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How do I open my heart to love?
do I learn to be vulnerable so that I can better connect with the love
of my life?"
This column answers
questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to Tara@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 watched ABC's "The Bachelor" recently and found myself identifying
with one of the contestants named Gia. She had been through a difficult
prior relationship and had trouble opening her heart to love again. As
a result, she was let go at one of the rose ceremonies.
I too, have had two prior relationships that didn't work out -- one of
three years and one that lasted two years. I have felt disappointment
both times in my relationships because they didn't lead to the outcome
I wanted -- marriage. I really want to get married and have children
and I'm not getting any younger. I'm 31 and never married.
I have closely guarded my heart and feel somewhat reluctant to let
someone in all the way. I just don't know HOW to do that or WHAT that
should look like or feel like. What can I do to open my heart, to let
someone in so I can connect on a deeper level? How do I learn to be
vulnerable so that I can better connect with the love of my life? What
can you suggest to me?
Wendy from Westchester
I appreciate your question, and the blossoming awareness that led you
to ask it. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable can be very scary,
especially when it's something new for us. Think of all that we risk.
By being vulnerable, we risk allowing someone in enough to hurt us
It is important to recognize that allowing oneself to be vulnerable is
a minute-by-minute choice, and that if we choose not to be vulnerable,
in the very next moment, we are free to do so. For example, one could
consciously decide to be vulnerable only on Tuesday morning between
10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. In this way, we can gently experiment with
allowing our vulnerability.
I would also encourage visualizing yourself being in a situation of
your choice where you feel comfortable being vulnerable. In that
exercise, richly imagine all the variables. As you work through and
live this experience in your mind, feel yourself opening your heart,
while trusting that it will be treated lovingly and gently. As you feel
the reward of this vulnerability, revel in it. Rejoice in it. Relive it
frequently, as each time it becomes more ingrained in who you are.
Cheryl Walters |
First of all, congratulations on your courage and your desire to
continue to find your soul mate. Whether we realize it or not, we are
all vulnerable (married, engaged or single) when it comes to matters of
the heart. Vulnerability is not limited to a particular station in
life, nor does it pick and choose. So, please don't feel alone in that
One of the first steps in opening your heart is to learn to love
yourself, Wendy, from top to bottom. Learn to love and appreciate
everything about yourself, from the way you look, to the way you walk,
talk, giggle, yawn and stretch. Learn to appreciate how special you are
and what you have to offer to someone. When we take joy in ourselves,
that joy is contagious and bubbles out and infects everyone in our
path. People seek us out because we have something they want. What we
give most of our attention to, grows.
Last but not least, loving yourself turns back the hourglass each time
we smile, celebrate ourselves or think joyous thoughts. Please don't
allow a calendar to dictate your progress in love; that progress is
only in your hands.
Beatrice Stanback |
Trust versus Faith. "The Bachelor" asks contestants to take risks based
on faith, not trust. Relationships are built on trust, not faith. Trust
means being willing to "expose your vulnerability" to someone because
you believe that, based on direct experience with him, he will probably
reward you for taking the risk. Faith demands you take the same risk,
even when you have no specific information about him.
Deciding whether to trust someone new initially requires using
information collected from similar situations – in your case,
your experience in the two previous disappointing relationships.
Understandably, your "starting level" of trust is low, making it
difficult to "open your heart" -– but only at first.
Be open to Love. You can learn to be vulnerable so you can connect with
the love of your life. Treat yourself gently. Open your heart only a
little at a time. Make each "exposure of your heart" deeper than the
last, like peeling layers of an onion, but only if exposing your
vulnerability is continuously rewarded. Baby steps? Maybe. Time
consuming? Definitely. However, as your escalating risk-taking is
rewarded, your new relationship can deepen dramatically over time,
assuming other critical essentials like chemistry, requirements, and
needs also are met.
Jerald Young, Ph.D.
The good news is you can start from right where you are. There's no
need to hold on to or repeat the past indefinitely! You obviously know
what you want as an end result (this is of primary importance), however
you seem to be thwarting your own efforts. You are not alone!
If you are not attracting the love of your life, then it is wise to
look at what you are attracting and how. One effective and relatively
quick way of doing that is to work through a specific program that will
allow you to get clear for yourself about your personal requirements,
needs and wants with respect to an intimate love relationship. I mean
Your "work" to uncover these things will help you send clear signals.
It will also help you determine who matches your requirements, and
shares your values and commitment to a healthy, loving, vibrant,
fulfilling, life long, intimate relationship. It is possible and worth
it! Find a mentor, coach or mastermind group to help you facilitate the
process and share in your success!
Bill Paglia-Scheff |
Getting over past relationships that didn't work out is painful. And
starting a new one is scary. But many people have done it.
There are three secrets to moving forward:
1. Take it slow. You
cannot simply "open your heart" to some other person. You need to learn
to trust them, and that takes time. A lot of time. Be patient with
yourself and with others.
2. Become informed.
People are complex, dating is a minefield, and relationships are
difficult. Learn what causes relationships to succeed and fail, and
then you will be less afraid of what will happen in your own situation.
Devour books, get coaching assistance, and apply what you learn in your
3. Date a variety of men.
Do not try to settle on the first person that seems nice. This will not
result in "opening your heart." You will be able to open your heart
when you internally decide that someone is the best for you based on
actual comparisons. Your heart is likely to be hurt if you make such a
decision without shopping around. Hope this helps!
Randy Hurlburt | www.partnersinloveandcrime.com
This month, RCI Coach Liz
Reed answers questions about long-distance dating and how to make it
Kachaturoff: Do long distance relationships work? Is it realistic to
think a couple can develop a solid relationship, when most of it is
lived through phone calls, emails, cards and letters?
Yes. Long distance relationships can absolutely work and there is
research to confirm it. Many people have had successful long distance
relationships that set the stage for their marriage.
It can be challenging when you're not seeing someone on a regular
basis. The key is to develop a new paradigm of thinking. You're not
dating in a way that's familiar to you and that's where the challenge
and the fears come forth when you're wondering if it can work. The
distance between both of you can actually be very intriguing. You
become aware that you have to make the most of every moment together.
Since you're missing out on physical moments to connect with sight and
touch, shift your thoughts to connecting on a more intellectual and
soul-based level. I believe this actually adds to the foundation of the
relationship. When two people have chemistry and are focused on getting
to know one another, distance does not need to stand in the way of
Tara: How can you
develop a relationship when you're not seeing the other person under
regular, every-day types of circumstances? What types of things can you
do to create connectivity and build a solid foundation with someone?
A relationship can be described as an emotional connection between two
people. We connect when we spend time with the person we care about. I
suggest having date nights in your long-distance relationship.
Technology offers many resources that can enhance this experience.
Prepare for these nights just as you would a regular date with the goal
of having fun and learning more about each other. Send flowers or a
special fragrance in the mail before the date with a romantic note
attached. You can email and text each other in anticipation of the
If it appeals to you, dress up for the date and send your partner a
picture or utilize a webcam. When you come together for your date,
share a verbal hug or kiss and tell an exciting story. Be fully present
with your partner and acknowledge the small things you admire about
each other. The idea is to create moments that focus on enhancing your
emotional connection and not your distance apart.
Tara: How do you develop intimacy with someone while in a long-distance
Wikipedia describes intimacy as, "a familiar and very close affective
connection with another as a result of entering deeply or closely into
relationship through knowledge and experience of the other." It also
states that, "genuine intimacy in human relationships requires
dialogue, transparency, vulnerability and reciprocity."
Developing this degree of involvement with another individual is
difficult and can be challenging even when you're not in a long
distance relationship. However, if you're faithful in your pursuit to
creating lasting intimacy, rest assured it's totally possible.
Here are five keys to developing intimacy:
#1 Talk about it
Engaging in the discussion is the first step to creating deeper
intimacy. This will help you get clear on what the term means to you.
Cultivate opportunities to have intimate conversations with your
partner with the intention of listening to them and honoring who they
Key #2 Be Sensitive
As you begin to communicate more intimately, you will inevitably engage
in tender topics. It is imperative that you remain sensitive to what
your mate shares with you. At times it's hard to take an honest look at
It can be even harder to become transparent with another individual,
especially someone we love. This may be the first time your partner has
trusted anyone enough to reveal his or her most intimate thoughts. Be
sensitive to their vulnerability. A deep human desire is to be loved
and accepted in spite of our faults. We have the ability to do this
when we allow sharing without fear of judgment. As you do this you
create a safe space that welcomes intimacy.
Key #3 Maintain
Your significant other is significant! He or she wants to go deeper
with you. Respect them by keeping what is intimate for them between the
two of you. Not doing so will hinder your partner's ability to trust
you and could sabotage your future efforts to grow closer.
Key # 4 Increase
Be open to exploring intimacy in ways you haven't thought about. Many
relationships fail because there is a lack of understanding about
topics such as intimacy. For example, intimacy can mean different
things at different times. In some cases we refer to intimacy as
sexual, in other cases, we tend to think it's emotional. Ultimately,
you want to have intimacy (that deep connection) taking place on all
levels, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Key #5 Be Patient
with the Process
Developing genuine intimacy with your partner is a process. It takes
time to learn how to develop an atmosphere of acceptance, support and
trust with your mate. Your partner's pace may be different than yours.
Be patient with each other as you explore new territory together. If
you're committed, life will provide you with the joy of knowing your
partner more intimately as you surrender yourselves completely to each
How often should you
create connections with each other? How often should you call each
other, visit each other?
I would suggest calling a minimum of four to five times a week. You can
also stay in touch with email chatting and things of that nature. Don't
underestimate the power of the written word. Sending letters to each
other creates memorable moments that can be cherished
for a lifetime.
As far as visits, each couple's circumstances will be different. I do
believe it is very important to plan ahead and decide how many times
per month you will travel to spend time together. Once you've
established a plan, stay committed to those dates.
Tara: How do you
deal with the time you're not with each other? Certainly you can't
engage in activities that other couples do (going out with friends;
engaging in spontaneous events, outings, visiting families, etc.)?
Even though you're a couple, you still need to maintain your own
individuality. As with any relationship, you don't want to rely on your
partner to meet all your needs. Continue to participate in activities
with family and friends and share those details together. When you're
able to see each other in person, take advantage of simple moments by
just sitting in each other's presence. Also, set aside some time for
social activities with family and friends..
What are some of the
things you both need to consider and come to agreement about before
pursuing a long-distance relationship?
I think there are
three important things to consider and discuss with each other
– level of commitment, physical boundaries, and communication.
The first thing you need to discern is whether you share the same level
of commitment. If you have not made a commitment to each
other, and are just dating for fun, a long distance relationship is
most likely not for you. This type of relationship requires time,
effort and a desire to build a successful long term relationship.
Prior to pursuing a long-distance relationship, discuss your values and
beliefs around sex and make sure you're in alignment with each other.
Plan ahead and be clear about any hidden agreements. Monogamy needs to
be discussed if this is an issue for you. Discuss how you will handle
physical desires when you're mate is not around. Be proactive and set a
foundation for success!
Being able to talk about what's true for you is essential in
establishing intimacy and a solid foundation for your long-distance
relationship. Intimate conversation in your relationship requires a
balance of giving and receiving. As your intimacy increases, so should
your dialogue with each other.
Make a commitment, in advance, that you will invest in learning the
skills necessary to enhance your communication and resolve conflicts.
Your communication should be effective in resolving issues and provide
a sacred space to grow, be encouraged and ultimately, loved
by Liz Reed. All Rights Reserved for all media.
Liz Reed is
a RCI Licensed Relationship Coach for Singles and a Certified Christian
Life Coach. Her passion is to help women and men create the life and
relationship of their dreams. www.justbelievecoaching.com
by Michelle E.
Unless you've been living
as a hermit for the last 20 years, you're most likely familiar with
affirmations and positive thinking. If we were all doing this
consistently, I wouldn't need to talk about this subject.
Unfortunately, too many people are plagued with negative mind chatter.
This is especially true for singles when it comes to dating. Some
singles have it all together and date easily. I'm not addressing them.
If you're a single who experiences doubts about your ability to attract
and keep the love of your life, I'm talking to you.
What are some persistent negative thoughts that you may experience?
Here are a few that may be familiar to you:
• I'm too shy to
• If I go out on a date with this person, it will end badly,
so why bother
• I'm not worthy to find the love of my life
• I'm not good enough
Why do singles think like
this? Some reasons are fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, a
problem with self-image, and insecurity, to name just a few.
Unfortunately, if you keep allowing this negative mind chatter to rule
you, you will live your life in fear. You'll spend your life regretting
what might have been.
Even shy people get dates
and find the love of their lives. Why not you? If you wait until you
are "perfect," you will never start. I challenge you to begin arguing
with these destructive thoughts that roam around in your brain. Yes,
talk back. When you hear a negative thought, here are some statements
that you can say in response:
• I'm able to
attract the love of my life easily
• I enjoy myself when I go out on a date and I let go of
expectations about the outcome
• Of course I'm worthy of finding the love of my life
• I'm not only good enough, I am a great catch
Try out these
affirmations and create your own. Don't worry if they seem silly or
untrue. The key to changing any habit (such as negative thought
patterns) is to substitute with a new habit and be persistent.
by Michelle E. Vásquez. All Rights Reserved for all media.
LPC, is an RCI Relationship Coach who helps singles and couples attract
the life they want and create the relationships that bring them joy.
She specializes in working with couples who are experiencing
relationship difficulties as well as with singles who want to find the
love of their life. Bilingual, English and Spanish speaking. www.trueloverelationshipcoaching.com
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Tara Kachaturoff | Editor,
Conscious Dating Newsletter for Singles
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