6 posts from August 2010

August 27, 2010

When Your Partner Flirts or Ogles In Front Of You


I’ve had several couples struggle with wandering eyes of the men.  Most of the men deny it and many of the women then begin to question themselves upon hearing his insistence that he’s doing nothing wrong.  When it comes to men staring at, flirting with or paying attention to other women, I’ve heard all the excuses.  Here are just a few:
    •    “I was just appreciating her beauty.”
    •    “What’s the big deal?  You know I’m going home with you.”
    •    “I don’t stare—she’s just paranoid and overly jealous”.
    •    “I was just talking to her.  She’s only a friend.  I’m not going to give up my friends.  This is your issue not mine.”

Regardless of whether you’re male, female, heterosexual or homosexual, flirting with, starting at or paying extra attention to someone you find attractive is disrespectful to the one you’re with.  If you’re in a relationship with someone, it’s your job to treat that person well and show him/her you care about him/her.  Checking out other men/women shows the exact opposite.  It shows that you have no respect for the person you’re with and no respect for the person you’re ogling.

Particularly bad is when you do this with your partner’s friends!  You’re not 15 years old anymore, with raging hormones and a desperate need to pump up your chest to any female/male in sight.  Grow up and be respectful. 

When men -- or women – have the need to constantly flirt, ogle others or get attention from others, it’s a sign they can’t be trusted and they don’t feel comfortable without the attention of others.  This leaves them constantly looking for reassurance from people of the opposite sex (or same sex if homosexual) that they’re worthy.  The sexual energy serves as a self-esteem pump, regulating how they feel about themselves.  Every eye contact, returned flirtation or smile gives them a jolt to their self-esteem.  People who struggle with this need flirt so much that half the time they’re not even aware they’re doing it.  It becomes a way they walk in the world.

If you’re with a partner who stares or flirts with other attractive people in your presence, know that it is disrespectful and not okay.  Do not question your gut when you hear them making up poor excuses for their behavior.  There is no excuse for it; it’s rude. 

If you’re the one flirting and constantly checking people out, know this is off.  It’s not normal (for guys or girls).  It’s often due to issues of self-esteem and love or sex addiction.  Start reviewing when you do this and why, and get help if you need it.  This behavior will destroy any relationship you’re in – if the other person is healthy.

CHALLENGE:  If your partner struggles with a wandering eye, know you’re in trouble.  Set limits on that behavior, trust your instincts and get professional help or a new partner if they refuse to change.
If you’re the person with the wandering eye—stop it.  It’s disrespectful to your partner and the people you are ogling.  It also makes you look bad.  Do your work and figure out why you need this sexual energy jolt.

August 24, 2010

There Are Few Things Less Relational Than A Poor Listener: Working Your Listening Skills In Your Relationships

IStock_interracialmanandwoman talkingll

Good listening skills are vital to any relationship in your life.  If you don’t listen well at work—it may cost you your job.  If you don’t listen to your partner—it will greatly impact your relationship.  And if you don’t listen to your friends—you may find that you have fewer and fewer.  The bottom line is: when it comes to relationships, listening is vital.

Those people who are lucky enough to have a partner, boss, friend, etc. who is a good listener know exactly what I’m talking about.  Good listeners encourage communication rather than squash it.  They take in difficult feedback, aren’t afraid of hard conversations and are safe to talk with.  The intimacy level is often much higher with people who know how to listen well.

Many people, however, are not good listeners.  In fact, many people are terrible at listening.  Some people are so reactive that those around them are afraid to talk with them.  Others are so conflict-avoidant that they refuse to stay in a conversation long enough to actually work through any issue. And still others are so sure they’re right that they forget to realize the other person may be right as well.

If you want great relationships you must become a great listener.  Pay attention to the dos and donts of listening:

1.    Listen with an open heart and mind.  One of my favorite bumper stickers is, “Minds are like parachutes, they only work when open.”  We need to be open to hearing another person’s perspective, feedback and criticism even when it differs from what we believe.  We do not need to agree, however we do need to walk a mile in the other person’s shoes to understand what things are like on their end.  Having an open mind leads to growth, receptivity and intimacy.

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August 19, 2010

How To Make The Most Out Of Working With A Relationship Expert

Regardless of whether you and your partner choose to work on your relationship via couples therapy, relationship coaching or workshops, the truth is that just showing up is not enough.  Too many couples think that if they hear the information and wait for their partner to change they’re doing their part; this couldn’t be further from the truth.  Working your relationship requires more than just showing up and listening to information.  Change requires action not just your presence.

If you’re struggling in your relationship and seeking professional help, then put your money and time to good use by truly working your side.  Here are 5 tips to incorporate into your work with the experts:

1.    Work your side: pay attention to the places where you are relationally off and fix those. If you don’t speak up then start doing so.  If you yell, scream or verbally attack—calm yourself down and be respectful.  Stay focused on your side of the fence and let your partner do the work on theirs.  Your changes will force a change in the entire system.   If the change is not a positive one or good enough, as you get healthier you will not be able to stay in unhealthy.
2.    Practice what the expert speaks:  Insight is great but it’s certainly not enough if you don’t act on it.  Too many couples get help but don’t put to practice the concepts they are taught.  If you’re not going to use the skills you’re taught than stop wasting your money and everyone else’s time.

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August 16, 2010

Why Dogs Are Often Man And Woman’s Best Friend And What We Can Learn From Them

IStock_0woman with puppyll

Last Friday I was exhausted, a little bit cranky and definitely ready to sit at home and just veg out.  Upon entering my house, though, my two dogs (a chocolate lab and a boxer—both large, one slobbery) ran up to me with their tales wagging, ready to greet me.  They were so excited to see me that it was nearly impossible to ignore them.  I couldn’t help but notice how nice it was to come home to such open-hearted love. 

This encounter, repeated nearly every time I come home, led me to think about how relational dogs are and how much we humans could learn from them.  The difference between entering a house and being cheerfully met at the door vs. being barely acknowledged by busy family members is all too familiar to many pet owners.  In fact, some pet owners have said they would be more upset if their pet died than if their spouse left them  As sad as this statement may sound, it’s a testament to how loving pets can be… non-relational some humans can be.

Below are five characteristics of pet dogs that humans can learn from:
1.    Dogs are great greeters.  They greet us with love, energy and genuine excitement—any time of the day or night.  My dogs can’t wait to see me when I come home and they are utterly excited to greet me when I wake up in the morning.  Dogs show people, through their actions, how genuinely happy they are to be in their lives.

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August 11, 2010

Communication In Relationships: Tone Down Your Tone.

When it comes to being an effective communicator, it’s not just about what you say…it’s also about how you say it.  Regardless of whether you’re talking to your boss, employee, child, lover or friend, if your energy is off, chances are you will not get the results you’re looking for in your relationships.

A key clue that our energy is off is a sharp tone.  We could be saying the most innocent thing in the world, yet if we say it with a tone it changes the entire message.  For example, try to say the following statement out loud, imagining you’re feeling the emotion named:
•    Annoyance: “What are you doing?!”
•    Contempt (thinking that the other person is stupid): “What… are you doing?”
•    Curiosity: “What are you doing?”

If you listen closely, you should be able to hear how a change in tone can change an entire message without changing one word.  Our tone and our energy are a huge part of communicating.   When speaking, we want to make sure our energy matches our words.  We also want to make sure that our energy is clean (respectful, grounded and honest) regardless of whether we’re angry, joyful or sad.  We can be furious with someone, yet still be clean in how we speak to them.  We can also be firm without being abusive or harsh. 

When it comes to being an effective communicator, my motto is “Don’t let a great message get lost in the delivery.”  It’s in your best interest to speak in a way in which the other person can hear you, so clean up your side.  Your words, energy and body language all need to match up and all need to be respectful.  Say it straight, be honest and lose the tone.

CHALLENGE: When speaking to others, pay attention to your tone, energy and body language.  All three need to be sending the same message.  That message should be respectful of the other person’s dignity as a fellow and equal human being in order to be effective. 

August 04, 2010

Marriage—Till Death Do Us Part or Until It Gets Tough? How To Fight For Your Marriage

Many couples struggle with knowing what to do regarding strife in their relationships.  Some wonder if it would be better to separate, some think they should stay together for the kids’ sake and some have no idea what they want.  They know, however, that they’re unhappy.

My belief about marriage is that people should do whatever they can to make it work.  My particular bias is that when it comes to children it is even more imperative that couples do absolutely all they can to make it work.  I believe that if people want out of a marriage, they have to earn their way out.  You earn your way out by doing everything in your power to make it work.  If, after they have done everything, it still isn’t good, then I believe it’s time to call it a day. 

I realize this thinking goes against what many people believe and I’m okay with that.  I don’t believe that people should stay together no matter what and, in fact, I think that is irresponsible and, at times, dangerous.  Nor do I believe people should divorce just because things got a little tough or they “fell out of love” with one another (without trying to fall back in love).  Relationships should not be abusive, toxic or harmful in anyway—to the adults...or to the children who are witnesses.  Relationships should be supportive, loving and a place of refuge -- not dread.  I believe all people and all children deserve this kind of relationship.  Any relationship that falls short in these qualities is not enough in my eyes.

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