Category Archives for Sex & Relationships

Secrets About Gender Differences – Revealed!

By Dr. Carol Morgan

“If only he would pick up on my hints so I don’t have to spell it out!”

“If only he would talk to me about his feelings!”

“If only she would let me give her advice and not just want me to listen to her problems!”

Do these thoughts ever go through your mind? I’m sure they have. We have all had frustrations with the opposite sex at one point or another. It can lead to conflict, divorce, and pain if we don’t try to understand each other more. But no one ever teaches us about gender differences, unless you happen to come across a class like mine when you are in college.

I have been teaching gender communication for about 15 years, and it’s my favorite class. Why? Because my students become mesmerized. They have so many “Ah Ha!” moments. I love that!

Here are eight research-proven facts about gender that could be helpful to you:

1. People start “gender-izing” before a baby is even born.

I know people who decorate their baby boy’s room with images of footballs, basketballs and anything else sports-related. And they decorate girls’ rooms with pink colors, flowers, and frilly things. And don’t forget the flower headbands on the girl babies! The point here is that we are all so obsessed with labeling our children that we automatically set forth these unspoken expectations even before they are born.

2. Gender ideals are culturally bound (and time-bound).

American women shave their legs and arm pits. But in some other areas of the world, this isn’t so. And back several hundred years ago, the gender ideal for a woman was to be overweight and have very white skin (because it meant they were rich enough to eat well and not work in the fields). Now it’s the opposite. So gender ideals are very relative — even within families. Some families expect traditional gender roles from their children, while others welcome challenging those boundaries.

3. We tend to model our same-sex parent’s behavior.

The Social Learning Theory suggests that we model the behavior that we see on a regular basis. Therefore, if your mom wore make-up, did all the household chores, and was a stay-at-home mom, then you are more likely to follow in her footsteps. However, if your dad stayed at home with the kids while your mom was CEO of a company, you are more likely to follow their behavior. This theory makes gender behavior a little more individualistic and relative to families.

4. Males and females learn differently and are not treated the same in the classroom.

I’m sure you’ve heard that boys tend to be better at math, science and spatial subjects. And girls are better at reading and language. But did you know that teachers also treat them differently? From pre-school to graduate school, teachers tend to focus more time and attention on male students. The reasons for this vary, but it is true.

5. Men and women tend to have different leadership styles.

Traditionally, men have dominated the public sphere (business world and everything outside the home), whereas women have dominated the private sphere. Because of that, there are different skills required to be successful in these different arenas. One of those differing skills is their leadership styles. While there is a lot of research on the topic, men tend to be more autocratic leaders — they “tell people what to do.” On the contrary, women tend to be more democratic leaders — they ask input from their subordinates and give them more of a voice. Of course, not every male or female leader falls into these categories, but those are the tendencies.

6. Many women use “powerless” language.

Females tend to use language that undercuts their power and authority, and it is also excessively polite. They often say things like, “This might be a stupid idea, but …” or “I’m so sorry, am I bothering you? I can come back later…” or “You’ll be home soon, won’t you?” These types of ways of speaking gives up the power to the other person to say, “Yes, that’s a stupid idea” or “Yes, you’re bothering me — go away” or “No, I won’t be home soon.” Women are socialized to speak like this because they are supposed to be nice and polite to other people, but it undermines their self-confidence as well.

7. Women listen to connect with another person, and men listen to solve a problem.

When listening to a woman, men often think, “Oh my gosh, can she just GET TO THE POINT?” And women are thinking, “Why can’t he just listen to me without giving me advice and trying to fix my problem?” This is normal. Women view listening as something that bonds people. Men, however, are very goal-oriented. They don’t really see the point of just listening to someone vent if they can’t help them. Neither style is bad, they are just different!

8. The media simultaneously creates and perpetuates gender stereotypes.

As I discussed in point number two, gender ideals change and are culture-specific. And a huge area where we get messages about how we should be as a male or female is from the media. For example, women are socialized to want to have extravagant weddings. And men are socialized to want their independence. It’s not true for ALL men and ALL women, but generally speaking, it’s true.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I teach an entire semester-long class about the topic of gender differences, so there is no way that I could fit it all into one little article. But hopefully I gave you some information that will help you be more tolerant and forgiving of the opposite sex!

Is He – Or Isn’t He – ‘The One’: 11 Signs Of A Bad Relationship

By Dr. LeslieBeth Wish

It’s difficult enough to meet someone who seems like a good love match.  But then, over time, things happen between you and your partner that make you wonder:  “Is this the right person for me?”

It seems as though it should be such an easy question to answer.  But once you fall in love, your head and heart can conspire to make you minimize your unhappiness.  As the saying goes, love really can make you blind.

Research about marriage reveals that even great relationships go through rough patches that can last months or even years.  Another surprising finding is that these mutally happy couples also live with important unresolved issues.

What keeps these couples happy together is that they sustain the building blocks of long lasting, mutually satisfying relationships:  commitment, passion, friendship, respect, complementary styles and abilities, good communication and problem-solving skills, and shared interests and values.

Every couple is different.  All you have to do to know that love has its wild cards is to look at all the combinations of couples that make you think:  “What an odd pair.”

Lifestyle Signs of a Bad RelationshipI can’t possibly know if your partner is the one for you, but I’m offering you this guide to help you assess whether you are in a bad relationship.  This list is based on findings from my five-year research with thousands of women for my book. It consists of statements that these women used to get a more honest picture of their relationships.

It’s possible that only one thing on the list below, such as domestic violence, is sufficient for you to know to get help or get out.  Use this list to educate you and to activate your newly informed intuition to help you understand your situation and make smart decisions.

Read each statement and think if it applies to your partner. There is no magic number that means you should leave.  As you can imagine, I strongly recommend you see a licensed mental health counselor for guidance.  Don’t let doubts linger or get swept under your radar.

Here’s 11 Lifestyle Signs of a Bad Relationship

1. I really respect my partner.

Almost all the time     Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Respect is earned.  It is a vital part of healthy love  Are you proud of your partner?.)

2. I really like how my partner treats me in public and in private.

Almost all the time     Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Loving partners do not air dirty laundry in public  They do not abuse in private.)

3. My partner criticizes me often and uses a sarcastic tone.

Almost all the time     Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Research shows that a sarcastic and criticizing style erodes love.)

4. My partner can be unhappy and even a little jealous of my successes.

Almost all the time     Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Your partner should want the best for you. Jealousy taints your joy.)

5. My partner always has to be right and have the last word.

Almost all the time     Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Mature partners are able to give up having to be right.)

6. My partner brings up my past mistakes whenever we have disagreements.

Almost all the time     Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Healthy couples get solution-focused, and they don’t replay the past.)

7. My partner rarely or never apologizes when he or she is wrong or hurtful.

Almost all the time       Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Inability or reluctance to say I’m sorry means someone does not take responsibility. Healthy relationships thrive on mutual self-responsibility.)

8. My partner is playful, tender, affectionate, and attentive when we make love.

Almost all the time      Most of the time                       Sometimes      Rarely

(Sex should never be demeaning or insensitive to your needs.)

9. My partner lets disagreements fester.

Almost all the time        Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Happy couples tell the partner what is bothering them.)

10. My partner has cheated on me, and he or she can be very flirtatious with others.

Almost all the time          Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Affairs are real threats to love. About a third of couples survives and thrives after an affair.)

11. My partner has lied to me about money or has used it without my knowledge or agreement.

Almost all the time          Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Stealing and lying about money is a real breach of trust and respect.)

 

What have you learned about your relationship?  Don’t act in haste.  Get professional help.  If you feel your life and safety are in danger, seek counseling to develop a safety plan first before you pack your bags. But even if it’s something as simple as you want to buy some contemporary wall art, but he gets angry with you for that, then it’s time to reconsider your whole relationship.

I hope these tips help.  My mission is to help you grow your emotional bravery and intuitive power in life, love, work, happiness, and success!  You can be part of my next book about intuition! Your story can help others! Go to my website www.lovevictory.com and sign up on the right column to receive gifts and information.

Fairy Tales & Expectations: Do They Harm or Hurt Us?

We all grew up watching Disney movies. While they are fun to watch, have you ever thought about what kinds of messages they give us?

I am a communication professor, and one of the classes I teach is about gender. This doesn’t just include how men and women communicate differently, but also the cultural expectations that we get from our society.

But let’s talk about the Disney movies. First, you have Cinderella. She was the “underdog.” She was poor, unwanted, and bullied by her Wicked Stepmother and her stepsisters. Her life is going nowhere, and she’s sad and miserable. Until one day, her fairy godmother appears and says that she gets to go to a ball. She meets her Prince Charming, and loses her glass slipper. Since Prince Charming has already fallen in love with her, he searches high and low for the girl who fits into the glass slipper. And of course, he finds her and they live happily ever after.

Then we have Snow White. The Wicked Queen was jealous of Snow White’s beauty, and so she orders her innocent stepdaughter to be murdered. Later, she discovers that Snow White is still alive and hiding in a cottage with seven friendly little miners – the dwarves. So she disguises herself as a hag and brings a poisoned apple to Snow White, who falls into a death-like sleep that can only be broken only by a kiss from the prince.

Do you see a theme here? The demure, beautiful, submissive female is hated by an older, uglier woman who tries to either punish or kill her. Then, the only way that she is saved is by having a handsome prince rescue her.

And then they live happily ever after.

When you break it down like that and make it a bit more literal, it doesn’t sound so romantic – or realistic – does it? Of course we know that Disney movies aren’t realistic.

Or do we?

Do we secretly hope that our lives will turn out like Cinderella or Snow White? Most of us would just chuckle at the thought and think “that’s ridiculous!”

But the subconscious mind is powerful. Many times, our beliefs and desires aren’t even part of our conscious awareness.

For example, how many women reading this played “bride” or “getting married” when they were young girls? It’s not that uncommon. Even if you didn’t do that, you probably dreamed of your perfect husband and fantasized about your wedding day. So you might not have verbalized your expectations and desires, but they were definitely there.

And how about the perfect proposal? I have a cousin who had her proposal planned out to the tiniest detail. She even told me, “When I meet the man I’m going to marry, you have to tell him this is the kind of proposal that I want, okay?” It consisted of a trail of clues and love notes…and a fancy dress in a hotel waiting for her…and then a limo taking her to some secret romantic location. And it all left her wondering what was happening. But all the while she really knew that it was her prince who was creating this elaborate proposal. And of course, they would live happily ever after.

The funny thing is that this cousin just recently got engaged. And did it happen like she wanted?

Of course not.

Maybe that’s my fault for not cluing the guy in. Whoops. Sorry, Michelle. But I’m still going to get you an extra special wedding gift.

But you get my point.

Our cultures talks about the prince and the proposal. It talks about riding off into the sunset and living happily ever after.

But it never talks about how to make that happen.

Once the honeymoon period wears off, then what? By then, you might be highly irritated that he never does the laundry. Or that he always watches sports. Or any other list of complaints that eventually emerge in a marriage.

Our schools don’t teach us how to deal with relationship problems. They teach us science, math, English, and even physical education, but not how to have a good relationship. Or how to repair one that needs it.

Sometimes our culture just sets us up for disappointment. I know what you’re thinking, “Gosh, she’s really bitter and unhappy!” Actually nothing could be further from the truth.

Did I have unrealistic expectations of romance and marriage? Absolutely. Did I know that I did? No. Well, maybe a little, but not enough. And just in case you’re wondering, yes, I am divorced. But I did really try to make it work.

But actually, I’m quite happy being single.

The point I’m trying to make in this article is that the expectations that our culture gives us about “happily ever after” are not accurate. Sure, the lucky few end up like Noah and Allie in The Notebook. But I don’t know a whole lot of them. I hope you do. But I don’t.

So instead of focusing so much on a fantasy, or the perfect wedding day, I think it’s more important that we focus on how to have a happy marriage. How to get along. How to love each other unconditionally regardless of our differences – and our expectations.

Real life is not a Disney movie. Even though we all know that, I think at some level, we all hope that we will be one of the lucky few who ends up being the exception to that rule.

If you got nothing else from this article, I hope that you will teach your children (or grandchildren) how to have healthy relationships. And realistic expectations.

Believe it or not, I think that we all can have our own version of happily ever after. But in order to do that, we need the knowledge, tools, and desire to keep putting effort into our relationship for the rest of our lives.

It can be done. I have faith that it can.

What about you?

How To Get Closer: T-R-A-V-E-L

By Steve Goodier

For closeness: travel. No, I don’t mean to go to take a road trip or to fly away to some exotic place. But there are ways to go deeper into a relationship –- like traveling. And there are things we can do to help a relationship really go somewhere. Let me explain.

Inmate Mitchell King had a visitor — his wife. King was serving a six-year jail term in Auckland, New Zealand for armed robbery. But his wife didn’t want to be away from him for that long. So they held hands. She wanted them to always stick together – through it all. Hand in hand, forever joined. And they did stick together. She had rubbed her palms with Super Glue.

Their new-found closeness was short-lived. And their separation painful. (I suggest we put the Super Glue idea on a short list of “THINGS NOT TO DO” when we want to grow closer.)

But if you want a deeper connection with someone you care about, if you want relationships that are more intimate, more meaningful and longer-lasting, then try this simple technique. Just remember the word “TRAVEL.”

T is for TRUST. If we’re seeking a glue to cement us to another, then trust is that bond. A relationship will go nowhere without it.

R is for RESPECT. Some people talk about how much they have always respected their cherished friends and family at a funeral. But why wait? People want to know that we hold them in high regard. It’s about valuing others and letting them know you respect them.

A is for AFFECTION. Sometimes affection means love. Sometimes it means a touch. Or a hug. Always it means kindness.

V is for VULNERABILITY. Though we may feel afraid to let another too close, no relationship will go anywhere without taking a risk. Like entrepreneur Jim Rohn says, “The walls we build around us to keep out the sadness also keep out the joy.” And the love.

E is for EMOTIONAL INTIMACY. It about learning to be open. Learning to communicate freely. The quality of relationships we make are largely determined by how openly we communicate.

L is for LAUGHTER. Victor Borge got it right when he said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” It’s also the most enjoyable.

So for a relationship that can really go somewhere, just remember the word “TRAVEL.” Then enjoy the trip.

The 10 Commandments of Intuitive Parenting

By Dr. LeslieBeth Wish

Of course, there are more than ten tips about parenting! But an idea came to me that perhaps I could re-fashion the Bible’s Ten Commandments to apply to parents. As a disclaimer–I am not endorsing one religion or religious beliefs or texts over any other religions, texts, beliefs or behavior. I do hope, though, that you find these tips helpful.

1. Thou shalt not express favor or compare other people’s children to your own. (Don’t make your child feel rejected or unlovable.)

2. Thou shalt not take or display more images or speak more favorably of one of your children’s accomplishments over the others. (Love and accept each child for who he or she is—and isn’t.)

3. Thou shalt not swear or say cruel words or do hurtful acts to your children. (Do not use violence, sarcasm, picking or criticism. Words can—and do—hurt. These forms of communication are love-killers.)

4. Remember the importance of family fun. (Children of all ages thrive on the rituals of fun family time—as well as fun time with friends or alone. All work and no play can squash creativity and independence, and it can create resentment and loneliness.)

5. Honor, foster, and support each child’s interests and abilities—especially if they do not “fit” into the family style of history. (Celebrate each child—and do not expect your child to be your chance to please YOUR parents.)

6. Thou shalt not kill your child’s childhood or development by making your child your best buddy or your comrade against your ex or by not allowing them to learn from mistakes. (Recruiting children emotionally is a person-killer. Keep boundaries between your love life and your parenting role. Learn the balance between protecting your children and allowing them to learn from their mistakes.)

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Affairs can lead to the breakup or erosion of a loving family life. Seek professional help immediately when you are unhappy in your relationship.)

8. Thou shalt not steal from your child’s development by becoming a workaholic. (Balancing working and being physically and emotionally available is needed to establish and maintain “family flow” of sharing time with each parent and participating in family responsibilities for age-appropriate chores.)

9. Thou shalt not accuse, blame, ignore or criticize your children without knowing the facts. (Intuitive parents learn to communicate by both asking “What’s wrong/What happened?” and telling “What’s concerning you about them.” The Ask and Tell approach works well with partners/spouses, too!)

10. Thou shalt not covet other people’s life styles because it fills the house with shame, resentment, and excuse-making. (Aiming to improve and set goals is good, but complaining creates a victim identity and robs children of the spirit of contribution to the community and world.)

5 Ways To Be More Accepting

By Talya Flowers

“Love means that you accept a person with all their failures, stupidities, ugly points,
and nonetheless, you see perfection in imperfection itself.”

 

We are all seeking and searching for something.

For some, it is fame, fortune, happiness, a rewarding career, or if your path is similar to mine, a deeper relationship with Christ. Whatever it is, I would argue that above all else, we are searching for love. Once we receive the fame, fortune, happiness, or a rewarding career, then what else? We begin to seek someone with whom we can share our lives with. We want someone who accepts and approves of the life that we have built or are building for ourselves. With that knowledge in mind, consider the following:

Imagine my hypothetical relationship as it unfolds: I become more and more critical of my significant other. By my actions and by my words, I tell him that I don’t like the way he dresses, I don’t like who he hangs out with, I don’t like his family members, I don’t like the way he thinks, I don’t like the career he has chosen, I don’t like the way he cooks, I don’t like the fact that his spiritual life is not on the same level as mine. Would my relationship go very far? Am I fostering an environment for intimacy? Am I displaying Christ?

If I constantly did that to my significant other, I am killing the very core of who he is. I have taken it upon myself to change who he is by demanding that he become more like me. When the problem is not him, it’s me. The scripture tells us candidly that we are made in the image of God. We are not made in the image of one another. I cannot tell someone to change (this is not for abusive relationships. If someone is being abusive, they will have to change to stay in a relationship with you or they will have to move on without you). Giving more of yourself does not eradicate the abuse, tolerance worsens the abuse. I cannot demand, manipulate or control someone to change because abuse is a heart problem, and Christ is the only one with the ability to transform hearts.

So, in the process of lording over someone, I’ve damaged the one person who I’ve claimed to love. Why, when I chose him? I have a choice in the matter. You have a choice in the matter.
Here are my five suggestions for ways to be more accepting:

1. Stop criticizing

Constant criticism coming from someone who claims to love you becomes emotionally draining over time. There is one thing to offer constructive criticism but another to just be criticizing for the sake of criticizing. If someone is making an effort to learn, don’t criticize his or her efforts. If anything, praise them. In your praise, they will be willing go above and beyond for you.

2. Stop judging

Judging is damaging. I’ll say it again, judging someone is damaging. Judging someone for who they are and the choices that they’ve made is detrimental to the relationship. Why destroy something that you are trying to build by judging another person, unless you know, of course, that you won’t be sticking around to heal their emotional wounds.

3. Allow growth

Acceptance/growing together is a process because it does not happen overnight. I once had an acquaintance tell me that his mom and dad could read each other thoughts. He was expecting/demanding that in his present relationship. Slow your role; couples do no wake up and start reading each other’s minds. That requires time, effort and vulnerability—none of which he was giving in his relationship.

4. Be realistic

Everything in life is a choice, choose wisely. The more you are able to understand someone for who they were in the past and who they are in the present; you’ll be able to learn and to understand their behaviors and attitudes. Time is your friend. Be patient, be gentle and most of all take your time.

5. Be open

Communication is the glue that keeps couples together. Intimacy is formed by communication. Being verbally demanding, manipulative or controlling stifles all forms of security. Do not get in a relationship if you are going to use your words, on your spouse, as a punching bag. Do not get into a relationship where the person treats people poorly but worships the ground you walk on. Everyone, from the janitor to the president, deserves respect and to be treated kindly.

Acceptance forms the foundation for love, for without it, all relationships will fail. Christ accepts and loves us just as we are. Then he begins to shape and mold us into his image after we begin to see the beauty of giving our lives to him. Do the same for your significant other. Allow them to fly and to grow into who God called them to be before you start berating and belittling them for who they can never be. Luckily, we can change by making a choice. It just depends on the path chosen. if you are searching to find love: look within. If you’re already in a relationship, instead of criticizing and condemning the person you chose to be in a relationship with why not take the time to grow together?

Always remember that no matter what, you are more than enough not because of who you are but because of whose you are.

 

Need To Move On After A Break-Up? Here’s How …

By Dr. LeslieBeth Wish

Perhaps the end of your most recent relationship is a good thing regardless of who did the leaving. But now what’s the best next step for you?

Every situation has different details, but here are the top things to consider that emerged from my research and work with thousands of women.

1. Don’t swear off love for a long time. That decision could start an unhealthy cycle:

  • You fear not being able to recover from any more hurt.
  • Your guardedness feeds a negative self-view of you as someone who can’t trust her own judgment.
  • Over time, your relationship restriction makes you rusty at reading potential partners.
  • Something happens in your life such as illness or job crisis that increases your fear of being alone.
  • You then become vulnerable to choosing the next okay-enough-person who comes along.
  • This person ends up not being a wise choice, and so you decide to swear off love again.

If this pattern sounds familiar, you are not alone. Almost three-quarters of the women from my research and private practice got caught in this Hurt-Lonely-Scared Cycle.

2. Understand that it is normal to feel unhappy, lonely, confused, angry, or relieved about your break up. If you become too depressed or furious, seek professional help immediately. Here’s a checklist you can use to chart your emotional reactions and determine that it’s time to get professional help.

Break up Recovery Checklist

If you experience the items on the list for more than two weeks, I recommend you see a counselor. I never like to volunteer to close doors. You have far more to lose by not getting some guidance and tips. Invest in you! You are worth it.

Check the statements that describe you.

  • My appetite has changed. I’m either eating too much or too little.
  • I am relying on drugs or alcohol to make me feel better.
  • I have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • I’ve lost interest in things that I normally do.
  • I can’t concentrate or motivate myself at work or school.
  • I can’t stop thinking about my partner who left me. I wonder if there is a new person in his or her life already.
  • I’ve been contacting my ex and leaving mean messages or stalking him or her or damaging my ex’s property and basically making his or her life miserable.
  • I cry a lot.
  • I have lots of aches and pains and headaches and stomach upsets.
  • It feels like my life is over.
  • I don’t feel like being around my friends and family.
  • I don’t have a lot of energy, and I’ve stopped exercising or doing things that made me feel good.
  • I don’t think my life is worth living much longer, and I think of how I might kill myself

3. Learn from your past relationship. No one likes making the same mistake too many times. Here are some questions to help you understand your past relationship.

  • Why did I choose this person?
  • What do I think went wrong?
  • What was going on in my life when I chose this person?
  • What qualities do I now know I need in a relationship?
  • What is my Emotional Default Drive Attraction to a person who is not good for me? In other words, do I end up creating the same kinds of problems I had in other relationships?
  • What influence did my parents and childhood have over my love problems now?

4. Become careful about rebound love by jumping into another serious relationship immediately. That decision could land you in the most common and unhealthy love pattern:

You get trapped in the Relationship Flip where you over-correct your previously unhappy love pattern.

For example, if your previous partner was too mild or insecure or unreliable, you fall for someone who seems to take charge and has lots of confidence—but who ends up wanting to take charge of you! Or, if your previous partner was too controlling, you choose someone whose mildness morphs into meekness.

But notice that these two examples are just upside-down versions of the same pattern where someone is either too much or too little in charge or too passive.

The healthiest relationships consist of partners who fill in the gaps for the other partner’s weaknesses and who offer flexibility and reliability.

Know the reasons why you are in another relationship. Don’t do the following:

  • You choose someone quickly to prove to your ex that you can attract someone.
  • You choose someone who pleases your parents or family.
  • You choose someone because life circumstances such as feeling lonely or getting older make you act in haste.
  • You choose someone you don’t respect or—and who doesn’t respect or value you.

5. Become an expert in your reactions, feelings and assessments while on dates or in new relationships. Observe you on a date and your date at the same time. Observe important cues from your date such as:

  • How does your date treat the wait staff?
  • Does your date listen or talk only about him or her?
  • Does your date “charm” you too much and make you feel too “special?” These could be signs of this person reading your vulnerability—and then taking advantage of you.
  • Observe your own levels of too much excitement and anticipation for a date with this particular person. This reaction could be a sign that you are falling for your Emotional Default Attraction.
  • Go to the restroom and check your pulse—and your thoughts. Get in touch with you!
  • Read books about reading people.

6. Make the goal of dating to test your ability to read people accurately. Date lots of different kinds of people. Don’t worry if the person doesn’t seem your “type” or if there isn’t any “chemistry.” Give you and your dates time to build trust and respect and closeness. You might be surprised. Often, the best way to learn about you and your needs is to get to know different people.

7. Don’t have sex so soon. Get to know someone over time, and don’t let the high of sex flood your brain with pleasure hormones that cloud your ability to see and think clearly. Ask yourself: Are we both making love—or are we having sex? Do we share the same vision about what this experience means?

Buy Dr. Wish’s book right here:

6 Traits Of Healthy Families

By Steve Goodier

It takes some adjusting to live in a family, and some people have difficulty making it work. Maybe that’s why comedian George Burns used to say, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” Sometimes that’s true. But it’s also true that more happiness can be found when we learn how to make our family life better, whether we live in a family or just visit relatives from time to time.

In her book Traits of a Healthy Family (1984), family consultant Dolores Curran drew on responses of more than 500 professionals who work with families of all kinds and shapes. A number of core values and behaviors surfaced in families these professionals generally consider to be healthy.

Here are a few of those top qualities. How many do you find in your family?

1.  Families considered healthy practice good communication and listening. In fact, they work on this.

2. In these families, members experience plenty of affirmation and support. A migrant worker who often spends weeks away from home puts it like this: “Home is a place to go back to if things get rough out there.” It is where you are valued, affirmed, and loved.

3. When they are together, healthy families try to have a good time. Author Charlie Shedd says, “Whenever parents ask me, ‘How can I keep my children off drugs?’ I say, ‘Have fun.'” Evidently, the family that plays together, stays together.

4. These families share the work, too. There is a sense of shared responsibility. Everyone helps out; everyone pitches in.

5. There is a high level of trust in healthier families. The fastest way to drive a wedge between family members is to violate that trust.

6. Finally, these families usually share a common religious core and move toward similar spiritual goals.

No family is perfect — far from it! But families that work on these six traits will soon find themselves happier and healthier.

4 Secrets To Staying In Love

By Steve Goodier

The results are in. I have learned that, after careful consideration and endless debate, The Perfect Man has finally been named: “Mr. Potato Head.” Let me tell you why. He’s tan. He’s cute. He knows the importance of accessorizing. And if he looks at another girl, you can rearrange his face.

I don’t know if Mr. or Ms. Potato Head is right for you. But I’m not a big believer in the idea that we MUST find a perfect match, anyway. There are plenty of happy people who are not paired with someone else. And there are also plenty who may not say they found Mr. or Ms. Right, but are living quite happily with Mr. Almost Right or Ms. Close Enough.

Marriage and long-term commitments may not be for everyone, but if you plan to be with someone a long time, can you stay in love? Does a lifetime relationship have to seem more like a life sentence? I think we’re tempted to believe that real love is a myth, a long-term relationship is a marathon, and romance is for kids. Are there secrets to staying in love over the long haul?

I believe in love and romance, and I know it can last a lifetime. I also believe there are a few simple things we can do to help our love grow over the years.

Here are 4 secrets to staying in love:

1. Find time to date.

I don’t mean time to rehash the stuff you talk about all week long. Get away and talk about things that matter. Use this as time to focus on one another, not to solve problems or to raise issues. There are other times to bring up difficult subjects.

2. Understand what delights the other and then make it happen.

“The romance is over,” says Marlys Huffman, “when you see a rosebush and start looking for aphids instead of picking a bouquet.” What makes him laugh? What brings her pleasure? And what can you do today to delight each other?

3. Remember why you got together in the first place.

When you focus first on his faults, you’re not thinking about his strengths. When you’re busy pointing out her imperfections, you’re not enjoying those qualities that attracted you to her initially. Choose to appreciate that which first drew you together and remember it often.

4. And always – plan enough time for fun.

And don’t always plan times for fun — be spontaneous. Laugh. Go places. Play.

A woman from Charleston, South Carolina was overheard to remark that it was her 53rd wedding anniversary. When asked if she planned a special celebration, she smiled and said softly, “When you have a nice man, it really doesn’t matter.” I suspect they learned the secrets of staying in love.

Your Man Doesn’t Want To Have Sex With You? Here’s Why …

By Dan Munro

There’s something uncomfortable we all need to talk about.

This is for you women out there who are in a relationship with a man who does not try to have sex with you at least a few times per week, if not daily. And of course it’s for the men I’m talking about.

Note: for the sake of making this easy to write I will use heterosexual relationships as examples, but I’m sure this will apply to all types of sexual relationships involving modern men.

In my years of diving deeply into the intimate details of peoples’ lives I’ve been struck by a recurring theme: lack of sexual leadership by men. By this I mean guys who do not boldly and directly initiate sex with their partners (and women they’re attracted to in general), men who use indirect methods to meet their sexual needs (manipulation), and men who rely mainly on pornography for sexual stimulation.

Ever been with a man like that?

These men tend to be passive and avoidant in all forms of sexuality, including touching, kissing, and verbal sexuality (dirty talk). These men wait for a ‘green light’ from women before making a move. They will not attempt any sexual move that puts them at risk of rejection. They get emotionally agitated when rejected sexually, demonstrated by completely fake acceptance (masking rage) or by taking it personally.

This has a disastrous outcome. Women around the world feel unattractive, frustrated, confused, and forced into masculinity. They feel that their partners do not find them attractive, or that their dates just want to be friends. And everyone misses out on playful, uninhibited nooky.

Let me make a couple of points clear here:

  • It has nothing to do with sexual desire. You put almost any man in the dark next to a naked feminine body and he will want to have sex with it. Despite what they claim, men are fairly basic mammals.
  • It is extremely rare for a straight guy to have a genuinely asexual platonic relationship with a women. This doesn’t mean they can’t be your friend, just understand there will often be attraction and they definitely have at least considered shagging you. There’s nothing wrong with this. Relax.

So what’s going on here? Why are men hiding their sexuality and avoiding rejection? Has your man really lost interest in you, or is there something else going on here?

I want to help women with these issues in two ways. Firs, understand what is happening psychologically with your man (or that guy you just dated who didn’t try to kiss you). And secondly, what you can do to change it.

There are a number of contributing causes to male passive sexuality. I’ve learned of many, through my own experiences, psychological research, and the many anecdotes of both my male and female clients. Here we go…

1. MISUNDERSTANDING FEMINISM

Like all extreme movements, feminism went too far in some areas. Namely, feminism became synonymous with man-hating. In the 60s and 70s the message was clear: all men are selfish rapists. This may not have been the intended message, but it was certainly the one that many men received.

It became the least fashionable thing in the world for a man to show sexual attraction to a woman. Even a wink was considered assault. It became difficult for men to safely understand the difference between harassment, assault, consenting flirting, and foreplay.

The stage was set for a whole generation of men (who of course were to become fathers and role models) to be scared and confused about their own masculine sexuality.

2. SEXUAL SHAME

Boys are conditioned as they grow older to feel ashamed of their sexual desire. They are told that it is materialistic to be attracted to girl before you ‘get to know her’. Romantic movies portray the asexual friend as a hero, and the sexually dominant male as a sleazy sadist. Words like ‘sensitive’ and ‘respectful’ are over-emphasized and misunderstood by men to mean ‘you have pretend to care more than you actually do before you can shag her’.

Many boys are raised almost solely by women. Fathers are away working and emotionally distant (and they are victims of this shame as well so their role modeling is no help), and most school-teachers are female. This means that boys’ model of what a man should be comes either from female interpretation or from media.

Women have the best of intentions when they tell a boy how he should treat a woman. Unfortunately this description often includes complete lack of sexuality and leadership, and gives the boy a picture of a lower-status, passive and asexual friend (be polite, compliment her, buy her dinner etc.). When you ask a women about her ideal man, she will often describe the caring and nurturing side. This is not what she is sexually attracted to. It would be pretty rare for a mother to tell her son “On your first date, make sure to playfully spank her on the ass, and don’t wait to the end to go for a kiss”.

Women are also caused to feel massive shame about their sexuality, thinking that wanting sex is ‘slutty’. This causes women to pretend not to have high sex-drives, further conditioning men to believe women do not welcome sexual attraction. When I first learned that women actually enjoy sex I was in my mid-20s! And I’m not even one of the worst cases. One of the reasons men become initially obsessed with pornography is because it’s the only media outlet that shows women enjoying sex beyond the traditional relationship model.

Combine all of this with the boy’s first sexual experiences in early teen years. If he’s been conditioned to think that sexual desire is shameful, and then he gets rejected when asking a girl out, he will consider this as solid proof that he should be passive. He will then wait patiently for a girl to select him, causing him to forever place women on a pedestal of status above him. This makes him even more ashamed of ‘defiling’ one of these goddesses, and eventually he will settle for any woman who is willing to initiate.

Movies and TV programs give boys the impression that men should not develop sexual feelings towards a woman until after they are attracted to her personality. This does not line up with reality. A man decides whether or not he wants to sleep with you in less than 0.000001 nano-seconds. He does not need to be attracted to your personality to want to have sex with you. It’s the way men are biologically wired – accept it, or be forever disappointed. So this is a common example of men being told that their natural desires are wrong.

Want to know what happens to men who are constantly conditioned to believe that they should repress sexual desire? They eventually snap. Just look at what happened with the Catholic Church.

In the end, you get men who think it is basically wrong to want sex. It’s as simple as that. There are plenty of exceptions of course, but if you’re a sexually active woman then you’ve almost definitely had these men in your life, many times.

3. THE FEAR OF REJECTION

At the bottom of it all is a dirty, shameful secret: these men are terrified of being rejected by women. TERROR-fied. Overcoming fear of rejection is the most frequent conversation I have in the coaching I do.

Due to everything we’ve discussed already, and combined with genetic predispositions around social harmony, men associate rejection with feelings of intense anxiety; a constant dread. I know men who are quite successful with women yet still feeling massive anxiety at the thought of going up to a girl sober and telling her that she’s gorgeous. Men require alcohol, signs of attraction, anonymity (e.g. online dating), long-term friendship, and other crutches before they can feel safe to express attraction.

Expressing attraction is a risk-taking behavior. The fear gives them a vague dread about what would happen if the attraction is not reciprocated. When I ask my clients “What are you actually afraid will happen?” their answers are never clear, with hints at reputation and embarrassment. They’re so afraid of rejection they can’t even explore the idea of it without support.

This continues well after a romantic relationship is established. I used to think that every time a girl I was seeing said ‘No’ to sex, that it was all over (often it was, due to my other people-pleasing behaviors, which further reinforced this false belief). Men in relationships continue to be sexually passive because of the underlying fear that sexual rejection will signal the end of the relationship entirely. It’s like Billy Connolly once said:

“Women need to feel loved to have sex; men need to have sex to feel loved”.

I am NOT advocating sexual assault. No means no. But waiting for a clear invitation is passive and will leave many women waiting in vain. Men have to take a risk. But they often don’t, because…

4. AFTER VALIDATION THEY DON’T NEED TO ‘CHASE’

Women often wonder why their guy stopped trying after the initial courtship. What happened to the roses and dinners and romantic gestures? Often this stuff ends shortly after putting out for the first time. Is it because guys are shallow manipulative sex-fiends?

Actually, no.

What was happening was the guy was trying to feel good about himself. He has been conditioned to worship and seek the approval of women (remember all the female teachers etc.?) and cannot function without it. The courtship was not really romance, it was a toxic attempt to receive validation.

The ultimate validation for these poor damaged men (I say this with love; I used to be one) is sex. When a Nice Guy gets laid he finally feels that he has received your acceptance. So he no longer has any reason to keep manipulating you into liking him more.

It was never about you.

5. FEELINGS OF WORTHLESSNESS

You can imagine what happens to man over time when he is programmed to see sex as the only proof that he is a good person. He starts to feel worthless. And worst of all, he creates a pattern that amplifies this effect. Because he is so passive around sex (waiting for you to initiate), he rarely gets it. He’s not making any effort to turn you on or initiate, so you think he’s not interested, and sex just stops happening.

Now he feels even more worthless. In his mind, even his partner doesn’t want him. And when you finally do get drunk enough to initiate, it only enables this process even more, because now he’s getting intermittent rewards. This is a psychological concept that explains why people love to gamble; we are wired to become more obsessed with occasional unexpected rewards than we are with consistent rewards.

He has now made you responsible for his self-worth, and blames both you and himself for the lack of sexual activity.

And a final point, one I’m no expert on, is that men these days simply have less testosterone. Our diet and behavior are increasing estrogen levels, which exaggerates these issues. It’s hard to feel like a man when you’re flooded with female hormones.

WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?

So there you are: with a man you love, or on a date with an interesting guy, yet suffering through a boring sex life. What can you do to change this?

First, try to understand what you’re dealing with here: a frightened little boy. A man who has been brainwashed into thinking that women are the leaders in sex, and that he should wait for full outright expressed permission before even considering sex.


I’m here to help. This kind of stuff is my specialty and I’ve had these conversations with dozens if not hundreds of people. Email me your questions at any time dan@theinspirationallifestyle.com


Here are my top tips for de-programming your man and helping him find his masculine, powerful sexuality:

  • Tell him what you want. The upside to these guys is that they are eager to please you sexually and get a massive thrill from your pleasure. Use this to your advantage. Give him explicit instructions on what to do physically. The more he sees himself as sexually successful, the more courageous and risk-taking he will become over time.
  • Encourage him to be sexually dominant and tell him to lead. Give him permission to initiate without needing a ‘sign’ from you. Tell him things like “It would turn me on so much if you just randomly grab me and kiss me”.  Spell it out for him at first so he can test the boundaries. He’s going against his programming here, so be patient and relentless. Do NOT take over leadership responsibilities out of frustration, as this is only a short term solution that actually increases the problem.
  • Talk openly with him about his views on sex and leadership. Ask him who he thinks should lead and initiate. Let him know it’s okay for him to do this with you. Create a safe space for him to speak openly about his sexual shame.
  • Call him out on his shit! I once had a girl tell me that it was annoying that I made jokes about how I didn’t get laid. This was a total revelation – I thought it was a good thing to show lack of sexual activity, until this happened.
  • Spend a weekend away with him, naked and debaucherous. Dedicate a few nights to exploring all of your fantasies and his. Show him that nothing he wants sexually is ‘wrong’ (of course it’s still okay to say no to it, just don’t call him a freak). This weekend will make him much more sexually comfortable around you.
  • Encourage leadership, but don’t nag. Force him to make decisions for the both of you outside of the bedroom. Allow him to take risks, in fact, encourage it. Don’t allow his passive feminism to force you to be masculine. E.g. if you’ve just started dating, make him choose where and when. Encourage his masculinity in other areas, like health and career.

And my NUMBER ONE TIP:

Get him to read “No More Mr Nice Guy” by Dr. Robert A Glover. Go through the book with him and encourage him to do the exercises. It will be painful for both of you but may save your relationship.

Good luck! And let me know your thoughts.

Single? Don’t Waste Your Time Doing This …

By Amanda McPherson

There was a time in my life when I really didn’t like being alone. My dislike of being alone, paired with my total avoidance of having the “it just isn’t working out” conversation, created the perfect recipe for empty calories in my dating life. In fact, it was one of my best friends who first used the empty calorie analogy with me about my dating habits. It was so spot-on and brilliant that I couldn’t be mad at her for calling me out on my not-so- productive dating pattern. There was certainly a part of me that was enjoying the male attention and I was avoiding having to disappoint anyone, but I would always end up feeling empty. I felt empty because I wasn’t on a path to what I truly desired; I wasn’t getting the sustenance that I really craved in my relationships.

In dating, empty calories are consumed when you are spending a significant amount of your time and energy with someone you know is not the right match for you.

Empty calories may be in the form of a great guy who just isn’t the right fit for you or a bad boy who is not interested in changing his ways. If you are looking for a long-term, significant relationship, I caution you to beware of empty calories. Just like a cookie, indulging in dating empty calories can feel good in the moment, but they could be preventing you from meeting the right person for you. And more importantly, they could be preventing you from being your best self and living your most authentic life.

Some dangers of consuming too many empty calories in your dating life include:

1. Wasting Time

OK, this sounds harsh. Yes, I believe that every person and life experience offers us a chance to learn and grow. But, once you know you are not compatible with someone, you really are wasting valuable time: both yours and theirs. Time is precious and something to be valued. Time spent in dead end relationships is time that could be spent nurturing your friendships, working on your health, exploring a new hobby or even just being still and resting. Unlike empty calories, these things feed your mind, body and spirit. They make you a happier, healthier person and, yes, a better partner when someone special does come along.

2. Worry and Anxiety

I don’t know about you, but when I’m not being honest with myself or others I can’t shake a feeling of uneasiness in my gut. When we aren’t being congruent with our words, feelings, and actions it can make us feel really yucky. Many times we don’t feel that great about ourselves when we’re consuming empty calories. After the high of the attention is gone, we might find ourselves feeling down about spending time with someone who is not what we really need and want in a partner.

3. Missed Opportunities

Of course there is always the risk that spending too much time with someone who holds no future for you will cause you to miss out on meeting someone who does meet your needs. There is no guarantee that you will find “The One” if you give up your empty calories. You may end up spending more time alone than you’re used to and that’s okay (in fact, it could be good for you). However, it doesn’t take a genius to see that lounging on the couch all weekend with empty calories limits your ability to be out there and available for a better match.

Don’t let those empty calories sabotage your most heartfelt goals. You deserve to find deeply satisfying love.

5 Things To Do When Your Child Tell You S/He Is Gay

By Darin Dillinger

It’s that moment you suspected – that moment you knew was coming. Your intuition knew it since your child was young. You fear that family, friends, and people you don’t know will judge you on your parenting skills. You look inward, and your self-confidence has been shaken to the core.

Your child has just come out to you.

In your era, it was shunned or frowned upon. However, today it’s not such a taboo. This younger generation feels free to be themselves, yet your generation still has a stigma on it.

Here are five suggested tip to help you deal with this situation:

1. Remember: It is not your fault.

You did nothing to cause your child to be gay. Recent studies show there is a genetic link to homosexuality. Click here to read one published in 2007.

2. Your child is looking to you for support.

Whether you agree or disagree with your child all they want is to know if they’re okay in your eyes. You don’t have to understand it but your kid is just as scared as you. There are groups for you. Check out PFLAG

3. Try to NEVER to question your child.

One of the worst, if not damaging things is to say “Are you sure?” More than likely your child has thought about this for months or even years before telling you. In fact, you’re probably one of the last they told. Try not to bring up religious beliefs unless they bring it up first.

4. Don’t assume your child is into unprotected sex, drugs, or really wants to be a stereotype.

From my experience when I came out, all three were assumed. Most gay teens turn to all these AFTER being rejected by family or friends. If given support and conversing rationally, you will see your child is just normal and is looking for guidance. Most of us aren’t into any of this stuff coming out.

5. Breathe and contemplate.

If you can’t hold it together and anger or irrational thoughts come in your mind when they come out to you, DO ONE THING. Hug them, breathe, and tell them “give me some time, I love you, but I need some time.” After that, there are hotlines for you to go to for an outside opinion. If that doesn’t feel work, try a friend or someone you may know with a similar situation.

The Difference Between NEEDING And WANTING A Man

By Talya Flowers
I am not a male-basher.
I don’t hate men.In fact, I appreciate them for all the qualities that I do not have. Men, to women, are like a glove. If you find the right one, it just fits. You don’t have to force or fake it. It just works.Lately, my dad has been away on business, and there are some things in the house, like the toolbox, that my dad loves but it is not easily accessible to us. I needed that toolbox because I had to remove the license plate off of my car to be able to use it for another car. I was using a flat heads screwdriver at 11 o’clock at night with a pile of snow everywhere.  Now, realize that my dad is like 6 feet and weighs probably a solid 275 pounds, easily. I am standing outside in the cold singing the mantra “righty tighty, lefty loosey” trying to unscrew screws that a man twisted so tight just so that his baby girl would never get her license plates stolen. With enough singing, the screws were loosened, and I ran to my house. Satisfied that I did it. I did it.I came in and shook the snow off my boots and my sister said, “Look, Talya, you don’t need a man.” I threw the biggest tantrum and exclaimed back at her,”All women need men! How else am I going to procreate?”Once the words left my mouth, I knew that it was time to do some soul searching. Do women need men?

Need: Something that you have to have
Want: Something that you would like to have

My sister was right, “I don’t need a man.”

I believe that needing a man comes from a deep internal lack that breeds  fear, insecurity, doubt, loneliness, desperation, rejection, abandonment, and shame. That list is not exhaustive. I can probably come up with millions of other words to describe not feeling adequate enough to be alone. The mentality that you have to have a man will leave you always seeking for a love that you will never be able to find. Your love life will be a never ending revolving door because after one break-up, you’ve already moved on to the next. Let’s be realistic. One door can’t close unless you’ve healed, and that is why you need a man to cover up the insecurities. In this state, you will gladly take anyone because you are desperate for love, attention, and affection.

Now, if you see the shenanigans of needing a man, then you’re ready to have an “I want a man mentality.”

When you want a man, you won’t settle for just anything because you know your worth. You see yourself as valuable. You see yourself as special. You see yourself as having a lot of good to add to someone’s life, and you’ve done everything that you can possible do to be in the best relationship, not with somebody else, but with yourself. Wanting a man comes from a deep internal sufficient reservoir that breeds hope, security, certainty, love, peace, acceptance, self-control, and honor.  You are adequate being alone because you know that it is part of the journey, and all journeys must come to an end.

When you arrive at your destination, you will look back and realize that the time spent with yourself were the best moments of your life. And eventually, you will meet another soul that has an internal sufficient reservoir and both of you will pour abundantly into each other.

By wanting him, you will need him for all the right reasons, and the two shall become one.
P.S. You are more than enough, not because of who you are, but because of whose you are. ​

Think Your Actions Don’t Matter? Then Read This …

By Crystal Veness

This past year has been incredible. Best year on record without doubt. It’s been my most challenging year – mentally, physically, and emotionally. But it has been the most rewarding by a long shot. As I sail into the new year, I’m happy. Motivated. Inspired. And I have a lot of people to thank for that.

Sometimes out of heartache comes amazing clarity. My eyes were opened this year, and it was terrifying. I realized I had been living my life not as me, but a masked version of myself that I believed the people around me wanted to see. While the shock ran its course, I started to come out of the fog and I was more alive and aware of who I am than I had ever realized was possible.

As 2014 came to a close, I began reflecting on how I came to this point. I realized it was a combination of amazing people who have crossed my path this year as I traveled the world.

I didn’t – and couldn’t have – done it alone. It’s the people around me who made the difference.

And I wanted them to know how their kindness, openness, influence, and support made a tremendous difference.

How often do you acknowledge the people that have inspired you? Helped you? Loved you?

These past few months I’ve sent out a handful of written letters, Facebook messages, and even a scribbled note to express my appreciation for those people. I was floored by the responses I received.

“Your message was so incredibly touching and so unbelievably well timed I can hardly wrap my head around it.”

“That is the nicest out of the blue message I’ve ever received…thank you so much- I’m so stoked I was a positive influence.”

“That message brought tears to my eyes. I needed to hear that today. Thank you, I’m glad I was able to touch your life.”

How can people so amazing be so surprised to hear it? Some of the people who do the most for us never know how much it’s worth. That’s not right. It’s so easy to take from others – in the form of inspiration, knowledge, a place to stay, a hug when you need it… But don’t forget that those people are giving something. Thank them for it.

In recent weeks, I’ve been brought to tears by the kind words that others have shared with me. Even I’m surprised when I get reminders that I’ve had an impact on someone else’s life. Getting a phone call with such sweet sentiment that I had to sit down because I was so blown away I was shaking … Crying over breakfast because I’d received a message with heartfelt, kind words about who I am as a person … It all reminds me of the power that words carry. I will never forget these messages.

So send a note, a letter, take them for a coffee and tell them in person. Let them know what they have done for you and how much you appreciate them!

I think we often go through life without realizing our true impact we have on others around us – both good and bad. We have an amazing opportunity each day to wake up and choose to share our love with others.

Know that when you listen to a friend in need, smile at a complete stranger, or stop and share your thankfulness, you are making a difference.

5 Ways To Make Your Words Count

By Talya Flowers

Words are seeds.

Whatever you say, will grow.

Whatever words you use for or against yourself, will be.

Choose wisely.

Words are powerful.  They have the power to kill and destroy relationships, demolish an individual’s identity, self-esteem and self-worth, and build up strongholds in a person’s mind.

I have mentioned several times in my articles about the importance of renewing the mind because that is where every issue begins – and from the mouth is where every issue is settled. Where are your seeds settling?  I wholeheartedly believe that whatever comes out of the mouth, in anger, spite, or resentment, is truly what that person believes. Because the seeds that fall out of our mouths stem from the very thoughts that we have ruminating over and over in our minds.

With so many hurting people today, I am making it my duty to make everyone I come into contact with know that they are valued and that they matter.  If there is a long line in the store, I refuse to take it out on the cashier. If my food is not being “prepared” fast enough at a restaurant, I refuse to take it out on the waitress, cashier, or busboy. If someone is yelling in my face and telling me off, I refuse to reason with them in that manner. I refuse because we never know what each person is facing in their personal lives when we meet them at that particular time. I realize now that sometimes the ones who hurt us the most, need to really be shown an example of God-like love.

I once gave an acquaintance a compliment about a teal sweater he was wearing, and his eye sparkled. Then he took a step back and stammered to push “thank you” out of his mouth.  I was being honest with him, but his reaction showed me just how powerful our words can be.

Here’s another example: Several months ago, I reached in to give one of my friends a departure hug. After a second, I stepped back, and he held me for a second longer. I wiggled to free myself, and sternly said “what are you doing?” He looked at me intently and said, “I was just appreciating the moment.”  His seeds grew immediately. But I played tough, and told him to stop being a creeper. As I turned to walk away to get in my car, my jaw dropped. I sat in my car for 5 minutes, as it warmed up, really thinking about the words he had just said.  That one seed: “I was just appreciating the moment,” turned into, “I appreciate your time, I appreciate the time we spent together, and eventually, I appreciate you.” I cried like a baby – and that is how much I am drawn to the words that people use.

Here are my suggestions for always making your words count:

1. Be kind

If you are ever involved with someone whose love language is words of affirmation, try not to verbally criticize/correct your partner all the time. If it is a small matter, then leave it a small matter; don’t make mountains out of molehills. If what a person is doing is hazardous to your mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual well-being, politely bring up the issue and use a buffer (“I love how you do this … x,y,z but you could do this like this!) Those fortunate individuals like me whose love language are words of affirmation, hear criticism differently than most people.  Tread lightly and always choose kindness.

2. Be encouraging

Encouraging people comes easily to me (it’s my gift!). I believe that we all have unearthed potential that can be cultivated and then used for a greater purpose. Be your friends, family members, or spouse’s biggest cheerleader. Encourage them in an area that they are truly passionate about. Use your words to encourage them. When you encourage someone, then your words are being used to instill courage into them.  Never encourage them in an area that they are not passionate about; follow your spouse’s train of thought, so to speak.

3. Be honest

Don’t give meaningless compliments, encouragement, or feedback. Your words should come from a place of sincerity and honesty to be uplifting.

4. Be gentle

Sometimes it is hard to be kind, encouraging, honest, and gentle at the same time because we want to quickly get what we want to say off of our chests, never realizing that our tone of voice is all wrong.  A gentle critique is heard, whereas a condemning critique causes a person to shut down and never hear what you are trying to say.  I read a book that said “you can be right but wrong at the top of your voice.”  Excessive mentioning of faults crushes the spirit, so be very gentle in your tone of voice when you have to use your words to rebuild.

5. Be open

An open heart is ready to receive all that life has to offer, so always be open to receive whatever someone is saying to you. Do you have to cling to their every word? No, but people want to know that they are being heard. If someone has the courage to come and tell you something about yourself then listen and be open. Be willing to see things from their point of view. I bet you both can gain something.

Always remember, your words have the power to touch the soul and leave a person feeling more loved and appreciated by just being in your presence.

3 Proven Ways A Simple List Can Revolutionize Your Love Life

By Duana C. Welch, Ph.D.

Take a moment and write a list of everything you desire and need in a life partner. Take several moments, in fact. Put in everything—in detail, in color. Dream big.

Then separate that list into “must-haves”—stuff you just can’t do without—and “desirables”—things you’d like, but could compromise on if they were otherwise wonderful.

All done? In my experience, most folks resist making their list. And that’s a shame, because your list is an amazing tool in the work belt of life.

With your help, it’s going to do three really vital jobs for you:

1. Find hidden singles.

Have you ever gone car shopping? Ten years ago, I bought a Mini Cooper, and I love it so much, I haven’t replaced it.
A funny thing happened while I was looking around, though: I saw Minis everywhere. It really seemed like the world was chock-full of them.

You may have heard of the Law of Attraction, which says that we draw to us what we imagine. If life really worked like that, you’d create your list and click your heels while The One appeared.

Sigh. Not true.

And yet the list is very powerful—not because it attracts the right people to you, but because you start noticing them. Just as I started noticing my brand of car everywhere once I’d narrowed my search, you will begin noticing your kind of sweetheart once you refine your own list.

Mr. Right might be where you work or live; Ms. Right might be where you worship, or shop. The point is, have you noticed? Or is The One hidden in plain sight because you aren’t clear on your needs?

2. Do first things first.

There’s a saying, “First things first.” It means you need to do things in the order that makes the most sense. This sounds obvious, but without your list, you’ll probably do first things last. In these relationships, people meet, have sex, get emotionally involved, and *then* figure out whether this person is what they want.

You may think this is the exception, but research shows that hooking up on college campuses has largely replaced dating. A hook-up can be anything from sleeping over to kissing to having intercourse to oral sex. An 18-month multi-campus study of American college life found that most women continue to enter and leave college hoping to find yes, a degree, but also to find love and marriage. The decline of dating and the rise of hook-ups has cost them–more than men–a great deal in terms of confusion and pain.

So some girls and women reading this may never have had a date; some might have had sex with men who wouldn’t acknowledge them as girlfriends. They have no idea what to expect and require in courtship. Take this letter, from Gina (not her real name):

“I’m confused about ‘Sam.’ We hang out almost every night, and we have sex, and he says he likes me. We are each other’s fallback plan; it’s assumed we will see each other daily. But he’s never outright said whether I am his girlfriend. I asked once, and he laughed and asked why I couldn’t tell, and changed the subject! It’s depressing. How can I find out what I am to him?”

If you are tired of being confused, or if you’re tired of getting into sex-first, questions-later situations, or if you’ve had enough of getting emotionally invested and only *later* finding out that this one is not The One—it’s time to let your list turn that dynamic around.

And how do you do that? Know your standards. Then, listen closely to feedback, and ask the tough questions about and to this person *before* you get emotionally and physically involved.

I’ve read of a study showing that a date’s friends will tell the truth about them. That fits my experience. I broke up with a man whose ex-wife called to ask me to reconsider: “You’re really special to Bill. I knew that as soon as I found out he drives an hour to see you. He never goes out of his way for anyone.”

I didn’t listen to the important part of her message: Bill wasn’t especially flexible or concerned with other people’s needs. Both times we broke up, the reason was: He was not especially flexible or concerned with other people’s needs.

When I met my husband Vic, though, he took me to a party “so you can meet everyone I know. I want my life to be an open book.” Nobody there told me how lucky Vic was; they all said how fortunate *I* was to be with him. Bingo.

So listen to what others say about your partner. Ask the person you’re dating, too. You can be creative about it, but ask questions that add up to whether or not this person fits your “must-haves.” One of the more valuable questions I learned to ask in my dating life was: “If your ex and I were talking, what reason would she give for your break-up?”
Vic had answered a lot of my questions before we ever met in person; we talked about them on the phone. I didn’t rudely bust out with, “Here is my list, and you’d better answer the way I want, or I’m not going out with you.” But I did broach important questions in a friendly way, and I didn’t wait until we were deeply involved.

What if he’d refused to respond, or said something like, “Wait, why all the questions?” Some men did. We didn’t go out. If you’re reading this, my guess is that you have had enough of doing last things first, having hook-ups, and floundering around wondering what’s going on. And if so, you’re ready for someone who is also ready to do first things first.

3. Avoid deal-breaker temptations.

Doing first things first won’t help unless you heed your own list. The absence of even one tiny little “must-have” means that you Must Not; the whole relationship is a no-go for you, a heartbreak waiting to happen. So don’t go there.

Of course, a lot of us have trouble with this one. Almost everyone I know who has made the list has at least occasionally dated someone with a known deal-breaker.

Why do we ignore our own lists? Sometimes, it’s because we question ourselves, or our standards. Or we’re lonely. We’ve lost hope. We think love is rare, and we have to hang onto it no matter what, because all you need is love.
Apologies to the Beatles, but science disagrees. Love is like roadside flowers in springtime: beautiful, but common.

Sometimes, we fall in love with people where things just won’t work out; and most people fall in love more than once. Nearly all of the divorced people in the world were in love when they wed. If love was all they needed, they would’ve stayed put!

What’s enough is love, plus kindness, respect, similarity, and you sticking to your list. Before I got that, I got heartache. After I got that, I got the man I’ve been happily married to for nearly seven years.

Your right person won’t be perfect. But if you’re careful about this, they will be perfect for you.

Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., is the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do (2015); this entry is a partial excerpt. You can get a free chapter and see more at http://www.lovefactually.co

7 Ways To Be Persuasive & Easily Get What You Want

By Dr. Carol Morgan

Does this photo look like you when you don’t get what you want? Do you become aggressive or argumentative? If so, keep reading.

We all like to get our way. I don’t know one person who doesn’t. But how do we make that happen? As you may have guessed, I don’t suggest emulating this toddler in the feature photo – unless you want to get what you don’t want. 

We all use persuasion every day, whether we know it or not. Getting someone to comply with what you want them to do can take place in many different contexts. You can persuade your significant other, your boss, your client, or even give a persuasive speech or presentation. Regardless of what context you are applying your persuasive skills, there are some useful strategies that can help you get what you want easily.

1. You need to give your “audience” what they want and desire.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “what’s in it for me?” And I’m sure most of you reading this have thought or even said it yourself! We all have. Let’s face it: we’re all inherently self-centered. If something doesn’t make us happier or our lives better, we are not very interested in it. So in order to persuade your “audience” (whether it is an individual or an audience of 1,000 people), you need to tell them how it is going to benefit them. You can’t just focus on yourself or they will tune out. If you focus on helping them achieve their wants and desires, they will be ready to sign on the dotted line.

2. Don’t require the “audience” to change too much.

Human beings are not only self-centered‒many of us are lazy too! Anyone who has made a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight, eat healthier, and exercise more knows how difficult it is to change your habits or your lifestyle. Plus, it is much easier to persuade people on simple things (“Here! Try this new hot fudge sunday!” or “This new toothpaste is great! You should try it!”) rather than deeper convictions (“Hey! You should switch religions!” or “I love the president, but you hate him. Vote for him anyway!”). Audiences need to be exposed to a message multiple times before they even consider changing their attitudes or behaviors.

3. Make your audience like you.

Let’s say you are out at a furniture store to buy a new couch and love seat. A sales person comes up to you and starts up a conversation. You had already picked out your couches, but the sales person really annoys you. He smells bad, talks too much, and follows you around yammering on and on about nothing. Even if you were just about to whip out your credit card to buy the furniture, you might just want to make your escape to get away from the sales person. You might even do that and try to find another store that sells the same couches‒I think you get the point. If your audience doesn’t like you, they’re not going to buy into what you say. Be nice, friendly, and connected. Make sure you think about the impression you’re giving off at all times.

4. Make your audience trust you.

Would you vote for a political candidate who you didn’t trust? Would you lend money to a friend if you didn’t think she would pay you back? Of course not! People are more easily persuaded by others that they trust. That is one of the reasons Oprah has the “golden touch.” If she recommends a book to her audience, it automatically becomes a best-seller. Why? Because they trust Oprah! They trust her opinion, so they will automatically do what she says to do. So in order for you to get people to do what you want them to, you need to gain their trust as well.

5. Use emotional strategies to persuade them.

One of the easiest ways to persuade someone is to use emotion. Great examples of this are the television commercials that show the starving children in third world countries. They ask you to donate money to them on a monthly basis so they can have clean water, food, clothes, and schooling. The visual images are very sad, and so it makes people want to give money to help them. Even in personal relationships, we use emotion to persuade. However, you have to be careful doing this. Sometimes it is not ethical if you use guilt to manipulate someone on purpose. But appealing to positive emotions like love, happiness, belonging, or togetherness is a great way to get your “audience” to agree with you.

6. Use logic to persuade your audience.

Not everyone is an emotional person. Some people might be turned off by overly using emotion to persuade them. So it’s important to remember to use logic sometimes, too. If your “audience” is one person, try to assess their personality as best as you can. See if they seem to appreciate logic and rationality over emotion. But if your audience is a large group of people, you will have a mixture of different people. So the best thing to do is to combine logic with emotional appeals. That way, you will likely influence everyone in some way.

7. Use your personal qualities.

If you are an expert on the topic, make sure the audience knows. Dress the part. Look the part. Act the part. Be dynamic. Be engaging. Your audience will be much more persuaded if you give them reasons why they should pay attention to you. People are very easily persuaded by people they know or respect. That is why advertisements use celebrities so often. They are recognizable, and many people will buy a product simply because that particular public figure is telling them to. So selling yourself is key to persuading others.

Sometimes persuasion can be easy. Sometimes it’s difficult. But if you keep these 7 tips in mind, you will be very successful in getting what you want.

Holiday Stress Tips & Family Grievances

By Dr. LeslieBeth Wish

Oh—so you think that just because you are together with your family that it’s a good time to have one of those heart-to-hearts where you grab the opportunity to air your emotional hurts and open wounds. Well, not so fast. It just may not be the best time to settle your grievances.

Why It May Not be a Good Idea:

1. The Power of Emotional Time Travel.

When you get together with your extended family, the “home” you are going to is not in the present: You are going home emotionally to the one from your past. You start your journey as adult and end up as a child. Welcome to the world of Emotional Time Travel. As a result you bring all your old defenses and behaviors. For example, if you tended to sulk or get snippy as a child, then exposure to your family will tend to activate the old you. It’s as though you fall back into your old groove. Don’t underestimate the power of the family. Think of the weakening effect of kryptonite on Superman.

2. Family Reactivity.

People tend to be the most emotionally reactive when face to face. Blindsiding your family members with hot topics will most likely activate their Emotional Default Drives and bring out the worst in them—and you as well!

3. Old Views of You.

Stirring up the family can create factions, taint the atmosphere and sustain the family’s old and negative image of you.

However, having heart to heart talks can be a good idea if you take the following tips. And, even if you don’t have any issues to settle, these tips may keep you from falling into your old, ineffective family groove. The goals are to present your best self so you can bring out the best in others and build healthy bonds.

If you sustain these new behaviors over time, you will increase the possibility of having a positive and effective conversation during the holiday celebration. However, don’t air all your grievances at once. Changing family patterns takes time. Pick one issue—but make sure you offer a solution. If your communication has been smooth, you can initiate some talk about the issue in your texts, emails and cards. A good guide is to limit your discussion to about three to five sentences—but not long ones!

Wiser and More Effective Ways to Build a Better, Stronger and Loving Family:

1. Early Bonds.

Start building new and different relationship patterns with your family early. There are so many meaningful and powerful ways to do this. Send emails, text messages or snail mail cards for their birthdays and other events. Inquire about important things in their lives such as their health, job or vacation. Tell them good things about you. Thank them for something that you appreciate or learned from them. Ask them to write you or send a recording of their life or fond family memories. Tell them you are creating a family journal of all these memories and stories.

2. Thankfulness, Praise and Surprise.

When you are all gathered at the table or your family focal spot, speak up and say you would like to go around the room or table and say thanks and praise to each person. You will feel awkward because it doesn’t “seem like you” and because it is “out of the family groove” and will shake everyone up. Well, the element of surprise is one of your most powerful tools for changing family communication patterns and their inaccurate view of you.

3. Triggers and New Style.

Before you go, get mindful of what exactly sets you off. Write down your hot topics and what you and your family members typically feel, say and do. For example, if your hot topic is being single or divorced, think about what family members say or ask you. What do you usually say or feel? Make a list of the things you dread most about going home again. The goal is to be prepared.

Change your thinking about their behavior. Keep in mind that what they say tells you more about them than it does about you.

Develop a new style. As soon as someone says their usual things (“Are you seeing anyone?” “Are you still dating so-and-so?” “Are you still working in that place?” “Thirty-five—aren’t you working on having children?”), be ready to do these two potent things:

Thank the person for their concern (it is a mixed up way of saying they care)

Ask for their advice (their remarks are also a mixed up way of asking to be valued and included).

You might be surprised at their responses. Often, people get the message that they are not being helpful, but they also hear that they are appreciated.

6 Ways To Silence The “Woodpecker”

By Talya Flowers

The woodpecker is a near-passerine bird that spends most of its time pecking away at different trees in the forest.

I am not a bird fanatic, but the woodpecker is a metaphor for an individual who chips away at the emotional and mental health of another person. The first peck doesn’t make the biggest impact because it’s often very subtle. These can often come in the form of comments or jokes that appear to be helpful but upon second thought, actually, cause damage to the other person.

By the one millionth peck, there is nothing more to take and nothing more to give; you’ve allowed another person to exhaust your overall sense of self. There is no more love because you’re in state of resentment. And you, who were once a secure human being, are now insecure, fearful, walking around on egg shells because at any moment a misconstrued word or phrase can turn into the nastiest argument.

Ironically, most birds don’t create new holes; they’ve already scouted out a tree that had a couple of cracks and fissures, so that they can easily begin the cycle. Often times, they latch on to people who have had horrific childhoods, endured painful/damaging relationships, confrontation avoiders, and those who have a willingness to “help” other people at the detriment of their own well-being. The woodpecker uses the other persons past as a weapon to keep them firmly attached to the relationship. Any thought, word, or phrase that doesn’t coincide with the wishes of the woodpecker is another nasty argument filled with blame, guilt, shame, condemnation, and nauseating threats/remarks.

When the breakup comes, oh, and it will come, the woodpecker will remind you that they deserve better, that you are no good, and that you’ve changed. You will be crushed but over time you will begin to feel as you did in the beginning: whole again and emotionally and mentally sane. You will have finally realized that a) love isn’t about damaging another person b) love is about acceptance and gradual change, and c) there is a lesson and beauty in everything.

Here are my six suggestions for silencing the insidious woodpecker:

1.      Go back to your first love

I ran back to my first love like I was about to lose my footing on a balcony. I guess I was about to lose my footing in life. I find that there is no one more secure than Jesus Christ. He has helped me to see what I chose to ignore. He also helped me to see what is vitally important in my life: being in a relationship with him. I am emotionally and mentally healthy now because I went back. I sprinted back because I know that he is my anchor. I also know that we attract how we feel about ourselves on the inside. And because I didn’t like what was happening to me, I embarked on a journey to never put abuse above my own well-being. That battle was never mine, it’s the Lords.

2.      Find your voice

I am a confrontation avoider, which means I want peace more than anything else in this world. But coming out of a situation like that allowed me to see the importance of finding my voice. I found out that is okay to verbalize why I am disagreeing with someone. Actually, it’s healthy for a relationship and disagreeing with someone doesn’t mean that you no longer love them. It means that you love them enough to let them know that what they are saying or doing is hurting you. It’s okay to speak. And it is okay to say “no” without having to give a 127-page explanation.

3.      Accept/respect ALL of yourself

No one is perfect and the person who believes that they are is setting themselves up for a major fall. When we expect perfectionism of ourselves, we expect that in others, which means that our significant other does not have the potential to grow because we have an unrealistic expectation of how they should be. Accepting all of your flaws, believing that you’re worthy and more than enough are the keys to avoiding this type of environment in the future, so that it leaves no room for people to affect how you view yourself.

4.      Validate yourself

This is a hard area for me because I found out in 2013 that we all have Love Languages and mine is Words of Affirmation. Sigh. But don’t wait for someone to thank, praise, or validate what you are doing for them—even if you are going out of your way to please them. Don’t do it for them, do it for God (if that is your belief and path like mine) because then your validation will come from an inner reservoir.

5.      Seek help

When I said I sprinted back to God, I did it with my whole heart. I knew that I had to firmly seek out getting healthy again. I grabbed my Bible, The Battlefield of the Mind and Power Thoughts books by Joyce Meyer, and I read several books about codependency.  And I am proud to say that I am reading and applying, and I’ve seen a major turnaround in my mind and in my life.

6.      Take responsibility

I took full responsibility for what happened to me, I apologized for everything he falsely accused me of, and when I did, I set myself free, so that I will no longer loop in that area. I now view that situation as a challenge that needed to happen so that I can finally see my self-worth and value.

If you find yourself mending from a breakup with a woodpecker, first, breathe, they were attracted to what you could do for them or whatever you had that validated their self-worth. Second, it is going to be okay, what was once cracked and then broken can always be repaired just allow time to run its course. During the process of healing, begin to focus and love all of yourself. Once you are healed, you will know that you are capable of loving someone else fully.

And always remember: you are more than enough, not because of who you are but because of whose you are.

How To Have The Best Relationship Of Your Life

By Dr. Carol Morgan

We have all grown up watching movies where women are princesses, men are their knights in shining armor, and perfect couples ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. But no one actually teaches us the things we need to do to have our “happily ever after.” So that’s where I come in. Here are 15 things you can do if you want to have the best relationship of your life.

1. Try to talk with your partner about how you impact each other.

No one is a mind reader. And some people aren’t very good at knowing how their behavior affects other people. So you need to tell each other. Not only the negative impacts, but the positive as well. If you want your partner to change something, gently ask without criticism. If you think your partner is awesome, tell them. Thank them. Keep the lines open.

2. When you get in a fight, try to see the situation as if you’re an outsider looking in.

Try to step outside yourself and view the conflict as an objective outsider. This de-personalizes it and helps you see your partner’s point of view. Most people have a “me vs. you” attitude when it comes to fighting. They view it as a battle against the enemy. This could not be more destructive! Instead, have a “we” or team mentality. You’re both in this relationship together, so you have to come up with solutions together. Stepping back and looking at it from an objective perspective helps tremendously.

3. Invite your partner to build more closeness by practicing empathy daily.

Empathy is key to every relationship. This is the ability to see the other person’s point of view and show them that you value how they feel. You don’t have to agree with them, you just have to allow them to feel what they feel without making them wrong. One empathy “game” you can play is reflecting back each other’s words and feelings. This allows you to check your perceptions and helps you partner feel “heard.”

4. Tune into your emotions and see if you can each share what you need most.

It doesn’t help to repress your emotions. It might make your relationship seem peaceful, but it’s like trying to hold a beach ball under water forever. You can’t do it. Eventually, it’s going to come back up–and probably in an explosive manner. So both people need to keep their emotions in check and continuously share them with their partner. That way, nothing will be a surprise or get buried for a long time.

5. Be mindful of the fact that emotional damage can derail relationships.

It could be cheating. It could be ignoring your partner’s feelings. It could be withholding affection. Emotional damage can take any form. And they deliver brutal blows to relationships. So if there was an emotional injury that took place between the two of you, talk about it. Fix it. Don’t ignore it. That will only make it worse.

6. Discuss your main relationship goals for the next year and see if you find ways to achieve them.

When we hear the term “goal,” we don’t usually think in terms of “relationship” goals. But just as you would have a career goal, you must have relationship goals together. Do you want to get married? Do you want to buy a house? Have kids? Move to the west coast? It’s helpful to have shared goals, but if you don’t, then each partner has to be respectful of the other person’s desires and at least try to find a mutually satisfying solution.

7. Cherish and honor your connection.

Don’t take your relationship for granted. It’s sacred, so treat it that way! Too many times we get too comfortable and stop trying to make our partner happy. This doesn’t work. Honor what you have. Cherish it. And above all, communicate to your partner that you value their presence in your life.

8. Create small rituals to recognize your bond.

It helps to have rituals that you do together. It could be committing to go on a date night every Saturday or celebrating your anniversary each year at the same restaurant where you met. Or maybe it’s going on a picnic once a month. Anything that tells each other that you are committed to honoring a ritual or routine will help maintain a healthy relationship.

9. Do little things for each other.

Do the dishes. Rub her shoulders. Vacuum. Call just to say you love him. Bring home a single rose. These are simple things that don’t cost a dime (except for the rose!). These things are valued, especially by women. It shows attention and desire to help or nurture your partner.

10. Laugh. A lot. Don’t take things too seriously.

Who doesn’t like to laugh? I would guess pretty much everyone does. But as relationships get stressful, sometimes people forget to laugh. People start focusing on their partner’s negative behaviors and they get annoyed and resentful. Try not to take things so seriously. Try to look at everything your partner does (and in life) as amusing. This lightens the relationship. Couples that laugh together, stay together.

11. Grow your friendship with each other.

You are probably more forgiving of your friends than you are of your romantic partner. Why is this? Probably because you don’t put as many expectations on your friends. But a solid foundation as best friends is the best way to build a long-term relationship.

12. Support each other’s hopes and dreams.

Maybe you want to open a restaurant. Or your partner wants to go back to school for a Ph.D. Whatever your dreams, you both need to be supportive of each other. Even if you don’t agree with the dream or think it’s silly, you still need to be encouraging. Being your partner’s rock and biggest fan is essential to a healthy relationship.

13. Put your partner’s needs equal to or before your own.

You may not want to admit it, but there may be times when you are a little selfish. And that’s fine. As long as you aren’t selfish all of the time. If you only worry about your needs and you ignore your partner’s, then they will eventually grow resentful. People need to know that their partner loves them enough to put them first‒at least sometimes.

14. Give the relationship attention.

When I teach about relationships, I always use the metaphor of a plant. Plants can be beautiful, but they need to be watered every day. They need attention. And so do relationships. If you don’t “feed” your relationship, it will die. It needs nourishment just as much as a plant. You can’t ignore it and put in minimal effort and expect it to flourish. It takes constant attention.

15. Don’t expect perfection.

We all want to ride off into the sunset with that perfect prince or princess. But we all know that perfection is a myth. No one is perfect. So instead of looking at your partner’s faults and focusing on what they should change, accept them as they are. Focus on the good. Feed the good stuff. And then you will reach a place of calm acceptance and have a peaceful relationship.

Want To Fall In Love During The Holiday Season? Maybe You Shouldn’t …

Soon there will be sales everywhere. Tinsel will hang from clothing racks. Christmas trees will totter on counter tops. Holiday songs will play in loops, and couples and families will burst through aisles with shopping bags while you’re supposed to be happy, too.

Oh, sometimes that holiday atmosphere can trick you into feeling giddy in love–or more alone and more down on yourself. The whole world seems to sparkle, and you wonder: “Why shouldn’t I feel this way with the person I’m with?” Or: “Why don’t I have someone to be with?”

These questions are part of the fall-out from constant exposure to what seems like false or enforced holiday cheer. Holidays are tough times if you feel lonely, hurt or disappointed in love. So, it’s tempting to make the following top mistakes.

Mistake #1: You go for the Last Person Standing who sort of is an okay love match.

You know that you are too picky or critical. You think: “Why not loosen my perfection and choose someone who is not a great match—but so what—who is these days?”

Mistake #2: You allow yourself to get swept away.

You’ve been suffering from Skin Hunger—that painful longing from not being touched. Your past relationships have hurt you emotionally so much that you swore off love for too long. Your life has been all work and no play. Now you’re surrounded by happy couples and families and smiles and laughter and gifts, and you want to feel alive again—even sexually. You think: “Why not toss caution to the wind and just go for that person over there with that dangerously appealing edge?”

Mistake #3: You’ve experienced major setbacks or changes that now make your loneliness and fear of life barely tolerable.

You might getting older, and you feel that time is running out. Or, you’ve had a major loss in life such as declining health, loss of a job or financial stability. Regardless of your situation, you think: “Well, this person is better than being alone in the world.”

Mistake #4: You convince yourself that you are in love with the one you are with.

You’ve been with your partner for a long time. You’ve gone back and forth over whether to get married or break up or at least move in together. Everyone else seems so happy, even though you know for a fact that many of the couples have problems. You think: “Just do it. Open your heart all the way to this person and commit and just forget about those doubts and dull feelings.”

Mistake #5: You are on rebound.

It’s over. You knew it wasn’t working, but still, being dumped feels horrible. You think: “Well, I am just going to show so-and-so that I can get a new person just like that in no time.”

If these mistakes sound like you, here is some advice about how to avoid them.

1. Get mindful of your life situation and your emotional state during the holiday season.

Keep a journal where you can write out your feelings and thoughts. Refer to your journal often. Know your weak spots.

When you re-read your journal, be aware of your physical reactions. Are you getting tearful? Do you feel sick to your stomach? Is your heart racing from anxiety? Make a list of your reactions.

Now add your best guess as to why you are feeling this way? What frightens you?

2. Get a buddy.

Tell a trusted friend about your increasing loneliness and fears. If that person is not going to be at the holiday parties, arrange ahead of time for them to answer your Reality Check Phone Call. If they are at the same parties and events, agree to meet up a few times during the event. Tell them to interrupt you when you are spending time talking to someone. It’s great to get your buddy’s feedback and to observe this new person with your trusted friend.

3. Get a therapist.

Seek therapy before you make another love misstep. Develop a plan that helps you become more observant of you and the person who interests you.

4. Get preventive by boosting your social participation.

Look at your current behavior. Are you turning down invitations? Are you avoiding arranging times to be with friends and colleagues? Examine how much in-person time you spend with others. Do you do volunteer work? Do you make excuses for not attending lectures or your town’s free events? Social isolation increases feelings of loneliness. And when these feelings get too intense, they can put you at risk for acting hastily.

5. Feel your feelings.

Don’t bury them with food, alcohol, overspending or endless time on social media sites with people you barely know. When you make friends with your emotional pain, you will be less likely to let your unhappiness cloud your judgment and intuition about people. Recognize that feelings of loneliness and desperation are warning signs that you need to connect in meaningful ways with others. These feelings are most likely adaptive responses that evolved over time to force social contact with families, groups and tribes for the purposes of increasing chances of survival—including better health. Medical professionals have long known that being alone impairs health and longevity.

6. Don’t define yourself negatively.

Almost all of us have gone through bad times that tempt you to let them define you. So what if you are alone or recently divorced or older or whatever it is that makes you feel too flawed for love. Make a list of people who care and value you. List your accomplishments and what you’ve overcome. Use your own measurements of success. After all, few if any know how far you’ve come in life.

And, contrary to many suggestions, make a list of negative beliefs you have about you. Now ask yourself: Where did these beliefs come from–disgruntled previous partners or from my parents? And could their words to you really tell you more about them and their problems?

7. Slow down.

Even if you do meet someone who might be a good match for you, take your time in the relationship. Postpone sex until you know each other better over time. And make this time together resemble real life as much as possible. Hang out with friends, watch your favorite shows together, and let your new partner see your quirks and reactions.

Holiday Family Stress: Tips for Survival

By Dr. LeslieBeth Wish

Do you think that just because you are together with your family that it’s a good time to have one of those heart-to-hearts where you grab the opportunity to air your emotional hurts and open wounds? Well, not so fast. It just may not be the best time to settle your grievances.

Why It May Not be a Good Idea

1. The Power of Emotional Time Travel.

When you get together with your extended family, the “home” you are going to is not in the present: You are going home emotionally to the one from your past. You start your journey as adult and end up as a child. Welcome to the world of Emotional Time Travel. As a result you bring all your old defenses and behaviors. For example, if you tended to sulk or get snippy as a child, then exposure to your family will tend to activate the old you. It’s as though you fall back into your old groove. Don’t underestimate the power of the family. Think of the weakening effect of kryptonite on Superman.

2. Family Reactivity.

People tend to be the most emotionally reactive when face to face. Blindsiding your family members with hot topics will most likely activate their Emotional Default Drives and bring out the worst in them—and you as well!

3. Old Views of You.

Stirring up the family can create factions, taint the atmosphere and sustain the family’s old and negative image of you.

However, having heart to heart talks can be a good idea if you take the following tips. And, even if you don’t have any issues to settle, these tips may keep you from falling into your old, ineffective family groove. The goals are to present your best self so you can bring out the best in others and build healthy bonds.

If you sustain these new behaviors over time, you will increase the possibility of having a positive and effective conversation during the holiday celebration. However, don’t air all your grievances at once. Changing family patterns takes time. Pick one issue—but make sure you offer a solution. If your communication has been smooth, you can initiate some talk about the issue in your texts, emails and cards. A good guide is to limit your discussion to about three to five sentences—but not long ones!

Wiser and More Effective Ways to Build a Better, Stronger and Loving Family

1. Early Bonds.

Start building new and different relationship patterns with your family early. There are so many meaningful and powerful ways to do this. Send emails, text messages or snail mail cards for their birthdays and other events. Inquire about important things in their lives such as their health, job or vacation. Tell them good things about you. Thank them for something that you appreciate or learned from them. Ask them to write you or send a recording of their life or fond family memories. Tell them you are creating a family journal of all these memories and stories.

2. Thankfulness, Praise and Surprise.

When you are all gathered at the table or your family focal spot, speak up and say you would like to go around the room or table and say thanks and praise to each person. You will feel awkward because it doesn’t “seem like you” and because it is “out of the family groove” and will shake everyone up. Well, the element of surprise is one of your most powerful tools for changing family communication patterns and their inaccurate view of you.

3. Triggers and New Style.

Before you go, get mindful of what exactly sets you off. Write down your hot topics and what you and your family members typically feel, say and do. For example, if your hot topic is being single or divorced, think about what family members say or ask you. What do you usually say or feel? Make a list of the things you dread most about going home again. The goal is to be prepared.

Change your thinking about their behavior. Keep in mind that what they say tells you more about them than it does about you.

Develop a new style. As soon as someone says their usual things (“Are you seeing anyone?” “Are you still dating so-and-so?” “Are you still working in that place?” “Thirty-five—aren’t you working on having children?”), be ready to do these two potent things:

Thank the person for their concern (it is a mixed up way of saying they care)

Ask for their advice (their remarks are also a mixed up way of asking to be valued and included).

You might be surprised at their responses. Often, people get the message that they are not being helpful, but they also hear that they are appreciated.