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Copyright 2006 by PartnersInLife.org All rights reserved.
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Conscious Dating Success
Story of the Year Contest
This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to Linda@relationshipcoachinginstitute.com who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.
I’m so excited. I think I met the man of my dreams, but I want to be sure. I’m committed to being conscious in this process and I’m working with a coach through the Conscious Dating program. I used the scouting, sorting and screening strategies to find him and now I’m ready to test my requirements and needs.
There’s a lot of chemistry between us and I want to lower the chances that I’m being blinded by it. I’ve never felt like this in any relationship, so I’ll admit I’m thoroughly enjoying how alive and vibrant I feel. I love being with this man and I love the attention he pays to me.
I’m in my late 30's and have been divorced for a couple of years. I married my high school sweetheart and have two children. I was blinded by love in my first marriage and I don't want that to happen again. I want to be sure he’ll be good for my children and for me. So far, he seems to be very good with them and they seem to like him; but I want to be sure that this will work long term. Can you give me some pointers?
Michelle in Minneapolis
Sandra responds …
Congratulations on your determination to mate consciously and for the joy you’re currently feeling! My advice to you can be summed up in one word -- time. Continue to see this man and enjoy your time with him. However, don’t be in a rush to commit to anything. The excitement of first love always settles down, so eventually we’re able to see things more clearly.
While you’re enjoying this man, make a point of seeing him often and in as many different situations as possible. Spend time with his family and get to know them. Meet his friends and spend time with them as well. Pay attention to how he treats everyone, from family members to friends, from food servers to fellow drivers on the road.
Be aware that how he treats others is how he’ll treat you --eventually. Pay attention to any feelings of discomfort that may arise, and consider those feelings and whether or not you could live with them long term. Make sure to keep your requirements and needs in the forefront of your mind as you test.
You might also consider reading the book Intellectual Foreplay: Questions for Lovers and Lovers-to-Be by Hogan and Hogan. This book includes meaningful questions for discussion -- all the questions we never think to ask before jumping into a committed relationship. The authors, separated by an ocean while courting, made a game of questioning one another during frequent phone calls. As a result, they were well acquainted by the time they finally decided to get married. My best wishes to you!
Jeff responds …
Congratulations on using your Conscious Dating skills to arrive at this point. You’re wise to want to continue to be conscious and test this relationship carefully.
In my experience, testing often requires two factors: time and a variety of situations. Time is necessary because anyone can act a certain way for a short period, whereas the real person emerges over time.
The second factor involves sharing a variety of experiences. You need to experience different situations, both ones that come your way, and ones you create, to see how your potential love of your life handles them. Go on trips together, engage in a variety of activities and watch how this person handles challenging situations as well as the ones that arise during daily life.
On a final note, you mentioned you were "blinded by love" in your first marriage. Well, it's been said, "if love is blind, then sex is the blindfold." So be very careful and conscious in that particular area. Good luck and I hope you will let us know how things turn out for you.
Vicki responds …
It sounds like your concern is that you want to make sure your mind and heart haven’t been hijacked. You want to be sure you’re responding from an emotionally intelligent place with someone with whom you want a committed relationship.
One thing I do is I have my clients complete a DiSC™ profile. One aspect of this tool assesses an individual’s behavior as it relates to dealing with others. If I’m working with a couple, both take it. I have them respond to the profile for themselves and then I ask them to take it again, this time from the point of view of how they perceive their partner.
The DiSC™ profile provides insight into one’s particular behavioral style and how one might deal more effectively with someone of a different style. With this process, I am able to engage them in a dialogue about their differences, where they may encounter challenges and where they may be particularly strong as a couple. This process opens the door for developing strategies to manage through the differences should they ever present themselves in a negatively charged way.
Emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness and then moves into the realm of relationship management. The more you know about yourself and your behavioral style (i.e. your style under pressure), the better able you’ll be to work through issues.
Explore the answers to these questions. Do you walk your talk? Are you open and direct? Do you accept one another? Do you do what you say you’re going to do? If these areas aren’t solidly developed in the relationship, then trust will diminish over time. Rather than asking whether you’re being blinded by love, you might try asking questions more in alignment with building trust. Take care and I wish you well.
By Jeff Herring, MS, LMFT
When you’re in a long-term love relationship, do you know how easy it is to neglect your partner? The answer is … it’s much too easy.
It’s Usually Unintentional
In the vast majority of cases, neglecting one’s partner is unintentional. We become so caught up in our daily lives that we forget about what’s most important.
Neglect is a lot like procrastination, lying or skipping school; that is, doing it once makes it much easier to do again. Soon you find yourself repeatedly neglecting important things to the point that you forget you’re neglecting anything at all.
Neglect Quickly becomes a Way of Life
The natural result of neglect is for couples to grow further and further apart until someone walks out the door. Because neglect is unintentional, it usually creeps up on you without you really noticing it.
Turning it Around
If you find these words speak to you and your relationship, let me assure you that you can turn it around. While the result of drifting apart is unintentional, the process of turning it around is very intentional.
These two steps will help you start making the journey back – from neglecting your relationship to paying attention to each other:
Step 1: Engage in a conversation with your partner about how the relationship is being neglected. If your partner does not notice it, one way to start the conversation is to say, "Can you help me with something?" Talk about the neglect and how it makes you feel. Each of you should acknowledge and take responsibility for your role in contributing to it.
Step 2: Make a commitment to pay attention to each other. Create a list of things you used to do before the neglect set in. Then create another list of new things you can do to acknowledge each other and to treat each other well going forward. The final step is to start doing these things on a regular basis.
By taking time to think about your relationship and how engaged both of you are within it, and by having thoughtful conversations with your partner, you can move away from a relationship that’s being neglected to one in which you’re consciously paying attention to each other. The process takes effort, but the results are well worth it.
Copyright © Jeff Herring. All rights reserved.
By Jeff Herring, MS, LMFT
In love relationships, rest assured there are some things you can do which are guaranteed to inflame a disagreement. Luckily, there are some steps you can just as easily take to diffuse one. Let’s explore each in turn.
Six Ways to Inflame a Disagreement
These are surefire ways to turn up the heat with any disagreement. Luckily, there are some great ways to diffuse a conflict that will make things better for the both of you.
Six Ways to Diffuse a Conflict
Copyright © Jeff Herring. All rights reserved.
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