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I’m over you, now what! 4 Things to consider before your next Relationship

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“There’s plenty of fish in the sea” “you deserve better” “you’ll find someone else better” “you were never right for each other” Who has not heard these quotes, while they’re well intentioned, why do they not make anything actually better? I’m not sure if this is the season for it, or why, but I keep seeing posts about people going through heart break. While I’m currently not in a relationship, and it’s been several years since my last one, there are a few things that I’ve noticed that seem to help people around me get over their loss. “Get Over” their break-up isn’t the best way to phrase it either, deal with it in a healthy way is probably a better way to look at it. The truth is a break-up will always hurt, even years after, we learn how to not let it affect us the same way. I don’t claim to be a relationship expert, or even a novice for that matter, these are just a few tools that I’d like for you to consider.

Love yourself first

A friend of my told me this a few months back and it has stuck with me since. “You want to understand yourself, not know yourself.” Meaning that knowing something is more as if you’re accomplished all that you can, while understanding is more of a evolutionary process. Loving yourself first is important because of the EGO. When I say your ego, I don’t mean the small voice that convinces you that you can lift that large obstacle, or that you can overcome anything that get’s put in your way, or that you’re more beautiful than others think you are. I’m talking about that voice that tells you “you’re not good enough” “you’re not beautiful enough” “you will NEVER accomplish that goal you set out to do.” This life as we know it is filled with both positive and negative, and when it comes to the EGO, people generally think of the positive side and forget the negative. If you’re constantly having negative self-talk, there isn’t a person in the world that will make this magically stop. Additionally if you’re looking for someone to “complete you” or “make you better” you typically aren’t confident about yourself. Loving yourself first means that you don’t let negative self-talk dictate your day. We all have those negative feelings, some people learn how not to take it seriously. Loving yourself first means that you put your well-being first, by putting yourself first you ensure that your needs are also met. What I’m not saying is to not be loving and kind to others, but imagine a scale if you will. If helping someone is going to come at a far greater negative impact to you, perhaps you should reconsider helping them. Loving yourself first means that you set realistic boundaries, that you are open and honest about your well-being, and that you don’t let others take advantage of you.

What’s your Compass

“I believe in honesty, even when no one is looking”

“I want to have 2 kids, a boy and a girl”

“I believe that my wife should have a choice whether she wants to work or not”

“I want a partner that shares my faith”

“I want a partner that will help me be a better version of MYSELF, and me HER”

My list is much longer, but those are some of the things that are important to me, and I’m looking for someone who has a similar list. Then together we can help each other accomplish our life goals, being together is mutually beneficial. I’m well aware that some couples might not have the same exact goals, but lets’ look at an example for comparison. Lets say the husband wants to be a Doctor, and he wants to help impoverished people, his wife in turn wants to be a Lawyer, who also helps impoverished people. While they don’t have the same career goals, can you see how they can still accomplish their overall goal together? He can provide medical services, while she helps with legal and equality issues for the same group of people. The two of them together can form an organization that helps people.  While this is a hypothetical couple, it illustrates the point well, they don’t have the same specific career goals, but by partnering they can help actualize their full potentials. Simply put, that person helps you accomplish YOUR goals, without diverting you from your path. By knowing where it is you want to go, you can help identify the person that will be the right co-pilot for you, given your goals.

WHY matters more than WHO

You meet someone, they’re attractive, you share a few things in common, and you also feel sexual chemistry. “Wow we have so much in common, would you like to go on a date?” While this is ok for a first date, having a long term relationship should be way more complicated than that. What are their life goals, what are their core values? Do they want to have children, how many do they want to have? How are they going to help me accomplish the things I’ve already set for my life? Have you ever broken up with someone, and then think to yourself “Wow they were totally wrong for me!” If that was the case, why were you together for months, why together for 5 years; worse yet why were you about to marry that person? Psychologist have coined the term “limerence” or “the honeymoon phase.” They both refer to the stage where you’re infatuated with someone, and it’s partly because of the chemical reactions taking place in your body. You find them highly attractive, even though you don’t share everything in common, you feel as though you do. While somethings should be red-flags, you’re willing to overlook their flaws. Scientists have said that this could last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years of a new relationship. While I’m not saying that those feelings aren’t real, what I am saying is that your body is having a chemical reaction, one in which you don’t have much control over. Forming a life together isn’t a small step, but if it’s based on only your physical attraction and sexual chemistry, you’re in for a huge surprise! At some point in your relationship, that insatiable attraction you felt in the beginning will fade, your animalistic sex drive will also fade. That is why it’s important to base you decisions on “the why” you’re with that person, that’s why your compass and life goals matter. That way your relationship won’t be based on just physical attraction and sexual chemistry.

Golden Rule of Relationships

I’m sure everyone is familiar with “Do unto others as you would like them do to you!” For simplicity, lets say that you like your coffee black, with no sugar or cream. Let’s say that your friend likes their’s with some honey, 2 sugars, and 5 creamers. If you’re getting your friend coffee, would you get it the way you like, or the way they like? If you bring them a straight black coffee with nothing in it, they’d probably spit it out in disgust. So why is it that when you’re doing something “nice” for someone you are more likely to bring them a black coffee, after-all that’s the way YOU like it, why can’t they be more thankful. While that’s a very basic example, it’s the way we tend to view our relationships. When you give someone something , you tend to give them something you’d like, and then you wonder why they never used your gift again. When it comes to relationships, I think the Platinum rule should apply, “Do unto others as they would like done to them.” Should you treat everyone with honesty, respect and love, of course you should. At the same time there are times where you have to consider their preference before you do something. This is why I believe that open and honest communication goes a long way, and why we should spend time actually getting to KNOW people. This is especially important if we’re going to be in a committed long-term relationship with them. A great resource I’ve found is learning about The 5 Love Languagesif you find that you don’t agree with anything I’ve said so far, I hope you’ll at least consider this resource. This is probably one of the biggest obstacles facing most everyday relationship, those that aren’t somehow dysfunctional.

While these are just a few snapshots of things to consider, realistically your list will be much longer. You have to consider aside from your physical attraction and a few things in common, why are they in your life? How is this person helping or deterring you from YOUR goals. If you’re planning to be in it for the Long-haul, there are soo many things to consider. The point is that you have to base your decisions on some intangible goals also. By loving yourself first you will have room and energy to devote to loving someone else, rather than learning to love two people at the same time. By looking at what’s below the surface, their values, beliefs, and life goals, you can make a better choice of who will be best for YOU. Why that person specifically, what do you have to gain by having them in YOUR life? Finally having open and honest communication about the things that matter most to you is essential, how will you communicate what’s important to you? It’s a scary thought, but do you have the courage to walk away if that is not the wisest relationship choice for you. Better yet, what if you can know this relatively soon in the relationship, so that you don’t have to experience more pain and heart break after a life together for years.

Just a few thing to consider, I’d love to hear some feedback. What’s on your list, what will you do differently to ensure that your next relationship lasts for the long-haul? Do you have the courage to ask the tough questions? Are you heading into your relationships with all your wits about you?

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Love,Sex, Marriage. A Modern Man’s Perspective!!

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These past few months have been interesting, it’s as if someone turned on a switch. For the first time, I’m really giving a lot of thought to my future. I thought that I’d take some time to reflect back and try to make a succinct thought on what my expectations are for my next relationship. At the same time I thought it would be great to look back at some of my previous thoughts, and see how they have evolved. Since turning 34, I’ve been really thinking about my future, both marriage and career. I’m not one to just jump into anything blindly, call me cautiously optimistic, I’m also the type that has to HAVE A PLAN! I know some of you neurotics will get this. Of course in preparing for this post I wrote down a few key points that I thought I should cover, but as things go, that plan quickly went out the window. Before I get into it, I wanted to make clear that I’m currently reading a book called “The Sacred Search- What if it’s not about who you marry, but why” by Gary Thomas. I wanted to state this upfront because as I was reading, I realized that many of the points I was making in my previous posts, were more succinctly made in this book. I’ll do my best at being clear about what are my thoughts and what are from The Sacred Search.

The One, a single person’s Unicorn!!

Movies and society seems to have a narrative about “The One” when you find them, they will complete you, make you feel whole, they’ll be your light in the darkness. This person posses something you lack. It’s interesting though, after a break-up you hear a totally different narrative, work on yourself first, learn to love yourself, you need to heal yourself before you move on. So of the two which is true, they’re opposite points so they both can’t be true. In Sacred Search, Gary Thomas points out a possible hurdle with thinking that “The One” will complete you. You see when you depend on someone else to make you whole, you’re coming from a place of weakness. We’re all human and have our own faults, what happens when that person isn’t physically able to carry you? What happens when the stresses of life and work are too great for them to carry, and have to carry you too? That could create a situation where that person feels too much pressure, and when they’re not able to carry you, what then, how will you go on? In contrast coming from a place of worth and self-confidence in yourself, you don’t need another person to carry you through the relationship. For me what I’ve noticed is that relationships should be Mutually Beneficial, instead of the other person picking you up and carrying you. If you’re both there to guide each other on your respective paths, if the other person is physically incapable of guiding you at a certain point, you’ll be more than capable of helping yourself. Because you already possess the strength to carry yourself, you’re also capable of helping your partner through their difficult times. Life isn’t always what we imagine, sometimes you finally get that dream job, and it’s not as you’ve imagined. What happens when the insatiable romance fades, what happens when you get to know the other person better, and they’re not everything you thought they’d be? If life has thought us anything, it’s that in most cases when you put a person on a pedestal, most of the time they don’t have the qualities you thought they had.

We just had Sex, OH I think I LOVE YOU!

I’m no Scientist or even a psychologist, but why is it that when you have sex with someone, after being intimate for the first time, or even after a few times, you find yourself thinking, wow are they “The One”? Perhaps Science can help explain this better than I can, there are chemicals that are released in our bodies. One such chemical is the hormone Oxytocin (also known as the love or bonding hormone)which is released after sex, and makes you feel more connected to your partner. One of it’s effects is the desire to cuddle, while this hormone is present in both male and female, they do effect them differently. The human body and brain are very complex, and the various chemicals released could cause a false sense of a connection that might not be there. Instead of just focusing on the strong feelings you get after sex, or in the beginning of a relationship, Sacred Search cautions us to wait until at least after the 1st year before we make any big commitments. I’ve seen first hand friends’ relationships that end, and you hear the old saying “I don’t know who you are anymore.” While physical attraction and sexual chemistry are important. A healthy sex life does more than satiate your sexual urges, it creates a deeper connection (chemically). That’s why it’s ultimately important, for the longevity of your relationship, that you’re in it for more than the sexual chemistry and physical attraction. Gary Thomas points out this is the reason it’s important to also base your relationship on deeper things such as Values, Beliefs, and Life-Goals. Ask any married couple, that insatiable sex drive eventually fades. Of course there are exceptions to that rule, you probably know of a couple that are even more intimate than when they first met many years ago.

I’m committed to you, WELL except for A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I. Besides that though, I’m totally committed!

In my naive mind, I saw a relationship as something you stick to for the long run, well that is unless you come across major differences. In that case, sure divorce might be an option. Not to get biblical or anything, but the Bible never saw marriage that way. When you get married you’re committing to stay together forever, and work out your differences. Now you’re probably thinking “What if my spouse develops or I uncover some serious problems?” That’s why asking yourself “Why am I getting married” rather than who you’re marrying is so important. Gary Thomasuggests that instead of being blinded by the Intense Infatuation you feel in the beginning, remember the chemicals in your body are automatically giving you a false sense of connection to that person. We should find out about the other person, ask questions to see if our values and beliefs are aligned. Remember it’s possible to feel intensely connected to a person, and then find out they’re verbally or physically abusive. Sadly many people still stay in these relationships. In my writing and reflection I did in the past few months, that’s the conclusion I came to also. When you make a commitment, it’s FOREVER, through sickness and health, for better or worse, in richer or poorer. People are inherently flawed, we all have our battles we’re fighting, and at some level you cant hold it against your spouse for also being broken. At the same time though, when buying a car or a house we do our research, and marriage is supposed to last longer than all of those things. We can’t be naive, we should definitely ask the tough questions, sure we may have to walk away from that relationship, and breaking up is HARD. Not to sound insensitive, but if we choose the wrong person to spend the rest of our lives with, we’re going to end up doing much more damage to both of us, and our families that have to endure those relationships.

Seriously GOD why haven’t you given me a perfect Wife/Husband Yet!

“Have I done all that I can?” “Have I put in the WORK?” These are a few of the questions I started asking myself a few months back, not just about my relationships, but about my career also. In my reflection I found that I sometimes came from a perspective of privilege, feeling that I’ve worked hard enough, I DESERVE to get it easy now. That of course is a fundamental flaw in looking at life through that lens. Life doesn’t care if you’ve been good or bad, whether you’ve worked hard or not. It will be life, it will have it’s good moments of immense joy and jubilation; and it will also have it’s moments of deep despair. How we approach each situation depends on us, when you put in the work you get to reap the benefits. Aside from a few fortunate ones, many people that are rich are that way because they have sacrificed a lot to get there. There’s no easy road. Whether you’re religious or not, have you found yourself saying “God why haven’t you sent me the perfect wife/husband yet?” I didn’t know this, but as far as biblical references, aside from a handful of times, God never specifically ordained a spouse for anyone. When talking about marital choices the bible talks about “wise or unwise” choices. I know that Romance movies idolizes two people meeting, that were destined to be together. What we’re forgetting though is that those are the exceptions not the rule. We’d all like to feel special, but for most of us we have to work hard for what we want. If you want a dream spouse, then you have to go out and find her/him

For those that are embarking on that journey to find the partner that’s best suited for them. I hope these few words can help guide you in your decisions. Relationships are inherently hard, we don’t need to create our own obstacles. Whether you’re thinking about marriage, or just looking for a long-term relationship, we have to go into it with as much information as possible. Making a bad decision is already painful enough, but if you can avoid it all together, why not take that extra step. As always go with love, and may you find peace and joy as you embark on your journey.

I’m Longing For…!

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I know the last time I wrote it may have been a bit unexpected, but part of living more authentically is being transparent; I wanted to be able to show what’s in my heart. Not to worry today I’m back to writing about things in the abstract, and I won’t be bearing my soul today. I think of myself as an optimistic person, I choose to focus on the good in life, and in people. There are times when I sit back and observe people, and I’m always fascinated, we are remarkable creatures. Whether you believe that we were created by a supreme being, or that all of this came from nothing, we are still very remarkable. Of the billions of stars, as far as we know today, Earth is the only planet that has life like we do, wow that means we are very remarkable. I suppose that I’m passionate about psychology because I think about this all the time. Look at all the amazing things the human mind has created, like this laptop I’m writing on, there are so many parts that have to come together to produce this product; and somewhere it was all in someone’s head. Although we are capable of so many great things, there’s still this driving force that drives us to create, to love, to build, and a deep longing for something. I’d like to take some time to expand and explore that, I think it’s a topic we don’t give much thought to. What drives us to do the things we do, what’s our motivation?

Our planet is filled with billions of people, of various origins and cultures, yet we all share that deep longing. At our core there’s a deep longing for relationships and that longing leads us to seek connection, to be understood, security, satisfaction, value to name a few. That deep longing by itself isn’t bad, it can compel us to do so many great things, but it can also manifest itself in destructive ways. When people don’t feel that connection they turn to many things like money, sex, drugs, alcohol. Like anything in life, even in moderation those things aren’t bad, but abusing them leaves you not only empty but physically hurt. Talk to anyone who is spiritual, and they’ll probably tell you that finding yourself, and doing what feels good to your soul is the only thing that comes close to filling that longing. Interestingly even religions don’t even fully satisfy that longing, because even with religion people still turn to things that are destructive.

So what’s the answer? Just as life is a journey that you’ll never find an end to; you just enjoy it as you go. I feel it’s the same with this deep longing, we’ll never be able to quite say we’re completely satisfied. Take myself, I’m currently on a path that I’ll be able to work on something I’m passionate about. I’m choosing to not let money be the deciding factor in my life, satisfaction with what I’m doing, and how much I can help others are my measures of success. Even on this path I may still long for things like a family, a better car, house and things like that. Accepting that I’ll not be fully satisfied, but taking the time to enjoy what I have seems like a better use of my time. To bring in some context, take Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, imagine a pyramid if you will, at the bottom is physiological needs, then safety, love and belonging, esteem, and lastly self-actualization. The needs at the bottom of the pyramid are basic needs, every human wants food, water, air, and want’s to feel safe. As you get higher on the pyramid you work on other needs. As we go higher on the pyramid we find things that help satisfy that deep longing, we are more easily satisfied with things at the top of the pyramid. I feel that many people struggle in life because they’re more focused on the bottom of the pyramid. Since it takes more of the things on the bottom to feel satisfied, they are constantly busy doing things, but yet they’re not satisfied with life.

By no means I can say that I’m even close to being self-actualized, but instead of spending all my time on the bottom. I’m choosing to put my energy on love and belonging and esteem, to be happy with who I am, and what I can do to make the world better. Life Hopeitself is hard, if you start working your way up from the bottom to the top, completing each level before you move on to the next, it’s possible to get stuck. Not having a house, or a car, or enough money to by food are really good reasons not to go higher. In contemplating my life and my purpose, I evaluated where I was on the pyramid, I’m still working on many of the safety needs. If I never move out of that area, does that mean I can never find what my purpose is? Contrary to that I believe that life offers us opportunities, it’s up to us if we take it. A few weeks ago I decided to quit my full-time job, ooh scary, but an opportunity was presented to me to still work to at the least pay my bills. I’ve also gotten an opportunity to take a course that’s directly related to the filed I wanted to go into. I have many people around me who have been providing me with emotional support to move forward. Quitting my job wasn’t a bad thing, all it did was create space, space that the Universe filled with things that intrinsically motivating to me. I think that’s incredible, sometimes we have to just get out of the way.

I can’t say that I’m completely satisfied, on a scale of eeh to satisfied, I’m definitely closer to being satisfied. If you know me, you’ll know that my personality doesn’t operate on any other level than 100%, feeling that I’m 50% on anything is a definite sign that I’m Glass half fullin the wrong place. So where am I? I want to become a Counselor/Life Coach, and I’m taking steps that leads in that direction. Will I ever become that, I don’t know, but I’m happy being in a position to help people with their life. Feeling that I have a purpose and my life has some meaning is enough to get me up in the morning. So I don’t have a family of my own, don’t have much money to my name, don’t have a career to show for, so what! Despite all those things, I’m happy with the current path I’m on, I’m taking time to enjoy the time I do have. I could have stayed in bed all day today, or go hiking, or for a drive, the possibilities are endless. Here I am writing this though, and it feels like a great use of my time, and just having time itself feels really good. I consider myself a well adjusted adult, and based on the various personality inventories I’ve taken, the data concurs with my thoughts! So my point is this, you could do many things to help fill that deep longing. Understanding that you’ll never be 100% satisfied, and enjoying the satisfaction you are able to experience, helps to live a happier life, besides it’s a lot less stressful living this way.