My Woman Keeps Telling Me I’m Emotionally Unavailable!

Dinner

Last week I wrote an article alleging that women complain about men being emotionally unavailable, and my editor challenged me to provide insight to men who struggle to connect with their partners on a meaningful and intimate level. As with most things, it is far easier to criticize than to provide help. It’s also a lot more fun.

So what can the typical, confused, and frustrated male do when confronted by a spouse who accuses them of being emotionally unavailable? The answer may be more simple and obvious than most of us imagine.

1. It’s about being available… emotionally. How can I say this more clearly? Chances are your woman wants to talk about her feelings and process her thoughts with you over an extended period of time, and not just on one occasion. Men are often guilty of trying to appease their spouse just to get her off his back and get the job done. This is the problem, when you think about it. Real connection takes time and his has no obvious and immediate reward system. Remember when you liked to talk to your girlfriend on the phone for hours? Remember those tender moments when you so profoundly cared about what the other person was thinking? Remember those romantic walks where you would dream about the future? Being available is about being present, being involved intellectually and emotionally. It’s about connecting without expecting any sex at the end of the evening. This leads us to the next important thing that men need to get their head and genitals around…

2. Romance is not about sex. I know we all know this on an intellectual level but men desperately need to remind themselves that romance does not have to lead to sex. Romance is about connecting, touching (maybe), listening, smiling, and considering the other person before we consider ourselves. If you are only romantic if you think you will get sex at the end of the night than you really aren’t romantic at all. You are manipulative, petty and selfish but not romantic. I am not saying I am a romance guru but at least I am trying. And that is the point…

3. It’s all about trying. I cannot tell you the number of women that have admitted that they would have not ended their relationship if they thought that their spouse “was at least trying”. Women understand that we are emotional neanderthals and most will learn to cope if they know there is some movement forward. Most of us can put up with almost anything if we see light at the end of the tunnel. Relationships end when hope dies.

4. Quit acting like a baby. Women are not attracted to you when you beg for sex or pout when you don’t get your way. Most spouses did not marry you just to mother you so don’t give them a reason to need to. No one gives a damn if you have a cold so grow a pair and man up. Strength is sexy. Emotionally weak men are far more pathetic than physically weak ones. Women tell me all the time that one of the things they hate most about their man is that he is needy and they no longer respect him. Ask any woman and she will probably admit that weak men may attract strong women but eventually will not attract her sexually. Who wants to make love to an emotional child? Yuck.

5. Stop asking her how to connect with her. Many women believe that if you have to ask then you aren’t trying. Besides that, women are tired of having to do the work. I sympathize that you don’t understand how to connect with your wife. I know you think she is being ridiculously vague. She is a woman and she is talking female. You are listening with male ears and waiting for three easy steps. It isn’t going to happen and the earlier you get your head around this the further ahead you will be. You don’t understand what she really means and I get that.

Google it. Read a book. Join a group. Study your girl like you studied for your job. Spend the time. Learn about her sexuality. Find out about how women think and feel. Teach yourself to hear with female ears. Put aside your agenda. Read my articles on relationships. Stop working for sex; in fact don’t ask for sex at all until you figure this out. When you do have sex read my article on “Why Your Orgasm Doesn’t Matter” first.

You can do this. You are way smarter than your mother-in-law thinks. Become the sexual and romantic god you want to believe you already are.

The rewards are amazing.

Fart Humour And Teenage Boys (Or Why Men Have A Mental Illness)

No farting!

It’s almost interesting how quickly five or six teenage boys can stink up a room. On the weekend we had a birthday sleepover for our youngest, a sugar-fuelled night of X-box killing and toilet humor. At one point I turned to my wife and said, “And this, honey, is why men are not emotionally available or in-tune with women.”

It’s quite true, when you take the time to consider it. Women start connecting on an emotional level early in life. Even as children most females talk about their feelings, dreams, and interests with other girls. They are relational machines.

Boys talk about farting, snot and make inappropriate jokes as they attempt to punch their friends in the crotch. This may not apply to all males but it certainly does to those I have known and grown up with. Put two young teens together, and if one of them is my fifteen year old, it will not be long before they are mocking each other out and looking for weapons to castrate each other. Male youth culture is obsessed with violence and erogenous zones. We are not taught to share our innermost thoughts and fears with each other. To do so is a sign of weakness and you will be summarily maligned.

I do not know if I had a single meaningful conversation with another male prior to senior high.

As I have mentioned at other times men are not dumb. Many women have been raised to believe men are stupid. They are not. Most are, however, emotional morons with little or no experience talking about their emotions or connecting on a deep level. Women learn, usually much too late, that most of the guys they have been with do not understand or connect with them as they wish and the result is frustration and pain. By the time they get to my office they are usually so frustrated they are considering leaving the relationship.

Women tend to have unrealistic emotional expectations of men. Yes this is a generalization but I tend to write in generalities. Women often say to me, “Why doesn’t he talk about his feelings?” When I tell them what I have just described to you the traditional response is, “But I have asked him to talk and told him I need him to engage and he isn’t. He should understand by now!”

Nope.

I have long argued that high schools need to teach things that are actually useful in life. Few of us come into adulthood understanding the opposite sex, relationships, finances, or how the real world works. I did not learn how to talk to women, how women think, how to emotionally connect. Few men do. Most of us think of women as some alien life form that cries too much and never seems to be happy, in spite of our attempts to fix her. I have already written dozens of articles on how difficult it is for women and men to speak the other’s language and understand the other’s messages. Relationships are tough and it doesn’t help that the sexes cannot even begin to get inside each other’s heads.

Ladies, the secret of a happy relationship if you are dating a male is three-fold:

1. Lower your expectations. We have a mental illness. You wouldn’t yell at a child with down-syndrome for misunderstanding you so why would you get mad at someone who have absolutely no idea what you mean and has no training in connecting with himself let alone with you. Sorry but it’s the truth. The secret to a happy relationship is lowering your expectations.

2. Help him to move forward. Any movement forward is good news for your relationship. All you really need in a spouse is humility and a desire to make you happy. You can work with that. If he doesn’t have those attributes than you have a bigger problem than just emotional connection. Get help.

3. Realize that we constantly think you are condescending. This is an absolute truth for most men I speak with. We interpret almost any nagging and forthrightness as belittling. Being spoken down to is a core trigger for men. Our psyche is built on respect. When you talk down to us we lose our minds. Learning to speak “dude” is a key to understanding the male heart. We can’t hear you if you talk like our mommy.

Communication is make-or-break for most relationships. Coming this spring I will be offering an on-line course called “Speaking Chick And Talking Dude”. It has taken me years to even scratch the surface of understanding when it comes to connecting with women and I do this full-time.  If you are in the Vancouver, Canada region I will be offering a group in Maple Ridge starting the end of January.

Good luck. I know this article is frustrating for many and brings up more questions than it answers. I did that on purpose.

(My editor added this comment: “Will you have the three secrets for the male – on how to survive with a relational being when you’ve never been taught how to be relational?”)

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How To Pick Up Women In Their Twenties

dating-tips-for-guys-how-to-pick-up-womenI am not in my twenties and do not make a habit of hitting on any women, especially not women that young. I do, however, have a very attractive and intelligent son who was more than willing to provide a few insights for this Part 2 of “How To Pick Up Vulnerable Women”.

In my first instalment I wrote about manipulating a group of women who were in their late thirties and forties. You may want to familiarize yourself with that article before going on. It has been, and remains, my most hated and revered article to date. I have received private letters, several in fact, accusing me of being abusive and misogynistic, even cruel. Read it for yourselves and ask yourself why I would do such a thing and then freely tell everyone I did so…

In this instalment I begin by recognizing that everything I am about to say may not apply to you. Like many of my articles what follows is based on generalities. Please understand I’m not talking about anyone in specific, only trends and observations which may not even be objective. If nothing else it should be interesting.

You are sitting with friends at the local bar and I can tell, because you wear it like a beacon, that you are looking for a guy. I intend to be that guy. You are not in your forties so I am not going to gush, not going to give too much away. In fact, just the opposite. Your divorced mom is looking for someone who is emotionally sensitive, someone who is going to make it all about her. That isn’t my tactic, though some of the techniques are transferable. When I first meet you I’m very interested, very charming. Initially, at least, it’s all about you. But only initially. If we have been introduced I will be nice to you for a minute or two, then move on. If we are not introduced I will make a point of ignoring you and talk to the person directly beside you. I’m not going to hit on you, I’m not needy. And that is really the point.

1. I’m not needy. I act aloof but not rude. Okay, occasionally I can even be a bit rude. I will make the obligatory conversation, but little more. While I am talking to you I may check out other women. I will talk, engage, but we are not exclusive. That is the point. Heartiste writes, “That aloofness is catnip to women. You may as well prop a neon sign over your head that says “Preselected by women who have come before you, and who are standing right next to you.” Aloofness is one of those male characteristics that women are finely tuned to discover, isolate, and hone in on, because it tells them, subconsciously of course, that THIS MAN, this one right here, has a lot of choice in women. ERGO, this man, this one right here, must be high value.” I know this because the internet is polluted with websites that teach this very thing. Confidence and self-assurance is an aphrodisiac to some females.

I don’t need you. I may or may not be interested, but I’m keeping my options open. I like myself and I don’t need anyone. I’m mysterious. It’s hard not to want what you cannot have. My strength and even dominance is very attractive. If you don’t believe me than why are so many women attracted to the bad boy? Yummy.

The social context has changed  in the past few years. Women in their thirties and forties want to invite a man into their emotional world. In your twenties he invites you into his social world. As one twenty-five year old player told me today, “If you can get the girl to leave her social grouping and come over to yours you are 80% of the way into her pants.” That’s important to remember because…

2. It’s all about social context. Meet my entourage. We are not at the bar to take pictures of ourselves for Facebook. We are interesting. Come hang out with us. Let me separate you from your friends and take you out of your comfort zone. Let me introduce insecurity. After all…

3. I’m here to exploit your insecurity. I may compliment you but it is often tinged with irony or sarcasm. The unspoken point is the exploitation of your negative self-image. The trick is to not let you know I’m interested and get you wondering whether or not you are worth my time. Watch me dominate the social setting, see how I handle myself. Am I or am I not interested in you? Later, when I am very direct with you, and tell you I want to be with you, you are surprised, intrigued, complimented, and affirmed. But make no mistake, the underlying tactic is dominance (and not in a good way…). There is an interesting dichotomy at play. You want to be thought of as a strong woman but you also have insecurities. Doesn’t a part of you wish you could be taken?

Even a plain guy can confuse a beautiful woman if he acts like he doesn’t need her.

As a counselor I find this topic sickening. There are people out there, regardless of age, who use psychological and emotional manipulation to exploit the vulnerable and hurting. It usually isn’t until it’s too late that it becomes apparent that a damaged and delicate person has been exploited and often degraded. It is also unfortunate that so many women get taken in more than once. Some of us are attracted to personalities that lend themselves to narcissism and depravity. It is a sad thought that the confidence and maturity you think you are attracted to may only be a tool to tear your heart out.

Ladies, we lie to you. We believe that we understand the score far more than you think we do. If you don’t believe me ask anyone who has gotten into a relationship with a narcissist. Everything was amazing… at first. We told you what we thought you needed to hear. We held the door open, we talked about our feelings, we shared our hearts. We know you get off on that stuff. Some of us actually read about how to pick up women. We are smarter than you think.

I am often asked why I write about this topic. Sadly, it has become apparent that many vulnerable and emotionally damaged people are being treated as prey by morally bankrupt individuals who think nothing of ruining lives as long as they can get what they want. I would invite you to read some of the heartbreaking comments on the first installment of this topic here. That alone is incentive enough.

I have this crazy idea that if you know what is going on you might know a predator when he buys you a drink.

Do You Really Want A Sensitive Guy?

Real Men KnitWomen tell me they need a man to be emotionally sensitive, in touch with his feelings.

Two minutes later that same woman will tell me they want their man to stand up to them, to not let them always get their way. They want a strong, powerful man who is rugged and independent. They actually say that, “I don’t want to get my way.” (Am I to believe them?)

Well which is it?

I have written before of the influence of the myth of Prince Charming and the princess in popular culture. There is strong evidence to suggest that many women, for example, raised on Disney stories and fairy tales still yearn to be treated like a princess – adored, elevated, protected, honored by a strong and beautiful man. No where in Prince Charming’s resume does it require him to be emotionally available, or in touch with his feminine side.

There is a significant dichotomy at play in the dominant female heterosexual culture. Women confess all the time that they are looking for both traits in their man – strength and vulnerability. There is something attractive about a guy who strong and self-contained (if you don’t believe me wait until my upcoming article on How to Pick Up Vulnerable Twenty-somethings). A man who is powerful has long been an aphrodisiac. Most men of my generation were raised to emulate such guys – Eastwood, Arnold, Pitt, Stallone. Today many woman also are attracted to a man who can cry, is sensitive, and can even pretend to be a glittery vampire and lie beside you all night not asking for anything, only staring at you sleep. It is a tall order.

It is no wonder then that men are experiencing an identity crisis like never before in history. A generation often raised by females, guys today are not sure how to behave. We are still supposed to have muscles, though we now shave everywhere. We are supposed to have both masculine and feminine characteristics (not my contention but it seems that way to the average construction worker). Our fathers did not help around the house (though mine did), did not share their feelings, did not watch Househunters International. In fact, our predecessors didn’t do much around the house at all. My grandfather came home from work everyday and proceeded to drink himself sleepy. For all I know he may not have had actual feelings about things, it never came up. We had dress codes and opinions, not feelings. For thousands of years men knew who they were and what was expected of them. Women weren’t happy but we really didn’t seem to notice and if they did complain it was because we thought it was “their time of month”. It was easy to be a man, in peace time.

It’s hard to be a guy, really. I had the amazing opportunity to be a single parent for most of my children’s young lives so I learned the hard way that I can actually cook, do dishes, read and do homework with the kids, go to parent-teacher night, and talk about feelings. I am almost certain that I would not have learned those lessons if I hadn’t been forced to.

There is no training for men. We have had difficulty looking to male role models from our past. We have not been able to talk about our struggles until recently and now we have no idea how. Men are emotionally immature but in our defense we have had little practice. Recently I was out for drinks with my eldest son and a few close friends when I made the mistake of saying something to the effect that it’s cool that we can get together and talk about deep issues. My son turned to me and said, “Dad, we don’t talk about this crap when you aren’t here!” It’s true. Social protocol has dictated, for literally thousands of years, that we do the exact opposite. Men who gush are weak. Effeminate men or even those in touch with their feelings were ridiculed.

So please be patient with us. We are undergoing a cultural and anthropological shift that is unparalleled in history.
Most of us still are trying to figure out what a clitoris is.

Weekend Musings

On the weekends I tend to take a lighter look at life. I was thinking…

A real man is a woman’s best friend. He will never stand her up and never let her down. He will reassure her when she feels insecure and comfort her after a bad day. He will inspire her to do things she never thought she could do; to live without fear and forget regret. He will enable her to express her deepest emotions and give in to her most intimate desires. He will make sure she always feels as though she’s the most beautiful woman in the room and will enable her to be confident, sexy, seductive, and invincible.No wait… sorry… I’m thinking of wine. Never mind.

I Need Sex Every Couple Of Days

No I don’t.

I would like sex every couple of days. I would also like chocolate, and bacon, and candy every few hours. That doesn’t mean it should happen.

If I hear of another whiny, manipulative male guilting their partner with this again I’m going to scream. I have been wanting to address this issue for some time but realize that this blog does seem to be hard on men. My hope is that heterosexual men will figure this out.

Almost every day I have women tell me that if they don’t have sex with their man every two or three days that he will whine and complain, even become abusive. So they give in. When I hear that my heart breaks. What a horrible reason to share the most precious gift you can give to another person. Disgusting.

What the hell is wrong with these men? Do they care, even a little bit, about their partner, or are they such slaves to their hormones that they don’t consider the needs and desires of the person who loves them the most? Do they understand female sexuality at all? Do they think whining or threatening is a turn-on for women?

Women need to understand that men do not have to have sex every few days. We get horny, it’s true, but so what? Should we as adults give in to every single urge, every craving, every impulse we have? Should we manipulate and exploit women just because we have a desire? My wife can turn me on just by being in the room, she’s gorgeous (I know that’s shallow but she does drive me wild). Her smile, her touch can still drive me crazy. Is that, therefore, license to invade her personal space, force myself upon her, and manipulate her to do something she had no intention of doing just because I’m a man and dammit, she should have to? Am I saying that I’m weak, I’m pathetic, I’m a slave to my emotions? Even though I teach my children to say no to their base instincts apparently I will never say no to mine. Pathetic. It is no wonder that so many women tell me that they have lost the magic, the desire, for sex with their partner. It is no shock, therefore, that so few women experience regular orgasms with their men.

This issue strikes at the heart of respect, understanding, and selfless love. It speaks to the selfishness and lack of honor that many men have been raised to feel about women. As I said in an earlier article we were raised to believe that sex is really about the male orgasm. Most men actually believe that is the purpose of sex.

They are so wrong.

The Key To A Great Relationship

There are several keys to a great relationship. Here’s the one that has transformed my marriage.

Humility.

Not my humility, mind you. My wife’s. She is the humblest person I have ever met. Admittedly I was initially attracted to the fact that she is immensely hot (I know that is shallow and sexist) and seemed to tolerate me being around, but the more I have come to know her the more I credit the success of our relationship with the fact that she is relentless in her pursuit of compromise and making me happy. I am often hesitant to even mention something I would like to eat or possess because I know she will make it happen. She inspires me to want to try harder and be a better husband. We cannot even have a decent argument without her apologizing for something. It is hard to stay mad at someone who is trying so hard to make you happy.

She does not read this blog so i get no ‘suck up’ points for this, in case you were wondering.

As I write this I am conscious of the fact that many readers do not have this experience. This has not always been my experience either.  For years I lived with passive aggression, emotionally shut down, non-communicative narcissism. Many of us have. It is easy, when things are going poorly, to believe that this is the way everyone is, this is absolute reality. It isn’t even though it feels that way.

I have learned a great deal from both experiences. I have come to understand that my personal self-worth, happiness, and completeness cannot be based on another fallible person. I have lived far too long trying to make other people love me, and failing. I have based too much of my self-worth on whether or not my spouse likes me at any particular moment. I am endeavouring, and I am not there yet, to find my security from within. I have this crazy idea that I need to get to a place where I do not need anyone to feel whole.

In counseling I will often tell patients, “Don’t date until you don’t need to”. I profoundly believe this. We need to get to a point where we do not need someone else to fill that hole in our heart. Only then are we complete enough to love someone else without being needy, without needing them to “complete me”. It is a great deal easier to live sacrificially, think of the other person first, and live humbly when I don’t need her to stroke my tender, insecure, needy little ego.

“When we’re incomplete, we’re always searching for somebody to complete us. When, after a few years or a few months of a relationship, we find that we’re still unfulfilled, we blame our partners and take up with somebody more promising. This can go on and on–series polygamy–until we admit that while a partner can add sweet dimensions to our lives, we, each of us, are responsible for our own fulfillment. Nobody else can provide it for us, and to believe otherwise is to delude ourselves dangerously and to program for eventual failure every relationship we enter.”    Tom Robbins

Casual Friday – The Speedo

It starts with what Augustine calls “undeceiving ourselves”.

A jammer style swimming suit next to a speedo ...

Recently we were at the West Edmonton Mall and there was one lone holdout to a grosser time. One man wearing a Speedo.

Men. If you read nothing else on this blog please hear this. If you wear a Speedo we need to be honest with you. It’s gross. It’s disgusting. It’s pretty much naked… and not in a good way. We can see your basket is full, no matter how small or impish. It’s time to let it go… to undeceive yourself.

You aren’t French. Let it go…

Many of us, myself included, have spent a lifetime learning to undeceive ourselves. Some of us grew up believing things would turn out differently. We believed in the fairytale ending that was promised, but not delivered.

I never talk publicly about my ex-wife, until today. We were together since I was fourteen and she was my god. I worshiped the ground she walked on and even today have difficulty thinking ill of her. I loved her to distraction. She had only one glaring flaw, she was completely closed off emotionally. People who knew her for years admitted they had no idea who she really was. She didn’t show emotions in public. She didn’t show emotions at home. By the time she ran away with one of my best friends I was a needy, pathetic, love-seeking man-boy. I kept the kids, the house, most of her clothes. She didn’t seem to want anything. Especially not me.

When she left I had no idea she had a problem, any problems for that matter. I assumed she was completely happy, I know I was. It didn’t seem to matter that I could be away on a speaking gig for a week and come home to someone who didn’t seem to realize I had been away. In my needy way I served and served, pathetically trying to be loved. When she finally left she wrote me a nine page letter. I believed every word of it.

I spent a great deal of time sorting myself out. I learned how dysfunctional I was. I had presumed I knew what my wife was thinking and feeling, but I was profoundly wrong. So I spent countless hours researching women – their emotions, their sexuality, their philosophies. I endeavored to become a student of the opposite sex. I went to counseling, with a very bad counselor. I tried to be mother and father to my boys. I learned to undeceive myself, it took years. By the time I met my someday-to-be wife I had sorted some things out. I continue to sort.

After more than a few years I am married again to a woman who reminds me everyday that I am loved and appreciated. I am no longer needy, although I deserve little credit. It is much easier to become healthy and whole when you have an amazing and brutally honest mate cheering you on. I believe profoundly that I need to share the message with women that not all men are pigs. Not all of us are emotionally unavailable. There are men who are willing to do whatever it takes to love you well, they just need to be taught. We are not dumb, we are simply not paper-trained. I also feel that there is a message for men. We were not raised to understand women, or each other for that matter. It’s time for men to suck it up, grow up, and live sacrificially.

The most important lessons are not learned in the classroom. The most important lessons are learned in pain.

I still believe in fairy tale endings. In real fairy tales, however, my tale is a little beaten up, more honest, and balder.

I still do not believe in Speedos.

If You Love Your Woman For God’s Sake Don’t Do Housework!

Scenesetter accessories from 1969 based on hou...I heard on the radio that a recent study has found that women who do an average of 4 hours a day of housework have a 30% less likelihood of getting some kinds of cancer…. 30%. For God’s sake, if you love your woman, don’t do housework! If you really love her, leave stuff out, don’t pick up after yourself, use more dishes. Forget about being emotionally available, pee on the toilet seat!

We men have known for some time now that women should be doing all the housework. It was just a matter of time before science assured us that we have been selfless in our desire to help our women be all they can be. What man wouldn’t want his sweetheart to have a full and rich life? So show your love, let her do what obviously she was created to do! Science proves it! Don’t you love your girl enough to help her stay healthy!

Quit being selfish! Don’t do housework!

Ashamed To Be A Guy

As a counselor I hear many many stories about people’s sex lives, or lack thereof. Most people, once trust is built are willing to talk about pretty much anything. I will hear the typical complaints – men who have not taken the time to to understand and fulfill their partner’s sexual needs. Men who have been “cut off” for no apparent reason and cannot comprehend what they are doing wrong. Women who have rarely or never had an orgasm and believe (usually incorrectly) that somehow this is their sexual or gynecological failing (also almost never true). I have written about, and will continue to write about, the need to address these issues, especially when female sexual fulfillment is involved. A shockingly high percentage of women in therapy, for example, have had few orgasms that they have not brought about themselves. Another topic I address frequently is the relatively low percentage of men who have any idea what is going on inside their partner’s head and the impact of the female thinking process on their capacity to engage in a meaningful sexual way.

One issue I love to talk about, as distressing as it is to admit, is the overwhelming selfishness of the male orgasm. Earlier this fall I mentioned a group I do for couples wherein I challenge the men in the room to abstain from “finishing” for at least a month or longer while they wholeheartedly concentrate exclusively on servicing and nurturing their partner. As men we are not trained to think like this. None of us have ever heard such heresy before. Not climaxing during sex in absolutely foreign to the vast majority of us, virtually every male I have ever met.

But every once in a while even I am still able to be shocked.

Someone I trust once told me a story of a couple where the husband “needed” sex every day of their marriage. Every day. Pig. After the birth of their child it was, while she was still in the hospital recovering from a natural child-birth, and probably an episiotomy to boot, that he crawled up to satiate himself. What a sick bastard. What abuse. That man did not truly love his wife, and if you think I am being judgmental then so be it. That is not a real man, that is a sexual violator who has chained his wife to a bondage of sexual abuse from which she may never recover.

Men don’t need sex every day. They may want it but such a belief or custom is the sure sign of an emotionally shunted, selfish post-adolescent, with little or no self-control and even less respect for the woman he has dominated. He knows nothing about satisfying a woman, nothing about understanding female sexuality, and makes me so angry I would love to kick him in the balls until the abuse ends.

And that is my clinical therapeutic assessment.

Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?

As a counselor I have seen my fair share of marital infidelity. Unfortunately few cheaters I have dealt with actually come clean without being caught. Most feel deep remorse, after they are found out. They are prone to weep and plead and promise the world, but can you ever trust them again? Do you even want to?

This week Americans were surprised to learn that the director of the CIA in the United States resigned after confessing to having an affair. I found it ironic that the head of the most secret organization in the country didn’t see that coming. That is often the way of it, unfortunately. Few of us set out to ruin our lives or our relationships. Fewer still realize the cost. As a person who has felt the sting of infidelity firsthand I know how painful and horrific it can be to find out that the person you have given your heart and body to has thrown your trust and future away.

I recently came across this article in Psychology Today which I found helpful and informative:

So you’ve been cheated on. It was devastating–like being kicked in the gut and thrown into the gutter. You couldn’t eat or function at work. Or maybe you were up all night watching old movies, crying and eating pints of Ben & Jerry’s. The affair creates such heartache and pain that you do not want to be in a relationship again. Definitely never again.

The questions loom large. Is the cheater going to cheat again? Should you trust again or not? Is it true, “Once a cheater, always a cheater”? You may feel torn, like you want to take your cheating partner back but feel like it is a point of pride not to. You think, maybe you should just dive into that online dating pool, start looking for some great profiles and forget all about it. Or maybe not.

Well, I have some critical relationship advice for you: Research studies show that even among married couples, cheating is relatively common: about 22% of men and 13% of women cheat. According to recent studies, even spouses who describe themselves as “happy” with their marriage have affairs.

But the good news is this: Many people who are in committed relationships that have decent chemistry and benefits for both partners can actually work through the crisis of affairs. Not only that, their relationship can become more intimate and they can put an end to cheating once and for all. This means that, “Once a cheater, always a cheater” is just not true. There are people who learn and grow from the painful emotional hurricane and the loss of closeness in the relationship that are the aftermaths of cheating.

Of course there are players or sex addicts that will cheat and cheat and cheat again. These are the ones your truly have to watch out for. How do you tell if you are dealing with a chronic cheater? Here are five signs of relationship advice that indicate your cheater is not a chronic case and that the couple still has hope:
1. Your partner is truly remorseful and regrets having cheated. Look for heartfelt apologies that ring true when you hear them.
2. Your partner cuts off contact with his or her lover.
3. The cheater shows a renewed appreciation and devotion towards you.
4. You wind up having deep, open and honest conversations with each other about your relationship, what was missing in it and where you’d like to take it in the future.
5. Your partner wants to enter psychotherapy or counseling either individually or with you to understand his/her own dynamics and to make your relationship better and more intimate.

If the cheater shows these signs and the relationship is good for you in many ways, consider taking your partner back. One caveat: If your partner continues the affair or starts a new one, in spite of showing the above signs, you may be dealing with a player or a sex addict.
And just how do you know if the cheating is going on again? Here are some common signs:

• he/she’s working late a lot
• he/she’s’s suddenly taking trips you can’t go on
• he/she’s got new hobbies that don’t include you
• mysterious phone calls with hang-ups
• credit card bills for unexplained hotel stays or gift-type items
• less sex
• he/she’s more distant, angry or picky

If you find out your partner is cheating again, it’s time to protect yourself from any further heartbreak by breaking up with this person. There are wonderful new matches waiting to date right there on your computer screen!
In sum, if your partner strays, it doesn’t absolutely mean he or she will do it again. Once a cheater, always a cheater isn’t necessarily true. Forgiveness and a new coming together are possible. If you have been betrayed but want to see if it can work, just stay heads up for a while and see which way the train is heading!

Diana Kirschner, Ph.D. in Finding True Love

People With Doubts About Marrying Their Partners Have Higher Rates Of Divorce

Would it surprise you to learn that according to new research, men and women who harbored doubts about marrying their partners have a higher rate of divorce after four years of marriage?  It sounds like one of those no-brainer discoveries.  But it reminded me of what one of my graduate school professors said some decades ago, that it can be useful to “demonstrate the obvious.”

Here’s why, in this case: The research underscores how often people know an inner truth, but don’t act on it.  They might hold back because of various fears, such as fear of affirming themselves. Or, from pressure to acquiesce to what their families or conventional thinking tells them their “right” decision should be.

I’ve seen several examples, such as a corporate executive I’ve been helping to better integrate his leadership role and his personal life goals. While reflecting on the latter, he said, “I remember, as I was walking down the isle – literally – to marry her, I said to myself, ‘I shouldn’t be doing this.  I’m making a huge mistake.’”

Let’s look at what the new research found, and what it tells people that’s important to heed – for those at the entry point of marriage, and for those much further down that road.

Researchers at UCLA interviewed 464 couples about how they viewed the partners they were about to marry.  Those who harbored doubts about marrying their spouses had a much higher divorce rate after 4 years than those who didn’t.  The research, reported in the Journal of Family Psychology, found that 47% of husbands and 38% of wives said they had doubts about marrying their partners at the outset.

Subsequently, 19% of the women who had pre-wedding doubts ended up divorced four years later, compared with 8% of those who didn’t have doubt.  And 14% of the husbands who reported doubts were divorced four years later, compared with 9% who reported no doubts.

Researchers took into account such factors as how satisfied the spouses were with their relationships to begin with, whether their parents were divorced, and whether the couple lived together before marriage. Couples were followed up every six months for four years, after marriage. The average age of the husbands was 27; for wives, 25.

Justin Lavner, the lead author of the study, said in a summary of the research, “People think everybody has premarital doubts and you don’t have to worry about them. We found they are common but not benign. Newlywed wives who had doubts about getting married before their wedding were two-and-a-half times more likely to divorce four years later than wives without these doubts.”

But note that even the men who had doubts were nearly twice as likely to divorce than men without doubts. Moreover, those who had doubts but were still married after four years reported less marital satisfaction than those without doubts.

What It Means

More than just a lesson to be mindful of your doubts, I think this research reflects the fact that what people want from relationships is in the midst of transformation, today – both for younger men and women at the “entry level;” and for those married for some time

The transformation is evident in: Rising cohabitation rather than marriage. Increasing acceptance of gay marriage by the general public.  Diminishing social stigma about affairs. Desire for greater transparency and equality in relationships as well as throughout society.  These realities push up against old conventions, norms and traditional definitions of partnerships.  That generates personal and social upheaval.

Now there’s even a growing movement to decriminalize polygamy.  John Witte Jr., scholar of religion and law at Emory University in Atlanta, believes that polygamy is the next frontier in marriage and family law. In a Washington Post article, he points out that states are able to dismantle traditional or conventional views of marriage by allowing two men or two women to wed, so why should they not go further and sanction, or at least decriminalize, marriages between one man and several women?

As far as the long-term “damage” from divorce that some claim, that doesn’t hold up with the data. One example, cited by University of Virginia marriage researcher E. Mavis Hetherington, is that 60% of divorced people eventually end up with new partners, in positive relationships.

Whatever you think about these social shifts, the fact is that many marriages become marked by low-level emotional intimacy, inequality regarding power, and an unsatisfying sexual life.  That’s almost the norm.  Therefore it would be wise for men and women at the “entry level” of marriage, as well as those within longer-term marriages, to engage in some fact-checking with themselves:
by Douglas LaBier, Ph.D.

When Having Sex With Your Man Makes You Feel Cheap And Used

It seems that almost daily women tell me that they are having obligatory sex, usually around once per month, to appease their partner stop the begging These women believe, reasonably, that if they give in it will allow them some time off from the emotional games/manipulation and help them placate that voice inside their head that keeps telling them they are frigid, or a bad spouse, or something far worse.  Most women I have talked to do the obligation sex thing for what they believe are the right reasons, hoping that this will somehow make things at least temporarily better.

They are wrong.

Men do not think like you do. The message you are sending is nothing like the message we are hearing. Women tend to have sex for very different reasons than men do (no new revelation here). When we are fighting, when our relationship is stale, when I don’t think you like me and then you have sex with me, as a guy I think, “everything is ok now.” I am not making this up. Sex puts a guy’s world back in order.

Is that the message you meant to send?

I do understand, at least as much as I am able, the frustration many women feel who are in a stable relationship when it comes to sex. Even as a dude I realize how incredibly invasive and penetrating (ya, I know…) such a biological act is; even devoid of the emotional, sensual, and spiritual aspects of making love.

I am also familiar with the persistent frustration many men feel and the temptation to beg, manipulate, promise and beg in order to have sex. I am still amazed that my wife would even let me touch her like that, and I’m not being trite. I feel a woman’s body, any partner’s body for that matter, is such an incredible gift that I can think and dream about her all day. She’s a redhead. It is no wonder that even the strongest among us can be tempted to entice and manipulate in order to get our way. Many men are guilty of selfishness in this area.

In my course for men on sex I challenge every guy in a relationship to continue to have sex but refrain from having an orgasm for at least a month or two. Why?

I believe in my deepest parts that it is quintessentially important for men, and women, to grow beyond their selfishness, greed and lust in order to become a great lover and a great person. NO ONE is born a great lover. Few of us are willing to do what it takes to become one.

You have only to read the comments on some of my blogs to see how many women have been hurt through the selfishness and douchebaggery of men who are only interested in their sperm count and have never learned to love selflessly. How many of us have stood up at weddings or witnessed the couple repeating those Bible verses you hear at every wedding about thinking more of the other than we do of ourselves? That isn’t just good spirituality, that is foundational truth.

My heart hurts for so many women who have been exploited, sexually abused, and treated like a prostitute, by a partner who swore to love them unconditionally. Often they relate that they constantly feel guilty and inadequate. In my practice by far the majority of sexual abuse I deal with comes from within a committed relationship. Consider that for a moment.

If your partner is not willing and committed to foregoing their own pleasure in order to ensure your safety and trust (notice I didn’t say anything about sex there), as well as your pleasure first; then I have serious concerns about their level of commitment. I tell women on a regular basis that they are not obligated to have sex when their partner whines, abuses, or manipulates. You have more power than you know. Use it.

Next week I will write about how to teach your male how to be a great lover, but for now I want to reach out to those many people who have been exploited, or who have had their needs ignored, or have been fooled by a man who started out loving you and now is only using you. You are not dirty, ugly, loose. You especially are not frigid. That is his word, not yours. After all, who among us would not be willing to give ourselves to someone who will truly honour and love unconditionally, having only our concerns and safety at heart?

If you are a guy reading this, don’t be like the other pigs we all know. Be an amazing lover. Ask your partner to teach you. Be humble.

It’s the best learning you’ll ever do.

P.S. – Experts tell us that having sex with your partner ten times per year still qualifies you as being in a sexless marriage. (maybe I’m doing the math wrong). Did you hear me, experts!

Why Men Lie To You

Women ask me, why do men lie so often? The answer may surprise you.

In a man’s world, lying to get out of domestic chores, calm down a lover, or get an extra slice of pizza is not necessarily a real lie. Depending on the situation and potential emotional fallout, sometimes we justify these slips and think of them more like a ‘lie’ish’.

“After all, sweetheart, I didn’t realize it would hurt you so much.”
“I wasn’t exactly sure what you meant when you asked me to make supper.”
“The instructions you gave me were unclear so I thought I should wait until you got home to do it right.”
“As your mother constantly reminds me, I am after all, incompetent anyway and it is probably best that you do it yourself.”
“I didn’t think you would take it so badly.”
“Honestly.”

In a man’s world, wives and girlfriends usually become the “loyal opposition”. You need to be placated. You have more demands of us than we do of ourselves. When you ask us to do things it sometimes sounds suspiciously like our mommy. Woman may not understand, as I point out all the time on this blog, that men are generally more emotionally lazy than women are. Much, much, more. We also think differently than women do. We put things in boxes (yes, I know that’s a worn cliché but work with me here), I know I do. Our innermost desire is to deal with your problem as quickly as possible, put it in a box, and watch sports.

I realize how that sounds but women seem to have so many issues they want to discuss and the quicker we can classify, deal with, or avoid having to think about, the better. The quicker I can shut the box the less emotion I have to invest; and you know how we guys are with emotional availability.

So why don’t I just pick up the laundry like I said I would instead of fudging a lie to get you off my back? The reason may have something to do with the fact that picking up the laundry was not my idea, and therefore I do not really care about the laundry. After all, I only change my underwear when you notice. Besides I rarely ask you for anything (you anticipate my needs). I will pick up the laundry… later (for the uninitiated ‘later’ is our way of placating you now while never really intending on getting the laundry unless it somehow lands in my car while at the drive-through at Wendys). Telling you I plan on doing it at another time also stops the emotional outburst, which as every guy knows is the reason for all excuses. If I tell you the truth we have to talk about it and talking involves emotions, usually yours. It is far easier to get back to you later (and mistakenly hope you’ll forget, because we will).

Now, I cannot end this article without flinging mud in the other direction, if ever so briefly. Women are by no means blameless. Case in point, how are you today? Fine? In a man’s world that is a bold-faced lie unless you mean it. Why do you think we are so surprised when later we find out you were upset? You told us you were fine! In my world, if I am going to lie, it is going to be subtle. Answering a question by saying ‘fine’ immediately leads me to believe you are, in fact, just fine. I do not understand that your body language, the expression on your face, the way you are standing, the fact that you are yelling out the word; and the growing realization that you may be praying for my death, should be clear enough indicators that you are not fine… but I’m a guy.

“Why Does He Prefer Porn Over Me?”

Penny FlameThis week’s “Dear Whys Guy” blog features a heartbreaking scenario where the husband would prefer to watch pornography on his phone than have a real sexual encounter with his wife of 22 years. How does a romance go from head over heels in love to utter indifference?

Marnia Robinson and Gary Wilson, the authors of “Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow”, have written an outstanding article in Psychology Today on the debilitating effect of frequent pornography viewing on men. They observed that “recent behavioral addiction research suggests that the loss of libido and performance occur because heavy users are numbing their brain’s normal response to pleasure. Years of overriding the natural limits of libido with intense stimulation desensitize the user’s response to a neurochemical called dopamine.”

Ultimately, continued use of pornography by a man leads to a decreased response to dopamine. This results in declining natural desire and in a cyclical effect, increased need for even more visual stimulation. This insatiable hunger for pornography will increase as the reward for watching it decreases. This is the inevitable downside of addiction.

In addition to this physiological deadening, University of North Carolina Professor Joshua Knobe and his colleagues showed that porn use also changed the way men view women.  Professor Knobe described this effect male porn use had on the way men perceived women as  “animalification-treating a woman as though she lacks the capacity for complex thinking and reasoning, but at the same time, treating her as though she was even more capable of having strong feelings and emotional responses.”

There is little that the wife of  the pornography addict can do to interest her husband. He has used artificial means to go beyond the outer limit of human beings. He is not feeling the ordinary joy he used to experience and he doesn’t even look at her the same way.  The husband must hit bottom,  break the cycle of addiction and allow his natural limited desire and perception of the opposite sex to return before they can together return to a healthy fulfilling sexual relationship as husband and wife.

The wife can use this terrible crisis as an opportunity to re-evaluate the whole marriage from the ground up once the man seeks help. Many men are not finding acceptance in their conventional monogamous relationships. These men are unconnected to their unsuspecting spouse and children and seek a temporary high, connection and escape from reality in pornography, lap dances in Gentlemen’s Clubs, prostitutes or serial adultery.

How did these once ardent paramours end up having to tip toe in at 2AM, shed their clothes into the washer, shower off the stink of cheap perfume from a stripper and slip quietly into bed next to their slumbering spouse? The sad reality for many men is that their conventional relationship was based on inappropriate emotional and physical intimacy and the deception of approval seeking. After the ephemeral high of the honeymoon fades, these men find themselves trapped in a prison of their own device. They enjoy symbolic physical nakedness in each sexual encounter with their wife, but there is no acceptance of their naked self, because these rejection fearing mirage men never give their partner the chance to really know and accept them.

These men will cope with their empty marriage by employing real or virtual women to provide them with the temporal acceptance they find lacking in their steady relationship. It will only last for a few hours before they must flee back into their alternative universe where they live with their wife and children. The next day these mirage men will find themselves just as alone and disconnected as before. This will feed the need to keep seeing the person or website who gives them that high, which will lead from a dalliance to addiction.

Mirage men won’t admit there is a problem in their marriage until it reaches a crisis point or the various addictive coping behaviors that spring up become so blatant they can no longer be ignored. These addictions  will lead to an exaggeration of their character defects. The family will learn to adjust as the mirage man  becomes more and more eccentric, after years of living with no mooring to his true self.  In this Whys Guy blog case, the man is openly watching porn on his phone and tuning out all those around him.  It took a long time for his secret life of addiction to become this outrageous and shameless. We can only hope he will hit bottom and seek help before his wife considers ending the relationship over grounds of emotional abandonment.

Published on November 7, 2011 by J. R. Bruns, M.D. in Repairing Relationships

How To Pick Up Vulnerable Women

...And The Home Of Depraved.You just got out of a messy, abusive relationship with a guy who doesn’t understand you, never took the time to service your needs, and was emotionally unavailable. You are working your way back into the dating world and you may not know it, but you are in a potentially dangerous scenario.

You are prey. I am a predator. I know you are hurting and vulnerable. You probably haven’t been with a guy who is emotionally sensitive, vulnerable yet still strong, willing to listen and laugh and be everything you ever needed; and yet somehow allows you to feel safe. Let me be that guy.

I actually do a seminar for women on how an average looking guy can pick up women in their late 30′s and beyond using emotional and psychological manipulation. It’s scary when you realize how easily vulnerable people can be manipulated by a guy who is willing to pretend he is sensitive, a listener, who makes it “all about her”, is a bit aloof, and knows how to say the words that will push the vulnerable buttons of a girl they have just spent two hours milking for information they can use to control her emotionally. So sad.

Last year, in front of a group of twelve women, I announced that I was going to emotionally seduce one of them in the group, under the fluorescent lights, without any alcohol, and asked for a volunteer. In front of eleven hostile witnesses, in just over twenty minutes, I was able to confuse a woman who knew I was trying to manipulate her. Let’s be honest, I’m simply not that good-looking.

I started by talking about her life, her fears, her hopes and the pain she must have experienced. I used the information I knew about her that she shared in the group in confidence and violated her emotionally. Half way through I announced that I was stopping the exercise so that I could explain what I was doing. I lied. I used that next five minutes to confuse her and convince her that I actually did have her best interests at heart. I apologized, back-paddled, asked about her needs, and then cried with her. I never touched her.

I have done this in several groups and have never missed. I tried it the first time almost by accident and scared myself by how evil and dirty I felt. And how powerful.

Please, isn’t there something you can learn from this?

Dating the Bad Boy

Easy RiderFor some reason many more women than are willing to admit it have a thing for the bad boy. Actually there are several reasons, both sociological and sexual, not all of which I am prepared to go into at this time. The fact remains, however, that while other gender stereotypes have been put to rest you can still find a school teacher or PTA member somewhere drooling for a dude with a tattoo driving a Harley. That doesn’t do it for you? That’s ok, there are several types of bad boys from the guy at the gym with no neck and a shoulder tattoo to the moody hipster with a man purse giving a finger to the establishment. Some of you even swoon for a dusty dude in cowboy boots.

On an anthropological level there are some fairly obviously sexual reasons women are still attracted to the bad boy. Sigmund Freud would have a field day with this topic and there would be several unguarded references to violence, rebellion and counterculture penis envy. While I would LOVE to spend time helping some of my female friends question their sexual and psychological reasons for such a preference it would only serve to invite a backlash and cloud the issue. I really have no idea why you personally like the bad boy, maybe you just have a thing for overstated machismo. I mainly brought the tensions up because they are really fun to write about.

There is a pragmatic reason why I have an opinion, as a therapist, about this stereotype. On a far more pragmatic and painful level I have seen firsthand the relational problems and tears from patients who have lived with the man behind the tattoo, or murse, or protein shake.

What I am about to say is a generalization. As Gonzo says in the original Christmas Carol, “That one thing you must remember, or nothing that follows will seem wondrous.” There are exceptions to every generalization and I already know I am going to get deluged by women telling me their Hell’s Angel is actually a big kitten. Ok I get that, can we go on?

The kitty-cat notwithstanding I have spent many hours listening to women, and a few men, who are devastated by the man of their dreams and desires who, for some reason they cannot fathom, seems shallow, emotionally unavailable, even narcissistic. Imagine that, a guy who spends thousands upon thousands of dollars and calories on his image having an issue with narcissistic behavior. You want me to come clean so I’ll say it, the bad boy is generally a bad boy for a reason. Most people who are this concerned about looking tough or being a rebel are battling significant self-esteem issues and are insecure and potentially self-absorbed. The very reason you are attracted to them is the reason you should run. Let me say that again – the very reason you are attracted to them is the reason you should run.

Remember Fonzie? Tyler Durden? James Bond? Gilligan? (Wait, not that last one). A generation of yuppies idolized Fonzie, the Easy Rider, and Clint Eastwood because they did not need anyone. They were completely self-absorbed. They were not in touch with their feelings, in fact they spent and inordinate amount of time trying to impress everyone around them that they had no feelings. Does this really sound like someone you want to spend fifty years with? Remove the rose-colored lenses and simply ask yourself if your ‘strong silent type’ or your outgoing man candy is going to live a sacrificial life that puts you first in every decision that matters and share with you their hopes and dreams and emotions.

I wish I could videotape the hundreds of hours of tears, the pain and the misery that I have had to listen to from spouses who feel emotionally distant or even abused by someone who will never put them first. I wish you could be in my chair as those same people break up and then date the exact same stereotype again and again, expecting different results. Didn’t Einstein have something to say about that?

If you are falling for the bad boy I hope you will be the exception to the rule. Unfortunately, as much as we hope, few of us ever are. Instead, date a school teacher. Sure they’re usually passive-aggressive and wear Dockers but at the end of the day they’ll still be there, with their i-pad, complaining about their three months of vacation but faithful and true. The sex may not be amazing but at least you can teach them to make it all about you.

Or I can, give me their email address.

Pathological Relationships – Am I Under His Spell?

The mental state of highway hypnosis can occur...from Psychology Today

Time and again women allude to the mystical aspects of the pathological relationship they are involved with. They describe it as “being under his spell,” “entranced by him,” “hypnotized by him” or even “spellbound” or “mind-controlled.”

Women aren’t exactly able to define what they are “experiencing” or even accurately describe what they think is occurring, but they do unanimously conclude that “something” is happening that feels like it’s “hypnotic.”

Beyond the “hocus pocus” of hypnosis lies real truth about what is probably happening in those relationships.

Trance happens to every person every day. It is a natural lull in the body when many of the systems are resting or a state we enter when tired. Blood sugar, metabolism and other natural body functions can affect the sleepy states of trance that we enter all day long.

You’ve probably heard of “highway hypnosis.” This occurs when you have been driving and are so concentrated on the driving (or when you are getting sleepy while driving and watching those yellow lines) that you forget about the last few miles, and all of a sudden you’re aware you’re almost at your destination. Highway hypnosis is trance, or “lite” forms of self-hypnosis. No one put you in that state of hypnosis—you entered it on your own.

Check in with most people around 2 p.m. in the afternoon and you’ll see lots of people in sleepy trances.

But pathology can cause people to enter trance states frequently. Pathological love relationships are exhausting and take their toll on your body through stress, diet, loss of sleep, and worry. While you are worn-down and fatigued, you are more suggestible to the kinds of things that are said to you in that state of mind. These words, feelings and concepts sink in at a deeper level than other ideas and statements that are said to you when you are not in a trance state.

If he is telling you that you are crazy, or gaslighting you by telling you that you really didn’t see him do what you think he did, or that the problems of the relationship are because of you—those statements said to you when you are suggestible stay filed in your subconscious and are replayed over and over again, creating intrusive thoughts and obsessional thinking.

If he tells you positives when you are in trance states such as “he needs you and please don’t ever leave him“—those phrases too are stored in a subconscious location, working without your knowledge. When it’s time to redirect your beliefs about him, disengage, or break up, women feel like “old tapes” are running in their heads. It’s very hard for them to get these messages to stop activating their thinking, feeling, and behavior.

Women who have strong personality traits in suggestibility and fatiguability are more at risk of trance-like states in which words, meanings, and symbols are more concretely stored in the subconscious.

Women feel relieved to find out that they really aren’t crazy–it really does feel like she is under his spell, because in many ways, she is.

More information on trance states in pathological romantic relationships is covered in detail in our book, Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of Inevitable Harm with Psychopaths, Sociopaths & Narcissists.
Published on September 11, 2012 by Sandra Brown, M.A. in Pathological Relationships

Dating: The Big Con

The Dating GameNo one thinks they are going to divorce, and usually literally hate, the person of their dreams.

But so many of us will.

We are a generation in love with getting what we want, when we want it. The idea of dating for years is fast becoming a myth of yesteryear. We have fallen in love with the idea of falling in love.

The entire process is broken and it starts with dating, the big con. If we are honest we know that all of us, and I include myself in this, lie like a used car salesman to our prospective partner. We pretend we have our act together, that our problems are minor; that we are sophisticated. What guy hasn’t pee’d on the rim of his girlfriend’s toilet so she won’t hear him splash. What girl hasn’t pretended she has it all together to keep the man of their dreams from knowing how crazy she really is?

Dating is all a big lie. If it isn’t a lie it surely is a misrepresentation of what we are in for if we buy the entire package. Almost without exception each of us is tempted to skew the truth, to reinvent ourselves as to be more palatable. It’s very important to understand that this person you are interested in isn’t really this person you are interested in. That man you are so intrigued with because he is such a good listener may not, in point of fact, be sensitive at all.

Every guy knows women fall for that sensitivity crap. You aren’t as mysterious as you think you are. I see you at a crowded bar and know that I want to impress you (why are you looking for a guy at a bar anyway?). Most guys will come on too strong but I’m the guy who loves to listen. I won’t even hit on you, you’ll know I’m different. You are looking for someone who is emotionally available so I ask you about yourself, your life, your dreams; because with me it’s all about you.

Yuck. But women in their thirties and forties eat that crap up. We know you’ve been burned. We know you are looking for a guy who is emotionally in tune, who is strong like a man but sensitive like the stereotypical gay man.

It’s all a game, but a game that can break your heart and steal your soul. It is incredibly important that single people realize that decisions made after a few weeks or months are extremely risky and the likelihood of finding your love of a lifetime in a few short weeks is next to impossible.

I will repeat this again so that there is no confusion. If you get into a serious relationship with someone after only a few dates or weeks you are almost guaranteed to have your heart broken because you really have no idea what you are getting involved with and the likelihood that this person is right for you is infinitesimally small.

It is no sin to want to impress the opposite sex but it may be one to make a lifelong commitment to someone you barely know and haven’t known through at least four seasons (a little nod to Dr. Laura Schlesinger there). I have an entire course on learning to speak so the other partner can hear. It takes a commitment to live sacrificially with another person, gay or straight, that is incredibly difficult and painful, no matter who you marry or shack up with.

Oh, and one other thing. Several times a month I am informed by someone who wants this oh so badly that there are exceptions to the rule. Yes there are, and chances are you aren’t one of them. I only say this from counseling thousands, actual thousands of people in relationships, so what do I know?

The stark reality is that you are signing up to live with someone for fifty years based on a few months of information. Any guy can pretend to be sensitive for a month or two. Any woman can pretend that she wants everything he wants, for a while. Living together in a lifelong commitment has very little in common with today’s dating rituals. Marriage/ living together takes place in what we call the real world – the world of diapers, arguments, problems and financial commitments, with two species who don’t have a clue what the other is thinking trying to make a life together.

Making it in this world is hard. Making it with another person is challenging and you deserve a chance at success and happiness, so don’t settle for Mr. Right Now instead of Mr. Right. You are incredibly special and need to be as picky as you can before you give away your heart and your future to someone who may trample your soul.

Take the time to find out about that other person. Don’t trust your heart – use your head. You’ll be glad you did.

And don’t get me started on cyber-dating!

Lies We Tell Ourselves #3 – He Is Perfect For Me. It Was Meant To Be!

Meant for Each OtherIt was written in the stars. He saw her from across the room and as their eyes met; he knew she was the only one for him, forever.

Doesn’t young romantic love make you want to puke?

In my Relationship Group there is always that one couple who tell us that they knew their relationship was ‘meant to be’, and that when they met they knew it was true love. This other person is the ‘one and only’.

Popular culture and movies are replete with references to the idea that your love was ‘meant to be.’ Just look at all the romantic comedies that are out there. You know the ones, the movies where Matthew McConaughey takes off his shirt. The movies about a young professional, trying to make it in the big city and she meets a guy who stumbles into her on the street. He’s annoying and you think she is going to marry the rich, stuck up guy but at the last moment he shows up at her wedding with flowers, just before she says, “I do.” As they rush out of the church you know that their love was meant to be. After all, when you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. When you wish upon a star your dreams come true!

Nope.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in lust at first sight. I do not, however, buy into the idea that your special relationship was written in the stars. So why is this such a big deal? Why would anyone waste their time arguing about true love?

In counseling we call this a cognitive distortion. These are the distorted truths we tell ourselves in order to cope. So why is this belief a distortion?

Fast forward ten or twenty years and the wife is in counseling. She is frustrated because her marriage is not turning out the way it was ‘meant to be’. Prince Charming has turned out to be a dud, her sex life is routine and obligatory and every conversation they have seems to end in a fight. Where is the romance? Where is the passion?

Real relationships rarely turn out the way they do on television. Every relationship, no matter how steamy it started out, lessens in romantic intensity the longer you are together. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this. Hopefully your respect and trust in that other person will continue to grow and your romantic life will be fulfilling and enjoyable for both partners. I like to call this the real world.

In the land of media induced make-believe , however, romance is intense. You kiss like you are trying to rub your lips all over their face. His mere touch sends you into spasms of pre-orgasmic delight. For the rest of your life you are going to live with your soul mate and even though over half of relationships split up, yours is going to go the distance. Why? Because it was meant to be.

Most of us have grown up with this perception of true love. We believe that one day, some day, we will meet that perfect someone and they will feed our every dream. We will surely live ‘happily ever after’. Unfortunately this is often not the case. I often meet women (and men) who complain that their partner is not willing to do whatever it takes to make the relationship work. Now that they have a solid relationship it’s as if they quit trying and go on to the next adventure. When the relationship is struggling they refuse to go for counseling; they refuse to be embarrassed. Let me let you in on something; if your spouse is not willing to go to counseling to work on your marriage then that relationship is doomed. The same goes for living together.

Living with someone in a romantic relationship is extremely challenging and demands a ridiculous amount of hard work. No couple magically just gets along without putting in the effort, especially in heterosexual relationships. Men and women are practically different species and it requires a profound commitment to go the distance together. Believing this distortion sets people up for disappointment. That lady sitting in my office grew up to believe that she would meet Prince Charming. She imagined that her relationship would be special, incredible, unique and wonderful. As a young girl she didn’t dream of a guy who farts, picks his nose and scratches his crotch. While they were newly dating (and lying to each other) neither partner thought they would someday be yelling at this person of their dreams. The Princess Bride didn’t mention PMS or bad breath or grouchy husbands.

Time and again I run across people, often a female, who feel a deep sense of grief and disappointment about how their life is turning out. By the age of forty or forty-five they begin to ask themselves, “Is this as good as it gets?” This is in part because they dreamed of a fantasy that was not, could not, be real. Their unrealistic expectations have contributed to their frustration. The myth of ‘happily ever after’ sold them a myth that no partner, no matter how amazing, could hope to live up to.

A successful relationship is a ton of work by two very flawed people who are committed to lower their expectations and dedicate themselves, in spite of their partner’s glaring faults, to going on a journey together. Anything less is probably not going to make it.