5 Keys to Lasting Love

Well, February is the month of love they say (I prefer to think that every month is the month of love but I guess that doesn’t sell so many flowers, cards and chocolates!)

I was invited by my local TV company to do an interview about lasting love.  I didn’t get very long to talk so I decided to record a video and to write a blog about this because I think it’s really important.

I decided to narrow it down to five points although I have a lot to say about this topic!  Here are the 5 points:

  • make every day romantic whether it’s the time for a prolonged hug at the end of a busy day or taking time at bedtime to exchange an appreciation of one another
  • create a vision for your relationship.  What is possible?  Dream big because you are co-creating what YOU want!
  • honor your commitment.  I find that many couples don’t bring up the concept of commitment and that it’s just assumed – but this is really important!  If you make a strong commitment to one another – and keep it – you are able to express yourself honestly and openly and know that you have created a safe container.  This is where true intimacy comes from
  • take ownership for your experience and take responsibility for your feelings.  Nobody can “make” you feel a certain way.  Understand that your issues are your own unmet needs and that you can be triggered by things that wouldn’t faze others.  Learn how to communicate so each of you can express yourselves clearly and be a good listener
  • make your relationship a priority.  We all know it’s true that the more you put into something the more you get out of it!  I see a relationship as a garden that needs to be nurtured.  It needs to be watered and fertilized so that you both can reap the benefits.  Together you can grow and accomplish things that wouldn’t be possible alone.

I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts on what keeps love alive!  I love to do couples coaching so if you want a great relationship rather than a “good enough” one, let’s talk!

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How to be a Love Magnet

Have you noticed that some people seem naturally magnetic where others are prickly?  What are some of the elements that make some people love magnets?  In a recent speaking engagement I pointed out that most babies are love magnets without having to do anything: they are magnetic just by being themselves.  What happens over time to interfere with our natural birthright of being love magnets?  I think a lot has to do with others telling us we have been bad or wrong – or that we’ve disappointed them.  We start to doubt ourselves and question whether or not we’re lovable.  How can we shed ourselves of those negative messages and return to loving beings?  Here are three ways:

1) Fall madly in love with yourself! Celebrate your triumphs and be compassionate toward yourself when you make mistakes or believe that you have fallen short
2) Be friendly to others and create connections even if it’s just in a supermarket lineup! A friendly smile could be the highlight of someone’s day and it’s going to make you feel good, too!
3) Recognize the value of community. Get out there and participate! Make a difference in the world and shine that light of yours!

How might your life be different if you intentionally gave and received love with an open heart?  Why not give it a try?

With Valentine’s Day coming up very soon why wait for someone else to express love to you?  When you make a conscious choice to be a more loving person you can treat everyone you meet with kindness and compassion.  Many people save themselves and their love for a romantic partner but my belief is that if you don’t use it you lose it so why not practise love every day?

I have a friend who teases me about shining white light at people!  Actually when I walk down the street I smile at strangers.  Sometimes I get a smile back but often the person averts his or her eyes.  I hope someday everyone will feel safe to smile at a stranger.  I know it makes me feel good!

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What are you Tolerating in your Relationship

“What are you tolerating in your relationship?” is a very powerful coaching question and one I invite you to ask yourself. I’d like to share an experience I’ve just had which I hope will be helpful to you. I met a man through online dating last October and we immediately felt a connection. It was very powerful and I described it as feeling like my “iron filings” were strongly attracted to his powerful magnet. We spent a couple of hours together and I reveled in the sense of awe, wonder and mutual recognition we shared. We both love Rumi, and spirituality is important to both of us. I kept marveling that I met a man like this on a free dating site! Who knew? What a blessing! (or so I thought at the time!)

As the following week went on, I had a text or two, and looked forward to getting together with him on the weekend, but he was too busy. I won’t go into all the details of this relationship which consisted mainly romantic of texts and vague promises. I won’t talk about the times I was disappointed when I asked for help and he didn’t come through. And I won’t go over the number of times I’d send texts that were simply ignored. I tracked all of this but what kept me going was that when were together it was wonderful. We both thoroughly enjoyed it but, sadly, these times were few and far between because he works 7 days a week.

Why did I stay? I’m a dating coach! Couldn’t I see the red flags within the first week? He was clearly not a good match for me but I was hooked. Now that it’s over I can see those hooks and I’m sharing my story with the hope that this will help you unhook if you’re in a dysfunctional relationship.

Hook#1: We believe what we want to believe even if it goes against our direct experience. I believed that someday we would have lots of quality time together reading Rumi, being deeply present and living The 40 Rules of Love (a wonderful novel by Elif Safak about the love between Rumi and Shams). My actual experience over 7 months was that we saw each other for about 2 hours every 2 or 3 weeks – yet I kept believing things would change. Wishful thinking!

Hook #2: My limiting belief was that this man is the ONLY man around who appreciates Rumi like I do and who really “gets” me. Every time I thought about leaving, my scarcity thinking would be triggered and I told myself that I may not find another spiritual man like this… even though I spent so much time sad, disappointed and feeling unheard. Once I worked through that limiting belief and embraced that there ARE other men out there, I was able to loosen the hook.

Hook #3: Chemistry! I learned a lot about the insidious nature of chemistry from this experience! It’s funny because I tell my middle-aged clients that chemistry isn’t so much about lust now, (not like in our 20’s and 30’s) but that’s just not true! The other thing about chemistry is that it gives you the sense that you have more in common with the other person than you actually do… and those hormones can actually make you think you’re soul mates! Unrecognized chemistry is devious dangerous and it can really mess with your wise judgment! It’s helpful to rely on your friends’ feedback about your partner so you get a reality check. When your brain is in a hormonal fog, this is next to impossible.

Hook #4: Margaret Paul (Inner Bonding) talks about our wounded self can get fiercely bonded to unavailable people because this is so familiar from our family of origin. That wounded part really believes it is possible to turn someone who’s unavailable into being available…. but, sadly, that can’t happen and it just means more pain for that part. There are many ways that someone can be unavailable to you: still married to someone else, unable or unwilling to open up to you; too busy to see you. I needed to comfort that inner wounded part of me so I could gently dash her hopes. The truth is that he would never become available. It was essential before I could move on.

Hook#5: Trying to make it all better by reframing it as spiritual boot camp. I wrote page after page in my journal. I read spiritual books. I did self-awareness and personal growth exercises. I tried to make his bad behavior OK. I blamed my pain on my monkey mind. I blamed my ego for being attached to wanting things a certain way (like being treated with courtesy and respect!) While I think it’s valuable to see things from different perspectives, there was really no way to see his neglectful behavior as acceptable. Treating others with consideration, courtesy, respect, compassion and care is non-negotiable in my view!  This is what I’m holding out for: to be treated with love and respect.  It’s basic!

I always encourage my clients to see the blessings in these sorts of experiences, and to see the lessons. When I recognized all that I had been tolerating, I knew that I had to take a stand and honor myself – and leave the relationship.

I deserve more and so do you.

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Being Single: An Opportunity not a Liability!

How do you feel about being single?  Many singles would much rather be in a relationship and feel like they are putting in time until their ideal partner comes along.  Other singles are relieved to be out of a dysfunctional partnership or an unhappy marriage and are afraid of choosing someone just like their ex.

How can you make the best of being single?

The way I see it is to use this time to learn more about yourself: who you are, what you want, and to acknowledge your part in past breakups.  What would you need to do differently next time?  Maybe it’s being more cautious about who you get involved with. Maybe it’s learning some new relationship skills like being able to communicate calmly instead of yelling.  Perhaps you need to cultivate the skill of seeing someone else’s point of view even it’s not the same as yours.

Over the years have you lost yourself?  I see this very often, in both men and women, because they have focused so much on their partner and kids that they don’t really know who they are.  Who are you?  What are your dreams?  What are your deepest-held values?  What is your vision of the relationship you want?  These are all important questions to answer before getting involved with someone new.  This is how you approach dating “consciously” instead of repeating old patterns or getting swayed by chemistry.

Being single is an opportunity not only to learn more about yourself, but also to appreciate your own company.  When you can enjoy time alone, then you can approach dating from a place of contentment and abundance, rather than desperation.  It is then possible to have a significant other in your life because you want someone, not because you need them to make your lonely and miserable life better!

Need some help in becoming your own best friend?  Seeing a counselor, therapist or relationship coach can be very helpful.   There is no substitute for the soul-to-soul connection and perspective of working with a trained professional.   Is this the next step for you?  I encourage you to see how being single is actually a wonderful opportunity for growth and evolution – and to see the value of reaching out so you can get there!

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Choosing the Wise, not the Easy, Path

Falling in love is so compelling.  We appreciate the companionship, the touch, the sense of belonging, the chemistry and the euphoria when we first meet someone and we think we’ve found “the One” at last!  A cocktail of feel-good hormones is rushing through our bloodstream… but what if one person really isn’t ready to be in a relationship?

I have a client who has done a lot of personal work and she believes she is ready for a relationship.  We’ve gone through my Relationship Readiness Quiz and she has given herself a high score.  We’ve talked about areas where she might need a little work, but she’s at a place in her life where she is really ready to date.

She met a man recently who is not ready for a relationship.  He recognizes that he has some things he needs to attend to before he can be the partner he truly wants to be.  They love spending time together.  They communicate well.  They have fun… but they are both aware of the red flags.

So… what should they do?  Should they proceed hoping that the red flags won’t interfere with the co-creation of a healthy relationship?  Should they be “just friends” for a while and see how it goes?  Should they go their separate ways?  What they have decided to do is to take a 6-month break, then re-assess after that period of time.  Does it feel risky?  Yes.  Neither knows what will happen in that 6-month period but he knows he needs to do some work.  Might she meet someone else?  It’s a definite possibility but they have made this decision because they agree this is the only way to have a strong foundation for a healthy relationship… whether or not it’s with each other.

This seems to me to be the wise path.  It’s not the easy path.  They enjoy their time together and bring out the best in one another.  As a relationship coach I have supported her in taking this step so they can both come from a place of health and stability.

Have you ever made a conscious decision to part from someone because that’s the wisest choice?  What has been your experience in trying to have a healthy relationship when one person really isn’t ready?  Please leave your comments below!

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Feeling the dating fear, honouring the feelings, being curious … and doing it anyway!

I’m passionate about my vision, my mission, my calling – to help people to date more consciously and to have more loving relationships with others and themselves.  I’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes.  I’ve been keeping journals since I was 16 years old so I have all the ups and downs of my love life documented (and have made a mutual agreement with a close friend to burn our journals upon our passing!).  I’ve taken lots of courses, read lots of books, done lots of blogging, helped close friends… but playing it safe and being invisible really wasn’t serving anybody.  It wasn’t getting my message out into the world and it wasn’t stretching me.  I was happily in my comfort zone, but quite stuck.

Public speaking is a strategy for getting out there: so that people could get great information and get a sense of who I am and where I come from but, frankly, the thought of standing up in front of a group was terrifying for me.  I had lots of “but what if’s???” and I imagined feeling so exposed!  Yikes!  I felt the fear.  I honoured the fear.  I started getting curious about the fear.  What’s the worst thing that could happen?  How old was that part of me that was so scared of getting up in front of people?  Is it really true that people would be there to judge me – or were they there to learn?

I joined Toastmasters so I could get some experience in front of a group.  I could feel my heart pounding before giving even a short toast (about 1 minute!)  but I survived!  In preparing for my first public presentation  last month I had sleepless nights punctuated by feelings of dread and overwhelm.

Interestingly, after I’d prepared my talk and all the handouts (and some small prizes) I wasn’t nervous!  Interestingly, after all the dread I had about how badly it might go… I actually enjoyed it!  I’m looking forward to the next one!  I focus on how I can connect with my audience and how I can be of service.  I took the risk and got in touch with a gift I hadn’t realized that I had!

How does this story apply to you and dating?  For many people, dating is very nerve-wracking.  Feel the dating fear.  Where do you notice it in your body?  If you are observing safe dating practices like meeting in public, what’s the worst thing that could happen?  If you’ve allotted 20-30 minutes for a coffee date it’s not forever and you can always end things sooner if your date is rude or unpleasant.  How old is the part of you that is dreading the date?  Maybe feeling like a 5 or 6 year old on the first day of school?  You’re an adult now and you have a lot more resources and coping mechanisms than you did back then.

You can stay home and be invisible – but how are you going to share your gifts with a beloved partner if you never get out and meet people?   Yes, it can feel risky to put yourself out like that, but you never know what magic can happen when you take that first step!

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Don't want to be another divorce statistic?

I was speaking to one of the participants in a recent workshop.  He told he that he’s not going to get married again (3rd time) because he doesn’t want to be yet another divorce statistic.  He thought the answer was not to get married.  Well, that’s one strategy… but another far healthier one, in my opinion, is to do the work needed to be able to co-create a lasting relationship!

What are the biggest issues I see with singles?  For women, lack of self-esteem is a big one.  Another is not really knowing themselves.  Many have been married for a decade or more and have focused all their energy on their husband’s or their kids’ needs.  Who are they, themselves?

The biggest issue with single men is a lack of confidence in knowing how to ask for a date and how to carry on a conversation.  I see some low self-esteem issues but they seem more challenged by the mechanics of dating itself.  How can you tell if a woman is interested in you?  How can you ask her out without seeming creepy?

The great thing about working with a relationship expert is that you will have these issues, and more, addressed so you actually CAN have a healthy relationship.  I have a Relationship Readiness Quiz for singles with ten questions to assess your readiness today for dating.  For example, you might be very happy with your career, but do you actually have the time to put into dating?  If your career is all-consuming you won’t have the time or the energy to put into meeting people and getting to know them.  I think it’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking we are ready to date when we aren’t.  If you’d like to take the test, send me an email and I’ll send one to you.  I’d be happy to do a follow-up phone call to discuss your results.

In summary, you can bypass being another divorce statistic – not by avoiding marriage but by becoming more conscious in your dating!  This is what I can help you with,  so please reach out and contact me!

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Is it OK to Lie on My Online Dating Profile – just a little bit?

Lie on My Online Dating Profile?

This morning I saw a new online profile of a man who is separated and, therefore, legally still married.   He chose to say he was single on his profile.  His little white lie could be a big deal for a lot of women who want a man who is truly available, not who still has a wife!

I imagine he thought that since they split up two years ago he “feels” single so that’s more relevant than telling the truth.  I disagree.  Since relationships are based on honesty and trust, why would you advertise yourself as being single when you aren’t?  Similarly, why would you say that you’re a non-smoker when you are? (but only when you bum them from friends – you don’t buy them!).  Why would you post a photo of when you were 20 years younger (“well, I “feel” 2o years younger!) and why would you lie about your occupation: that you are a businessman when, actually, you are on welfare?

I know that we are in the business of marketing ourselves when we create an online profile.  However, you WILL be found out and do you really want to present yourself to the world from a place of dishonesty?  I suggest that you don’t.  If you’re separated, get that divorce so you really are ready to date.  If you’re a smoker and you think that being honest about that will decrease the number of people that are interested in you, you are probably right, but maybe you’ll find a fellow smoker and you’ll be a match!  Have the courage to post a current photo.  Yes, ladies, we know that men are visual and you may not appeal to everyone, but your beloved will be attracted to you for who you are.  And if your financial affairs aren’t in order, do what you can to be more stable before you consider yourself to be available for dating and a relationship!  If you’re retired and on a limited income, fine, but don’t pretend that you have lots of disposable income for exotic travel and expensive gifts.

Is it OK to lie on your online profile?  You might say yes because “everyone else does”.  I invite you to live from a place of integrity and to be willing to be honest right from the beginning.  This is the only foundation from which a lasting, healthy relationship can be built.

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Expressing Appreciation

What role does appreciation play in your life?  Sometimes life can be very challenging and we can feel so stretched that we forget to take the time to appreciate our blessings and our gifts.

If this is a new practice to you, you can start with appreciating yourself.  Which qualities to you admire in yourself?  Are you courageous?  Kind?  Generous?  Do you stick with commitments even when they’re hard?  Do you appreciate your body for getting you around?  Your sense of taste, your ability to smell beautiful fragrances?

How often do you express appreciation to others?  I remember Marshall Rosenberg (Nonviolent Communication) saying that if a student tells him that he’s a “great teacher” it really doesn’t mean that much to him because it’s not very specific.  However, if a student were to tell him that Nonviolent Communication has allowed him or her to engage in more authentic relationships with more honesty – that would be much more meaningful.  How can you specifically tell people that you appreciate them?  I recently told an old friend how much I enjoy his company because I feel like I can truly be myself.  A friend who works in a store shared with me that a customer called her manager recently to commend her for providing such excellent service.  It made her day!

You have a choice.  You can go through life with a glass half empty or you can choose to see your glass as half full.  One of the most powerful ways for me to live with an open heart is to look for ways to appreciate myself and celebrate them, and to be aware of my appreciation for others and to express it to them.  This is a gift that benefits both people!  Give it a try!

 

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Owning Your Beauty

For many women, we focus on what we don’t like about our looks, rather than what we do like.  We tend to be hypercritical… and Mama Gena wants to change that!

I’m in a book study group and we are working our way through Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts by Regena Thomashauer.  This week we’re on Lesson 6: the Womanly Art of Owning Your Beauty.  One of my favorite exercises at the end of the chapter has us tell ourselves out loud several times a day “You are beautiful” and for extra points she suggests that we look in the mirror, say this and then wink!  You have to try this!  It makes it seem so saucy and sassy to punctuate the affirmation of your beauty with a wink!

I’m really enjoying this book  Mama Gena has us tap into pleasure… and desire… and sensuality.  We are all Sister Goddesses!  If you’d like a fun book that’s a change from tomes on relationship theory, give this book a good read.  You’ll be glad you did!

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