If there is one thing that I could work on in my relationships, it would be communication. Most of the time communication (or a lack of) has ruined some pretty decent ones because I didn’t make my needs or feelings completely clear. I treated each guy like a mind-reader and then the relationship would either blow up in my face or fizzle into something non-existent. Does that sound familiar to you?
Communication, verbal and nonverbal, are the foundational bricks that build your connection with someone. It’s the tiny things we pick up on, like the way they say certain words like tomato , how they lean towards you when you’re talking to them, or the reactions they give when you tell them a story. That builds to our attraction towards them.
Just as it gives off the vibe that everything is right in our relationships, verbal and nonverbal communication can easily tell us something is wrong. This is something that texting just cannot get right without emojis.
Both sexes can easily blurt out to each other, “I’m not happy,” without providing some kind of solution, and it doesn’t make the situation any better.
But when it comes to nonverbal communication, I think that’s something women have perfected. From the way we roll our eyes when our partner makes a comment we disagree with, how we cross our arms when we feel frustrated, or just by the way we stand we give off the image that screams something is wrong.
When we’re with our girlfriends, we can shoot each other a look that speaks volumes and completely understand what was just said, without opening our mouths.
But we have to learn that some men are just not as perceptive, they’re not mind-readers, and by not saying how you feel could be harming your relationship. Here are a few ways to communicate with clarity.
1. Be honest with them
If you’re one to hide your feelings and just go along like everything is ok on the outside, while on the inside you’re about as calm as a nuclear reactor that is on a countdown to meltdown; this isn’t helping the problem. Something is going to self implode, and you probably don’t want it to be yourself or the relationship.
Founder and CEO of Psych Central, Dr. John M Grohol Psy. D, advises that you open yourself up and be honest with your partner as part of his steps to better communication. At times, it seems like avoiding conflict is better than bringing up a problem, but really all it does is sweep the dirt under the rug. It’s not going away, it just makes the pile bigger and bigger.
Opening yourself up to someone is NEVER easy. It sort of makes you feel like a molting crab; vulnerable, and ready to be picked at. But when you tell your partner flatout how you feel and what’s bugging you in a calm manner, you can work towards a solution that makes both of you happy.
2. Let go of your assumptions
Have you heard the saying, “When you assume you make an ass out of “u” and me?” Well, the phrase holds some truth to it. Assumptions are the poisons that kill your communication and relationship like stomach acid.
Advice blogger for MyLifeCompass.com, Megan Raphael says to “drop your assumptions and judgments about the other person and situation,” to express your needs.
When you assume, you’ve pre-judged your partner in thinking he knows how you feel about the situation, or that you know every working detail when you don’t. You let the assumptions brew inside and when it’s time to address the problem, you’ve already made up your mind as to how it’s going to happen. That’s when you “make an ass out of “you” and me”.
Go into each argument with an open mind and just hear each other out. You don’t know his side of the story and he won’t know your side until you tell each other.
3. Eliminate snowballing
If you’ve stored up a years worth of complaints, the next argument you get into is bound to unleash all of those ill feelings at once.
Dr. John says “Arguments that do veer off tend to escalate and grow larger and larger. One party needs to make an effort at that point to try and de-escalate the argument, even if it means walking away from it, literally.”
Now that doesn’t mean walk away from the argument completely, never to revisit the subject again. It just means, take the time to cool off and then reset when both of you are mentally capable to resolve the situation. But to avoid snowballing and adding to the list of complaints, handle each issue as it comes along. When you address your problems on the spot, you don’t leave room for festering feelings and a hit list down the road.
4. Just listen
Sometimes the most nonverbal communication skill can be your saving grace. Both Dr. John and Megan agree that listening (and not acting like you’re listening) is the most powerful of all the communication skills.
When you really listen to what your partner has to say, not only do you gain perspective, but you also gain the expectation that they will listen to you in return. Opening yourself up, making your needs known, and sharing how you feel, all come together when you have someone who is willing to listen.
There’s a technique that therapists use, to force themselves to listen to their clients. Dr. John calls it “reflection” and it happens when the therapist repeats what the client has said to them in the conversation. When using this technique, use it sparingly and without a mocking connotation which can make things worse. Listen to them how you would want them to listen to you. That’s only fair.
To think that no relationship will have a bump in the road on their journey is pretty naive. Of course there will be bumps; there may be inclimate weather, road blocks, and flat tires too. But it’s how you work through it, by using your voice to address the problem and provide solution, that gets you to the point of your relationship you’re happy to be.
“9 Steps to Better Communication Today” John M. Grohol Psy. D. Psych Central. accessed July 1, 2014“Courage to Express and Negotiate Your Needs” Megan Raphael. eHarmony.com. accessed July 1, 2014
Last week we talked about confidence, and how showing it in your dating life can make the experience a more fun ride. But when you’re comfortable in your dating confidence, sexual confidence is close to follow.
As women, sometimes society likes to group us in two categories: the madonna or the whore. We’re either frigid and saintly or nymphomaniacs without virtue, but we can never be both. Growing up we weren’t always allowed to express our sexual nature like the boys. They were practically encouraged; while when we did, or heard of other people doing it, the situation was turned into something vile and dirty.
Why do we have to run around the house with a double edged sword, while men can love and express their sexuality freely? Can’t we be the madonna (wholesome and ethical) as well as the whore (sexual and seductive)?
If you don’t know how to answer the question, maybe finding your own sense of sexual confidence will give you the answer you’ve been in pursuit of.
Here are a few ways to boost the confidence in your sexual nature without being ashamed to do so.
1. Get in touch with yourself
A lack of confidence can come from the unknown. If you don’t know what you like, how can you be sure your partner will know too? The solution is to get better reaquainted with your body. Dr. Teesha Morgan, sex therapists and relationship counselor, suggests a little alone time with yourself to find what feels good is a great way to get a sense of your own sexuality*. Once you know what you like, it makes it easier for you to express it to your partner and all you have to do is enjoy yourself.
2. Take a Breather
When you live a busy lifestyle, you tend to wrap yourself up in whatever is surrounding you: your job, your friends, your family, etc. But in order to exude the sexual confidence you want, you have to leave all the stressful things behind.
Good Housekeeping suggests in participating in relaxing activities like taking a yoga class or having wine at dinner to melt away all the stress of your daily life**. Hell, get a massage every now and then! By loosening yourself up and pampering yourself, you may find yourself more willing to participate and enjoying more sexual activity.
3. Wear Lingerie For Yourself
When shopping with my friends, we sometimes end in up in Victoria Secret looking for their latest sale on bras and underwear. In a browse, we come across all different styles of underwear and pajamas, from material that’s there, to barely there, and finally, hardly there. All of it is stylish and very sexy. But some of my friends stick to buying underwear or pajamas that show little to no sexual appeal.
I’ll suggest something spicier or cuter, but their answer is “I have no one to wear it for.” Who said the writing on the back of your underwear has to be seen by someone else? In order to make someone else think you’re sexy in lingerie, you should learn to feel sexy in it for no reason at all. Try buying a spicy bra and underwear set, then wear it under your clothes to work. Nobody will know and it will be your own sexy secret.
4. Watch A Little Porn
As an adult, you have the utmost right to watch porn. Sure it’s a fabricated sexual experience that is unrealistic to how sex really is, but so are romance movies to a real love life.
People make watching porn turn out to be such a filthy act, but it’s really nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just a movie.
Watching it, you learn to figure out what turns you on and what you want to attempt in your own love life. Some videos may even open your mind to trying new experiences with sex you’ve been nervous about. Try watching it by yourself and then with a partner when you’re ready. You may find that you really enjoy it.
5 . Understand Your Natural Power
I don’t know if you have been informed, but as women we hold a natural power within ourselves that is sheer witchcraft. This is where your sexual confidence comes from.
In a survey done by Dr. Phil McGraw on sexual confidence***, he found the core of what it means to have it, which is that, “It is not all about sex. It is very much about power, the power that comes from liking and accepting yourself. A woman who is open-minded, wants to have fun, and isn’t counting on getting an engagement ring within minutes of meeting a man has an ease about her that translates as power…if you’re comfortable and genuinely happy, others sense it and want it. Women who like where they are in their lives exude an assurance that makes for some very positive vibes in the bedroom.”
If loving yourself in your own skin means getting healthier, or just giving yourself the permission to be sensual then you have answered the question at the beginning.
You can be a saintly woman as well as the sexual creature that you were made to be. The two people have nothing, yet everything to do with each other on how you want to live your love life. By understanding the good qualities of being the two, you will truly start to enjoy it.
*“ Sexual confidence: Seven tips for being bolder in bed,” Flannery Dean. Chatelaine.com. accessed June 27, 2014
**“10 Ways to Build Your Sexual Confidence,” Good Housekeeping.com. accessed June 27, 2014
***“ Sexual Confidence: How To Define It,” Dr. Phil McGraw. Oprah.com. accessed June 27, 2014
Dating on the road, whether you bring the guy with you or meet someone along the way, has its own peculiarities. Either way, you could be setting yourself up for an experience that you’ll never forget.
The man you take with you
Three months into dating the man who became my third husband, he invited me to “walk the Milford Track” with him. I had never heard of the Milford Track, which is in New Zealand. I Googled it, read about how four people died when a hut blew off a mountain pass, and said, “You want me to go where and do what?”
We flew to Christchurch via Auckland, and on to Te Anau and Fiordland National Park, where we hiked 3,000 miles up over McKinnon Pass to Milford Sound.
During that trip I learned a lot of about him. I learned to admire his sense of curiosity and adventure, how easily he was able to engage strangers in conversation, and spotted a bit of MacGyver in him. I also learned that his curious questions could lead to critical judgment.
At the airport, he lifted one of my bags and exclaimed, “What’d you pack in here, anyway, every book you own?”
I established an agreement with him that each of us would be responsible for and carry our own tickets, money, passports, and luggage.
If you don’t do this, you set yourself up for, “The blue bag? I haven’t seen it. I thought you had it,” or –along with an accusatory look—“What did you do with the passports?”
Traveling with a man tells you how he behaves when he’s in a strange environment, when he’s not in charge, when he doesn’t speak the language, when he’s lost, tired, hungry or otherwise under stress.
The man you meet along the road
The summer I traveled alone (in my late twenties) through ten European countries, I had several dates: Mats, the Swede; Wolfgang in Hamburg; Roger, the tall Brit visiting Spain; John, the student from Ithaca, NY, tent-camping through Germany; and Italian Roberto, who wanted to be sure I went back to America saying how romantic Italian men are.
When traveling, there are wonderful date destinations. Mats took me to Malmö’s Transcendental Meditation center and taught me how to meditate. Wolfgang showed me the hottest disco in Hamburg after which, with several of his friends, we crashed a public swimming pool. Roger showed me the walled castle outside of Barcelona where we walked all day and had a charming lunch. John took me to visit German’s fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle (Walt Disney’s model for the original Disneyland entrance). Roberto took me to a traditional Italian lunch (no pizza!) where I was horrified to find in my salad a fat worm; he flicked it away and kept on talking.
Here’s the big disadvantage when traveling to meeting a man who asks you for a date: if he is charming, interesting, attentive, and you are attracted to him, now what?
Unlike a souvenir, you can’t take him home, and you may never pass this way again. It can be hard to say, “Good-bye.”
With three of my European dates I corresponded, but the letters eventually stopped. While the days—and some nights!—I spent with these men were lifetime-memorable, the men themselves were in fact “geographically undesirable.” (We didn’t have the internet.)
On personal safety
Years ago you didn’t have to worry about drugs in your drinks and other dangerous things that we read about today.
But I also operated by some personal rules still apply today:
1) Meet him in a public place. There is no need to let a man you just met know where you are staying. The days when “a gentleman” picked you up at your door are long gone.
2) Travel in a “pack.” I met other single women who wanted to save money by sharing a room, so that when I went out, I was often in the company of four or five other people. A “group date” was fun and safe.
3) As for romance, I did not bring the exciting man of my dreams into my room; I went to his apartment. That way, I controlled when we would “part.” I was never in the awkward situation of wanting him to leave and not being able to get him out of my space.
Going to his apartment has another advantage: you get to see how he lives. Are there dirty dishes in the sink? Clothes scattered everywhere? Does he have a pet?
If you are traveling with a girlfriend, make an agreement in advance about how you will handle a possible date invitation. That way, your best friend isn’t suddenly offended because you want to spend the day, or evening, with a date instead of her.
I have travelled with girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, and alone. The most important things to remember with travel dates are to be honest in your communication, stay aware, don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at home, and then go have fun.
If you haven’t gone outside to really enjoy the gorgeous weather we have had so far this summer, then shame on you! What’s the whole point of waiting on summer if you’re not going to go outside of your house and really appreciate it, and with someone else too?
Here are a few fun summer dates you HAVE to try, if you haven’t already. And if you have, you’ll want to do it all over again!
1. Attend A Fair
The summer time is filled with so many street fairs, county fairs, and state fairs that there’s no excuse not to attend at least one! Google something you’re interested, and I’m sure there is a street fair for it happening closer than you think. With your date, roam around and participate in the arts and crafts, taste the horribly delicious food, and play a few games. While you’re at it, if they have a ferris wheel, take a ride! You may find yourself taken back to a younger time in your life.
2. Visit a Winery
Not everyone likes wine, but if you both enjoy it Brittany Burke from Redbook* suggests finding a winery that makes wine that you’ll enjoy together. Some places even let you make your own bottle of wine to take home! This can create a memory that you both won’t forget, and a keepsake that you can enjoy on a special day!
3. Check Out a Flea Market
If you’re both early risers and have an eye for a great deal, the local flea market can be the perfect date! There you could find that record you’ve been searching for, or the perfect piece of art that you can hang in your house. Picking out items and bargaining together, you get an idea of each other’s taste. And it all can happen before noon!
4. Head to the Nearest Beach
Having the luxury of a beach near by should not be taken for granted. Ian Lang from Ask Men.com** suggests a date at the beach to spend a summer afternoon. This is the perfect place to have some fun in the sun and cool off at the same time. Cozy up together by building sand castles and applying sunscreen on each other. Pack a romantic picnic to enjoy the entire day!
5. Be a Tourist
When was the last time you saw the sights in your own city? If you had to think about it, this might be a good date to try with someone. MSN Living*** makes the suggestion of going sight seeing to save some money and find those hidden treasures you’ve been missing out on. If you make plans to go somewhere you haven’t been to in a while, going again with someone new can make it seem like the first time.
6. See an Outdoor Movie
Sitting inside a cold movie theatre for a couple of hours can get old fast, so instead attend an outdoor screening of a movie that the both of you will enjoy. Ian says, look in your local paper** or Google search a park near you for their activities schedule, they usually have a list of what movies are being played. This is your chance to grab a blanket, some tasty snacks, and cuddle underneath the stars while you watch a great film!
7. Go Off the Grid
Sometimes all you need to do to enjoy your someone special is get away from your job, family, and friends for a little while. The perfect way to do it is camping. If you two don’t mind pitching a tent, building a fire, and dining al fresco this is a great date to try! At night you can watch the stars and a romantic sunrise in the morning. Not to mention, when you’re alone in the wilderness nothing can disturb you two but the animals.
8. Try a Little Golf
Whether you’re a golf pro, or a mini-golf pro, this is a fun date that can only really enjoyed in the summertime*. If you decide to go to a golf club, and you’re good, don’t be afraid to show him. But even if you’re not, that leaves room for romantic instruction. Mini-golf, or putt-putt, puts a childlike spin on what could be a date full of romance. Just look out for that windmill!
So if you haven’t tried any of these dates this summer, make it your personal goal to try at least half! And even if you didn’t have fun on them, at least you can say you didn’t waste your entire summer inside!
* “30 Great Outdoor Dating Ideas for Summer” MSN Living. accessed June 17, 2014
** “ Top 10 : Summer Date Ideas” Ian Lang. Ask Men.com . accessed June 17, 2014
***“26 Hot, Sweet, Fun, and Cheap Summer Date Ideas” Brittany Burke. Redbook Mag.com. accessed June 17, 2014