Being Fully Present in Your Relationship

MINDFULNESS-RELATIONSHIPS

Being Fully Present in Your Relationship

When we get used to being with our partner we can sometimes take them for granted. We assume they’ll always be there. So we move on to our worries and stresses. We become so preoccupied with the kids or the challenges in our career that when we are eating dinner and trying to take part in meaningful dialogue, we aren’t even there. Then there is the constant distraction of our electronic devices that although convenient also become an obstacle to chitchat, discussion and intimate conversation. After a while without meaningful interaction we start to feel like roommates with our partner or spouse rather than lovers. The day-in, day-out decisions of running the household, parenting and paying the bills become the focus, and otherwise each person lives in their own separate bubble. When it comes time to interact, give your partner your undivided attention. When we aren’t fully present we aren’t showing them the love and respect they deserve. Instead, we are neglectful, albeit not on purpose. But the message we are inadvertently sending is that what is on my mind is more important than you. Misunderstandings arise when we don’t listen fully to our partner. This can lead to problems or even terrible fights. So how can we be more present with our partner?

First, make a conscious effort to focus on them and what they are saying. If there is something particularly important on your mind and you are distracted, tell them about it. Let them know how you feel and schedule another time to talk. Try and give them your undivided attention and expect the same in return. Make positive eye contact. Repeat back what they’ve said in your own words to show that you understand. When your partner or spouse seems distracted, don’t tell them or remind them of something. Wait until you have their full attention. If you are distracted and they told you something, don’t assume that they will remind you. It’s best to check with your partner in a positive manner whenever you are unsure. Regular running of the household exchanges are of course important. But they don’t help build intimacy. You two have to make time to talk on a deeper level. At the end of the day, we may be so exhausted that we just want to watch a couple of TV shows or surf the net, check our social media pages and go to bed. But that doesn’t bring you closer. Instead, clear out a little time each day to spend talking on a deeper level.  Not just, “How was your day?” But what really happened to you today? What were you thinking about? How did it make you feel?

Sometimes you have to leave the dishes in the sink or put off laundry and spend a little couple time together. Some experts say having more sex is the answer. But a recent study found that building intimacy is far more important. When miscommunication, unfulfilled expectations and misunderstandings occur they get in the way of real intimacy, and so not only block your connection but your ability to get physical. Hurt feelings get in the way. When we are fully present with our partner, the chances of miscommunication and misunderstandings are lower. Knowing what they expect will help meet or exceed expectations and vice-versa. Mindfulness is a touchstone nowadays. This is an ancient Buddhist practice that has become trendy lately in the West. This is the art of being fully present in the here and now and appreciating each moment in all its richness. If we could practice mindfulness in our relationships they would be so much more intimate. Couples would have a deeper sense of intimacy, better sex and superior communication too. To learn more pick up a copy of, The Mindful Couple: How Acceptance and Mindfulness Can Lead You to the Love You Want by Robyn D. Walser, Ph.D. and Darrah Westrup, Ph.D.

Making Time for Love as a Single Parent

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Making Time for Love as a Single Parent

Single parents are pressed for time no question. After homework, colds, soccer practice, career, and taking care of the household, who has time for dating? But don’t despair. Your love life doesn’t have to be consigned to the junk bins of time. In fact, there are plenty of single parents who squeeze in time for a vibrant love life. Want to know how they do it? Follow these steps to find out how others like yourself are making time for love as a single parent.

If you can’t get a sitter or find some time to go out and meet people, use your computer. Sign up for an online dating site, or even a few dating sites. Make some time to go through them each day. Respond to something, chat, flirt, or even send someone a message. Do it at night instead of falling asleep in front of the TV or in the morning before everyone else gets up. Reach out to your social network. Invite friends and family to set you up. Send an email and ask them to ask friends of friends who is single and who they can set you up with. It isn’t desperate, it’s inventive. You may soon have more dates than you can shake a pogo stick at. When it’s time to go out on a date, get one of your single friends to watch the kids. You can watch their kids when it’s time for them to go out. Pick lunch dates or meet for coffee if that’s more convenient. Find the times when you aren’t playing parent and make those date times.

If your kids are old enough to be home alone, let them. But keep them busy. Get DVDs, crafts, and other things to keep them occupied while you’re out of the house. When you go to functions, talk to other people, mingle. See if there are other single parents. You should have plenty to talk about, whether it’s a child’s soccer game or the science fair. Why not chat people up and if they are interested and you are too, see if you can meet sometime later. Actually, see if there are events in your town or city for single parents to meet. It’s much easier to date a single parent, there are plenty in every area including yours, and you will have a common subject to talk about and break the ice over.

Try seeing if there are any Meetup or Eventbrite groups or events in your area. Check with the local singles bar, singles event planning companies, the civic center in your town or city, or your house of worship if you are religious. Sometimes certain radio or entertainment venues have singles events, perhaps check into these as well. Check out Parents without Partners and see if they have a chapter or organize events near you. Their website is parentswithoutpartners.org. They have guest speakers, workshops, study groups and social activities. Just because you are a single parent doesn’t mean you can’t find love. It just means you have to be flexible and use your time wisely. For more advice read, Dating and the Single Parent by Ron L. Deal.

Are you the Chick on the Side?

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Are you the Chick on the Side?

Are you dating someone who is acting funny? There are lots of players out there. If you are looking for a long term relationship you don’t want to waste your time. And there are lots of smooth players out there that will make you feel as if you are the only one, when in reality they are balancing a bunch of different girls at one time. So what are the warning signs? How do you know when you are the chick on the side?

First, have you ever been invited to his place? Do you even know where he lives? It’s okay if you two have just started dating. But after a couple of months or so, if you haven’t seen where a guy lives it’s just plain weird. He may live with someone or he has so many girls in and out that he doesn’t want to risk someone leaving something and tipping off one of his dates. He could also live with a woman and he’s afraid of tipping her off. He could also be embarrassed by where he lives, especially if you make more than him. What about his social networking sites? Are you two friends on Facebook, Twitter and so on? If not, does he have some excuse why not or does he say he doesn’t use these sites? If so, he may not want his main squeeze to be aware of you, so he locks down his sites or, if he’s a player, doesn’t use them for anyone but his closest inner circle to keep from being caught.

Is your guy territorial about his phone? If he takes all his calls in another room, turns the volume way down so you can’t hear it, and always has it locked than he may have someone else. He knows that his phone is one of the weak points, and an easy way to get caught, and so has minimized the chance of you overhearing something that will break the whole thing wide open. Does this guy make time for you? If he only texts you late at night, is always busy, and calls and texts intermittently, sometimes days later, then you are probably the chick on the side. A man makes time for the woman he’s interested in. So if he’s acting this way he is making time for her, not for you. If he has a really busy schedule however, he’s in medical school, receiving intense training, or some other career that is hogging all of his time, or if he’s an intense workaholic perhaps he’s committed to his job rather than another woman. Then you have to discover whether or not you can date someone who has limited time to spend on the relationship.

Does your guy plan everything out? If you want to meet unplanned for a lunch date, or you invite him somewhere right out of the blue can he go? If all of your dates are planned days or even weeks in advance, if he is never available on the fly this is bad news. He probably has to lie to his main squeeze to see you and can’t get away. Plan something spontaneous and enticing and see if he takes the bate or still refuses. Look for more than one warning sign. See if you can catch him. Or ask him directly if he’s seeing someone else. Don’t waste your time with someone who won’t make you the focus of his love life. Find someone who will. You are so worth it. For more advice read, Don’t Hate the Player, Learn the Game: How to Spot Ineligible Eligible Bachelors by Lyn Lewis, Ph.D.

Is She Playing Hard to Get or Just Not Interested?

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Is She Playing Hard to Get or Just Not Interested?

Women are hard to read, that’s no surprise. But the reason behind it isn’t because she likes to play games, or that women are insidious masterminds. Instead, she plays hard to get as a protective measure. New research published in the European Journal of Personality reveals that she wants to see how interested you are and if you are commitment ready. According to Peter K. Jonason, Ph.D., the study’s author, women play hard to get to separate the guys who want a one night stand from the ones who have potential and want a real relationship. This subtle dance gets even more complicated. Guys are preprogrammed to think she’s interested even if she isn’t.  “Men suffer from sexual over-perception bias,” says psychoanalyst Vinita Mehta PhD. “It causes them to perceive more interest from a woman than there might actually be.”

So how can you tell if she is playing hard to get or just not interested? Here are some common scenarios and the tip off as to whether she’s interested or not. First, when she doesn’t answer your texts in what you may perceive as a timely manner, even when you know that her phone is ALWAYS on her, what’s going on? Remember that texts are low stress but they are also low commitment. A woman wants to know that she’s special to you. And texts just aren’t a special form of communication. Give her a call. That would mean something to her. And if she’s into you she’ll pick up the phone, or call you back.

Is the girl you are interested in always busy? If her schedule never seems to have any space there may be one of three things going on; she may be an uber extrovert, she isn’t really that interested in you, or she wants you to know something important about her, she’s got a life and it doesn’t revolve around you. Dr. Mehta says, “She wants you to know that she’s not just sitting at home, waiting around for you to call.  It’s how she protects herself from ending up in a too-casual relationship.” Show her that you value her time, and that you don’t expect her to drop everything just to be with you. Make plans ahead of time. You both can whip out your calendars over the phone.

Does she talk about other guys in front of you: a male coworker, a friend, a classmate or some guy that hit on her at the coffee house? Look deeper into these stories. Is she romantically involved or not? Does she talk about the guy who was hitting on her as if to say it made her feel uncomfortable, or did she enjoy it? She’s letting you know that you’re not the only one who’s interested. Dating expert Yue Xu of Singlefied.com says that if she’s talking about how strange it was, “It’s her way of nudging you and letting you know there’s competition. But she also wants you to know that you’re the first in line.” Lastly, some girls flake out. You make plans and they give you a thin excuse. What’s the deal? Says Xu, “She’s protecting herself. She wants to be the opposite of clingy, so she overcompensates by being extra detach-y.” If she leaves the door open or reschedules with you, she’s into you. But if she keeps jerking you around, she just likes to be chased. For more advice read, Secrets of Body Language: Female Body Language. Learn to Tell if She’s Interested or Not! By Lionel Rose.

Scheduling Sex Can Stave off Divorce

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Scheduling Sex Can Stave off Divorce

A new British study finds that more and more of the island residents are scheduling sex. Due to busy lives the British are finding a weekend day to pencil in a little nookie. They say that the demands of their job, children and home life often push sex to the back of the line, or take it off the agenda altogether. The report states, “Britons in relationships have sex, on average, six times a month, and many think they are stuck in a rut when it comes to sex, with 17 percent of all respondents admitting to scheduling sex, with routine times and days of the week appointed to ‘keep the spark alive.’” A third of the island’s inhabitants say they aren’t satisfied with their sex lives.  53% said they were satisfied, 32% weren’t and 15% were unsure. Although it sounds at least initially unromantic, experts say that scheduling sex can help increase physical and emotional intimacy and stave off divorce.  Dean of the Institute for Advanced Studies of Human Sexuality in San Francisco Janice Epp, Ph.D. thinks that scheduling sex is the best way for busy couples to maintain intimacy, a human need.

In an interview with The Huffington Post’s 50 blog Epp said, “I frequently see a lot of very young couples who are working 14- and 15-hour days and they’re wondering why they’re not having sex. And the couples in their 50s, 60s, and 70s are not used to looking at sex as valuable. They’ve had all these years of putting sex behind everything else. You have to be willing to make it a priority.” A surprising 22% of women ages 50 to 59 last year didn’t have sex at all according to a Kinsey Institute report. 20.6% of men reported being in a sexless marriage. But a sexless marriage doesn’t often last. To save your marriage and your sex life, pencil it in says Epp. Instead of looking at it as a romance killer, think of it as something to look forward to, like reservations for a play or an exciting event. Epp says, “Some people say, ‘Sex should be spontaneous!’ to which I say ‘B*ll…You plan other things in your life and you don’t complain about it. You can do the same with sex.” The date should land on a day when you are both relaxed, when you both have a lot of energy. Whether it’s in the morning on Saturday when the kids are at extracurricular activities or Sunday night after a long, relaxing weekend together keep that appointment, but find ways to make it exciting and interesting. Lavish in the idea and think about what new territory or position you’d like to explore.

Sex dates aren’t the only thing couples can do to keep the spark alive, “connecting dates” are also important according to Epp. She went on to explain, “Whether it involves sex or not, it involves connecting on some intimate level. What I want [couples] to do is to have some alone time together without any interruptions. They’re not to talk about work, or children or how the stock market is doing. It can be cuddling, it can be touching, it could be massaging. It could just be holding each other.” This allows couples to relax, reconnect and deepen their relationship. Soon the stresses of the day and domesticity melt away and you and your lover are reveling in time spent loving one another. Once you start reconnecting again on a deeper level, you can expand these out to further develop the marriage. “[Now that the couple has] motivation to carve out that time, I send them on weekend dates. Get away for a weekend once a month if you can.” Having sex dates can really be fun. What’s more it can give you a time to be husband and wife without all the other things that crowd it out. Remember that even if it’s scheduled, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t apply pressure. Instead, relax and have fun. Remember as Epp says, “Sex is perfectly natural but it’s not always naturally perfect.” For more on this topic, pick up a copy of Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships by David Schnarch.