Dates to fear: Peak break-up times

If your relationship is humming along so well that it seems too good to be true… or if you and your partner are struggling and you fear you are about to be dumped- there are times you should get out of town and be completely unreachable, because according to facebook the peak break-up times in rank order are:

Spring Break
Valentine’s Day
Two weeks before winter holidays
April Fool’s Day
Summer Holiday

If you got through the winter holidays unscathed, remember that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. You can always take a mini-trip out of town with ‘single’ friends, or suddenly come down with the flu the day before. However, if you feel confident that your relationship is made in heaven, then enjoy that yearly day for lovers as you sit back and chill- at least until April fools day rolls around.

Drama Kings and relationship deal breakers

We have all heard the term “drama queen” but never “drama kings” until Dalma Heyn came out with her insightful book by the same name; Drama Kings- The men who drive strong women crazy. Essentially, Ms. Heyn ‘s book is about those toxic men who are driving women crazy- and are leading to a greater number of women choosing to leave their relationships and these guys behind. These men are often smart, charming, takers who are feeling impaired and unable to be one half of a healthy, intimate relationship. I love this book and have recommended it to a number of my strong, independent, smart and successful female clients who are in these toxic relationships and are struggling with if and how to get out of them.

One of my clients came in last week with this book in hand and announced that she had read it the week before, had bought two copies and had already recommended it to a number of her friends. Wow, seems like there may be more of these guys around than even I once thought. This client also announced that she was finally able to break off with this guy because she realized that he and the relationship would never change. Essentially, she had not gotten her needs met for a long time, but had hung in there trying to be understanding, supportive and strong. This book helped her to see that even with all that, he wouldn’t change until and unless he was motivated to do so.

I decided to blog about Drama Kings to get the word out to all you women out there who may be in relationships that don’t meet your needs, require you to do all the giving- and often leave you feeling like it is all your fault. If this resonates with you, run, don’t walk to the nearest bookstore or go online and get Drama Kings.

What’s your probability for divorce?

New statistics on divorce are in the news this week, and they point to some interesting and surprising facts about who is more likely to get divorced and who is statistically favored to go the marital distance. America’s Families and Living Arrangements study from the US Census Bureau along with new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have provided us with information that could be useful as part of any pre-marital counseling or classes. Some salient tidbits include the fact that the divorces rate for males goes down as they get older and their incomes rise, yet the opposite is true for older women who are high wage earners. Hummm…

Ethnicity also factored into these new statistics. Older white and black males have a much lower rate of divorce than Hispanic males (double their counterparts) – and older, financially successful Hispanic women have been dissolving their marriages at a rate of nearly one in three.

The third interesting statistic is that when unemployment rises, the divorce rate drops- and as unemployment drops, the divorce rate increases. There really does seem to be something to the effect that hardship has on priorities and the willingness of people to pull together.

So, what’s the bottom line that we should take away from these findings? How about some or all of these as possibilities?
• Money does not buy happiness or contentment.
• Women probably do stay in unhappy relationships due to financial and lifestyle considerations.
• More freedom and choice may offer greater opportunity to seek experiences and relationships beyond the confines of the marital one- and this can lead to discontent and a feeling of wanting more on an intimate or interpersonal level.
• Men who are more mature and reasonably content in their marriages and lifestyles appreciate the convenience and benefits they have- and are less likely to go outside the relationship.
• Marrying a little older can help you avoid divorce if you are a man.
• If you are a woman, your probability of divorce will increase if you are a high wage earner.

Some of the above are said a bit tongue-in-cheek and I’d guess that any of them would be affected by what a partner brings to the relationship in the form of money, friendship, intimacy and humor.

Seals and the passion for “real men”

Since the May 1st storming of bin Laden’s compound and subsequent death, all executed by SEAL team 6- there’s a new heartthrob out there- the SEAL. These men are an elite fighting force, the strongest and most fearless warriors in the US- and women everywhere are humming, “I need a hero.”

What is the attraction to a very masculine, strong, and fearless guy? Essentially, it all goes back to biology. Women are programmed to seek out men who can take care of them, protect them- and most of all, protect their young. Think about it- all those romance novels that sell so well, the popularity of the moonlight movies and vampire books, action movies featuring cartoon super heroes, and real-life ones like Harrison Ford, Hugh Jackman, Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Sylvester Stallone. What’s the common denominator? Strong, well-toned bodies, heroic acts in the face of great danger, winning against the evil and dangerous bad guys and always rescuing the woman in distress. It’s enough to make every red blooded woman swoon.

I predict a plethora of books and movies coming out that feature SEALS saving the day, the country, and the woman. Seals will join the ranks of leading men in the fantasies of women everywhere. Move over Arnie, Sylvester, and Hugh- there’s a new breed of hero in town.

Celebrity Body Language

As a body language expert for TMZ’s Too and Star magazine, I am asked to “read” the body language of celebrity couples and give a voice to their body signals. I love doing it, and am always reminded how important our nonverbal communication is for all of us in how we present ourselves to the world and especially in dating and relating to others.

Think about it, celebrities are constantly in the public eye. They are followed by photographers wherever they go who are looking to shoot those private moments they share with their significant others and families. They are very AWARE of the fact that they are being watched and recorded- yet, pictures are often snapped that reveal a private side that they do not want to share with others, understandable so.

Now compare their awareness with our almost unconscious body talk. We go through life feeling peripheral or invisible to the strangers around us. Yes, we are on our “best behavior’ during interviews, singles events where we meet and greet new (hopeful) possibilities and with anyone we want to think well of us. But consider all those MANY moments when you are unaware and a really attractive and interesting stranger is looking your way. Will they take a second look? Will what they see lead them to a desire to know more? Or will that brief first impression send them on their way, barely noticing or forgetting you an instant later?

Your nonverbal communication matters. Even though we really can’t read the whole story from a snap shot, and any true information will only come from reading behaviors in clusters and in context- first impressions are often made in an instant. Raise your awareness- that interesting stranger may come along in just a few moments.

Shacking Up Can Raise Divorce Risk

For years there has been an on-going debate about the pros and cons of living together before (outside of) marriage. Many folks believe it gives the couple a chance to have a trial run of experiencing intimacy with someone before they make the biggest decision of their lives. They would see each other at their worst, not just their best. All those annoying habits or “cute quirks” could look very different when they become part of the fabric of one’s daily existence. Potential issues would surface before their lives became bound together by a shared mortgage, children, differing needs and wants, etc. Makes a compelling argument for cohabitation, doesn’t it?

Not so fast….A new study has come out that shines a light on the cons of shacking up- and it offers specifics, mostly from men- that should give pause to anyone considering such a move. The study looks at and compares divorce rates and marital satisfaction of those who lived together before marriage and those who did not. It found that those who did not live together before marriage reported significantly higher rates of satisfaction with their marriages- 7 percent higher than those who got engaged before living together, and nine percent higher than those who moved in with no plan for marriage.

This university of Denver study conducted telephone surveys with more than 1,000 married men and women between the ages of 18 and 34 who had been married 10 or fewer years. Their questions were designed to tease out specific data regarding marital satisfaction and what role living together before marriage plays in predicting happiness outcomes. What they found is that many couples who were living together basically “fell into” marriage because it would have been more difficult to make the break after they had combined finances, households, and social networks.

As a therapist and relationship coach, I was pleased and not surprised by these findings. Too often over the years when working with a couple seeking divorce, one of the spouses has verbalized that they just went along with the relationship for the sake of convenience, money or because they did not know how to back out once they had already made the commitment of living together. In a nutshell, it seemed much easier at the time. I have heard this more often from men, and the study did say that men were more likely to verbalize these reasons.

The bottom line is that many of these couples may have chosen to end their relationship due to problems with incompatibility had they not been living together already and concerned about what they may be giving up or facing with such a decision. What singles should take away from this study is the idea that it is important to move toward marriage in a thinking way, making the decision based on all the right reasons. If you must live together before marriage, discuss taking the step towards engagement first. If your partner balks at this, it may be the first sign that you should continue dating while maintaining separate households- and then re-evaluate your relationship and where you want it to go.

To read more about this study, go to

The Hard Data Behind Strong Relationships

Featured on the front page of The Washington Post last weekend, was a piece on a recent survey done by the Pew Research Center that included statistical findings on the factors that couples cite as most important to a happy relationship. There were a few surprises…and then, there weren’t…

Faithfulness came out on top- not a surprise -and agreement on politics came in as least important of the variables rated. What is surprising is that overall children came in second to last as important to a happy marriage. Whites came in strongest on their feelings that kids are not essential to happiness, blacks were in between- and Hispanics ranked them as more important than the other two groups. Yet, averaged out- they were still second to last. Maybe this is why divorce continues to be strong even though we have been in a baby boom period for a number of years. Kids don’t hold a marriage together, make it better if it has major flaws- or provide the glue that keeps the family together through all the stress, hard times and distance that can come between two people and the future they had envisioned together. So the notion of having a baby to fix a relationship must be close to extinction by now- or one can only hope,

Things like having a good sexual relationship, sharing chores, an adequate income, good housing and shared religious beliefs all came before children. Another surprise was that shared interests ranked only one above children- or third from last. It seems that so much emphasis has always been placed on a need for sameness in interests as a strong factor in compatibility- yet those in the know say “no,” not so.

As I read between the lines I saw a couple of important things to note from this survey. The first is that compatibility seems to be most determined by lifestyle choices, physical chemistry, mutual support and an ability to work together and share the responsibilities of daily life. I see the need for shared values poking out- as our values dictate our priorities, how we view family roles, responsibilities, how we manage and share money, and overall future goals and direction for our lives.

This study is very useful because the information comes from married people who have a firsthand experience with what has been important/not important to their relationships. Whatever their expectations or beliefs were when they made the decision to marry- this information comes from having been there, in the trenches.

For all of you out there who have yet to marry, take another look at your “mate shopping list.” If shared interests, agreement on politics and desire for kids are at the top- you may want to re think your overall priorities and think about a “real life” in the future- with someone who shares your interests but is doing them alone because you are handling most of the child care and/or household and other chores- and are too exhausted to even think about what you would like to do for yourself- if you had the space and support necessary to do it. In other words, put some extra thought into your vision of that future life and what kind of partner you will want beside you when the inevitable challenges, disappointments and heartaches come. Listen to those who have been there, and allow yourself to learn a little from their experiences.

To view the full study go to: