Drifting Apart

drifting

Drifting Apart

It stuns you when you first realize that you and your sweetie, you seemed like the perfect couple, are drifting apart. Sometimes just as perfectly as you fell for each other, as if it were only natural an event like a natural disaster, an earth shattering union over which the two of you had no control. But just as powerfully so too can each party find forces pushing them apart, and these can occur just as naturally and as inexplicably.

Sometimes we end up in a comfortable relationship that has no future. This kind of relationship has dueling emotions inside you. On the one hand you have your life goals. On the other you love this person and perhaps fear being single again and facing a big, black who-knows-what. Sometimes the fear of the unknown makes us stay in an uncomfortable situation. But the problem with that is we die a little inside for we are born to seek out our dreams. Scientists have proven that parts of the brain showing good, sound judgment shutdown when we fall in love. As the relationship progresses more and more we get to learn about our partner and deal with their shortcomings, and our own.

Once you have that down, you think you’ve got it all figured out. And you’ll live happily ever after. Or not. More likely it will be like a series of hurtles you’ll have to jump over. You’ll dodge them and do okay. Once in a while you’ll have a victory to celebrate. At other times a defeat to mourn. But when people have different priorities or if their values change, as are natural to do over time you can find the couple naturally drifting apart. The question is how far is this drift going to go? Can you relate to one another anymore? Is there trust and respect? Can you build a deep bond of connection and intimacy despite these differences? Each couple has to decide for themselves. It takes a big conversation.

Some long term couples and married couples decide to live together despite their differences. They share what they can but each also enjoy their separate lives. Others seek out a partner who fulfills all of their needs. Then there are those who try to change their lover, or spurn them for not being the person they fell in love with to begin with. Instead, talk about it. Discuss the drift. See when it occurred and why it occurred. Figure out if it makes sense to stay together and share your life together or perhaps you’ve grown too different after all. For more advice read, Help! My Spouse and I Are Drifting Apart by Dr. Bill Maier and Mitch Temple.

Sorting out Mixed Signals with Science

mixed

Sorting out Mixed Signals with Science

Mixed signals can be unbearable. But they don’t have to be or at least, not for long. Some people are good at reading others. Then there are those who are completely hopeless. Most of us lie somewhere in-between. But whether you’ve got top rate interpersonal skills, or find the opposite sex is a mystifying enigma, everyone sooner or later runs into someone they can’t read. Is she playing hard to get? Is he interested and not showing it, or just being aloof? Usually we can tell with someone’s proximity. If they enter your personal space, that’s good. If they touch your arm, the back of your hand, your back or shoulder when talking, or when you first meet, this too is a good sign. Eye contact and leaning in when you talk are good signals too. When you are leaving the person you are trying to read, wait a few seconds and look back after departing. Often if they look back too, they’re interested. Even then, perception does play a role, as may our gender. A new study gives us insight into how each sex perceives mixed signals. This one studied straight people only. Generally, men overestimate a woman’s interest. A woman however will underestimate a man’s. Moreover, while men think female friendliness equates to sexual attraction, women believe men’s passes are mere attempts at being friendly.

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science recruited 127 men and 181 women between the ages of 18 and 30 to take part. Each participant answered a questionnaire surrounding misunderstanding in the person’s level of interest when interacting with the opposite sex. Respondents were asked how many times such occurrences happened to them within the last year. Questions included, “Have you ever been friendly to someone of the opposite sex only to discover that he [she] had misperceived your friendliness as a sexual come-on?”, “Have you ever been in a situation with a member of the opposite sex in which you were sexually attracted to him [her] but he [she] assumed you were just trying to be nice?” and “Have you ever been in a situation with a member of the opposite sex in which you were just trying to be nice but he [she] assumed you were sexually attracted to him [her]?” Researchers found that women were sending out “let’s be friends” signals, and receiving “oh-baby” in return, while men were sending out the “lookin’ good sugar” and getting back “let’s be friends.” So what should you do if you are getting mixed signals?

First, act like a memory detective. Think back to all the time you spent together. Consider their behavior, no act is insignificant, no gesture no matter how subtle should be overlooked. Have they shown you any special interest, waited for you or done something just a little above and beyond what normal people do? Then they are interested in you. If it’s someone you have been sort of dating, or made out with that went lukewarm, don’t invest so much time in that relationship. This goes for men and women. They are either having fun playing the field or they just aren’t that into you. Lots of people get caught up in a kind of wishy-washy, do-they don’t-they limbo that’s excruciating. Though there are those who like to gnaw their knuckles pondering the possibilities for hours on end, for who knows why. For most of us, if things are going on for too long it’s best to either state your intentions or fade on out. Don’t be someone’s sometime thing if you are looking for something serious. If you’re not, just enjoy the adventure. Protect yourself and your heart, and let the journey lead you to its end. You’ll know it when you get there, and you’ll know when someone really likes you by how they treat you. For more on the near Vulcan approach to love pick up a copy of, The Science of Relationships: Answers to Your Questions about Dating, Marriage, and Family by Gary Lewandowski and Timothy Loving.

Breaking Up with your Long Term Live in Boyfriend

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Breaking Up with your Long Term Live in Boyfriend

Considering whether or not to break it off? What happened? Was it a slow growing apart? Did someone go astray? Or do you have some sort of irreconcilable differences? Whatever the reason, you are considering breaking up with your long term live in boyfriend. But how can you make a decision like that? If you move out or kick him out, whatever the case, it’s a decision that a relationship will have a pretty hard, if not impossible time bouncing back from. You have to be sure. But how can you be sure it’s the right decision?

First, consider your feelings for him. You may need to get away from him for a bit, and have some time to think. Make an excuse and stay over your friends for a couple of nights, or how about a relative for the excuse of a visit. Do it when he can’t accompany you. Or even spend a couple of nights at a motel, but tell him it’s a business trip. Give yourself a little time to relax and just forget about it. Then revisit the issue when you’re fresh. Do you still love him? Does he treat you the same as when things were fresh and new? Do you still tell him that you love him, or that you think he looks good?

Does he remember important dates in your relationship? How does he treat you now versus before? How do you treat him? Why do you think this is? Consider if there is a particular behavior that is driving a wedge between you two, or if it’s just a general malaise. If it’s just a rut there are plenty of things you can do to reignite the spark in your relationship. But if it’s a particular behavior, or a set of behaviors they have to be addressed, why not sit down and have a serious talk with him. Explain the behaviors that are driving a wedge between the two of you, and figure out a way to overcome them. Have some ideas in mind. Make sure you both have a chance to speak and be heard. Negotiate but don’t give up your core beliefs, or ask him to, or else one of you will resent the other. If one of you cheated, you have to see what the underlying factors are that caused the indiscretion. Those issues have to be addressed and the bond of trust has to be reestablished, not easy. Ask if this person is worth it? It may be easier to take the lessons you’ve learned and move on. Otherwise, work through your issues and seek couple’s therapy.

Think about what problems, issues or behaviors you bring to the relationship. It’s a two way street and most of the time one party isn’t completely innocent. Keep talking to each other and it will soon become abundantly clear whether to get out the suitcases and call the moving van, or decide to give it another go. Consider any financial and legal issues if it’s not going to work, do some research and have plans in place to circumvent anything that might arise. For more breakup advice read, The Single Woman’s Sassy Survival Guide: Letting Go and Moving On by Mandy Hale.

End the Breakup Cycle

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End the Breakup Cycle

It was Seinfeld in an episode called “The Voice” where Jerry outlines a particular dating phenomenon we’ve seen many times, “Breaking up is like knocking over a Coke machine. You can’t do it in one push. You gotta rock it back and forth a few times, and then it goes over…” What he’s talking about is the breakup cycle, where a couple makes up and breaks up many times, driving themselves and all the people around them crazy. Sure there are great benefits both people get out of this relationship. But there’s a certain issue or set of issues getting in the way of them finding love without static. If it’s at the beginning of a relationship, it usually means someone is testing things out with you, and perhaps with someone else too. Maybe he or she wants to know who is better for them.

If you believe that there is someone else in their life, why not find someone else too? It will give you another option should this relationship not work out. And it makes that other person take notice. Nothing makes a lover take notice more than when another contender is in the mix. All of a sudden your stock on the love market has shot up. Besides, do you really want to be with someone who’s not really into you? That depends where you are in life. If you’re just dating around and seeing what you like, it’s perfectly valid. But if you are on a desperate quest for “the one,” not so much.

The truth is that for long term relationships that hit a wall, and cycle through conflicts with no end, it can be draining, and emotionally painful for both parties. The couple splits up, and each person descends on their own corner. Instead of baring their souls and communicating they sit apart and throw up walls. Instead of cooperating they compete. Instead of hugging they are at each other’s throats. Sometimes the enemy is not our significant other, it is ourselves. It’s what we bring to the relationship. Take a time out. A break to help clear the air and give you some breathing room, some time to think. How do these conflicts arise? Who causes them? What role do you play? Look at it honestly. Talk to other people who know your relationship and see what they say.

Next, reengage your significant other. Don’t use blame or shame. Instead use “I” statements. Talk about how it makes you feel when these things happen. See if you can set some rules. Find ways to counteract negative behaviors. Consider seeing a couple’s counselor. Read self-help guides. Talk to friends. Have fun with your significant other. Do something daring together. Make plans and do them. Feel renewed. Find new ways to have fun in the bedroom. If they are unwilling or unable to help renew the relationship, end it, grieve and move on. Don’t settle for less than you deserve. For more insight read, Should You Break Up? 21 Questions You Should Ask Yourself If You Can Truly Be Happy In Your Relationship Or If You Should Break Up by Glenda Burney.

Are you Dating Someone out of Convenience?

COUPLE-BORED

Are you Dating Someone out of Convenience?

Sometimes you’re in it for love, but other times you just want someone to be there for you. Lots of times, especially in the beginning, it’s hard to tell whether it’s a relationship where you are truly into this person or if it’s all just out of convenience. There are times when you literally date someone out of convenience. But there are others when you think you are into someone but it turns out that you were in love with being in love.

During the honeymoon phase, lasting up to two years within a relationship, everything can feel amazing. But after that, when you move into the more comfortable phase, trouble can occur. This is when you really get to know each other’s idiosyncrasies. The fog of infatuation finally lifts and what you have before you is the real person whom you say you love, but who you are really just starting to get to know. The best thing to do is to take a reality check after certain milestones in the relationship. If you are just keeping this person around so you aren’t alone, then what are you really getting out of this relationship? If you feel more comfortable and they know and don’t mind, then go ahead. But if you are leading someone on, you will break their heart for no reason, and they may never forgive you.

Once you hit the three month mark, you can usually tell if this is the sort of person you can see yourself with in the future. Lots of people blow the person they are dating up, only to become deflated when that person doesn’t live up to some extremely high imaginary standard. Instead, take time to reflect now and then on their behavior, how the relationship is going and how you feel about this person in light of what has happened. Do you feel better or worse about the relationship? Are there any hang-ups you or they have that might prevent you two from being happy together long term? If so, what are they and how can they be addressed?

Evaluate what emotional baggage you and your lover bring to the table and what that means for the relationship. Can you be comfortable and open with one another? Is this a cooperative or adversarial relationship? Does this person have your back or will they abandon you at the moment of truth? If this isn’t someone who is trustworthy, don’t spend another minute with them. You need trust and mutual respect in a relationship for real and lasting love to take root. For more on this topic be sure to pick up a copy of, Real Love: The Truth about Finding Unconditional Love & Fulfilling Relationships by Greg Baer.