Dev and Rachel need me!

love coach

I thoroughly enjoyed a new series on Netflix called Master of None which focuses on the life and love of Dev, played by Aziz Ansari. His love interest is Rachel. DEV AND RACHEL NEED ME!

Why do Dev and Rachel need a love coach? They, like many dating couples, are building the plane as they are flying it! How might things be different for them – and for you – if you really knew who you are, what you want, if you were able to communicate positive and effectively and if you could manage differences between you and your partner?

What is your vision for love? What do you think is possible in marriage? At one end of the spectrum is unrealistic fantasy of bliss that requires no work… and on the other end is the cynical belief that marriage is an outdated institution that clips one’s wings and that sucks the life out of people.
How can you have a partnership that enhances your life? First you need to know who you are and choose a partner who shares your key values and vision. Get to know him or her over time and determine whether you are both ready to make a commitment. I believe the key here is not to rush. It takes time to get to know someone. As you get to know the other person, you get to know yourself.

I believe that commitment is the key to a successful relationship. In this world of instant gratification and disposable everything, commitment might be a foreign concept to many of us. Think of what you’ve been committed to – whether it’s learning to play an instrument, learning a language or playing video games! Commitment takes dedication and focus. It’s also the key to getting results.

How might things have turned out if Dev and Rachel had me, as a love coach, in their lives? How might things be different for you?

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Always Hungry – for Love?

David Ludwig’s new book called Always Hungry? was released earlier this month.  He debunks a lot of myths about weight-loss saying that it’s not about lowering your caloric intake because you naturally get hungry and then have a tendency to overeat.  He advocates a high-fat diet rather than the high-carb, low fat diet that most people have been on for the past 40 years or so – because it simply doesn’t work.   For decades people have been trying to lose weight by following the “rules” but the rule book is flawed.  I imagine most people have experienced the hunger and deprivation of a “diet” and Dr. Ludwig gives us hope.

What does Always Hungry? have to do with love?  The way I see it is that there is a “rule book” about love in our popular culture.  It says things like:

  • you need to be young and attractive to find love
  • if you’ve met your soulmate you’ll recognize them immediately
  • chemistry has to be very strong right from the beginning or it’s not “the one”
  • don’t be your authentic self because you might get judged, dismissed and left
  • you’re no one until someone loves you
  • my partner should meet all my needs

I think that there are a lot of misconceptions about loved fueled by movies and other entertainment (similar to recommendations on eating from decades ago that suggested multiple servings of crackers and pasta daily)  The portrayals in the media of couples who have perfect relationships which seem to require no effort give people such an unrealistic idea of what is actually required.

What would my new rule book for love include?  One of my rules would be that you love yourself and having loving relationships with others rather than “saving” yourself to give love only to your partner – whether you currently have one or are hoping to have one.

Love is possible at any age, not just for the young and/or attractive.   I know someone whose 83 year old step-sister found love in a seniors’ home with a man of 84. Never give up!

Another rule would be that you acknowledge that chemistry is not the only indicator of a successful relationship but that companionship and commitment are also integral.  Once the sparks and passion at the beginning dim, what do you have left?

Be your true self.  Sometimes it feels risky but whether you’re looking for a partner or married, you need to have a strong sense of yourself so you will be healthy and whole even under stress.

Believing that your partner will meet all your needs sets you up for disappointment and sets your partner up for a lot of stress!  What do you need that supports, nurtures and interests you?  Maybe it’s a service group or your church or good friends with whom to share activities.  Be sure that you have a support system so you don’t expect your relationship and your partner to be everything.

Most songs about love and portrayal of love in movies and TV shows are about infatuation and romance, not about real love.  Romance sells, unlike the daily investment it takes for self-awareness and for co-creating a healthy relationship.

If you do the inner work and hone the skills necessary for a healthy relationship you will have a much better likelihood of feeling beautifully satiated and no longer “always hungry for love.”


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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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Dating as a Spiritual Practice

What is the goal of a spiritual practice?  For me, the goal is wholeness.

How can dating be seen as a spiritual practice?  Is it about finding “the one” so you can be whole?

That’s not how I see it.

In fact, it’s the opposite.  It’s using the trials and tribulations (as well as the triumphs!) of dating toward becoming whole and deepening your relationship with the Divine, God, the Universe or whatever term you choose to use.

Without a spiritual component, dating can be overwhelmingly daunting and frustrating.  If we come from a place of being lonely and desperately seeking someone to complete us or to make us feel good about ourselves, it’s pretty hard.  We often encounter disappointment, rejection and self-doubt…. how can we see the big picture?  How can we put dating into a larger context so the focus is as much on the journey as on the destination (of finding a partner)?

I believe that there are certain key elements.

Be aware of your resistance to being single:  I talk to many singles who are desperate to find someone.  They are terribly unhappy and think that if they could just find the right person, all would be well.  Because of their resistance to what “is”, they suffer.  How would it be to see being single as an opportunity, not as a curse?  How can you take advantage of this time to get to know yourself better and to explore what’s meaningful to you?  You can embrace being single and hold the vision of great love with a partner.

Practise compassion toward yourself and others: When dating it’s easy to be hard on yourself and to listen to your inner critic.  You’re not enough of this; you’re too much of that. etc. etc.  How would it be different if you were actually gentle toward yourself and if you chose to embrace your value?  And how would it be different if you saw other singles with compassion, knowing that they face many of the challenges that you do?

How can you get out of your own way in dating?  We often create obstacles to love with our limiting beliefs and attitudes.  When you hear yourself saying “all men…”  or “you never” or “you always” that’s a sign that there’s a part of you that is making generalizations that probably aren’t true.  Are you caught up in believing that all the good ones are taken?  That if people really knew you they wouldn’t love you?  These limiting beliefs and attitudes often run in the background and negatively impact our choices and how we are in the world.  When we have a spiritual practice we become more aware of these thoughts and we can make a conscious choice not to be led by them.

Gratitude: how can you be grateful for what you have – despite being single?  It’s easy when you’ve been disappointed in dating to focus on what you don’t have, rather than what you do have.  Making regular gratitude lists will help you see the big picture.

Trust: how would dating be different if we had radical trust that we are being supported and that we are given what we need?  I believe that trust gives us peace of mind.  My clients often wonder why it’s taking so long for their soulmate to arrive.  I think it’s about divine timing and true readiness on both people’s parts.  Joyfully anticipating being with our true love, and trusting that all is unfolding as it should, allows us to live happily and gratefully in the present moment… and to become truly ready to be in the relationship we desire.

We have a choice.  We can see dating as a necessary evil to find our beloved partner, or we can choose to see it as a spiritual practice.  What can you learn from the experience of dating?  How can you use dating to become more whole?



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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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Common Red Flags

Last week I talked about why we ignore red flags.  There are many reasons, often due to loneliness and other factors.  Sometimes we think it’s easier to stay with a person because the alternative of going back into the dating pool seems even worse!  When we have the ability to step back and look at the situation, and when we know ourselves, we can move through the temptation to ignore red flags and move on with the goal of finding someone who is more suitable.

What are red flags?  We all know that nobody is perfect.  We all have our shortcomings, so what is the difference between an annoyance and a red flag?

How someone loads the dishwasher, how they put toilet paper on the holder, how they squeeze the toothpaste tube – these are classic examples of annoyances for some people.  Some of us tend to sweat the small stuff more than others do!  We can choose to notice our reactivity and then look at the big picture.  Then we can realize that, in the scheme of things, these are not important differences.

Red flags are another story.  These are behaviors or situations that have the potential to be deal breakers and to undermine the health of a relationship.  Here are some examples: the person sees him/herself as a victim and blames others for their life situation; he/she reacts with blame, rage or extreme anger when frustrated; he/she consistently acts impulsively and/or irresponsibly; he/she is negative or pessimistic about things that matter to you; he/she is unsupportive of your goals and dreams; he/she acts with a lack of integrity; he/she dominates conversations and talks only about him/herself and isn’t interested in you.  The list goes on.  Basically, if you’re noticing these behaviors right at the beginning, they do not bode well for the future.

You may have your own personal red flags that aren’t universal.  For example, you may consider it a red flag if someone isn’t local, where others may be OK with a long distance relationship.  You may consider it a red flag if someone is a smoker, where others won’t care.  Same with drinking: depending on your history you may want someone who doesn’t drink at all, or drinks moderately, where someone else may actually want someone to enjoy a glass of wine or beer with.  Look back at your relationship history and come up with all behaviors that you now see as red flags.

You owe it to yourself to be mindful of any red flags you see in the early stages of dating.  Please pay attention and if there are behaviors that concern you or don’t feel right, move on!

Need help with this?  I have a Dating Red Flags Checklist I’d be happy to email to you.   Go to my Contact page and make your request!   This will be very helpful for you if you’d like to start dating with more awareness.   This is what I want for you: to have fun dating, and for you to find your ideal partner!



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Intimacy and Autonomy

I was preparing for a presentation recently on “self care in relationships.”  I came across a wonderful quote by John Welwood  in a book called “Love and Relationships: Inspirations for Meditation and Spiritual Growth” by Eileen Campbell.

One of the biggest challenges in relationships is the push/pull dynamic of intimacy vs. autonomy.  We want to be close to someone… yet we fear losing ourselves.  We pull away to establish more autonomy and then we long for the closeness.  This is what John Welwood says:

At the core of our existence, we all experience the basic ache of feeling separate.  We long to be united with someone or something outside of ourselves, so that we do not have to feel this ache so sharply.  So when we finally find someone we feel close to, it may seem like a kind of salvation – no longer must we wander this lonely world all by ourselves.  Yet in satisfying our urge to merge, it is all too easy to become submerged in a relationship, waking up one day to realize that we have lost something essential – ourself!

Relationships always involve this kind of fluctuation between bonding with another and maintaining our integrity as individuals, yielding to our partner and asserting ourselves, reaching out and going deep within.

How do we achieve this delicate balance?  How do we not lose ourselves in relationship?  This is a huge issue and one that is ideal to work on with a coach, a therapist or a counsellor.  All too often we repeat old patterns completely unaware of them until we are deeply mired in unhealthy behaviour.   Having someone with perspective can help us see when we are either losing ourselves or withdrawing too much.

To me, a healthy relationship is about having self-awareness and being able to communicate clearly what is going on with your partner.  This is how true intimacy is created – intimacy that thrives on healthy autonomy, not on losing yourself.

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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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Staying Sane in the Dating Game Part 1

I’m sure we all have our share of weird and bizarre dating stories!  I just had a very odd experience of thinking I was getting to know a guy mainly through texting (his choice) only to find that there were many red flags and I ended it after only about three weeks.  I thought he seemed promising.  I was feeling quite optimistic… but I am so clear on my value that I’m simply not willing to settle.  How did I weather this without feeling devastated?  How can I be so clear that something isn’t working that I can choose to end something that seemed to have great potential?

For those entering the dating world with open hearts, optimism and trust this can be a difficult world.  It can take a toll on your self-esteem.  How do you date in good faith but with your eyes open?

Today I’m going to offer you one of the most effective strategies I’ve used.  I just put this into words when I was debriefing with a friend about the confusion and disappointment I felt recently.  I think the secret is to proceed with curiosity and engagement… but not to invest too much too quickly.  What I mean by that is to proceed with awareness and actually look for red flags while also being aware of somebody’s good points and how I feel with him.  Secondly, I choose to be engaged and to give it my best shot, but to recognize that in the early stages hormones cloud our judgment.  Thirdly, I am cautious about the investment I make until I have a better sense that this something that is worth putting time and energy into.  There was a time that I would jump with both feet and tell myself that it was “meant to be”.  Now, a little older and wiser I hold back and assess.  There is no advantage to rushing through dating.  It takes time to get to know someone and to check in with yourself about how things are going.

These strategies allow me to have the mindset of being “the chooser” and to be confident that if this man isn’t relationship material, there are plenty more in the sea.  Because I’m not desperate I can afford to take my time and wait for someone who truly is my match.

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