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In a previous blog post, I provided 21 subtle signs of the emotionally unavailable man. I was overwhelmed with the responses from men, saying that many, if not all of the signs resonated with them. They tell me they don’t want to be this way because they feel stuck in dating or in their relationship. They say that they can see the lonely and gloomy future, being alone and lonely, because they go through date after date, and one relationship after another.

Wanting to change is a necessary component to allow for closeness and ultimately having a great relationship. Here are 7 tips to making yourself more available to your partner:

1. Identify your distancing strategies. These are strategies that create emotional or physical distance between you and your partner and suppress intimacy. You do them often, so they may feel so natural to you that you’re not even aware that they create distance and uncertainty in your relationship. The first step in changing behaviors is to recognize them. Some examples (check out my previous blog for more): You may focus on their imperfections, you keep future plans fuzzy, and you ignore or diminish your partner’s positive qualities or behaviors. Remind yourself that despite your discomfort with intimacy, you need it for a happy relationship.

2. Speak up for your need for space. You will always have a need for space, particularly when things get too intimate with your partner. Do this as early as possible when you meet someone so that they don’t take things personally. Say it has nothing to do with them, but it’s something that you’ve needed in every relationship and will continue to need in your new one. Give examples: “If we spend a whole day together, I might not text you as much the next day or two” or “I don’t like to text daily when I first start dating someone.”

3. Distract yourself. It’s easier for you to let your guard down to your partner if there’s a distraction. Engage in activities such as making dinner together or going for a walk. When you’re not hyper-focused on an intimate moment, but rather on the activity, it can help you access your loving feelings instead of repressing them.

4. Think about secure people and how they behave in their relationships. Secure people are warm and loving, comfortable with closeness, communicate issues well, and work toward common ground during conflict. Pick 2-3 people and write down how they act and react in various situations, how they respond to and interact with their partner, and their overarching beliefs about relationships. Strive to engage in the ways that they do. Don’t overwhelm yourself and try everything at once; pick one behavior to try every week or so.

5. Tell people what they mean to you. It might be easier to start with a non-romantic partner. It doesn’t have to be an in-depth conversation. At the end of a phone call with a friend, you can say, “Hey, I really appreciate you listening to me today. You’re a good listener and I always feel like you understand where I’m coming from. It means a lot.” I give this task to my clients and their reaction is always surprise–surprise at how much the kind words meant to the people they spoke with, and how often it was reciprocated. Little by little, you will see the positive results of this practice, and may help you be more emotionally accessible to your romantic partner.

6. Challenge your negative interpretations of your partner’s behavior. You have a tendency of ignoring positive behaviors or diminishing their value. Continually focusing on the negative will cause your relationship to be overwhelmed with negativity, and it won’t be fun for either of you to be in it. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt that their intentions are positive or at least neutral.

7. Challenge your catastrophizing beliefs. Your new girlfriend invites you on a romantic weekend getaway, and your brain can only think that this means you’re one step closer to marriage and a life in the suburbs. Or she invites you to hang out with her nieces and nephews, and you assume you’re practicing for parenthood. Pump the breaks. It only means she wants to spend quality time with you for a couple of days, and it definitely doesn’t mean she sees you in her future forever. Bring yourself to focus on the moment at hand, and try to avoid applying meaning that doesn’t exist.

It is possible to become more emotionally available. It takes effort, but little changes done consistently can give you the kind of relationship that deep down, you’ve always wanted.

Anita Chlipala is the author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple’s Guide to Lasting Love. As a dating & relationship expert, she founded Relationship Reality 312 to teach singles and couples how to find and keep love. The one thing she might love more than love is her Chicago sports teams. To learn more, visit: relationshipreality312.com. This blog was originally published on Chlipala’s blog. 

Like this article? Check out, “Vulnerability in Relationships: Not Easy But Well Worth It!”

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Almost every woman I know is in the same situation: We had a career before we had kids, and now we want to (or have to) go back to work and don’t know what the heck we’re supposed to do! Women over 40 want flexibility and they want to feel good and be passionate about what they do professionally. So, that usually means reinventing yourself, and anyone who has ever experienced it will tell you that reinventing yourself over 40 isn’t easy.

This week’s Love Essentially is the story of New York real estate agent, Annette Akers, who reinvented herself and is as happy as can be. Here is the article, which includes tips on reinventing yourself over 40!

Do you love yourself enough to reinvent yourself?

by Jackie Pilossoph for Chicago Tribune Media Group

Eleven years ago, when Annette Akers up and moved to New York City after living her entire life in Illinois (19 years in Chicago), she was optimistic it was going to be great for her career.

“It was exciting, and I felt like moving to that market would help me grow with the company,” said Akers, who at the time was working in sales for a large medical device company.

But life took an unexpected turn. Claiming to this day that she was “bullied out of the company” by a male coworker who felt financially threatened by her success, Akers found herself out of a job two years later. A double whammy: It was during the 2007 recession.

“At first I wasn’t too worried about finding another job because it had always been easy for me in the past,” said Akers, who is now 50. “But when I started looking this time, I would always lose out to someone younger, and who was usually a male.”

During the years that followed, Akers tried starting her own company and performed contract work for medical companies. She ended up landing another medical sales job, but said it didn’t feel challenging or fulfilling. Akers said she felt frustrated and stuck. Then, one day, she had a realization. (click here to read the rest of the article, published in the Chicago Tribune and other major publications across the country.)

Like this article? Check out, “8 Job Searching Tips For Moms Going Back To Work After Divorce”

And, check out West Side Wednesdays, a creative marketing tool that Akers said has helped her business immensely!

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A family business that's a total jewel of a store - YouTube

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There are multiple reasons people get divorced, and every divorce is different. But almost always, when a couple splits up, among the reasons why is that the couple no longer has the desire to spend time together. Period. I mean, you get divorced because you want to be apart. But that’s not the case for a woman who wrote to me about her divorced boyfriend acting like he’s still married.

My boyfriend and I been together for two years. He was married for 16 years, divorced for 3. They have no kids. Repeat: they have NO KIDS. He initiated the divorce.


His family continues to invite his ex-wife to every family event, and she attends—even out of town events!


It feels like I am a side chick while they all get together and he “plays house” with his ex.


I keep getting excuses from him why she’s still hanging around like “this is my first divorce so I don’t know how it works” or “my family loves her” or “she’s been around for a long time”. He sees nothing wrong with the situation. He even gets invited to go on vacation with his ex wife and her family.

Is it me? Or is this weird?  Aren’t there supposed to be some boundaries?

 

A couple more things she explained: The ex-wife recently attended the boyfriend’s birthday party, there are family photos that include the ex-wife all over his parent’s house, and get this—the boyfriend, his mother and the ex-wife go holiday shopping together once a year, and the girlfriend is not invited.

Here are my thoughts. Rarely do I tell people if they should stay in a relationship or leave, but I have to say in this case, the answer is crystal clear. This relationship is toxic and very, very unhealthy for this woman’s self-esteem and happiness. I think she needs to break up.

She is most likely feeling frustrated, resentful, angry, confused, and deeply hurt, by both him and his family, and it’s been this way for a long time with no indication that things are going to change.

Here’s the thing. When two people are in a relationship, if they want to both be happy, they need to prioritize each other. Well guess what? The boyfriend is completely prioritizing the ex-wife. Is he doing it on purpose? I don’t think so.

This guy is clearly not out of his marriage emotionally, and neither is his family. I’m not saying that when two people get divorced they should never speak again, or that the family should turn their back on the girl, but acting like she is still part of the family isn’t going to allow anyone to move on. I guess what I’m saying is, either you are divorced or you want to get back together. There is no in between. It sounds to me like the ex-wife would get back together in a second, but I’m speculating.

Meanwhile, the girlfriend is really getting a bad deal, and I personally think she deserves better. Shame on the guy and shame on his family for making her feel like an outsider and rubbing the ex-wife in her face.

Sounds like the boyfriend could really use some therapy to figure out why he is still in this relationship, and what he wants moving forward. As for his family, I have no idea what is going on in their heads, but if they are like most people, they want their son to be happy. So, hopefully they will support whatever decisions he makes in the future.

If the girlfriend does end the relationship, one of two things will happen: either her boyfriend will beg her to get back together and things will change, or he will let her go and continue to pretend he is still married to the ex-wife. Sadly, I think the latter is what would occur. But on a good note, that frees up the girlfriend to find love with someone who is completely committed to her, and who isn’t emotionally attached to an ex.

The bottom line is, when most people get divorced, they get divorced. And sadly, completely opposite of this guy, they can’t even be in the same room with an ex. That isn’t good either. But, I think over time, divorced couples can become friends, and they can even attend each other’s family functions on occasion. I think that’s nice, and I can understand the sentimentality and warmhearted feelings for an ex that might always be there. But that is very very different than what’s going on in this situation. These people have not let go. They are technically divorced, but emotionally still married.

Like this article? Check out, “Woman Dating A Divorced Dad Is Clueless And Really Needs To Get A Grip”

 

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The answer to the question, “When is the best time to sell your diamond ring after divorce?” is different for everyone. My diamond ring sat in a drawer for 9 years before I finally decided I was ready to part with it. Other people sell it right away. I know a woman who sold hers 6 months after she got separated, and used the money to start an aerial dance and yoga studio. This guest post is the personal story of Stacey Freeman, who is the Lifestyle Editor, for Worthy.com, a company that offers a luxury auction marketplace for fine jewelry and diamonds.

When Is The Best Time To Sell Your Diamond Ring After Divorce?

by Stacey Freeman, Lifestyle Editor, Worthy.com

The paradox of divorce is that the more we force ourselves to let go before we’re ready, the more we cling to remnants from our past, such as a house, home furnishings, and our diamond engagement ring. So how will we know when it’s time to sell?

Two months ago, I decided to get rid of all my bedding, right down to the mattress cover. Every goose down pillow, throw pillow, and the duvet, gone. As I took off each piece, I recalled the time when my husband and I picked it out together. I loved it. Now, nearly five years after my divorce, though, I was finally ready for a change.

For many newly divorced people, the “marital” bedding is the first reminder of their past life to go. It’s a relatively small change to make but one that can clear a space of a lot of old energy and can be a solid step forward in the healing process, especially for someone like me who lives in the same house I once shared with my spouse. In my case, I still liked my bedding and didn’t feel ready to part with it until just a little while ago, despite the advice I received from well-meaning friends suggesting otherwise and the conventional divorce wisdom dictating what the “order of operations” should be in the divorce recovery process.

The thing is since my divorce I stopped ascribing to conventional wisdom. I had gotten to where I was – 39, separated, and without a career to fall back on – because I followed other people’s rules and designs for my life. The day my husband announced he was “done with our marriage,” I, too was done; done doing what the world expected of me or thought was best for me. Whatever I was going to do from then on, I told myself, was going to be in my best interest because it made me feel good and propelled me forward in my life. If that meant waiting to toss my bedding until I was good and ready, so be it. One day two months ago, I suddenly became ready.

Diamond engagement rings fall into the same category, with one stark difference: their utility after getting rid of them is endless. Unlike my bedding, which, best case scenario, I dry clean and donate to a family in need, the sale of a diamond can carry you years into the future. With the proceeds from your ring, you can go back to school, start a business, save for retirement, buy a car, put down a deposit on a home, take a much-needed vacation, or spend the money another way. The day you decide you want to reach any of these goals, or a different one, you’ll know you’re ready to sell.

Fortunately, I found Worthy, a new way to sell your diamond ring that provides the most trusted online auction platform in the industry to assist you with your sale. Worthy will have your diamond professionally graded, photographed, and presented online to multiple potential buyers who will then compete for it via an auction. Within a matter of days, you can have a check in your hands and a down payment on your new post-divorce life.

When all is said and done, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve held onto your diamond or how quickly you’ve decided to sell it. What’s significant is the moment you recognize you’re ready to let it go. Worthy is here for you when you are.

Stacey Freeman is the lifestyle editor at Worthy.com.

Like this post? Check out, “11 Things Divorced People Want To Say To Their Married Friends”

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Dating is hard enough, but dating as a divorced parent brings on a whole other set of challenges, from finding time to spend together to introducing the kids or not–it’s a fine line. In this week’s Love Essentially, I shared the story of a frustrated reader who is dating a divorced mom. I also offered 6 dating tips for divorced parents.

6 Dating Tips For Divorced Parents

by Jackie Pilossoph for Chicago Tribune Media Group

All relationships have challenges and issues. Even in the best of romances—those with an amazing connection, intense passion and a genuine friendship – times can get tough, and that’s when you find yourself at Starbucks telling your friend over an iced cinnamon dolce latte that you are feeling frustrated, disappointed and unsure about the relationship you thought just a week ago was blissful, even perfect.

Relationships take on a whole different set of complexities when one or both people are divorced parents. This reader is a good example:

I have been dating a divorced woman with a 5-year-old daughter for a year and a half. I love her and her daughter greatly, and it seems they both love me, too. The only wrinkle is, her ex of 11 years throws fits when she or they go anywhere with me. He does not have a good place to visit the child, so she lets him use her house. If I leave anything over at her house, she has to hide it before he sees it, i.e. cough drops, shampoo, etc. I try to be patient and understanding, but the other night we had a date and he was supposed to come over to stay with their daughter. She told me not to come to the door when I got there, that she would come out and meet me because he didn’t want to see me. He texted her the entire time during our date. When we headed back to the house, she had me stop and let her out, and told me to drive around and that when he left, I could come in.

Let’s start with the mom. It seems like she is trying to keep everyone happy – her daughter, her boyfriend and her ex-husband. While understandable, I don’t think she should have to walk on eggshells around her ex-husband or hide her boyfriend from him. They have been divorced for over a decade, plus she is doing her ex a huge favor by allowing him in her home to spend time with their daughter.

As for the boyfriend, (Click here to read the rest of the article, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press editions, along with the Chicago Tribune and several other newspapers across the U.S.)

Like this article? Check out, “21 Dating Tips I wish I could have shared with my 21 year old self.”

Check out this video!

Dating Tips for Women Over 40 - YouTube

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Dating during divorce: It’s so tempting!

With all the hell you are going through with your spouse, you’re probably feeling stressed out, unloved, and definitely unappreciated.

What better to take your mind off your misery, and boost your flagging self esteem, than a few dates with someone who is actually interested in you? And, if one of those “dates” leads to a more serious romance, so much the better!

Why not start your new life now, rather than wait until you have a stupid piece of paper in your hand that says your divorce is official?

7 Reasons Why Dating During Divorce Might Be a Bad Idea

As much as you might think that you are ready to move on, dating during divorce can have serious implications. It can hurt you both legally and financially. Here are 7 reasons why you might want to hold off.

1. Dating during divorce can damage your ability to settle amicably.

It doesn’t matter that your spouse cheated on you 1,000 times while you were married, and this is the first time you have even considered going for coffee with someone else.

No one cares that your divorce case has dragged on for well over a year.

It makes no difference whether you are actually sleeping with a new partner or not.

Unless your spouse is as calm and spiritually evolved as a zen master, when s/he finds out you are dating someone else, it’s going to feel like s/he just got sucker-punched in the gut. That, in turn, will make dealing with your spouse way harder. It will also make settling your case amicably much more challenging.

2. Dating during divorce can reduce the amount of spousal support you receive.

Under the law, you are considered to be legally married until a judge officially divorces you. If you are having sex with someone else before you are divorced, in some states, you may technically be committing adultery. (Sorry!) Putting aside the moral aspects of having a fling while you are still married, the legal ramifications of your actions may be deeper than you counted on.

If you live in a state that still recognizes fault in divorce, then your “adultery” may affect your ability to receive spousal support. It may also reduce the amount of spousal support you receive.

What’s more, if you are not just dating, but are living with, your new love, you might as well kiss your chances of receiving spousal support good-bye.

3. Dating during divorce can affect your settlement strategy.

Most people assume that spousal support is paid in monthly installments over time. However, depending upon the law in your state, you may have the option of taking spousal support in a lump sum as soon as your divorce is final.

The problem is, usually the only way you can get a lump sum is if your spouse agrees to pay it to you that way. Most judges won’t order your spouse to pay you support one big lump sum payment.

If your spouse knows that you are likely to be living with someone else soon, s/he will never agree to pay you a lump sum for support. Instead, your spouse will opt for monthly payments. That way, as soon as you start living with someone else, your spouse gets off the hook. Spousal support ends when you move in with a new partner.

4. Dating during divorce can cost you money in your property settlement.

Any money you receive as spousal support (maintenance) is generally taxable income to you.  (At least this will be true if you divorce in 2018.) Any money you receive in a property settlement is not.

For that reason, you might want to give up your right to spousal support in exchange for receiving more money now. Your spouse may want to do that too because it will end his/her obligation to support you in the future.

Trading a bigger property settlement for spousal support makes for a clean break.  It also eliminates a lot of potential problems for both parties in the future.

However, if you are already dating someone, your spouse may be much less likely to agree to give you more marital property in exchange for your waiving your right to support.

Instead, your spouse will probably opt to pay you support over time. That way, your spouse won’t have to give up any extra marital property.  Then as soon as you and your new love start living together, your spouse can stop paying spousal support, too.

5. Dating during divorce can hurt your post-divorce parenting.

When you and your spouse are trying to make a parenting plan, each of you assumes that the other will be alone with the children during your scheduled parenting time. When that changes, making a parenting plan can suddenly get way more complicated.

It is not unusual for the non-dating parent to feel like s/he has already been replaced by the “other person.” That makes him/her even less crazy about giving up any time with the kids.

What’s more, the non-dating parent now not only worries about how the dating parent will raise the kids, but how the dating parent’s new squeeze will affect the kids, too!

All of this makes reaching a reasonable parenting agreement infinitely more difficult.

6. Dating during divorce can affect your kids.

Going through a divorce takes as much time and energy as a full-time job. If you already have a full time job (which you obviously need to keep because you now really need the money), that already leaves you with precious little time for your kids.

Yet, your kids probably need more of your time and attention now than they did before.  Remember, they are trying to deal with their own emotions about the divorce. They are trying to navigate their own “new family.” They are trying to adjust to their own new reality.

New relationships, even casual dating relationships, take time … often a LOT of time. That means that you will have even less time and attention left for your kids.

You may think that your kids won’t care.

Don’t kid yourself. They will.

No matter how much you may tell yourself that if you are happier, you will be a better parent, the truth is, you need time.  You have to have the time, energy, and enough emotional bandwidth to take care of your kids.

7. Dating during divorce distracts you from dealing with your own emotional stuff.

At first blush, embarking on a new relationship might seem like exactly what you need to forget about your pain. Nothing is as exciting (or distracting) as a new romance!

The problem is that, no matter how long you may have been thinking about divorce, or how dead your marriage may be, while you are going through a divorce, you are still not at your best. You’re not truly yourself.

In order to move on from your marriage, you have to deal with your emotions.  Like it or not, you have to let yourself feel the pain, anger, sadness, and other emotions you feel. You have to take the time, and do the work, needed to allow you to truly heal your wounds.

Otherwise, you will simply repeat the same mistakes in your new relationship that you made in your marriage.

Hiding your pain in a new romance may feel great for a while, but, ultimately, it is nothing more than a temporary anesthetic. What’s more, once the romance fades, or the new relationship ends, you may find yourself picking up even more pieces of your shattered self than you had before you let yourself get swept away.

Karen Covy is a divorce attorney, advisor, mediator and coach who is committed to helping couples resolve their disputes as amicably as possible. She is also the author of When Happily Ever After Ends: How to Survive Your Divorce Emotionally, Financially, and Legally. Karen has been featured on the Channel 7 News, WCIU You and Me This Morning, WGN Radio, MarketWatch, The Goodmen Project, and numerous other radio shows, publications, and podcasts. You can find her articles on The Huffington Post, Divorced Moms, Divorce Force, GUYVORCE, and Your Tango, as well as on her own website at karencovy.com. This blog was originally posted here.

Like this article? Check out, “The Unsolicited Attack: It Can Happen While Going Through A Divorce”

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In this week’s Love Essentially, I offer advice not just to single parents, but to all parents, including working parents and working single parents! Having dinner together as a family is so important for so many reasons. I remember when I was first separated, this went by the wayside, because I didn’t really feel like we were a family anymore. Well, guess what? You are! Wonderful, happy and joyful things happen at the dinner table, and if you don’t have one, you will miss out on them. So, here is the article, which offers tips for single parents on how to make family dinners happen more often.

8 ways to simplify and enhance your family dinner experience

by Jackie Pilossoph for Chicago Tribune Media Group

Being a divorced working mom certainly has its challenges. Trying to balance a job, run a business, raise the kids, run errands, manage a household, adhere to social obligations, work out and still find time to have some fun can feel overwhelming and stressful.

One huge source of anxiety might seem trivial to some, but I can tell you it troubles me to no end. I ask myself on a daily basis: What are we having for dinner tonight?

I have to believe that most parents – regardless of gender, marital status or job status – share my angst in figuring out what to cook every night, whether or not to go out or stay in, how to please everyone’s taste buds and diets, and how to get your family to sit down together at the dinner table and talk for an hour or so.

So, when I attended a recent networking meeting and met Anita Brown, a North Shore culinary coach who teaches men, women and kids how to cook and be comfortable in their kitchens, I felt an opportunity arise.

I cornered Brown and explained my dilemma. She assured me that I am not alone.

Click here to read the rest of the article, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press.

Like this article? Check out, “8 Places To Meet Single People In The Suburbs And None Of Them Are Bars!”

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Recently, I was talking to my favorite 5th grade teacher (named Mrs. Teacher for privacy purposes), who just happens to be the mother of my future daughter-in-law, and she offered some brilliant relationship advice. We were talking about difficult children and how they can often be unlovable and not so enjoyable to be around. Mrs. Teacher told me she has a policy with her students that she has found maintains her relationship with the students, as well as their belief in themselves.

When one of her students misbehaves, Mrs. Teacher hands out the appropriate consequences, has a conversation with the student and then reviews her next day policy. The next day policy is that the next day is an absolutely brand new day. There will be no grudges held or any further discussion on the previous day’s bad behavior. Mrs. Teacher tells her students they don’t have to worry that she will be mad or upset with them because it’s over and they are moving forward.

Think about the power in this policy. Children mess up. We all mess up. How amazing would it be to be fully forgiven and to know that the next day was a brand new start? Mrs. Teacher reports that her students don’t misbehave more, but rather less in that they know minimum attention will be paid to the misbehavior. It’s forgiveness, a lack of regret, and a fresh start all rolled into one fabulous grade school policy.

Living By The Next Day Policy

What would life be like if we all lived that way? What if we had an argument with our partner and we knew that the very next day we were moving forward with no grudge or residual resentment? How much less tension would we have in our relationships and how much faith in ourselves and our partner? What if we followed that same policy with our children and with the people we work with? What if we didn’t have to carry the traces of our arguments into the next argument?

How would it feel to be fully forgiven and know the next day was a brand new start? How would it feel to give that gift to our partners and friends when they fall short? 

What would it take for each of us to let go of a disagreement, a slight, a criticism, and make tomorrow a clean slate day? Mrs. Teacher does this by having full faith that each of her young students is worthy of hope and worthy of being loved and respected anew. She sees how her students blossom under this level of love and respect. Not surprisingly, Mrs. Teacher has also been happily married for over thirty years.

We can’t make the other people in our life follow this rule, but we can live it ourselves. Recently I said to my husband, “You can stay mad at me if you want but I’m moving on.” He looked shocked, but he smiled and agreed. It only took us twenty-eight years of marriage to figure that out! I’ve always done the same with my children. No grudges, no staying mad and no holding onto resentment. It was good for them and good for me to live that way.

So I’m recommending the brilliant relationship advice of a 5th grade teacher to make each day a new one for any relationship you are in. Let go of grudges and anger. Move forward. How can you make that relationship better today?

Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D., CPC is a professional certified life and executive coach, psychologist, and professional speaker. She helps people tackle that “One day I’ll do this and then I’ll be happy” goal, today.  You can reach Lisa at Lisa@lisakaplin.com or lisakaplin.com. This blog post was originally published at: http://lisakaplin.com/a-grade-school-teachers-brilliant-relationship-advice/

Like this article? Check out, “Resentment: The Root of All Causes of Divorce”

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Summer is upon us! It’s a time for pools, barbecues, vacations, and adventure. Typically in the summer months, things tend to slow down a bit and we find ourselves with more time on our hands. That’s why the summer is the perfect time to start dating and focusing on finding the one.

Having time to ourselves to enjoy the summer months can be both a blessing and a curse. With more free time on our hands, we often tend to notice the feelings and emotions we normally push aside. Feelings of loneliness or discomfort may arise when we realize we haven’t been focusing time or energy towards finding love or unleashing our inner fun and playfulness.

We typically head into the summer feeling one of two ways. One, we are looking at things from the “glass half full” perspective and are excited to start dating and are anticipating at least one or two hot dates. Or two, our glass is “half empty” and we’re sad about not having a special someone and are dreading the summer.

The truth is, you’re most likely a combination of both. Whichever side is more dominant in you, be sure to see both sides of the situation. Embrace the fact that summer is a time for endless possibilities and new beginnings.

Many of my clients believe another summer will come and go and they will stay in the same place – alone and feeling like there is nothing they can do about it. We get stuck in a rut and think there is no way to change our relationship status. So, we go about our summer and things stay the same.

The key to finding love this summer – or any time for that matter – is to manage expectations. Unrealistic expectations will only create more problems. I typically see two very different scenarios when it comes to my clients. On one hand, I have clients who can never seem to find a relationship because the men never measure up to their expectations. They only see the negative qualities and have trouble finding the positive qualities in their dates. On the other hand, I have clients who jump into dating and by the third date are already traveling together and making long-term commitments. The problem with that is that they haven’t taken the time to really get to know the person they are dating. As you can see, there are unrealistic expectations on both ends of the spectrum.

Whether you’re excited to date or are filled with anxiety and dread, it’s important to go into this summer with an open mind and heart. If you’re looking to find “the one,” check out my tips below to help motivate you to date this summer.

Tips for Finding “The One”

1. You probably will not recognize your soulmate right away.

When you meet “the one” you will not experience a rush of hormones, butterflies, or the typical fanfare depicted in novels. You will only know him or her by a very gentle tug on the heart. Instead of looking for an instant attraction or “spark,” look for that gentle feeling inside and start by building a friendship without any expectations for something more. If they are really your soulmate, that will become obvious with time.

2.  Relationships rarely, if ever, are as they appear in romantic movies and books.

Real people fall into real love slowly. Instead of a “happily ever after”they live “fully ever after” and have a rich, full, and healthy life together. Things take time, work, and effort. No relationship is as it appears on the big screen, so be sure to take a realistic approach as you are dating and meeting new people.

3.  It takes years to really get to know someone.

As you know, being human means we are complex beings. People have many layers and sides to them and it can take a while – years even – to fully get to know someone. Give yourself time to be sure you are really learning all there is to know about your partner.

4.  A relationship is a living being that needs love, care, and space.

People tend to either ignore or smother in relationships. Neither of these are great conditions for a thriving relationship. Healthy relationships need time, attention, and consistency.

5. Great relationships are completely worth the effort.

There is nothing like being in a supportive and loving relationship. A good, positive relationship is completely worth the effort. When you find the right one, you will be understood on a deep level – and they will love you despite all of your flaws or eccentricities. This is one of the best feelings in the world.

So, now that you have some things to keep in mind as you approach the dating scene this summer, it’s time to start going on dates! If you think you may need some more help and coaching, my 3-month relationship coaching program might be the right fit for you. Contact me today to schedule a free consultation call.

Sue De Santo is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a therapist in private practice for over 20 years. A graduate Loyola University with a Masters Degree in Social Work, Sue is also holds a certification in Relationship Coaching from the Relationship Coaching Institute. Sue has extensive experience in women’s issues, anxiety and depression, substance abuse, grief counseling, relationship issues, divorce recovery and couples counseling. This blog post was originally at: SueDesanto.com

Like this article? Check out, “How Do I meet Single People?”

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It’s hard to understand how a person who used to be your husband (or wife) can switch gears so abruptly. What I mean by that is, once loving, kind and caring towards you in your marriage, now your ex is angry and hateful towards you. It’s not only strange and shocking almost, but it’s sad and hurtful.

When people get separated—I mean when they both know the divorce is really happening, they turn that corner and on come the gloves.

The person you slept in a bed with and made babies with is now like a stranger—a really mean stranger. He or she won’t speak to you, won’t say hello, goes out of his or her way to make you feel bad and uncomfortable, and at times, screams insults and obscenities in your face. You are now at war with the person you ironically stood in front of an audience and God and promised to love and cherish forever, while gazing longingly into each other’s eyes. It’s almost hard to grasp the change when it happens.

An ex’s anger and hate can go on for months, years, and even a lifetime. I remember a friend told me her 90 year old mom was dying, and told her children that their father (who was her ex-husband) was not to attend her funeral. I couldn’t believe it.

But understanding why your ex is angry and hateful can help you accept it for now, tolerate it, and not play into his or hands by fighting back and being mean and angry and hateful back.

Here are 8 reasons your ex might be angry and hateful towards you:

1. Stress and Fear. Separation, the divorce process, and the huge life change of divorce might be one of the most stressful situations a person will endure. It also causes tremendous fear. Fear of finances, fear of “will the kids be OK?”, fear of being alone, etc. And, when people have anxiety and fear, they get angry and mean. Who better to take out their anger and hate to? You, the person who caused all of this! (Not that that’s really the case, but in his or her mind, you are the cause, you did this, you are causing him or her all this stress and fear.)

 

2. Guilt. Here is a typical scenario. A guy leaves his wife for another woman. At first, he is really nice about it, feels terrible, etc. Then, the wife hires a divorce attorney and starts defending herself in litigation. The husband decides he hates her, and becomes really angry with her. In other words, he channels his guilt into hate for his ex because it’s easier to blame her. By the way, women do this too, it’s not just men.

3. Self-hate. I personally find that people are most hateful to others when they hate themselves. For someone who lacks self-awareness, it’s easy to transfer the hate they have for themselves to their ex. How many times has your ex come to pick up the kids and is really really mean to you that day, for reasons you have no idea? You’re thinking, ‘OK….what did I do now?” My answer to you is nothing! Something happened to your ex and he hates himself or herself for it, and so he or she decided to hate you instead. It’s easier that way. (To an unhealthy person with no self-awareness, that is.)

 

4. His new girlfriend/wife. Let’s say a guy is with a woman who has a horrible relationship with her ex. They treat each other with hate and anger. So, for her, that is the only way she knows for divorced parents. So, when her new husband is trying to co-parent with his ex wife, she can’t understand the friendship. In her mind, he is supposed to hate his ex, just like she hates hers. So, she might be putting pressure on him, fueling the fire, and almost convincing him that you are this horrible person who did this, this and this in the past, and that he shouldn’t forget it or ever be your friend. And, because she is now the woman in his life, he listens because he doesn’t want to create tension in his new relationship.

 

5. Addiction issues or mental illness. These are areas that you have absolutely no control over. Say this to yourself: I am not a doctor, I am not an addiction counselor, I am not a psychiatrist. Your ex needs to get help from a professional, and you need to take a step back. A big step back. Addicts blame everyone else for their problems. That’s addiction 101.

 

6. Hurt and pain. People cover up intense pain and hurt with anger and hate. Anger and hate are the protective shields over the wounds that aren’t healing. I could cry when I think of how sad this is, and how common. If they could acknowledge that their ex hurt them like hell, and that the pain they caused is still very much there, they might find alternative ways to channel the pain. I’m not saying the person should forgive an ex immediately for what he or she did, but being mean and angry for years is unproductive and very very bad for them, the ex and the kids.

 

7. Unhappiness. If someone is unhappy, they don’t want anyone else to be happy, especially the ex. So, if he or she senses you are happy, they want war. They are pissed. In their eyes, you don’t deserve happiness! You ruined their life! On the flip side, if you are miserable, you will find that your ex will be nicer.

 

8. It’s expected. Being amicable seems foreign to most people getting divorced, since most divorce stories are ugly. So, they automatically feel like it’s not right to be kind and courteous to an ex.

The good news is, countless couples are able to let go of the anger and hate after a divorce, which fosters acceptance, peace and a happier, better future for both partners. Letting go of anger and hate also benefits the kids. Not only can parents who are friends co-parent so much more effectively, but kids thrive when their parents get along. It takes so much pressure off of a kid, and makes the kids feel more like a family. If you think about it, whether a couple is married or divorced, the kids cringe when their parents fight. It makes them uncomfortable, sad, insecure, and filled with anxiety. I know that when I get along with my ex, my kids beam with happiness.

Here’s the thing about divorce anger and hate. During a divorce and after, it’s so easy to conjure up memories that sustain resentment. It’s easier to blame the ex than to look in the mirror and say, “Maybe I played a role in this divorce, too.” It’s also easy to hate if you know you can’t have your ex back, and it’s easy to hate someone who moved on before you, i.e. has a girlfriend two minutes after the separation (which so many people do.) It’s also easy to say, “He took the best years of my life” and resent him or her for that.

The key in letting go of anger and hate is to remember two things:

1. You have zero control over your ex’s journey, and his or her anger and hate towards you. Yes, you can try talking to him or her, writing a letter, apologizing for your role in the divorce, but that’s pretty much all you can do. He or she is the one who has to decide to let it go.

2. You have all the control over letting your anger go. I remember a woman once said to me, “I want to let go of my anger, but I don’t know how.” My answer is, stop looking back. If you focus on your children and your own life, the road ahead, the life you want moving forward, and you do what you can to get what you want from this point forward, your anger and hate will go away. The wound will turn into a scab and eventually fall off. Will you have a small scar? For sure. But it won’t be noticeable.

Like this post? Check out, “What Getting Ripped Off Made Me Realize About Divorce Anger”

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