These 7 Questions Will Determine if You’re Sabotaging Your Own Relationships
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I’ve learned over the years that most of the advice people seek out when it comes to personal development, dating, or relationships – is simply a reinforcement of what they already think. I find that when people come to me for coaching services, it’s because they want the honest truth and unbiased feedback. But, the majority of people would rather hear the banal “just be yourself, the right person will come along” tune from their family and friends.
If you actually want to reflect and consider things YOU might be able to do differently (since you are the only person you can control in this world), ask yourself these 7 questions – and answer them honestly.
Am I taking this TOO seriously?
I know – dating should be taken seriously…but there is a difference between not messing around with your time, and treating something that should be fun like it’s a tedious job.
A lot of people tell me that they hate dating because it feels like a job interview or an interrogation. My answer to that is – you’re dating the wrong people! When you date someone who you click with, has great energy, and is fun to be around, you will enjoy their company right from the start, whether or not you are actually compatible to be together.
So many people are avoiding dating because it has presented itself as this albatross in their lives, that I truly believe we have lost sight of the entire point of it: To enjoy someone else’s company to the point where you want to see them again. And again. And again.
It really is that simple – we have to stop over-complicating this and start enjoying it again.
Am I always waiting for “them” to make the first move?
“Them,” no matter who “they” might be for you. Now, anyone who’s followed my writing understands that as progressive as I am, I still believe that men should do the pursuing when it comes to dating.
But, we live in funny times.
No matter if you are a man or a woman, seeking a man or a woman, my strongest belief in all areas of life is that you need to take charge of your own destiny and go after what you want.
Make a move. Say hello. Smile at someone. Open the proverbial door to let “them” know it’s okay to interact with you. We are living in a society that seems to frown upon social interaction unless it’s through the filter of a screen – so if you keep waiting for someone else to make a move, you might just be waiting forever.
Am I talking too much about myself?
How many dates have you been on where you thought to yourself: “Geeze, are you ever going to ask anything about ME?”
I have heard from a lot of women that men just talk about themselves during the whole date – and I have personal experience with going on dates where I have spent over 3 hours with women who literally did not stop talking about themselves the entire time.
The moral of the story? Not everyone is innocent. You may get excited and enthusiastic and want to share all sorts of things with someone new, and that is great – it helps them to learn about you…but if you never change directions, it will make them feel like you really don’t care to learn anything about them in return. A sure way to not get a second date in the books.
Am I always putting his/her interests ahead of my own?
I always get in trouble for making this point – so please read this carefully:
There is a big difference between making your partner’s happiness a priority, and acting in ways that actually emotionally harm yourself.
There is compromise, and there is self-sacrifice.
There is selflessness, and there is martyrdom.
You need to be able to know when your kindness is being taken advantage of to a point where you are actually giving up your own dignity in a relationship. Typically, a big cause of this is lack of self confidence and self worth, which then leads to the belief that you need to mold yourself to this person’s life and expectations in order to keep their attention.
Sound familiar? It did for me – for most of my life.
This is why I focus on personal development with my clients in relation to dating. You can learn all of the ‘strategies’ to get someone’s attention that you want, but if you have not yet developed yourself into a well rounded human being who can stand on his/her own two legs – you will not keep their attention.
My standards are high – but are they unreasonable?
Believe me, I am the first person to tell people to raise their standards. I have done it on television, in my book, at live events, and almost all of my social media posts. But…we have to remember that we are still talking about human beings when it comes to dating and relationships, and no human being is perfect.
Not you, not me.
I have had clients who pulled out a laundry list of what they’re looking for in a mate, and some of it, I’m sorry to say, simply does not exist.
Holding standards that are unrealistic is (in my opinion) a defense mechanism to always have an excuse why something doesn’t work out. It’s easy to say “Well, he wasn’t 6’2″ with ice blue eyes, a chiseled 6-pack, a trust fund, an a lexicon of 5 languages…so I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”
What’s not easy, is to take a look at what you want, and break it down into a list of what you really need. For example – sure, you WANT to date a guy who’s 6’2″, but is it because you NEED to date a guy who makes you feel safe and secure? If that’s the need, you can find that security in a guy who provides it in ways other than height.
If you can really break down your wants and your needs, you can understand what is actually going to make you happy in a relationship. Not just what you think you want.
Am I just looking for the next dopamine hit?
The reason social media websites have created such an addictive experience is that they’ve tapped into the psychological reality of the human brain that keeps us searching for a rush of dopamine, or the ‘pleasure drug.’ The inner workings of your brain don’t actually know the difference between getting a thousand likes on your Instagram picture, and doing a line of cocaine.
It sounds like a ridiculous comparison, but when you understand that your moods, reactions, feelings, and emotions, are simply chemicals being released in your brain; you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and others.
There is a concept in psychology called Hedonic Adaptation, which essentially is the idea that you feel a rush when something new and exciting happens (ie., meeting a new man or woman), but eventually that feeling subsides and wears off. Anyone who has watched a child get bored with a toy, or an adult leave something in the drawer that they once dreamed of buying, understands that our brains always keep us searching for the next best thing.
NOT PROMISING FOR RELATIONSHIPS.
But, we need to overcome this primal urge and keep logic in the equation as well. Are we being ruled by the constant need to feel this rush? Is this why we look at our phones countless times a day? Is this why we aren’t settled in relationships anymore – because we have been hammered with dopamine hits from all angles 24/7 that we cannot just stop and BE anymore?
Something to ponder, ain’t it?
Am I putting off sexual escalation for too long?
That’s right, I went there. It has to be said.
One of the challenges I hear a lot from male clients is that they have a hard time building attraction. Key word – BUILDING.
Think of physical intimacy as a staircase. It starts with a hug, holding hands, walking arm in arm…there is a process for understanding what someone is or isn’t comfortable with physically, and understanding their reaction in order to proceed, or not.
I have spoken to many men who have gone too far down a path with a woman without ANY physical advances (not even a kiss after a few dates) and are looking to begin building attraction from that point on.
The harsh truth is: You may have waited too long and lost your shot.
What’s the only difference between a friendship and a relationship? That’s right – it’s the sex. The kissing. The making out. The physical passion. Otherwise, you’ve just got a friend you do errands with and binge Netflix on the weekends. A roommate, basically.
Sexual activity allows for an escalation in the relationship that does not happen otherwise. And for men, it is a NECESSARY component that communicates attraction and interest from a woman.
Sex to men is like talking to women: If men stop talking, women feel rejected and as if he is no longer interested. The same goes for physical contact for men.
Hey, I don’t make the rules, I just learn the biological realities and relay them to you.
Am I telling you to jump into bed with everyone you meet on the first date? NO. OF COURSE NOT. So, when do you know the time is right?
The answer is different for every person, situation, and set of circumstances, but I have always found this to be a good benchmark to go by:
Sleep with someone when you are comfortable enough with them to feel safe, and secure in the idea that it MAY or MAY NOT work out.
If you can check these two boxes, then go for it whether it’s the first date or the 5th. But understand that if you put off escalating things (not just talking about sex here, people. Just escalating things sexually) for too long, you run the risk of losing interest, or finding out that you are not sexually compatible after waiting so long to find out, that you now feel stuck in something that is always going to have tension.
I know, this last point was a doozy and will probably get me yelled at in the comments. But, like everything else I have ever written, this is just my personal opinion and is based off of YEARS of research, discussions, and personal experience.
Do with it what you will. 🙂
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Greetings, James! I usually agree whole-heartedly with most of your articles, but the last one on today’s list was… hehe 🙂
As important (and fun) as sexual activity is to any relationship “of that nature” (aka from “it’s on” to “wedded bliss”), it’s exactly that–the emphasis *on* sexual activity…and, to be frank, the notion that “relationship = good, singleness = BAD–that has so many women in the US lacking confidence, seeking validation, lowering boundaries, getting called “clingy” and “needy,” and, just-plain-settling for FWB instead of the coveted “GF” status.
And guys? Many feel as though they need to resort to “pick-up tricks” in order to get a girl, and even more guys (confident and not) feel as though “It’s a biological itch, and I’m a guy, so, like, do the math, k?”
There are LOTS of countries–ok, they’re “third world” by US standards, but whatever–where neither girls NOR guys *ever* get some. Outside of marriage, that is. NOT coz they’re particularly religious (though they may be) but because that’s just the culture there. All or none, aka Wed or Empty Bed.
But that’s not all, James; some of us DO take our systems of belief seriously. And even though many US Americans who have read (parts of?) The Scripture central to my faith, LOTS of them seem to think that they can skip the part about “no sleeping around outside of marriage.” Whether they don’t actually subscribe to EVERY word in That Scripture, or they agree because “he was so hot and so interested and…if I didn’t, he’d have said a sweet and chivalrous ‘bye, now, hon, you lock up tight, now, y’hear?’ before picking up the phone and putting out The Call (of a certain type, if you get my meaning.)
Would a person automatically “go to hell” for transgressing that particular thing written in That Particular Book? I don’t think so. (Of course, not believing is what gets you in a place that’s too darn hot. But how could anyone even think of not being down with The Creator–Who rokks, yo! I mean, He created love and… other stuff…in the first place. What’s not to like?? 🙂
The thing is, soooo many people (yes, even guys) will often fall into this cycle of seeking out validation, even AFTER the deed is done. That’s why there are so many “dating coaches” out there these days. Back in the old country, there’s no such thing as coaches, there’s “busybody old chicks” (and recently-married young peeps–yes, even guys, lol) who try to marry off every last single within three levels of their social circle.
And as annoying as that may sound to people in the US, for example, please do me a huge favour and compare the rates of divorce, depression, and low-self-esteem amongst people in the US and people in any “third world” country.
Why? Because people DON’T get “loved and left.” There’s one acceptable manner of dating, and that’s it. Further, people’s self-image isn’t based on themselves, but on their collectives. I’m not me, I’m one branch of my family tree. When you belong to a group–not one based on what you have to do to join and maintain membership, not based on whether someone likes you or can even tolerate you until something better shows up–you don’t think of your own identity…and therefore don’t spend half the day trying to impress people so they’d like you and want to hang out with you and/or date you.
(So, yes. My problem isn’t with “Western dating,” but with individualism in the first place. Divorcing because you don’t want to leave your beloved job in order to keep living with your “beloved” ?? Or because they met someone else?? What on earth is that about? Humans are selfish enough as it is (which is not a diss, it’s human nature), but individualism takes it to the penultimate level. And that’s why more individualists on earth have SO many inter- and intra-personal problems.
“Putting off sex for too long…”
Well, does sleeping (or not-sleeping, as the case may be) SOONER than that NECESSARILY bring about a long-term, committed, and/or legalised relationship (presuming the person in question is, in fact, seeking such)?
To be frank, that sounds kinda like conning someone into something by feeding them, aka “the fastest way to a dude’s heart is through his stomach.” As if mental games weren’t enough, now we have to bribe each other with stuff off of that Maslow Hierarchy thingie?
I think I’ll stick to that system from the old country: meet someone, we both say “you ROCK, yo!” and get engaged in under a week, then get to know them (NOT in The Biblical sense, heh). Then AFTER the marriage, THEN we can live as man and wife.
Have you ever noticed how many marriages began with people who REALLY thought they loved each other? And maybe they REALLY did.
But after the marriage, things “fizzled.” They “grew apart.”
Because they already lived “the married life” before they even tied the knot. And, to be painfully honest, many of the people seeking “marriage” these days don’t subscribe to one of the systems of belief call that relationship “holy” and “sacred” and “the only ACCEPTABLE way to be together.”
“But humans have physical needs!”
Sure. Right. I get it. I get it so much that my personal set of boundaries includes “no hugging babes.”
Why? Well, because. God gave us nerves and emotions and… hormones.
Hugging someone that’s attractive to you is bad enough. But someone that you have feelings for? And miss when they’re not around? And space out over? And dream of every night?
Hah. Forget about it.
The point is, it’s doable. DIFFICULT, but keeps things MUCH simpler than *succumbing* to “the doable.”
Special bonus: I’ve never had to wonder if that’s all *I* was to anyone.
Best wishes and lots of LOVE to you and yours, bro 🙂
Excuse my very brief response to your very well written and thought out response, unfortunately I am running around today and can’t spend much time responding – but important to note that I don’t follow any belief system nor do I believe in any god(s), so my opinions are based on scientific research (neurology, biology, etc) that govern the human animal, as well as personal experience and conversations I have with others. So that’s why no scripture or religious writing influence any of my opinions. 🙂
Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to leave this comment!
Of course they are your opinions.
Written from a male perspective and seemingly based on logical and quasi- scientific theories and precepts.
Theories change every day based on new ‘scientific and psychological’ research.
People change every day… depending on circumstances and mood.
Every person is different, nature… nurture.
Each to their own way of being.
However, I enjoy perusing your emails.
They seem to be some of the most sensible ones from all the claptrap written by so called, ‘ coaches.’
Wether, male or female.
One last comment.
Men…. open the car and restaurant door.
Yes, we like flowers.
Best wishes James.
great article to question yourself if we are sabotaging our own relationship because most of us struggle in such time often blaming the other person, these question will surely help analyze the situation!
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