Tag Archives: dating

 5 Tips For Finding Out Where Your Relationship is Going

How to talk about marriage

 

I won’t beat around the bush. As a licensed marriage and family therapist, I’ve seen it time and time again. Some men keep a woman in a relationship for years, hinting at marriage as a “someday” thing when really they have no intention of following through.

This is why it’s important that you know where you stand, so you don’t waste your time. Even if it doesn’t go the way you expect, you can’t beat yourself up by saying “I should have waited” or “Now I’ve ruined everything.” If a guy makes you feel crazy, stupid, or needy for bringing up the marriage talk, or if he freaks out, then he probably would have kept stringing you along.

Your needs and goals are valid. So if you’ve been with your guy for a while, and you’re wondering if the relationship has potential for the long term, here are five tips to keep in mind when you want to discover how he feels.

01. Talk to him in a relaxed setting.

If your guy gets uncomfortable with heavy intimacy talk, start a conversation while engaging in another activity together where you can still talk to each other. While making dinner at home, bring up your life goals over appetizers and talk about “us” while prepping the entrée. It might feel more natural to him, and he’ll be more open to tell you what’s on his mind and in his heart if the conversation doesn’t feel like an interrogation.

02. Keep it short, but stay focused.

Deciding your future isn’t going to happen in just one conversation. You’ll need to have multiple conversations where you talk about specific topics, such as what you both think marriage looks like and means to you; how you should handle finances; what your expectations are around sex, children, and housework, etc. Tell him you want to open the dialogue for future talks—that you don’t have to figure things out right away. At the same time, be direct. Ultimately, let him know that you want to make sure he’s a willing participant in actively deciding if you have a future together.

03. Make sure he knows you love him.

When it comes to marriage, many men are terrified that they’ll just be filling a role. If a woman comes across as too future-oriented, he may fear that she’s not all that interested in him for who he is—rather she just wants to check the marriage box, and any man will do. So if you’re curious about where he sees your future, make sure he knows it’s not just about getting your “MRS” but about finding someone who can be a life partner. Tell him why you respect him, what you’ve learned from him, and that you’re excited about continuing to get to know him. This will put him at ease and encourage him to open up.

04. Don’t give him an ultimatum.

How you bring it up makes a difference in it being taken as an ultimatum versus simply expressing your needs and desires. Don’t say, “You need to marry me, otherwise I’m going to find someone else.” This is an ultimatum that will most likely backfire. No guy wants to feel like he’s backed into a corner. You can let him know getting married is a goal of yours, but if he doesn’t see you in his future, you’d rather know so that you can both find people who can give you what you want.

05. Support him in taking action over time.

People have fears of marriage for a number of reasons—their parents had a nasty divorce, they don’t see many happily married couples, or they’re not 100 percent confident that they are picking the right person. It’s OK to give him a timeline of when you would like him to know whether he’s ready to take the next step. However, depending on how long you’ve been together, just “more time” won’t necessarily give your guy the answer. He needs to take some kind of action during this time, such as reading articles or books, talking to happily married friends, or seeing a relationship therapist. I’ve worked with both individuals and couples in helping them decide whether they should get engaged—as well as the skills and knowledge needed for a marriage to work. I’ve noticed that for many guys, discovering this kind of knowledge is power and can help a guy calm his fears and give him clarity.

*As originally published on verilymag.com

7 Dating & Relationship Tips for the Emotionally Unavailable Man

45088171 - young miserable depressed man sitting and thinking

In my previous blog, I provided 21 subtle signs of an emotionally unavailable man. I was overwhelmed with the responses from men, saying that many, if not all, of the signs resonated with them. They tell me they don’t want to be this way because they feel stuck in dating or in their relationship. They say that they can see the lonely and gloomy future, being alone and lonely, because they go through date after date, and one relationship after another.

Wanting to change is a necessary component to allow for closeness and ultimately having a great relationship. Here are 5 tips to making yourself more available to your partner:

  1. Identify your distancing strategies. These are strategies that create emotional or physical distance between you and your partner and suppress intimacy. You do them often, so they may feel so natural to you that you’re not even aware that they create distance and uncertainty in your relationship. The first step in changing behaviors is to recognize them. Some examples (check out my previous blog for more): You may focus on their imperfections, you keep future plans fuzzy, and you ignore or diminish your partner’s positive qualities or behaviors. Remind yourself that despite your discomfort with intimacy, you need it for a happy relationship.
  2. Speak up for your need for space. You will always have a need for space, particularly when things get too intimate with your partner. Do this as early as possible when you meet someone so that they don’t take things personally. Say it has nothing to do with them, but it’s something that you’ve needed in every relationship and will continue to need in your new one. Give examples: “If we spend a whole day together, I might not text you as much the next day or two” or “I don’t like to text daily when I first start dating someone.”
  3. Distract yourself. It’s easier for you to let your guard down to your partner if there’s a distraction. Engage in activities such as making dinner together or going for a walk. When you’re not hyper-focused on an intimate moment, but rather on the activity, it can help you access your loving feelings instead of repressing them.
  4. Think about secure people and how they behave in their relationships. Secure people are warm and loving, comfortable with closeness, communicate issues well, and work toward common ground during conflict. Pick 2-3 people and write down how they act and react in various situations, how they respond to and interact with their partner, and their overarching beliefs about relationships. Strive to engage in the ways that they do. Don’t overwhelm yourself and try everything at once; pick one behavior to try every week or so.
  5. Tell people what they mean to you. It might be easier to start with a non-romantic partner. It doesn’t have to be an in-depth conversation. At the end of a phone call with a friend, you can say, “Hey, I really appreciate you listening to me today. You’re a good listener and I always feel like you understand where I’m coming from. It means a lot.” I give this task to my clients and their reaction is always surprise–surprise at how much the kind words meant to the people they spoke with, and how often it was reciprocated. Little by little, you will see the positive results of this practice, and may help you be more emotionally accessible to your romantic partner.
  6. Challenge your negative interpretations of your partner’s behavior. You have a tendency of ignoring positive behaviors or diminishing their value. Continually focusing on the negative will cause your relationship to be overwhelmed with negativity, and it won’t be fun for either of you to be in it. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt that their intentions are positive or at least neutral.
  7. Challenge your catastrophizing beliefs. Your new girlfriend invites you on a romantic weekend getaway, and your brain can only think that this means you’re one step closer to marriage and a life in the suburbs. Or she invites you to hang out with her nieces and nephews, and you assume you’re practicing for parenthood. Pump the breaks. It only means she wants to spend quality time with you for a couple of days, and it definitely doesn’t mean she sees you in her future forever. Bring yourself to focus on the moment at hand, and try to avoid applying meaning that doesn’t exist.

It is possible to become more emotionally available. It takes effort, but little changes done consistently can give you the kind of relationship that deep down, you’ve always wanted.

Have More Than a Fling: How to find (and keep) the love of your life

With all the dating apps out there, how are you supposed to pick a partner? There are so many choices nowadays, how do you know he or she could be “The One”?

People date based on attraction and chemistry. You find someone attractive, you feel a spark, and you hope your relationship lasts. Unfortunately this approach doesn’t work in sustaining a healthy and happy relationship.

If you’re ready to find love, you can’t miss this event! In this three-hour workshop, you will learn Anita’s “Date to Find a Mate Method” that will teach you:

• The biggest mistakes singles make (and how to avoid them)
• How to create your “dating blueprint” to find your best match
• The must-haves for dating & relationship success (they’re not what you think)
• Online and offline dating tips & tricks – for both sexes

You will leave the workshop more prepared to create amazing opportunities for love. Finding your mate will be an important – if not the most important – decision in your life. Get it right the first time.

This event is open to women & men. Bring your friends! Limited space is available so be sure to get your ticket early to reserve your spot. Wine will be served.

Have More Than a Fling: How to find (and keep) the love of your life

With all the dating apps out there, how are you supposed to pick a partner? There are so many choices nowadays, how do you know he or she could be “The One”?

People date based on attraction and chemistry. You find someone attractive, you feel a spark, and you hope your relationship lasts. Unfortunately this approach doesn’t work in sustaining a healthy and happy relationship.

If you’re ready to find love, you can’t miss this event! In this three-hour workshop, you will learn Anita’s “Date to Find a Mate Method” that will teach you:

• The biggest mistakes singles make (and how to avoid them)
• How to create your “dating blueprint” to find your best match
• The must-haves for dating & relationship success (they’re not what you think)
• Online and offline dating tips & tricks – for both sexes

You will leave the workshop more prepared to create amazing opportunities for love. Finding your mate will be an important – if not the most important – decision in your life. Get it right the first time.

This event is open to women & men. Bring your friends! Limited space is available so be sure to get your ticket early to reserve your spot. Wine will be served.

21162486 - young man hides a bouquet of flowers behind his back

Ok ladies, ‘fess up. Have you been on a great date with a nice guy but he just didn’t do anything for you emotionally? He called when he said he would, confirmed plans, was a gentleman…but nothing in the feelings department. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

So you dump the nice guy and move on. You meet someone else, but this new guy gives you mixed signals. He calls, but takes his time doing so. He shows you that he’s interested in you, but you’re not exclusive since he’s still playing the field. You start to doubt his attraction to you, and you wonder if your relationship is even going anywhere.

But then he takes you on a date or compliments you, and you get butterflies. Your heart races and you’re happy, telling yourself that he’s interested and there’s a chance at a future together after all. But these feelings don’t last very long. He pulls back, he’s unpredictable with contact, but gives you just enough attention to keep you hooked. You may think, “If he just sees how awesome I am, he’ll want to be with me.” The uncertainty keeps you thinking about the guy all of the time, and your mood fluctuates based on whether you’ve heard from him or if he’s given you attention. You feel like you overanalyze everything.

If you’ve been on this emotional roller coaster often, chances are that you’ve mistaken your anxiety and uncertainty about the relationship as butterflies and chemistry (or for some, even love). This can be risky because you may be with a partner who’s not well suited for you. If you have a lot of anxiety, feeling calm with your date (like with a nice guy) may not be a bad thing. You seek closeness, want to be reassured and to know where you stand in a relationship. You may think you’re needy or clingy for wanting intimacy and reassurance, but in fact these are healthy for a relationship.

Intimacy and connection happen in a lot of ways, but one of them is by being vulnerable with our partner. In order to be able to share your hopes and dreams and fears openly, you need to feel secure with your partner. A nice guy who is consistent with his attention to you is much more likely to create and provide this security than the guys who leave you guessing about their interest in you.

As you date, pay attention if you find yourself feeling insecure and analyzing your date’s every action, and feeling bliss every once in awhile. Be aware that this may be your anxiety acting up because of his inconsistent actions, and not chemistry or passion.

So give the nice guy a chance, and you may get what you’re looking for and need to have a happy and fulfilling relationship.

With all the dating apps out there, how are you supposed to pick a partner? There are so many choices nowadays, how do you know he or she could be “The One”?

People date based on attraction and chemistry. You find someone attractive, you feel a spark, and you hope your relationship lasts. Unfortunately this approach doesn’t work in sustaining a healthy and happy relationship.

If you’re ready to find love, you can’t miss this event! In this three-hour workshop, you will learn Anita’s “Date to Find a Mate Method” that will teach you:

• The biggest mistakes singles make (and how to avoid them)
• How to create your “dating blueprint” to find your best match
• The must-haves for dating & relationship success (they’re not what you think)
• Online and offline dating tips & tricks – for both sexes

The next workshop will take place on Tuesday, April 25th from 6-9pm at 70 E. Lake Street Third Floor in the Loop. You will leave the workshop more prepared to create amazing opportunities for love. Finding your mate will be an important – if not the most important – decision in your life. Get it right the first time.

This event is open to women & men. Bring your friends! Limited space is available so be sure to get your ticket early to reserve your spot. Wine will be served.

7 Ways to Boost Your Relationship

Boost Your Relationships

Relationships have their ups and downs. If yours could use some tweaking, here are 7 ways to boost your relationship:

  1. Show love the way your partner prefers. It’s one thing to know your partner loves you, but another to feel it on an emotional level. We all show love differently – some of us may prefer to spend as much time with our partner as we can, while others rely on physical touch to feel connected. Know your partner’s “love language” and give freely in that way.
  2. Keep your positive illusions. People who are happy in their relationships believe that their partner is better than anyone else out there. What matters is that you think your partner suits you the best (and this doesn’t mean that you won’t complain about your partner or ever have disagreements). Holding onto these positive illusions is key to making your relationship last!
  3. Show acceptance. It’s easier to be vulnerable in a relationship when you’re accepted for who you are. No doubt you can identify differences between you and your partner, whether big or small. Convey that you accept your partner and in necessary instances, you may just have to negotiate your differences.
  4. Speak up – and pay attention. Your partner is not your mind reader. If you want or need something in your relationship, gently ask your partner for it. You can also heighten your awareness – your partner probably lets you know what they want or need, you may just need to tune in better to pick up on it.
  5. Do novel things together. Romantic love fades, on average, around the 18-month mark. But this doesn’t mean it has to be dead forever. Doing new and different things can help trigger and sustain feelings of romance. Explore a different part of the city, have a surprise weekend outing or take a class together. Little things can invigorate your passion.
  6. Have sex, in and outside the bedroom. Oxytocin is known as the “cuddle hormone” and is associated with closeness, calm, attachment and trust. It is released during orgasm and physical affection. To elevate oxytocin levels in you and your partner, have sex (the more you have it, the more you’ll want it) and hold hands, kiss and hug frequently. Also talk about your sex life outside the bedroom – recount your favorite moments, keep flirting, discuss fantasies and what you’re looking forward to next.
  7. Give your relationship daily attention. One of the things I frequently hear from my clients is how disconnected they feel from their partner. Relationships won’t survive without meaningful attention. You don’t have to spend hours a day (that’s not realistic!) but engaging in even a few minutes of one-on-one time can make a huge difference. Recount your day, talk about your highs and lows, and set aside a consistent date night to keep the romance and connection alive.

With these 7 tips, you can boost your relationship starting today.

People date based on attraction and chemistry. You find someone attractive, you feel a spark, and you hope your relationship lasts. Unfortunately this approach doesn’t work in sustaining a healthy and happy relationship.

If you’re ready to find (and keep) love, you can’t miss this event! In this three-hour workshop, you will learn:

  • The biggest mistakes singles make (and how to avoid them)
  • Why you keep attracting the wrong type
  • How to create your “dating blueprint” to find your best match
  • The must-haves for dating & relationship success (they’re not what you think)
  • Online and offline dating tips & tricks – for both sexes

After you register, you will receive an email from Anita with quizzes to complete. You will leave the workshop more prepared to create amazing opportunities for love. Finding your mate will be an important – if not the most important – decision in your life. Anita wants you to get it right the first time.

This event is open to women & men. Bring your friends! Space is limited so be sure to get your ticket early to reserve your spot. Wine will be served.

21 Subtle Signs You’re Dating an Emotionally Unavailable Man

Emotionally Unavailable

Dating an emotionally unavailable man doesn’t mean that he’s abusive, manipulative, or a jerk. In fact, these men can be nice guys, can make you laugh until your abs hurt, and can be your best friend. What makes it difficult to identify a guy who avoids closeness is that you have enough good times together, which keeps your hope alive. And with that hope, you convince yourself that he may be able to give you that emotional intimacy you desire if you give him a little more time. But he may never be able to meet your need for closeness.

Here are 21 subtle signs your guy is emotionally unavailable:

  1. He won’t contact you every day. Do you go days without hearing from your man? If you’re in a serious relationship, it’s normal to touch base every day. Not connecting with a text or phone call gives him his space.
  2. You feel excluded from his life. He may attend a wedding without you, despite your request to go with him. He requests time to hang out with friends without you—and not just a “guys’ night” but instances when he is also with female friends, too.
  3. You haven’t met the family. You’ve been dating for months and you haven’t met the family yet. You may rationalize it as he’s just not ready.
  4. He won’t leave any of his things at your place. Leaving things at your place would just mean too much commitment. He probably won’t give you a drawer at his place either unless you ask.
  5. He won’t go on vacation with you. Vacations can be not just fun, but can build closeness. And because he won’t want too much of that, he’ll just avoid going on a vacation where it would just be the two of you.
  6. He’s a penny pincherbut only with you. He’ll spend money on himself and be generous with others, but will make comments when you’re with him about not wanting to spend too much money.
  7. He talks about how much he values his independence. He says he’s always been independent and values being self-sufficient. Really it’s just another way of saying, “I don’t need you.” He may also call you “too needy” and “dependent.”
  8. He avoids physical closeness. He won’t hold your hand in public. As far as others around you are concerned, the two of you are just friends, because there are no signs of affection between the two of you. He may also walk ahead of you. Sure, you may be a slow walker, but walking ahead of you creates distance, and that makes him feel comfortable.
  9. He won’t put up photos of the two of you. You’ve been dating for months and he crops you out of his profile picture. He’ll check in on Facebook but to take a pic of his food to show off his dish, not the babe sitting across the table from him.
  10. He takes more than he gives. Good relationships are about give and take. Not in a tit-for-tat way, but both of you want to meet each other’s needs. If you’re with an emotionally unavailable guy, you feel like you’re doing way more for the relationship than he is.
  11. He doesn’t consider you. He gets dinner for himself but doesn’t pick up anything for you. He decides to apply for a job out of state without asking you how you would feel about it.
  12. He changed. When you first met, he was charming, swept you off of your feet, and let you know that you were the only woman he wanted to be with. And now, he does the minimum to keep the relationship going. Gone are the declarations about his feelings and your future. Sometimes you may wonder why he’s even still with you since he doesn’t seem to care.
  13. He avoids talking about the relationship and your future. He gives you just enough to think you do have a future, but you’re not 100% sure where you stand in his life and what his intentions really are.
  14. He avoids difficult talks in general. Emotionally unavailable men try to avoid difficult talks. Working through conflict can bring a couple closer together, and closeness is exactly what he wants to avoid.
  15. You have sex but you don’t make love. When you’re together physically, you feel like he’s still not fully present or connected. You may still have fun having sex, but there’s still a part of him that he’s holding back. You may even be the one who wants sex more often than him.
  16. He has unrealistic views of a relationship. He believes in the Hollywood I-always-want-to-take-your-clothes-off kind of relationship, thinks relationships should be effortless, or that the feelings should just always be there. He wants the “X factor” without doing the work.
  17. His exes’ descriptions say it all. You find out that his exes called him an “emotional zombie,” told him he was “cold” or talked about him having a “wall.”
  18. He nitpicks. He focuses on small things like the way you talk or dress. You feel criticized over things that don’t matter and don’t feel accepted by him. Nitpicking is a way for him to diminish his romantic feelings toward you.
  19. He’s hot and cold. After particularly intimate time spent together, he distances for a few days. It’s as though the man he was when he was with you is gone.
  20. He won’t spontaneously say those three little words. He rarely, if ever, says “I love you” unless you say it first. If you’ve been dating your guy for years and you rarely hear the words, spending more time with him won’t make him say those words any more frequently than he is now.
  21. You’ve become anxious. You’re normally confident, happy and have a positive attitude. But with him, you’re over-analyzing, spending time wondering about your relationship, and your friends are sick of getting screenshots to help you decipher his texts. You’re experiencing more anxiety than you do when you’re single.

Dating The Short Guy

Several of my male clients are on dating apps and mention that of the first questions that women ask them is their height. When they say they’re 5’9” or 5’8”, they don’t hear from them again. The average height for men is 5’9”!

When I heard these kinds of stories from men, my heart sinks. Here are fabulous guys who would make women loving husbands some day, and they’re getting overlooked simply because of their height. It didn’t surprise me though. I work with many women too, and when I ask them what they’re looking for in a guy, one of the first traits they describe is height.

Here are the Top Reasons to Ditch the Height Requirement:

You Decrease Your Chances of Finding The One:

The problem is that a height requirement decreases your overall chances of finding love. Dating is tough. When you factor in attraction, chemistry, your deal-breakers, values, and needs, it’ll take some time to find someone. Don’t dismiss the guy just based on height – at least give the guy a chance!

He Can Meet Your Needs:

A short guy can meet your needs just as well as a tall guy. The most common reason women tell me that they want a tall guy is because it makes them feel secure. But think of all those not-so-tall guys that have a lot of muscle on them and can be strong as well. In fact, they may be even stronger than this tall prince charming that you’re hoping to meet. And don’t forget about emotional security. A tall guy can be emotionally unavailable, but a shorter guy can support you, be there when you need him, and let you know his feelings every step of the way.

Sexiness is more than Height:

Women tell me that there’s something sexy about standing next to a tall guy. It makes them feel more feminine. Ok…but what if this tall guy rarely compliments you? Or puts you down? You won’t be feeling feminine then. Maybe the short guy will treat you like a queen and let you know you’re sexy and desirable. A guy’s height doesn’t guarantee you’ll feel feminine but a guy’s respect for you does.

So why do you really want a tall guy after all? Identify the needs behind it, like feeling secure and feminine, and give a shorter guy a chance to meet you. You may be pleasantly surprised.