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Relationship Coaching

Do YOU Sabotage Dates Because You’re NOT Ready for Love?

Sabotage Love?

I have no doubt that my husband, Benjamin, would NOT have been attracted to me when I first started dating 17 years ago. But the dating process helped me open my heart and get a handle on my emotions. Dating SHAPED me into the woman he fell in love with in that magic moment when we met two years and 100 first dates later.

When I started dating again, I approached it as a SPIRITUAL JOURNEY. I decided to see each interaction as an OPPORTUNITY to learn to open my heart wider and become a more loving person.

When I looked at others in the dating world, I watched as their hearts and minds became less open with each disappointing date, and the road ahead of them grew NARROWER.

As I dated, I wanted the road ahead to get WIDER. I wanted to become MORE openhearted, MORE open-minded, and MORE compassionate with each date.

If a man was unkind or disappointed me in some way, rather than get angry or blame him for what happened, I told myself that he didn’t owe me anything. He was doing me a favor by making space for the RIGHT MAN to come into my life.

After a while, I stopped caring why certain men behaved the way they did. It really didn’t matter. I knew how I wanted a man to treat me, I knew he was out there, and I was willing to keep dating until I found him.

None of this was any easier for me than it is for you. I wanted a partner more than I have ever wanted anything in my life. Facing one rejection after another was terribly painful, but the more I was willing to learn from my mistakes and focus on keeping my heart and mind open, the easier it got. I can show you how to do this. Check out my online workshop to learn more.

Today, I’m ABSOLUTELY CLEAR that everything I went through when I dated prepared me for the relationship of my dreams. By using my dating experience to work through my DRAMA, I wound up attracting an AMAZING man and together we have been able to create a relationship that is EVEN BETTER than anything I could have imagined!

I watch so many singles FLOUNDER in the dating world and become increasingly angry, disappointed, and discouraged when things don’t go the way they EXPECT them to.

What this tells me is that they still have WORK to do to prepare for The One. They need to learn how to HUMBLE themselves, SURRENDER to the process, and let each date TEACH them how to open their hearts to love and be loved. Maybe this speaks to you?

There is a BIG difference between thinking you are emotionally available and ready for the relationship of your dreams and truly being ready to meet The One. When you’re REALLY ready, you WILL know.

So, here’s my question for you:

Do you truly believe YOU are emotionally ready for the kind of relationship you want?

If that person walked into your life RIGHT NOW, do you have an OPEN HEART and are your fears of trusting someone or being rejected or abandoned UNDER CONTROL?

Or, would you SABOTAGE IT by reacting and pushing the person away the moment they let you down?

Warm Regards,


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P.S.  Don’t forget to check out my Free Online Workshop!

Men, Want More Hanky Panky & a Happier Partner?

Men, Want More Hanky Panky & a Happier Partner?

Men, Want More Hanky Panky & a Happier Partner?

Read On!

According to John Gottman, renowned psychologist and relationship expert, women have two major complaints about men:

  1. He’s never there for me
  2. There isn’t enough intimacy and connection in the relationship

I’ve heard the same thing from many of my female clients struggling in their own relationships. It’s hard to have a naked relationship when they don’t feel like their male counterparts are truly there for them. It isn’t simply that they aren’t around enough or that they’re cheating, it’s that they aren’t there for them emotionally. They don’t feel like their men hear or understand them. Left unchecked, these disappointments can be the downfall of a relationship. When I talk about a having naked relationship, I am talking about one that’s emotionally open, but in this case, I am also talking about getting physically naked, too. If a woman doesn’t feel emotionally connected to her partner, odds are she isn’t going to want to have sex with him.

When my husband and I got married, one of his vows was that he would be a guardian of my soul. He promised to be there for me in every way—to listen to me, care for me, and safeguard my heart. For the 14 years we’ve been married, he’s stayed true to his word.

I’ll admit, he’s a rare breed, but one of the things that keeps our relationship so strong is our willingness to practice a simple skill everyday that Gottman refers to as attunement. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but when cultivated over time, it can truly transform a relationship.

Attunement essentially means you’re listening to your partner without judgment or pretense.

A – Awareness

T – Turning Toward

T – Tolerance

U – Understanding

N – Non-defensive Responding

E – Empathy

“When men ‘attune’ to their women,” Gottman explains, “there is less fighting, more frequent (and better) sex, and both men and women no longer feel so alone. The fights of many couples result from men dismissing women’s emotions instead of attuning to them. You dismiss woman’s emotions every time you try to fix them, distract her from them, minimize them, mock them, or ignore them altogether.”

Here are 10 ways to start attuning to your partner and strengthening your relationship today!

  1. Give your undivided attention when your partner is sharing with you. Put away your iPhone, turn off the TV.
  2. Make eye contact.
  3. Show genuine interest in trying to understand why she’s talking about a particular issue.
  4. Ask open-ended questions. For example, rather than simply asking “are you upset?” you might say, “You seem upset, is anything going on?”
  5. Listen without giving advice or immediately trying to fix the problem.
  6. Try to feel how she is feeling whether or not you agree.
  7. Validate how she’s feeling. “The emotional part of the brain calms down when it feels connected to another person and not alone. Show empathy,” Gottman suggests. How cool is that?
  8. Create opportunities for connection in small ways every day. For example, set aside 10 minutes every evening to share your day with no interruptions, or take turns giving each other a short massage.
  9. Identify shared goals. For example, maybe you both want to exercise more or plan a dream vacation together in the next 12 months.
  10. When you experience conflict, genuinely ask yourself: “Am I turning toward my partner, or am I turning away?”

When you’re in a long-term relationship, it can be easy to slip into bad habits and start to disregard your partner’s feelings. Sue Johnson, the creator of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) talks about how many couples today are so isolated that they become each other’s sole emotional support system. So, if you’re not tuning into your partner’s needs, she can start to feel incredibly alone and alienated from the person she loves most.

It only takes a few small steps to reignite the connection between the two of you and bring back the spark that attracted you to each other in the first place. And remember, when she gets more of she wants from the relationship, you’ll get more of what you want—a happy partner and more sex!

If you are having trouble attuning to your partner book a consult with me to see how I can help.

Men, Want More Hanky Panky & a Happier Partner?

 

The One Thing You Must Know to Make Your Marriage Last

The One Thing You Must Know to Make Your Marriage Last

The One Thing You Must Know to Make Your Marriage Last

The one thing you must know to make your marriage last is how to stop fighting over petty things and take the higher road. It’s so painful when I sit and listen to the couples I coach going round in circles, fighting over the smallest things. I can see this takes a tremendous emotional toll on their individual self esteem and on the relationship.

Couples who are able to choose their battles wisely and frequently take the higher road experience what psychiatrists call Positive Sentiment Override. Even when they have a misunderstanding, these couples are quick to override their negative thoughts with positive ones and give their partner the benefit of the doubt. Most couples are in a state of Positive Sentiment Override when they first meet. But when disappointments mount and issues don’t get resolved, many couples find themselves falling into a state of Negative Sentiment Override. This is where everything their partner says or does—whether negative or positive—seems suspicious.

Some people have a hard time believing what I am about to say, but for the past thirteen years, my husband and I have been in an almost perpetual state of Positive Sentiment Override. This isn’t blind luck. Both Benjamin and I had been in very difficult marriages in the past and we wanted to learn from our mistakes. So, we each did a great deal of therapy and other self-improvement courses before we met.

Some of the most powerful work I did was when I participated for several years in an intimate, transformational group with Don Miguel Ruiz, author of “The Four Agreements.” (If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it.) When I first met Miguel, I was a member of the walking wounded—guarded, sensitive, and hyper-vigilant. While I resonated with all four agreements, the one that changed my life was “Don’t take anything personally.” This agreement was my e-ticket to a killer relationship. For months on end, I focused on mastering this one skill. Every time someone said or did something that upset me, I would remind myself not to take it personally. If I found that I couldn’t just let an issue go, I would ask myself the following series of questions:

 

1. What is getting triggered in me?

(fear, insecurity, anger, feeling helpless…)

2. How am I using this situation against myself to make myself a victim?

(When my husband came home and went straight over to pet the dog before kissing me, I told myself that I don’t mater to him.) 

3. What fears or insecurities are coming up for me?

(I have been struggling to take off the 10 lbs. I put on over the holidays.  I am afraid he won’t be attracted to me if I don’t lose it.)  

4. What is it that I want from this person?

(I want my husband to tell me it’s okay, that he loves me no matter what. I want him to make me feel safe and secure.) 

5. Can I do something for myself instead?

(I can make sure I look my best. I haven’t been taking care of myself because I’ve been feeling so down. I could get some new clothes, have my hair done…)

I asked myself these questions whenever something someone else said or did upset me. Eventually, I was able to manage my own reactivity and stop making everything about me. The next time your partner “makes” you mad, try asking yourself these five questions. This simple process can help you start taking responsibility for your own emotional reactions so that you can stop taking things personally.   Try it! It really works! These days, my husband teases me and says, “You do ‘Don’t take things personally’ better than Don Miguel!” I don’t know if this is true, but I like the sound of it :-) What I do know is that Benjamin and I cut each other a lot of slack and we almost never fight over petty details. When it seems like he’s annoyed or frustrated with me, I remind myself not to take it personally.

I tell myself that Benjamin loves me and he’s just tired or hungry or anxious about something at work… which is usually the truth. I also trust that, if he’s really upset with me about something, he’ll tell me.

You might think you’re doing everything in your power to take the higher road and let things go, but your partner is continuing to pick fights. If this is the case, you might need to seek out the help of a professional coach to help you communicate better. When I coach couples, I often find that one partner thinks she’s giving the other partner kind and loving feedback, but I can hear the subtle—or not so subtle—ways in which she’s being condescending or critical. Recognizing these behaviors in ourselves can be challenging because we’re too close to the situation.

It’s a given that, when two people live in close proximity, they are bound to get on each other’s nerves from time to time. So, if you want a harmonious, everlasting relationship you need to become a positive spin-doctor, let the small things roll off your shoulders, and take responsibility for your own emotional reactions. If you can choose your battles wisely and take the higher road whenever possible, you will be taking a huge step towards making your love last a lifetime!

 

If you are struggling with a partner please feel free to set up a complimentary couples consultation to see how I can help you. There no reason for you to keep hurting each other. I can give you tried and true techniques to help you listen and communicate in a whole new way! Click here to schedule an appointment:

One This You must Know to Make Your Marriage Last

Life is Short

Life is Short

Facing Your Fears

Facing Your Fears

Facing Your Fears

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!

 

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How to Spot a Cheater

 

How to Spot a Cheater

How to Spot a Cheater

When I was in my thirties, I had a relationship with a ridiculously handsome guy from Oaxaca named Juan Carlos. I was crazy about him— his boyish smile, his tan skin, his big, chestnut eyes. And don’t even get me started on his accent… I never knew my name could sound so exotic… until I heard it leave his lips. Needless to say, I was totally hooked. My gut told me it was all a little too good to be true, but when I listened to the way he rolled his Rs… all reason went out the window. If I had only know then how to spot a cheater!

Of all places, Juan Carlos and I met in a cemetery in Oaxaca on the Day of the Dead. I was there buying folk art for my Mexican import company. When he smiled at me from among the candle lit graves, I was hit by one of those thunderbolts you only read about in romance novels. Six months later, he moved to New Mexico to live and work with me.

Now, he was planning a trip back to Mexico to visit family—or so I thought. As he packed, a greeting card fell out of his knapsack and landed on the floor in front of me. I couldn’t help but see it and ask who it was from. He snatched the card up, told me it was nothing, and then shoved it back in his bag. I asked him again who had written it and he shouted, “¡Dejalo!” Leave it alone. His tone was cold and I knew something was wrong. That night I waited until he was asleep and found the card in his bag.

The card was from Margarita, a female friend he’d been hanging out with from his English class. Clearly, she was in love with him. In her note, she went on and one about how wonderful he was, how he’d changed her life, and how she’d miss him while he was away. This shocked me, but not half as much as what came next. Margarita wrote that she was sorry she hadn’t met Juan Carlos before he’d met his girlfriend—Carmen. Carmen?! Wasn’t she Juan Carlos’ ex back in Mexico? I thought I was his girlfriend!

Alarm bells sounded in my head. It seemed that Carmen and Juan Carlos weren’t such ancient history, after all. Then, the floor fell out from under me. He wasn’t going back to Mexico to see his family, he was going back to see her. When I got my phone bill the next month, I saw that I had been paying for his long distance affair all along.

Not only did I feel totally destroyed inside, I felt completely taken advantage of. Looking back, there were warning signs all along—I just didn’t want to face up to them. Remember, this was 1990 BC (before cell phones). That letter from Margarita was the prehistoric version of a scandalous text. When friends warned me that they had a rotten feeling about JC, I had chalked it up to jealousy. After all, he was hot. When JC wanted to stay home at night (so he could whisper sweet nothings to Carmen!) I thought it was weird, but I reasoned it away. I told myself he was tired and that he just needed a little break. I made all the excuses in the world for him. Why? Well… he was gorgeous and he was every bit the Latin lover! But in all seriousness, I just couldn’t believe that I was the kind of girl who would get cheated on. If I had read the signs—and listened to my intuition—I would have saved myself a whole lot of hurt… and a whole lot of dough. What can I say? When you love someone and put all your trust and faith in the relationship, you don’t want to believe that the other person could turn around and betray you. After all, he was living in my house, working in my company, sleeping in my bed, using my phone… which might have been part of the problem.

Do you suspect your partner is cheating? You might not find written proof like I did with Juan Carlos, but you can take advantage of one of the most powerful tools of all… your gut instinct.

Research shows that when it comes to matters of love, your intuition just might be the best judge of all. In a study conducted at Brigham Young University, psychologists observed 35 women and 16 men who were involved in romantic relationships. The psychologists videotaped interactions between the participants and their significant others and showed the tapes to third party observers. The observers were able to detect who among the participants were cheating with stunning accuracy.

The moral of the story? If a perfect stranger can glean cheaters just by watching the way they interact with their partners on film, I’d wager to guess your intuition might be worth more than you’re giving it credit for. If you sense something is wrong in your relationship, you need to pay attention. I knew in my gut that Juan Carlos was spending way too much time with Margarita and he wasn’t inviting me to join them. That alone should have told me something. I had even asked him a couple of times to introduce me to her and he had refused. Now I know why. He had told her we were just friends and that he worked for me. Looking back, I had an uneasy feeling about JC all along… and it wasn’t just all the Mexican food he was cooking for dinner.

IF YOU THINK YOUR PARTNER IS CHEATING AND NEED SOME ADVICE, SET UP A FREE CONSULTATION TODAY:

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The Lost Love Language

SILENCE

Men and women have so much to learn from each other about love & relationships.

 

All this time we’ve been thinking that there are only five love languages. I mean, isn’t that what Gary Chapman writes in his book, The Five Love Languages? According to Chapman, the five love languages are: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. I don’t like to be the one to differ with Mr. Chapman, but I think I might have discovered a missing language. The other day, I was talking about his book with my husband. I told him that I thought his own love language was acts of service. (As I often say, “Benjamin just about has an orgasm when I clean the closet or make him a bowl of egg salad.”)

 

“Oh my God! Oh my God! You cleaned the closet! You are the best wife!” he exclaims. It really doesn’t take much to get him excited. Without question, my love language is quality time. Nothing makes me feel more loved than when Benjamin spends time with me. Benjamin could be watching me fold laundry, as long as we’re doing it together.

Read More

To book a sample session with Naked Dating and Relationship Coach Lisa Shield, click here.

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Your Girlfriend’s Advice

Girlfriends2

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Your Girlfriend’s Advice

My client, Lily, came extremely close to ruining her relationship with Jasper when she listened to the advice of a well-intentioned friend. One night Lily was lamenting to Sophia that she didn’t know for sure if Jasper was attracted to her. It was way past midnight and Sophia prodded her sweet friend to text Jasper and say she was coming right over. “I dare you,” Sophia said, egging her on. Lily had always felt shy and reserved when it came to men. Maybe Sophia was right—it wouldn’t hurt to be more forthright. Playing the good girl hadn’t gotten her anywhere.  Lily picked up her phone, hesitated for a moment, then wrote the text and hit the send button before she got cold feet again. In a matter of second her phone buzzed. “Don’t come over. In bed. Early day tomorrow.” It seemed that Jasper was a gentleman. The next day he told Lily that he felt she was sending him mixed messages, playing a good girl one minute and a tease the next.

 

At our session the following day, she sat in one of my big brown leather chairs as tears streamed down her cheeks. She felt humiliated and stupid for what she’d done. She really cared about Jasper and didn’t know what to say to make things okay. When her tears stopped and she was able to laugh a little, I showed her how to clean up the mess. We wrote Jasper a text where she took complete responsibility for what she’d done without making excuses for what she’d done.

 

Have you ever had a friend like Sophia who encouraged you to do something you later regretted when it came to men?  Our girlfriends love and support us unconditionally, but often their advice is the exact opposite of what we need to do if you are going to have an emotionally naked relationship with a man.  Let’s look at 5 reasons why listening to your girlfriend’s advice might be hazardous to health of your romantic relationship.

1.     Your girlfriends will support your insanity no matter what. 

Girlfriends are valuable because they love you unconditionally; however, that also means they might support your bad decisions.  Your best friend might accompany you to drive-by your crushes house to see if he’s alone, or sit with you while you stalk his ex-girlfriend’s Facebook page.  They’re your friends for a reason: because they support you no matter what. As a Naked Dater, when your crazy begins to show, you need to find friends who will tell you, “No!”

 2.    Your girlfriends probably aren’t in solid relationships themselves.  

People love to give advice, but it’s almost impossible to get good relationship advice from girlfriends who are not in healthy, emotionally naked relationships themselves, or in relationships at all. If you are going to take advice from a girlfriend, look at her relationship or lack of one and ask yourself if this is someone who is really in a position to be giving advice. If not, speak to a friend who is in a solid relationship you admire. The only people who are truly qualified to give others advice on relationships are those who are living breathing examples of what do.

3.    Your girlfriends might encourage you to play games.  This never works.

I always say that if you play games, you’ll attract a game player.  The point of Naked Dating® is to become more open, honest, and ready for love so you can attract a partner who is in a similar place. Every time you play hard to get, pretend you don’t care, or try to make someone jealous, you are not being emotionally naked and you will push love away. As a Naked Dater you want to look for female role models who encourage you to be real and let down your guard.

 4.    Your single girlfriends might be jealous of your new relationship.

Have you ever had a friend who was jealous of your new relationship? Sometimes girlfriends become envious of the time you’re spending with your partner, especially if they haven’t been in a relationship in awhile. This jealousy might affect their ability to be objective and give advice that is genuinely supportive. They might make you feel guilty for spending too much time with your new guy or say that they don’t think he’s good for you. You want to have compassion for your single friends while they adjust to your new schedule, but you also don’t want to hook in to their fear and negativity.

5.    Your girlfriends can only tell you what they would do if they were in your shoes. 

When most people give advice, they tell you what they would do if they were in your situation, but they’re not you. Only you know the dynamic between you and someone you’re seeing.  Trust your gut, be open and honest, and when you do need outside help, try seeking the advice of a dating and relationship coach. A coach has the tools and skills to help you get clear about what you need in a relationship. Your best friend might want to date a rocket scientist, while you might be perfectly happy dating a zookeeper. The important thing is to find someone who understands what matters most to you and can support you in creating your dream.

 

After taking my advice, I got the following email from Lily: Thanks so much! You brought me back to earth for sure! My friends literally give me the WORST possible advice… I think their tricks are what has gotten me into this situation in the first place:/. They are all about games, and Jasper isn’t that guy!

 

You can make an appointment with Lisa Shield at: http://www.genbook.com/bookings/slot/reservation/30105083?bookingSourceId=1000

Annie’s Story

Relationship Discussion

Is it possible that you are looking for issues in your relationship to get your partner to open up and talk to you? There are times in every relationship when issues need to be discussed, but if you are constantly having one conversation after another with your partner about things that upset you, there’s something deeper going on.

Become closer to your partner, schedule an appointment with Lisa Shield today

This is exactly what was happening with my client, Annie. Annie’s a very sweet, soft-spoken, self-aware woman who is in a promising new relationship with, Greg, a man she met online. Early in the relationship, a few conflicts arose around how to deal with exes and how much alone time they each needed. When Annie raised these issues with Greg, he was not only receptive to what she said, but he actually thanked her for sharing her concerns right away. Greg said that his previous girlfriend had the terrible habit of harboring resentments and dumping them on him out of the blue, in the middle of an argument.

For the first few weeks of the relationship, I encouraged Annie to tell Greg what was on her mind and gave her a step-by-step process I developed for getting emotionally “naked” and asking for what she needed.

“I never realized how many subtle accusations I was making in the ways I communicated with men,” Annie reported one day. “But thanks to your coaching, I was able to tell Greg how I was feeling without throwing him on the defensive. It’s been eye-opening.”

I was pleased with her success, but I was also growing concerned. Every time we spoke, something else about Greg was bothering her. On that same day, she mentioned that she was upset about a certain tone Greg had used with her. The next time we spoke, she said that she was angry because he’d left her alone too long at a party without checking in with her. I pointed out to Annie that there seemed to be no end to her complaints. She admitted that she was worried about this, as well.

 “Lisa, it doesn’t make any sense,” she said, woefully. “Greg and I had a fabulous weekend. He took me away to Santa Barbara. We stayed at this cute B&B and spent the entire time hiking, wine tasting, and hanging out by the beach. He even packed a picnic with all my favorite foods. But then he was quiet in the car on the way home, and I started fixating on all the little things he’d done wrong over the course of the weekend—one time he gave his order to the waitress before me and another time he fell asleep without kissing me goodnight… stuff like that. It felt like I was looking for something to complain about.”

Annie was looking for something to complain about. She had been feeling disconnected from Greg, but instead of looking at herself and asking why she felt that way, she blamed Greg for the way she was feeling. If he “really cared” about her, he would have been more sensitive to her needs. He “should have” sensed that she was feeling disconnected. Maybe this wasn’t the right relationship after all.

“Annie,” I said, “if you were feeling disconnected from Greg, why didn’t you do something to connect with him? You could have reached over and massaged the back of his neck, or said, ‘A penny for your thoughts.’”

“I don’t know… I guess I didn’t do it because I was afraid that Greg would think I was being needy,” she replied, forlornly.

I knew that Annie had never been in a close, intimate relationship; at least, not one that she was proud of. Now I understood why. At 45 she was as confused as a teenager about how to act around her new boyfriend. She had told me that she wanted this relationship to work more than anything, but she wasn’t sure if Greg felt the same way. At times—like when they were sitting in the car in silence—the uncertainty of not knowing if she and Greg were on the same page overwhelmed her, and her mind went to dark places, making it almost impossible for her to reach out to him.

Become closer to your partner, schedule an appointment with Lisa Shield today

The only way Annie felt comfortable initiating a connection with Greg was by talking about the relationship. When they talked, it felt like Greg was opening up to her and sharing the inner workings of his heart. Talking made her safe and secure because then she knew for sure what Greg was thinking. Every time they worked through a problem together it seemed like they got a little closer…  or, at least temporarily it did. What Annie really needed to feel safe in the relationship was to know how Greg felt about her at all times, but this was impossible. Greg couldn’t constantly keep reassuring her. So, it wasn’t long before Greg did something that caused her to feel insecure again.

“Annie,” I said, choosing my words carefully, “People need to talk about issues in relationships, but you need to be careful. The conversations you’re having seem to be less about the two of you growing together as a couple and more about you trying to get Greg to constantly reassure you so that you can feel safe. If you keep talking about every little thing that bothers you, you’ll wear him out.”

“I see what you mean about how I am trying to get him to make me feel safe and secure,” she said, shaking her head. “I have to admit, I get an emotional fix when we have one of these conversations. I feel like I’m a relationship conversation junkie. I have to stop doing this before I push him away.”

Like Annie, you might be addicted to having “talks” with your partner so that you can feel safer in your relationship. If this is happening, you need to take a step back and consider some other things you can do to create a connection. Trust me, sitting around and processing the relationship gets old, fast. You will wear your partner out with your need for constant reassurance.

So what can you do to break this cycle? It really is quite simple. First, you can get emotionally naked and tell your partner what you’ve been doing. Yes, you heard me right. You need to go to your partner and say, “I want to apologize for something I’ve been doing in this relationship. I’ve been raising issues and having all these conversations with you because it’s my way of trying to feel safe. If I can get you to talk to me and tell me what’s on your mind, then you aren’t such a mystery anymore.” Why should you tell your partner what you’ve been doing? There are two reasons. The first is because on some level your partner already knows what you’ve been doing. By taking responsibility for your actions, you will gain back some credibility in your partner’s eyes. The second reason is that, when you admit to what you’ve been doing, it won’t be as easy for you to keep doing it because your partner is now fully aware of what you’ve been up to.

The second part of this equation is that you need to look at yourself and ask what you can do besides having conversations with your partner to feel safe in the relationship. Here are a few things:

  1. Work with a relationship coach to you strengthen your self-confidence
  2. Make sure that you have other interests and friends outside of the relationship so that you aren’t making your relationship the only focus in your life.
  3. When you start to go into a negative spiral, stop and write a gratitude list of all the things you’re grateful for about your partner and your life.
  4. When you start feeling disconnected from your partner, use actions rather than words to reconnect.

Annie realized that the emotional fix she got from talking with Greg about their relationship was only ever temporary.  She also realized that she loved Greg and the last thing that she wanted was to lean on him emotionally. Besides, she didn’t want to talk about how to have a great relationship; she wanted to have one. Annie followed my advice and told Greg that she had been feeling insecure and was constantly trying to get reassurance from him. She said that this was the “scariest and most naked conversation” she’d ever had with a man. At first, she was worried that if she told Greg what was going on it would hurt their relationship, but it had the opposite effect. Greg already knew what was going on. He admitted that he was starting to feel resentful towards her, so he was relieved when she brought up the subject and said that she was already working on it with her coach.

If you think you are a relationship conversation junkie, you need to tell your partner what you’re up to and find other ways to build your self-esteem. As a reformed relationship conversation junkie, I can promise you that breaking this pattern can lead you to a loving, lasting, naked relationship, one that can last a lifetime.

Become closer to your partner, schedule an appointment with Lisa Shield today

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