Let’s talk about love.

 

What is the compelling, mysterious force that brings two people together and helps them stay together despite difficulties and challenges? This will be a 3 Part Series devoted to understanding what creates and then holds a relationship together. Each Series will have five exercises. Whether you are dating or in a committed relationship, use these steps to create more closeness, understanding, and clear communication.

 

There’s a lot of focus in the news and tabloids about Sex, Love, and Lies.

 

Love is a choice freely made. Sex is a choice freely made. Lies are a choice freely made. Love thrives in a climate of trust, respect, intuition, and joy. Sex is usually a happy and mutual expression of passion. Lies don’t work in a lasting relationship.

 

As an introductory note, I believe that LOVE is an indefinable word in its depth and breadth and is undoubtedly one of the most used words on the internet, next to sex, and lies.  To have a great relationship that is lasting… love comes first, sex is continually satisfying, and lies don’t exist.

 

Love shows itself in your behaviors. Love means nothing if the actions don’t match the words and declarations offered. Love will fall apart if you are not who you really are. Love is nurturing. Love is genuine. Love is a balance between two people being themselves and listening to each others needs, goals, and appreciating each others personalities.

 

I have five exercises designed to help you see some of the mistakes people make when relationship problems arise. These exercises are designed to help you see your relationship more clearly and give ways to get past misunderstandings and uncover unspoken grievances when you are dating.

 

These exercises are about attracting and creating the relationship you really want.

 

FIVE EXERCISES FOR CREATING THE RELATIONSHIP YOU WANT WHILE DATING

EXERCISE ONE: WHO ARE YOU INVITING INTO THE RELATIONSHIP?

 

Our childhood follows us. The behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, values, and habits we develop are often developed during childhood and adolescence. Sometimes the experiences that over time mold our character is helpful, other times they can hinder us. I notice that many individuals base choosing a life partner for marriage as a quick fix for fixing current problems or emotional baggage. I call this “Rescue Me” mentality. This type of thinking supports the idea that another person can “fix” the past and cure any fears or insecurities through a marriage certificate. I’ve met a lot of divorced men and women who got married in their late teens to escape going to college, avoid getting a job, or having children to fill a void in their life.    You don’t want to become a “dumping ground” for other people or come across as gullible.

 

It’s important to look at your baggage, and turn past negative circumstances into positive realizations. Without have a clear mission statement about who you are and what you really want in a relationship, it is easy make a poor choice that you later regret.

 

Here is a starting point.

 

How has your past helped you? How has your past hindered you? How has your upbringing made you more resilient, positive, and understanding for inviting another person in your life … long term? How do you think other people see you? What are your best attributes? What are your favorite interests? What characteristics do you like best in a dating partner, and why?

 

What are your goals? What makes you feel safe or insecure?  What makes you feel valued or invisible? What makes you feel powerful or powerless? What makes you feel happy or angry? (Go to the article:  Is Dating in Your 20’s Different than Dating in your 50’s … for further insights).

 

NOW: Write down a mission statement based on the above answers.

 

My mission statement to attract and have a loving partner is:

___________________________________________________________________________________

 

Love and intimacy that lasts is based on personal experiences and personal growth. It’s also about feeling deserving of what you desire and want. As a child were you allowed to feel deserving of your inner goals, talents and interests? What were the laws/rules in your home that formed your sense of self?

 

(For instance, were you rewarded, ignored, or put down for asking what you wanted and speaking up? Did you ever not feel good enough? Did you look forward to exploring new ideas or stick with the status quo as not to “rock the boat.”)

 

Notice how you emotionally support yourself and how you internally appreciate yourself. Notice times when you feel happy. Notice times when you feel irked, disappointed, or frustrated. Don’t delude yourself.  Accept if you are being treated shabbily in a dating situation and make the decision to move on.

 

Love comes to you when you are your best self, secure, and authentic.  It comes when you aren’t carrying old baggage around. What do you like? Animals, spirituality, travel, writing, computers, fashion, business, stocks and bonds…

How’s the real you? Say NO and walk away when you get confused by people who try and change you or discount you for being yourself. The goal IS TO BE yourself and to believe in yourself.

 

Often our sense of personal power, value, and security is affected by the way we perceive our desirability and how we convey this to others. By having helpful and empowering thought patterns that match our personality and likes, it’s easier to dissolve old patterns that no longer serve us. Having a mission statement helps us stay on track to getting what we want.

 

By feeling deserving of what we want, and feeling comfortable in “our own skin” communication will be genuine, honest, and easy. Sex will be good. Lies won’t exist, and Love will last.

 

MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE:

 

1. People try to control, change, limit, or discount their dating partner.

 

2. People choose dates for security.

 

3. People think about getting and not giving … in the short term and long run.

 

4. People look at sex as a way to control, manipulate, or avoid intimacy.

 Lesson: BE careful what you ask for and look for. Marriage is teamwork, mutual respect, mutual support and about listening to your partner. What is this person really saying?

In loving relationships you feel safe to share your innermost thoughts, your ups and downs, and your hopes and wishes. You know your vulnerabilities will not be used against you, but rather understood, nurtured, and healed.

 

EXERCISE TWO: WHAT DOES LOVE MEAN TO YOU?

 

Your definition of love is different that that of others. While there are common themes of what makes a relationship last, it comes down to what does love mean to you? Here are some features or attributes that seem to work for successful relationships. Take a moment to see what’s most important to you.

 

_____ Humor and fun time

 

_____ Time together and personal alone time

 

_____ Agree on friends, family, money, and job decisions

 

_____ Your partner is also your best friend

 

_____Trust

 

_____ Full honesty with compassion

 

_____ Set mutual goals and individual goals

 

_____ Affection, intimacy, and passion

 

_____ Listening to your partner and responding with interest

 

_____ Follow through on short term and long term goals

 

_____ Spiritual connectedness

 

_____ Solve or fix problems without delay

 

_____ Nature, travel, and exploration time together

 

_____ No competition or control

 

_____ Financial stability

Circle the top three attributes you connect with most and write down why these are important. Then circle the next three and why these are important. Then the next three and why these are important, until you have rated all fifteen choices.

Now compare your priorities and your “whys” with your partner. What differences or similarities do you see? What qualities are not on this list that you want to add? What qualities does your partner want to add?

MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE:

1. People are too into themselves to think about others

 

2. People are not ready for a committed relationship

 

3. People are still attached to previous relationships or childhood issues

 

EXERCISE THREE: OVERCOMING THE TOUGH TIMES

 

I learned this exercise from my friend and colleague. She coaches Fortune 500 companies around the world. Interestingly, making companies work efficiently, happily, and productively comes down to relationships.

 

Get a piece of 8” x 10” paper and turn it length wise. Draw a line from left to right, across the bottom of the page and label it my “timeline” of life events.

 

Then in the middle of the page draw a line (left to right) and label it my “Highs” and “Lows” in life.

 

ABOVE the middle line write the most fun, memorable, and rewarding experiences that you’ve had which correlate to the timeline of your life.  For instance, maybe in 1983 you won an award for best science project in school. In 1986 you met your current best friend. In 2001 you got the job you really wanted. In 2006 you fell in love and married.

BELOW this line write the most challenging times you have experienced matching the timeline of your life. For example, in 1982 your dog died. In 1987 your family moved and you needed to create new friends. In 1994 you gained a lot of weight and had a low self image. In 2001 your house went into foreclosure.

 

(I think you get the point) What are the challenges you have faced over the years that affected your life significantly and your decisions?

 

NOW LOOK AT YOUR HIGHS AND LOWS. The highs are above the line and the lows are below the line … correlating to your timeline.  Probably the highs feel good.  Often we want to forget the low times.

Lesson: Turn the page upside-down so that the lows are now on top and the highs are on the bottom. The point is, see how you have bounced back over the years, and think or write down how you overcame adversity. What was your perspective? How did you develop a more positive self?  Relationships are about getting through the tough times and seeing the best in yourself and your sweetie.

 

MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE:

1. People point fingers and say, “It’s Your” fault

 

2. People keep making poor decisions leading them to anger or giving up

 

3. People focus on what’s wrong and not what’s right

 

EXERCISE FOUR: LISTENING TO YOUR SELF-TALK AND “I AM” THINKING

 

(Read under Published Articles: HAVING WHAT YOU WANT IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK. I wrote this article to help people understand why some relationships work while others fail. Also, why some people are highly successful and others struggle through life. It starts with Self-Talk.)

 

Self-Talk is about what you mentally say to yourself on a daily basis, for good or for bad. That is positive thoughts versus negative thoughts, about yourself, events, situations, people and the like.

 

It’s easy to lose sight of your mission statement if you let cynics interfere with your dreams. It can take a lot of imagination, belief, passion, and hard work to build your dreams. It’s the cynics and pessimists who want to see you fail, so they don’t feel like a failure or insignificant in comparison to you. For cynics, it’s much easier to bad-mouth or tear you down that it is to create a better life for themselves.

 

Don’t let them be right. Let your mind and thoughts be in control. While the cynic exudes thoughts of lack, criticism, or disappointment, turn your attention to positive “self-talk” messages of:  I currently am; I’m going to be; I have become!

 

List three characteristics that you commonly do to put you in a bad mood.

 

1.________________________________________________________

 

2.________________________________________________________

 

3.________________________________________________________

 

 

Now list three choices that you could turn this negative thinking around. For instance, calling a friend, a silent prayer, taking action, ignoring the statement …

 

1._____________________________________________________________

 

2._____________________________________________________________

 

3._____________________________________________________________

You have the power to choose your attitude in your relationship(s) and in your life. With a practical yet optimistic attitude, look at the people around you. You may discover that a number of them should be transferred to a liability placement or a “LOW” on your timeline sheet. Maybe you place them there because they bring you down. Maybe they discount you. Maybe they take you for granted. Maybe they don’t recognize your talents and skills. Maybe they forget to keep their promises with you. Maybe they don’t listen.

 

At the same time notice the individuals who help you feel good about yourself. Which people support your goals? Who holds you back? Do you want to update or expand your social circles? Having people in your life who are optimistic, realistic, respectful, and genuine can be an asset. Being around individuals who live life from a practical standpoint, yet have a positive, go-getter attitude, can be a great benefit.

 

I highly believe in the power of prayer for getting answers and improving your “self-talk.” Sometimes relationships fall a part because there’s someone better for you. Maybe you are outgrowing a relationship. Could it be your negative “self-talk” that is holding you back from bettering a current relationship? Either way, “self-talk” affects your life daily.

 

“Self-talk” affects who you attract into your life… how your partner sees you, values you, and responds to you.

 

List three choices (self-talk) that you want to project to your conscious and sub-conscious mind that are positive.

 

1._____________________________________________________________

 

2._____________________________________________________________

 

3._____________________________________________________________

MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE:

 

1. People misread their partner’s needs and wants

 

2. People hold onto an overly confident or self deprecating self image

 

3. People don’t want the best for others

 

EXERCISE FIVE:  ARE YOU COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY?

 

A lot of times we can respond inappropriately when our partner… wife / husband, is trying to share their needs, goals, wants. Mis-communicating or regularly misreading your partner’s feelings is one of the fastest ways to ruin a relationship.

 Here is a self-test to help you communicate with your spouse/partner

 

When your partner is non-attentive, are you likely to:

  1. Put the person down.
  2. Walk out of the room.
  3. Ask what’s wrong?

If your partner says, “I don’t agree,” are you likely to say:

  1. You never agree with me.
  2. You don’t stand behind me.
  3. I like your opinions and am open to another option.

If you have an argument do you think in terms of:

  1. Winning.
  2. Leaving.
  3. Not thinking in terms of winning or losing, but listening.


If you had a bad day, would you most likely say:

  1. I have problems and I can’t hear this right now.
  2. Deal with it on your own. You’ve done it before.
  3. Listen. Be supportive. Come up with possible ideas.

If a promise was not kept, more than once will you respond:

  1. I’m fully annoyed and give up on you.
  2. I’ll show you… and forget what makes your partner happy. (backlash)
  3. I will find out why the promise wasn’t kept to get to the root.

You’re in a romantic mood and your partner just yawns or says, “No.”

  1. Feel rejected and say, “Wow, what’s wrong with you?”
  2. Keep asking until your partner capitulates.
  3. Let your partner know your desires, but adjust if it’s not in sync.

 

The point is: you can send the wrong message if you’re not careful. I meet so many clients who want to communicate effectively but get caught up in their own egos, work timelines, and personal expectations … that they can say things they really don’t mean. By the way, “3” is the most effective answer in these situations.

 

To BUILD and MAINTAIN a wonderful life together with your sweetie means communication. Every person needs support and encouragement. Every person needs wise advice. Every person wants to feel listened to. Every person wants to be appreciated. How can you share your best self with your sweetie and communicate your love? Take time to understand give and take… help and receive … plus you and me thinking.

 

MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE:

 

1. People have difficulty with change or new information

 

2. People are overly possessive

 

3. People have entitlement thinking or manipulative behaviors

 

A lot of people enter in a relationship with a “wait and see” attitude. Be careful with how long you “wait and see” if things are not going in a direction that makes you feel secure, valued, important, and feeling like #1. Keep in mind that you can focus on adding HIGHS to your life and limit incurring LOWS. Take an inventory of what you do, read, listen to, participate in, and say to others … such that you begin seeing those behaviors, attitudes, and decisions that help you and those that hinder you. Would you change anything for the better?

THIS IS PART ONE OF SEX, LOVE AND LIES.  MORE TO COME SOON. PART TWO AND PART THREE.