Single, Dating & the movie Enough Said

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Single & dating means surviving the awkward beginnings of relationships over & over & over again. Beginnings are often the hardest part of many things but especially in dating. Dating means two strangers begin a stiff dance of stumbling around in trying to know each other.

Dating can be such a painful experience that you may often want to give up (flashing through my head are so many faces of clients with a lot to offer, acknowledging to me how discouraged they are & wondering if it’s even possible to be successful). It’s very hard to open up & share when the dating relationship may fizzle before it’s really even begun.

Enough Said captures the awkwardness, fear, moments of thrill, fear, hope & problems of starting a relationship with admirable grace. It is heartwarming because it feels so real. It is so easy to consider bailing before any true intimacy has begun…..Who is this person your inner voice shrieks??? Run NOW!!

Dating is difficult in a culture where we avoid vulnerability.

We watch Julia Louis-Dreyfess struggle as she worries because he is fat. She is so fast & furiously collecting information that continues to add to her paranoia that James Gandolfini really is a mistake. She is so consummed with protecting herself that she betrays him.

Instead of letting her own inner sense of integrity drive her choices she allows fears to twist her own soul….instead of being betrayed she is the betrayer. Is that really who she wants to be? Inside it feels right because self protection is more important than integrity. Damn the cost we all secretly say to ourselves.

Thank goodness James holds onto his boundaries & he makes it clear that what she did is just plain wrong & unacceptable. No excuses to be entertained. He maintains his integrity instead of sinking to her level by offering too easy, unearned forgiveness.

Ultimately his clarity allows her to work towards & earn her own higher level of integrity. I believe real love is helping each other be better people. We are challenged by love to be the best person we can be….so we allow honest discomfort to honestly face painful situations, which is the only path of personal growth.

Any relationship will suffer if self protection is more important than integrity. Integrity is to say the true statement & ask the hard questions in a process of finding out who you & somebody else really is. If you are lucky you will find out if you can grow & whether or not both of you have character. Facades don’t really cut it over the long haul.

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Thinking About Single People on Valentine’s Day

January is often a more optimistic month than February. In January my clients have an excitement about a new year beginning and are open to possibilities that 2012 will be a better year. Then February rolls in and people feel pinched by how hard life can be and feeling discouraged is on the daily menu. Add to this being single on Valentines Day & it’s a recipe for further misery.

There can be a discouraging drudgery to dating. People lie, tell you what you want to hear or are completely not interested in building a future. People come in to their sessions talking about needing a break from dating because they are weary. February is when we tire of winter weather & are pissed at punxatawny phil for always predicting 6 more weeks of winter.Single, being single, single date, date, dating hard, single girls

Besides Mary Tyler Moore in the 1970’s, there aren’t many cultural icons for being single & happy. There was one very overlooked movie in 2008; Happy-Go-Lucky with Sally Hawkins who was single & happy. Even Gloria Steinem bit the dust when she got married at 66 to Christian Bale’s father. Both Mary & Gloria took the time to know themselves.

Depression & discouragement are linked to being “cognitively wrong about what they (people) think they have a right to expect” according to Abraham Maslow. “This isn’t supposed to be my life” is something I hear a lot.

After 38 years of working with people there are no supposed to’s. Broken dreams are a huge hard part of life. People die in their 30’s, are shocked by divorce in their 40’s, lose their jobs & can’t find work in their 50’s, or have their homes go into foreclosure in their 60’s. Many people don’t get the families they wanted.

Then I read an article in the NYTimes on Feb.5th titled One’s A Crowd written by a professor of sociology. It offers a lot of comfort that single people are not alone; “MORE people live alone now than at any other time in history. In prosperous American cities — Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco and Minneapolis — 40 percent or more of all households contain a single occupant. In Manhattan and in Washington, nearly one in two households are occupied by a single person.”

It is clear that Single People are the norm, not cultural outcasts. In Sweden 47% are single. Living alone is expected to continue to grow. It is ordinary to be single and more people need to be aware of that truth, maybe even especially on the day we celebrate couples.

Getting Back Together Without Making Anything Different

Over & over couples find themselves happy to be back in their relationships that were once thought lost. I ask, “What have you both decided will be different this time around?” Not once has anyone given me an answer. This oft-repeated experience is called premature reconciling.

Both partners are caught up in the myth that the problems that pulled them apart have evaporated like the beads of moisture on the side of a glass on a hot summer day.couples get back together, how to get back together with your ex, getting back together after a breakup, get back together, reconciled

Remember the movie Love Story from 1970 with Ali MacGraw & Ryan O’Neal? The American Film Institute has ranked it the #9 romantic movie of all time. Romantic without a shred of reality would be my take. This movie is famous for my least favorite quote about love: “Love means never saying having to say your sorry” Makes me want to vomit!!

Love means asking yourself; “What do I need to do differently to have greater integrity in making things work?

Love means, that if you want to grow as a couple you have to be honest & address the problems that inspired the breakup. Specifically to be clear about what happened & how are you both going to be different? Do you want temporary comfort or solutions? The return to kissing & cuddling is as inviting as a beach vacation.

The deliciousness of being intertwined has to be balanced by recognizing & dealing honestly with the differences. Restoring a relationship without doing the work is simply delaying the inevitable second breakup.

Understanding your dark side is one of the unsung perks of every honest relationship. You can only learn more about yourself in relationship to others, not by staying within the confines of your own head.

Conflict is about growth. When two people sublimate conflict there are huge consequences. The partner who stifles their voice to get along, ends up resentful. Unspoken resentments kill off respect & relationships die.

If you are willing to make a real effort to solve problems, try this: Each of you write down your own concept of the 3 biggest issues. Then write 2 or 3 things you’re going to do to make things better. Then write down 1 or 2 requests you have for your partner. Then have at least 25 conversations over a couple of weeks, that are grounded in the specifics; no vague generalizations allowed. Digest what you learn from this, don’t swallow it whole.

(Even if you aren’t in reconciliation, don’t hesitate to ask your partner to tell you one thing that would make the relationship better at least 2 x’s a year.)

Premature reconciling is skipping over a whole lot of opportunity to build an authentic infrastructure that can last for decades. Honest conflict adds spice to the relationship. When two people need to reconcile, they need to figure out how to get both their needs met.

It’s sure a whole lot easier to skate through relationships skipping the “I’m sorry” & the work of problem solving. This also leads to a whole lot of apathy & boredom.

Don’t Give Up On Dating! ( 9 ideas in how to to hang in there )

Meeting someone in a bar is unlikely to guarantee success. Online dating can be very discouraging. Many of my single clients get very hopeless about ever finding the right partner.

On the holidays, it’s harder to be single for many people. One example, would be parties where everybody is a couple & you go alone. It’s important to be more creative in how to meet people and to make it more interesting when you do.

Here are 9 ideas to expand your horizons:
1. Try volunteering – People who have character volunteer. Too many are caught up in the superficial qualities found in a profile & picture instead of considering whether or not there is any substance to be found within. (Read or watch Jane Austen to learn more).

2. Make your own life more interesting so you feel less desperate – It’s really crucial to well-being to have a strong sense of life force within yourself that has nothing to do with having a partner or kids. I’ve had clients learn a new language, take up scuba diving (even in land-locked Pittsburgh), or begin Yoga with a vengeance.
3. Meet people for coffee in the daytime – That way you aren’t investing an entire weekend evening & alcohol is not Dating Tips, dating advice, dates, date, dating rules for women, dating rules for men, dating rulespart of the mix. Being more alert & aware is never a bad thing.

4. Cope with rejection- 25% like you, 25% don’t & 50% are indifferent. Grow calloused & accept rejection as part of the deal when dating.

5. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Consider this a way to filter people out. You want someone who appreciates who you really are. Stay honest & don’t play games.

6. Make your list of what you are looking for shorter & more meaningful- One woman’s list was 32 aspects, it made me laugh inside because, 39 years ago I was looking for only one thing; honest. I was so young, that I don’t think I even realized that I was also looking for smart. These two qualities have held up well over the years.

7. Think of meeting people as an opportunity to hear someone else’s story. In over 35 years of working with people I’ve only disliked 5 people. People are interesting & everyone has a story worth your time.

8. Learn to ask better questions that have the possibility of depth- Casual conversation is important to the beginnings of relationships because they have to start somewhere. Expand the possibilities by asking someone for a story of something they are proud of.. ….I could tell an interesting story of having to learn to floss my teeth in my early 30’s.
It’s important to learn how to elicit stories from people. Curiosity about other people’s stories brings a lighter touch to dating. There are 80 questions on my website to improve depth, take a look: www.therapyideas.net

9. Don’t be so quick to become enchanted- Be a little more savvy, everyone has a dark side. Partnership over the long haul often is about “I can live with this dark side for 30 or 40 years.” You may be attracted to powerful men in important positions but are they internally powerful? Is it a set up for disappointment because they are really self-absorbed which won’t wear well over decades.

Finding the Humor in Dating

I asked for this blog because I know how hard it is to persevere in dating, discouragement is ordinary. From Guest Blog Post Writer who is 32 yrs. old:dating tips,  date, dating, dating advice, online dating

I have learned to detest the grocery store. Shopping on a Sunday, by myself, dodging all of the happy couples planning their weekly meals as I am pushing my own cart around full of microwave popcorn and lean pockets, which screams “Andalyn, party of one,” is just heartbreaking. How did I get here? I never thought that after at least 15 years of dating I would still be playing this silly game at age 32. Sure, I’ve spent/wasted time in some wrong relationships, but have had countless good, and mostly bad, dating experiences in between. After hours of crying and frustration, all you can do is try and find the humor in it all.

I have never met a man in a bar that I have ever considered boyfriend material, and I have already met all of my friend’s friends, and since church is out of the question, that leaves internet dating. Luckily, we have come a long way from the previous stereotypes that internet dating was only for perverts and desperate folks. I have met and/or dated a lot of men whom I otherwise never would have crossed paths with as a result of match.com, and for that I am thankful, kind of. Shopping for a potential date on that website is a treasure trove of comedic material.

Let’s start with the tag line listed at the top of the profile. This is where men would insert a variety of cheesy/witty one-liners to try and snag a woman’s attention so that she will click on their profile to learn more. Some of the best I have seen include, “Act now, operators standing by,” or “Just as lost as you,” and “Living the dream.” After a short while, they all sound the same. Yes, they have all had trouble finding the right one or have been missing that special spark. Every man on the website is, of course, a witty, adventurous, normal, easy-going, laid back, kind, caring, and “take home to meet mama” kind of man. I especially like the profiles when the men mention that they are willing to lie about how we met.

If you are intrigued enough to actually click on a profile, the next logical step is to check out their posted pictures. Gentlemen, we do NOT care to see any landscape and/or dog pictures, pictures of you next to a Ferrari or on a motorcycle, and please, keep your shirts on. Also, if by 6’ you really mean 5’10” save yourselves the trouble and thanks for wasting my time.

I, personally, have been struggling with a new tag line for my profile. I set it up in January and choose “Here’s to 2011,” which does not really apply now that it’s 9 months into the year and still no boyfriend. Some ideas that I have been floating around include “Who’s next,” or my personal favorite “I know, I can’t believe I’m back on here too.” I am happy to note that my pictures are from the last 6 months which is more than I can say for most of the male pics. Mr. I’m approaching 40 clearly continues to choose pics from the last 10 years.

Finally, I love the match.com commercials when they state that there are more relationships, more marriages, and more dates than any other dating websites. I do, however, think they forgot the part about more heartbreak, more divorces, more unplanned babies, and more frustration than you can handle in a lifetime. Maybe I’ll send them an email…..

Playing the Hero Often Makes Real Problems

Many relationships begin when someone wants to be rescued from their life, like Cinderella who found her prince. One way to jack up your self-esteem is to be the hero for someone else. Lenny, the hero of Super Sad True Love Story admits he has a history of dating abused women that he can rescue, which then feeds his frail ego. low esteem, hero, heroe, rescuer syndrome, rescuers, the rescuer, rescuers

What I notice in working with heroes, heroines & victims, is that it is a successful strategy for all of them to avoid their own lives. Whether you are the rescuer or the victim, in reality, the answers are to be found only in your own life.

It is much easier to leave a bad marriage when another person represents the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. That is the simple truth of why so many people leave that way. It is much more difficult to leave a marriage without the comfort of someone else by your side. The right thing to do is always the hard thing to do. Go it alone & face the loneliness.

Everyone deserves to get dumped for who they are not because there is someone else.

A lot of hero energy is out of our awareness. We just want to be good people. We want to help people. We want someone else to have a better life. Maybe, a better life has to be earned through hard struggle.

I’ve always believed that the struggle of life matters. We grow to embrace greater depth of character from figuring out how to cope with loneliness, financial devastation & our kids, whose hearts are broken. The sum total of our lives is dependant on all of our choices.

Give up the rescue idea & decide to rescue yourself. Rescue is built upon the very shaky foundation of illusions. Illusions have very little to do with the harshness of reality. Illusions are so powerful, especially in the very beginnings of romance.

You look up your old high school sweetheart on Facebook & feelings entangle you in all kinds of schemes to get together again, because that’s the person you are “meant” to be with. There are lots of romantic ideas about this other person & you feel as if you know them because history is just that powerful.

Remember that feelings are not facts & try hard to resist their seductiveness, because that has almost nothing to do with reality. Remind yourself that feelings alone are not the secret path to truth. The path of truth is built on the power of thinking & feeling together.

Relationships with Emotional Distancers

These are people who maintain control & power by making distance into an art form. This means they do very little they don’t want to do. Their pleasure is being in charge and not really being vulnerable to anyone else. Vulnerability costs them too much.

This is the guy you’ve been dating, then you find out he’s engaged to some one else. This is the woman who keeps secrets. This is the husband who is married to two wives. Secrets are their way to stay in charge.

Everything stays on their terms & then they feel safe from the messiness that relationships require.

Withholding information is something they are expert at. They don’t really share anything about themselves. They listen to you to understand you. They don’t really want to be understood. Things are much less confusing in a relationship that is only really about one person.

If you feel like you are banging your head into a wall, you probably are. The wall is most important. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you will be special enough to bring the wall down.

The walls are who they are.

All their relationships are kept separate. Their family is one circle, their friends are another. Their work circle is another separate circle. The circles never intersect or touch each other. This is a defense system & a way to stay safe emotionally.

Ask them a question about what they’ve done to add to problems in a past relationship & they will deflect. Most of what they share is really artful dodging. They know you really well & listen to you but there is a true lopsidedness in the relationship.

Lopsidedness is a tricky business because sacrifice & compromise are part of the work of relationships. Hopefully, you will notice over time when the lopsidedness goes in one direction. It really never benefits you.

Often emotional distancers are really unable to do anything different. Intimacy is really a complete mystery. Intimacy is not possible without vulnerability. These are people who are hyper vigilant.

Stop going to a dry well. Try to see them more accurately and have no expectations. Let them be who they are. They aren’t doing anything to you that they’re not doing to themselves.

Safety is more precious than escaping loneliness or making connections. They have to be the ones to decide that’s not true anymore.