Should You Be Banned From Relationships?

Should You Be Banned From Relationships?

Ok, damn it. This is just not funny anymore.

I’m going to do something I’ve never done before and hope you’ll bear with me, as I rant and then get to my request.

For God’s sake, people! If you can’t handle yourself with even the smallest bit of integrity in relationships and through an “ending”, if that is where you wind up, then PLEASE don’t get into one, until you can. Ok?

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FOR BETTER OR WORSE – “Well, how bad are we talking?”

FOR BETTER OR WORSE – “Well, how bad are we talking?”

Vows. Promises. Intentions. Hopes. Wishes. Pinky swears.

When you’re in love and swept up in the possibility of it all, drenched in the newness, the prospect of building an entire, beautiful life with this other person is wildly exciting. Individuals who swore they’d never get married decide they want the “whole enchilada!” Even stiff, traditional vows, while not actually used as much anymore, have a sweet ring to them. The mantel of “I’d do ANYTHING for you” is happily carried, along with a dreamy look.

In the beginning of a relationship, a couple naturally looks for their “similarities.” They happily make a mental note of all the things they have in common and more easily accept the differences, actually seeing them as strengths that will balance them out.

Fast forward several years, a thousand miniscule incidents and enough time spent with the blinders off dealing with “real life” and most couples feel smacked hard up against the head, their mouths left gapping wide open, staring at the stranger that lives under the same roof.

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For The Love of Dirty Talk

For The Love of Dirty Talk

Ok. I succumbed. I’m finally tackling the topic of “sex talk”, or “dirty talk” in bed, so here we go! Honestly, I’m not sure why people are so concerned whether this is “ok” or normal in an intimate relationship. My guess is it’s because human beings are obsessed in general with whether they fall in the “normal” category concerning almost anything. As a Relationship Coach, I’m asked regularly for my opinion on what the “normal” amount of sex is to have during a week. Or month. Or year. Who cares how much sex everyone else is having? (By the way, if they’ve been a relationship for a while, they're not having as much as you think!) If you and your partner are feeling good about how often you are connecting, then how about you call it good?

So, let’s start here: Sex is supposed to be fun. Enjoyable. When it adds to deepening the intimacy in a way that compliments an already strong emotional, mental and spiritual connection, it can be absolutely amazing. Any of us that have experienced that kind of soulful, all- encompassing connection can attest to that!

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The Truth About Dating

The Truth About Dating

Why is it that so many people who are getting back into the “dating world” seem to have such a miserable experience, while others talk about the process as if it were an exciting adventure? What’s creating such a different experience? Is the individual’s last involvement in a relationship affecting their attitude? Is fear keeping them armored up enough that they can’t actually enjoy themselves? Or are some people simply “unlucky”, coming across date after date who ranges from seriously immature or rude and self- centered, to someone who’s “quirks” are not the funny, endearing kind, but instead leave you scrunching up your forehead, asking “What the hell was that?”

All of these things can certainly play a part in whether you enjoy the process of dating again, but being “unlucky” is rarely what’s going on. The personal work that an individual does at the onset to ready themselves for what truly can be a fun, “adventure”, is the key to not only enjoying meeting new people, but to having a fun, flirtatious time that opens the door to the possibility of something deeper.

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The Yoga of a Non-Resistant Ending

Letting go of relationship

Allowing. Have you noticed that we, as human beings, tend to struggle with non-resistant endings in our lives? Pretty funny, this “struggling” with “allowing.” Or, not so funny, when we consider the pain we experience from holding on tightly to something.

If you are on any kind of personal, spiritual or yoga path, you are coming up against this principle regularly. That, and butting up against the word, “acceptance.”

Ouch.

Where I notice this painful struggle, over and over in my Coaching practice, is with endings. Certainly endings of any kind, but especially as a love relationship ends. Nothing creates more angst and internal pain than not allowing a true, complete ending to take place when you know that a love connection is complete.

You may be saying “It’s over” and taking steps to break daily habits and routines that the two of you had, but what does it look like to not fully “allow” for a deep, cleansing finish to wash through you and all that you had together? In my experience, both personally and with clients, these are some of the key ways that we keep ourselves from accepting a true ending and end up prolonging the pain for ourselves:

  • Keeping the texting going around “details” that you think need to be worked out, talked about or decided. Cover things immediately and then let the rest go. If you are actually divorcing, you’ll certainly need time to flush all this out. But if you are in the midst of a breakup with a boyfriend/girlfriend, you can wind things up quickly. Do it. The “I need to talk to you about this thing” is just a way to keep a connection there. And that means more pain for you.
  • Obsessing about something to send them that will not only convey your pain, but possibly make them miss you and consider getting back together. I had a client who spent two full days, (yes, 48 straight hours!) going through YouTube music videos so she could send the perfect one that would hook her BF back in. It didn’t. Catch yourself as you start to hunt for the card or graphic or quote that will spark something between you again. If it’s over, then be brave and allow it to be.
  • Rewriting history. Or, selective thinking. Look, your relationship is over for a reason. Whether you ended it or he/she did, there were specific reasons that more than likely had been surfacing for a while. You knew clearly what those things were as you were doing this relationship dance! You talked about your concerns with your friends and asked yourself regularly whether this was going to work or not. Maybe you even wrote out a classic, “pro – con” list to try and get some clarity on whether to stay or go! Funny, how once the decision is made, all we focus on is what worked well, what we loved about this person and the many things we will miss. Get your journal out and write the 3 key reasons that this relationship is D-O-N-E, done. Then look at it every time you waffle until you feel a healthy detachment settling in.
  • Let’s be friends. Ok, this one will tank you every time, so listen closely. There are reasons that you or your partner have decided this cannot be a wonderful, conscious, satisfying relationship. The best love relationships are based on a solid friendship. If you had enough problems together that staying in love with not possible, there is a huge chance that remaining in a healthy friendship won’t work either. I want to be clear. I’m not saying it never works, and I myself, couldn’t be any closer now with a former husband. But what is required to even know whether that is possible down the road, is a full and complete ending now, in which the emotional connection is severed and both of you have gotten on with your own lives!
  • Allowing the wrong thing to “anchor” in your heart – loneliness. Allowing and acceptance are key components to a clean, complete relationship ending. And what, exactly, are you attempting to allow? The truth, to settle deeply around what was not working. Your heart to grieve the ending. The allowing of a full emotional separation from this person who your heart was connected to. And allowing time, space and self-nurturing to take place so that you can walk to the edge of hope again and begin painting a beautiful picture of where you are headed and what kind of person you’d love to share that vision with!

Most people know that I’m a bit obsessed with discussing the need for all of us to continue to grow our “emotional maturity” so that we can not only attract a conscious, loving relationship, but add to the health and healing of our communities and world. Mature love includes the ability to be able to “hold your own hand” as a love connection ends and to be courageous enough to sit with the loss and pain, until it is fully transformed.

Allowing. Take the gentle road, my friends.

(if you are interested in a deeper discussion about how to grow your emotional maturity, grab this!)

How Texting and Sexting Can Kill Your Relationship

How Texting and Sexting Can Kill Your Relationship

Texting and Sexting. You knew this post was coming.

Anyone who has known me for half a second knows of my aversion to the phone in general. Pretty much all of it. Texting. Calling. Constant notifications. Siri. (Come on... she actually announced to me from my purse one evening, "I think, therefore I am." Can you blame me?)

Those long, drawn-out calls with people you love, just to catch up? Not so much. I had to "process" with my friend, after she pinned me in the car on a recent road trip, about how I won’t call her regularly. Then she made me pinky swear to call her twice a month. Gotta love BFFs.

Facetime? No thank you. I don’t care to sit staring at each other's distorted faces on a tiny little screen. And talk. On the phone.

Texting. Really? How impersonal can you get? Not much more than that.

So while this Relationship Coach readily admits that the phone is not my "friend", and at the same time, that I sit on it for large chunks of time with clients, this brings me to my point; the deadly connection between texting and relationships. More and more, I find sessions with clients turning to "texting" issues and the countless problems being created from it. So let’s talk about some important "Do’s and Don’ts" that could help you stay out of trouble as you navigate this thing called Love:

DO text someone you just met to make an initial connection. Keep it short and light. Flirt, banter, see if he/she engages. Remember this, though: It may mean absolutely nothing. Really.

DON’T do this for weeks! If you’ve gotten what feels like a "go ahead" signal guys, ask if you can call, then do. Women, if he keeps texting, say you'd like to move it to a call and offer him your number. If he won’t make the shift, you might have dodged a bullet with a person who was hoping it would turn into some mindless "sexting."

DO text now and then as a quick way to reach out and connect if you are starting, or are in a relationship. Keep it simple, to the point and remember, punctuation can help get your mood across. "K" -vs – "Ok! That works!" Be warm and kind, even in a text.

DON’T rely on texts to be your main form of communication. You are playing with fire here, if you do. Unless your goal is to come off as someone superficial, lacking in maturity or you enjoy the tension of knowing that at any moment, the brevity needed in a text can leave information misconstrued, then don’t get lazy. Pick up the phone or wait until you are together in person. Emotional connection is strengthened by all forms of contact, but intimacy is deepened by heartfelt connection that requires being together.

DO discuss, if you are in a budding relationship, what kind of contact with "formers" works for both of you, when it comes to the phone. I can’t tell you how many times clients have hit a serious crisis point, simply because one of the parties thought answering or shooting off regular texts to their former loves was "no big deal." While they wouldn’t have actually gotten together with them or even sat on a call, the impersonal feeling of a text felt fine. Uh... if a text feels so impersonal that it feels "fine", then why are you wasting your time?

DON’T use texting or sexting as a way to soothe yourself, distract yourself from uncomfortable feelings or to fill your time because you’re bored. Come on. Seriously. Put the phone down and either deal with what is in front of you, or go engage in something meaningful.

DO use sexting if you are in a relationship, have tons of meaningful time together and are hoping it will increase the feelings of intimacy and closeness with your partner. It can be a great teaser and prelude to a wonderful evening, along with a life saver for couples navigating long distance relationships. Although, again, deepening that connection by hearing your lover's voice on the end of the line can be much more powerful.

DON’T assume that constant texts sent back and forth between you translates into something meaningful or even that the person is hoping the connection will go somewhere. It doesn’t. Trust me. I hear regularly that people simply don’t know how to tell someone to stop texting so much, are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings by not responding or that they are doing nothing more than enjoying the ego boost it’s giving them. Slow it down and see what naturally unfolds. If you aren’t blowing up the person’s phone and they then, aren’t texting you, you have some important information!

The wisdom here?

Your phone is not necessarily your best friend in the world of relationships. Put it down regularly and risk opening your heart to a real conversation, a real connection and the possibility of real intimacy. It’s worth it.

Let Your Love Be Obvious! | Conscious Relationships

Let Your Love Be Obvious! | Conscious Relationships

One of the things I’ve found after years of  coaching  my clients to have more satisfying, conscious relationships is that there is a tendency to overlook the obvious!  I’ve seen this in my own life, when I am working diligently on anything -  breaking an old habit, working through a loss or instigating a deeper, more intimate connection with my partner.  We can focus so intently on the specific “steps” in a new book, various “techniques” to try or get immersed in a new idea or concept and implementing it,  that we can overlook the powerful, simple actions that arise organically out of being present, in the moment! This really hit home last month while working with a client who is re-committing to her marriage.  I say re-committing because last year, she was ready to throw in the towel and her husband was doing everything he could to reconnect with his wife, including hiring a Relationship Coach. While most of my work was with the husband to help him begin really “showing up” in the marriage in a way that sparked the emotional connection again, now and then she would decide to get on a call with us and be open to suggestions or exercises they could try.  Sex had become challenging because she was not “feeling” the kind of loving connection she remembered they’d once had and he was in the habit of bouncing between begging, nagging or getting furious and heading downstairs to cool off.  Obviously, none of that was working for either of them and through the Coaching, they came back together in a very genuine, warm way and off they went!

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when the wife called me to schedule some sessions again, more as a “tune up” she said, since things were going well.  They had hit a few bumps over the holidays and the wife, with her renewed commitment and positive attitude, had wanted to be proactive and see how I could help them get back on track.  She shared that most of the issues were related to sex again and that they had fallen back into some of the same patterns.   It was getting harder for her to want to be intimate with her husband because there was no transition between the dry evening activities to feeling “sexy” and ready to hop into bed! Her husband was back trying all the things we’d discussed but it was not helping with their physical relationship.  The gap was widening.  I felt like I was missing something.

After finally asking her to describe a normal day for me, from the alarm going off in the morning to when they both landed in bed together at night, what was obvious to an outsider was being missed by both of them.  This couple knew the big things to watch for, like making sure they all ate together as often as possible, leaving work at work, and asking about each other’s days.  But in the midst of me listening, I suddenly realized that this couple, though trying to implement a plan of action, had stopped doing all the small, obvious things that create kind, loving connection with each other, in which their marriage could thrive!  As he left for the gym in the morning, there was not even a goodbye, let alone a “Have a great day!” or “I look forward to seeing you tonight!” When he came home from work each day, she and the kids were in the kitchen cooking and doing homework.  She never stopped for even one second to greet him, give a warm embrace or a kiss hello!  There was literally no re-connection made other than with the kids, who clamored for his attention.   Here they were, scheduling regular date nights, trying to work as a team, knocking things off their Life Lists that they had created together, working on a relationship “vision”, but on a day to day basis, they were going through the motions, emotionally disconnected, yet focused on what next “steps” they could take to get closer!

Thriving in your relationship does not mean just knocking out a list of action steps or implementing relationship skills and tools that you’ve learned.  I hear daily, from both clients and friends, that it’s the small things that they remember fondly when they think back on their journey together and what they miss the most.   Start here, and let these simple, maybe obvious reminders open the door to the deeper connection you are striving for:

  • Be kind.    You did this when you began dating and trust me, it’s what the majority of my clients in relationship crisis tell me they miss the most.  Before you open your mouth ask yourself, “Am I leading with kindness and does my tone and body language reflect that?”
  •  Be present.   We hear a lot about this, but what does it really mean? With another person, it means letting go of all the chatter in your head, the constant thinking, the agenda you are trying to push and to open yourself up to the here and now... not what happened earlier in the day, not what you still have to do tonight, but fully - right – here – now.
  • Listen.  Like you used to when you were dating, remember?  Your partner does!  I hear regularly how couples could talk for hours and had been listened to in a way that left them feeling cared about and appreciated for their opinions and thoughts.  Hmmmm.
  • Show affection daily.    The small, obvious things.  You used to do them because you couldn’t keep your hands off each other!  When you talk, look each other in the eyes.  Touch her arm, stand close, put your hand on his leg, rub her feet while you watch TV, hug him when he walks by just because, kiss hello and good bye and watch for a million other ways you can let your partner know you love them through kind words and touch.
  • Take care of yourself and your grooming.  Really.  When I say the “obvious” gets lost many time with couples who are working diligently on having a great relationship, this one comes up more times than I can count!  You showered when you were going to see each other or be intimate.  Do you now? You thought for a minute (or hours!) about what you were going to wear and how to look your best.  Are you throwing on those grungy sweats every single night now?  Is there weight to be lost, a dental appointment to be made, personal grooming that needs to be ramped up?  Be honest with yourself – not only does it make you more appealing to your partner, you will give yourself a boost by feeling good about taking care of yourself.
  • Be a WE.  You may think this one is really obvious and that you are doing it simply by being together, but again, getting away from having the sense that they are a “team”….a “we”…..is what my clients in crisis are struggling with.  You can work diligently on your relationship, go out regularly, schedule time for sex and do all the many things that you hope will add to your connection, but if you don’t act as a real team, including having your mindset reflect it,  you’re going to just go through the motions and your emotional connection will continue to spiral down.  Pass everything through the filter of “Is this in the best interest of the relationship?” and see what a powerful shift that makes in you feeling like a “we!”

My couple committed to shifting their focus for the next 60 days to bringing back these small, simple, “obvious” things that had gotten lost over the years.  Interestingly, the wife was shocked initially at how challenging it felt for her to begin reaching out in affectionate ways.  The husband was amazed to realize how unkind he was being by not working toward closeness, then expecting sex.  Last week, they shared that 3 out of their 4 kids asked them separately what was “going on?” and why they were so “mushy” together.  Let your love be obvious!