fall in love with men who hurt you

Why Do You Always Fall in Love With Men Who Hurt You?

fall in love with men who hurt you

 

Do your romantic relationships bring out your insecurities and cause you to mistrust your own judgment? Do you always fall in love with men who hurt you? Many women become involved or even obsessed with the wrong men – men who are emotionally unavailable, with other women, addicted to substances – or who cannot love them back.

Do You Always Fall in Love With Men Who Hurt You?

This problem has been given many labels including codependency which can be defined as having underdeveloped self-esteem and dysfunctional boundaries, combined with inappropriate caring for others (letting others invade your boundaries). In the mid-1980s, Robin Norwood’s best-selling book “Women Who Love Too Much” offered women a guide to freeing themselves from destructive loving.

Many women consistently put other’s needs before their own and end up in one-sided relationships. The consequence for girls can be profound, with girls and women dismissing their own needs and ending up with a depleted sense of self, according to author Jill P. Weber. She posits that many girls learn to tune out their own inner voice due to their family experiences, and this prepares them for one-sided relationships in adulthood. Weber writes, “As a woman develops a strong core sense of self, fulfilling relationships will follow.”

Elizabeth, a beautiful and outgoing thirty-two-year-old, provided Kyle with unconditional love and did her best to make up for his dysfunctional upbringing by trying to meet his every need. After they moved in together, she cooked Kyle lavish meals and did all of the laundry in addition to working full-time and taking care of her five-year-old daughter.

Elizabeth reflects: “It took a breakup for me to realize that I was not responsible for Kyle’s happiness and can only truly make myself happy. He never treated me right and was unwilling to plan a future with me.” Elizabeth came to understand that she didn’t have any energy left for herself when she was so focused on Kyle’s well-being. Since their split, she has been able to return to college and finish her degree in nursing.

Ask yourself this question: Is there something about the way my guy treats me that makes me a bigger and better person? If the answer is no, ask yourself: Am I settling for less than I deserve in the relationship? Research shows that one of the main reasons why people stay in bad relationships is the fear of being single.  If this is the case, gently remind yourself that you are a worthwhile person regardless of whether or not you are in a romantic relationship.

Women who are attracted to men who hurt them often confuse chemistry and compatibility.

In fact, they are both essential to a long-lasting healthy intimate relationship.

  1. Chemistry: This usually refers to physical attraction but can include intellectual attraction as well. It is about how interesting and simulating you find the person. Do you enjoy each other’s touch and is their sexual chemistry? It’s essential because, without it, you are little more than friends.
  2. Compatibility: This is about sharing common values and goals, having fun together, and liking each other; it helps to sustain a couple through tough times.

Do you find yourself attracted to guys who you have good chemistry with, but not compatibility? Perhaps you grew up in a family where you were a caretaker or focused more on making others happy. Maybe you even felt that you had to be in a good mood regardless of your true feelings.

6 signs you are at risk of falling in love with men who hurt you.

  1. You become so absorbed in your partner’s problems you don’t often have time to identify or solve, your own.
  2. You care so deeply about your partner that you’ve lost track of your own needs.
  3. You feel that you grew up too fast in terms of your maturity or sexual activity.
  4. Growing up, were you often in a caretaker role with one or both parents or your siblings.
  5. Are you a people pleaser? If you have this tendency, you may find setting limits hard and you might have trouble asking for what you need from your partner. This is a pattern that starts in childhood but can be reversed.
  6. Do you feel that you have to be in a good mood or positive when you are with your friends, family, or intimate partner?

Many women are in one-sided relationships because they consistently put their partner’s needs before their own. Girls are often raised to focus on others and defer their own needs. Too often they are left with a depleted sense of self and they look to their partner for validation. Keep in mind that emotional intimacy is not emotional dependency. If your relationship causes you to be anxious or to question your sense of self, it may not be the best relationship for you.

Here are 6 ways to avoid hurtful, one-sided relationships:

  1. Seek a partner you can be yourself with and is easy to be close to. In other words, you don’t have to walk on eggshells. You feel safe in the relationship and free to express your thoughts, feelings, and desires openly without fear of rejection.
  2. Set an expectation of mutual respect. You can accept, admire, and respect each other for who you are. If you don’t have respect for your partner, it will eat away at chemistry until you have nothing left.
  3. Select a partner who is trustworthy.  Does he call when he says he is going to call?  Does he take you out when he says he is going to do so? When a man is interested in a woman, they keep their agreements.
  4. Make sure your guy carves out time for you on a regular basis and includes you in his inner circle. He makes you a priority because he values your relationship. This includes regular text messages or phone calls to show that he’s thinking of you.
  5. Don’t have sex with a partner who makes you feel insecure. A partner who truly cares about you is a boost to your self-esteem. He values you, gives you compliments, and encourages you to do things that are in your best interest.
  6. Select a partner who talks about your future together. If he says he’s not ready for a commitment, take him seriously – he’s just not that into you. Don’t waste your time on a relationship that doesn’t have a future.

In order to stray away from falling in love with me who hurt you, you have to focus on self-love. Unless we have self-acceptance and self-love, we cannot believe we are worth loving just as we are. We might try to prove our worth through giving too much to others and being overly tolerant and patient.  Author Jill P. Weber writes: “The more you view others’ mistreatment of you as something you have the ability to fix, tweak, or amend, the harder it is to develop a positive sense of yourself. Seeing yourself exclusively from the eyes of others disconnects you from the day-to-day, moment-to-moment experience of your life.”

Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com

More from Terry

Learn to Love Yourself and Find Inner Peace

5 Ways To Stop Settling For Less Than You Deserve In A Relationship

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before you get married again

7 Things You Should Consider Before You Get Married Again

before you get married again

 

In my work as a divorce coach, I’ve had a front row seat to all kinds of situations. Situations from easy to navigate divorce, amicable separations to crazy and antagonistic splits between couples. The tips below are based on, not only personal experience with divorce but, the knowledge that comes from years of working in the divorce industry.

I hope these tips help you before you say “I do” again and keep you from ever saying, “I don’t anymore” again.

7 Things You Should Consider Before You Get Married Again

1. Talk About Money Early in Your New Relationship

Woman Money After Divorce.jpg

It is important that you and a potential future life partner have similar financial goals and habits. Even if the relationship is new, if you believe there is the possibility of it turning into something serious, how he deals with his finances is something you need to know.

If you find he is less than careful with his money, it could help you decide whether or not he is someone you want to consider becoming more involved with. And, don’t make the mistake of believing that you can change someone who has spent their life running up credit card debt or being less than responsible financially.

2. Make Sure You’ve Had Enough Alone Time

 Woman Home Alone.jpg

Even if you are confident about the way you feel, rushing into marriage is not a good idea. Sometimes people meet each other, and within three or four months, they say, “Oh this person is the one for me.” In my opinion, if you don’t know a person at least a year, you don’t know them well enough to marry them.

How long is long enough between marriages? That answer will be unique to you and your situation but, as a standard, I recommend waiting at least a year before believing you know exactly who your new love is and before jumping into a new marriage.

3. What Impact Will Marriage Have On Your Children?

 Happy Children3.jpg

Nothing torpedoes a second or third marriage like conflicts over the kids. His, hers, and yours together. Be realistic! Seriously realistic! The relationship you have with each other’s children will play a HUGE role in whether or not a marriage will last.

Spend time with each other in the company of your children. Make sure the children are familiar with each other. Allow yourself time to assess any problem areas and come up with a game plan on how to deal with those before marriage.

Children who are happy about a parent’s choice in a new mate before the marriage or, more than likely, going to be happy with the situation after the marriage. Be compassionate if your children struggle with your new love. All that means is, they need more time whether you do or not.

4. Consider What You Want to Do Differently This Time Around

Woman Thinking Legs Crossed.jpg

You don’t want to take into a new marriage dysfunctional relationship skills that helped kill your last marriage. Consider things like, how did I communicate? What could I have done differently in my last marriage? How much energy did I put into nurturing our love? Was I more of a giver or taker? What makes me happy in a relationship?

These are questions that will help you identify areas you need to work on and what you need to change to make sure the next marriage doesn’t end in divorce also.

I recommend any person considering remarriage take an introspective look into why their first marriage failed and even consider therapy to make sure those old wounds have truly healed and aren’t being taken into a new marriage.

5. Discuss The Tough Questions with Your New Love

Couple Talking Outside.jpg

Don’t avoid talking about how you will create a successful marriage in the midst of challenges that come along with second and third marriages. Children, ex-spouses, ex-in-laws will all play a role in your new marriage.

Ask each other questions like, “What will be the rules for both of our children in our new home? What kind of relationship will each of us have with our exes? Is your spouse going to be spending time alone with his/her ex to discuss the children and how do you feel about that? How will we deal with conflict with our exes if or when it arises?”

No one likes baggage but, if you’ve been married before, like it or not, you will bring baggage into a new marriage. You both need to have a clear understanding of how that baggage will be dealt with.

6. Make Sure You Are Remarrying for The Right Reasons

 Bride fingers Crossed.jpg

Women marry for a myriad of reasons. They want financial security, they want a father for their children, they are afraid to be alone, they feel pressure from friends and family. All horrible reasons to remarry, reasons that will only lead to another divorce.

If a marriage doesn’t have a strong foundation or love and respect, it will be an exercise in futility. Hold off marrying again until you’ve fallen in LOVE regardless of how lonely you are, how much pain you are in financially and how much pressure you feel from friends and family.

7. Do You Need to Protect Yourself with a Prenuptial Agreement?

Prenuptial Agreement.jpg

Finally, the most important decision before you remarry is deciding if a prenuptial is right for you. When remarrying you should consider having a prenuptial agreement if you have substantial assets or children to protect and/or want to avoid some of the financial problems that could occur if your marriage ends.

Prenuptial agreements are important and can spell out what assets and liabilities each partner is bringing into the marriage and determine how the assets brought into the marriage, and those acquired during the marriage, will be divided should there be a divorce.

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settling for less than you deserve

5 Signs You’re Settling For Less Than You Deserve in Your Relationship

settling for less than you deserve

 

Are you in a romantic relationship or marriage that’s just not right but you’re not willing to risk ending it? Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that things will change or you’ve done something wrong to deserve less than optional treatment. Or your fear of being alone and feeling unlovable is unbearable.

Maybe he or she is gorgeous and treats you well but something is missing. Perhaps your family or friends have convinced you to hang in there or try harder.

You may even know intellectually that nobody should have to settle for less than they deserve but your emotions are conflicted.  This may leave you unwilling to take the chance of breaking things off because you fear you won’t meet someone else and will be alone for a long time.

Perhaps some of your friends have been single for a while and they complain about how hard it is to meet a nice man or woman. Underneath all of these rationalizations is a deep-seated fear of being alone.

Fear of Being Single:

New research conducted by Stephanie S. Spielman demonstrates that fear of being single is a meaningful predictor of settling for less in relationships.  In her groundbreaking study, Spielman discovered that the fear of being single predicts settling for less in romantic relationships. She found that fear of being single is a strong predictor of staying with a partner who is wrong for you.

Further, Spielman’s results showed that individuals who report being fearful of being alone will stay with unresponsive, less attractive partners rather than face that dreaded fate. Being fearful of being alone was also associated with being less selective of a potential partner at speed-dating events in her landmark study.

Let’s face it, nobody should have to settle for less than they deserve just for the sake of being part of a couple. But what is the source of your fear of being single? Although the answer varies from person to person, one factor that causes someone to settle is past experiences of romantic rejection and another is fear of prolonged singlehood.

Of all the difficult experiences that individuals face in life, being alone can be among the hardest. Growing up, you probably weren’t given good examples of how to be alone. It seems like everything you see in movies and TV and on the internet is about how to find the right partner, and make it work.

There’s nothing wrong with seeking love because it’s beautiful and can bring about some of the most treasured moments in our lives. But very few people know how to be alone and do it well. They aren’t happy to be alone. They fear it and seek love wherever they go. Too often the pleasure they find with falling in love is the sweet release of no longer being by themselves in the world.

Single women may be reluctant to acknowledge the challenges of being alone for fear of being seen as desperate or needy. According to author Sara Eckel, many of the stereotypes we have about single women are misleading. She writes, “The single life isn’t a prison sentence nor is it a cocktail party. It is simply a life – a life with responsibilities and rewards, good days and bad ones, successes, and failures.

In her article “Stop Telling Women They Are Fabulous,” she reminds us that we don’t really know how to discuss single women in our culture because in times past they were seen as lonely spinsters, quietly languishing in their studio apartments.

Too often I hear women (and some men) who are coupled up rationalize why they are still in a relationship when maybe they shouldn’t be. They say things like, “I know my relationship isn’t perfect, but at least . . . he doesn’t yell at me.” Or “he really is a good dad.” Or “he will always be faithful to me.” When I hear things like that I am reminded that breaking up with someone is an act of courage. To be honest with someone about why the relationship isn’t working is an act of love.

When you can accept that your relationship doesn’t make you the best person you can be, and you correct course by breaking up, you become immeasurably stronger.

Whatever the reason, if you assess that you are staying in a relationship that’s all wrong for you, it’s important to take a few steps to determine if you need to end it. This can take time and a commitment to loving and respecting yourself. However simplistic this may seem, self-love and self-respect are the basis of loving another person.

Here are 5 signs that you are settling for less than you deserve in your relationship:

  • The relationship brings you down and your significant other doesn’t inspire you to do your best. Perhaps he/she is overly critical or too focused on his/her needs to be supportive of you.
  • You feel you have to change yourself – your values, goals, or dreams for your partner to accept you.
  • You are in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship. You may have hidden this from family or friends due to shame or codependency issues – putting your partner’s needs before your own.
  • You’ve been cheated on repeatedly and keep giving him or her more chances in spite of the fact that he or she has proven to be untrustworthy.
  • You sacrifice too much. Since your partner is unable to compromise – you morph into someone else to accommodate his or her expectations, needs, or desires.

In closing, you may not be able to determine what’s wrong or missing in your intimate relationship at this moment. It could take time and perhaps the help of a skilled therapist or relationship coach to figure things out. In the meantime, remind yourself that you are worth the effort and deserve to be loved.

Often, the courage needed to end a relationship that is no longer meeting one or both partners’ needs shows the greatest strength. However, if you decide to stay in your relationship because you feel it’s worth trying to save, consider couples counseling if your partner is willing and motivated – before you walk away.

Let’s end with this quote from Sara Eckel: “Mostly, you gain strength when you learn to listen to your own voice and live life on your own terms.”

More from Terry:

Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com

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silly romantic notions

4 Silly Romantic Notions You Don’t Want To Take Into Your Next Relationship

silly romantic notions

 

I enjoy reading, taking in a good movie, and chair dancing to the “top ten.” Who doesn’t enjoy being entertained, distracted and taken away by fantasy, music, and great prose? So, what’s the problem?

The influence these distractions have on how we view love and relationships can be detrimental. We learn lessons that don’t promote a realistic view of love and relationships. Ain’t it time to get real? Ain’t it time to stop taking unrealistic ideas about relationships into every relationship we enter.

Let’s face it, you aren’t going to kiss a toad and turn it into a prince. There is no night in shining armor going to ride to your rescue, and the only person who can complete you is YOU. So, let go of silly romantic notions and get real in your relationship.

Unlearn These Fairy 4 Tale Lessons:

Prince_Charming.jpgDisney Movies: Seriously? Prince Charming, a Knight in Shining Armor? If you are waiting to be rescued or believe your next relationship will be with some Disney movie “Prince” whose only wish is to fulfill your every need, you need to move on from such beliefs. It’s time to evict that notion, get it out of your head and get real. No one will rescue you, better than you can yourself. No one can fulfill your desires other than you.  Waiting around for a Knight in Shining Armor to do for you what you can do means never discovering your own strength and independence. Choose independence, not dependency! And, for goodness sake, no more frog kissing!

 

4 Silly Romantic Notions You Don’t Want To Take Into Your Next Relationship 1Mad Men: Yes, Don Draper is easy on the eyes and Robert Pattinson really knows how to protect a damsel in distress BUT one is a cheat, the other a bloodsucker. And lest I forget, both are emotionally distant. I bet you think you could tame that bad boy side of them, though, huh? You can’t so, why keep trying?

Angst-riddled, bad guys look good on film and love always wins out but in real life, bad boys are big trouble. Thinking you are the woman who will bring out the good guy is pure fantasy. Snap out of it!

 

 

complete me.jpgHe Completes Me: Ugh! The definition of complete is, “to make whole or perfect.” When you buy into the romantic idea that you are not “complete” until you meet Mr. Right what you are actually doing is selling yourself short. And, you are giving a man way more power over your emotions and well-being than he will ever earn. You aren’t ready for a new relationship if you don’t feel whole or perfect. Therapy maybe, new relationship, I don’t think so.

Stop with the Jerry McGuire thinking! Ask Katy Holmes how good Tom Cruise was at “completing” her. That didn’t turn out well! A successful relationship is attained when you go into it feeling whole and perfect as you are. And I suggest you do your best to find a man who feels whole and perfect in himself. He is going to have so much more to offer than one who isn’t “complete.”

love story.jpgLove is Blind: Or, means never having to say you’re sorry. Loving and being loved is about as good as it gets. Loving and being loved doesn’t mean there will be no conflict.

It doesn’t mean there aren’t things about that guy you love that drives you crazy. And there aren’t things about you that drives him crazy. Never turn a blind eye to hurts caused by your loved one. Never trust a loved one who turns a blind eye to your faults.

This is the real world, and a couple has to join together and face reality as partners to be successful both with each other and in surviving and thriving in a sometimes harsh environment. A real partnership grows stronger with adversity overcome by mutual effort; if one or both partners think life should be easy because they are expecting a fairy tale romance, the normal setbacks of life will have them blaming their partner and running for the exit sign.

Happiness or great sex or a perfect house is not the goal of a successful relationship; the goal is a bond that strengthens both of you and helps you be more the person you want to be. Happiness in marriage, when it happens, is a byproduct of love and loyalty and accomplishments together over time. It isn’t the result of “expecting” your “happily ever after.”

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unhealthy relationship style

Was Your Divorce Caused By An Unhealthy Relationship Attachment Style?

unhealthy relationship style

 

Aside from infidelity, which also has a slew of underlying causes of its own, divorce is frequently the final outcome of a relationship that was unhealthy, to begin with. Unfortunately, when neither person is aware of their issues, they can hardly invest time to heal or look for professional help.

Consider the reasons that caused conflicts or even the very divorce between you and your spouse. Ask any of your divorced friends, and they’ll likely come up with similar responses to yours. They typically resemble statements such as “We couldn’t stop arguing”, “He became insanely jealous”, or “She never really opened up to me.”

Although the problem is far more complex than what a simple blog can cover, it can at the very least give you invaluable insights into how your bond works and what goes wrong – so that you can prevent future conflicts. The theory of attachment styles dates back to the sixties, and it helps us unravel the intricate behavioral patterns in the dynamics of our relationships.

Here are a few pointers to spot your own style and that of your former or potential spouse, and ways to help yourself overcome the most common pitfalls of unhealthy attachment forms.

How an Unhealthy Relationship Attachment Style Leads to Divorce

The paradox of anxious attachment

When you feel insecure and in constant need of affection and attention, accompanied by feelings of doubt in the love of your partner, you’re most likely developing an anxious attachment to them. These emotions are often expressed through anger, aggression, overwhelming sadness, and the partner will feel attacked as well as pressured into providing more care and affection.

The paradox lies in needing the affection of your partner while you simultaneously doubt its authenticity. When paired with a person prone to building avoidant attachments, the anxious partner will feel constantly tortured, especially when both fail to understand the underlying psychological factors at play.

Being complete before entering a relationship

No marriage dissolves because of one person, but because of the dynamics between two individuals. Likewise, no one is truly “complete” at any stage during their life, since we continue to evolve and change over the course of our entire existence. However, we can do so much on our part if and when we know how to take care of ourselves and grow as a person before and as we build our relationships.

This heavily depends on the society you are raised in, as in the Land of Down Under, there’s a great emphasis on the notion of wellbeing, self-care, and self-love. Their culture empowers people to care for themselves through healthy eating with the help of brands such as Australian Sports Nutrition paired with regular exercise. Taking good care of yourself is a great start in preventing highly dependent bonds in which you feel as if your very essence and value depend on the other person.

Perhaps we can learn something from a nation whose divorce rates have plummeted to their lowest in 40 years.

Avoidant attachment and its perils

The avoidant style presents itself in the form of a detached, emotionally unavailable person that prefers not to express their emotions or immerse themselves into an emotionally intense experience. One could say that they prefer no attachment at all.

However, you would be amiss to presume that this behavior is merely narcissistic or malevolent. It stems from fear of getting hurt and being vulnerable, and it serves as a defense mechanism. Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to communicate with someone who shuts down any attempt of close interaction, let alone form a long-lasting marriage with them.

Embracing the emotional learning curve

Although superficial bonds may have their appeal, marriages are never formed, nor sustained on sexual attraction alone or discussing the weather. It takes courage to recognize an opportunity to open up, and even more of it to actually take the risk of being hurt. Recognizing that you can safely express your feelings takes time. It also takes time to find appropriate methods for maneuvering those emotions that will protect your marriage.

You can embark on this journey alone, or you can work with a therapist to resolve your emotional troubles that have led to the end of your marriage. Even online options such as BetterHelp can serve you and your spouse well if you notice your issues in time. It’s important to note that we usually spend our entire lives recognizing our attachment style issues as they rear their not-so-attractive heads when we’re most vulnerable.

Feeling and forming secure attachments

Finally, secure attachments are formed only by individuals who feel good and confident in their own life, who might have had negative encounters, emotional and otherwise, but have been able to cope with them in healthy ways. When a person with avoidant or anxious attachment patterns connects with a secure partner, they are far more likely to embrace that secure mode of behavior over time. Still, that is not a promise, nor the best way to develop emotionally.

We all need to take responsibility for our own emotional wellbeing before we begin another marriage or start assigning blame for the mistakes of the past. It takes time, therapy, and proper self-care in our everyday lives to embrace new modes of acting and ways of connecting and bonding with our loved ones.

This article first appeared on DivorceMag.com

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rediscoverying sex after divorce

Rediscovering Sex After Divorce: My Belated Sexual Revolution

rediscoverying sex after divorce

 

When I was going through the divorce process, I made the decision, not to date or have sex (because you can do one without the other) with anyone until I was officially single. No judgment from me to anyone who makes a different choice. It was simply the one that felt right for me.

I needed this relationship to be over before I could pursue other relationships.

My Belated Sexual Revolution

Once the divorce was finalized, I was like a 21-year-old let out at the bar for the first time. It was time to dance on tables, swing from chandeliers, flash someone, and go buck wild. Well, at least as much as my introverted nature would allow.

What I realized, very quickly, was that I’d been having really bad sex for a really long time. The blame lies with both my ex-husband and myself for that one. I didn’t communicate well and would offer him a quickie just to get it over with and get him off my back about sex. He didn’t have enough experience before meeting me (or curiosity afterward) to try new things or to concern himself with my pleasure. We were a bad combination for plenty of reasons, sex was just one of many.

Three years later, I’m in a committed relationship with a healthy, well-functioning, and highly satisfying sex life. If not for a mini-sexual revolution in the post-divorce era, there’s no telling where I’d be now.

Rediscovering Sex After Divorce

The Fling

The first man I connected with after my divorce was a professional colleague. He didn’t work for the same company (thankfully) but we ran in the same circles. He flirted, casually. I flirted back – decidedly rusty after 12 years out of the dating world. A man of action, he quickly asked me out, and I didn’t even hesitate.

This wasn’t a dinner and movie kind of thing. Instead, we met for lunch, fooled around in his sports car and made plans to meet on the weekends. No in-depth conversations here. Our every encounter after the first one was all about sex. Sex in his office. Sex in his house. Sex in his vacation house. All sex, all the time.

Self-Discovery as a Response to Rejection

After the fling burned itself out, I reconnected with an old friend from high school. He was going through a divorce. I was still in the throes of my newly discovered independence and sexuality. But we both remembered a lot of unrequited lust from back in the day.

There was still plenty of heat, 15 years later. The sex was damn hot. New positions. New places. New sensations. At least it was for me. But he was brutally honest (something I didn’t know I needed at the time). I wasn’t letting myself orgasm with him. Not that he couldn’t get me there. Oh no, he could. I just wouldn’t let myself go. He considered it a turn-off. Ugh. Rejection. Humiliation.

I’m a fixer of problems. This orgasm thing was a problem to be fixed, so I did. Rediscovering my own self-pleasure at the age of 32 was weird but necessary. I learned what makes me tick in a whole new way, and I guaranteed that even if I’m alone, I’m never really alone. Toys or hand, either one will do the trick when you need to let off steam.

Discovering New Things

I licked my wounds before moving on in my own personal sexual revolution. I met the next man online. Again, he was going through a divorce (clearly, I was a magnet for these guys) but all seemed well. He had very specific sexual tastes and preferences.

Still a relative newbie in the sexual arena, after 12 years with the same man, the same sex, and the same routine, my eyes were opened to a whole new world. He was the first to take me to an adult toy store (fun times!). The first to talk about being kinky. A lot of firsts. Sex was not something to be done in the same position in the same room with the same exact result every time. I truly had no idea there were so many ways to have sex or so many toys to try.

My eyes were opened to a world I never knew existed. I gained confidence in myself as I embraced my sexual nature. The more experiences I had, the more alive I felt. I needed this time to explore sex with new partners. If not, I might have ended up in another sexless, orgasm-less (oh yeah, I said it) relationship, replaying bad scripts and creating a never ending loop of sexual dissatisfaction.

Not everyone’s revolution will look the same. Heck, not everyone needs a sexual revolution after their divorce. But for anyone who thinks sex is boring or something to be done quickly in order to get it over with, maybe that’s exactly what you need. Good sex doesn’t fix all your problems, but a good orgasm will help you not care about them for a few minutes.

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marital compatibility

Marital Compatibility: It’s About More Than Being “In Love”

marital compatibility

 

Emily Cowen, a musical artist I enjoy sings, “Even though we just met, these feelings are so beautiful, you and me were meant to be together.” And that is where “love” songs get love wrong. You’ve just met, the feelings are beautiful so, goodness gracious, you must be meant to be together.

Wrong!

Long-lasting marriages and relationships aren’t based on beautiful feelings. They thrive because of compatibility and the unique differences both genders bring to the relationship and how well each can resolve conflict.

Let’s look at the role compatibility plays in lasting marriages.

Initial compatibility, the butterflies and raging hormonal attraction is not a good indicator of how successful a marriage will be. That immediate chemical attraction felt with someone new isn’t concerned with the other person’s value system, personality characteristics or those other beliefs and personality traits that bond a couple together for the long-term.

Attraction and butterflies are important if a marriage is going to stand the test of time, but what is more important is a couple’s common plan for what direction the marriage will take and what role each will play in the marriage.

What does marital compatibility look like?

Friendship: Are you friends with your spouse?  Is there a sincere likeness and level of comfort? Successful couples enjoy spending time with each other. It is this friendship that can be the foundation for solving problems as they arise in the marriage.

Role expectations in the marriage: This isn’t only about how household responsibilities will be handled. It’s also about who spouses treat each other. Very few conversations about role expectations come up when in the throws a brand new relationship. Roles will form naturally as time goes on or the couple will define what role they will play in the relationship. If you aren’t happy with the role you play, there isn’t much hope for the marriage.

My son’s wife isn’t a domestic goddess. She has a high pressure job and a Master’s in Nursing. She is more interested in cerebral pursuits than what art is hung on the walls or, cleaning the kitchen. My son, on the other hand, loves his career but also loves to cook and keep the house tidy. I tease my new daughter-in-law and tell her she has a “fine wife.”

Before marrying they discussed who would do what and they now not only enjoy each other intimately, they are both quite comfortable with how to household is run and the role each plays in the decision making process. It’s an equation for success!

Emotional honesty: Successful spouses trust each other, they feel safe being vulnerable and when discussing their feelings. There is an emotional give and take. When one spouse is in need, the other is there for them and vice versa.

Sexual expectations: Setting these expectations is not only about how frequently a couple will be intimate. It is important, very important that they both be on the same page about sexual frequency but there are other aspects of a sexual relationship that need to be defined. Not everyone is on board with experiencing every sexual act known to man.

Defining what you are and aren’t comfortable with sexually is imperative, right out of the gate. Couples who have similar sexual expectations experience more bonding with each other which sets them up for long-term success as a couple.

Shared goals: Mutually committing to and following a path you both agree on is something successful couples do. Do you want children, how will they be raised if you do? What is more important, spending money on furthering education or saving money for a down-payment on a house? Common shared goals and values are things that are the foundation for a strong marriage.

Most successful marriages come about because both partners came into the relationship with similar belief systems and values that match. This makes it easier for two people to reach agreements on issues such as sexual intimacy, gender roles and to be easily emotionally open with each other.

This isn’t to say that a solid marriage is made up of only couples with good qualities. Two people who avoid conflict, have hot-blooded temperaments and prefer to go with the flow can also make marriage work, as long as they are both on the same page.

The post Marital Compatibility: It’s About More Than Being “In Love” appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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stay too long with wrong guy

Stayed Too Long with the Wrong Guy? 4 Steps To Self-Forgiveness

stay too long with wrong guy

 

Women with the biggest hearts are often drawn to emotionally unavailable men. We mistakenly think that if we love him hard enough, he will heal in our hands. If you have experienced the ending of such a relationship disaster, consider yourself lucky. Congratulations!

I know that forgiving ourselves for staying so long, loving, and loyal can be a major kick in the pants, especially when we most likely overlooked some major red flags in the beginning.

Emotional unavailability is defined as the inability to be emotionally present and receptive. These men put up walls against emotional intimacy, which is often characterized by several different types; the workaholic, the perfection chaser, the aggressor, the sob story victim, the disappearing act, the crumb giver.

These types use anger and aggression, stonewalling, denial, and avoidance to refrain from difficult conversations and problem-solving. Essentially, they chronically evade dealing with their own crap, fail to meet any of our emotional needs, and leave us wondering what the hell we did wrong. Newsflash! The only thing that we did “wrong” was choose THEM to partner with.

Stayed Too Long with the Wrong Guy?

Let’s get through this together! Moving on…

Show some self-compassion.

So often, we kindly talk to others with tenderness and sweet words of encouragement. From our children to our lovers, we are always right there to wipe their tears and hold their hands, listening with both ears to erase the pain. Enough! After a heartbreak, all of this energy and effort must now be turned inward. Time for self-compassion! Look in the mirror and admire those laugh lines that formed while giggling with your beautiful babies on the floor, tickling their toes.

Pull out that notepad and write down your best qualities, celebrating each one. Talk to yourself as if you are a young child or an elder. Use words of love and kindness. Your feelings are valid, you matter, and you deserve the love that you give.

Self-care is not selfish.

Did anyone say salt bath? Home pedicure and wine? Whatever makes you sigh aloud with relief, Do. It. Now. Shave those legs and then lotion up for a few extra minutes finishing with a foot massage. Stop in at the local salon, wash that man right ‘outta your hair, and trim those dead ends, literally and figuratively.  Call a counselor and clear the air for yourself. Pick up a new book and may I suggest “Mr. Unavailable & The Fallback Girl” by Natalie Lue? Light a candle and read for your own benefit and clarity, which brings us to number three…

Learn the lesson.

Hindsight is 20/20, my love. What red flags did we ignore? His criticism and yelling, his enduring need to work overtime and disappear, his perfectionist nature, or his perpetual “silent treatments” whenever there was a disagreement? Write down every strange gut feeling in that belly that went overlooked and every tear that soundlessly stung those eyes.

Self-reflect. What kept us still with an emotionally incompetent man for so long: fear, uncertainty, guilt, low self-esteem? Name the reason and accept it. We accept the love that we think we deserve. What do you deserve? Nothing changes if nothing changes, and change begins NOW.

Forward movement.

I started my own forward motion by creating a list of things in life and love that I want and desire. I included all of the qualities that the future love of my life should possess, the feelings that I hope to experience (like peace, liberation, openness, ease, giddiness) and the relationship goals that I plan to achieve with a partner.

I also construed a list of the places that I wish to visit and the activities I am eager to experience this fall, from wineries to autumn-leave trails to writing additional articles. By directing all of your energy and attention unto yourself, you will heal and recreate a new beautiful version of you, ready to love again with an emotionally available man next time.

As the author Natalie Lue writes in her book, “[Self] Forgiveness creeps up on you. Focus on treating yourself well, grieving any losses and addressing any habits that have held you back and that is forgiveness in itself because you give you another shot.”

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improve communication in a relationship

How To Resolve Conflict And Improve Communication In a Relationship

improve communication in a relationship

 

It may seem obvious to some, but not all, that the best relationships are ones born out of trust and vulnerability.  Each partner approaches one another as an equal. The relationship does not drain its participants: instead, it nourishes. Differences between partners are complementary. These differences are advantageous and desirable and do not create a hindrance to the relationship; instead, they contribute to its growth.

In a healthy relationship, partners draw out untapped possibilities in one another.  So why does it seem so hard to maintain a blissful state of love with a partner over time?

Improve Communication In a Relationship

First of all, every relationship has its ups and downs, and conflict comes with the territory. Yet if you are a daughter of divorce, you may avoid conflict because it may have signified the end of your parents’ marriage. Marriage counselor, Michele Weiner Davis, explains that avoiding conflict backfires in intimate relationships. She posits that bottling up negative thoughts and feelings doesn’t give your partner a chance to change their behavior. On the other hand, she cautions that one of the secrets of a good marriage or romantic relationship is learning to choose battles wisely and to distinguish between petty issues and important ones.

Elizabeth’s Mother’s Day story provides a good example of a hot-button issue that needed to be resolved. Newlyweds Elizabeth and Zane have three children and have been in a committed relationship for many years.  One year, Zane picked up a quick Mother’s Day gift for her at a gas station, and Elizabeth’s feelings were deeply hurt. Because she placed great value on Mother’s Day, Elizabeth decided to take a risk and show her vulnerability to Zane by expressing her disappointment.  Since then, Zane has faithfully purchased a special Mother’s Day gift every year, and Elizabeth feels valued and loved by him.

Secondly, it’s important to stop keeping score and to try not to win every argument, even when you’re in the right. Instead, author Pat Love says, “think of winning an unofficial contest I like to call Who’s the Bigger Person? Resolving conflicts is about who wants to grow the most and what’s best for your relationship.” At the beginning of a relationship, couples tend to focus more on their similarities. Yet after a while, negative projections tend to surface and your partner may remind you of someone from your past. This may explain why some couples who seemed so compatible when they first get together, have more conflicts as time goes by.

Lauren, age 32, explains how identifying her part in communication breakdowns with her husband, Paul, helped save her marriage. “In the past, I used to focus on what Paul was doing wrong until a good friend reminded me that I may want to try harder to communicate my feelings to him without blaming him.”  Lauren realized that she hadn’t learned healthy ways of resolving conflicts from her parents who divorced when she was twelve, a pivotal age for adolescent development and observing your parents’ relationship patterns.

Like all smart women, Lauren realized that all relationships go through rough patches and that it takes two people to contribute to the difficulties. Since she liked being married overall, Lauren decided to focus more on Paul’s positive qualities – such as being a great father – rather than negative ones. “That’s when I noticed that I had a problem communicating. I expected Paul to know what I wanted without me telling him what I needed. When he failed, I’d punish him with the silent treatment, or blow up. When I let go of my efforts to fix him and started working on fixing myself, things began to get better,” she says.

The following steps to resolving conflicts and improving communication may be a starting point to building a fulfilling intimate partnership:

  • Take a risk and deal with hurt feelings – especially if it’s an important issue.
  • Approach conflict with a problem-solving attitude. Avoid trying to prove a point and examine your part in a disagreement.
  • Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements that tend to come across as blameful- such as “I felt hurt when you bought that gift.”
  • Don’t make threats or ultimatums. Avoid saying things you’ll regret the next day.
  • Take a short break if you feel overwhelmed or flooded. This will give you time to calm down and collect your thoughts.

Love also means risking occasionally getting your feelings hurt because it’s the price you pay for intimacy. In all intimate relationships there exist conflicting needs for closeness and space. When issues come up with either of those needs, it’s essential that you talk with your partner and find creative ways to make sure you both feel valued and listened to. Taking the time to work on resolving conflicts in a healthy way is hard work but the payoff is tremendous.

Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW

Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Her book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.

Terry’s new book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, will be published by Sounds True in February of 2020.

More from Terry

This blog originally appeared on movingpastdivorce.com

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Is Dating After Divorce A Requirement

Is Dating After Divorce A Requirement? I Don’t Think So!

Is Dating After Divorce A Requirement

 

I’m not dating. I’ve been divorced for seven years now, and I’m not in a relationship. I’m not looking to be in one, either. There have been a few boyfriends, a couple more serious than the others, some purely physical. But right now, and for the past year, I’ve been absolutely, completely, 100% unattached.

And I’m totally fine with this. Am I the only one?

Everything I read about divorce seems to have a message: if you are divorced, you need to date.

Pronto!

Fresh divorcees fret about it, as though there is a deadline for finding new love, a relationship version of the old biological clock that is ticking ominously in the background. That their lives will not be complete until they have someone on the other side of the bed every single night. To this day, people still ask me, “Why aren’t you dating?” or “You should find a man” or my favorite, “You know what you need? You need to date.”

There are plenty of things I need to do: I need to work. I need to parent my children. I need to do laundry and get groceries and walk my dog. Do I need to be in a relationship?

I don’t think so.

Is Dating After Divorce A Requirement?

There is something very liberating in being single. I have learned how to be alone, but not lonely.  I feel as though this is one of the weird little parting gifts of divorce, one that took me a long time to discover and even longer to appreciate.

The gift of learning how to be by yourself.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t spend all of my free time alone. I have four kids, a neurotic dog and a gaggle of amazing friends. I could be out every night of the week if I wanted.  But every once in awhile, I find myself alone. And I kind of like it.

Before my divorce, I hadn’t lived alone other than a month when I was a flight attendant back in 1989. I’d lived with my parents, and then with roommates, and then with a boyfriend who became a husband. And technically speaking I am not living alone right now, what with my four roommates- five if you count the sweet shedding boy who shares my bed. But for the first time in my adult life, I’m single and not looking.

Part of it may be me guarding myself, my heart. My ex husband did a major number on me when he left. I’m not naive enough to think that there wasn’t some damage done, but I am smart enough to know that it wasn’t permanent. Me not actively seeking love right now isn’t a matter of not wanting to be vulnerable again, nor is it a matter of not trusting men (or my choices in men).

Part of it may be good old fashioned insecurity. If you find yourself failing at marriage once, it’s hard to think of trying it again. Who’s to say I won’t invest another 15 years of my life into another person only to be left again?

It might be those things, yes. But I’d like to think that my steadfast-singleness is an education of sorts. I’m learning, you see. Learning to enjoy my own company, which, when you think about it, is laying some pretty good groundwork for any future relationship I may find myself in.  Personally, I think it takes some courage, and some cajones, to face life solo. Some days I feel brave.  I’m learning how to weather life’s storms on my own, which is something I think all women should know how to do.

Now, don’t think I’m dissing those of you who have jumped right back into the thick of things. I have friends who found new and improved loves before the ink on their divorce decrees dried. And that is WONDERFUL. We all have our very own ways of doing things, of growing and recovering and living. Truth be told, there are some moments when I feel some envy.

I see them with their boyfriends or husbands and it reminds me of all the good things that come with couplehood. The companionship, the comfort, the warm strong arm draped over your shoulders on a cold walk to the car. The security one feels when there’s a trustworthy man snoring next to you in bed.

But then I see friends who have gone through a virtual parade of boyfriends, watched them fall in and out of love, or something that kinda/sorta feels like it. They’ve introduced their kids to some of them, brought them to parties and gatherings and then one day, they show up alone. Or with a new guy. I’ve comforted them when things go bad, when they realize that this wasn’t Mr. Right, it was Mr. That’ll Do For Now.

There’s something to be said for their sheer determination to find someone, and I commend them for that. I have to wonder, though, is that the best way to find your happily ever after, or is it simply a way to keep your dating muscles toned and in shape, to avoid atrophy?

I was talking to another single friend the other night, she joined this club by way of widowhood. I told her that I was writing an article about “embracing your singleness” and she plopped down next to me and told me her side of it: “People were asking me about dating within a week of my husband dying” she started. “I mean, look-“ she held up her left hand, her beautiful wedding band shining brightly on her ring finger. “I took this off for about a week…I had been lifting weights and it was bothering me,” she continued. “And right away, I noticed raised eyebrows and the ‘you go, girl’ comments started.” My friend motioned towards the kitchen, where her kids were laughing and messing around with their friends. “Those people in there? That’s my focus right now. That’s my job. I’ll figure out the dating thing later on.”

My widowed friend and I may have found ourselves in this spot via very different paths, but we both landed on the same page. Love is something we both want, both look forward to…but front and center in our lives are our lives. Being moms, taking care of households, nurturing friendships. Taking care of ourselves. Finding our sea legs in order to ride out the rest of this crazy voyage.

Who knows..I’ve heard that love will find you whether or not you’re looking. And if that happens? Great. I haven’t sworn off men and dating and sex and all of that good stuff…I’ve just decided that right here and right now, it’s not my number one priority. I may meet my Prince Charming while grocery shopping or out on the trails while walking my dog. I might meet him at one of my son’s hockey games or while out on the town with my friends. Or, I might not.

Either way, it’s fine with me.

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