Monday, September 28, 2009

Are You Working Too Hard for Love?

How hard to you have work for love?

If you listen to pop radio, you have to work really, really hard for it. Right now, there's a hit single describing love as a battlefield (not to be confused with Pat Benetar's "Love is a Battlefield," which was a huge hit way back when in the Eighties).

I'm always hearing songs sung by well-lit young women describing their pain in love, and these songs usually become giant hits. And it's no wonder. They can be pretty catchy.

The problem is, a lot of women listen to them and come to the conclusion that love equals pain. If we're not feeling sad, if we're not feeling the drama, then we can't be in love.

Furthermore, a lot of us who are in bad relationships tell ourselves, "Hey, this is the way it's supposed to be. Love is work." This causes some women to put up with a lot of substandard behavior from the men they spend time with.

Please open yourself to the possibility that if you're feeling bad or sad in your relationship more than 20% of the time, you may be in the wrong relationship. You could be with the wrong guy.

Love is not a battlefield. It's supposed to be joyful, exciting, uplifting, full of mutual attraction, affection, consideration, and fun. (Does this mean you'll never have a doubt or a disagreement? No, of course not, but if you're crying more than you're laughing, something is seriously wrong.)

Love is supposed to be you making a special man's happiness your priority. He should be making your happiness his priority (that's where the work comes in; sometimes somebody has to make a sacrifice, and and it shouldn't always be the same somebody).

If your boyfriend often disappoints you, makes you feel less than special, and forces you to work for his affection and attention, you can do better.

Step back. Give yourself time to reconsider whether this person is someone who can make you happy in the long run.

Give yourself the gift of you. In other words, spend time with yourself. Care for yourself. Nurture yourself in the ways that are missing from your relationship. Allow yourself to be happy by yourself.

Decide whether it's time to move on and make room for a man who doesn't expect you to settle for crumbs.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

SWR Blog Crawl: If You Feel Good About Yourself, DO IT!


Today is Day 4 of the first-ever Single Women Rule blog crawl (which is kind of like a pub crawl with blogs instead of pubs), so if this is your first time at Dating Advice (Almost) Daily, I hope you like what you see. Do come back!

It's my good fortune to post this article by Maryanne Comaroto, who says "great relationships come from within." If you've been with me for a while, you know it's a philosophy I live and breathe.

After you finish reading, do yourself a favor and check out Maryanne Live for more resources for creating fulfilling relationships, starting with that all-important relationship yourself.


If You Feel Good About Yourself - DO IT!

By Maryanne Comaroto

Ever notice when you’re with some people, you feel contracted, self-conscious, worried that who you are is somehow flawed or not enough? And then there are other folks, in whose presence you feel just the opposite. You feel relaxed, expanded, closer to the best version of yourself; natural, free and enough! What is it about the first group of people that entices us to still spend time with them? Or – and here's perhaps a more relevant dating question – why in the WORLD would ever choose to get into a relationship with the former? As a matter of fact, this perplexing twist turns out to be as simple as it is complex—and I am inclined to move towards the simple understanding in this moment.

I'll illustrate it with a story from one of my students who recently started dating again. Her self-care practice is stronger than ever. She knows who she is, what she wants and has a relationship plan and tools in her relationship tool belt. She is gainfully employed, has other work filled with her mission and purpose that she is building on the side, lives where she wants, takes care of her body, puts good things in her mind and prays for guidance. But, like all of us, she struggles from time to time when trying to decide who she wants to be with. Like many of us she is still attracted to what looks good and feels good, but perplexed about why that almost always leads to: “Makes me feel bad about myself in the morning.” And even though she has made her list of non-negotiables and written extensively about the character and makeup of her potential partner, she turns into a deer in the headlights when a certain type of person enters the scene. And forgets all that, as though she’s got temporary amnesia.

My student was confronted with just such a perfect example recently when she told me about two men she was attracted to and interested in:

One she had known casually over some years, the other she met randomly (although at the time she believed their meeting was serendipitous.) The first person was handsome, courteous, grounded, and his words were consistent with his actions.
The second gentleman, while their initial meeting was considerably more electric, was not entirely who he made himself out to be. Turns out, while he was interested in getting to know her, he was not available for a relationship, nor did he call when he said he would.

She shared with me the truth about their meeting, and that she could feel how this guy was like the type of guy she was traditionally attracted to. And at the same time as she recognized this, she also saw that she felt bad about herself almost immediately after meeting him. Whereas bachelor number one has been consistent, even and honest. Fortunately, because today she loves herself and wants a great relationship, she snapped out of it.

♥Sometimes we just got give up the flames for the slow burn!!!

I said this was going to be simple and really, honestly, it is.

Is it true these folks that “bring out the worst in us” have something to teach us? Yes. Or that they are mirroring a part of ourselves that perhaps we do not like? Yes, that is also true. Or that you don’t always, every second of the day, love or like who you are, so therefore it would be unrealistic to think that you would feel in love with yourself in this person’s presence every moment you are with them. Also true.

However—and this is a big however—Why choose your primary love relationship to be a battlefield of personal development if you don’t have to? In other words, if you want to “work on your issues” why not deal with your childhood wounds or mom/dad material head-on? You don’t have to find a mate that rings your bells. Go to therapy. Delve deeply into your subconscious mind and free yourself from these imprints, low self-esteem or self-worth issues. You don’t have to spend your precious time with, have sex with, move in with, or marry them.

Changing certain self-defeating behavior is, like I always say, like pulling a jet plane out of a nose dive. But do not fret. With enough persistence and a daily practice of self-love you are sure to eventually prevail and, like so many of us converts, ultimately make better and better relationship choices, in all areas of your life! And I will keep you posted on our hopeful bachelorette!

For more information on my daily practice and the seven essential truths for waking up and staying awake, check out www.maryannelive.com

Monday, September 21, 2009

He Said He Might Marry Her. Then He Disappeared

Hi Terry,

I've been trying to figure out how to post a question on your blog, but being completely clueless when it comes to blogs, I have no choice but to leave my post as a comment on this one... I hope that's ok?

I am a 34 year old woman (girl?) living in Mumbai, India. After a brief but very painful marriage I found myself building life from ground zero. I've no complaints about my life; it's seriously super. I have a successful business built from scratch, great friends, 3 adorable dogs and as many books as I can read.

But, I've essentially been single since my marriage ended 6 years ago. I'm physically very attractive (credited to good genes), funny, intelligent and an all-round good catch, or so my friends tell me.

I've interacted with a few guys over the years, but nothing really amounted to much. This is mostly in part to my being too needy and clingy around hem, and they being just not worth it.

Now, I've met this perfect man a few days ago. By perfect I mean perfect for ME.

We met, and sat and chatted (and a bit more) till 6:30 am... the next day he called when he said he would, made plans to see my that evening because I was supposed to leave for a holiday the next day.

The holiday didn't happen. But what did is that he talked about how he had given up on meeting someone he wanted to be with, and he had finally met that person (me). He didn't need to look any further now, and really wanted to get to know me, to be with me. Whether that would mean marriage would only be discerned after spending more time together, but he wanted me to know that was committed to at least exploring that option.

Whew! This man has been what I've been looking for in many ways, older than me, well-settled, successful in his own right, sorted in his head, very committed to his sons, fun, well-travelled, well-read... etc etc.

We were to go out Wednesday night with his friends, but he cancelled claiming exhaustion, seeing as both of us had been up for two nights and had been working through the day. We signed off with him saying he'll call me the next day...

It's been two days since then, and there's been no call.

I'm completely thrown by this, as most of the good stuff being said came from him, with no prompting from me. I did talk to him about not being interested in a fling, or being his bit on the side, and he said he understood.

In fact, when I told him that I wasn't leaving for Thailand till next week, he even suggested trying to work things at his end so he could come with me on holiday!

And that's followed by this complete silence. I feel like it's almost a test of some sort, to see if I freak out and get manic and call him 10 times, or then he needs space to think things, maybe he feels he's said too much.

I dont know!

I don't want to call him or text him... I just feel like that wouldn't be a good move... Call it instinct.

What would you say? I'd love some impersonal advice, and yours seems to always be spot on :-)

Thanks a ton,
C.


Dear C.-

First off, thanks for the kind words, and it's fine to leave a question in comments. You can also email questions to terry(at)marrysmart.com.

Your instincts are correct. Do not text or call this guy. He made the unbidden proclamation about you being the woman he's been waiting for, so let him pick up the phone.

You sound extremely self-aware when you say that your former relationships broke up because you were too clingy. This is a great thing to know because next time around, you can easily alter this behavior with a bit of self-control.

But, back to this guy, whom you didn't cling to: He seemed great. He looked great. Smelled great. Said all the right things. And then promptly disappeared.

I understand you must be incredibly disappointed. I mean, what a letdown. On the other hand, if he hasn't re-emerged with an excellent reason for his disappearance by now, he may have done you a favor. I don't know what his intentions were, of course, or if he scared himself.

All I know is that he said he was open to considering the possibility of marriage with you, AND HE'D ONLY JUST MET YOU.

Listen, if some guy I met last Wednesday told me he was open to the possibility of marrying me, I'd tell him:

"I don't even know you."

You don't know this Prince Charming who only seems to be "sorted in his head." And he doesn't know you. His comments about discerning whether he'd marry you one day would be considered presumptuous in the United States. Are they usual for men in India?

Whether the answer is yes or no, I'm going to ask you to be more discerning. When a man you just met tells you you're the one he's been waiting for, take a big step back, raise your eyebrow and say, "Oh, yeah? Why do you think so?"

(Furthermore, why is he presuming that you're going to jump into his arms when he tells you this?)

This is your life we're talking about here.

And look, you say you have a full life. You have good friends, a business of your own, and lots of good books. I know you want a good man at your side, so please hold out for him.

You sound as if you have a great deal to offer, and some man will be very lucky to have you. Don't allow yourself to be distracted by presumptuous characters who are all talk and no action.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

She Doesn't Want to Seem Too Eager

Hi Terry,

I have to say, after reading your (amazing!) e-book I feel like I've opened Pandora's box haha!. Seriously though, all my wishes and desires are manifesting almost magically and I couldn't be happier. So as to stay on the right track, I have a question about pacing.

I know that Mimi Tanner advocates going slow and playing "hard to get". I completely understand the thinking/purpose behind that in the long run. Here's my question, what do you say when you are newly dating a guy (about 1 month), have yet to have the relationship/exclusivity talk, and he begins asking questions about your past and/or feelings about marriage/kids etc.

Specifically, he is asking about my past marriage. My thoughts are to place things in a positive light and cite it as a learning experience. Of course, I don't want to seem anti-marriage in ANY way as I certainly AM NOT but I also don't want to seem too eager with someone so new. Do you see where I'm coming from? Please tell me Terry, how do I navigate these waters successfully and with grace?

Thank you SO much....I look forward to hearing your advice!

All the best,

Graceful


Dear Graceful-

Thanks for the kind and encouraging words. They mean a great deal to me.

I think your instincts are right. Do place your former marriage in a positive light and say that you learned from it. There's nothing eager about being clear about the fact that you're open to the possibility of getting married again, but you could say, "The next time I do it, I want it to be right. I learned a lot the last time around." And if you hope to have children one day, say so.

You're not telling the guy, "I WANT TO MARRY YOU. I WANT TO BE THE MOTHER OF YOUR CHILDREN!" You're merely saying you're open to the idea of getting married to the right person in the future.

I hope this helps.

Terry

Monday, September 14, 2009

He Asked Her to Be 'Exclusive,' and Now He's Backing Off

Hi Terry!

I have scored the most perfect Prince Charming ever! The first couple months went great (it was all like you said - HE did everything! Decided for us to become exclusive, even started talking about marriage within the first month of dating) but as with all my relationships - a couple months later (about the 10 month point for this one) and the infatuation phase runs out. I know you say that backing off and giving him space will make him come back on his own and return as someone that wants you to be exclusive with him. But in my situation we're already exclusive! And he's still pulled back! Is there any advice for this? Is this normal?

PLEASE HELP!

-Exclusive


Dear Exclusive-

My heart goes out to you now because obviously you're hurt and confused.

Even though he asked to be exclusive, is it possible that he's come to take you for granted?

In other words, have you given him a reason to take you for granted? Have you ever broken plans with your friends to be with him? Do you call him or text him often? (I don't care if you're a man or a woman; too-frequent contact is a romance killer.) Are you doing too much for him? Making his dinner all the time, picking up his dry cleaning, returning his library books?

If so, you're not making yourself indispensible. You're smothering him.

If this is the case, please do yourself a favor and take a step back. Start filling your time with friends. Go out for drinks for colleagues. Let him be the adult he is and take care of his own laundry, meals, etc. Let him do some things for you. Men like to do things for women. They enjoy giving things to women. If you've taken those particular life's pleasures from him, please stop.

If you back off for a while, and he steps forward again, remember this: Being an exclusive couple is great, but your boyfriend was attracted to you because of YOU-- who you are, what you do, how you think, what makes you laugh, and so on. If you allow yourself to be half of a couple instead of a full person in a dynamic, loving relationship, you lose yourself.

And he loses you,

Without a complete picture of your relationship, my best suggestion is to return to being the full woman the man fell in love with; if you have any preconceived notions about how a full-time girlfriend is to behave (aside from kindly, honestly, and faithfully), please drop them.

Be the girl you used to be.

Good luck.

Terry

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

She Worries About American Women

Dear Terry:

It disturbs me how much American women just LIVE for the big wedding day .. and being MARRIED. There is more to life than bouquets, champagne toasts, and a white dress and a wedding night.

After that -- comes LIFE. Kids, or infertility problems, or babies' deaths, or unemployment, or hurricanes and houses lost...

I LOVE your messages so don't get me wrong. You mean well. But there IS more in this life then THE BIG WEDDING day and getting a ring on your finger. This is not life.

Life is a committed, sane partner and even if there's no officially expensive big fiesta, it is good all the same. Why are American women so flipping OBSESSED with snaring a man "for life"?

The statistics recently show than 50% of marriages (first time) don't last ... And over 60% of 2nd marriages don't either.

We could maybe focus more on building a GREAT relationship, maybe a recomposed family etc without putting so much accentuation on THE RING...

Just food for thought :) Be good and enjoy your weekend !!

-Concerned Reader


Dear Concerned,

Thanks for writing.

I've been married for 17 years, so I do know that marriage is not all about champagne and engagement rings. Those things will never make anyone happy for very long. (I don't usually mention weddings or rings in my emails, and I didn't in the one to which you refer.)

My message is for women who want to be happy, and to be happy they've got to decide to enjoy life with or without a man. They have to be whole people, not half a person searching for that elusive other half. Let's face it; we're all responsible for our own happiness. That's why I hope to help some women to stop settling for less than they deserve in a relationship.

I've found that it's not just American women who obsess about getting married (and they obsess about getting married because society still mantains that a woman needs a man to be considered successful, which is a load of bunk in my opinion). I get mail from plenty of women in the UK and other places, too.

I also write for a website called SingleWomenRule.com, which is devoted to helping women enjoy everything life has to offer whether or not the 'knight in shining armor' ever shows up.

Thanks again for sharing your perspective. I do appreciate it.

-Terry

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

She Thinks She Has a Problem With Men

Hi, Terry-

Thanks for your emails. I’d really appreciate some advice from you.

I think I have a problem with guys – they always seem to be intimidated by me, no matter how hard I try to show them I’m an ordinary person. One problem I have, if you can call it a problem, is that I’m very intelligent. I was educated in the best universities and I’ve been a lecturer at a good university for the last three years.

When guys first meet me, they seem interested and ask me out. After we go out a few times, either they get scared off and slowly disappear or they stick around but become very careful with me and give me mixed signals. Too scared to kiss me, waiting for me to make the first move – which I never do because I think that’s the man’s job. I’m very traditional. This is sometimes prolonged. They flirt with me, take me out, call me a lot but when it’s time to show romantic interest, they play the ‘we are just friends’ card. This happened to me many times. Or I’m told ‘you are too nice, I don’t want to hurt you’ or that ‘if I go out with you, you’d be demanding and want serious commitment’. Or I’m told ‘I was never sure you were interested’, even though I may tell them and/or spend time going out with them a lot…

I know some of the guys I dated (if you can describe this behaviour as dating), felt very inferior and tried to put me down to show who is the man. They went on to find girlfriends they were more comfortable with (usually, less educated than them).

Another problem I have is that men never think I’m single. I’ve been told ‘you don’t act as if you are looking for someone’ or that ‘you are too good looking to be single/go out with me/date normal men’. Again, all this is rubbish.

Yes, I’m a clever, serious and hardworking person but I’m also very sociable and make friends very easily. I've always had many good male friends. So I don’t understand why this is happening to me all the time and men can't see me as a girlfriend. If anything, I think I’m actually too nice to men I like and I tolerate a lot, apart from jumping into bed with them. I want to wait to be in a serious relationship before I do that.

I’m not sure if that’s the problem at the end of the day – them feeling I’m not about to sleep with them without them putting in some effort. But I think I deserve the extra effort (extra being what every girl would want – not talking about spending money on me).

Sorry to go on like this. I’d be interested to hear what you have to say. I don’t know if this is of relevance, but I was brought up in a country different from the one I live and work. So that makes me a foreigner I guess.

-Too Smart For My Own Good?


Dear Smart-

Right off the bat, I'll tell you I am not as smart as you, haven't been to the best universities (although I did go to a decent one) and haven't taught at any, either.

Yet, on more than one occasion I came across a guy who'd tell me, "You're too smart." On one particular occasion, a dude told me, "You're very bright and attractive, but I'm looking for someone I can mold."

Seriously. He said that.

It goes without saying that I'd prefer not to date (or marry) any person who needs to mold me or who finds my intelligence intimidating. Life is too short to hang out with morons.

That said, I'd been told by some people that I could be perceived as "hard to get to know," "snobbish," and having a "superior attitude." The fact of the matter is that I was none of these things. I was shy, and it took me a while to learn not to stiffen up around people. I've always found it easier to be the person asking questions of other people, rather than have them ask them about me. And while it's true nobody wants to hang around some bore who goes on and on about herself, we do have to reveal some details about ourselves if people are ever going to feel close to us.

You say you come from a different culture than the one you're currently living in, and it's possible something is indeed getting lost in translation. But you make friends easily, and a lot of those friends are men. Would you feel comfortable saying to one of them, "You know, I'd really like to meet someone special, but I seem to have trouble getting things off the ground. Is there some advice you could give me?"

You may be embarrassed to ask for help, but people are usually glad to give it to you (and flattered that you asked).

When a man tells you you're too good looking to date, or that you don't appear to be looking for someone, put the ball back in his court. Look him in the eye, smile, and say, "Why do you say that?"

Let him tell you. His answer should tell you everything you need to know (whether he's got serious insecurity issues, for example, or if you seem unapproachable).

You say that you're too nice to guys sometimes and put up with too much. What are you putting up with, exactly? When you let a person treat you less than well, they come away with the impression that you're not much of a catch, no matter how smart or good-looking you are.

This may be why some men tell you "you're too nice," or that they expect you'll demand a commitment if they keep seeing you.

So...

I'm wondering if you're not smiling enough, being playful enough when you first meet a guy. And then, when you start dating him and things start to progress, you put up with too much nonsense, which lowers your value (think about it: when a guy accepts bad treatment, do you value him?).

I haven't seen you in action, so I'm just throwing things out here. You're attractive, smart, and make friends easily, so you definitely have what it takes to attract a great guy and enjoy a lasting relationship.

One more thing: Guys who need to let you know who "the man" is should be dismissed immediately. Right: You're a woman, and he's a man. That's a given. None of us should be marching around having to prove our gender all damn day.

A guy who's threatened by you in any way for any reason is a bad bet. We are what we are. We want to be loved for who we are.

How's this for an affirmation?

"I, _________________, am happily married to a loyal, loving, fun man who loves me just as I am and is thrilled by my intelligence."

Tweak it, if you like. Then, using all your senses, bring that man and that relationship to life in your imagination. It'll be sketchy at first, but with perseverance, details will fill themselves in. Keep bringing that relationship to life in your imagination several times a day.

I've asked my colleague, Dating Coach Ronnie Ann Ryan, to weigh in on this question, so please watch the comments for her take.

Readers, if you have any suggestions for our friend, I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Surviving a Break-Up

A reader wrote to recommend the following video, in which makeup artist Kandee Johnson gives advice on getting over an ex. Kandee's tips apply to both men and women, and it doesn't matter how old you are, either.

It's good stuff. Check it out: