Brangelina no more

September 20th, 2016

No one knows what goes on between a couple except the two people involved. Every relationship therapist (like myself) knows this. However, this fact won’t get in the way of all the speculation, hypothesizing, blaming, and innuendos that are sure to come now that the news of the Brangelina split has been confirmed.

Already there is talk about Jen—and how karma has come back around to this couple who met and started their relationship when Brad and Jen were still together. There is also rumor about possible drug use on the part of Brad that Angelina just can’t tolerate for the sake of the kids. Her illness and subsequent surgeries are bound to come up—as are rumors of someone stepping outside of the marriage. We may never know and it’s none of our business anyway.

The reason Jolie gave when filing for divorce was for the well-being of the family, and she has requested full custody. This is bound to get folks speculating about what Brad must have done, is doing for Jolie to take this step. Perhaps there has been a lot of tension, fighting and dysfunction due to having so many children in such a short period of time, several having been adopted from other countries/cultures. Add to that Jolie’s health issues and you have the makings of serious stress, and we know that stress has a negative impact on individuals, couples, and families.

Whatever the reason for this step—it does not have the feel of a typical Hollywood split—one partner getting bored or just becoming unhappy and going elsewhere to get their needs met. Or the time Hollywood couples spend apart due to their work, and the fact that while they are apart, hubby or wifey is getting chummy with a co-star or others they work and live closely to while on location.

This one is also different due to the focus these two have had on their kids/family—and how supportive Brad was during Angelina’s difficult diagnoses and subsequent surgeries. According to Jolie, he was wonderful. But really—where has the time been for just Brangelina, the lovers/partners/friends? Seems like it’s been Brangelina the spouses and parents of a large brood of young children. This and their work must have led to a lot of loneliness and unmet needs—how could it be otherwise?

Whatever the reasons, we will never really know what they are. We can only hope that they find a way to end things amicably for the sake of the kids—and for Jen fans, that Brad finds his way back to his first love. Just thought I’d throw that one in for the fun of it.

A monument to love lost

September 18th, 2016

The Museum of Broken Relationships (yes, there is such a thing) was the brainchild of an artist (ex) couple who wondered what people actually do with all things that are reminders and remnants of their lost relationship. In 2006 they took this from idea to their first exhibit—and it took off, touring internationally before they established the first permanent museum in Zagreb, Croatia in 2010. In 2016 The Museum of Broken relationships was brought to LA by John B Quinn—and it’s popularity, especially among couples, is very strong.

The museum accepts donations of relationship relics along with their stories from anonymous donors. It is these donations and the stories of the lost loves behind them that make up the displays. Therefore they are always accepting and looking for the next great story. Just imagine how many people have held onto old keepsakes and reminders of that very special love that they have not gotten over. Certainly first loves must be overrepresented as they are the ones that stay with us forever.

Since the experience of finding then losing that special relationship is a universal one, it’s easy to understand why this museum gets so much buzz. We can all relate to the stores it tells and the people behind them. They are us and we are them. No one is alone in this experience.

If you continue to be haunted by an old love, to struggle due to a lack of closure—you might be able to find it in telling your story to the world. It would be anonymous of course, but you could share it with so many, which can be a great catharsis for the love lorn. Perhaps a visit to the museum could help as well. For there you would find your story, being told over and over, often by people who moved on, healed, and thrived in new relationships. If you are dating, this seems to be a popular date venue—couples come in smiling and walking near one another, and leave holding one another, often filled with a lot of emotion. If you are unsure of your significant other’s feeling, take them here and observe their body language. You could gain a lot of information about their feelings regarding you and the relationship.

Nick Viall—A new type for Bachelor franchise

September 10th, 2016

By now everyone who is familiar with the show, The Bachelor, knows that the new guy for the next season has been chosen. When the announcement was made, viewers were told they would be “shocked.” Probably not all were, I was not.

Reality TV is all about getting people to tune in, get excited, stay loyal—and this pick was thought to do all 3. There has been a lot of buzz (yeah for franchise) since the choice of Nick was announced and it’s likely he won’t disappoint. Another nice guy would be too vanilla, so they went with a bit of a wild card this time. It’s all about the ratings…

It’s common for a popular runner-up to become the next Bachelor or Bachelorette—which is why Nick was not the guy the first time he made it to the final two. He was the bad boy who kissed and told, and was a poor sport about not being chosen. His first bachelorette Andi was not happy with him and even wrote about his bedroom antics in a new book that has just come out on her experiences as the Bachelorette and the two leading men who starred in that drama.

So why Nick? He’s different—older, bad boy morphed into misunderstood nice guy, gets along well with women as friends, is familiar as opposed to being a mysterious new face, yet is kind of an unknown. Would the real Nick Viall please stand up?

Nick is great at loving the one he is with. He clearly LIKES women, all women. Yet he never seems to really fall for any. He goes from woman to woman, trying her on, but in the end, not feeling it is quite right. What is also different about this Bachelor is that we know a lot about his past dating life, his fear of commitment (we think), his sexiness (from Kaitlyn), his kissing and telling (for sure), his liking but leaving for a better offer ( Jen).

This season we should witness a lot of heart to heart talks between Nick and his ladies, tears (from Nick), mixed messages going from Nick to those he is most interested in—and a different final rose story. Nick is someone who I can imagine asking to put two girls on hold at the end and date both with a later rose ceremony happening if and when he can decide. Who knows, maybe there is hope for Chad..then maybe not.

Whatever you may think of Nick—he isn’t boring. Stay tuned, this one could be fun.

Carly and Evan—Love is worth a second look

September 7th, 2016

Most or all of us believe that love at first sight can happen, or that good friends could grow into lovers given the right mix of chemistry. But the idea of someone falling in love with a person they were initially repulsed by—now that is a shocker for most people. This is the love story of Carly and Evan, and it is one that just may get folks thinking about relationship possibilities in a different way.

As a dating/relationship coach I have worked with many folks who did not feel an initial attraction to someone, but over time, one developed and grew into a love affair. However, I cannot recall a single time when one of my clients expressed a repulsion or even a complete lack of chemistry when meeting someone and then later on, falling head over arse with them. I often encourage those who feel neutral on a first date to give it a second or third try because with repeated exposure and more time to get to know that person, their feelings could change. But if they say “yuk,” I usually agree that this is not likely the person for them. I may handle this a bit differently going forward thanks to Carly and Evan or “Cvan” as they are being affectionately called by the network.

Carly and Evan’s story is something we can all learn from, especially those singles who believe they must seek out their “type” in order to find the right person for them. Another couple example from this season of Bachelor in Paradise are Vinny and Izzy. They were doing great together until Izzy’s “ideal man” walked in and she broke Vinny’s heart, who was blindsided by her sudden change of heart. Izzy also said she was shocked at her reaction, saying that if she could list the physical qualities of her perfect man, the new guy was it. Of course, new guy went for someone else, then just wasn’t feeling it with her either and ended up leaving the show alone, as did Izzy who was desperate to get right back with Vinny who quickly said “no thanks.”

In Carly’s case, it appeared to be a combination of typing and maturity. After all, her type last season was Kirk, so different from Evan, and clearly someone Carly fell hard for and was devastated by when he ended things with her. Right from the start Carly took some of the lead with Kirk, and early on he expressed some doubts, which he clearly buried till near the end of the season. But it was Evan who pursued Carly, who fell hard and quite creatively got and kept her attention long enough to engage her in real conversation and interaction. Initially she didn’t feel a physical attraction, then expressed her thoughts about his weirdness, and even loudly and bluntly talked about how awful their first kiss was and the long kiss she endured on their hot pepper date. But Evan persisted, supported her when she got sick on that date—then faked an illness so he could get and keep her at his side in the hospital. It seems that his persistence and the fact that he was so into her contributed heavily to her change of heart. She also got to know him in a more real life way and enjoyed the interaction. This is where maturity comes in. If Carly were 23 rather than 29, she probably would have missed out on this chance for love.

Evan has three boys and is divorced and Carly has never been married—yet post-show, things seem to be going well. They live in the same town (what are the odds?) and this is clearly an advantage.

If you are a long time viewer of the shows in this franchise you will know how often the relationships have been all talk, scripted, or forced. Yet I think virtually everyone would agree that the last rose scene with Carly and Evan was as romantic and sincere as it gets. If these two don’t make it, I may hang up my shingle.

For all you searching singles out there—don’t rush to judgement, give that person a chance, and go for a second and possibly third date. What have you got to lose except a chance at love?

What your fantasies say about your relationship

August 14th, 2016

Research has found that almost everyone has sexual fantasies, approximately 95 to 98% of people actually. This finding is that that surprising—at least to the 95% or so of us who have them. What may come as a surprise is that new research has found that relationships are improved and enhanced by fantasy—as long as the partners are fantasizing about each other instead of, well you know.

Another thing we didn’t need research to reveal is that men’s fantasies are more sexually graphic, while women fantasize more about romance fueled by emotions. But this latest research teases out more interesting detail that points to fantasizes being tied to certain personality types as well as what people want from their relationships. Now all we need is a first date quiz that would help the individual’s learn more about one another’s sexual fantasies in order to know if they are compatible in their relationships goals. Not very romantic and maybe would need to be shelved till the second or third date. However it sure could save a lot of time and wasted effort.

Not surprising is that the kind of fantasies that people have are determined by a number of factors besides gender. These include age, past sexual experiences, the length of a relationship and degree of happiness in it, personality and even emotional style (cuddly, warm, distant, and detached). For instance if someone is attachment avoidant, they fantasize about casual, unemotional sex. If they are insecure and fear losing love, they fantasize about pleasing their partner. Secure people fantasize about loving and romantic sex with a strong emotional element. When you think about it, it’s pretty logical.

Maybe when people talk about desperation, clinginess, and neediness as turn-offs—what they are really pointing to is that this person is insecure and has low-self-esteem. Confidence and strong self-esteem are turn-ons for most of us.

The important take away from the resent research is that fantasizing about YOUR partner will help your relationship. Yes, everyone, especially men fantasize about others from time to time—but focusing on one’s partner can actually improve how you relate to one another. On study found that people who fantasize about their partner one day were more likely to feel more committed and trusting towards them the next day. Another study showed that when a partner fantasized about their partner, they were more likely to be kinder and more positive to them the next day.

For anyone in a relationship—try making your partner the sole object of your fantasies. Your relationship will thank you for it.

Advice to Bachelorettes in “Paradise”

August 11th, 2016

I have been watching (and frequently cringing over) this season’s Bachelor in Paradise. From an abusive, over-muscled villain to an overserved female (and male) or two—the behavior on this Bachelor barely passes for unacceptable. But we continue to watch and ratings are probably strong. Why is this? Maybe these folks help us to feel superior, more together, and/or better able to handle our liquor. Maybe it’s just that as they push the boundaries and behave in ways that would get anyone else arrested, fired, or broken-up with. There’s an entertainment factor in watching them do the unthinkable and (more or less) getting away with it. From verbal threats, name-calling, vicious gossip, trading places to deceive and humiliate (twins), to pushing and other physical aggression—this season of Bachelor in Paradise has it all.

Contestants have their reasons for auditioning and if selected, joining the cast. The obvious one is to find their 15 minutes of fame and potentially a new and more lucrative career. What we hear over and over are comments about someone being there for the wrong reasons—the “right” one being to find love. But really, who believes that? Those who do find love seem to just get lucky—right time, right place, right person.

Whatever female cast members’ reasons are for being there, many of them are going about (whatever it is) in the wrong way. What they tell us in their solo interview spots is that they want to find that special person and that for reasons that completely escape their awareness, their relationships NEVER WORK OUT. How many times have we heard this from a very attractive woman who also appears to possess good intelligence and has done reasonable well in her career? I see a pattern here and though it seems obvious to me, it seems to escape these women. No one is really talking about it openly and candidly either, probably for fear of being called narrow-minded or sexist. Because I am a woman and a therapist—I’m comfortable pointing out what I see and if any of these young ladies were my clients, we would be talking about this.

To begin with, these women are selling themselves short. In spite of their looks and other positive attributes, they appear to suffer from low self-esteem. It’s as though they anticipate rejection, then set themselves up for it. How do they do this, you ask?
For starters, a few consume too much alcohol, and even more move too quickly into something physical with the first interesting guy, or any guy if the pool is limited. There is no mystery, the guys don’t really have to make much of an effort, new guys see them physically connecting with other guys before they even have a chance to get to know them, and their interactions overall appear to be lacking in substance and depth.

Here they are with one big plus—they are in a situation where they are together for days (weeks for some), and have repeated exposure—which allows them to connect in deeper and more meaningful ways. Apparently some have done this and made good friends with another cast member and a few couples who moved quickly got lucky—but luck and timing factor heavily into their happy endings.

For the rest, we get to witness jealousy, tears, anger, moments of resentment and self-doubt, and some spectacular melt-downs. There they are, in front of how many million viewers, showing their worst selves. This is the kind of 15 minute impression no one wants to leave, and one that will not help their career any more than it will help them find love.

My advice is to slow down ladies. Drink less alcohol and more water, eat healthy food, take long walks, have some real conversations with each person there—then accept a date if someone really appeals and try to have some good old-fashioned fun and playtime together. Think Sarah’s date with Christian. Talk about fun—and it really helped them learn something about one another and to bond. My last piece of advice—stop trying to be what you THINK others want—especially men. Guys I work with are often telling me how they wish women would be themselves, push back, not let them get away with stuff—and just like themselves better.

This is good advice ladies—consider taking it if you really do want to find happy, healthy love.

Millennials rejecting the sexual revolution

August 7th, 2016

The Washington Post has run a couple of pieces on the differences in sexual behavior between millennials and the generations just before them. It’s a very interesting topic because it delves into something that many have false assumptions about—the sexual behavior of this younger group.

Contrary to current myths (and urban legend) younger folks are not more sexually promiscuous than their parents were—in fact, they are waiting longer before having their first sexual experience. The Boomers began the sexual revolution and that generation is known for its indulgence in sex, drugs and rock and roll. It was also a generation that greatly impacted the divorce rate—as Boomers were raised to believe that divorce was no big deal and that if you weren’t happy, you should get out. Women were making great strides in pursuing higher education and moving into careers that had previously been open mostly to men. So the attitude was that they could now do anything that men could and didn’t need to remain dependent and submissive—and this included in their sex lives. Younger women benefitted from these new freedoms—but clearly there were downsides. Perhaps this new sexual trend is a reflection of one or more of those.

The Journal Archives of Sexual behavior published a study recently that found that those born in the 1990’s are more than twice as likely to be sexually inactive in their 20’s than their parent’s generation was. Millennials as a group have fewer sexual partners than Generation Xers and Boomers did and do.

Interestingly some experts are saying this could be a BAD sign that suggests these folks can’t handle real intimacy and instead engage more virtually with people—which can risk their ability to be close and handle intimacy as they grow older. I say nonsense. My theory is that they have had “permission” to experiment, and be open sexually—and have found out it’s not all it is cracked up to be. They have seen the downsides in the older generation and have decided that how they handled it didn’t work out so well. After all is a high divorce rate, multiple partners, and seeking love over 50 all that great?

Besides, for those who have experienced hooking up—they have found out that is not really all that great either. It often leaves them feeling empty and wishing for more real romance, mystery, and FEELINGS in their relationships. I hear this from my male and female millennial clients.

Now that they know they can, they are choosing more and more not to. Who knows, we may return to a slower, more traditional way of dating. For those who fought for the sexual revolution, ask yourself if it was all you thought it would be and if your life has turned out well (at least in part) to what was available to you back then. It’s likely many of you would say the freedoms were great but you wish you could go back and take things a little slower.

JoJo and Jordon and Robby—a greater love or a different love?

August 3rd, 2016

The latest season of the Bachelorette just wrapped up—and it was another (almost) tie. JoJo, who was herself in the same situation on the last season of The bachelor, was torn between two men that she had “fallen in love” with. Clearly she had strong feelings for both—but there was always a difference. Could you see it?

Yes, Jordon (the eventual winner) got her first impression rose and clearly she was attracted to him right from the start. She was also very into Robbie (the runner-up), and throughout the episodes, she had nothing but good things to say about how he made her feel and how much she trusted and like him.

However no two loves are ever equal, and there are different kinds of love. I think what JoJo experienced was the latter—two different kinds of love. Let me explain by beginning with a reference to a classic book titled, The Art of Loving, By Erich Fromm. Dr. Fromm’s book detailed the different kinds of love—a Mother’s love, a Father’s love, the love between friends, and romantic love. Each is powerful and creates a strong and enduring bond—but there are key differences between them.

It appeared all along that JoJo’s attraction to Jordon was to that of a lover. There was the physical attraction, the humor and bantering (intellectual attraction), and there was the ease of relating—an effortless way they had of making one another laugh and of enjoying even silly things together. They seemed to have all 3 pieces of relationship chemistry—and it appeared strong and unwavering from episode to episode.

What JoJo focused on when she described her feelings for Robby was how much she trusted him, how he was the first guy to say he loved her, how kind and caring he was, and of course, that she found him attractive.

In other words, Robby was the safe choice—and this was especially important to JoJo who frequently referenced her trust issues and her fear that the man she fell in love with would betray her trust. Jordon was the total package, but he frightened her because she wasn’t sure how he really felt and if she could trust him.

As she was making her final choice and found out that Jordon had not asked her parents for her hand in marriage, she clearly was troubled. Then on that last morning she seemed to have made the safe choice of Robby, even though she did not say this in so many words. Then Jordon called her parents to ask their permission and quickly penned a not to Jo Jo, letting her know this. The sudden change in her was obvious—and she referenced being confused and scared again of making the wrong choice.

Deep down she knew it was Jordon, but almost chose Robby. It was close and it’s hard to know if this was obvious to Robby and Jordon when the show was aired. It was to me. Robby kept asking her why and how about her choice of Jordon over him. He wanted to know what he had done wrong or what was missing. JoJo struggled to explain when the explanation is really very simple.

Robby if you are reading this—JoJo loved you, but she was “in love” with Jordon. Both bring about powerful feelings and a close bond—but they are two different and unequal loves.

Planning to pop the question? What you should know first

August 1st, 2016

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin conducted a study where the ideal VS actual marriage proposals for approximately 400 newly engaged and newly married individuals were examined. The objective was to see how close actual proposals come to the ideal that people often hold about what the experience of a marriage proposal should be like. Not surprisingly, these two did not match up for many people.

Some of what they found was:

75% of people were satisfied with how public VS private their proposal actually was—so 25% wanted it more one way than the other. Most often it was that they had preferred a more private affair to the one they got.

Overall, their actual proposal was significantly less romantic than their ideal one. Somehow it just didn’t contain the romance they thought or expected it would.

The most popular time for proposals is the evening and most of those surveyed were happy with the time their partner proposed. However most would have wanted to change the location or who was present (this is probably where the romance got lost for them).

The top 6 ideal proposal locations were–by water, home, at a restaurant, on a walk, or at an international destination (like France) were tied at 4th/5th, and 6th was at a park or garden. These were then compared to the top 6 actual proposal locations, which were—home, by the water, at a restaurant, in a park or garden, and while on a walk/hike. Therefore these were not too far from the actual ideal places that folks had in mind.

43% of parents knew about the proposal in advance, 15 % of siblings knew, and 19% of friends did. Interestingly, 37.5 asked for parental approval ahead of time—seems almost like an outdated notion, right? Maybe not.

If you are anticipating a proposal soon, you may want to help your partner out by telling a family member and friend what your ideal proposal would be, as they will share this if consulted. It’s also OK to drop a hint or two directly to your significant other. If you are the one planning to pop the question, get input from others close to them—you just might be able to plan an almost ideal proposal for your intended.

Houses haunted by past love

July 4th, 2016

The NY Times has a fun piece today titled; The House That Love Built before it was Gone. It features three unique and notable homes built by people long ago for someone they had fallen passionately in love with. Frank Lloyd Wright, Eileen Gray, and Monica Vitti, were either those who designed and built them or the objects of the passion that inspired them. For each, their love affairs all ended in these homes, just 3 years after each had begun.

These were people with money and opportunity, those who could follow their passion to wherever it led. One couple fell in lust with other people while married—and followed their hearts to a new home he built for (and inspired by) her. But she died in a fire there that was deliberately set and killed several others, including her children. For another, the passion died a natural death, they split, and the house had a new mistress in it. The third couple was an older woman and younger man, she having built the home with exquisite details of their union designed into the stone. When they split following much absence by him, she left him the house and moved to another, apparently hoping for a new love. The house would later be the setting for murder and tragedy—a dark place is how it is often described.

If houses really do reflect the people who live in them—do they also contain the energy that was once there? If so, this is what people must mean when they talk about the personality of a home—that which is shaped by those who built it, lived in it, loved and even died in it.

Do you ever dream about past places you have called home? Are you tempted to drive by and see if any evidence of you and those you loved has remained? Do you wonder about the people who lived in your house before you—what their life, work and passions were all about? Do you wonder if any trace of you might be found years from now through some small memory or object you left behind?

Houses are so much more than buildings—and this is demonstrated every time we walk into an old home and feel the ghosts and hear the stories of those who came before. This is not haunting—it’s just a home holding onto something of those who once lived and loved there.

To go the article, click here