Not The Usual Love Story

If I told you I was going to tell you a love story, would you feel a champagne bubble of hope rise in your chest? Or would you hear a voice, husky w/ cigarette smoke (cue 40’s movie actress) saying: “Great, just what I need….more fairy tales…” Maybe you’d experience both – the expectation and the cynicism.

There’s a Yes and there’s a No in most of us about love.
We want the understanding, mutual support and cherishing, the belonging and sense of purpose. We want someone to split the burrito with.

But there’s also the stuff we don’t want that’s come along with love before, the stuff we’ve had more than our share of. We tell ourselves: Never again! I’m done with that!
If this sounds familiar, I have a question for you: What do you tell yourself you’re done with?
What don’t you want any more of this time around?

In workshops I’ve taken polls – here’s some of the things women swore to:

No more liars.
No more guys who’re afraid to commit.
I don’t want any more fights that go nowhere.
I won’t stand for cheating.
I won’t stand for being put down again – subtle or in my face.
I’ve had my last relationship with a Narcissist.
I’ll only be with a man who let’s me know he loves me.
I’m not going to live with anybody’s addictions.
He’ll have to be able to listen. Really listen.
I’m not going to be controlled by anybody’s insecurity again.
No more compromising on physical affection – I give it, and I want it returned.

There’s more, but you get the picture. There’s a lot at stake in avoiding the problems that pushed us out of past relationships. (Our happiness, our health, sometimes even our safety.)

But, Do you have some surefire way to make sure those problems don’t crop up again? Usually that’s harder. Sometimes, not knowing how to protect yourself from the misery of a bad relationship, or a devastating breakup, keeps you from trying again.

It might get you experimenting with halfway measures that don’t satisfy you in the end, like:

– “keeping it casual”
– the perpetual long-distance affair
– dating people who are already attached
– spending time with people you know you’ll never really love
– being with someone you love, but who you know you cannot build a life with

The world may judge, friends might worry, but you’re conducting a stealth experiment with the universe. This is what I think is being tested: Is there a way to get enough of the good parts of love, without the risks? This is a key question we’ll be exploring over time in this blog. But for now, let’s just notice that, even though you long for your own “happy ever after” story, you might have some well-earned doubt about it too.

Stuck between hope and fear.

The problem is, you can end up doubting that there’s any way to get unstuck.

Well, I’m here to tell you that there absolutely are ways to have a different and better relationship than you’ve ever had before. But it can be hard to know what and how to change your romantic “fate” on your own, whether that’s changing the kind of partners you choose, or changing yourself as a partner, or (usually) both.

In my clinical work over the past three decades, I’ve noticed one of the first things that gets in the way of change is telling yourself you shouldn’t get or don’t need any help.

If you’ve been trying on your own, or trying with help that hasn’t given you the results you want, I invite you to stay tuned for the next blog.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. What won’t you stand for anymore in relationships? What halfway measures have you seen or tried to protect yourself in love?

© 2017 Gail Weiner
All content is property of Gail Weiner. For permission to reproduce any part, contact: gail@datewisenow.com

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What Derails your Happy Ending?

Stories that Derail your Happy Ending

The stories I’m going to talk about today might be called pre-love stories.  These are tales we weave about why we shouldn’t-wouldn’t-couldn’t get help in our pursuit of a great relationship. Despite a massive dating-industrial complex devoted to turning singles into couples – with ebooks, visualizations, podcasts, webinars, dating sites, tantric yoga retreats, etc, etc, etc – the divorce rate hasn’t gone down, the percentage of healthy relationships hasn’t gone up (btw, that’s about 25% of them).

So on the one hand, we’re swimming in a sea of romantic advice.  On the other, getting help with your love life isn’t necessarily trusted.  Some ways I’ve heard people talk about their hesitation to work on romantic challenges:

1) Relying on your inner circle:  “I have friends and family I can talk to .  They know me, so they’re the ones to help me figure out what’s going wrong, and what to do about it.” The problem is, even if they have a great relationship themselves, their recipe for happiness isn’t likely to be the same for you.  Though we humans all  have a bedrock need for love – the particulars of what we need in a mate are idiosyncratic – related to our family histories, temperament, attachment needs and values. Your inner circle of advisors may be wise, and want the best for you, but probably don’t grasp how your particular psychology works (and might sabotage you) when it comes to love.

2) Thinking I can or should do this myself”:
Most of us have hoped that we could jump online with a cute profile and the rest of it would take care of itself.  But you might want to consider a different approach if your plan hasn’t given you the results you’re after. Do you suspect there’s something getting in your way? Do you want clarity & support to jump start your success?
Most of us have blind spots – a trained eye can save you years of trial, error and frustration.

3) Feeling like you are beyond help:  “I’ve read every self-help book there is, gone to trainings and classes. I’ve worked hard at this!  Other people just seem to wander into good relationships, and I’m still alone, or with the wrong guys.  Maybe I’m just destined to be single.”

A lot of people get discouraged after putting in effort that doesn’t translate into real change. But most standardized programs to “find love” are missing something.  You might get some valuable ideas, and some insights, but …
There are two big drawbacks to programs that rely on a general curriculum, w/out 1:1 work.

  • The problem, and the solution, is that WE ARE ALL UNIQUE. Whatever might be true about love in general, we have beautifully varied psychologies, needs and gifts that need to be taken into account. Broad patterns have to be translated and tested against what’s true for you.
  • In my experience, a limiting pattern often takes sustained, individual attention to dissolve – including real- world practice and collaboration with an expert. It’s one thing to understand something, it’s another to discover your keys for changing it. 

4)  Being disappointed in prior therapy:  “I’ve had years of therapy, and my life is better overall, but here I am, still wanting a partner. “  Even very good therapy may not resolve all the blocks that come up around love.  It’s common for a first round of therapy to help someone feel better, work better and improve their relationship with themselves – but romantic intimacy is often the last psychological knot to untie.  The ways we love, and hold ourselves back, the unconscious puzzles we try to solve through coupling, the unique issues of sharing our bodies, and daily lives, are rooted in earliest – often pre-verbal – experience, and in our deepest needs.  It may be that the work you’ve done in the past is exactly what was needed for you to be ready now, to dissolve the final barriers to love.

5) Faith in “the universe”:  “When the time is right” or “When I’m really ready, love will just happen.”  Well…maybe…but that seems like an iffy proposition.  Like a rain dance, there are rituals that may put out your desire to the universe, signal your readiness to be drenched in the life-giving waters of love.  But this approach begs the question: what does real readiness for love mean?
There’s a woman I’ve known for twenty years who I run into now and then.  Every time we meet I’m struck by her charm, originality and warmth.  Every time she firmly states that she is, finally, ready for love – and so – because she knows she’s truly ready now (not like last time, when she only thought  she was ready), she’s sure it will happen.
I would love to see her have the relationship she’s been wanting all these years.  But I’m suspicious of a sentence like “It will happen.”  ( shout out to English buffs: it’s not called “passive construction” for nothing.)

For me the real question is: How do we evolve from hurt, disappointment, shaken self-esteem or unconscious patterns into self-awareness, accurate perception and emotional resilience – the signs that actually predict and create lasting love?

Stay tuned.  This is one of the issues we’ll be looking at in future blogs.

© 2017 Gail Weiner
All content is property of Gail Weiner. For permission to reproduce any part, contact: gail@datewisenow.com

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Being Yourself Online: A Primer

A long time ago when I was single, I went to a dating workshop held by a local ‘guru’. He was advising me on my online profile heading, that title next to your picture.  Mine read: Warmth & Backbone.

“Drop the backbone,” he said, ”it skews…Masculine.”  I considered whether he’d made a valid point, enlightening me on “the” male perspective, or if he was just peddling stereotypes. After mentioning how appealing it is for a woman to have a clean, orderly home (and car), and suggesting the best times for getting the dishes done, it became a smidge clearer.

This “expert” had no idea who I was, what kind of man would be right for me, and who I want to weed out.   Any seal of approval from him would be stuck fast to the kind of relationship I’d run from, screaming. (hmm…where ever did I stash my Windex and stilettos…..)

Having backbone, I kept that line and proceeded to date a number of interesting, accomplished men – including the one I’ve been with now, all these years since.

Curious, I asked my guy what he felt when he saw “backbone” in my profile’s title.  “Relief” he told me.  “ My ex and I avoided conflict, wouldn’t fight out loud. If there was a problem we got passive-aggressive, and over time, really distant.   I was ready for somebody direct, who could take honesty and wanted it.  Maybe even somebody who was better at it than I was – I had some things to learn. More than anything, I wanted to finally get to be myself – with somebody. That’s what I hoped “backbone” meant.”

The point here isn’t that I’m perfect, or that my profile was. Only that we’re all unique. The main point about profiles is this: the best matches for us will be drawn in – not because we’re inoffensive, but because something essential in us calls to them. Your singular note reverberates through them, through all of their particularity.

We all want to be loved for who we are.  But first we have to risk being who we are, from the very start. If you’re dating online, that first encounter is your profile.  And if it’s authentic, it’ll be both honey and vinegar.

But take a look online (I’m guessing you have), and you’ll be stricken by the epidemic of blandness. Hordes swarm the beaches for a walk, untold thousands of jeans-wearers change into something black and eat by candlelight. Full lives in every direction.  No one needs a partner (g-d forbid) – and if there ever were any problems in the life portrayed, they’ve been handily solved. 

But the problem now is that your potential mate is both catatonically bored and even more fixated on photos. (Over-reliance on pictures is worthy of its own post, but for now suffice it to say….)  Pictures can’t create enough of a GATE to do the job of profile: to dissuade the wrong and invite the right matches in.

No one wants to be the human equivalent of Muzak, right?

So what’s up with all these profiles?  Are we afraid to be unique, or do we just not know who we are?

We stay partially hidden for lots of reasons, and it’s worth knowing yours, so you can choose consciously what, when and how to reveal. Timing and context matter.

But still, if it’s connection we’re after, there’s an initial challenge to face: how to be authentic, vulnerable but not needy, and telegraph the essence of who you are.

Tall order? Maybe not.  I think there are a few easy steps you can take now, toward more authentic, connected, and joyful relationships.  It all starts with your profile.

If you’re in the Bay Area, get personal attention to make your profile shine on Saturday, 12/9, at the workshop: Light the Spark

Register Here
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/light-the-spark-make-your-dating-profile-shine-tickets-39850073643

© 2017 Gail Weiner
All content is property of Gail Weiner. For permission to reproduce any part, contact: gail@datewisenow.com)
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The Art of Self Disclosure: Profiles

The Art of Self-Disclosure in your Dating Profile

If you’ve been seeking a partner in the last decade, you’ve probably heard and had your own “war stories” from online dating, with the battle scars to prove it.  But for as many cautionary tales there are about meeting people online, how else could you find an available dating pool of thousands? Today I want to show you some common mistakes you can avoid online, and some uncommon strategies to help you meet more of the people who are right for you.  I’ll offer a concrete assist for 2 common concerns, and in #3, answer a question you may not have even thought to ask:

How do I attract the right kind of mate for me?

1) Turn your “facts” into stories.

Take this sentence from a client of mine: I grew up on a small farm in the Central Valley.    What does this fact tell us about her?  Not as much as she assumed it did.

If a fact shaped you, reflects something essential about you, show us how

otherwise delete it. Your specifics will disqualify you for some people, but they’ll pull others in closer. 

This is a good thing. You are not in a popularity contest, despite the fact that dating can bring back feelings you haven’t had since junior year. Here’s some dating math you probably didn’t learn in high school:  5 or 55 bad matches still = 0. I’m in favor of aiming a pointed arrow, and against casting a wide net.

So, instead of: I grew up on a small farm….the story of that might be:
I woke at dawn everyday to grab eggs from beneath the hens, and do the milking, barely in time to catch the bus to school. The rest of the day I spent in small rebellions, itching for the chance to turn myself into a city girl.  Happily I have, and now aim my rebellions at larger things.

Or maybe it was like this:
A proud 4-H girl, I won ribbons for my pygmy goats, and got a taste for hard work and competition. I still like the glory of a job well done, and wouldn’t mind doing it on a farm again.

Same fact, two completely different people – who are likely to, and should attract different kinds of suitors.  The ideal mate for Rebel with a Cause is not the same one longing for a Type A personality w/ (implied) more traditional values. Save yourself time at the start, and make it clear who you are.

How do I spark their interest?

2) Be specific and use sensate detail.
You’re painting a picture of your life that is an invitation, for the right person to enter.

Create a more compelling image, and richer interactions from the start.

For example, you could say, “I love to read.”  But you’d still be hard to pick out from the crowd.
Besides, this kind of broad sentiment encourages an equally broad response:
“What do you like to read?“
You’ve both been here before – in person this would probably feel like a slow start… someone peeking at their watch/phone, temperature reading: lukewarm. Second date? Not likely, unless something shifts. Neither one of you is taking your best shot here.  No one is getting to be their best self.

Instead, let’s give you more definition, so he gets to picture you in action.
For example:
“I read outside on my deck – under a sun umbrella or a blanket depending on the fog.
Lately I’m obsessed with historical fiction about regular folks (I’m done w/ monarchs for the moment). This month I got to hang out with Scottish Highlanders, an abolitionist and Cuban rum runners.”

You’ve supplied your now curious reader with a cornucopia of follow up questions, all of which lead to a more revealing and stimulating exchange. It’s easy to imagine him wanting to know:

  • So you’re done w/ monarchs – what happened?
  • Wow, I think I see a common thread through those three topics….Here’s what I’m imagining…
  • Sounds like you’re a dedicated to reading outside – what’s your rainy day plan? Would a lit fireplace be enough to bring you inside? ….(bear-skin rug, champagne, old James Bond movies, anyone?)

You’ve already offered enough entry points into your habits, values and passions to make for all kinds of entertaining banter, and create a relatively quick, deep connection with the right person.
He already sees you as one-of-a-kind. 

How do I establish the expectation of an emotionally honest relationship?

3) Dare to be explicit about what you want and need in a partner from the beginning. Focus on character and temperament, not their resume.(Remember, they want to be loved for who they are too, not just what they’ve done.)

Besides, there’s this confounding thing about uniqueness – if they’ve had experience X, the result could be Y…but it also might be Q or P or something else entirely.
So go directly for the result you’re after.  Here’s what I mean:

Let’s say you want an educated partner.  It’s probably not the diploma you long to see hanging from your wall.

So, you could mention “an advanced degree”.  But why not use a sentence to say what you think that means, the experience of being together that you’re looking for, like “an original and well-fed mind. A man who loves to talk about ideas.”
Or maybe you associate higher education with “someone who’s secure enough in their achievements to be flexible. I like a man who can take leadership in some situations, and also loves being teammates with me.”

Clients who write profiles like these, tell me about feedback they get – in initial emails, in early dating, and with their eventual partners. Here’s a sampling of the reactions:

  • You stood out from the rest.
  • It seemed like you knew who you were and what you wanted.  It was refreshing – you sounded confident.  Finally I was gonna get to talk to an adult. 
  • I got such a strong feeling about you, like we were already having this really interesting conversation – I wanted to know more.
  • I loved how open you were – your profile let me come in for a close-up.  Seemed like a good sign about how close we could be in person.

Remember, you YOU you are the greatest gift you bring your partner. 

Let your profile be a place to practice bringing yourself fully to the moment, and to them.

© 2017 Gail Weiner

All content is property of Gail Weiner. For permission to reproduce any part, contact: gail@datewisenow.com)

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Dec 9 Workshop: LIGHT THE SPARK: Make your Dating Profile Shine

Purchase tickets here:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/light-the-spark-make-your-dating-profile-shine-tickets-39850073643

Join us for a lively, interactive and very practical workshop to arm you with tools for trumpeting your glory and finding your match online.

If you’re on dating websites now, or considering it for the New Year, you want a winning self-portrait that makes every word count. Discover how to be authentically YOU online. You will be guided through a series of targeted writing exercises, so you can:

  • Find Your Real Sources of Confidence
  • Stand Out from the Crowd
  • Intrigue the Right Partners
  • Identify and Ask for What you Really Want
  • Avoid the #1 Mistake of Online Daters

Give yourself the Gift of Love this Season:
Saturday, December 9th  10A – Noon 
$25 early bird/ $35 cash at the door
For more information email Gail: gail@datewisenow.com

Light refreshments served ✷ Bring a pen and notebook

© 2017 Gail Weiner
All content is property of Gail Weiner. For permission to reproduce any part, contact: gail@datewisenow.com

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