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.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Today is that day. It’s the day that people exchange gifts, cards, flowers, candies, and cute and cuddly teddy bears. Today is the day that third grade boy buys his first Valentine’s Day gift for his sweetheart. He mulls over the aisles at the local Target looking for the perfect way to tell his first crush that he thinks she is special. It is the day that he gets butterflies in his stomach, hoping that he makes the right decision. It is the day that she waits for his call and lights up when she hears his voice on the other end.
It is also a day of cynics. It is a day where the jaded remind us that we are crazy and they are single. It is the day that eyes roll and people scoff. But why? I understand if you are displeased with the commercialization of the Holiday, but the same can be said for many Holidays today. So why so much hate for VD? I mean, it’s a day to celebrate Love. The cynical and jaded make the single assumption that not having a romantic interest on this Day of Hearts makes it a painful reminder that we are single. But what does being single have to do with it? This day is about Love. That love is also shared amongst family members and friends. We share in love with our children and remind them that they are special. When I was little my father used to get my sisters and I all chocolates. Maybe my outlook on this adorable day is a direct product of the idea that it was about family and not romance. Love has everything to do with it.
The history of Valentine’s Day has to do with a Christian Martyr that got into trouble for marrying couples. That background is probably responsible for making Valentine’s Day associated with love and romance. In a time when lovers couldn’t marry, they were fighting the ability to do so. Appears we are always fighting against something. So you cynical singles fight the good fight, only 16 more hours left to go. As for the rest of us, smile, cuddle, and tell them you love them.
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.
Let’s talk about relationship expectations. The expectations you have of your partner may lead to disappointment and brokenness when it comes to your romantic relationships. But don’t worry, I am not just going to sit here and tell you that your expectations are bullshit and that you are ridiculous for wanting your partner to call, to help with the dishes, or to split the bill. I am going to assist you in understanding how to alleviate the communication barriers of expectations. How are we ever going to find a resolution if we can not communicate effectively about the problem?
Couples should discuss the expectation that they have. They need to be able to communicate this early on in the relationship. Some expectations are derived from each individual. They may have come from pressures our parents put on us or from past dating experiences. However, some expectations are created within the relationship. When a couple first gets together they are excited to be sharing in one another. They might talk on the phone every day and this expectation is one that is created by the couple in the process of engaging in the relationship. If this stops suddenly, there may be some discrepancies in how both parties feel about it. It is important to know and understand which expectations were mutually created and which are individually brought into the relationship. This way you can get a better idea of how to properly handle each expectation.
I will utilize an example so we can process the helpful responses we will discuss later. Sally wants Harry to text her on Tuesday because he is out of town for work. Harry called her when he arrived to his hotel on Monday night; they chatted, said goodnight, and went to bed. On Tuesday, Harry got busy with work and had dinner with colleagues, so he called Sally late in the evening around ten p.m. Harry did not text or call during the day. Now they are on the phone and at this point Sally is already irritated because she was hoping to hear from him during the day since he is away on a business trip. Harry is unable to understand why if he spoke with Sally on Monday night and again tonight why it is such a big deal? So Sally goes on about how Harry doesn’t care and Harry tries to explain that he does. He gets defensive and she came into the conversation angry. Inside he feels like he failed and inside she feels like she isn’t cared about.
It becomes a dance that we see all too often; and honestly, it is normal in the context of a relationship. Especially in the beginning when we are learning about one another’s needs. If this type of behavior continues as the length of the relationship progresses and the parties are unable to communicate about it, we have to ask ourselves, why? We have to consciously make the decision to do something about it and not just blow off the other person.
Not to make it a battle of the sexes, but woman often verbalize and hold onto their expectations more. Men are like, Meh. They can passively get through the small expectations. The woman handles it with anger or sadness which makes the man feel like he let her down. There is nothing worse for a man than the feeling of failure or disappointment. It is ingrained in the man to be able to care for the needs of others in specific ways. If he feels like he failed, withdrawing is often the easiest response to an angry woman. The easiest response for the woman is anger when hurt is what she really feels.
In the story of Sally and Harry here are some helpful examples of alternative responses:
1. Sally could have sent a text to Harry and said “Hey sweetie, How is your day going?” If we have an expectation for someone else to do something, the easiest solution is to do it ourselves. (Starting with a pet name always creates positive energy.)
2. Sally could call and leave a message or verbalize to Harry that it was her fault that she is upset since she had the expectation for him to call. But maybe in the future he can make sure to have some form of contact during the day when away? (This is formed as a question because it is important that our partner have a say in the resolution and that we are not just demanding something.) Sally is openly communicating a need and placing the burden on herself rather than her partner. This can help the partner to feel empathetic rather than defensive.
3. Sally can self-reflect. Understanding why we need a certain behavior out of our partner is important. Sally may have had a negative past dating experience with a previous partner while away on a trip. It is important to discuss this with our partner, but also to take additional time to ourselves to reflect on how we might be able to change this expectation since it was not created in the current relationship.
If these don’t work because there is still defensiveness and anger even when just trying to communicate a problem, it might be time to look into couple’s therapy and have a third-party reflect with you on some good solutions and tools. We get our cars serviced. Relationships are no different. If you want it to “run well” you have to take care of it.
When is an expectation reasonable or unreasonable? How is this even decided? This type of reflection and answer is a process. I believe that I personally didn’t understand the expectations that I had for partners until I had personal therapy combined with experiences in dating. There has to be some self-reflection and self-awareness that takes place if we are going to change patterns that sabotage our relationships. Expectations can disrupt a relationship if not handled correctly.
If you are the type of person that doesn’t take constructive criticism well, you might find it difficult to self-reflect. You will be more defensive at the thought of changing something about yourself instead of being humbled by the opportunity. I urge you to do the same type of reflection and allow yourself to let that self-critic go. It is beneficial to be able to change difficult or unwelcoming patterns so you can have successful romantic relationships. Ultimately in successful relationships, partners need to be able to meet one another’s needs or expectations to a reasonable level. The environment of the relationship should feel like teamwork. When it doesn’t feel like teamwork bitterness and frustration come in. It is only fair that we partner for the long-haul with someone who is similar in nature. Specifically when this nature has to do with work-ethic which directly correlates with some expectations. I have yet to see anyone do a relationship perfectly, so we are all in this together. Relationships are hard work, but they yield the most rewarding happiness.
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.