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.
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 is Friday. I am single. So I have so many options. So many options. What about setting up an online profile so these Friday’s don’t seem so lonely? I could jet out to the local bars to harness whatever small amount of luck I have left in me? I could swipe a tinder app, or upload a boyfriend? As I sit in my living room Frosty the Snowman by Beegie Adair Trio plays in the background. My roommate makes dinner for her date, herself, and myself. The Christmas tree is lit in the corner aligned with presents. My roommate loves Christmas. I could take her evening happiness away by being a bitter single. I could scoff at every couple that passes me and snuggles with hot chocolate and hand holding. However, as I sit here, I have decided to do none of that. I have a heart of compassion and understanding that has taken years to cultivate. The expectation is to be bitter after the reason for my recent break-up, but I refuse. I refuse to be angry. I also refuse to seek out filling the void through another relationship. I was offered for one of the couples this evening to bring me a date, and I kindly declined. It was time to take a break from the dating world. I look at it like switching up your routine at the gym so your results can be better. This year launched a long line of failed dating attempts. It was time to go back to the drawing board. It was time to figure out what new self-discoveries could yield a more stable and loyal relationship. Like I always say, the common denominator in our failed relationships is us. Through weeks of sadness and honesty I have gotten to this point. Here I am single, not about to mingle. I am excited to head out tonight to see the beautiful Balboa Christmas Boat Parade with two couples this evening. I am happy to be a fifth wheel.
Being single in a coupled world seems hard. It’s really all what you make it. When did it become so complicated that we had to seek out the next partner before spending some honest time with ourselves cultivating self-love? We should wait until we have an understanding of why the last relationship didn’t work out. Being the fifth wheel has it perks. No worry about that awkward end of the night kiss. No obligations to meet or expectations that could go unmet. Spending time with yourself harnessing a new passion for life and a better understanding of love. Spending time with your friends and family. It’s really all what you make it.
In fifth grade I had a crush on Daniel Johns. The lead singer of Australian rock band Silverchair had just released Frogstomp which yielded the famous song Tomorrow. A year later I fell in love with Stephan Jenkins. Anyone who knew me in middle school knew that Third Eye Blind was a staple in my musical life. I fell in love with every album that they created after the first. As my music and dating life both expand, I understand the arts of both music notes and commitment.
My taste in music developed much like our relationships do. We check out different albums and listen to new tunes. We learn what we can enjoy long-term as we go through dating. It is by these experiences that we better understand ourselves and our relationship needs. I learned along that way that what makes a great musician and what makes a great band are not created equal. The musician is the single part in the collaborative effort of the band. Much like a single person is a part of the collaborative effort in a relationship. Successful bands that stay together for years work hard to foster the relationships of its members. Bands break up and so do people. Bands succeed and so do relationships.
It is easy to be single. When you are a solo musician you have no one whose chords or lines you have to be in sync with. It takes less effort to be single than to be in an active healthy relationship. However, the rewards are said to have significant positive impacts on your health and your life. A relationship where you whole-heartedly learn the different music style of your partner and they learn yours. Where if you work together well enough those two different songs make much better music. I am not assuming it doesn’t take work to be a solo musician, but my argument is that you learn much more about yourself in the context of collaborative relationships with others. You develop the craft to be a better self when you are among others. Our culture is praising differences and independence; which leads to negative connotations when in a relationship. Some classics are “ball and chain”, “tied down” or “locked in.” It’s as if we forget that no one forced us into an exclusive relationship in the first place, but hey, we have to fight something or someone to regain control.
There is a mentality of individuality in our culture. There is a collaborative lack of commitment. I recall hearing a friend say this about not including her boyfriend in a recent decision, “It’s my body and I’ll get a tattoo if I want.” I thought to myself for a second. That is like the band that set up the play list and one member just decides that they want to begin with another song. Why are we so afraid to make collaborative decisions? You don’t loose your individuality by respecting the opinion of your partner. However, we seem to have become a society that believes the opposite.
Are we purposely becoming a society where individualism trumps hard work and collaboration? It is time we didn’t distinguish between the two. Relationships are complicated. They might be complicated because of the different ways people communicate. Maybe they are difficult because of differences in personality. But the most predominant reason that relationships are hard is because human behavior is difficult to understand. We have a ridiculous sense of having to be right and in control instead of understanding the work relationships take and humbly accepting that we can’t always be in control; that we must consider our partners opinion and needs.
How many hours have you gone without texting your significant other? I assume that most of us will answer something less than 2 hours to this question. Most of us will never answer anything over 12 hours unless we are working, sleeping or lost our cell phone in the debauchery of our weekend shenanigans. For the purposes of this article- sleeping and working do not count for giving you high fives on being away from your smart phone.
How many minutes or hours do you go without texting your significant other or a friend back? Or how many times have you taken awhile to respond to someone and minutes later they send you a ?
How many of us have our phones by our sides when we sleep and eat? How many of us get anxious at the thought of leaving the phone at home for a whole day? The answer to these questions: Most of us. When did we become a society that had to respond immediately or had to be told not to text and drive. I recognize that we are a society of now and fast, but when it comes to our relationships the notion of right away is destroying the wonders that make relationships special in the first place.
Recall being in high school and waiting for your crush to call. Your mom or dad would answer the phone and yell into the other room, “It’s for you!” You would get really excited, your face would get red, your heart would beat and your ridiculous smile would make your cheeks hurt. You would drag the phone cord as far as you could to get a little privacy. After a conversation in which minutes felt like hours you would say goodbye. After getting off the phone you would sit, smile and dream. You would repeat this for years, but then something happen. That same boy or girl you were interested in didn’t call, they sent you a text. Something along the lines of Hi;) It was enjoyable in the beginning but still not as exciting as getting a call and hanging up. You didn’t know that someone was into you instantly by way of emoticon. The excitement lingered for weeks and months not hours or days.
You see, we never hang up with text messaging, it is this ongoing conversation that literally never has an ending. When you are in a relationship you never get the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” because you are all up in each others messaging all the time. Or if you are dating and one party decides to make it have an ending (i.e not texting back) we get confused and wonder if we did something wrong. Maybe he thought I was mad. Maybe she doesn’t think I’m funny. Maybe he doesn’t want me anymore. We make all these guesses because we actually have no idea how anyone honestly feels anymore because you can only try to interpret through messaging. The bottom line is our cell phones are ruining our relationship satisfaction because there is no excitement in it anymore. All the maybe thoughts or the anxiety that you have should only lead to one thought, I am too available which is boring. This isn’t people wanting what they can’t have, this is a genuine human response to want excitement and wonder.
Your boyfriend, girlfriend, or dating partner has access to you anytime- all the time. But it goes both ways. We can not have the expectation that people have to get back to us this second. That people have to text us no matter what they are doing. Maybe someone is busy. Or maybe they just don’t want to talk to you right now. And honestly, why is that second one not okay? Am I really obligated to talk to everyone who texts me every second that they do it? There are times when I don’t feel like it. If we were all honest, we would understand that we all feel like that at some point. Maybe they had a long day. Maybe they don’t like you. Maybe they don’t have their phone on them. Maybe they are in a meeting. Whatever the reason is, if you want to get to the point of someone sticking around and being in awe of you- you have to be a little mysterious. You have to stop being boring and available. You also have to remind yourself that even if the other person is going to be offended by not hearing back from you right away, that is on them, not you. It speaks volumes of the assumptions that they will make throughout the relationship.
I honestly hear this time and time again, “He hasn’t texted me back.” I then ask, “Well how long has it been?” Reply, “Well ten minutes.” My response is always the same. It has only been ten minutes. I am not sure what the etiquette is for response time in texting, but there needs to not even be a window. Whoever the person is, they will see the text, and they will respond to it when they damn well please. In the end, the person texts back if they want to continue to engage with you. If this is someone who you are starting to date and they don’t text back- that’s called rejection. I get it and I am not afraid to admit that it has happened to me many times. Brush it off and move on. The point is, we need to remind ourselves to talk instead of text. To be patient instead of anxious. We need to put the excitement back into our dating lives and relationships by giving someone something to miss and by us missing them.
This was derived by happenings in my life this morning. I was at the gas station before work. I wasn’t looking very sexy as I have had a cold and needless to say it is also making me a bit irritable. So I pass this guy who is with a friend and he proceeds to hang out of the driver seat window and yell, “Hey girl, what’s up.” Not only is this kind of hitting on someone completely appalling to a girl, it comes close to the behavior of a dog. You want to act like one and that shock collar might be the next best thing for you. So in a world where bad “hitting habits” take place, let’s look at the right way to approach someone you are interested in.
Let’s recap the bad. You don’t “hollar” at someone out the window of your car. You don’t yell at someone to get their attention, it’s plain rude.
So how can you talk to someone subtly and sneak in a way to hit on them? It’s about sparking up a conversation that can lead into asking someone for their phone number. If you are a social person starting conversations may come easy to you. If you happen to be shy, start trying with other people. Begin a conversation with a stranger in the grocery store and try it out. Josh Duhamel’s character, Messer, in Life As We Know It, does a great job showing how hitting on someone is an art. He hits on Katherine Heigl’s character at the supermarket. He subtly picks up an item and asks her how to say a word. She replies, that it is Acai. He compliments, “Wow you must really have an ear for languages.” She is flattered and it goes from there. So take note from Josh and try these rules of engagement:
1. Find a way in. Whether you are at a bookstore, in line at Starbucks, in a class together, or at a bar find something that you can inquire about or discuss. Ask about a book. Ask a question in class. Find a subtle way to make contact with the person without coming on to strong.
2. Compliment. After engaging in a conversation with the person about what got you “the way in” find something to compliment that goes along with it. An example is: “That book looks interesting (the way in), you must also be a great writer.” (Don’t make this compliment too much. It needs to be subtle and not too direct. You are very intelligent or you are beautiful are too vague and it lacks real motivation). It needs to equate to something more than a blanket statement you could use with anyone. Give the other person an opening to talk about themselves.
3. Don’t over do it. Be yourself. There is nothing less attractive than someone who tries too hard. Even if you are awkward and can’t get it completely right, that can be somewhat attractive in itself.
1. Always call the person the first time you want to make plans with them. Do not text.
2. Make sure to be gracious and thankful when someone else is footing the bill.
3. Don’t Facebook stalk. Get to know the person as a person, not their profile page.