You sit on the sofa next to the warm, crackling fire. The lights on the Christmas tree are beautiful. The ornaments you made as a young child still hang on several limbs. You smile as you watch your nieces and nephews play noisily on the floor. Your sister is snuggled up in her husband’s arms. Your parents are working together in the kitchen preparing dinner. You can smell the aroma of honey-baked ham and apple pie. As you glance around your childhood home, you reminisce about the hopes and dreams you had as a youngster. The tears catch you by surprise and you try to wipe them away before anyone notices. This warm, inviting environment quickly turns to ice as you become painfully aware of the depth of loss and disappointment you are feeling. Suddenly, you feel the desire to run.
The holidays can be a time of fun and joy, but it can also be a time of intense pain. Being together with family can remind you of what you want or what you had and lost. While it’s important to treasure your time with your family at this time of year, it is also important to acknowledge that it can be very painful. Practicing self-care becomes essential to not just surviving but truly enjoying the beauty of this holiday season.
Self-Care Check List:
- Take time for yourself. Between shopping and parties and work and last minute crisis, this time of year stretches you to your max. You need to schedule time for yourself. This is especially true if you are traveling to visit friends or family. Protect “me time”. You need at least 30 minutes every day.
- Make room for grief. If you are missing a loved one who has passed or a loved one who is no longer part of your life, allow yourself time to sit with your grief. Share memories. Plan something special to remember them. Joy and grief can exist in the same space. Don’t try to hide or ignore the grief or pretend the person didn’t exist. Invite them into your celebration.
- Manage difficult interactions with family members by having a check-in buddy. Try to minimize your interactions with family members who are toxic or who are difficult to get along with. Set up check-in meetings with a close friend so you can vent through a phone call or text throughout the event. This can help alleviate the stress you feel during the interaction.
- Enjoy the amazing food and festivities, but be mindful of how you indulge. Don’t overdo it. Often when we feel sad, depressed, or frustrated we give ourselves permission to self-medicate with too much sugar, alcohol, or drugs. Stay in control and you will not have regrets once the celebrations are over.
- If you have children, spend time with them. See the magic of the season through their eyes. Get lost in the wonder and amazement of seeing the lights on houses, visiting Santa at the mall, going caroling, building gingerbread houses, and snuggling by the fire.
- Practice gratitude. Research shows that simply asking yourself: what am I grateful for? increases dopamine and serotonin levels. If you can’t find an answer to that question, don’t worry. Simply pondering it is enough to begin to build stronger positive emotional pathways in your brain.
- Let go of the ideal. Stop comparing your reality with everyone else’s and feeling like a failure for it. Embrace your situation with all its quirks, benefits, and drawbacks. It is uniquely yours. Stay off of social media during the holidays if the temptation to compare yourself to others is too great.
- Get grounded. Every day, spend at least five minutes grounding yourself. Use all five of your senses. In the shower, feel the water as it runs down your back. Put on your favorite music. Inhale the smell of your favorite soap or body wash. Take a sip of your morning tea or coffee. Be in the moment. Quiet. Focused. You can do this any time during your day. Grounding helps you manage your stress. It can stop a panic attack. It can help you with depression.
- Create new, self-supportive traditions. If doing things the way they’ve always been done causes you more stress and harm than joy and peace–change it! If making your Christmas dinner from scratch makes life too hard, figure out something else. If traditions started with your ex-husband are too painful, start a new tradition. Make sure everything you choose to participate in meets your needs. Traditions are only useful and good if they bring happy memories and experiences. If they don’t, change them.
- Listen to your body. If you are exhausted and empty, you will not be able to give anything to anyone else. You will also not be able to enjoy the moment. It is ok to skip a party (or two). It is ok to give a gift card instead of running yourself ragged trying to find that “perfect” gift. Put yourself first. You need sleep, exercise, healthy food, and time to yourself to tend to your emotional needs. If you have children, this is even more important because they will need you to be at your best.
While self-care is important all year round, it is essential during the holiday season when you have additional stress on your shoulders. For those who are single, the holidays are a reminder that you don’t quite fit into “family” celebrations and this can be quite painful. In order to enjoy these moments to their fullest, make time to care for yourself. Give yourself permission to feel sadness amidst the joy. Treasure the moments life gives you and enjoy this holiday season!
The holiday season is upon us and so is the season of self-loathing. The time when singles around the globe feel their “single-hood” in such a poignant and powerful way that the urge to run and hide is tangible. Watching happy couples and “complete” families celebrate the holidays is a painful reminder of what they do not have but desperately want. Often your friends and family begin to toss out advice in rapid-fire form to help you hook up for the holidays. Unfortunately, most of what they tell you is as useless as handing you a hammer when you are trying to fix a broken vase.
Because of advances in technology and communication, there are literally dozens of ways that singles can meet other singles today. However, dating advice hasn’t kept up the same frenzied pace. It’s as if the ghost of dating past is still haunting us today. Read the following list of dating advice that was published in McCall’s in 1958 and see if any of these old tired pieces of advice have been given to you recently.
HOW TO GET A HUSBAND
- Get a dog and walk it.
- Have your car break down in strategic places.
- Attend night school. Take courses men like.
- Read the obituaries to find eligible widowers.
- Sit on a park bench and feed the pigeons.
- Get a job in a medical, dental, or law school.
- Ask your friends’ husbands who the eligible men are in their offices.
- Be nice to everybody—they may have an eligible brother or son.
- Volunteer for jury duty.
- Be friendly to ugly men—handsome is as handsome does.
- Get lost at football games.
- Don’t take a job in a company run largely by women.
- Go to all reunions of your high school or college class. There may be widowers there.
- Don’t be afraid to associate with girls that are more attractive; they may have leftovers.
- Go back to your hometown for a visit. The wild kid next door may have become a very eligible bachelor while you were away.
- Don’t room with a girl who is a sad sack and let her pull you down to her level.
- Learn to paint. Set up your easel outside an engineering school.
HOW TO LET HIM KNOW YOU’RE THERE
- Stumble when you walk into a room that he’s in.
- Carry a hatbox.
- Wear a Band-Aid. People always ask what happened.
- Make a lot of money.
- Walk up to him and tell him you need some advice.
- Dropping the handkerchief still works.
- Stand in a corner and cry softly. Chances are good that he’ll come over and find out what’s wrong.
- Buy a convertible. Men like to ride in them.
- Learn how to bake tasty apple pies. Bring one in to the office and let the eligible bachelors taste it.
- If there’s a wallflower among the men you know, why not cultivate him? For all you know, he may be a diamond in the rough.
- “Accidentally” have your purse fly open, scattering its contents all over the street.
HOW TO LOOK GOOD TO HIM
- Get better-looking glasses. Men still make passes at girls who wear glasses. Or try contact lenses.
- Practice your drinking with your women friends first.
- If you dye your hair, pick a shade and stick to it.
- Wear high heels most of the time—they’re sexier.
- Tell him he’s handsome.
- Take good care of your health. Men don’t like girls who are ill.
- If you look good in sweaters, wear one on every third date.
- Get a sunburn.
- When you are with him, order your steak rare.
- Don’t tell him about your allergies.
- European women use their eyes to good advantage. Practice in front of a mirror.
- Use the ashtray; don’t crush out cigarettes in coffee cups!
- Don’t be too fussy.
- Don’t whine—girls who whine stay on the vine!
HOW TO LAND HIM
- Show him you can have fun on a cheap date—but don’t overdo it.
- Don’t let your parents treat him like a potential husband.
- Tell his friends nice things about him.
- Send his mother a birthday card.
- Ask his mother for recipes.
- Talk to his father about business and agree that taxes are too high.
- Buy his sister’s children an occasional present.
- Don’t talk about how many children you want.
- If he’s a fisherman, learn to scale and clean fish.
- When you’re out strolling with him, don’t insist on stopping at every shop window.
- Don’t tell him how much your clothes cost.
- Don’t gossip about him.
- Never let him know he’s the only one, even if you have to stay home one or two nights a week.
- Find out about the girls he hasn’t married. Don’t repeat the mistakes they made.
- If you are widowed or divorced, don’t constantly discuss your former husband.
- Be flexible. If he decides to skip the dance and go rowing on the lake . . . go! Even if you are wearing your best evening gown.
- Hide your Phi Beta Kappa key if you own one—later on junior can play with it.
- Turn wolves into husband material by assuming they have honor.
- Resist the urge to make him over—before marriage, that is!
- Remain innocent but not ignorant.
- Learn to play poker.
- If he’s rich, tell him you like his money—the honesty will intrigue him.
- Never let him believe your career is more important to you than marriage.
- Point out to him that the death rate of single men is twice that of married men.
WILD IDEAS—ANYTHING GOES
- Go to Yale.
- Get a hunting license.
- If your mother is fat, tell him you take after your father. If he’s fat too, tell him you’re adopted.
- Stow away on a battleship.
- Rent a billboard and post your picture and telephone number on it.
While some of these ideas are outright dangerous, most of the others are just plain insulting. They focus on changing yourself into something you are not instead of focusing on becoming your best self. That is what you need to do. Become your best self. Then trust the process. Dating is a lot of trial and error. You will get bumps and bruises along the way. You will most likely even get a broken heart or two. However, the last thing you want to do is change yourself into something you are not to try and “catch” a spouse. The love of your life WILL love you for who you are. So, while you are being patient with the process, spend time loving yourself. And when your friends or family offer a less than helpful piece of dating advice, put on a big smile and laugh it off.
3 Tips For Dating Single Moms
With around 15.4 single mothers in the United States, there is a good chance that you may end up dating one, especially if you are dating in your 30s, 40s, and 50s. While some men may shy away from dating a woman with children, they are overlooking some specific benefits.
- First, single mothers are practical. They do not sweat the small stuff. While they appreciate being wined and dined, they are also just as happy with a fun picnic at the park. They appreciate the small and simple things in life. They know that even the best laid out plan can go swiftly sideways and they have learned to laugh at these spontaneous disasters. They will not hold things against you if your plans do not work out the way you intended. They will not see it as a flaw in your character or as a failure on your part. They will be able to laugh it off with you the way they have laughed off dozens of other such occasions with their own children.
- Second, her history has taught her what it takes to be a good partner, and she is ready to apply all that knowledge to her next relationship. Additionally, she is fine-tuning her nurturing skills as she cares for her children. She knows how to sacrifice and put others first. She intuitively knows how to anticipate the needs of others and she will do the same for you. There is something beautiful in how a mother balances the demands of each of her children with the demands of running a household and, often, working full time.
- Finally, if she falls for you, it is the real deal. She has learned to be guarded and reserved with her emotions, so if she gives her heart to you, you can be sure that it was not just on a whim. Rest assured she has weighed all the pros and cons about you and tried to talk herself out of falling for you several times before she allowed herself to open her heart. However, once she does, she is all in. She will give you all of her love, attention, and support.
If you have the wonderful opportunity to date a single mother, you should never say several things to her if you want to have a second (or third or fourth) date.
- You look great . . . for a mom.
- The kids need a man in the house.
- You had a C-section. That is awesome!
- You don’t even have stretch marks.
- Your ex lives in the neighborhood? Is his place near here? Do you ever run into him? Does he hate that you date?
- Did you get your tubes tied?
- How much child support do you get?
- When guys marry single moms and their daughters grow into teenagers, I don’t know how they can control themselves.
- My ex has a lot of issues so I really want to get married so my daughter has a new mom.
- Not a lot of guys are interested in women with kids, you know.
All of these are showstoppers. She will block your number and you will never see her again.
So, what can you do to set yourself up for success? Do not assume that just because she has her kids she’s not available. If she’s interested in you, she will be willing to get a babysitter. Make sure you keep that in mind when asking her out so she has plenty of time to make those kinds of arrangements. In addition, because she has the expense of paying for the babysitter, it would be nice if you paid for at least part of the date. It is a nice gesture. Let her know that you love kids. If you have your own, talk about them. If you don’t, talk about your nieces and nephews or other children you have relationships with. She will want to know how you interact with kids. Don’t assume she is looking for a financial rescue or that she’s looking for a new dad for her children. What she is looking for is a new romantic partner. First and foremost, focus on that relationship. When she is ready, let her decide when to introduce you to her children. It is unwise for any single parent to parade a bunch of potential partners through their children’s lives. Timing is everything. So, do not pressure her into meeting her children before she feels ready.
So, why not give those hot single mommas a whirl? Don’t dismiss what they have to offer just because it may seem on the surface to be a bit more complicated than dating a single woman without children. You may miss the relationship of your dreams.
7 Ways To Fight Your Way to Deeper Intimacy
In the beginning of a new relationship, it is all sunshine and roses. The world has a shiny glow to it as you are lost in the fairy tale of discovery. Just seeing a text from that special someone sends the butterflies in your stomach thrashing around like crazy. You cherish the memories you make, inside jokes you create, and that special look he/she gives just to you. However, as time moves on, you begin to feel the dark monster looming around the edges of your subconscious. You know it is inevitable when two independent adults come together to form a relationship. It is only a matter of time before you come face to face with what you dread: your first fight.
That first fight often shatters your view of the relationship, but it shouldn’t. Fighting is often unfairly viewed as negative and misinterpreted as a sign of incompatibility. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Having an argument is not necessarily a red flag in a relationship. In fact, couples who claim they never fight are the ones who have the most to be worried about. Instead of looking at arguing as a sign of weakness in your relationship, you should change your paradigm and see it for what it is . . . an opportunity to increase your intimacy. However, not all fighting can lead to increased intimacy. There is definitely a right way and a wrong way to do it.
The biggest mistake in a relationship is avoiding having an argument because you worry about the consequences of introducing conflict into an otherwise blissful situation. However, this is where relationship research can help you. In fact, research shows that couples that argue are 10 times more likely to have a happier, more fulfilled relationship than those who do not. What is also clear is that very few individuals know intuitively how to argue in an effective way that increases intimacy. If handled incorrectly, arguing will completely destroy a relationship. Thus, it is worth the time to educate yourself on how to argue in a way that will increase your intimacy and build your relationship.
The Science of Love By The Gottman Institute is the world leader in relationship research. From over 40 years of working with couples, here is what research shows can build intimacy when couples argue:
Timing is extremely important. Issues should be addressed as soon as they become issues. If you let things fester in your mind, then you will undoubtedly create an unhealthy situation for an argument to occur. Instead of being level headed, your emotions will be stirred up and you will have a hard time staying focused on the present issue.
Have each other’s best interests at heart. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking it is you versus your partner in an argument, but what you need to remember is that you are on the same team.
Keep it out of the bedroom. Often couples retire to the bedroom to have their arguments so they can have some privacy, but that can create problems further down the road. You want to maintain the fun, spontaneous nature of your bedroom. Gottman recommends keeping the fighting in a neutral location. In addition, contrary to the popular adage, it is completely ok to call a time out on an argument, go to bed, and get some rest without resolving the issue. Arguing late into the night is not productive. Being able to stop the argument and retire for some much-needed rest in the bedroom is an excellent strategy for helping to maintain intimacy and resolving conflict.
Stick to the facts and own your emotions. It is helpful to use this sentence stem: “I feel ______ about _______ and I need ________.” If you are unsure of what your partner is requesting or sharing with you, always ask a clarifying question. Repeat back to them what you think you heard them share and then ask them if that is what they were trying to say. Try this sentence stem: “So what I heard you say was ____________.”
Do not get flooded. If you feel your heart rate begin to escalate and your mind spins out of control, call for a time out. A lot of the damage that happens during an argument occurs when we lose control of our emotions and we start to escalate the conflict. You may be angry, but you need to be responsible for your emotions. Do not call names. Resist the urge to curse your partner out. Do not hurl insults. You cannot take back words once they have left your mouth. Strip out accusatory, judgmental, and inflammatory language or you will wreak havoc on your relationship.
Listen to your partner. The two words that can stop conflict right in its tracks are “I understand.” Set aside your need to win, the need to be right. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and empathize. If you cannot honestly say I understand, try using the words, “Help me to understand” and then listen to what your partner has to say.
Be prepared to compromise or not have any resolution at all. According to relationship research, ⅔ of relational issues are unsolvable. You need to be prepared to compromise a lot and to realize that just because your significant other might not budge on an issue does not mean they do not love you. You need to respect that they feel strongly about something.
None of us gets it right 100% of the time. We are all human. The odds are we will make mistakes while we have arguments with our significant other. The good news is there is a remedy for the times we mess up. A sincere apology will go a long way to healing the pain caused when we have “human” moments. Successful relationships are made of two good apologizers and two good forgivers. Do not save apologies only for when you think you were wrong. You can apologize for misinterpreting a situation, for inadvertently hurting your loved one’s feelings, for being insensitive, or for being absent-minded. Refusing to apologize or to forgive will foster resentment and will ultimately lead to more pain and less intimacy.
After an argument, it is imperative to show each other an extra measure of love, kindness, and support. Do not sulk because things didn’t go your way. Find a way to reconnect with the one you love. Put the relationship first. Go for a walk, hold hands, and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. Cuddle on the couch and watch your favorite show. Make dinner together. Reaffirm your commitment to each other. How you end an argument is as important as how you argue. If there is never any resolution and a demonstration of love and commitment, then that really is a red flag.
One of the most fulfilling parts of having a relationship is connecting with another person on a deep, intimate level. Having someone embrace your quirks, intuitively know what you need when you are struggling, and celebrate with you when you have success is what makes a relationship with that significant person so special. Fighting can play a role in creating that close intimate relationship of your dreams but only if you take the time to do it right. So, take off the boxing gloves, take a deep breath, and address those issues head-on. Then don’t forget to follow through with an increase in love and an affirmation of your commitment. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well this helps you fight your way to deeper levels of intimacy.
You’re ready. The idea of dating no longer causes you to break out into a cold sweat and head for the bathroom with stomach pains. You feel confident, secure, and stable. You want to increase your chances of meeting someone you can share your life with, so you decide to leverage the power of online dating. Last year, 46% of people met their current partner online. You take a deep breath, grab your laptop, curl up in your favorite chair, and begin to carefully craft your online dating profile.
You struggle through draft after draft of usernames and clever headlines. With 59 million users, it’s an enormous challenge to find something that is unique and hasn’t been overdone. After what seems like days, you feel like you have climbed Mt. Everest, and you have just one step left . . . pictures. This is perhaps the most daunting aspect of creating an online dating profile. Research has shown that people will form an opinion of you in 1/10 of a second. That’s it! That’s all you get before someone decides to like your picture, send you a message, or move on to another profile. Talk about pressure! It’s almost enough to make anyone climb back into their pajamas, grab a quart of Ben and Jerry’s, and decide to try online dating next year.
However, there are things you can do to maximize that 1/10 of a second you have. Dozens of research studies have been conducted in the last five years to uncover what men and women like and don’t like when it comes to online dating pictures. There are some clear guidelines that will help you choose the best possible pictures for your profile. Here is what you can glean from the research:
- No hats or sunglasses. People who had pictures of them wearing hats or sunglasses received 63% less likes or messages. Why? Eyes are one of the first things people notice about another person. Making eye contact with someone, even through a picture, seems more intimate than looking at someone’s sunglasses. In fact, 53% of men notice a woman’s eyes first in a picture. Don’t cover up those assets, show them off. What about hats? Caps and beanies can be fun and appropriate for hiking and vacationing, but often people wear them to cover up flaws. Unless you wear that hat or beanie all day, every day make sure to have a picture without it. If you’re bald or have a receding hairline, own it!
- Include at least one full body picture. People who had at least one on their profile got 203% more incoming messages and 33% more replies to their messages. Why is this? It has to do with transparency. Being physically attracted to someone is an important factor in dating. While it is important to put your best foot forward, it’s also important to put ALL of you forward as well.
- Have a niche? Include it in a picture but only if you have more than one picture. People who wore their favorite sports jersey received 32% more incoming messages than other profiles. Additionally, people who included pictures of themselves on vacation, participating in hobbies, and competing in sports received more messages than other profiles. However, this was only true if it was in addition to other pictures. This is because these are great conversation starters, but if it is the only picture on your profile, it can alienate potential partners who may be interested in you but might not share your interests.
- Taking a good selfie is incredibly difficult. Getting the angle right, cropping out background images, and adjusting glare are all nightmares. As it turns out, selfies are also not that effective as online dating profile pictures. In fact, for women it is a deterrent to getting messages. Women with selfies received 40% less messages than profiles without selfies. Ironically, men catch a break here but not a big one. They receive 11% more messages if they have a selfie profile picture. For both genders, though, mirror selfies are a no-no. Mirror selfie profile pictures receive fewer likes and messages across the board. The solution is to grab your best friend and have her take some pictures or get some professionally done.
- Filters and photoshop. You might not think so, but it is obvious if you have used a filter or photoshop on your picture. People who have profile pictures that have been edited with filters receive fewer likes and messages by 32%. This is especially true for Snap Chat filters. The only exception is the black and white filters. These pictures get 13% more messages.
- Expensive toys. This seems to be a common profile picture for men. Maybe she’ll send me a message if I pose with my amazing car or motorcycle? Maybe I’ll just post a picture of my car or motorcycle and she’ll be so impressed she won’t care that I’m not in the picture. Men, this is a huge turn-off for women. In fact, men who posted pictures of themselves with their toys or just their toys received far fewer likes and messages than other profiles. Save the reveal of your nice car or motorcycle for a first or second date when she can appreciate it in person.
- Where’s Waldo? Group photos are a nightmare for dating profiles. If you have a great picture of yourself in a small group, then include it at the end of a series of photos of you. Never have a group photo be your only profile picture. It is never obvious to anyone looking at your profile who you are in that picture.
- No ex’s or SOs in your picture. Never. Period.
- Everything matters. When someone looks at your pictures, they may notice your amazing smile and beautiful eyes, but they will also notice the dirty clothes on your bed or the hungry kids pulling at your leg. Make sure that everything in the photo tells the story you want it to because it will be judged.
- If your profile picture hasn’t changed but you have, it’s time for a new picture. If you recently cut off nine inches of your hair, time for a new picture. If you shaved your head, time for a new picture. If your beard has become speckled with gray hair, time for a new picture. A good rule of thumb is to update your picture every year unless you make changes to your appearance sooner than that. It’s about integrity. It’s about being authentic and confident in who you are now.
Now you know a lot of what not to do, so what CAN you do to be proactive and successful with your photo selection? Here is what we know from hundreds of thousands of singles who responded to research studies. Singles are looking for someone who fits the trifecta: attractive, trustworthy, and confident. Each photo you choose to put on your profile should reveal these three items. In order to nail this trifecta, you should enlist the help of friends. It turns out you are not the best judge of your own photos. If none of your existing pictures fit this description, take some. It is perfectly acceptable to stage moments that capture your fun personality, your hobbies, and the things you are passionate about. You want the pictures you include to tell a story. You want them to start a conversation with someone and invite them to message you to know more about you. Most of all, you want to be authentic and transparent.
As you take pictures for your profile, keep several things in mind. People respond warmly to pictures where the person is smiling, where there is good lighting, and where the person is taking up most of the room in the picture. A recent analysis done by Tinder discovered that 56% of women and 72% of men wore neutral colors in their profile pictures. So, skip the neutral and wear red. Not only is it a power color that flatters almost everyone, you will automatically stand out from the majority of other profile pictures.
You should always include more than one picture on your profile. The magic number is four. Research has even shown the most effective sequence for them. Order them: (1) your very best, most attractive picture (2) picture of you participating in a hobby or event (3) possibly a small group photo or travel or vacation photo (4) full body photo. People with less than four photos receive fewer messages. Those with more do not necessarily receive more messages, so it’s up to you how many you want to put on there. One cautionary note, be careful if you choose to include pictures with your children in them. While you may want to show what a cute and adoring parent you are, you may want to keep that for a later time when you have met the person face to face and have developed a relationship of trust with them.
So, put down the Ben and Jerry’s, take a deep breath, and peruse the pictures in your phone. If there’s nothing there that matches the criteria for a perfect profile pic, then grab your bestie and have a fun impromptu photo shoot. Remember, it only takes one like, one message to change your life. So, if it takes a while to get the right kind of response to your profile, that’s ok. You are worth it!
Sarah was a beautiful, vivacious 25-year-old attorney. She had just landed her dream job at a competitive firm in New York. Her family and friends were wildly excited for her. Finally, it seemed that Sarah was reaping the rewards of all of her hard work. Law school had been tremendously hard, and Sarah had struggled getting through it while juggling several dysfunctional relationships with men. Finally, it seemed she could leave the struggle behind.
Although starting this new job meant flying across the country and leaving behind her support system, Sarah didn’t mind. She knew the long hours she would have to put in at the firm meant she would have little time for a social life any way. She said a tearful goodbye to her family and friends, boarded the plane with an optimistic smile, and flew towards her dreams.
Sarah really thrived in New York. McFarland & Sons was a multi-billion dollar law practice that rarely hired anyone straight out of law school. She always arrived an hour before the other attorneys, and she stayed long past the time they all left. She often took work home with her too. To say that she loved her job would be an understatement.
One day, a handsome delivery boy brought in a delivery for Sarah. Her friends back home had sent her flowers. How thoughtful she thought. I wonder if they picked out the hot delivery boy too. She giggled at her own joke. “Are you Sarah Jenkins?” he asked in a deep, baritone voice that sounded like it belonged on Broadway instead of coming out of the mouth of a delivery boy. “Yes, I’m Sarah,” she stammered. “Here’s a delivery for you,” he smiled. “Please sign here.”
Sarah was caught off guard by his handsome face and melodic voice that when she grabbed for the pen she fumbled it, and it flipped out of her hand and hit him in the nose. “Oh no!” Sarah cried out. “I’m so sorry. I’m not usually that clumsy,” she apologized. There was a streak of blue pen on his nose. Sarah was unsure if she should try to wipe it away or if that was too weird. After a long awkward moment, he bent down to pick up the pen and handed it back to Sarah.
“No worries, Sarah. Please sign here, and then I’ll be out of your hair.” Sarah carefully reached for the pen this time, signed her name, and then grabbed the box. “Thank you um …” she paused waiting for him to fill in the answer. “Jeff, my name’s Jeff,” he replied. “Thanks Jeff. I’m sorry. I got pen on your nose. You’ll probably want to wipe that off before you do any more deliveries.” Jeff reached up and rubbed his nose. “Oh boy! I guess I will go take care of that. Thanks for the heads-up. Have a great day, Sarah.” He winked at her and then walked out the door. Sarah couldn’t help but watch him walk away until he was completely out of sight. She noticed butterflies thrashing around inside her stomach. Oh no! This was not happening. She was not going to get involved with any men. She was much too busy, and she was always unlucky in love.
However, life had a different plan for Sarah. The following morning Jeff went back to McFarland & Sons and asked Sarah if she would like to go to dinner. Sarah was hesitant. She had a bad track record with men. Her past relationships had always started off well, but then the Prince Charmings morphed into beasts after a few months’ time.
But, Jeff was so charming and handsome that Sarah could not refuse. During the first few months of their relationship, Jeff was warm, thoughtful, and exciting. She learned that Jeff was an aspiring singer and actor. He was in New York chasing his dream to become a singer and actor. He was working odd jobs to pay the bills, but most of the time he had to crash at his friend’s apartments because he did not make enough to pay his rent. Jeff told Sarah about how hard it was to catch a break in acting and how expensive it was. Sarah enjoyed being with Jeff. She was flattered that someone like him would even be interested in her. She was sympathetic with his struggles, so she paid for all their dates. She knew Jeff felt bad that he could not pay right now, but that would change once he got his first big break. Besides, she had a great job, and she was happy to help.
After a few months, Sarah began to become obsessed with Jeff. She was determined to help him be successful. When she was not at work, she would spend time researching agents for Jeff to interview or looking for auditions for him. She knew Jeff could not afford an agent, so she offered to pay for one. Jeff was grateful, of course, and then he said that if he had an agent he would also need acting lessons, singing, lessons, and a photography shoot. All of these were costly, but Sarah happily gave the money to Jeff. She was invested in him and his future.
As the months passed, Jeff’s behavior began to change. He became moody and entitled. He demanded that Sarah let him move in with her so that he could have a stable roof over his head. He blamed his failing his recent auditions on not having a stable place to live. When she told him she wasn’t sure about living together, he became enraged. He yelled and cursed at her. For the first time, Sarah was frightened of Jeff. She asked him to leave. He kicked the door on the way out and left a hole in it.
The following day Jeff apologized and blamed his poor behavior on his dysfunctional childhood. He spent the next few hours confessing to Sarah that his mother had abused him as a child and that is why he had yelled at her the previous night. Sarah was really touched by this confession. She felt honored that Jeff trusted her enough to confide in her. She vowed to help him heal his emotional wounds and become a successful adult.
But, as the days went by, Jeff’s behavior became more chaotic. The smallest thing would set him off. He would yell and kick the wall. Often he would call Sarah demeaning names. And sometimes he would disappear for days at a time with no explanation. When he returned, Sarah noticed he had lipstick on his collar but never dared ask him about where it came from. Ironically, as the relationship deteriorated and Sarah’s heart felt the mounting pain from Jeff’s actions, the more she felt committed to “saving” him. She knew if she could only love him enough then he would change.
One night after a particularly bad screaming match with Jeff, Sarah locked herself in her room. She called her best friend, Julie, and confided in her about her new relationship. As carefully and lovingly as Julie could, she said, “Sarah, I hate to tell you this, but your old pattern is back. Jeff sounds just like Tim and Steve. Sure, the details are different, but the pattern is the same. You’re trying to rescue another lost puppy and now it’s gone rabid and it’s attacking you.” Sarah sobbed. “Why does this keep happening? You would think I could spot a loser a mile away! I’m a lost cause.”
Are you like Sarah? Do you have a pattern of forming relationships with men where you sacrifice your own needs for safety, love, and comfort for someone else? How would you answer the following questions?
- Are most of your conversations with friends (or family) about him, his problems, his thoughts, and his feelings?
- Do you excuse his moodiness, bad temper, indifference, put-downs as problems because he had a bad childhood, a stressful job, a tough life?
- Do you read self-help books and underline things you think will help him?
- Do you dislike many of his basic characteristics, values, behaviors but put up with them because you think you can change him?
- Does your relationship with him jeopardize your emotional well-being or physical safety?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may be a woman who loves too much. In our culture, women have been conditioned through music that love should be painful. Rarely do love songs become number one hits if they talk about two people who have a mature, balanced, respectful relationship. Songs only become a hit if someone is willing to die for love, sacrifice everything for love, bleed for love, or cut out their heart for love. It is no wonder that around 30% of all women find themselves in relationships that are extremely dysfunctional and that this pattern repeats itself until one of three things happen: (1) she gives up on relationships, (2) love does kill her, or (3) she identifies the pattern and gets help.
Women who love too much have several common characteristics. Do any of these describe you?
- They come from dysfunctional homes where their emotional needs were not met.
- They try to fill their emotional needs vicariously by becoming a caregiver to men who appear needy.
- They are terrified of abandonment.
- They will do anything to save a relationship.
- They will sacrifice anything to help the man they’re with.
- They’re accustomed to a lack of love in a relationship, and so they’re willing to wait, hope, and try harder to please their man.
- They’re willing to take far more than 50% of the responsibility, guilt, and blame in a relationship.
- They have critically low levels of self-esteem.
- They have a desperate need to control their man because they had little security in childhood.
- They are more in touch with the dream of their relationship than with the reality of it.
- They are addicted to men and emotional pain.
- They may be predisposed to chemical/food addictions.
- They have a tendency towards depression.
- They use sex as a tool to manipulate their man.
- They are not attracted to men who are kind, stable, reliable, or who are interested in them. They find them boring.
So, what do you do if you see yourself in any of these descriptions?
First, do not despair. There is something you can do. Make your recovery a priority. You cannot break this pattern on your own. Find a therapist who can help you work through the issues that are keeping you locked in this pattern. Most of the research I’ve read strongly suggests that women see women therapists. If possible, find a female therapist near you and tell her you think you are a woman who loves too much. Second, find a support group. Your therapist can recommend one for you. Third, develop your spiritual side. Set aside some time daily to get in touch with your higher power. Invite him or her into your life. Ask for help and guidance as you tackle this problem. Meditate. Fourth, stop managing and controlling others. This will be a hard one. This has become a skill you have used to “love” others, but it is self-serving. You need to find more genuine ways to connect with people. Fifth, make a commitment to cultivate what needs to be developed in you. Make a list of talents, skills, or abilities that you would like to work on. Set short-term and long-term goals to help you develop yourself in these areas. These will help you fill the void that you have been trying to fill by your dysfunctional relationships with men. Instead of “mothering” needy men, spend time mothering yourself.
Loving too much is just like any other addiction–it is a dysfunctional coping strategy that must be treated with a professional’s help. The good news is women who have loved too much can have healthy, successful relationships in their future! So, take advantage of the help that is available for you and set yourself up for success when you are on datingsafe.com. Love does not have to hurt. In fact, it shouldn’t. Period.
Information for this article was adapted from Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood. I also recommend the book Healing Your Emotional Self by Beverly Engel
Meet Our Founder Tracy
My Story… 2011, Tragedy strikes! Suddenly widowed with four small children. A stay at home mom with no clue about how to live life as a widow. Manual not included. A rusty resume. Then, a journey to the afterlife changed everything. The power of forgiveness and letting go. Learning to keep my sanity intact by remembering to laugh when life literally falls apart. Discovering my divine purpose. Helping others find love. How my own online dating flops, failures and mishaps led me to start Dating Safe. Leading the industry in secure online dating. Finding hope, faith, and optimism against all odds. Ultimately, learning how to tackle life events with humor, sorrow and most of all honesty.
IT’S NOT RIGHT THAT ONE PERSON CAN BE MASQUERADING AS 10 PEOPLE ONLINE! DATING SAFE IS TAKING STEPS TO MAKE ONLINE DATING SECURE. WE’VE TEAMED UP WITH YOTI TO VERIFY WHO A PERSON IS BY THEIR ID DRIVERS LICENSE / PASSPORT, A FACIAL SCAN, AND SELFIE. YOU WILL KNOW WHO YOU’RE MEETING ONLINE IS WHO THEY SAY THEY ARE.
While online dating continues to grow, people fall victim to dating fraud and romance scams which cost time, money, and emotional distress. Daters are required to trust that the people they meet online are who they claim to be. Yet fake profiles and bots on dating sites are not uncommon, and it’s too easy to be tricked or scammed by somebody using a false identity or hiding behind a fake profile. So, to solve that problem every member at Dating Safe is verified by government ID. We’re raising the bar by raising the barrier to entry. Thank you for joining us!