Romance, Guy Style

Couple-Relaxing

Romance, Guy Style

We all know what women find romantic. But what about when it comes to men?  How you do sweep a guy off his feet? Flowers, candle lit dinners and moonlit buggy rides aren’t it. It can be difficult to guess what gifts or gestures he’ll appreciate. But not to worry, here are some ideas. Here’s romance, guy style. First, when you do something nice for your guy, don’t expect something automatically in return. It kills the mood. You don’t want him to show up with a bouquet of your favorite flowers and just after you swoon say, “Hey, what are you going to do for me?” Instead, make sure a gesture or a gift is just that, an expression of your affection. Of course he’ll be overjoyed and won’t be able to wait to shower you with gifts and appreciation. But let it come naturally. Don’t force it or expect it.

For gesture ideas, why not cook him his favorite meal or bake his favorite dessert? Not so handy in the kitchen? Take him out to his favorite restaurant. If he’s a sports guy, take him to a sports bar where they have the best burgers for the game. For guys, it isn’t about a one size fits all thing like flowers or candy. It’s really about tailoring what his hobbies or interests are to your gift or gesture. Get to know your guy and what he likes and ideas will come up.

Tickets to the game or the concert, a nice watch, a weekend away, a ski trip, a party on the beach, a surprise camping trip to a national park he’s been itching to make it to, a massage, all of these will show him how much you care. Guys often plan dates, outings and so on, though certainly not always. But why not turn the tails on him and plan something that will knock his socks off? If you want to do something little, why not leave a little love note for him, or even a steamy one? Leave them in his briefcase, knapsack, jacket pocket, in a book he’s reading, his luggage or his satchel. Some guys don’t like it when things are too sappy. Others are the sensitive type. Know which type your guy is and write your notes accordingly. Why not write something funny or witty?

Sometimes just lazing around together can be romantic. Sitting by the pool with drinks, easing into a hot tub or coffee and a long brunch in a great café will do the trick. Don’t forget that for guys the physical aspect is an important part of romance. Surprising him in lingerie is always a great way to wow him. And it will make you two closer, too. Isn’t that what it’s all about? For more advice read, 31 Days to a Happy Husband: What a Man Needs Most from His Wife by Arlene Pellicane.

Your Romantic Style

ATTACHMENT-STYLE

Your Romantic Style

Lots of people don’t know their relationship style, but it affects almost every aspect of your romantic relationships from how you select a mate to how you break up. Your romantic style, or style of attachment as it’s called in psychology, can help you understand yourself better and how you relate to another in a relationship. If you come to understand your style of attachment you can see what positive and negative effects it has on your relationships. Initially, our style of attachment is formed in childhood. But it’s an outline. It develops over time. Our attachment style speaks to how we interpret our needs and go about getting them met. There are many different attachment styles. See which one fits you and other people you know.

The first is secure attachment. This type is secure in relationships. They saw their parents as a sanctuary which they could venture out from to explore their world. This type supports a distressed partner and feels connected and secure in their adult relationships. This is an honest relationship with openness and support. There is an equality of power shared in this model. They provide their partners with a true sense of safety and display real acts of love.

The next type is the anxious preoccupied style of attachment. This style feels insecure and constantly seeks validation from their partner. They want their partner to complete or save them. This is the needy type that clings to their significant other. The anxious preoccupied type are often victims of a self-induced vicious circle. Their insecurity leads to clingy behavior that drives their partner away, validating their “See s/he doesn’t really love me” feeling underlying it all.

The next type is dismissive avoidant attachment. These people need emotional distance from their partner. This type wants to appear independent. They may come off as self-absorbed and overly worried about their own comfort. This semi-independence is a mental fixation. But in reality they need to connect and bond just like everyone else. This person puts less importance on the relationship and in fact pushes their significant other away. This person can shut down emotionally if pushed to open up.

The last type is the fearful avoidant attachment style. This person doesn’t want to be too far nor too close to their partner. They try to put their feelings aside but can’t. These people have episodes where they are overcome by their own emotions. They can be moody, mixed up and unpredictable. They believe you need people to have your needs met, but if you let them get too close they’ll hurt you. To learn more about different romantic styles and how they impact relationships, read the book, Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT.

See a Couple’s Counselor Sooner Rather than Later

unhappy

See a Couple’s Counselor Sooner Rather than Later

A lot of couples get defensive when confronted with the idea of seeing a therapist. They say they are fine. There is nothing wrong with them. They don’t think their problems are all that bad. Seeing a counselor is thought of as a defeat, or that the couple or relationship is defective. Though not as strong as it was in the past, people still have a negative association with therapy. The truth is people see a therapist for all different kinds of reasons. There is absolutely no shame in it. In fact, admitting you could use professional guidance is a show of great inner strength. Just as we all have our own physical health problems, so too do we have our own mental health aberrations. No one is perfect. We are all human and so intrinsically flawed. But that doesn’t make us any less brilliant, capable, mesmerizing or worthwhile. No one can fault you for seeing a doctor, even if the health condition is minor. You don’t want it to get worse. A small injury if left untreated can get infected, even become life threatening. The same is true with your mental health, and the health of your relationship. Seeing a couple’s counselor doesn’t mean that the relationship is on its last leg.  It could just mean you need some direction on certain issues that you haven’t been able to make headway on, some professional guidance.

Divorce counselor and post-divorce advisor, Ian Oliver says he sees one couple even though they have a seemingly perfect marriage. “She says she always learns something that nurtures their relationship,” he wrote in the Huffington Post. “She considers it maintenance.” So couple’s counseling is not only for fixing problems. We can learn how we love and how our partner loves. This will allow us to see ways to develop the relationship we hadn’t seen before, and make it more fulfilling. All it takes is a little insight. It may also help you to notice when things are right versus when they aren’t. Sometimes one or both members of a relationship live in denial of a problem that gets bigger and bigger, until it tears the relationship apart. But understanding what your dynamic looks like when it’s humming along, and when things started to go wrong, can help diagnose problems quickly and work in a more effective strategy to deal with them. Most of the time however, the couple seeks out a counselor when there are major issues. They have tried but are at an impasse. Seeking out a therapist when things first go bad can help stave off the further complications that come from a problem that has grown beyond control.

There are times when we grow accustomed to unwanted behavior, live in denial or fail to see it for what it actually is, damaging to us and our relationship. You may not know why they act like this, or why you do. It can be hard to trace back certain behaviors, reactions or emotions to their origins. A good counselor or couple’s therapist can help you see these patterns and trace them back to their origins. Once you see where things stem from, you can develop strategies to deal with them. Sometimes couples seek out therapy after lots of things have been said that can’t be taken back. The counselor, in addition to being a professional, is also impartial. They are trained to pick up on unhealthy habits and behaviors. They won’t get caught on one person’s side. You can trust their impartiality and their professional training to help guide you. We all need to see the things from a new angle on occasion to get some perspective. The most important thing is to keep communicating with your partner. Be honest with one another. Try to work through your problems yourselves. But if you can’t, see a couple’s therapist before things start spinning out of control. Don’t wait until things have gotten way out of hand. For more help, read the book, Counseling and Therapy for Couples by Lynn L. Long and Mark E. Young.

Do You Suffer from Love Addiction?

love-addiction

Do You Suffer from Love Addiction?

Everyone’s seen at least one couple like this. Where the woman is gorgeous, sweet and has a startling career or is packing a tremendous IQ. But she’s engaged to a dimwitted, repugnant loser. What on earth is she doing with him?! Or the guy who has everything going for him and he dates a woman who is coarse, vain, boorish and obtuse. What’s going on here? They may be love addicts, all hopped up on intimacy. They would rather be with someone substandard than be all alone. Rutgers University biological anthropologist Helen Fisher says love comes on in our brain like an amphetamine, followed by a dazzling opiate, all of which our own systems create. There is scientific data backing her up. A recent study of heartbroken lovers found shocking results. They had their brains scanned under an FMRI and found that a painful breakup mimicked quitting a cocaine addiction. That’s how powerful love is, and how the absence of it can feel. And of course, just like anything some people get addicted to it.  For those who truly suffer love addiction, generally one or both parents were emotionally unavailable. Here the person is perpetually trying to win the love they missed out on in childhood.

Tennessee detox and recovery clinic “The Ranch” specializes in all kinds of addictions, including sex addiction, emotional co-dependency and intimacy disorders. Psychologists there say that love addicts come in many different hues. Love addiction is defined as a compulsive need toward romance, relationships and sex that is harmful to both the addict and his or her partner. According to Ranch psychologists, “Although it may sound less damaging than other addictions, it shares many similarities.” Here love is a façade. The person goes and creates situations filled with drama as an entertainment and distraction. Only their lover can make their life meaningful, they say. Without their partner they don’t want to live. At least, until another one comes along. For women in their 40’s, a biochemical reason may be at fault. Hormones trick women of a certain age into thinking they are so in love, far more so than usual, in order to receive a fresh course of genes before the last of the eggs are gone, signaling the onset of menopause.

There are different kinds of behaviors a love addict can get involved with. Some get too attached. Then they undermine the relationship themselves causing it to end, so that they can get another partner and feel that rush of love beginning anew, once again. Others have abandonment issues. They will hold onto a bad relationship no matter the cost. There are those who are manipulative and controlling, others clingy and desperate. Sometimes love addicts target those who avoid intimacy, forming a sort of strange codependency, a mechanism where the relationship becomes a constant skirmish filled with pain and pleasure, in a war without end. Picture a tornado of constant bickering intermingled with makeup sex. But is that really a great love worth fighting for as such addicts claim? For most of us it is a recipe for a long-term headache but a relationship which won’t last. Besides dopamine—the reward neurochemical released in the brain, oxytocin is also present. This is the bonding biochemical which initiates the “calm and cuddle” response. This, evolutionary anthropologists’ believe, is essential to the creation and raising of children.  In men, a similar neurotransmitter is present called vasopressin. So take a look at your relationship, or the one you just walked away from, to see if you’ve been laid victim to a biochemical dependency, if in fact you are as the Huey Lewis song claims “Addicted to Love.” If you believe you may actually have a problem pick up a copy of, Facing Love Addiction: Giving Yourself the Power to Change the Way You Love by Pia Mellody and Andrea Wells Miller.

Things to Preserve from the Honeymoon Phase

couple-lying-in-grass

Things to Preserve from the Honeymoon Phase

Nothing beats that feeling when you first fall in love. You want to do everything together. You can’t get enough of each other. It feels so spectacular that you never want it to end. But of course sooner or later you have to move into a more comfortable phase. That too has its positive qualities. But just because you are out of that lovey-dovey part of your relationship, doesn’t mean you have to stop doing all those beautiful, romantic, sweet and special things for one another. In fact, if you continue to do those things you will keep the spark alive, appreciation alive, and love alive. Here are some things to preserve from the honeymoon phase in your relationship.

First, physical contact often takes a nose dive after you move into phase two. But physical contact and touching is one way we as humans show affection. You can’t live without contact. Some people need more than others. This is called our attachment style according to psychologists. Some people are open and loving, others closed and more reserved. Realize which one you are and which one your significant other is. But make sure to keep touch alive. Hug, kiss, hold hands, give each other massages, cuddle, and get physical. Studies have shown that couples who show physical signs of affection are the happiest. Couples who have sex at least once per week and on an average two to three times per week are among the most blissful.

When you are first together you want every moment to feel spectacular. If you do something wrong you can’t wait to apologize and wait with pangs of pain and guilt until they forgive you. But once you’ve been together for a while apologizing seems less important. Some couples get very adversarial; blaming, shaming, screaming and giving the cold shoulder. But wouldn’t a simple “I’m sorry” be so much better? Lots of times long term couples get so wrapped up in being right that they forget how much their romantic partner means to them. Remember how much you love them. When you’re wrong apologize. There isn’t any shame in it. If they love you they will forgive you.

The feelings of appreciation in the beginning are tremendous. Every little gesture and gift seems to set your heart soaring. But as time wears on the gifts, gestures and thank yous seem to fade. But don’t let them. Show how much you appreciate one another. Do little cute gestures for each other. Write notes. Text sweet sayings. Thank one another even if it’s for things you agreed will be there chore. Appreciation breeds appreciation in kind. Everyone wants to feel appreciated. It will also keep your love and satisfaction level sky high. For more advice read, Love Is a Flame: Stories of What Happens When Love is Rekindled by James Stuart Bell and Gary Chapman.