Friday, April 30, 2010

The Poison Of The Getting Mindset

There is a word we use so often with dating and relationships, we don't even think about it anymore.

But we should.

That word is 'Getting.'

Getting the phone number, getting lucky, getting married.

I'm not saying the word is the source of society's ills and should be eliminated. The word itself is harmless. Use it all you want, however you want.

But behind that word is a mindset that is a romantic posion pill. What makes that mindset even more dangerous, is that it looks like our friend.

The Getting Mindset ties our success or failure to other people's behavior. "If I'm funny, she'll give me her phone number" or "If I wasn't so needy, I'd be married right now."

There are three things that make the Getting Mindset so dangerous.

1 - It often appears helpful. Maybe the fellow in our example COULD benefit from developing his sense of humor.

2 - There's often truth behind it. It is very possible neediness has caused problems in our second' example's relationships.

But the real poison about the Getting Mindset is this:

3 - It often works.

And when something appears to be working, it's easy to overlook the hidden costs.

The problem with the Getting Mindset is that while it won't stop you from getting what you want, it WILL stop you from being able to enjoy it.

The Getting Mindset is like drinking seawater. It looks like something that will quench your thirst, but with each drink you are becoming more and more dehydrated.

When it comes to relationships, you are better off measuring the success of what you do by the act itself and not by the results.

Telling someone how you feel is more important than whether or not they return your affection.

Being able to walk away when someone crosses the line is more important than whether or not they chase after you.

Showing kindness and compassion when appropriate is more important than whether or not it is appreciated or gets you something.

We'll work more with the Getting Mindset in future installments. We'll also cover the alternative, which I call Giving and Receiving.

In the meantime, try the practice.

PRACTICE

In a previous post, we asked ourselves, "What do I want and what am I willing to do to get it?"

Over the next couple days, we're going to use a variation on this question. Over the course of the week, if you find yourself in conflict or in a difficult situation, stop and ask yourself:

"What do I want and what am I doing to get it?"

It's sometimes hard to remember this in the moment. If you need to wait until after the crisis has passed that's fine too. The important thing is to pay attention to what you want, the things you're doing to get it.

Is what you're doing working? Are things you say you want the things you REALLY want? How does the whole thing feel?

Pay attention to what you notice.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Join The Heart Way Support Group on Facebook here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Friends Without Benefits (Part 2): Let's Just Be Friends Edition

In a recent post, we talked about the difficulties of having feelings for someone who may not return them. Today, we'll focus on the specifics of what to do.

The best solution to the dilemma is not to get put into that position in the first place. You do this by making your interest in someone known as soon as you recognize it.

When you wait too long, it feels unexpected and weird. You also lose credibility points for hiding your intentions for so long. It's a subtle dishonesty, but it DOES--consciously or not--erode trust and comfort.

Don't make a big production out of your feelings--no flowers, showing up under their balcony, or professing undying love. Such gestures are counter-productive in this situation.

Avoid putting any pressure on the other person. Make it clear if they like you back, they like you back. If not...you aren't going to think any less of them.

Usually the other person will react in a number of ways. None of them are a big deal...not even the dreaded Let's Just Be Friends speech

If you get this, don't give the speech anymore weight than it deserves. All the person is doing is saying how they feel RIGHT NOW. If you overreact by getting upset, despondent, or arguing, they will a) feel less comfortable being honest with you in the future b) start to feel that they are responsible for your feelings.

Neither of these things is good.

Someone honestly telling you how they is a good thing even if it's feelings you don't like. It's an opportunity for you to show you're okay with ANY feeling they have.

If you allow them freedom to feel anything around you, you may quickly learn something else about feelings.

They change.

As we said in Part 1, most times they won’t. But it CAN happen.

In the meantime, you have a question to ask yourself.

Am I able to be this person’s friend, whether we are romantically involved or not?

A conditional friendship is not a friendship. If you are being this person’s friend because you‘re hoping to change their mind, you are not really friends. You are trying to get something from them and that’s going to lead to trouble.

Also, do not stay in the friendship for the sake of the other person. You may think they need you. They may even SAY they need you. But they don‘t, and even if they did, your first responsibility is to yourself.

When we have feelings for someone, it is normal to want to do things for them we might not normally do. But for your own peace of mind and self-respect, don‘t invest anything in them you aren‘t okay with losing.

If you’re going to stay in the friendship, stay because you LIKE them.

TO REVIEW:

- Thou shalt not hide your attraction from yourself or the other person. It’s dishonest.

- Thou shalt refrain from attempting to convince, manipulate, win over, or in any way control the other person‘s response.

- Thou shalt not stay friends in the hopes of changing their mind. Be their friend because you want to be their friend, not because you’re trying to get something. Anything else is not a friendship.

- Thou shalt take care of yourself. If you need to take time away from this person do it. They do NOT need you, even if they say otherwise.

PRACTICE
Throughout the day, experiment with saying you feel out loud--whether you‘re by yourself or around other people. Do it in the same matter-of-fact way you would talk about the weather, only instead of saying “it’s raining” you are saying “I’m hungry,” “I’m happy,” or “I’m frustrated.” You aren’t looking for any particular response. You don’t need to go into depth as to why you’re feeling a particular way or what needs to happen for those feelings to change. Just practice saying what you feel.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Join The Heart Way Support Group on Facebook here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

[EDITORIAL - For Men] The Absence of No

There's an idea a lot of folks in the dating advice business encourage, especially when we're dealing with the male side of the equation and even more especially when dealing with shyer, less confident males.

When it comes to approaching women, asking for phone numbers, or even "physical escalation" (a euphemism for everything from hand-holding to kissing to...um...well, you know, THAT), we often encourage guys to err on the side of assertiveness. Better to be too aggressive, we tell than not aggressive enough.

A lot of guys are uncomfortable asking women out or making moves on them. One of the things we try and reinforce is that it is okay to be attracted to someone. It is not bad to strike up a conversation with a stranger and ask for her phone number. You are not a bad person for wanting sex.

We also try to educate them to the fact that women, for the most part, are not going to be mean to you or embarrass you for talking to them. In fact, many women enjoy meeting attractive guys. To paraphrase Hitch, "No woman wakes up in the morning thinking, 'I sure hope I don't get swept off my feet by some awesome guy today."

However, some men--some of whom sadly enough are giving advice to other men--take it too far. According to them, "anything that is not a 'no' is a 'yes.'"

And that's simply not true.

The party line to support this argument goes something like this:

1 - Women like sex.
2 - Society punishes women for having sex.
3 - Therefore, any resistance a woman has to sex that isn't an outright 'no' is just societal programming.

In other words, she wants it, but she doesn't want to feel like a slut. By not forcing her to give us an explicit 'yes', we're leaving her the 'it just happened' defence.

And you know what? Sometimes that's exactly true. But using it as an across-the-board argument for steamrolling ahead in the absence of any explicit resistance? That makes me nervous.

I am friends with many women. I have heard as many stories about women having sex when they didn't want to as I have stories when they wanted sex and didn't get it.

Why would a woman have sex when she doesn't want to, you might ask? And if she didn't want to have sex, why wouldn't she resist or say something?

Believe it or not, there are reasons. Maybe she was worried about her physical safety. Maybe she was impaired. Maybe she DID say no and the guy didn't hear it or recognize the signal.

And then there's that whole social pressure thing. While it's true that society isn't always the most encouraging about women having sex. But there are also times when there is an equally strong social pressure on a woman to have sex even when she doesn't want to.

Most of all, I'm uncomfortable with anyone presuming to know what someone else "really" wants. When people do it to me, it pisses me right off. Not only that--even if you have good intentions, it's a dangerous attitude, whether the subject is sex, religion, money, power, or anything else.

I'm not against well-meaning guys approaching women and screwing it up. Most women I know have dealt with worse problems than a stilted conversation at a bus stop and are perfectly capable of handling a  momentary awkwardness.We all have to start somewhere, and we all have to learn somehow.

But when guys don't take no for an answer--or don't recognize the signals of the 'unspoken no' things turn scary. And when you bring sex into the equation and all of its potential physical and emotional (not to mention legal) complications...not recognizing someone's comfort levels can have nasty consequences.

The absence of no is not a yes. Moreover, deep down, I think we all know this. Telling lies to the contrary--to women, to less-experienced guys, and to ourselves--is a dangerous path to tread.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Join The Heart Way Support Group on Facebook here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Friends Without Benefits (Part 1): When You Have Crush On Someone Who Wants To Be Just Friends Edition

So. You're in love with one of your friends.

You don't know how it happened. You never expected it to happen. But in one moment, everything changed and nothing has been the same since.

And you don't know what to do.

You aren't alone. It's probably happened to most of us at some point in our lives. I know it's happened to me. And even though it's normal, that doesn't make it easy.

Before we proceed, let's get the bad news out of the way:

IT IS PROBABLY NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

This isn't always an easy thing to accept. It is very easy and very normal to tell ourselves stories: Oh, maybe this person loves me, but is unsure how to say it or maybe when they learn how I feel, the force of my undying devotion will win them over.

These stories will not help you.

Only the truth will help you and in this case the truth is this: the odds are against you. In my history of dating and listening to other people's dating stories, I can think of two relationships that grew out of this scenario, and one of those had extenuating circumstances. I've heard of others but they either happened in a movie or to a 'friend of a friend/my brother-in-law's great grandparents/etc.' Given the amount of people I talk to about relationship stuff, that's an exceedingly small drop in a very large bucket.

I'm not telling you this to discourage you. I'm telling you this in hopes that if things don't work out, you will recall that Things Not Working Out is par for this particular course. It does not make you an unlovable, hopeless loser, nor does it make the other person a stuck-up idiot who clearly can't recognize what's best for him- or herself.

And if things DO Work out...congratulations. You beat the odds. Internet high-fives for everybody.

In a previous entry I touched on the idea that "The Problem Is Not Always The Problem." This is a great example.

Being attracted to someone is no big deal. You do not need to feel badly or be ashamed for being in like, love, or lust. You don't always get to choose who you're attracted to, for one thing. Even if you did have a choice...that choice would be nobody's business but your own.

What we want to avoid is the easy-to-fall-into-trap of thinking that liking/loving/lusting after someone entitles you to having them like/love/lust you back...or that they have any obligation to you whatsoever.

It's not their job to like you back. It is also not their job to let you down easy. Nor are they responsible for 'not leading you on.' If you put that responsibility on them, you are putting them in an awkward, uncomfortable position.

These are your feelings, not theirs. There is nothing the other person can do about your feelings. The less confident they are in your ability to handle your business, the more likely it is they will feel forced to make a decision neither of you will be happy about.

It's normal to worry about other people's reactions, especially people we're close to, but there is also nothing we can do about it.

We need to keep the focus where it belongs.

And that's squarely on you.

This is the question you need to ask:

What is the best thing I can do for myself in this situation?

You already know what you need to do. Chances are, you've known for a while, but have been finding ways of talking yourself out of it. Sometimes those reasons sound pretty good. But listening to those reasons aren't making the situation better.

The longer you refuse to acknowledge That Which Must Be Done, the more problems you are causing for yourself. You are also going to cause problems for the Object of Your Affection if you haven't already. Because you aren't being true to yourself. You are holding a part of yourself back for this person's sake, and it is extremely likely you will resent them for it if you don't already.

The problem is not you. The problem is not them. The problem is not the attraction.

The problem is refusing to do That Which Must Be Done, which leads to awkwardness, uncertainty, and resentment.

Deal with That and watch the rest take care of itself.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Join The Heart Way Support Group on Facebook here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dating Ecology: Breaking The Wheel Of Pain




I found this picture on this website (click on the picture to get a better look). I call it the Wheel of Pain. I‘ve seen a lot of people crushed by it.

If you’ve been on the dating scene for any length of time, it’s not hard to see the Wheel and it’s effects. It’s hard not to be affected by it. There are times it feels inescapable, and that the only way to protect yourself is to become part of the cycle.

But the Wheel of Pain is not inevitable. Moreover, YOU can do something about it.

Look at it again. Notice that “fucks over” and “turns into” account for four parts of the cycle and two of them--the ones corresponding to your particular gender--are under your direct control.

These are the weak links in the chain. One involves taking responsibility for your behavior. The other involves refusing to be shaped by the bad behavior of others.

It’s not easy. When you feel you’ve been fucked over, it’s normal to want to take full advantage when the opportunity arises to be the one doing the fucking. Similarly, once you’ve been burned, it’s natural to want to protect yourself.

Other times, it’s not a deliberate choice. Our emotions run away with us. We listen to bad advice or fall prey to old habits. Or maybe we just aren’t paying attention to how our decisions affect others.

And sometimes, sometimes--despite our best intentions--we just make mistakes.

Mistakes are fine.

But that’s not what we’re talking about.

What we’re talking about is making an effort to reduce the amount or intensity of the fucking over we do. We are also trying not to let bitterness and resentment twist ourselves into something that is no good to anyone, least of all ourselves.

The best part is, you don‘t have to do anything big. Nobody is asking you to become a saint or martyr. You don’t have to solve the world’s problems or ANYBODY else’s problems for that matter. In fact, it’s probably better you don’t.

The little things are where these types of battles are fought. And there are always opportunities to do a little thing. No matter what you’ve done or has been done to you, it is never too late and always within your capabilities to do a small thing.

Every time you choose to be honest when it might be easier to lie, every time you let go of a sliver of resentment over past betrayals…those small pebbles are enough to jam the machinery of the Wheel of Pain.

You aren’t just stopping yourself from being crushed beneath the Wheel of Pain. You’re reversing its effects--on you AND on the people close to you. And that one act may be something that reminds those people to treat the people in THEIR lives better and so on and so forth down the line.

You’re doing more than stopping the Wheel of Pain. You’re REVERSING it. With one small, simple action, you are helping yourself and a whole lot of people. We all drink from the same romantic river--every contribution you make towards cleaning it helps everyone.

The Wheel of Pain is not invincible, nor is it inevitable.

You have power over it.

All it takes is a little thing.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Join The Heart Way Support Group on Facebook here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Mistake Myth

When it comes to relationships, are you the type of person who notices yourself making the same mistakes over and over?

Do you get angry and frustrated with yourself? Does it feel like you’re constantly telling yourself and your friends, that you should have KNOWN better? Are you lying in bed at night, thinking: If I could just fix this one thing about myself, I would be able to stop these things from happening?

If so, you aren’t alone.

In fact, you’re in damned good company. Many of the rest of us are in the same boat.

For example, lets look at three of my personal relationship issues:

I’m still anxious around women. I have trouble approaching a woman for the first time, especially when people I know are watching and when I‘m around a girl I really like, I still feel awkward and uncertain about telling her so. I’m good with women, I know I’m good with women, and yet there are still times I can‘t seem to find it in me to make a move.

• I still have a tendency to fall for women who need saving, women who need me instead of women who can give me what I want.


And lest we forget, the really big one…

I have yet to make a relationship work in the long term. I do not believe I know how to be a good boyfriend.

Now it doesn’t surprise me that I have issues. What sticks in my craw is that they look suspiciously like the SAME issues I‘ve been grappling with for years: worrying too much about being too forward or inappropriate, wanting to feel needed, and insecurity about my ability to measure up.

But in my experience, that’s how it goes for a lot of people. You don’t solve an issue and move on to a new one. Instead, you’re dealing with variations on the same three or four big problems over and over.

In some ways, it’s reassuring: once you’ve identified those issues, you always know the first place to look when things come up in your relationships. On the other hand, it’s frustrating to feel you’re living the same problems over and over with different partners.

Which brings us to today’s lesson:

GET USED TO THE IDEA THAT YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE PROBLEMS

You are not going to fix yourself. You may never solve all the things that cause you problems in relationships. You will never be perfect. And those problems may just might be the same problems that are bugging you now.

So make friends with them.

Because here’s an important thing to realize:

The problem is not always the problem.

The issues we have are not half as big a deal as the stories we tell ourselves about what these issues mean about us. Certainly, they don’t cause us nearly so much pain.

For example, the other night, out with some other comedians after a show, I spotted a gorgeous tatooed redhead in a white tank-top and tight jeans sitting at another table.

I was unable to bring myself to go over and introduce myself with the other comics watching. That wasn’t a big deal.

The problem was the three hours afterwards I spent beating myself up over it, replaying the scenario in my head, telling myself how ridiculous I was, etc.

We all fall short sometimes. We don’t say the words we desperately want the other person to hear. We take something too personally or react too emotionally. We hold on to something when we should be letting go. We fall in love with the wrong person, even though we know better. We don’t listen to ourselves.

Making mistakes--or repeating old ones--doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t mean everything that goes wrong in a relationship is somehow your fault or that you will never find love. All it means is you’re as human as the rest of us.

That said, there are ways to overcome these patterns. I expect we’ll talk about them in future installments.

But for now, make peace with your shortcomings, your flaws, your most unlikable qualities. Whether you like it or not, you’re probably going to see them again.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

PRACTICE:

1 - Take a few moments to list the things about yourself you most dislike, the things you think keeping you from having the relationship you want

2 - Read the items on your list. Notice and write down the emotional reaction you have towards each item.

3 - What did you notice?

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Join The Heart Way Support Group on Facebook here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Stop Looking For Answers

In relationships, we spend a lot of time wondering if we’re doing the right thing. Is this the one? Should I break it off with him? How can I make this better?

There are also a lot of places out there that claim to have those answers from science to Cosmopolitan magazine to strangers on the internet.

Listen to me, they say, and we’ll tell you how to be happy.

None of them will work. Magazine articles are just ink on a page. Other people’s stories are just that--other people’s stories.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these things. I am a ravenous devourer of all things sex- and relationship-related In fact, after listening to me monologue for twenty minutes on what the way a couple holds hands says about them, one woman told me: “Why can’t you just be into World of Warcraft like a normal dork?”

Having somebody else’s answers is not helpful. I have a thousand reasons why relationships work or don’t work the way they do. I have an answer to any sex or relationship question you could ask (not to mention the answers to a few questions nobody has ever asked me, but kind of wish they would). But I’ve never helped anybody by giving them an answer. And for all my knowledge, my relationship history is as messy as anybody else’s.

Nothing--no book, no friend, no CD, no magazine article, no workshop--can give you what you‘re looking for. You have to give it to yourself.

Like it or not, you are responsible for your own romantic happiness. No one else will do it for you. No one else CAN do it for you--not a book, not a family member, not even the person you’re dating.

It’s up to you.

I’m not saying outside sources can’t help. I learned a lot from other people. Some of those things made things better for me. Some of that advice took me down some dark roads. I learned from all of it--but only when I took the time to ask my heart what was happening. And only when I listened to the answers coming back.

It’s a frightening thing, learning to trust ourselves. But there is no other way.

Which leads to the question: when we’ve made mistakes and we aren’t even sure what we want let alone the first step in how to get it, how do we learn to trust ourselves?

In some ways, that’s a more complicated question than it might first appear. And yet in other ways, it is oh so very simple.

We’ll get deeper into it in future entries. But for now, here’s something to start you practicing.

PRACTICE:

For the next week, several times throughout the day, especially during periods of uncertainty, stop and ask yourself the following question:

What do I want and what am I willing to do to get it?

Then quietly wait for an answer from inside yourself.

For now, don’t worry about the answers you get. They can be specific or vague, surprising or mundane, practical or complete flights of fantasy.

It doesn’t matter what they are.

The only thing that matters for now is that you listen.

-May All Being Be Sexy

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Join The Heart Way Support Group on Facebook here.