3 Common Mistakes of Online Dating

 By Caitlin Nelson, LMFT

By Caitlin Nelson, LMFT

A few years ago, Aziz Ansari came out with a book dedicated to understanding the world of online dating. Here are a few of the common online dating mistakes he outlines in Modern Romance:

1. Messaging too much before meeting

The only way to know if you truly connect with someone is to meet them face-to-face. The desire to continue texting to see if you’re a good fit is well-intentioned, however, it can cause you to lose interest in the person before actually meeting them, or them in you. It also cannot replace the first impression your brain makes when meeting someone. Send a few messages and then set up a time to meet.

2. Dismissing people too early

The seemingly endless options through dating apps are great, until they aren’t. Having too many options can actually cause us to become more picky or incapable of making a decision at all. We adopt the mindset that there is always someone better and the little quirks that we may have grown to appreciate in someone become the reason we swipe left. Rather than dismissing someone for a minor difference, try investing in a few dates before making the decision to call things off.

3. Ghosting

When we decide we are no longer interested in someone, there tends to be three options of breaking the news: pretending to be busy, saying nothing, or being honest. Out of the three options, saying nothing was agreed to be the least preferable option when on the receiving end, and being honest was the first. However, most people reported using the “pretending to be busy” option and the “saying nothing” option when they needed to break the news to someone. Silence, better known as ghosting, creates situations where people are no longer accountable for their part in interactions and self-doubt and frustration take over. Remember that there is another person on the other end of the screen and hold yourself accountable in your interactions.

Braving the Wilderness: A Mini Review

By Sasha Taskier, AMFT

I recently read Braving the Wilderness, Dr. Brené Brown’s newest book on the quest for true belonging in an era of emotional disconnection and political toxicity. I have long been a fan of Dr. Brown’s work; I try to reread her books Daring Greatly and Rising Strong every chance I get, and I am constantly recommending them to both clients and friends alike. I had very high hopes for her newest work, and let me tell you, it surpassed even my incredibly high expectations.

Here is a mini-review of the book, including reasons for its potency and relevance, and some of my favorite takeaways.

Brown explores to the rise of disconnection in our communities. She sees that our political parties have become gangs that leave no room for dissent amongst us. Perhaps more importantly, if we stay inside these bunkers, we lose the ability to connect with those on the outside. We are the most separated and siloed we have ever been, and despite being surrounded by the people who (likely) share our political beliefs, we are also the most lonely, isolated and disconnected we have ever been. So, while we may be gathered under the same bunkers of political ideology, we are really still alone.

Rather than continuing to stay in our bunkers and stonewalling (or fighting) with anyone who has a different belief than ours, Brown encourages us to learn to stand in the wilderness and begin to have the hard and painful conversations. Only through these moments of real connection can we better belong to ourselves and to one another.

To do this with any sort of success, Brown provides practices and tools that are meant to help us step into and become, what she calls “the wilderness”, both rooted deeply in our beliefs and integrity, and courageous enough to open ourselves to those around us even if we know it might not be popular opinion. We must choose courage over comfort and learn to embrace vulnerability. Both vulnerability and joy are the keys to true belonging.

Here are her tips for braving the wilderness:

  • Boundaries: Set/Hold/Respect them. The challenge is letting go of being liked and the fear of disappointing.
  • Reliability: Do not over commit or overpromise to please others or prove yourself.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.
  • Accountability: Issue meaningful apologies. Let go of blame and stay out of shame.
  • Vault: Share only what is yours to share. Stop using gossip to hotwire a quick connection with someone.
  • Integrity: Choose courage over comfort. Practice living in your values.
  • Generosity: Be honest and clear with others about what is ok and what is not.

Brown masterfully provides both research findings and anecdotes to better explain and unpack how these tools show up in our daily lives and why they are so integral to true belonging. One of my favorite sections from the book was a practice called: Hold Hands with Strangers.

She teaches that collective joy and pain are the cornerstones of human connection; “seek out moments of collective joy and show up for collective pain.” These are the moments that reinforce our human connection, such as concerts, sporting events and even movies where there is a palpable force of love and connection in the audience. Have you ever felt an experience of collective joy? For me, singing songs arm in arm with my best friends at my childhood summer camp triggers those memories. Even the joy I experienced at a Beyoncé concert, singing and dancing with strangers who loved her the same way I do. They were moments that, although maybe silly, made me feel hopeful about the goodness of people.

Moments of collective pain, such as funerals, or sitting with a friend who is grieving or hurting, are profoundly important - albeit much more difficult and uncomfortable. We need both.

Brown shares a study that examined the impact of collective assembly. The findings showed that these experiences “contribute to a life filled with sense of meaning, increased positive affect, increased sense of social connection, and decreased sense of loneliness. All essential components of a happy healthy life.” The best part is, they have a lingering effect; we hold onto these positive feelings past the events themselves.

Even since the rise of social media in the last decade, we have become simultaneously more connected and more isolated and lonely. Brown’s ultimate message resonates with me very deeply - if we want true, authentic belonging in this world, we first have to know who we are, what roots us and only then, can we turn outwards and engage with our friends and communities from a place of curiosity, vulnerability and shared humanity.

There are countless pieces of wisdom in this book, from conflict transformation tools to parenting advice, and its message could not be more important or relevant for our world today. So, pick up a copy - (and then talk to someone about it, in person!)

Back From the Honeymoon.....Now What?

 By Karen Focht, LMFT

By Karen Focht, LMFT

There is so much time and energy that goes into planning a wedding.  Although this process can be stressful, it also comes with feelings of excitement and exhilaration.  After all of those countless hours of planning your big day comes and goes in a matter of moments! 

Through both my personal and professional experience over the years, I have seen the joyful heightened state of a couple experiencing their wedding and honeymoon, and then the quick jolt back into the reality of day to day life.  How do we keep that sweet honeymoon glow as we transition back to life as a now married couple?  Here are a few tips to consider.

1.     Tap into new interests:  Make a list with your partner to identify new interests to peruse together as a couple.  This could include a class on cooking, knife skills or improve, just to name a few.

2.     Get connected to other strong couples:  Creating a positive support network which includes other couples can strengthen your relationship’s foundation and offer additional support through challenging times that may come up in the future. 

3.    Explore your city:  Create time out of the ordinary with one another.  Visit a museum, check out a new hotspot, or spend time outdoors in your neighborhood

4.     Check In:  Carve out intentional time each week to sit down and connect around your relationship.  What are your strengths as a couple?  What are the challenges you face and how can you work together to improve upon these challenges?

5.     Seek additional support:  Therapy is not only important through the challenging times, but can also be tremendously helpful to continue to strengthen relationships while they flourish. 

Keep Calm and Fight Fair

BY CAITLIN NELSON, AMFT

 

Every couple will experience conflict in their relationship, no matter how happy they are together. Research done by John Gottman and Robert Levenson found that 69% of conflict in relationships is about unresolvable, perpetual problems based on differences between partners (Gottman). They also found that stable couples experience 5 positive interactions to every 1 negative interaction, while that ratio for unstable couples is 0.8:1. So what does this information tell us about conflict in relationships? Simply put, conflict is inevitable and manageable. So let’s learn how to manage it!

Step one to learning how to manage conflict is identifying that you are angry. Often before we can even recognize that we are angry, our bodies already know. Our heart is beating faster, our thoughts are racing, our muscles are tense, our faces are red - we are physiologically activated. Pay attention to these sensations, as they are your body letting you know you’ve reached your emotional threshold. Aka your point of no return.

Once you are able to identify that you are angry, it’s time to learn how to calm yourself back down. Why? Because reaching your emotional threshold puts you on auto-pilot, meaning you lose your ability to choose your reaction to your partner. This means that any chance of having a productive conversation is lost. If you want to hear and be heard, you need to come back to a calm state. You can do this by taking a few good deep breaths or by taking a walk (if leaving is agreed to be non-threatening by both partners).

Once you have gotten yourself feeling a little calmer, it’s time for some self-reflection. Try and identify what caused your anger. Were you feeling misunderstood, judged, blamed, hurt? These are the feelings to share with your partner. It’s easier to connect when we share softer emotions, rather than our harsh anger. In order to share those softer emotions with your partner, you need to agree upon a time and place to try again. Check in about a good time to revisit the conversation. Lastly, remind yourself that you and your partner are on a team, that there are positives to your partner and your relationship with them. This will help you soften more towards your partner, rather than revamping your side of the argument.

Ok, so now you’re calm and you’ve established a time to try again. Here are a few things to try when sharing your perspective with your partner.

 DO use “I-Statements.” These are statements that share your feelings in a non-accusatory way and propose a solution. They are the opposite of “you-statements,” which place our partner on the defense and assign blame.

You-statement : “You are always so inconsiderate! Why can’t you just come home when you say you will?!”

I-Statement : I feel anxious when I haven’t heard from you when you’re out. Could we set up a check-in system?

DON’T assassinate your partner’s character. This escalates the conflict and gets you farther away from sharing your perspective and working towards resolution.

DON’T call your partner names. This escalates the conflict and puts your partner on the defensive.

DON’T use the words always or never. This derails the conversation and allows more opportunity for further debate.

DO continue taking deep breaths throughout the conversation. This keeps you in control of your reactions and further away from your emotional threshold.

If you can begin implementing some of these tactics, your ability to manage conflict within your relationship will continue to become more and more effective, and easier to do consistently.

 

 

How To Cope With Divorce

BY SASHA TASKIER, AMFT


I was recently invited to collaborate on an expert panel and share some insights on how to cope with divorce. Here are my thoughts:

It's time to give yourself a giant dose of self-compassion.

You are not going to be your best self at moments and you are weathering a transition that may force you to re-examine so many aspects of your life. Simple things, like your daily routine, can be torn down and much of this process necessitates a new approach.

So, be gentle.

Be forgiving of yourself and others. You are doing the best you can, with the tools you have that day.

The people in your life may know what you're going through, but they aren't inside your head. They might be insensitive at times, and you might feel let down - but, chances are, they are trying to help in the ways they know how.

Just like there is no road map for you, there is no road map for them either.

Seek support - whether through family, friends, or a professional therapist.

It's ok to ask for help, to say, "I feel like a mess today" or "I'm having a really hard time with (insert activity.)" (Another topic to consider is if your children also need support - and how to provide that at a time you are not at your best.)

Savor moments that you feel good, because they might feel rare (for a period of time.)

Take a dance class, go to the movies, have a night with friends, or if you can, treat yourself to a weekend away.

Mostly, remember that these feelings are temporary.

It will get better, and with time and patience, you will begin to feel like yourself again. In the meantime, treat yourself like you would treat your best friend who is going through a difficult time.

You can read the full article here: How to Cope with Divorce

Languages of Love

By Caitlin Nelson, AMFT

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I find myself reflecting on the desire to let our partner know we care, to show them love, and the frustrating difficulty we can have doing so. We can put out our best effort and still be heartbreakingly disappointed when our partner does not respond the way we expected. What we often don’t realize is that our partner may not receive love or affection in the same way we prefer to express it. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, explains this difference in what he has coined “love languages,” and highlights the importance in being able to speak your partner’s love language. He lays them out as follows:

1.     Words of Affirmation : Verbal compliments and appreciations

2.     Quality Time : Spending undivided and undistracted time together

3.     Receiving Gifts : Tangible, visible symbols of thoughtfulness

4.     Acts of Service : Utilizing action to demonstrate love

5.     Physical Touch : Needing touch to feel loved and valued

Chapman goes on to discuss that we all have a primary love language and a secondary love language, and that similar to spoken language, love languages all have multiple dialectics through which to express affection. This is where we get to be creative with how we show our partner love! There is no “right way” to love our partner within their love language. What’s important is holding a curiosity for how your partner receives love. If their primary love language is physical touch, do they prefer cuddling before bed, or quick hugs throughout the day? Get to know the way your partner receives love and strive to implement their language as a new practice in your relationship!

The more we can love our partners in the way they receive love, rather than they way we receive love, the less likely it is that we will be disappointed when we express our love.

Take this short quiz to identify your primary and secondary love languages and share your results with your partner! : http://www.5lovelanguages.com

*These love languages are applicable in all relationships in our lives, not simply romantic ones. 

The Power of Reminiscing

 The Short north, columbus ohio

The Short north, columbus ohio

I recently returned to Columbus Ohio where I had spent three years of my life post college.  During these early twenty-something years, I can look back to some amazing memories, tough challenges, relationship building and self discovery.  Columbus was where I started the beginning stages of my career, built a strong support system of close friends and met my husband.  It was where I first experienced full independence and allowed myself to dream big and push through fear of failure and change.

As I drove through the city with my closest girlfriend Jaime, we found ourselves completely emerged in our memories of that exciting and terrifying time.  Not only did we reflect on our memories, but we also shared new awareness of the present as it is connected to our past. 

Research shows that reminiscing can be a very valuable tool towards healing and growth.  John Kunz, founder of the International Institute of Reminiscence and Life Review states “each time an individual tells part of his/her life story, those who listen are like a mirror, reflecting and affirming their lives.”  This experience of nostalgia does have its painful side, yet research continues to show that by reminiscing, life can seem more meaningful and death less freighting.  It can counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety.

So the next time you find yourself with this opportunity of reminiscing remember that this experience strengthens relationships, creates more meaning in life, increases feelings of contentment and links our past to the present.