Category Archives: Dating
“You don’t listen to me!”
“What are you talking about, I’m right here in front of you … “
Sonika and I did a presentation this week for a group of couples and singles in Sacramento. We played out a typical interaction between partners. One of the couples in the group said, “We literally had that exact same fight this week. Have you guys been in our house?”
We hadn’t been in their house:) But we have been inside their relationship, and thousands of other relationships.
The conversation went something like this:
“You don’t listen to me!”
“What are you talking about, I’m right here in front of you … “
“That’s not the point. Look at you, with your arms crossed, all stiff, you’re not really listening”
“Want me to repeat every word you just said?”
“No! You’re being all defensive, can you just listen for once?”
“So I’m not doing it right, is that it? It doesn’t matter what I do, it’s not right for you!”
“See, you’re doing it again! Making it all about you when I’m trying to tell you something about me”
“Well, if you actually cared about what I think … “
From here, you can imagine how the rest of the interaction goes. More arguing back and forth, more disconnection as each one tries to get their point across.
A simple argument like this illustrates what pretty much every person in this world does to problem solve their relationship:
They bring up an issue they think needs to change, in this example, “You don’t listen to me”.
When I’m the one bringing up an issue, I think I’m just presenting an obvious problem, in a calm and reasonable manner.
But in the ears and eyes of the recipient, “bringing up an issue” like this sounds like nothing but complaining, blaming, and criticizing.
Why do I bring up an issue? In the hopes it’ll improve our relationship. In the hopes that you’ll get my point, agree with me, and change your behavior (to one I like better).
We call this strategy Complaining For Change.
Everyone uses this strategy in every relationship. With spouses, dates, ex’s, co-workers, employees, family members, you name it.
It’s like a bad movement that went viral long before anyone heard of Facebook.
It’s the #1 default strategy we use to improve our relationships. And it consequently, always, no-exceptions-ever, backfires.
The whole strategy rests upon a fantasy. The fantasy is, if you say, “You don’t listen” to your partner, that he’ll go, “Really! OMG, I’m so sorry I haven’t been listening you to. I’m such a doofus. You deserve to be listened to all the time, and every word you speak is gold to me. I promise it will never happen again, I’m really sorry about that, I love you, baby! Tell me again, what did you want me to hear?”
But has that ever happened in real life?
We use the example of “You don’t listen”, but you can insert any other topic or issue.
“Am I the only one cleaning up around here?”
“Do you really have to spend that much money on clothes?”
“We really need to talk about the stuff in the garage!”
“Why don’t you want have sex anymore?”
“You’re going out with your friends again!?”
Or with our kids, we say things like, “Your room is a mess”, with the fantasy that they’ll go, “Oh, I’m sorry, dad, I’ll get it cleaned up right now, thanks for telling me”.
What actually does happen when someone tells you, “You never listen to me”? Do you want to listen more? Or less? What actually happens when you tell your kids, “Your room is a mess”? Defensiveness, resistance, more arguing.
When we complain for change, we make things worse.
As a matter of fact, we end up with less of the very thing we were trying to get more of. It produces the exact opposite of what we were hoping for.
“You never listen” produces less listening.
“Why don’t we ever have sex anymore?” produces less sex (Think about it, are you more or less attracted to your partner when he/she says that?)
Complaining For Change is basically a relationship tragedy.
It’s meant to make our relationships better, with more love, connection, and friendship. But instead it grinds down our love, patience, and good will and produces more of the problems we’re trying to solve.
So what to do instead?
We recommend two simple tips (granted, not always so simple to practice).
1. Quit Complaining For Change
2. Find and deliver specific appreciations
We mean #1 very literally. Just quit it. Knock if off. Don’t ever do it again.
Next time you catch yourself complaining, you’re better off zipping it and not saying another word.
Because everything you say after that point is only taking your further down a negative rabbit hole. You already know you’re not going to like where it’s taking you, so stop going in that direction.
As to #2, find and deliver specific appreciations, it’s the fastest and most effective antidote to Complaining For Change. It’s like kryptonite.
Sure, it’s not meant to fix all your relationship issues, nor are we recommending that you don’t deal with your legitimate challenges. But until you have a better method than complaining, you’re better off not talking about your problems and making things worse.
Whether it’s your spouse, date, brother, sister, anyone, find something to appreciate about that person and tell them.
Appreciations are to human beings like water and sun is to a plant. Without them, we wilt. With appreciations, we puff up and shine. Delivering appreciations uplifts the other person and supports them to be and bring out their best.
More importantly, it forces your mind to look for something you like in your life. It gets your focus off of what you don’t like. Every time you find something specific to appreciate, you’re reminding yourself that you actually have some of what you want in your life and relationships, that it is not all crap, and that uplifts YOU.
Every appreciation feeds BOTH of you, and you actually begin to create an upward spiral of positivity in your relationship.
This appreciation practice will disappear a good bunch of your problems. Most breakdowns stem from one or both of you not feeling seen, loved, valued and appreciated. As for the rest of your issues, your head and heart will be in a much better place to deal with … anything. With love and appreciation as the frame, it is more possible to work on your challenges together or by yourself.
Try it. Many couples have saved their marriages from implementing these two steps alone. Parents have had breakthroughs with their children. Co-workers have had miraculous shifts in their relationships at work.
And then get help for effectively dealing with the genuine conflicts and problems that inevitably show up in every relationship. So you can use them to bring you closer to one another, instead of farther apart!
For that purpose, consider attending our two-day Give Yourself to Love training. It offers powerful cutting-edge paradigm shifts and practical tools for improving relationships that stay with you for the rest of your relationship life!
You can save $700 per ticket in October!
More here: loveworksforyou.com/gytl
Yipiiee, V-Day is almost upon us. Time to get the hearts out, send flowers, buychocolates, reserve dinner tables, buy gifts, and make it a special day.
Granted, some of you approach V-Day with considerable dread, either because you don’t know what to do, because you don’t have anyone to spend it with, or because you’re feeling obligated with no true desire to do anything.
[By the way, this post was inspired by our upcoming free evening, Stay In Love: Valentines Day Every Day.
Check it out here … ]
Either way, think about what’s great about V-Day. In the best-case scenario, what is it that’s so wonderful about a day like that?
Well, it’s kinda like being in love again. You make someone feel special. You go out of your way to come up with a delightful evening together. You finally go that that restaurant you’ve been thinking about. You come up with surprises! And of course, someone might make you feel very special, attractive, and loved. Can’t beat that! Just for a day, you feel a bit of magic!
Now, that’s probably a pretty good description of how your relationship was in the beginning, when you were madly in love, and perhaps still dating. You’d do one or all of the above actions for her, right? He’d come up with delicious surprises for you. Magic. For days and weeks and months, however long the “Honeymoon” lasted for you.
Sonika & I have one big quest for ourselves and all the couples and singles we work with: To have the magic and loveliness of Valentine’s never go away!
Way too often, the way your relationship goes follows this sequence in time:
Wow-I’m-so-in-Love-you’re-perfect-to-me => Wow-now-we-live-together-it’s-still-cool-but-quite-different => Wow-I-thought-it’d-be-easier-than-this => Wow-is-this-the-person-I-fell-in-love-with? => Alright-darn-it-I’ll-book-a-table-for-Valentine’s => Can-we-go-back-to-sleep-now?
Or something to that effect. I know I put that in a humorous way, but it’s not actually very funny, because it’s so sad and painful when it’s YOUR relationship.
So for Valentine’s Day, we’ll give you the simplest, most super efficient tip ever to have a relationship that has a lot more Valentine’s spirit to it!
Don’t ever stop doing what you did in the beginning, when you were still in love. And if you’re at a point where you’ve long since stopped all that, start doing it again. Just pick one thing you used to do when you first were courting, and do it again! Then pick another next week. I promise you, it’ll produce great results.
Don’t think too much about it … just pick one and do it. And never mind if it’s a week before V-Day, or a month after. Your partner won’t mind.
I just scheduled Sonika & I for a 4-week dance class (West Coast swing, if you’re interested). Yesterday, we came up with finding retreats or spas within driving distance and reserving a weekend on the first one we find.
Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to start doing again what you should have never stopped!
And if you can, come join us for our free evening, Stay In Love: Valentine’s Day Every Day.
Have you ever had a fight or disagreement with your partner, and then found yourself thinking, or saying, “We’re just not compatible! It’s never going to work out!”?
We can’t tell you how many times we hear – especially from new couples – someone telling us that they had another disagreement and it’s just “clear that it’s not working out”.
What then follows is a swift breakup, and on to the next relationship (which somehow often ends up being with someone else who’s not “compatible”)
But …. nine times out of ten, the “We’re not compatible” conversation is nothing but a distraction. Instead of dealing with the problem at hand, i.e. whatever the disagreement or fight was about, you’re now focused on the imminent breakup, and what future partner you might find who’d be better suited, and all kinds of other stuff that ISN’T the problem at hand.
Our advice to you is to never talk about breakups and incompatibility in the heat of fights or breakdowns. First deal with the breakdown, work it out. Get help from people like us if you need it. Once you’ve gained whatever personal growth benefit from dealing with the situation, and you’re calm again, then you can decide to break up, if that’s still the proper course of action. But often, once you deal and heal the situation, you’ll find you don’t want to break up, because now you’ll be feeling in love again!
SPEAKING OF IN LOVE AGAIN ….
Come check out our uplifting approach to love and relationship in person at our In Love Again free evening presentations. We have two dates scheduled, Oct 9 and 30.
Check it out and register here ….
When I find myself closed off to love and to life, my husband’s gentle presence helps me to soften and re-open my heart and my body.
By Sonika Tinker
Christian and I had been busy. Distracted. More in our heads than our hearts and bodies. It didn’t help that we had an incomplete communication in the space – nothing major, but enough to create distance between us. Our bodies had a few weird aches and pains. We weren’t experiencing much flow in our workday, either. We felt a bit flat and off. I was definitely not in my feminine receptive loving flow – more in my masculine “doingness.”
So, last night, we told the truth. Cleared the incomplete communication. Shared our respective feelings of “flat” and “off.” We looked squarely at the changes that need to be made in our business to re-energize us and free us up to do the work we love. We honestly confronted the risks we have been avoiding stepping into.
And then came time for the very much needed “sinking-into” our hearts and bodies with each other in lovemaking.
I surprisingly felt a bit of dread about the whole thing. My body was so closed that mostly I felt like I didn’t want to open. I didn’t want to melt. I could watch my mind wanting to rush out to the kitchen to eat something, to watch something on TV, to check my phone or email for messages – anything to avoid sinking and melting.
I gave in to my mind and left the room. Ate an apple and responded to an email. But I couldn’t put off the inevitable forever.
So, eventually, when it was time for bed, I put on a shirt as a sign of sorts of my guarded, un-open heart. I dared to tell the truth about my resistance to opening. I told Christian I didn’t want to open to him.
Now, thank God, I am with a man who knows my deeper yearning: to melt into love and God through our bodies and hearts in sex. To let go of resistance and be fully present. To love and be fully open in my heart.
So he doesn’t pay much attention to my words, because he is listening to what is underneath my words: “Take me.” “Make me open.” “Melt my closed heart with your love.”
And so he meets my resistance with his strong, yet gentle, persistent presence. I feel the strength of his hands and body as he wraps his arms around me and holds me close.
I push him away, but he stays with me. He kisses my face and neck and keeps holding me.
He kisses me and senses my closed lips. He tries to tease me out. But I turn away from his eyes and lips and try to hide in his chest.
He stops for just a second to see if I am serious, to check if he really should back off. I love that about him — his heightened awareness and sensitivity to my body language and non-verbal communication. His checking in enables me to feel safe. I know if I really wanted him to back off that he would.
But deep inside myself, underneath this closed heart and body, is a desire to truly open and surrender to love, to melt. So I encourage him to stay, to continue to love me in spite of my “shut down.”
He needs that reassurance to proceed. It helps him stay present, helps him know he is doing the right thing.
Quickly reassured, he keeps being there with me, relentless with his kisses and eyes and touch. He knows I will eventually open, that I won’t be able to keep resisting his love, his approaches…
And he is right.
Within minutes, I start to cry. Then sob. My whole body releases the build-up of tension and resistance in my cells through my unstoppable tears. I can feel my body relax more and more through my crying, and my heart begins to soften. He just keeps holding me, telling me it is good that I am crying. He knows that my tears are essential to my opening.
The tears eventually stop, and then I am laughing and looking at him and touching him and opening my mouth and heart and yoni to him, and he meets me there. In this sweet soft open loving powerful presence place. And in the end we are melted and soft, a puddle of love, laying in each other’s arms.
We appreciate God and each other, for this delightful place of love and softness and strength and presence where all is well and good and right….
It never ceases to amaze me how I need to cry to soften myself out of masculine and back into my flowing easy open feminine heart. If he didn’t stay with me—if he took my resistance personally and stopped and turned away—I would never get to drop down into my tears and melt. We would never get to wash away all of the “disconnect” and “re-set” ourselves back to LOVE.
How grateful I am for the transformational power of Presence. And for having a man in my life who can funnel that presence through his eyes and body and call forth the deepest parts of my love. Blessed be.
This experience is a great example of the Law of Attraction: Because we both keep our sights on what we REALLY want – love, connection, pleasure, ease, joy – we don’t allow the “offness” and disconnection to win. We go for love winning!
This article appeared in the July 2013 issue of Law of Attraction Magazine.
Exploring a new relationship with someone is both an exhilarating experience and a frightening one. Here you are opening your heart, soul and body to someone with wild abandon and love with absolutely no commitment or guarantee of any future.
There is immense possibility for creating the relationship of your dreams on the one hand, and great risk and uncertainty on the other. Somewhere, you know, without a commitment or promise, you could be abandoned or rejected and deeply hurt at any time.
There is great love, and great fear.
It is challenging to open your heart to someone so completely with no promise or certainty. The discomfort of NOT KNOWING the future that comes with the joy and exhilaration of intimate bliss can be emotionally quite unsettling. Even terrifying.
The unsure mind wants to comfort itself with knowing the future. It attempts to answer questions like, “Is this “the One”? Are we going to be together forever? Does he or she love me? Do I love them? Is this what I really want? Am I settling? Will I be happy? What about the problems we have? Will they escalate and get worse? Or improve?
Unfortunately, trying to answer these questions too soon is a huge mistake. Too often, people rush into making relationship determinations and decisions before their time. Or they try to force their partner to decide the future of the relationship before they are ready.
This focus on trying to figure out whether to marry or split up gets in the way of allowing the relationship to organically unfold. You begin and end relationships too quickly because you can’t stand to be with the uncertainty of the questions and the corresponding fear that arises.
In truth, it takes time to assess whether or not you are willing to commit and spend your life with another. It takes recurrence with someone over time to know whether or not you can trust one another to work through breakdowns as they arise and to successfully take care of your mutual needs and desires.
In fact, you probably won’t have ANY breakdowns for months, because you’re too busy being madly in love, but without breakdowns, you can’t even get to test the strength of your bond.
It is absolutely normal for this process to take a couple of years before you feel resolved enough in your relationship choice to commit to marriage.
So what do you do with all the emotional discomfort in the meantime? How do you deal with all of these unanswered questions and the fears that arise in the course of building relationship?
First, make peace with the questions – both yours and theirs. They will be there awhile. Know that questions do not necessarily mean you do not want to be together or that you don’t love each other.
Expand yourself to include BOTH the deep love you are experiencing with your new partner and the fears, concerns and questions that abound. These questions are part of the dating process.
Focus on the now as much as possible. Instead of future-thinking, focus on what is good and wonderful about your relationship, right now. Enjoy the experience you ARE having, not the one you imagine you will NOT BE having later.
Be in a mood of appreciation and gratitude for the wonderful experiences you ARE sharing together. Speak them out loud to each other. This practice will soothe your fears.
We call this “moment-by-moment relationship”. In the beginning of a relationship, really all you need to know is, “Do I want to see him ONE more time?” Then do that!
When you are afraid, feel, own and share your feelings. For example, saying, “I feel scared” will bring you closer whereas jumping into your head and trying to get him or her to commit too early will only drive you apart.
Instead of asking future questions that instill doubt and fear, ask questions that instill joy, confidence and hope. Ask questions like, “How can I express my love more today? Where can I be more honest and transparent? How would I be if I trusted the perfect unfolding of this relationship? How would I be if I knew this was my perfect partner or a divinely inspired step towards my perfect partner?”
And most importantly make sure to keep nourishing yourself outside the relationship, so your new partner is not your sole “watering hole.” Take bubble baths, listen to uplifting music, get together with friends, dance, exercise, meditate, get emotional support from a coach, keep working on your own personal development, etc. Participating in activities and engaging in practices that keep you feeling good about yourself are crucial. They will help you stay centered and expand your emotional capacity to deal with the uncertainty inherent in the initial phases of courtship.
Lastly, know that your questions will get answered over time. The old adage, Time Will Tell, has great truth. YOUR QUESTIONS WILL GET ANSWERED BY THEMSELVES! You need only trust this fact and wait patiently. Be sure to revel in the bliss and wonder of your relationship in the meantime!
Allow love to flourish and take you where it wants to go. As much as possible, enjoy the rush that comes from the unfolding of love, and don’t rush to decide where it will all end up too quickly.
Because, if you do, you may very well prevent love from growing at all.
As an additional resource for you, get the free audio we made on “The #1 Dating Disaster”.
Can you guess what the #1 dating disaster is?