Even been dating someone and you are not sure if he (or she) is into you?
We begin a relationship where our partner seems like our knight in shining armor; they listen to us about our bad day and they send flowers just to make us smile. You have that goofy smile that you can’t get rid of and you talk about them to all your friends.
Then something changes; your partner doesn’t go out of their way to do the little things they did in the beginning. They lose interest when you discuss something that is bothering you. You may have experienced this before, where the relationship changed. Unfortunately, the relationship was probably always like this. It’s time to stop pulling those petals off the flower with, he loves me, he loves me not…. It’s time to take control of the situation. Trying to understand or fix the current dating situation will likely not work and the red flags will always be present, but here is what you can do:
Self-Care. Get some exercise, good sleep, and eat nutritious meals. The emotional rollercoaster will calm down if you feel physically good.
Positive Affirmations. This experience may have you feeling less than great. Listen to positive affirmations, pick up an inspiring book, or talk to helpful friends. You need to feel good mentally as well.
You Have a Choice. You get to choose who you date. That is the best part. This can also be the hardest part. Our past experiences draw us to certain people, but our future doesn’t have to be the same.
Your Realization. If you are feeling inconsistencies with your dating partner, it is likely that they are feeling the same way. For whatever reason one or both of you are just not into the relationship. You have the realization, then you move on.
I Love Me. If the person you are dating doesn’t show up when you need them emotionally or physically, remember – you love you. Be your biggest fan and surround yourself with friends who love you and remind you how awesome you are.
Don’t Stop Dating. The unrequited love may have left a damper on your ego. However, sitting on your couch in your sweat pants is not going to help that ego dry any quicker. Get back into dating and find someone who is consistent in the way they treat you. You should never have to wonder if someone likes you.
A Message from the Author:
I am a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern located in Huntington Beach, CA. I am supervised by Jeffrey Kullmann (L.C.S.W. LCS 13661).
I believe in helping others to develop happiness and grow emotional strength. I work with individuals and couples to navigate life goals and relationships.
Please visit: www.lauriekcounseling.com to get more information or schedule a counseling appointment.
-Laurie Kjelstrom, M.A.
“A relationship is much like riding a horse: it is an action of constant rebalancing to achieve a place where both the partners are relaxed yet secure.”
Relationships take work, but here are six quick tips to make that journey a little smoother:
- Friendship. The best relationships have a solid foundation of friendship. You and your partner can learn to grow as friends. I suggest Love Maps by John Gottman, which you can find in the book: The Seven Principals For Making a Marriage Work
- Say Sorry. Saying sorry doesn’t mean that you are wrong, but it means that you are willing to be there to support and work on the relationship struggles with your partner. Repairing hurt is one of the fastest ways to maintain good balance in the relationship.
- Willingness to Grow. It is important that both partners are wiling to grow together. Sure, this may mean having to go to counseling or planning weekly dinners to talk about the relationship. But, hey, you take your car in for regular oil changes. Try my couple’s counseling class: Relationship Tune-Up and Repair to get a quick jump start on your relationship happiness. www.LaurieKcounseling.com
- Curiosity to Explore. You must meet life with the curiosity of getting to know people for who they are. Take time to explore and get to know one another. Like riding a bike, it might be harder in the beginning because you are working with one another’s attachment styles. (It is new) Be vulnerable by exploring yourselves together with openness and honesty.
- Give Kisses. Show caring support through physical affection, flirty texts, and loving calls to ask how their day was. This is a constant way to enhance the connection in your relationship. I suggest: 5 Love Languages quiz or book to learn how your partner feels cared for.
- Safety. Help one another to feel safe by showing up when your partner needs you. Never punish your partner by putting them in a time out. This will only remove safety for both of you. Attachment styles and patterns are the roots to who we are in our relationships. Check out: How We Love to understand more about how you respond and act in your relationship.
Above all, happiness in a relationship has to be accompanied by your own happiness. It is such an exciting adventure to get to share life with someone and to practice doing it well together.
As my friend and I made our way around the town of Hanalei on the island of Kauai, we ventured into an art shop and venue. Aligning the walls were crafts made by locals exhibiting the Polynesian roots that still reside in Hawaii today. I read descriptions and sifted through the artwork when I came across a card with a painting that had been reprinted into numerous copies.
The back of the card told the story of the image. The Polynesian tale was about a man named Nui. He manned a fire day and night to make sure it stayed lit for village use of cooking animals. Nui did his job, but “his vigil became long and lonely.” One night he saw a similar fire in the distance. He was curious so he followed it in his canoe where he met Pepe. Pepe was the daughter of a prophet and also watched the fire for her village. The two became friends and spent much time together. They continued to spent time together, which meant more time away from their fires. The story continues like this, “One night their fires when out. The villagers spotted this catastrophe and came storming to the shores. In great fear, Nui and Pepe fled in their canoe and never stopped. Some say they went to Palekaiko, which is also known as paradise.” I found this artwork and story to be very inspiring. It leads to some of the most important values that we find in relationships today that make them thrive:
- Being best friends
- Having admiration for one another
- Creating a shared meaning in life
- Having collaboration and not letting power turn you against one another
- Having shared values and beliefs
Cultures vary, but the connection between human beings and the active ways that relationships stay vibrant are fairly consistent. In honor of St.Valentine, Romeo and Juliet, Nui and Pepe and all the other people who had to fight boldly for love, may you continue to fight for love in your marriage and to overcome the difficult parts to cultivate the love you deserve.
Breakups are some of the hardest trials in life; they test our ability to cope with loss and stress. They are emotionally difficult. Trying not to sound too objective, I understand from experience what it is like to go through a breakup. It is hard to see any bright side at the time of the loss of a relationship, but this bad experience will lead to better experiences in the future. Until then try these ideas to cope with a breakup:
- Fake letters. Keep a journal or write out letters to your ex. Write as many letters as it takes or type up fake emails. These can release every emotion you have and express exactly what you feel without hurting anyone directly. It also keeps the person from responding because if broke up with the person, it is likely that the person was not responding to your needs in a constructive way. You don’t need a response to get the emotional release.
- Body pillow. If you are used to cuddling or sleeping next to someone, the actual object can have a significant impact on your emotional well-being. Tricking your brain with the physical can help with the emotional. Snuggle up to a pillow or two and give your brain those feel good chemicals it is used to.
- Avoid alcohol and mind-altering substances. Having a clear mind is important in getting over difficult emotional struggles. A clear mind can lessen the duration of pain. This is a good time for you to get a clear head and make clear choices.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Your friends and family are great people to reach out to. Familiar and positive people can help you push through a difficult time. Don’t isolate and reach out to your loved ones often.
- Stay occupied. Keep yourself busy. You will have time later to work through all the emotions; sitting and ruminating about a bad situation will not help you start the healing process.
- Mini-Vacation. Take a short trip and go with a friend. Clear your head and break away from the situation before coming back to begin the coping process.
Tonight marks another episode of this season’s Bachelor with Ben Higgins. As my girlfriends and I watch this episode, we wonder why all the women keep referring to Ben as their “boyfriend” or “future husband.” I mean, aren’t we in the courting stage here? The girls get upset when they see him spending time with and kissing other girls. We do know what we signed up for, right?
In light of all the awkward assumptions and drama, I would still like to engage in making predictions for the future:
The chemistry between JoJo and Ben is unmatchable. I think she will be one of the top two. My prediction is along with Lauren B.
The premise of this show is interesting; especially to watch from a social perspective. When you put one suitor in a house that is in search of love, and give them people to choose from, they are bound to find love during the show. If someone told you that as a single man, you were going to be in a house with even six beautiful women who are also looking for love; likely that you will leave the house with one of those women. Remember how The Real World panned out though. The earlier seasons were based around social issues and overcoming prejudice, while the later episodes highlighted hooking up and drinking. Sometimes less is more.
Reality tv shows make it hard for us to have real expectations of relationships, dates, and mates.
We watch these seasons unfold as the couples are taken on elaborate dates, flown to exotic locations, and even have confetti thrown on them as they kiss. It is important that we don’t let reality shows on love skew our image of the hard work, dedication, and collaboration it takes to make a relationship survive.
Ben, as a fellow Hoosier, I wish you all the luck in finding the woman of your dreams. The sincerity of your words will make a very happy Mrs. Higgins.
Laurie Kjelstrom, M.A. is a Marriage and Family Therapy Intern based in Huntington Beach, CA.
This evening will mark the beginning of 2016, as we say au revoir to 2015. But before we start making all our resolutions and mounting self-pity of the year past, let’s pause and harness happiness about the happenings of this evening. Let’s discuss the most important event that takes place right at the stroke of Midnight: The Kiss.
The tradition of kissing on New Year’s Eve has been long practiced in many cultures. Kissing in some cultures is a gesture of greeting, but America places much romantic emphasis on this lip lock. The most popular western tradition is the kiss following marriage vows. This seals the commitment of forever.
Whatever your culture or plans for this Holiday season, one thing we can all ask together is: Who will you kiss when the clock strikes midnight?
A Washington Times report from years ago concluded that 2/3 of American’s expected to kiss someone at midnight. Over half of these people said it would only last a couple of seconds.
What does all this mean?
The joy of New Year’s Eve has some people sharing an intimate kiss with a spouse, a new crush, or even an innocent bystander. However, for the other 1/3 of Americans that won’t be par taking in the passion, I urge you to take a step back to enjoy the love and happiness that fills the air. May this New Year bring you passionate hope for the coming year. May it be filled with wonder, cheer, happiness, accomplishments, love, and most of all laughter.
Remember when you were a kid? Remember when you would take the sheet off one of the beds in your house, and you would drape it over the dining room table. You would make sure all the chairs were pulled in tight after you crawled under it. You would hide and you would play in the fantastic fort of blankets that you just created.
In those moments, nothing else in the world really mattered. Freedom existed in those moments and it felt glorious. I was thinking about that this morning; free. Truly letting go of everything of the world for a period of time to reconnect with yourself. Of course, children aren’t thinking about reconnection with themselves in those moments. Children play and they don’t try to think about why; they just do.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote this about adults in his book, The Little Prince:
“All grown ups were once children…but only few of them remember it.”
This book mocks the oddities of the adult world and asks a wide reading audience to take another look at human relationships.
When we are young, it is easy for us to use our imagination. It is easy for us to take time to play and to “hide-away” from the world. We don’t really seem to mind or care what other people think, so we just take that blanket and we get under the fort we created.
As we become adults, we begin to care what other people think. We have trouble with our imagination. We have trouble allowing ourselves to “hide” when we need to get away; when we need to escape; when we need to recharge. It is important that we recognize when we need to connect with a world of imagination. It is important for us to “hide” every now and then. Maybe as adults the purpose of our imagination is to recharge. As Tony Robbins once put it, “We live in a box house and we go to our box jobs at our box desk and talk on the box phone then we get in the box car to go back to our box home and live a box life.”
There are times when we need to recharge, but we consistently spread ourselves too thin. We go to work all day, then we come home to take care of the kids. Then, the littlest annoyance can set us off. As adults, we insist on other ways to play. “Work hard, play hard;” which consists of vacations, drinking, active hobbies, or over-stimulating social events.
Instead of recharging in childlike ways, we “recharge” in adult ways. Our imagination becomes a thing of the past. We are unable to properly recharge because we have replaced blanket forts with wine and replaced play-time with habits. We decide we are going to go on a family vacation. Vacation is the new recharge. Then we have to pack the car, pack all the kids, drive or fly somewhere; the kids are restless in the vehicle. We get there and we have to unpack everything and the vacation becomes work. The recharge becomes draining.
So instead of taking the blanket and hiding under the dining room table or recreating an activity from childhood, we act out. We act out in frustrated when we are irritated with traffic. We use loud tones and take harsh words out on our families after a long day at work. I get it, it is not socially acceptable for an adult to take a blanket off the bed and drape it over the dining room table. But try it anyways.
I encourage you to find ways to recharge, whether that is with your family, your partner, or yourself. Take the blanket off of your bed and put in on the dining room table. Crawl under it after a long day of work, turn on a flashlight, lay there and just breath. No one is going to be able to see you. No one will know that you are doing that. Do whatever it was you did when you were little. Take the pillows off the couch and placed them on the floor. Jump from pillow to pillow, but not the floor. The floor is lava! Remember things that you did when you were a kid. Stop by the nearest park on the way home from work and swing on the swing set. Make yourself feel alive. No one else is going to do it for you. Imagination is part of what helps us recharge and get through the difficult things in life. Go for a walk in the morning before work. Talk to a stranger. Just get out of yourself and get out of your work mode for a few minutes each and every day. Live within your imagination.