My latest from eHarmony … Hook, Line & Sinker
August 22, 2013
“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.” ~ John Buchan
Back in February, I spoke with a friend who told me that she was struggling with the dating scene. She felt as if she was hanging around the same people over and over again. She wanted to meet someone new. I didn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for her situation, and merely suggested, “If you are always fishing in the same pond, you are always going to be catching the same fish.” Period. End of story. She chuckled as she clearly knew what I meant, but I wasn’t sure that she was inspired to go find any new ponds in which to fish. She was very comfortable in her current pond. She knew what to expect out of her current pond. It was predictable and safe. Going to find new ponds would take her outside of her comfort zone. It might induce a bit of anxiety to visit a new pond. For many people, it’s human nature to avoid making ourselves uncomfortable and pushing outside of our comfort zones.
I told this friend that no one said fishing in new ponds was going to be easy. Some may not be stocked with the kind of fish she wants. Others will be full of great fish! The challenge is that she will never know which situation she will encounter if she doesn’t at least try fishing in a new pond. The old adage, “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” makes all the sense in the world.
I was out with a different set of friends a few weeks ago when talk turned to dates – the good, the bad and the ugly, and as the conversation went around it turns out that two of the women had gone out with the same guy. Kind of awkward! Talk about the need to find some new ponds! Nobody wants to someone else’s “catch and release!” These friends told me that there weren’t enough ponds in our area. They tell me that I have access to lots of different ponds because I work outside the home, I travel for business, and I am involved in several community associations. They tell me that since they are stay-at-home moms or since they have “jobs” and not “careers” that they don’t have access to the same number of ponds. I call bull on that! We all have multiple ponds within our own little bubbles. We just have to think about it, let go of what’s comfortable, grab our rod and reel, and head out!
Instead of always fishing in the “work” pond, or the “Friday-night bar-scene” pond, switch it up and also fish in the “volunteer at the animal shelter” pond or the “local community college digital photography course” pond every now and then. Ask others what has worked for them. Step outside of your comfort zone and try new things. You have heard this before, but have you done anything about it? Have you really tried it and given it your best effort? Or, did you try one “different” pond outside of your usual routine, have a really bad time, and then decide never to do that again? Intellectually, we all know this makes sense, but putting it into action can often be tougher. Great dates aren’t just going to show up on your front porch. You have to be visible to let people know you are available. You have to be out there meeting people – and meeting new people – to stand a chance of catching new fish.
I also think it helps if you go in with the attitude that you are just fishing for fun, and not with expectations that you are going to catch the biggest fish ever and win the whole fishing tournament! Too much pressure! I think the fish can pick up on that vibe from a mile away. It’s like one of those sparkly, spinning lures that are supposed to attract fish, when really the fish are smart enough to realize what it is. Those fish wait for the natural bait to come along, and then they get hooked!
While I’m using this fishing analogy, here is one other thought: you also have to know when to cut bait and move on. I talk with too many women who continue to date someone even though they know “he isn’t the one” and “there is no future.” How are you going to catch new fish if your line is already in use? Cut bait, rehook your line, and head back to the pond again.
By the way, my friend did visit a new pond. She didn’t jump in the boat and row right into the middle to drop her line in the water. She merely approached, stood off to the side, and looked around the pond. She didn’t even come prepared with her fishing rod. You know what? She caught a keeper…and that’s no fish tale!
What’s your fish tale? Did you have success in a new pond?
Sharing my Kids!?! – Here’s my latest post for DivorcedMoms!
Can you relate? Here’s what I read recently … “Letting him go is one thing, but sharing my kids with another woman… that I cannot do. Fine, if he’s gone. I’ll get over that. Fine if he left me for another woman. I’ll get over that. But, there is no way in heck I am going to let another woman, especially that woman, parent my children. Never! Ever! They’re mine.”
Wow! I understand this train of thought. I think almost every mom who has someone else step into that “mom-like” role with her kids feels some version of this at some point.
Who can parent (mother) my kids as well as I can?
How come she gets to spend some time with my children when I want to be with them all the time?
I didn’t sign up to be a part-time mom so that some other woman could spend the other half of their time with them. I don’t want her influencing my kids. I don’t want her touching my kids.
Let’s keep this train of thought going … I don’t want her soothing them back to sleep at night when they are having nightmares. I don’t want her to put on the band-aid when my son’s knee gets scraped. I don’t want her talking with my daughter about boys and dating. I don’t want her to go to their sporting events. I don’t want her to have any fun with them.
Seriously? That means that when your son falls and scrapes his knee and you aren’t there that you would prefer no one comfort him?
That means when your daughter is experiencing teenage boy drama that you want her to be crying alone in her room?
That means when your kids have sporting events that you want them to feel guilt or angst as they look in the stands to see who is cheering them on?
That means you don’t want them to have any fun with her. That feels kind of selfish, doesn’t it?
I was listening to our local morning radio show yesterday, and one of the DJ’s said she never intended to have any children. She’s 30, and one of the other DJ’s asked her why. Her first answer was because she knows she is not “self-less” enough to have kids. I liked her honesty.
She said she knows that you can’t be selfish once you have kids, and she said she doesn’t see that happening as she likes her life the way it is. Kudos to her for being self-aware enough to know this about herself, and for being brave enough to articulate it (especially in a society that often doesn’t support women who intentionally choose not to have kids).
She’s right. As parents, I believe we do have to become less selfish. It’s not all about us anymore, but rather many of our actions and our decisions have to do with what is in the best interests of our children.
Often, what is in their best interests can feel in conflict with what we want or what we believe is in our best interests. When this happens, do we go with what we want, or with what we know is best for our kids? It can frequently seem like a tough choice.
You may not want your children to have any exposure or to spend any time with “that woman,” but the reality is that it is going to happen.
You can’t stop it.
Why make it miserable and difficult for them? Think about the ramifications. Your children may feel guilty if they know you hate her, when they actually think she is nice. Guilt is not a positive emotion.
Do you want to create an atmosphere where you are responsible for setting up a negative relationship? Do you want to perpetuate the “evil-Step-Mom” scenario, and create needless drama?
I am a huge advocate of putting differences aside, and putting the best interests of the kids at the forefront of the relationship. You may not like her, but you presumably do have common ground in looking out for the kids.
Make that your platform.
Learn to embrace the fact that there is another maternal figure that is there to care for your kids when you can’t be there. A simple change of perspective can be really enlightening.
As difficult as it may be, make sure you do all you can to open those lines of communication as it relates to the kids. The kids will see this, and benefit from it. It helps to put all “parents” on the same page with respect to rules and expectations. The ability to play one parent against the other diminishes when the kids know that the parents talk about them.
Nobody says you have to become BFF’s with the other woman (be it your ex-‘s girlfriend or his new wife), but you should dive deep into your heart to let go of your own anger and selfishness, and consider what is truly in the best interests of your precious children.
Here’s my latest published in LA Family! August 13, 2013 … I Want to Know Why!
“There’s more to getting to where you’re going then just knowing there’s a road.”
~ Joan Lowery Nixon, In the Face of Danger
I met a woman the other day whose husband recently told her that he wants a divorce. She feels as if the carpet has been pulled out from under her, and she’s still trying to keep it all together for the sake of her kids, yet she’s fearful, angry, scared, and lonely. I remember that period and I hated it. My heart breaks for her.
We talked for a couple of hours. As you can imagine, it was a circular discussion — two steps forward, one step backward, as she tried to figure out proactively what she needed to do next, yet simultaneously becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of it all and the realization that her marriage was indeed over.
“I just want to know why.” was the one statement she kept repeating over and over. “I just want to know why he left … I just want to know what happened … I just want to know what went wrong …I just want to know when he made up his mind that he was leaving.”
I remember being in that same place of wanting answer for questions that really didn’t have concrete answers. This isn’t as simple as “Why was the baseball game canceled? Because it was storming outside,” or “Why are we not going on our family vacation? Because we spent our vacation fund putting an addition on the house.” Those questions have answers. You may not like the answers, but they are answers nonetheless.
There isn’t always such a clear answer to the “I just want to know why our marriage is over” question, and I think frequently we focus too much on trying to find that answer. We get sucked into finding an answer to that question. This woman was spending so much time searching for answers to “why” that she wasn’t moving forward with “now what.” She was at an absolute standstill. At the end of the day, the “why” was that her husband was having an affair and wanted to spend the rest of his life with the other woman, but that didn’t satisfy her need to know “why” at deeper levels. Her “whys” focused more on “why did this start, why did he keep seeing her, why did he love her more, why did he lose interest in their marriage …” and on and on.
Would it be great to have answers to all these open questions when we find ourselves faced with a marriage that is ending and a pending divorce? Yes, probably! It’s always nice to be able to tie things up in a neat little bow and have everything accounted for. Is it realistic? Absolutely not! Is it dangerous to focus on getting these answers? Most likely, yes!
I asked this woman whether anything would really change if she knew the answers to her multiple questions of “I just want to know why?” Would anything truly change if her husband were able to answer these questions? Would it make her feel better? Would it soothe the hurt that she was feeling? Or, would it simply exacerbate the situation? Would she become obsessed with finding the antidote to his reasoning? Would she lay awake rehashing what she could have / would have / should have done differently?
Sometimes we really don’t need to have the answers to every question. Sometimes we just need to move forward with faith that things will get better, and we need to spend our energy focusing on moving things forward with positive momentum. Sometimes we need to find peace in our heart to accept that we aren’t always going to understand why things happen.
I pray that this woman finds the peace to let go of her search for answers as to “why” her marriage ended. Note, this is different from asking questions to learn, improve and grow from this experience. This is different from not finding your own accountability in the process of divorce (see my prior HopeAfterDivorce.com post Accountability). This is about not becoming stuck in the search for answers to unanswerable questions to the detriment of moving forward positively. This takes time; trust me, I get that. It’s all part of the healing process. But, at some point we need to stop asking 12 levels of “why,” stop focusing on the “if only” and the “what if’,” and instead begin to focus on our own healing.
What about you? Are you stuck in the “why” zone? Are you asking questions that have no real, tangible answers? Are you at a standstill because you keep telling yourself that once you find these answers then you will be ready to move forward? Do you really believe that?
Here’s my latest from eHarmony … Comfortable!
“When you stop being nervous is when you should retire. I’m always a little nervous for anything I do because when complacency sets in, that’s when I feel it’s time to move on to something else.” ~ Chris Jericho
Justin and I have been married for four years. We aren’t as “cautious” and “careful” around each other as when we were first dating. In fact, we aren’t as “considerate” of each other as when we first met. We are definitely more “comfortable” around each other – as we should be! The level of formality in place when you are first dating is necessarily replaced with a different comfort level as your relationship progresses and when you marry.
When you are first dating, you are on your best behavior. Bad habits are hidden. You usually try to look your best, act your best, talk your best, and be your best at all times! You are attentive. You go out of your way to do small things for each other. And you certainly hide your “bad habits” – those things that your mom taught you to never do it public! When you are first dating, your manners are impeccable. You wouldn’t dream of belching or farting in front of each other. That would be horribly embarrassing! You never answer your iPhone at the dinner table. How rude! You never keep each other waiting. How disrespectful!
As your relationship progresses, however, you start to become more comfortable with other, and that, I argue, can be simultaneously a very good thing, and a very bad thing. I love when the formality disappears and the comfort level around each other increases. It transitions relationships to a new level. But, can relationships become too comfortable? Should relationships hang on to some of that formality, that level of trying to “impress” each other, that ability to always be on your best behavior, in order to be most successful?
I remember when we were dating and Justin stopped by one evening after work. Until then, we had only seen each other more “formally” – meaning I was always dressed up, my makeup was on, and my hair was styled. What he learned that night is that once I’m home for the evening, I can’t get into my loungewear fast enough; the makeup comes off, and the hair gets piled on top of my head in a clip! When he called to say he was stopping by, I considered getting dressed again, putting on some lip gloss and taking out the hair clip, and then I thought better of it. This is me. Like it or leave it. Better to find out now. I nearly melted when he walked in my front door, took one look at me, and told me how beautiful I was! Dropping that level of formality and being comfortable in our own skin around each other is a wonderful thing.
But, can we take it too far? We were sitting on the back porch the other night. In the “early days” – meaning four years ago – we would have been totally focused on each other and been aware of our behavior. We laughed the other night as we realized that while sitting on the back porch we had our fair share of belches and farts (sorry, but true); our conversation was interrupted more than a few times as we each answered phone calls and texts; we were both out of our nice clothes and in our scruffy clothes. You know what? It was wonderful. It meant that we have achieved a comfort level in our relationship where we can just be us. The critical thing is that we were enjoying each other’s company, reconnecting on the back porch, enjoying a glass of wine together, and sharing the highs and lows of our week. Sure, it was peppered with the occasional belch or text (!), but we were spending quality time with each other. It showed we were comfortable with each other, and comfortable with where our relationship has come.
That being said, we are also aware that when that familiarity turns from one of “comfort and ease” to one of “disregard and disrespect” that it’s time to reassess. It is when relationships, either dating or marriage, start to turn from comfort to complacency, that many couples start to feel disconnected, unappreciated, and undervalued.
It’s a fine line! What do you think? Are you in that phase of formality and best behavior? Are you transitioning to pleasantly comfortable? Or are you stuck in that complacent “whatever – I really don’t care” mode? Is it time to reassess your comfort level to ensure you haven’t gotten “too” comfortable?
SEXY! – Here’s my latest post for eHarmony! … Why Decisiveness is Sexy!
“Decisiveness is a characteristic of high-performing men and women. Almost any decision is better than no decision at all.” ~ Brian Tracy
One of my favorite things to do is go for a walk with a friend and have a great talk at the same time. Some friends meet for coffee, or for a glass of wine. I do that too, but what I really enjoy is a good walk in the great outdoors and the opportunity to catch up with an old friend (or a new one!) while also getting some exercise.
I was walking with one friend this summer and we started talking about the guy she is dating. They have been together for about 18 months. They are both divorced so they get the routine around dating and marriage. I asked if things were getting serious — after all, they have been dating exclusively for 18 months.
Her slight hesitation answered my question. I asked her what it was that wasn’t quite right, and she blurted out in total frustration, “He can’t make a decision to save his life and it’s driving me crazy!”
I totally understood what she meant. I have often said, “Decisiveness is SEXY!”
There is a fine line between wanting to have things your way all the time, and being overly accommodating to someone else and never having an opinion. My friend said that every time she and her boyfriend plan to go out to dinner, she has to choose the place. He defers to her every time. The first few times, it was probably sweet and nice, but at some point, she wants him to have an opinion and make a decision too. She said every time they order a bottle of wine, he defers to her to make the choice. She doesn’t mind picking the wine, but says it would be nice if he confidently made that decision every now and then. When they make plans to go away for the weekend, it is she who ultimately decides on where they are going to stay. That’s fine. She doesn’t mind making the plans – just not every single time!
Now, some people might say they would love to have someone who cared enough about their opinion to ask it and defer to them. Some people argue that they are controlled by others who make every decision for them from where they will eat, to what they will wear, to where they will go.
Obviously there are extremes on both sides. I argue that even the most confident, decisive, and independent person doesn’t always want the “burden” of having to make every choice in a relationship. People want a partnership. Partnerships require input from different people. Sometimes one partner takes the lead; other times the other partner takes the lead. At the end of the day, both contribute to the decision-making. That’s what makes it a partnership and not a dictatorship!
Trust me! Decisiveness is sexy. I may be a confident, self-assured, independent woman, but I still love it when I hear my husband very confidently make a decision. This may be as simple as ordering a bottle of wine at dinner, or something more complicated like deciding on an itinerary for the next big vacation. There is something sexy about the confidence that comes from seeing him know what he wants, understand what I want, and decide on something that matches both. There is something sexy about seeing him anticipate my needs and already be working towards them, while also meeting his own. There is something sexy about not having to watch the painful process of someone waffling back and forth, deciding, no cancelling, thinking, opting no, cancelling, mulling, fearing, hesitating, thinking some more … you get the picture!
Clearly it’s a balance between being arrogant on the one side, and being a slug on the other hand. I can’t think of the right word to describe the opposite of arrogant. Slug is the best I could come up with! Confidence is sexy. Arrogance is not. Chronic waffling is enough to drive anyone insane.
On which side of that equation do you spend the most time?
Here’s my latest from the Huffington Post! She’s How Old?
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” ~ Mark Twain
My kids make faces and say, “That’s so gross!” when I tell them that I was in college when my husband, their step-dad, was in middle school. We get a good laugh out of that! The reality is that I am only five years (almost to the day) older than he is. We then explain to the kids that age gaps seem bigger when you are younger, but that as you get older, that gap gets smaller and becomes relatively inconsequential. I believe that. But, do age gaps become bigger again as we get older? That’s today’s question!
I have a friend who is dating a guy 16 years her senior. She’s never been married and is in her mid-30s. He is divorced and has two kids. They have really connected and enjoy spending time with each other. This is getting serious!
She asked me what I thought about their age difference. My first response was that age shouldn’t matter at all. In my ideal mind, love should conquer all and who is to say that there has to be some standard age protocol for falling in love. I truly believe that age is just a number and, as Mark Twain said, that age is an issue of mind over matter.
We then started talking about two practical matters surrounding their age difference. One, yes, statistically, he will likely die first, but that’s a stupid reason not to fall in love with someone older than you. There are absolutely no guarantees about when our time is up! Any one of us could die tomorrow. Two, she wants to have children. That could be a deal breaker with dating someone older who already has children and doesn’t want to have anymore, but it’s not for him. He’s open to having more kids with her.
I shared with her that I have seen numerous marriages, really successful and happy marriages, where one spouse is 15-20 years older than the other. I have never heard any of these husbands or wives say anything about wishing they had done things differently and married someone closer to their own age. In fact, I have several friends in their 40s who are married to men in their 60s and life is grand! (I can’t think of any men I know who are in their 40s and married to women in their 60s, but I’m sure life is grand for them too!).
It seems like there is that period of time where the perception of an age gap gets smaller. The difference between age 10 and age 25 is huge! The different between age 30 and age 45 isn’t as big! But then, does the gap shrink even more or grow bigger? Does the gap look larger or smaller between someone who is age 65 and someone who is age 80? One thing is for sure! With this gap, no one is robbing the cradle, and no one is worrying about whether one person wants to have kids, or not!
Other people have criticized my friend and told her that it’s “typical” that an “older man” wants to be with a “younger woman” and that she should watch out because he may trade her in again in 10 years. I think this is unfair. He has not given her any such indication that he traded someone else in for her, or that he would “trade” her in in the future. Just because neither one of them has found anyone closer to their own age to enter into a relationship with doesn’t make this one bad, or improper, or anything less than it is – two people falling in love.
Do age differences matter or should love prevail over all? I think I am going to stick with my positive outlook and go with “love conquers all.” All marriages have hurdles that have to be overcome. All marriages take work and attention. The issues that two people who are married and who are roughly the same age face may be similar or may be different than the issues that couples with vast age differences face. What remains consistent, however, is that all relationships have their fair share of hurdles, and take their fair share of work.
What do you think? Does age matter? Should age matter?
Here’s my latest post for eHarmony posted on July 28, 2013! Other Side of Me?
“In nearly every religion I am aware of, there is a variation of the golden rule. And even for the non-religious, it is a tenet of people who believe in humanistic principles.” ~ Hillary Clinton
I was on a flight last week that was delayed due to weather. This led to our circling over Atlanta for more than an hour and of course, we started to run low on fuel (typical summer afternoon flying into Atlanta!). We were diverted to Birmingham, Alabama, to refuel, then flew back to Atlanta, ultimately arriving 4 ½ hours late. To add insult to injury, we had to sit on the runway for 30 minutes once we landed before we were able to get a gate to deplane. As you can imagine, tension began to run high and some of the passengers got a bit rude and inconsiderate (to put it mildly!). Had these passengers asked themselves, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?” I’m not sure they would have liked the answer.
The following day, I had a meeting scheduled with someone whom I had never met before. He had reached out to me asking if I would spend some time with him to share ideas on career next steps. I agreed to meet with him and fit him into an already tight schedule. I hustled to get things done that morning (and remember, I hadn’t even gotten home until 1:30AM due to my travel delays!), drove the 43 minutes to where we had agreed to meet … and, you guessed it, he didn’t show up. I checked my email, and he had sent me a message 11 minutes prior to when we were supposed to meet saying he couldn’t make it. Seriously? No more advance notice than that? Had he asked himself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?” I’m not sure he would have liked the answer.
Later that afternoon, I was speaking with a woman in Denver. She is divorced and has been dating a guy for the past 15 months. Interestingly, she and her ex (who also has a steady girlfriend) are beginning to think they still have feelings for each other and they are starting to “date” again. Both are now dating each other (again) and their new partners (who of course don’t know about this) simultaneously. If they asked themselves, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?” I’m not sure they would really like the answer.
Late last year, one of the ministers at our church presented a message entitled, ”What it’s like to be on the other side of me?” It was a great message, and it really made you think about your behavior and your actions. Have you ever asked yourself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?” Have you ever taken the time to really think about how others see you, perceive you, and experience you? Would you want to be waiting on you in a restaurant? Would you want to be ringing up your sale at a store? Would you want to be your friend? Would you want to be the flight attendant or gate agent assisting you? Would you want to be your own customer? Would you want to be dating you? Would you want to be married to you? Why or why not?
We are frequently able to rationalize our own behavior and come up with really great excuses for why we act certain ways or do certain things. BUT, if we are really (really) honest with ourselves, and look at things through the lens of the person across from us, I think we often find those excuses and rationalizations backfire. We know that we wouldn’t want to be treated that way. This isn’t a new concept … at all! While world religions tend to differ greatly in their beliefs and practices, they all tend to share a common idea around “doing unto others what you would like them to do to you.” This “Golden Rule” can be found in Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, to name but a few. It’s a staple amongst the world’s greatest philosophical minds. It’s a basic tenet of human behavior.
What about you? You are looking for a relationship. You have prepared your online dating profile. You connect with people via email, then via phone, and ultimately, schedule a date in person. Is what you are putting out there really you? Are you being honest with yourself and the people reading your profile, or are you being someone you aren’t?
Do you get a different answer if you ask yourself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?” If your answer isn’t one that makes you feel good, or makes you proud, you may want to rethink how you are coming across, how you are presenting yourself, and how you are treating others. At the end of the day, our goal should be to be able to look in the mirror at that person on the other side and like who you see! Smile!
How often do you think about how you treat other people in your life?
Here’s my latest post for DivorcedMoms.com … Too Nice?
“Being nice to someone you have an issue with doesn’t mean you are fake … it means someone taught you how to be polite.” ~ author unknown
“Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.” ~Samuel Johnson
Is anyone dealing with the challenges of co-parenting who is told by their family or friends that they are “too nice” to the other parent/former spouse? Since when was being nice considered a negative trait? And why do people think that being unfriendly is a more productive strategy?
This is interesting to me. Sure there are hurt feelings in a divorce. That’s probably a huge understatement. In many cases, especially those involving adultery, one party typically feels incredibly violated and dishonored. It’s natural to not want to “be nice” to individuals who are disrespectful to us. And therein lies the conundrum. Since we have children together, I am going to be dealing with my ex- for the rest of my life and being mean is not going to accomplish anything positive at all.
Acting the opposite of “nice” means acting “mean.” Why in the world would I want my young kids to see me acting mean to their dad. Kids can be so black and white in their thinking. They quickly categorize things – good/bad, fun/boring, nice/mean. They don’t have the maturity to understand that some people may feel that “mean” is merited. They simply see one parent being mean to the other, and that does nothing but create guilt and confusion.
I don’t want my kids to see “mean,” and frankly “mean” is much less productive than “nice.” What’s the saying? Something like, “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Being “mean” has a direct impact on the future ability of my ex- and I to make decisions and communicate about the best interests of our children. If all of our conversations are tainted with hatred, bitterness, and sarcasm, how are we going to effectively communicate about the people who are most important to us, namely, our children? Frankly, it’s stressful to be mean and condescending, and who really has the time for that?
I tell my well-meaning friends who tell me that I’m being “too nice” that being nice doesn’t mean you become a doormat and let people walk all over you. It doesn’t mean that you become a puppet at the whim of the other person. It doesn’t mean they get to take advantage of you. It does mean that regardless of what the other person has said or done, or what he will say or do moving forward, that I am going to respond with respect. If some people define that as being “too nice,” then so-be-it.
At the end of the day, I think it all comes down to picking your battles. There are times when I need to be more assertive, or more emphatic to make a point, and when I do need to go there, it’s received with more acknowledgment because every piece of communication hasn’t been rooted in “meanness.” But I’m a firm believer in the fact that even assertive and emphatic communication can still be delivered respectfully.
I’ll continue to take being “too nice” over being “too mean” as a compliment. More importantly, I’ll role-model an assertive and respectful “too nice” for my kids any day of the week.
What do you think? Have you ever been told you were “too nice?” Do you agree that “too nice” is not equivalent to “door matt?”
Here’s my latest blog post for eHarmony: What Other People Will Think
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” ~ Steve Jobs
In my last post (Should You Follow Your Head or Your Heart), I talked about my friend who was falling in love with a guy she only met three months ago. Things were getting serious pretty quickly, and she felt she was walking a tight rope between following her heart (which was telling her to jump in with both feet and surrender to her emotions) and her head (which was telling her that she hasn’t known him long enough to be feeling this way).
I think my friend knew that following her heart, while not leaving her head behind, was the right answer for her situation. I think she intuitively knew that this was the right decision for her. She should move forward. She knew it was right.
But … what followed was, in my opinion, the real crux of the issue. She asked me, “But what will people think?” My response, “Who cares!?”
She was very worried about what other people might say about how quickly she was moving with this guy. Well-intentioned friends might make assumptions. People who use their head more than their heart might impose a superficial timeline of how long you should date someone before taking it to the next level. Envious friends might not be as supportive or might try to steal her joy. My friend was being cautious about introducing her “boyfriend” to others for fear of the judgments they might make about her. Ridiculous? Yes! But, also more common than we like to believe.
Why do we let what other people might think impact the decisions we make? Why should my friend care what the general masses think? Why should she be worried about what people might be saying behind her back?
I saw this recently with another friend as well. She is dating a guy and is starting to become more interested in him, but she doesn’t like how he dresses. He bought some new shoes, most likely in an attempt to please her as she is pretty fashion conscious, but “he wore them with the wrong pants.” She was really bothered by this. “So what?!,” I asked, “If he’s this great guy who is really kind, and sincere, and treats you well, who cares if he wore the wrong pants with his new shoes?” “Well,” she replied, “What will my friends think?” Again, who cares!?
I think Steve Jobs nailed it in the quote above: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
Why do we worry more about what other people will think about us, or the relationships we are in? Why don’t we focus more on what we think about our relationships and how we are being treated? We need to listen to our inner voice more and follow our intuition. We shouldn’t be doing things like entering into relationships for the approval of others. We should be doing things like entering into relationships for our own approval (and love, and joy, and all that good stuff).
What about the flip side? Are you the friend who judges and tries to impose your beliefs and ideals on someone else, or do you support them in following their heart (as long as they are bringing their head along with them)? Do you try to impose your opinion so loudly that you are successful in drowning out their inner voice?
I had to deal with some of this same stuff when I started dating my boyfriend (now husband) several years ago. Some people thought we were moving too quickly. Others thought it was “too good to be true” and cautioned me about pending disaster. Even I had some consternation about telling people how serious our relationship was becoming for fear of what they might think and say.
But, my heart knew it was right. My intuition told me to go for it. My head found nothing to reject. I had to tell certain friends that I appreciated their concern because I knew it came from a place of love, but then I also had to ask them to stop trying to “steal my joy!” That worked!
What about you? Do you worry more about what other people will think, or do you follow your own intuition? Are you a friend who is supportive or who steals others’ joy?
Here’s my latest post for eHarmony! Enjoy! Head or Heart?
“Follow your heart wherever it may go, just don’t forget to bring your mind with you.”
A friend called late last week. She met a guy three months ago, and they hit it off – big time! She’s dated before, but this time was “different.” It felt different; she felt different! It started out with dinner on a Saturday night, and they had such a great time talking and talking that they decided to have dinner on Sunday too! They were “so comfortable” around each other and felt like they had “known each other forever,” and agreed to dinner again on Monday night … and so it has been for the past 90 days. It’s gotten quite serious – quite quickly.
That brings us to today. My friend is in a bit of a quandary. Her heart is telling her one thing; her head is telling her something else.
Her heart says, “Leap in with both feet and share your emotions.” Her head says, “Be careful, you’ve only known him a few months.” Her heart says, “What a gift to meet someone this spectacular after the trials of the past several years.” Her head says, “Be wary, he could decide he doesn’t like you and then you will be hurt.” Her heart says, “Go for it; introduce him to your friends as your significant other; trust!” Her head says, “What will people think? It’s been so quick!”
I love the quote above about following your heart wherever it leads you, but also remember to bring your head along too! My advice … first, follow your heart, but don’t be blind to things that your head is telling you.
Back to my friend. This guy has a stellar reputation. His friends love him. His family loves him. Everyone vouches for what a stand-up guy he is. There have been no “warning bells” or little voices saying something’s wrong. He has been open and honest. What you see is what you get. Her head hasn’t found anything to worry about.
Her heart hasn’t found anything to worry about either! Her heart is beating a bit faster, racing with some good endorphins, and thumping a little harder when she sees him. Her heart feels for him, and if she is honest with herself, she will admit that she is falling in love with him.
But, her head won’t let her go there yet. She’s holding up behind that wall of emotion and being cautious. I told her to knock that wall down. I can speak from experience. I had the whole debate going on between my heart and my head a few years ago too! In fact, my head and my heart were raging a major battle inside of me.
When I met the man (who is now my husband), I fell hard and fast. So did he. The logical, sensible side of me told me to take things slowly. The emotional side of me said this man is incredible. The timing isn’t what I expected (I thought I would be single longer), but who am I to push away this amazing man because he arrived too quickly? Sounds kind of crazy doesn’t it? I bounced back and forth between heart and head.
Some friends voiced concern that I was moving too quickly. Others supported my falling in love and said “Go for it.” They waged as big a battle externally as my heart and head were waging internally. The words of advice that mattered most came from my mother. When I told her I had met this guy, she told me she was thrilled I was dating again. In my next sentence I shared that it had gotten pretty serious pretty quickly and that I could see myself marrying this guy. I expected my mom to side with my “head,” warn me about getting hurt again, and impose on me the need to slow things down.
You know what? She didn’t! Instead, my mom told me that she had never seen me make a careless, thoughtless decision in my life, and she didn’t expect me to start making them at age 40. She told me that if my heart was telling me that this guy was a keeper, then I should jump in with both feet. She urged me to watch for warning signals, and engage my head as needed, but for now, to follow my heart. A mother’s advice is the best advice! I jumped in with both feet and haven’t looked back once!
I shared this same advice with my friend. As long as she isn’t being blind to any obvious warnings signs, as long as all lights appear green, and as long as her intuition isn’t screaming at her to back up, then I say “Go for it.” Life is too short! Accept these gifts! Don’t self-impose time constraints or limits on your own happiness.
(Then, there is the question of, “But what will people say or think about me if I move this quickly with a guy?” but that’s a subject for my next post!)
What about you? Did you follow your head or your heart? Do you regret your decision or have you never looked back?