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December 2010

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Ask Our Coaches: 
Goodbyes without the Grief

"What's the best way
to tell someone that you want to break up?"

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.

Dear Coaches,

What's the best way to tell someone that you want to break up? Sure, I've done this before, but I want to hear ideas from relationship coaches. I don't want to hurt this person, but at the same time I don't want to continue on because it would be sending the wrong signals. What's the best way to have this conversation and what might I say?

Single men and women everywhere

Jenna responds …

I think honesty is your best bet, but leave out the gory details. It depends on the reason you want to stop dating, but a few different ways to break up with someone are to tell him or her:

  • The chemistry you hoped for is just not there.
  • You don't think you're compatible enough to keep dating.
  • You enjoy their company but don't feel a romantic connection.
  • You feel you're at two different places in your lives and you're looking for someone who's at a similar place as you.

A mature person will accept your reason and will move on. Also, there are no set rules as to whether you should break up over the phone, in an email or in person. However, I would suggest if you've had quite a few dates that you do it in person, just to show respect to that person. On the other hand, if you've only had a couple of dates, over the phone is acceptable.

Jenna Korf | | 408.470.9744

Jackie responds …

It is highly likely that you will date a number of people who will not be your ideal match (nor will you be theirs) before you find the love of your life. As soon as you recognize that your date is not your ideal match, stop the dating process. When the person you're dating recognizes that you are not a match for them, they will (hopefully) stop the dating process.

There is no "rejecting" going on here. No one is being mean or hurting the feelings of others when one stops dating someone. Mindful adults are making mindful decisions with volition and intention about the "who" and the "how" of the rest of their lives. It is as simple as that.

Consider this example and say it in your own words: "Thank you for the opportunity to spend time with you. I have enjoyed getting to know you. I'm dating to find my ideal partner and I am not feeling the way I know I will feel when I am dating him (or her). I want to end our dating so we can both keep dating others and find our true loves." This is the normal, natural and necessary process of dating.

Dr. Jackie Black | | 760.346.9795

Ann responds ...

As the song says, "Breaking up is hard to do"! And it is. Therefore, it's best to prepare, not only what you're going to say, but the setting in which you say it. Also, prepare for a variety of reactions. I recommend a three step approach:

1. "As You Know" – begin with this phrase and expand from there. This sets the stage for the listener and requires he acknowledge that what you are about to tell him is valid.

2. "As A Result" – this is where you communicate the break up. It is important you are clear what is happening and why. Do not place blame, do not attack. Simply state the facts as they relate to you and how you feel.

3. "The Decision is Made" – there is no room for negotiation or debate here if you're sure this is what you want. Be reassuring that the decision was made after careful consideration and there is no doubt in your mind this is best for both of you.

A few tips: Do not do this in a public place, such as a restaurant. Reactions such as shock and anger may occur so you need to prepare yourself as to how you will respond. Avoid arguing and stick to the facts. If needed, repeat steps 2 and 3, with particular emphasis on "the decision is made." However, be kind and empathetic.

Ann Robbins | | 954.561.4498

Tara responds …

Breaking up is hard to do. A subject of many a song, poem, book and conversation, it's never easy to say "goodbye." We all seek to be connected to others and anything that stands in the way or breaks connections can be emotional, stressful, and uncomfortable – no matter which end you're on.

Acknowledge the good things about the relationship and then mention there isn't a fit for what you're looking for and that it's time for both of you to move on to find more ideal partners. Remember, you can't say "yes" to who and what you want in your life without saying "no" along the way. Don't text, email, or leave voice mail about breaking up. Always show respect by meeting in person, unless safety is an issue.

Dating forward: It's important to set expectations when it comes to dating. Make sure you're clear about who and what you're looking for. Define your relationship requirements and screen potential matches for them early on. Be forthright and open in your intentions and expect the same in return. Showing the utmost respect and kindness lays a mutual foundation of understanding should you need to go your separate ways in the future.

Tara Kachaturoff |

Bill responds ...

It is not really possible to determine or control whether the other person will be hurt or not. It is a matter of being honest with where you are and what you are looking for in a relationship. It is easier to do this when you have really discovered or know what that really is.

If you do this work ahead of time, it will lessen the potential for breakup in the future. For now, in this current relationship, based on your desire to leave it, trust that you have seen or experienced an incongruity with what you really want.

I suggest you tell the person what you have discovered you're playing for in relationship qualities and that you are going for them with passion in order to have the romantic life of your dreams -- on that matches your values and goals. Make sure you don't blame the other person for not having what you require or need as it is not a personal fault -- just as it is not a Jeep's fault for not having a Mercedes-specific characteristics built in. Focus on speaking your requirements and desires for relationship.

William Paglia-Scheff | | 860.209.9254

My body says YES! My head says NO!

by Lisa Manyoky

So now what?! You've had a sizzlin' date. There's electricity in the air. Your face is flushed with excitement. Your heart is skipping beats. Below the belt says "GO, GO, GO!" Above the neck says "WAIT!"

Which half should win?

Here's where "above the neck" figures into this equation in a big way, especially if you know very little about the person whose clothes you think look best in a heap on your bedroom floor. Crossing this line can be a thrilling exploration, or it can be the beginning of an emotional roller coaster ride if you don't understand how sex affects you.

What Is Chemistry?

Chemistry is a sophisticated chain reaction of physiological responses that occur when you meet a person who gives you goose bumps ... the good kind. When you are attracted to someone, your body releases chemicals and hormones that put rational thinking in a closet. This is lust at work, and it's powerful.

Testosterone and estrogen are hosting the party at this point. Then, when the attraction companions of adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin join the mix, judgment often joins rational thinking in the closet. These chemicals are real. They cause sweaty palms, racing hearts, dry mouth, euphoria, sleeplessness, absence of appetite, daydreaming and runaway desire.

And they are tempting, which is why that muscle between your ears needs to keep those couriers of delight in check until you are clear about potential consequences when the party is over.

What makes one person more appealing than another is an unpredictable phenomenon. One person might look like a terrific match on paper, but in person, dynamics flatline. In contrast, another person can be obviously incompatible in many important ways, but in person it's bells, whistles and fireworks!

Chemistry is not selective. It does not occur only with a date who is an ideal relationship candidate. You CAN be attracted to someone who is not a good fit for the long-term.

Further, after orgasm, your body releases oxytocin and vasopressin, which are hormonal bonding agents for couples. Imagine the difficulty up the road if you've bonded with a partner who is all wrong for you. Oh that tangled web!

Lust and Attraction

Lust and attraction chemicals have a shelf-life—typically 18-24 months. By then, bonding agents have had impact, and likely, rational thinking and judgment have emerged from the closet. Here's where the turmoil of moving into the bedroom in the heat of a chemical moment can become complicated.

Now you're hitched to a person who may possess traits that are distasteful or unmanageable. Or, their circumstances in life are burdensome. Or, their values are in conflict with yours. Your mind now sees the disconnect clearly, but your body has left you invested. Time for damage control and for taking an honest look at what sex really means to you.

Tips to Keep Chemistry In Check...

  • Know yourself and what happens to you when you have sex.
  • Drive yourself to meet your date so you can leave on your own.
  • Have a second commitment in place so you have to conclude your date at a fixed time. For example, book the babysitter only till 11pm.
  • Don't drink too much. Drinking relaxes inhibitions and may compromise judgment.
  • Stay out in public to keep temptation at bay.
  • Talk openly about the swirling sensations and find out how much meaning your date assigns to sex.
  • Listen to your intuition if you have any misgivings. Intuition will not mislead you.

If You Decide to Leap...

  • Try to stay in the moment and give yourself guilt-free permission to indulge.
  • Practice safe sex, especially if you don't know your date well.
  • Be willing to face the music of disappointment if this interlude turns out to be a "one-and-done."
  • Consider the possibility that YOU may want this evening to be a one-time event, and think about how you'd communicate that to your companion.
  • Do not assume that you have doomed your chances for a great relationship. Some couples sleep together soon after meeting and go on to have long-lasting, successful partnerships.
  • Understand that the chemical high you're experiencing will eventually subside, so even if the sex is great, it will not compensate for compatibility shortcomings.

If You Have Regrets...

  • Once the deed is done, it can't be undone. Allow yourself the latitude of having had a weak moment in the face of excitement and temptation.
  • If you haven't heard from your date after having sex, reach out in a day or so to get a feel for what's going on, even if you feel a little awkward. Finding out sooner than later where your date stands may help you move on or explore further.
  • Don't beat yourself up if the results are not what you sought. Chalk the experience up as a feel-good exchange between consenting adults and look to the future.
  • Take note of how you feel so you can make a better decision in the future when chemistry looms large.

Should You, Or Shouldn't You?

When you meet someone who brings about a powerful physical response, the temptation to indulge those sensations can be overwhelming. So what should you do? Well, that really depends on you. Here are some important questions to ask yourself, BEFORE your clothes come off.

  • How does sex with someone you don't know very well affect you?
  • Are you able to live wholly in the moment and relish the thrill of a juicy rendezvous without worrying where the union will lead?
  • Do you regard having sex as grounds for exclusivity?
  • Can you comfortably date others when you are having sex with someone?
  • Is there any chance you're falling prey to a sense of urgency because you've been single longer than you wish and miss being touched? If so, are you willing to satisfy this desire in the short-term without knowing if your date is even on the same page for the long-term?
  • Are you using your skills in the bedroom to persuade a date who's showing signs of ambivalence?
  • Are you willing to discuss the decision to have sex openly and before you're under the covers?

Only you can answer these questions. So get clear. Know your thresholds. For some, sex can be a simple, pleasurable exchange between two bodies with no formal terms or expectations. For others, it is a precious feature of a monogamous relationship.

If you know your preferences, you will then be able to take your belt off whenever all cylinders between you and your date are firing. Or, you will know to keep the buckle intact until you and your date have decided to become exclusive. Neither way is right or wrong. What works for you both matters most. Take the time to find out.

Copyright ©2010 by Lisa Manyoky. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Lisa Manyoky is a Certified Life Coach, Relationship Coach, and DiSC specialist. Landing on her feet after a devastating divorce, Lisa was inspired to help others get clear about WHAT makes them tick, WHO makes them tick and how they can find the right ticker next time around. 609.890.6645

Bonus Article:
Yes! There is Life After Divorce

by Lori S. Rubenstein

If you have been married, or lived together in a committed relationship, you are not naïve about love and relationships. You know that a successful relationship is based on much more than physical attraction. It is based on common goals, values and beliefs. Successful relationships have a foundation of continual communication, respect and support for each other.

It is my goal to prepare you not just for a relationship, but to allow a spiritual partner into your life. Some people call this finding your "soulmate." In this relationship, you will not be asking the question, "what can you do for me", but "what can I do for you!"

You will gain great joy from being loving and giving, and your partner will feel the same way! That does NOT mean there will be no challenges. In fact, when you ask for your soul mate or a spiritual partner, that usually means spiritual growth ... and that means constantly looking at yourself, evaluating your behavior, and making positive changes!

The number one fear I have witnessed in people thinking about starting a new relationship is the fear of falling in love and getting hurt again. If trust is an issue for you, then your goal is to learn how to trust yourself (not the other person) that no matter what happens, you can handle it! This means letting go of the unrealistic attempt to CONTROL the outcome of the relationship. Your new mantra has to be, "whatever happens...I can handle it!"

Are you really ready to date? Take this readiness test to see if you are ready to allow a new partner into your life:

Answer each question true or false

1. I have been divorced at least 6 months, or separated more than 1 year.
2. Any victimization feeling I had during my divorce has subsided.
3. I have taken responsibility for my divorce, and I have taken appropriate steps to recognize my part in the divorce and did the necessary work to make sure those particular behaviors/beliefs or actions to not recur in my next relationship.
4. I have dealt with the loss of dreams and future visions I had in my last relationship.
5. I now feel neutral towards my ex-partner.
6. I can put my children's needs ahead of my own feelings towards my ex.
7. I have forgiven my previous partner.
8. I have forgiven myself for my part in the creation of our problems.
9. I know what my values and beliefs are, and I feel confident in myself.
10. I like myself; I just feel that my life would be even more fulfilled if I had someone to share it with.

If you answered true to eight or more questions, then you are ready to date and seek your spiritual partner. If you honestly answered false to three or more of these questions, then it is time to work on yourself, hire a counselor or coach, attend a self-help group, or purchase some good books on self-growth after divorce . It is important for you to first become the person you want to be, who will then attract the person you want in your life.

For example, let's say you want a person who is financially stable. This is important to you because during your last relationship, you had to file bankruptcy and that was emotionally difficult for you and you do not want to ever go through that again. As a coach I would ask you to examine your own beliefs around money and wealth.

  • What did you learn from your parents about finances?
  • Did you grow up feeling there would never be enough?
  • Did you play that out during your marriage by bringing your "never enough" beliefs to that relationship?
  • Did you attract the person you most feared, someone who was irresponsible with money?

Now, you don't want to attract or create the same difficult financial situation with a new partner. So you must ask yourself, what is my current belief around manifesting abundance? If you are still stuck in the "not enough" place, then you will NOT attract financial stability into your life! I recommend that you work on releasing your fears around those issues. That is what I mean by working on any left over issues from the previous relationship before you can move forward in a really healthy way.

More food for thought: Have you dealt with your feelings around this transition in your life? Did you know that divorce is in the top 5 main stressors you can have in your life? It is normal to have experienced many tough feelings and emotions during this time period, such as loss, fear, resentment, doubt, anxiety, confusion, distrust, and feelings of being unproductive. Before you move on, it is necessary for you to have recognized and dealt with these feelings as they came up. Did you do that?

If you did the work I hope you did in the time period following your separation or divorce, and you know the answers to these questions:

  • What are the gifts of your relationship?
  • What did you learn?
  • What are you most thankful for?

My bet is that you are ready to start dating!

Now, as you get ready to date, it is important that your feelings be in the ballpark of anticipation, energized, confidence, satisfaction, focus and creativity. The first and most important guideline when working with someone going through a divorce is "Listen to others and then listen to your Intuition". This is important because everyone you know is an expert on divorce and relationships and they are all ready to give you advice.

In my 18 years as a family law attorney, I have heard some crazy advice! And I can tell you that people who listen to their own inner voice grow through divorce quicker than those who listen to everyone else.

What is your own inner voice telling you about dating? Are you ready? Ask yourself, "why do I want to date? Am I only looking to date so that I can feel better about myself?" I have seen many people choose the dating route and get caught up in lustful feelings... because truthfully, it does feel good. In fact, it feels great to have someone in your life who thinks you are the greatest. But if it is only about lust, it is temporaryand what I want you for is the ability to create a conscious partnership.

If you have taken the path of self-growth after your last relationship and you are clear about your part in the divorce or breakup, you have forgiven your ex and you passed the readiness test, and you are able to articulate the gifts from your relationship and your intuition tells you YES!, then you are ready to start dating... go forth and be brave! Remember, have fun, be trusting (that does not mean be naïve), be loving and KNOW that whatever comes your way, can handle it!

Copyright ©2010 by Lori S. Rubenstein. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Lori S. Rubenstein, JD CPC is well known for her ability to help clients tear down their walls to attract love into their lives. A divorce attorney, relationship coach, author, teacher and mediator give her a well-rounded perspective. She is the author of 3 transformational books and a CD/workbook set. 928.634.0252

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