I was listening to Loveline with Dr. Drew the other night. I overheard him say this to one of the callers, “Intensity is not love.” I sat with that for a moment and began to unpack what it means to have intensity in a relationship.
Intensity is not what the majority of us know as “Butterflies;” that initial warm tingling feeling that we get when we see that person or when we think about them when they are away. Intensity is much different. Butterflies are driven by the same oxytocin hormone, but the intensity is like an addiction and can be driven by negative triggers in the oxytocin. The intensity lies in large and fast amounts of this “love hormone” resulting later in opposite behaviors like jealousy and envy; although these emotions might not come through at the beginning of the intensity, these emotions can take effect after the intensity is over or during its intensity.
Intensity is mostly felt by those who experience relationships through insecure/anxious attachments or avoidant attachments. Secure attachments are the healthy attachments that allow us to get the proper doses of oxytocin at the proper times and allow for quality trust and bond building.
When the brain and body illicit butterfly feelings, once those feelings go away our bodies do not crave or seek out those feelings. We have landed in a comfortable place when we stop feeling those initial rushes of emotion; comfort and security override those feelings. However when we feel intensity, it is never enough when it goes away; it is the chaos that we constantly feel or seek out in the unhealthy relationship.
When thinking about a specific someone who makes you have intense feelings, some of which can even create some anxiety, listen to your body more and take the time to acknowledge what the relationship or person is actually doing in your life.
You can also take this QUIZ to review your attachment style. Ask yourself if intensity is something you crave. Look into understanding your attachment style to make better and healthier connections with your partners in the future.
Yesterday we discussed how dating can be so complicated and why it seems like times have changed when it comes to dating. Honestly, I miss the courting and the attention that used to be given in dating.
That is why I am a big advocate for some of the items below. I hope these ideas help you un-complicate your dating life:
Know what you need in a relationship. It is important to know what you are looking for in a relationship prior to beginning a relationship. This is a good way to align your values and what you look for in a mate. Knowing what you want ahead of time will help you not sacrifice the quality of your dating partners.
Know what you give to a relationship. Don’t exaggerate who you are in the relationship. It is okay to be honest and genuine about what you bring to the table. Trying to be someone you are not will give a false idea to the person interested in you and you will pay for it later. Be able to be truthful about what you are good at and what you are not good at.
Pay attention to red flags.You have no idea how often I hear. “Yes, but,” when asking a direct question to a friend. The conversation goes like this…
“I thought you wanted to date someone who was hard-working, finished college, and was closer to your age,” said me.
“Yes, but, well, he actually lied about his age (giggles) and he then told me later that he wasn’t as old as he said and by that time we had really connected. He doesn’t have a full-time job now, but he has plans to start school again because he wants to be a lawyer,” said anonymous friend.
“Oh, okay, so he lied (red flag) and he doesn’t have a full-time job (red flag) and he wants to be a lawyer, but he still has to complete the undergraduate school he dropped out of (red flag),” said me.
Knowing what you need in a relationship and partner can help you to keep your eye on the prize when you begin to see red flags.
Walk don’t run. Too often people try to jump into relationships. There is little interest in the dating part of it or our expectations get the best of us. Until you are in someone’s inner circle, they may not adapt to you the way that you want them to. They have no obligation to keep in contact with you or hand you a resume that includes their whole dating past. Try to take it slow and enjoy getting to know someone without putting too many expectations on them in the beginning.
Limit your distractions. Unless you are a doctor on call or expecting a baby (which I hope you are not if you are dating) you have no reason, zero, none to bring your phone into the restaurant or dating venue with you. I get that we are so glued to our phones, but there are lots to be said about making a quality and genuine connection with someone. If you cannot go for two hours without your phone, you need some self-reflection as to why. I remember dates that were so good that I lost track of time and we spoke for hours. A ringing or beeping phone will only distract you from the one thing you are trying to do in that evening : have a genuine connection with someone.
Do you remember back when a “crush” would call; you relished the fact that you finally got your parents to buy a cordless phone so you could take the call in your bedroom. You would yell out, “Mom, I got it,” after picking it up. Before that you would hope that the phone cord would reach far enough into the other room so you could close the door in privacy. Now all of that seemed complicated!
So if we have privacy and numerous ways to connect (social media and online dating) what makes dating so complicated now? Whether you are new to the dating scene or getting back into it after a recent break-up or divorce, dating has never been more complicated.
Dating is so complicated because:
We bring our past into it. It is sometimes unintentional but also unavoidable. Most of our grandparents and some of our parents met and married when they were between the ages of 19-23. This means that their past dating profiles were limited in comparison. In todays’ culture our break-ups and divorces stack up and make it more difficult to let our past go.
Too much freedom. The days of leaving a message at the beep are over. Text Messaging is the new way to ask or be asked out on a first date. The problem is that beginning a relationship like this makes it so impersonal.
Too much distraction. I can recall going on a few dates in which the suitor would utilize his electronic device during dinner to text or skim Facebook. Honestly, that was such a turn-off that I never went out on a second date, but some of us don’t see it right away. The distraction of smart phones becomes one that is hindering our dating lives. (And some of our relationships).
Too much talk. We become a more entitled people each generation to the next. We believe that because we graduated college someone owes us a great paying job. This sense of entitlement has carried over into our dating lives. We want someone who is going to have the full package (looks, personality, career, character, and thoughtfulness) but we are not willing to make sure we are giving the full package in return. If you complain about your 35 hour work week, don’t expect to find someone who is loyal to a job and lands a managing position after putting in 2 years of 50 hour work weeks.
You don’t pay attention to red flags. Most of the time there are hints about a person in the beginning of the dating relationship. You can pay attention to these and weed out the bad ones pretty quickly. If you have a tendency to try to look past that and find the best in people, well that is a very admirable quality, but it is not a quality to utilize in your dating life. Be smart and weed the bad out quickly.
Dating doesn’t have to be complicated. Join us tomorrow as we talk about How You Can Un-Complicate Your Dating LIfe. Don’t worry, it does not include plugging back in that landline phone.
We are quick to blame one party when our partners stray and meet someone outside of the relationship. But what about, “It takes two to tango?” I am not suggesting that you blame one party or the other, but I am suggesting that you give them equal responsibility or equal forgiveness. Example- You are back with the guy who cheated on you, but you refuse to talk to the girl that he cheated on you with. Maybe it is time to refuse to talk to both of them. Or maybe it is time to forgive both of them.
My suggestion is that if you are continuing the relationship with your partner and trying to resolve a time of infidelity, that you forgive both parties. Letting go of that past can be the best thing to get you and your partner to move on to a successful future. Moving on with your partner through a time of infidelity can be a very difficult task. However if you are refusing to forgive your partner or the situation, the best thing you can do is get out of the situation. If you are ruminating about the infidelity, the act of the cheating, or the parties involved, and are unable to stop your bad thoughts it is time to move on. You can not continue to analyze why this went on. Some situations in life just don’t make any sense and you will never be able to make sense of them.
Here are some quick suggestions to move on from this difficult situation:
- Take care of yourself. Get back into a happy hobby. Hang out with friends.
- Don’t disclose your personal life. In the times of Facebook Status, it may be easy to bash your unfaithful partner via web, but I suggest against that.
- Don’t listen to unsolicited advice. Everyone is going to have an opinion about what you should and should not do in a situation of infidelity. You need friends who give you support rather than judgement.
- Forgive everyone involved. Forgive your partner, the other party, and yourself. You might even have to take some responsibility in order to forgive yourself.
- Couples therapy. It might be good to have a neutral third-party to help you get through set-backs of the relationship and move forward. You will be able to talk honestly about your feelings in a safe environment.
In the relationship world, this tune plays out in real life and in the movies. Someone might let you down by claiming all the responsibility and breaking up with you by letting you know that “It’s not you, it’s me.”
But who is it really? When it comes to whose fault it is that a relationship doesn’t work out, can any one party be to blame?
When any relationship ends, whether it is a friendship or a romantic relationship, a small assessment is done. The assessment takes place by talking to friends, looking back on old relationships, and by replaying what went right or wrong during the past few months leading up to the loss of friendship or break-up. We try to find answers, but the truth is that sometimes those answers don’t exist.
We tend to think about all the bad things that happen when ending the relationship rather than having an objective idea of what the relationship looked like. Both parties contributed to the ending of the relationship in some way. It is important for you to be able to evaluate your contribution so you can be aware of it in future relationships. Never try to assess or blame the other person’s contribution; this is when we get into trouble and make a bad situation worse. Always use “I” statements instead of “You” statements.
We live in a world filled with more break-ups and breakdowns than commitment. Working hard to mend a relationship or assertiveness to make one’s life better seem like daunting tasks. We are too used to giving up being the new “norm.” I am not suggesting that you try to stay with someone who is abusive physically or mentally, but that you take the time to assess your life, your hang-ups, and your past to understand where it puts you in your relationships today.
It is easy for us to pass the buck and the blame onto someone else or to profess ourselves the blame to slip out of something. Maybe in a world filled with easy outs, it is time that we went back to fighting for the health in our relationships. It is time that we seek out professional help to overcome the barriers that lead us to struggle in romantic relationships or friendships.
The truth about your fling is that when you first begin seeing them, they are everything you hope to find in a partner. This person is sweet, they spend time with you, they make it a point to take you out, and they even woo over some of your friends. They talk to you about their dreams and their future, which makes them even more irresistible.
Months later when the DTR talk comes up, there is no exclusive relationship in the near future. Then you start seeing things such as; their pictures on Facebook tend to involve random multiple people of the opposite sex or maybe too much boozing in one night. Texts happen a lot more after 11 p.m. and their idea of taking you out now is you driving an hour to go to their place. They might talk to you about committing, but their actions are inconsistent with that.
The ugly truth about your fling is that their inconsistencies might be confusing you. Their inconsistencies might even lead you to pronounce to your friends that you won’t be seeing them again. The hard truth about this is that your well-being hangs in the balance of your ability to walk away from this person.
Maybe you are able to find peace in the “fling” type of relationship. You may both be in the relationship just for fun and have no intention of getting seriously romantically involved with one another. However, the hard truth is typically that one party is going to get hurt. The even harder truth is that if you have read this far into this blog, that person is probably you.
The ugliest truth about your fling is what it means about you. Why are you willing to keep hanging on to someone who isn’t giving you their all? A wise friend once told me that relationships are not black and white. I agree that relationships can have many gray areas.
The rule of thumb is that if the other party is unwilling to connect with the level of commitment that you need, you will end up on the losing end. Remember that you are likely to see their inconsistencies anyways, so maybe it’s time to throw this fling back into the single sea.
A rut is defined as “a long deep track made by the repeated passages of the wheels of a vehicle.” A routine is defined as “a sequence of actions regularly followed.”
A relationship routine is agreed upon and followed by both parties. A routine makes comfort and fun available to both parties. Routines include positive features that make both parties feel good about the relationship. Routines are kept up with and both partners take time to think about one another and do little things that they know would be meaningful to the other person.
A relationship rut is created by one partner and followed by another. The pattern of repeated wear and tear begins to create tracks in the relationship. In a rut there is conflict after conflict and no partner in the relationship is left feeling good.
As a relationship leaves what we call the “honeymoon stage” both partners begin to feel less connected and more consumed with the “task” of keeping up with the relationship. This is the biggest time when a relationship can get stuck in a rut.
In the beginning of the relationship, you wanted to pay more attention to what would make your partner smile and feel good, such as leaving a note.
Try these three steps if you feel you are in a relationship rut:
Step 1: Each day ask yourself what you can do for the other person? Yes, each and every day. That may be making dinner, helping with dinner, leaving a note, or holding the person and telling them how much you love them and care about them. It can be as easy as a compliment or a romantic touch. Ask about their day, or engage in a conversation. These things remind us of the connections that we had early in the relationship. If both partners actively ask that and act on it each day, the relationship will begin to flow smoothly. It takes an active engagement in the relationship to change it.
Step 2: Positive, positive, positive. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.
Not, “I don’t like when you…..” Try “I love it when you help with the dishes.” Positive talk from both parties will create a positive environment that allows both partners to feel happy, cared for and loved. Positive-in leads to positive-out. There are times when you need to discuss certain undesirable characteristics to work through a rough patch, but talk about it then move on. Don’t stay in blame or hurt for longer than you have to.
Step 3: Play around. Try to do something spontaneous. Be playful in your relationship. Find what you have within you to create a playful relationship and environment.
People sometimes use the phrase, “Why you aren’t meeting Mr.Right.” I don’t necessarily like that phrase because even if you are out meeting people in the dating pool, you are the only person who gets to decide if they are right or wrong. It is about finding Mr. or Mrs. Right for You. And if we are being completely honest, you may have thought previous people who you dated were right for you the moment you met them. As the relationship goes on you begin to learn more about yourself and that other person. They might turn into Mr. or Mrs. Wrong for you. No one is objectively wrong or right, when we get into relationships we learn if we can stay together.
This article is not about whether a specific person is right or wrong for you. It is an article about why you may not be meeting anyone. In today’s culture of social media and technology, it is not often that we interact with other people as much as we used to. We don’t have to go into stores to pay our bills, because we can pay them on the internet. We don’t have to deposit in banks with direct deposit and bank apps. Online shopping allows us to spend less time as outside consumers, and you can even have your groceries delivered. Social sites like Facebook and Twitter keep us from connecting with other people conversationally. Technology is great for briefly catching up on the latest news, but not so great for your dating life.
What Can You Do
It might be that you see the same 20 people over and over again if you work for a smaller company. Even if you work for a large company, it is likely that you only see people from the same department. Think about if you leave the house (from a car in the garage) and drive to work. Then after the day at work, you get into the car and drive home to make yourself dinner and watch the latest episode of your favorite show. You have only interacted with those same 20 people from work that day. You have met zero people that day; which gives you zero chances to meet a potential partner.
Now, if you take public transit or grab a friend to go out to lunch, or go to a place to eat after work; you have just given yourself 1-3 opportunities in just one day to meet someone. That means that out of the 52 weeks in that year, you can give yourself 260-780 instances in which you can meet a partner.
Or Try These
- Change up your routine. Go to different grocery store or work out at different times. The same people at the gym at 5 pm present the same dating opportunities. Mix it up to see what the gym holds early morning or what shopping late at night might offer you.
- Forgo technology. Go to the bank, shop at the store, and even leave your phone in your pocket in public. You are unapproachable when you are walking and texting at the same time. Every time you can immerse yourself in people gives you more and more opportunities to meet someone.
- Take a class. Not in school anymore? Take a class; and make sure the ratio is to your benefit. Women take a welding or building class, men try for cooking or pottery. Sounds ridiculous, but you might be the only female in a room of 20 men; half of which statistically will be single.
- Move from the small town. Do you live in a town where “everybody knows your name” ? If you want to branch out and meet people, maybe the small town isn’t for you. If you don’t want to move, traveling 45 minutes to an hour can give you new scenery including new potential dating partners.
- Stop locking and dropping. This is locking yourself into a dating situation where the other person is waiting to meet someone else before they drop you. If you are locked into dating one person who just isn’t real or serious about the relationship, it is time to remove him or her from your dating life.
- Boys and Girls can be friends. Yes they can be, but hanging out with the opposite sex all the time will make it impossible for other people to know you are available, even if your Facebook status reads “single.” Remember that no one can read your profile when they are having a conversation with you.
You have many opportunities to meet potential partners but you may first have to embrace some change and commit to meeting new people.
Are you mad at me, is the relationship equivalent to the kids yelling in the back of the car, are we there yet? It is the annoying question that gets inserted when we are not sure what our partner is feeling.
For some reason, this phrase has become the go-two when we want to spark a conversation with how our significant other is feeling. I would also venture to say that 90 percent of the time the answer is going to be “no”. Even when the person is mad at you, literally, they will say no. It feels like it is a trap. It is confusing, for everyone. The person asking the question is, more than likely, directing their feelings of inadequacy towards the other person. Not inadequacy as a person, but inadequacy in communication. As we partner together in relationships or marriages we go through a huge learning curve on what the other person is feeling. Even after that curve has been met, we spend ample time getting to know the other person throughout the relationship.
So why even ask the question? You are waiting for their tone and demeanor, not actually the answer to the question. Try to wait and watch their tone and demeanor in normal conversation. After you gather the appropriate amount of information and consider that they possibly are mad (or sad, upset, tired, preoccupied, or hundreds of other emotions that we as humans may feel), then maybe offer your listening and insert something like; Babe, how are you today? How was work? How was school? All these questions provoke conversation; the person will begin to discuss the day with you and eventually some type of emotions will come out and they will also divulge who those emotions were directed at.
You are making a lot of assumptions when you even ask if a person is mad. You are making a tremendous amount more when you insert: at me? Of the many emotions that we can feel as humans and the thousands of people in our lives that we can feel them at; maybe we can corporately and consciously try to leave this phrase out of our relationships.
In a relationship, we develop many words or actions that we only share with the other person. It is the language that both parties make up all their own; may include sarcasm, baby talk, or funny somethings. An example is ours (my boyfriend and me) became, “Are you sad at me?” It was a funny way for us to develop our own way to talk to one another. We understand that the phrase is not literal and we joke and talk between one another. Develop and alternative with your partner to replace the dreadful question, “Are You Mad at Me?”