel more in tune with your partner and with the relationship itself. You’ll learn how to effectively communicate your wants and needs, support your partner with love and compassion, and start seeing your relationship as a vehicle for your own growth and learning. Instead of feeling like you need to pull away from your partner when things get tough, you’ll start leaning in, and as you get closer, love and romance flourish.

The Right Fight

Many years ago, I realized that if I could just figure out how to have a peaceful, loving relationship then everything else in my life would fall into place. I was right. I’ve been with my husband for 13 years now and I believe more than ever that having a secure, committed, harmonious relationship is the foundation for a happy life. When I realized how many other people were struggling in their relationships I was compelled to help. In the 13 years I’ve been coaching I have seen how transformative these sessions can be. Couples who were ready to write off their relationships for good are often amazed when they realize how effective the coaching process can be. Don’t get me wrong; for some couples, the first few sessions can get a little dicey. But hang in there. Commit to the process and let go of the idea of instant gratification. It may take time, but I promise you it’s worth it. There is nothing more beautiful than sharing your life with the person you love; if you’re going to fight for anything, don’t fight with your partner—fight for your relationship!

If you and your partner are struggling to connect, set up a coaching consult today!

 

booknow-button-large

 

No More Interviews:

Four Tools to Stop You From Interviewing Your Dates

No More Interviews! “Where’d you grow up? What kind of food do you like? Do you want to get married again? Are you a cat person or a dog person???”

Let’s face it—first dates are nothing if not anxiety provoking. Two perfect strangers walk into a room, each with their own set of nerves, baggage, and expectations, hoping for a connection. Both daters want to have a good time and get to know the person sitting across from them, but before you know it, someone’s firing off a dozen questions and the date feels like a grueling job interview. It’s a total vibe killer.

The other day, my assistant told me a story about a bad date between two friends she had set up that ended up being another unfortunate casualty of the dreaded first date interview. The girl was one of her close friend’s from high school and the guy was one of her boyfriend’s longtime family friends. They were both young, good looking, and had promising careers in the art world. It seemed like a perfect match. When my assistant called her friend to hear about how the date went, she couldn’t believe it when she told her it was one of the worst dates she’d ever been on. “I felt like I was on a job interview,” she said. “He just kept asking me question after question, and I felt really uncomfortable.” Curious to hear the other side of the story, my assistant had her boyfriend get the scoop on the date from his friend. And here’s the rub—he complained about the same thing! They both felt like they had been on an interview and that the other was too guarded and closed off to make a real connection.

Her story got me thinking about my clients and how so many of them struggle with the very same issue on dates. They just don’t know how to relax and open up, and they often go home feeling totally dejected. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Here’s a list of four things you can try on your next date to avoid succumbing to that first date interview and make a real connection with someone:

  1. Ask open-ended questions – rather than jumping from subject to subject, take one topic and explore it. A great way to do this is by asking your date open-ended questions that require more than just a one-word answer. For example, if you’re into film and want to get a feel for your date’s interest in the subject, try asking “what kind of films do you enjoy?” as opposed to “what’s your favorite movie?” The idea is to get your date to open up and share his/her thoughts, feelings, and passions. If you let the conversation flow naturally, you might find the answers to those burning questions will present themselves on their own.
  2. Get comfortable with silence – When it comes to first dates, people often talk about that dreaded “awkward silence.” But why does it have to be awkward? If there’s a lull in the conversation, don’t panic. Use it as an opportunity to get closer to your date and connect on a deeper level. Make eye contact, smile, read his/her body language. I know this can be scary for some people. We’re so accustomed to thinking of silence as uncomfortable or an indication that a date isn’t going well. If your instinct is to break the silence with a series of rapid-fire questions or idle chatter, try taking three deep breaths first. You might find the “awkwardness” will pass on its own and the conversation will resume organically.
  3. Go into each date with a Beginner’s Mind – In Zen Buddhism, there is a concept called Shoshin, or “beginner’s mind.” It encourages an attitude of openness and eagerness when it comes to study, but it can also be applied to first dates! When you’ve been out in the dating world for a while, it’s easy to get discouraged and bring negativity into a date. Just because your last date was a bust, it doesn’t mean your next one will be. I encourage you to practice Shoshin and to approach each date with a fresh perspective, an open heart, and a beginner’s mind.
  4. Practice Naked Dating –Naked Dating® is about tapping into your dates on an emotional level—that’s where a real connection happens. It’s difficult for us to do this because we’re so accustomed to operating on an intellectual level in other parts of our lives. We’re taught that we need to be strong and self-reliant in the workplace, and because of that, we lose some of the softness and vulnerability that makes us attractive. Naked Dating® is about letting down your guard and allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable with your dates. It’s about looking at each date as an opportunity not only to meet a potential match, but to get to know yourself better, learn how to ask for what you want, and open yourself up to new possibilities in life and love.

While I can’t offer you a magic wand that will take away all your first date jitters or guarantee your next date will be a perfect match, I can tell you with confidence that if you start trying these approaches on your dates, that dreaded first date interview will become a thing of the past. You’ll start connecting with your dates on a deeper, more emotional level, and you’ll go home at the end of the night knowing that even if you didn’t meet “the one,” you learned something about yourself and what you’re looking for in the process. You’ll stop interviewing your dates and start dating Naked!

If you’re having trouble connecting with your dates, book a free consultation with me:

booknow-button-large

 

Asking for What You Want in Relationships

Asking for what you want in relationships is the only way to get what you need!

Asking for What You Want in Relationships

Do you have trouble asking for what you want in relationships? Lots of women do. Part of what makes asking for what you want in relationships so hard is that well-meaning friends, Hollywood gossip columns, blogs by other disillusioned daters, etc. tell us not to speak up for ourselves and to wait for men to make all the moves.

Are you being needy if you ask a man about the future of your relationship?

Maybe you’ve read that asking for what you want in relationships will make a man think you’re pushy or needy. I’ve coached many women who wasted months or even years in the wrong relationships because they took this advice to heart. They really believed that asking a man to discuss the future of their relationship would push him away. It saddens me to think that we’ve made such amazing progress as women in so many ways, but that we’re still allowing ourselves to be cast in a passive role when it comes to pursuing relationships with men.

Rachel’s Story

Perhaps you can relate to what my client Rachel is going through. She’s been dating a man named Evan for three months, but she still doesn’t know where their relationship is going… and it’s driving her crazy. Like Rachel, you might have trouble asking for what you want in relationships. The more time that goes by without her talking to Evan about his intentions, the more anxious she feels. Sometimes a week or two passes where she doesn’t see him. During that time she agonizes over whether or not the relationship is really going anywhere. When they finally get together, she feels momentarily better, but it isn’t long before her anxiety sets in again.

When I asked why she hadn’t asked Evan where their relationship is going, she had many seemingly good excuses: he had a big presentation at work, his crazy ex was harassing him, his daughter was going off to college, he moved into a new place, his Chia pet died… there was always something.

I told her that she was 50% of the relationship and she had every right to ask if Evan was thinking about a future with her, but Rachel protested. She said she’d been listening to an audio book by a well-known male dating expert who said, “You have to be careful about asking for what you want in relationships because it makes men feel pressured and pushes them away. Men are hunters by nature. They are hardwired to go out and find what they want. If a real man wants you, he will pursue you.” In other words, she should act like a helpless bystander and let Evan have all the control.

Why it’s dangerous not to speak up

Here’s the deal: many men will take sex and companionship when and where they can get it, especially if a woman is good company and she isn’t asking for more. So, if you don’t speak up, many men will make the assumption that you’re fine with the current arrangement.

Not asking for what you want in relationships can have serious consequences. Rachel is falling in love with Evan and it’s agonizing for her because she doesn’t have a clue if he feels the same way. Have you ever been in a similar situation? Rachel told me that her obsession with the relationship was starting to take over her life and causing her to act out:

  •                             She was becoming snarky with him
  •                             She wasn’t returning his phone calls
  •                             She was withholding sex
  •                             She was starting to drink—a lot
  •                             She was over-sharing with her friends

 

To make matters worse, Rachel was concerned that her behavior would sabotage the relationship. Rachel was embarrassed to admit to me that she was feeling so lost and desperate for answers she had contacted three online psychics. Hundreds of dollars later they all told her not to say anything to Evan and that he would come around on his own within a few months. If you look hard enough, like Rachel, you will keep finding ways to justify not asking for what you want in relationships.

No one wants to face rejection

To be fair, Rachel’s hesitation about talking to Evan wasn’t irrational. It’s easy to buy into the idea that you shouldn’t be asking for what you want in relationships because then you can live on hope and you don’t have to face possible rejection. Rejection is a scary thing. The truth is that many men will stay in a relationship for sex and companionship, especially with a woman who seems uncomplicated and easygoing. Smart women know they need to get clear about what a guy is after early in a relationship, and that means asking the right questions in the right way.

Understanding men is the key to asking for what you want in relationships

There is a way of asking for what you want in relationships without appearing aggressive or demanding. It starts with understanding how men work. Consider these four insights into how most men operate:

  1. Men don’t like being told what to do; they want to come to their own conclusions.
  2. Men don’t like being given ultimatums; they want to have dialogues where they can also express their wants and needs.
  3. Men don’t want women who are doormats; they are looking for women who aren’t afraid to be themselves and ask for what they want.
  4. Men don’t like to be asked how they feel; they want to be asked what they think.

I encourage you to try the following approach when asking for what you want in relationships:

  1. Tell him how you feel
  2. Tell him what you need
  3. Ask what he thinks about what you said

For example, Rachel might say:

  1. “I feel like I’m developing feelings for you and I would like to move forward with our relationship.”
  2. “I would like to spend more time together. I was thinking we could see each other on Tuesdays as well as on Saturdays.”
  3. “What do you think about that?”

I know this may sound easier said than done. Often times we avoid conversations like this because we’re afraid of the answer we’ll receive, but answers can be telling. If Evan doesn’t want to get closer to Rachel, he might respond with something like, “I feel like we’re already spending enough time together.” In this case, Rachel would have to consider whether Evan is really interested in getting closer to her. On the other hand, if Evan wants to get close to Rachel, he will welcome a chance to spend more time with her and be happy she brought it up.

Asking for what you want in relationships can be challenging, but you need to find out if a man is really interested in a future with you or if he’s just getting his needs met. If you follow this simple formula it should open up a dialogue where a man will be able to tell you what he’s really thinking. You might not get the answer you want, but you will get the answer you need.

If you’re having trouble asking for what you want in relationships book a consultation to see if I am the right coach for you.

CLICK HERE to book now:

booknow-button-large

 

 

Blogarama - The Blog Directory