Question 1. A number of our women subscribers find difficulty in attracting the right man especially women in their 40s and above. The common complaint we hear from women is that men in their age group seem to be more interested in younger women and the men that seem to be interested in them aren’t interesting to these women. What advice do you have for women who are frustrated with their dating experience and have become skeptical of finding Mr. Right?
I think the first issue in attracting the right man for women in their 40s and above has to do with being the right woman. If you are truly emotionally open and available and have the skills to be in a serious relationship then you will probably be attracting the right kind of guy. The old adage that “like attracts like” is true. On the other hand, if you’re the type of woman who is just looking for a human ATM machine or someone to fix all your problems for you or an audience for all your drama and acting out, then you are not ready for an emotionally mature relationship..
Let’s check your intention at the door: why do you want to be in a relationship?
- Is it because you want somebody to entertain you?
- Somebody to finance you?
- Somebody to take care of you?
Notice the common denominator in all of this is you.
Have you asked yourself what you are prepared to offer him?
Are you prepared to be his source of comfort, support him or your relationship financially?
How good are you at entertaining him?
A committed relationship/marriage is a two-way street- you can only really expect to get out of it what you’re prepared to put into it. Many times women drag in a lot of emotional baggage, hurt feelings, resentments and even anger from prior relationships that didn’t work out. This makes the new guy pay a debt that he doesn’t owe.
Other times women have such high expectations of men’s behavior and contributions to the relationship without much of a thought about how much they themselves are contributing or how they would need to act or behave or respond that they set up a real inequity that leads to failures.
A man is not supposed to be your personal punching bag, your therapist or the audience for your unresolved resentments. Have the guts to do an honest evaluation of yourself, your intentions, your faith, values, personality traits and your emotional maturity.
If the answers you find please you and are generally positive then you are probably in a good space to offer yourself as the other half of a good relationship. If your evaluation turns up things that you need to fix or change or delete from your life because they would compromise a healthy relationship then you really should get rid of those before you consider being in a relationship.
The second issue is: if you are commonly finding men in your age group more interested in considerably younger women, then you are probably finding men who are more like little boys than men. If the man you’re contemplating being with has such a fragile ego that he needs the constant female approval and admiration of women, then he probably isn’t mature enough for the kind of serious and committed relationship that you are looking for.
No grown-up mature man thinks that having some vastly younger woman flirt with him or give him attention is a very important thing, nor would he take it seriously. That is not something a real man would bother with. A serious minded man, one with whom it would be wonderful to be in a relationship, is someone whose values beliefs and intentions are very clear and very much in the direction of a healthy sustainable relationship.
It isn’t particularly difficult to see what people truly value; it is what they spend time, money and effort acquiring. So take a look at what he’s spending time, money and effort doing acquiring or having. If it is not consistent with being in or having a high quality committed relationship then you need to look elsewhere. Don’t let your own neediness change how you see things. It will all be there in plain sight if you look.
Question 2. Some of our subscribers feel stuck in their love lives because of their past emotional baggage. This affects them in a number of ways- they either tend to compare the next man they are dating with their ex or they have trust issues because they have been cheated on before or they just cannot seem to forget their ex and move on in life. What are some practical ways that can help women release their past emotional baggage so that they can start attracting healthy love into their lives?
Well this is a very interesting question; and one of my favorite topics. To keep yourself stuck in the past in any way is a huge mistake. But it’s one in which many people find themselves. And they pay a high price.
There is only one thing you’re supposed to do with emotional baggage: GET RID OF IT. The purpose of the past is to learn from it. It is not to dwell on it, stay emotionally connected to it, wallow around in the negative emotions of it, or use it as an excuse to not move forward in your life.
Once you have figured out what your learnings and lessons are, then your next task is to forgive yourself and everyone else for whatever you or they did or did not do that keeps you stuck past. And that includes everything that needs to be forgiven. There are no exceptions. Finally, after true and sincere forgiveness you take those positive learning forward with you in a way that will help you in the future, and you MOVE ON. That is your obligation as a mature responsible human being. Anything short of that, and you are simply being self-indulgent selfish and unnecessarily unhappy.
Everyone’s life turns out the way it does as a result of the decisions and choices they make. If your decisions and choices and awareness keep you rooted in the past where there can be absolutely no change whatsoever then you are making a giant mistake and wasting huge amount of the only thing that’s truly precious and that is your time. And by the way, no great mature guy is going to think holding on to the past in ways that pollute and destroy the present is an attractive quality in a woman.
Believe it or not you have total control over what you think and how you feel. Therefore there is no such thing as “can’t seem to forget their ex”. But there is such a thing as “doesn’t want to let go of the resentment toward the ex, won’t take responsibility for her part of why there is that resentment, and doesn’t value or respect the current relationship enough to get rid of those things”.
The most practical thing I can suggest to help women release past emotional baggage is actually to release it. Most people aren’t really doing that- they say they want to, but then when it comes to actually acting as if they are releasing it or in fact deciding to release it they are not doing it. So hold yourself accountable. If you want to let something go just open your hands and let it go. The interesting thing to notice is you have 100% control over your behavior and your feelings will always follow your behavior. Take action in whatever way you need to to act like or model letting go of what is not useful.
Question 3. One popular concern that our subscribers have is regarding sharing their feelings with the man they are dating. What we typically find is that when women like the man they are seeing, they tend to avoid bringing up difficult issues and tough conversations because they fear they might lose him. So what they generally tend to do is that they keep it to themselves and give the impression that things are just fine. For example, they have a fantastic date with a man and he says he will call after a few days. They wait, wait and wait to be disappointed that he didn’t follow up as he said he would. But they are happy when they eventually hear back from him and don’t share how they really felt during the no contact period.
What would your advice be for women who have the fear that sharing feelings and emotions will drive a man away and make them come across as someone clingy and needy?
In the beginning of a relationship it is not in anyone’s best interest to share everything you know and every feeling you have. Women typically make a big mistake in sharing way too much way too soon. The beginning of dating should be relaxed and fun time where you’re just enjoying each other’s company and exploring the possibilities in a relaxed way. If the woman is all anxious and stressed because she has these difficult issues pressing on her mind, and she can’t set them aside long enough to just be open and available to a new relationship, she’s probably not going to be great company.
The second part of your question had to do with a fantastic first date scenario where the girl was the one who thought it was fantastic – we have no idea what the man’s opinion of the date was – and then the girl is unhappy or feels rejected because he didn’t call back as soon as she thought he should. Or as soon as he perhaps said he would.
How the girl is feeling during that “no contact period” is not really relevant. What might be way more relevant to know would be things like how did he feel about the date, was his offer to follow up and call back genuine or did he feel some sort of pressure, and what was it that led her to expect that he would follow up in the first place?
His high level of desire to get back to her may be all expectations that she had without necessarily any basis in reality. Certainly if a man says he will do something, he should do that thing. Integrity is making and keeping promises, and you want to make certain that you are with a person of integrity, so following up if he said he was going to should definitely happen. But the reality in the dating world is that people often say things they have no intention of doing, sadly, and that can lead to a lot of hurt feelings. I would certainly want the girl in that situation to notice that if she is starting to date a man who says one thing, but who does something else that really should be a red flag that this may not be her knight in shining armor.
Now the subject of bringing of difficult issues and having tough conversations is an entirely different situation. Those are the kinds of conversations which typically should happen after you actually have a relationship, a shared vision for where you’re going, real connection, and a sense about each other that this is an important relationship. “Difficult topics” do not belong in a first date, generally speaking. Once the relationship has progressed to a point where it actually is a relationship, and there is mutual interest, care and affection, then as time goes on any topics that might affect the relationship should certainly be brought up. If these subjects are something that prevent the girl from being involved in pursuing the relationship freely, then perhaps it would be a subject that needs to be announced on the front end. And and in that case she might consider that dating is not something she should be doing until these “difficult issues” are resolved and not going to have an impact on the potential relationship. Once the relationship is off and running however, if she’s picked a good guy, then there should be no problem bringing up whatever issues she needs to as part of who she is or what her circumstances are, just as he would do the same.
Question 4. From our subscribers, we often hear “lack of chemistry” as a leading reason why they aren’t willing to persist with a man even though he seemed to be a decent guy, treated them with respect and made them feel comfortable. Can you share your thoughts on chemistry and can attraction grow over time? Is it worth persisting with a man with whom a woman feels comfortable but doesn’t quite share the chemistry?
First of all most people don’t realize that this whole business of initial ‘zowie” chemistry and “being in love” are not supposed to persist. They are the beginning, the appetizer, the catalyst.
Know that the thing which causes and promotes feeling comfortable is time together, shared experiences, and mutual affection. Until you have persisted with the relationship a little while, you wouldn’t know if you’re comfortable yet. People are always rushing things. And by the way what exactly is not to like about a man who is a decent guy and treats you with respect, and makes you feel comfortable? Isn’t that kind of the point?
If what you’re after is some fairy tale, superficial romance novel notion of how to feel, good luck with that.
Question 5. Some of our subscribers have the tendency to ignore and overlook the red flags especially when they really like a man. In the process, they create an idealized version of the man and overestimate the feelings he has for them. For women who have a history of fantasizing and idealizing a partner, what can they do to evaluate the man and their relationship for what it is truly worth rather than what they ideally like it to be?
The problem with people who continually ignore red flags is their neediness is dictating their decision making process. Even as you asked the question about women who have a “history of fantasizing and idealizing a partner”, we are talking about someone who is in fact fantasizing – which means that they are not in reality; they are not looking at what’s going on around them, they are simply responding to what’s going on in their own head.
You can’t evaluate someone accurately when you are not willing to see what’s right in front of you. If you are seeing red flags in their behavior which I interpret to mean “ deal breakers” then you don’t go any farther. Why would you?
If you already know he’s not handling something well, he does things that you fundamentally disagree with or don’t like, then why go looking for more? You already have what you need to make the decision. So to continue to pursue something you already know is not what you want and is not to your liking simply means that your neediness is showing, not your better judgment.
The solution to that is you have to hold yourself accountable for the fact that your life turns out the way it does, as a result of all the decisions and choices you make, just like everybody else’s life does. So if you want to include bad decisions and poor judgment in selecting a partner it will follow that you will have a lot of pain-and-suffering. But that’s not a mystery. It should be obvious.
If your “need” to have a man in your life is so huge that you will override your better judgment or purposely make decisions you know will not turn out well, then clearly you need to get some professional feedback on how to improve your self-esteem and your self-concept so you can get out of that pattern. Eventually you need to come to the realization that you deserve a good relationship, and you have every right to pursue that.
Question 6. I have read that our childhood experiences affect our adult relationships in life. I guess one of the reasons why women tend to attract the same type of men over and over again is because they are trying to recreate their old relationships and repair them. How can women overcome this self sabotaging pattern and start attracting healthy love into their lives?
Childhood experiences can in fact affect all kinds of things in our adult life, however, as an adult you have an obligation to yourself to discard anything from your past that is in conflict with what you want your life to be. To continue suffering with an idea for a perspective or a behavior that is damaging, difficult, painful, hurtful, or unuseful to your current life goals simply because “I used to do that when I was a child”, or “I’m doing that because of “X” that happened to me in my childhood”, is immature and irresponsible.
Everyone has difficulties from childhood. It is not possible to get your childhood unscathed. Your duty as a fully functioning adult human being is to overcome, moved past, ignore, or otherwise deal with whatever limitations you may have had or experiences you may have gone through in the past that limit what you want to do next.
In an ideal situation, we could say that any behavior, thought or feeling that is not directly connected to a positive or healthy outcome that you want to have in your life is simply irrelevant. It really starts with women not allowing their negative feelings from the past to dictate the present and have a plan for the future.
What we put our awareness on grows. If your awareness is always about the past, the problem, and the negative feelings in your past, then you are doomed to stay focused upon it. It doesn’t really matter what’s happened in someone’s past. There is nothing that cannot be overcome if that is what you want. But you do have to want it enough to do something about it.
Most people would rather complain about the problem than spend time planning the solution. For the record, a healthy guy who is mature and emotionally available, ready to be in a committed relationship, and build a life with someone, is not going to take on a woman who is so focused on the problems that she doesn’t make any space to create a future with solutions. That kind of woman is known as a “project”, and however physically attractive she maybe she is very unattractive overall if she is making the same mistake over and over and not fixing it.
Question 7. What are some best practices when it comes to clearly communicating your deal breakers and boundaries and when should you be having these conversations? I have heard from quite a number of my women subscribers who initially set the bar low and then find it incredibly difficult to raise the bar in the relationship because their partner has been conditioned to the earlier low standard. Many women find it quite difficult to have these conversations because they fear coming across as someone too uptight and rigid and worry about driving men away.
I think it’s hard to have a conversation about negative deal breakers and boundaries, especially in the beginning; laying down ultimatums and restrictions, trying to protect yourself like some kind of Relationship Rule Nazi. It is of course very important to know as soon as possible that you have shared beliefs, values, and objectives in terms of a relationship. I am very much in favor of having conversations early on about those things. But notice this is from a positive viewpoint. Being curious about your date’s ethics, morals, and standards as well as their expectations of you and themselves, should be a hot topic of conversation. However it is very different from assuming the negative, and grilling them like an FBI agent, looking for whatever dirt you can find. You should be very open and transparent about your views and what’s important to you, and what you’re looking for. You should expect him to be the same.
Lowering your expectations would just be foolish, and a waste of time. It is almost impossible to recoup from a low position and then change the game and expect a higher level of interaction. From the guys standpoint that might be a bit of a “bait and switch”, and probably will not end well. I think it is entirely possible to have all kinds of conversations on all kinds of subjects in a relaxed, curious, and interested way. It certainly is not necessary to be uptight and rigid when you have clarifying conversations that could lead to the very connection you are hoping to create.
Question 8. Our subscribers also run into a situation where things are going great and just when they think the relationship has great potential or feel he is the one, the man starts developing cold feet. He pull aways, doesn’t respond to phone calls or text messages and in some cases disappears for a while. What advice do you have for women who deal with men that suddenly pull away and act inconsistent?
The advice for women who deal with men who suddenly pull away and act inconsistently is very simple: let him go.
If he is not interested enough or serious minded enough to follow through, respond to calls, or show interest in pursuing the relationship then you have your answer. He’s not the one. A manned-up guy who is interested will make sure you know that. There won’t be any doubt.
If you have a guy that’s just playing games with you in some kind of ‘cat and mouse’ situation, move on. Also please, do not make the mistake of chasing after him, blowing up his phone with all kinds of texts and voice mails. If he isn’t into you accept it, and move on.
Trying to force a guy to stay in touch or return your level of interest when he doesn’t want to is something that should’ve been left behind in high school. At that point, you might have to look at the fact that your judgment that this is a relationship that has great potential and everything is going wonderfully might be profoundly wrong. As always, the evidence for what is really happening will be right in front of your face. He is either on the same page with you, wanting a relationship, showing that through his behaviors (not just with his words) or he is not. Try not to let your imagination override your eyesight.
Question 9. As a therapist, you have worked with both men and women. In your experience with working with men, what are some of the common struggles and problems they face in relationships and in what ways can women help them?
The struggles men typically go through are both common and avoidable. The thing that makes them very crazy in relationships is that women, especially in our current culture, profoundly disrespect men. Women have been taught for some decades now that men are dispensable, irrelevant, substandard, and unnecessary. They have also been falsely led to believe that men and women are equal. This is simply and profoundly untrue. There is very little that we have in common at all.
Most men would actually choose being respected over being loved. This comes as a shock to most women. Of course one would like both but the idea that they are respected is of high value to them. When men and women fail to understand the roles that are so very important in a relationship, they create unnecessary competition, tension and arguments by being “right”, or by being “smarter”, or by fighting over who’s “in charge”. Culturally we seem to have gotten away from the idea that a relationship, like most every other entity, business, or organization, should have a certain structure to it.
Oddly, in marriages, people seem to think that that is not necessary when in fact it’s incredibly necessary. If women were to do two things that would improve their relationships with men and make themselves and their husbands a whole lot happier, it would be:
1. Understand that men work best with praise, acknowledgment, appreciation, and respect. That means that nagging, bitching and complaining and criticizing should evaporate from your list of ways to treat him.
2. Stop trying to be the boss. Let him be your hero, your protector and rescue you from all sorts of problems. That’s what he wants to do. If you are all about doing things for yourself, being independent, proving your competence with everything you do, and not “needing” a man, then you don’t belong in a relationship. Because then you’ve taken away what the man most wants to do for you, and missed both the point and the fun of being in a relationship.
Question 10. What are your top 3 relationship tips that you would offer women who are single and looking for a long term committed relationship?
1. Run as fast as you can toward God and living a life of faith, and see who’s following you.
2. Spend as much time wondering about how good you will be for him and what you can do for him as much as you do the other way around.
3. Clean up anything from your past that gets in the way of you being fully available, present, and open for genuine love and connection.