Some Reasons People Make Love at Night

Most people make love when they go to bed, which is usually at night . Sleeping with someone is thus a synonym for having sex. Why human sex and sleep are so intertwined remains mysterious.

Yet, there is no obvious reason why copulation under the covers at night is biologically optimal. Anthropologists note that sexual infidelity can occur opportunistically at any time of day, beginning with dawn. That is when hunter gatherers typically leave their huts to urinate. It is also when couples have quick trysts out of earshot of their sleeping spouses.

Such meetings may accomplish the biological job of fertilization but leave much to be desired from a variety of perspectives, physiological, social, psychological, and ethical.

Why Sex Before Sleep May Be Preferable

Researchers find that most marital sex occurs around bedtime. More than half of sexual encounters occur between the hours of 10 PM and 2 AM with a smaller additional peak at 6 AM, when couples are likely to be waking. Couples are more likely to have sex on weekend nights, suggesting that work schedules dictate patterns of sexual activity to some extent. Avoiding sex on work nights may help employees to feel better-rested the following day.

The strong circadian pattern of sexual activity has a fairly simple explanation in terms of availability, or opportunity. Married people are more likely to make love at the time they go to bed because they are available to each other.

Of course, that begs the question of why married couples generally sleep together in the first place. Even if this question is ignored, one is left with the problem of why sex is more common in the evening than in the morning.

Physiological Explanations

For most mammals, copulation is brief, although there are exceptions, like dogs, where mates remain joined due to coital lock that may serve to foil male competitors.

The brevity of mating does not interfere with fertilization, however. The same may not be true of upright walkers like humans, for whom gravity would tend to remove ejaculate from the reproductive tract. If so, lying down after sex may increase the chances of conception. Lying down together may also contribute to intimacy and sexual pleasure, which are thought to affect conception as well.

Relationship Explanations

That a couple sleep together has diverse implications for pair bonding and relationship strength. Of course there are many possible reasons for sleeping together that have little to do with intimacy as such. For instance, a couple is more effective at conserving heat during the cold of night, or winter, which has survival implications for indigenous peoples like the Inuit. Similarly, two pairs of ears are better than one when it comes to detecting night-time risks, such as attacks by wild animals or enemies.

On the face of it, though, lying down in close physical contact promotes intimacy by increasing oxytocin production. This is the “cuddling hormone” that promotes relationship strength for many mammals, including powerful mother-infant bonds.

Spending time in close proximity thus contributes to the strength of pair bonds—not just in people but in many other species of mammals, including the humble prairie vole in which this has been extensively studied.

For pair-bonded species, a close relationship is critical for success in raising offspring. Indeed, females prefer to mate with their partner and may refuse to mate with unfamiliar males.

This pattern applies to humans who satisfy most of the criteria for being a pair-bonded species. In that context, it is understandable that sexual relations occur most often during bedtime hours if prolonged physical contact promotes feelings of closeness and intimacy.

More Informations How Much Time Should Couples Spend Together

What’s a healthy amount of time to spend with the person you’re dating? We all know those people who seem to dive headfirst into a new relationship, spending 24/7 with a new partner, but this sometimes comes at the expense of their other relationships. Meanwhile, other people feel like they have to fight their way on to their new partner’s schedule.

Where’s the balance? What is a healthy amount of time to spend with a significant other?

If 100 percent of the time is too much, and zero too little, let’s try to figure out the sweet spot. Striking a balance is often harder than people might think: People are often strongly compelled to spend time with the new, exciting person in their lives. They crave opportunities to be in each other’s presence, and miss each other in their absence. This time together is healthy and necessary to cultivate a relationship and begin weaving two lives together.

But work and life demands often impose realistic limits on the amount of time new couples can spend together. From unexpected work obligations on the weekend to sudden business travel demands, one partner’s professional goals and ambitions can impose stress on a relationship if the other partner expects a different level of availability.

New couples must also navigate time spent together with time that is typically devoted to friends and family. When people are in relationships, their availability to pre-existing relationships change. For example, studies show that women who more quickly increase time spent with a romantic partner more quickly decrease the amount of time they spend with their best friend (Zimmer-Gembeck, 1999). When friends complain that they never see you anymore, and your family wonders where you’ve been, the tricky nature of finding a balance becomes readily apparent.

Time spent alone can also be important for individuals in new relationships, though, and this alone time is just as valid as other needs. People benefit from time to reflect on their new relationship and time engaged in activities they love to do by themselves. In walking the tight rope between the demands of one’s work, family, and friends, and what the new relationship needs, engaging in self-care is equally important.

The goal, of course, is to find a balance in which both members of the couple are happy with the time they spend together, maintain their outside friendships and family relationships, make progress towards their professional goals, and give the relationship a chance to flourish. That’s a lot to balance. Here are a few tips to help:

  1. Acknowledge individual differences. People need different levels of time with their partner.  Classic attachment theory research has shown that individuals oriented towards anxiety in relationships crave a great deal of time with their partners while individuals oriented towards avoidance often prioritize independence (Hazan & Shaver, 1987). Don’t expect your partner to mirror your needs.
  2. Check in with your new partner. The best way to see if you are devoting enough time to your relationship is to ask. Learn what your new partner needs and create a pace of increasing interdependence that works well for both of you.
  3. Listen to your friends. Friends are not only support systems, their opinions of your relationship predict your relationship success (Sprecher, 2011). Find ways to stay connected with your friends when you start a new relationship. Integrating your new partner into your friend group is a great way to maintain connected with your friends, while giving your relationship a new context in which to grow and develop.
  4. Keep a Date Night on the calendar. When work and other obligations take over the schedule, finding ways to keep your relationship a priority can make a difference. Offer your partner clear expectations for your availability during these windows of increased work pressure and hold up your end of the bargain by looking forward to a special night out or weekend away.
  5. Recognize the ebb and flow. As a new relationship evolves towards a committed relationship, the ebb and flow of different life stressors will translate into an ebb and flow of how much energy at any given time point each member of the couple can give to the relationship. As the relationship becomes the center of individuals’ lives, it becomes increasingly important to seize chances to nourish it with quality time together, while giving each partner the space they need to be the best partner they can in the relationship.

Some Psychology Principles That Help Explain Your Relationships

In doing research for my new book, Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World, I got to revisit all the fascinating and infamous studies from the annals of psychology’s Hall of Fame, from electric shocks to simulated prisons, from doomsday cults to how we remember 9/11. Some of them you may recall if you ever took a psychology class; others were more obscure. What struck me most, however, is just how many of them are relevant—no matter how old they are—to modern day relationships. And the more we understand our behavior, the better we can understand ourselves and choose to act in ways that are most healthy. Here are four classic psychological principles that help explain how you behave with the people around you, even in the age of social media.

1) The gain-loss theory of attraction

Eliot Aronson and Darwyn Linder’s groundbreaking 1969 social psychology research discovered a curious phenomenon: we like someone more if they didn’t seem to like us at first but then came around, compared to if they always seemed to like us from the beginning. This helps explain why we may want to ditch our tried-and-true friends and lovers after winning over someone else we thought we had no chance with—the plot of many a Hollywood movie and teenage melodrama. The gain-loss theory also applies to the workplace. Let’s say you have two bosses. One is kind and always generous with praise, whereas the other never seems to approve of anything that you do. One day, you finally knock a presentation out of the park, and the usually gruff boss compliments you heartily, and is positive and warm with you over the entire week following. Suddenly, you don’t think that formerly gruff boss is so bad after all. You feel validated because you won them over; and you now think of them not as cruel and unfair, but rather as discerning and hard-to-please—and the fact that you passed their test makes you love them even more. Before long, this boss might become your favorite. You leave the boss who’s always been your supporter in the dust, setting yourself up for a drama-ridden roller coaster if Gruff Boss eventually goes back to their usual ways.

2) Cognitive Dissonance

This classic psychological principle established by Leon Festinger in 1957 says that when we have two dissonant—or conflicting—pieces of information, our brains are uncomfortable and will try to reconcile that discrepancy. Often, the two pieces of information that are at odds are our opinions versus our actions, and this plays out in relationships constantly. Let’s say you are dating someone new that you are lukewarm about. The person is nice, funny, and moderately attractive, and any given date is better than staying at home with Netflix. After the person meets your family, however, your family begins openly to disapprove. They say he or she is arrogant and boring, and they can’t see what you see in them. This starts the dissonance, with two conflicting pieces of information: 1) There is evidence that this person may not be a great choice for you to date and 2) You are dating this person. Since you’d still rather date this person than be home alone, you seek to reconcile these pieces of information by changing what you can: the validity of the “evidence.” So you start to convince yourself that your family must be jealous or biased or simply doesn’t know your date well enough. You convince yourself that they are wrong, to help get rid of that evidence—and that dissonance. Before long, your attempts to reject your family’s opinion result in your singing your date’s praises, convincing yourself he or she is actually quite great. Your family’s disapproval—and your discomfort with cognitive dissonance—has made you go from lukewarm about this person to being their biggest fan, and may be sucking you into a sub-par relationship.

3) Approach-avoidance conflict

Kurt Lewin’s 1947 theory said that we could get paralyzed with indecision by the fight between our desire for a certain something versus our discomfort over the drawbacks of it. This, unfortunately, can keep many of us trapped in unhealthy relationships or workplaces. Let’s say you’ve been in a relationship for two years with someone you love but who you know treats you poorly at times, and probably holds you back from some of your greater goals in life. When you spend a day or two on your own thinking about it, you always end up concluding that you need to pull the plug on your relationship. That becomes the goal. But when you wake up the next morning and think of approaching that goal, you are flooded with all the scary things about it: breaking his or her heart, disentangling your finances and belongings, being lonely, and eventually having to start over with dating. These negatives are felt more and more acutely the closer you get to actually breaking up with the person, which makes you want to avoid it. And so it pushes you back into inaction, and the cycle continues again, like a ping-pong ball going back and forth. Lewin even argued that this type of conflict creates a situation that can paralyze you into inaction for indefinite periods of time, because it’s inherently stable and balanced, making you not want to rock the boat.

4) Social learning theory

It is sometime said that couples tend to look more and more similar the longer they are together. Why is this? Do their facial features pick up signals from each other and grow matching cartilage? Does a time machine go back and revise their DNA to make it more similar? Nope. Instead, it likely has a lot to do with Albert Bandura’s 1963 social learning theory, which emphasizes how we learn through observation. Did you and your partner gradually develop similar laughs, after years of hearing each other’s? Have you gradually started to dress in similar styles? Do you now roll your eyes the same way, have the same mannerisms as you quote someone, mispronounce words in the same manner, or bite your nails together when nervous? Social learning can also apply to health behaviors and how we take care of ourselves: our eating habits and activity levels, the care we give to personal hygiene, and whether we smoke, drink, or get a lot of sun. These all then impact our appearance, and when our health behaviors begin to match our partner’s—which happens almost passively over time, just by the subtle forces of living together—then our physical appearances may start to look similar as well. This, of course, can work for better or for worse, as even when we don’t intend to or realize it, we often mimic the behaviors around us that we are consistently exposed to—especially if we admire the person. So if your longtime mate develops a habit that’s bad for them, beware: it’s all too easy for you to pick it up yourself. And it just might show in the mirror someday!

Top 7 Ways to Listen

Most of us are creatures of habit, listening to meet our needs or to pay attention to demonstrate we care whether we do or not. The next time you leave a conversation, ask yourself, “Did I get the outcome I desired?” It’s possible you could have achieved more.

Before you meet or call someone, stop and ask yourself:

Why am I listening?
What do I want to happen?
What shift do I need to make to achieve the best outcome?
To make an informed choice, consider the following reasons for listening and the outcomes you might get depending on your mindset and emotions.

Listening for personal need

Often the intention behind listening is to fulfill a personal need or to follow the rules you have been taught to show you care. When listening for information or perspective, you keep your distance. You stay in your head, maintaining isolation even when you say you want collaboration. The person feels little connection with you when you part.

You listen with the purpose…

1. To collect data. You listen for how to argue, defend, compare or refine your own point of view.

2. To give an answer or solve a problem. Once you have an answer, there is no further need to pay attention.

3. To obey the rules. You listen because it is the right thing to do, generally for the minimal amount of time you think it takes to demonstrate the competency. You listen because you should, not because you want to.

Listening to connect

When you choose to be present and connect with someone, you listen beyond your analytical brain. You are fully awake in your heart and gut as well as in your open mind. The person feels heard, valued, and possibly transformed as a result.[1]

You listen with the purpose…

4. To connect with the person. When you desire to establish a connection, you go beyond paying attention to words. Connection starts with maintaining curiosity throughout the conversation, resisting the urge to know what is coming next while being at ease with not knowing. Feeling curious keeps you present. Once you lose curiosity, you risk the conversation devolving into dueling monologues. Unfortunately, the better you know someone, the more likely you quit being curious enough to seek what could be new. Can you seek something special each time you say, “Hi, how are you?”

5. To let the person know you value them. There is no greater gift you can give than to be fully present with someone so he or she feels heard, understood and valued. When you quiet your mind with curiosity and open your heart with gratitude, the person feels received wholly beyond words. Empathy happens when you value the essence of the person you are with. Be careful when your judgment sneaks in. You can feel passionately about your ideas without making others wrong. Value why the person sees the world differently from you. If you care enough to look deeply, you might feel valued in return.

6. To build the relationship. The next step is to open your gut as well as your heart so you can be vulnerable enough to allow a deep connection to happen. Philip Shepherd said in New Self, New World, “Ultimately, to be present in the world means making room for the world to be present in you.”[2] Don’t listen for something; listen for the purpose of being with the person. Have you ever felt this connection after a wonderful moment with a dear friend? When you trust enough to open yourself to someone else, the magic of relationship emerges.

7. To explore, learn, and grow together. As you increasingly ground yourself in being, the conversation can take you somewhere new and unexpected. Don’t anticipate or try to control it, just marvel where it goes. You share your ideas and then allow instead of resist change when you hear theirs, adding to what you know instead of giving up. You might lose your sense of time and space the more you engage. You may have had a conversation like this after experiencing a loss. You can consciously create this connection without trauma by accessing your love and courage. Connecting with others this way is the same connection you sense when you view an awesome sunset, gaze across a beautiful canyon, or watch a burning star fall and disappear into the black of night. Letting go of what you know to grow shows strength; it is an active, not passive act. This is how we build community.

Alan Alda said, “Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you.”[3] What is your purpose for listening? Can you confidently open yourself to listen for a greater purpose? You will receive so much more than you expected when you do.

Informations About The Ugly Truth About Online Dating

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and conventional wisdom both suggest that love is a fundamental human need. Most people meet their significant others through their social circles or work/school functions. However, these pools can be relatively shallow. In the search for a potential date, more and more people are switching to less traditional methods.

Online dating is really popular. Using the internet is really popular. A survey conducted in 2013 found that 77% of people considered it “very important” to have their smartphones with them at all times. With the rise and rise of apps like Tinder (and the various copycat models) who could blame them. If you want to think about dating as a numbers game (and apparently many people do), you could probably swipe left/right between 10 – 100 times in the span of time that it would take you to interact with one potential date in ‘real-life’.

With the popularity of sites like eHarmony, match.com, OKcupid and literally thousands of similar others, the stigma of online dating has diminished considerably in the last decade. More and more of us insist on outsourcing our love-lives to spreadsheets and algorithms. According to the Pew Research Center, the overwhelming majority of Americans suggest that online dating is a good way to meet people. Interestingly, more than 15% of adults say that they have used either mobile dating apps or an online dating site at least once in the past. Online dating services are now the second most popular way to meet a partner.

The popularity of online dating is being driven by several things but a major factor is time. Online dating presents an effective solution to a serious problem.

Browsing profiles isn’t nearly as time-consuming (or daunting) as mixing with people in a social context. Statistics suggest that about 1 in 5 relationships begin online nowadays. It’s estimated that by 2040, 70% of us will have met our significant other online.

The problem with a lot of online dating applications is that they don’t really work. Many are just ‘fad’ applications that squeeze money from punters with no intention of matching you with a suitable partner. Before you throw caution to the wind and empty your wallet into the pockets of an online app with the reckless abandon of a love-struck teenager, there are a few things you should know.

1. People lie on their online dating profiles

Ok this is hardly an earth-shattering revelation. Well duh, people want to be appealing. Most people probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it’s more common for people to lie in their online profile than be completely honest.

A study of over 1,000 online daters in the US and UK conducted by global research agency OpinionMatters founds some very interesting statistics. A total of 53% of US participants admitted to having lied in their online dating profile. Women apparently lied more than men, with the most common dishonesties being about looks. Over 20% of women posted photos of their younger selves. But men were only marginally better. Their most common lies revolved around their financial situation, specifically, about having a better job (financially) than they actually do. More than 40% of men indicated that they did this, but the tactic was also employed by nearly a third of women.

While dishonesty was slightly less prevalent among the British sample, 44% did admit to lying in their online profile. In both the US and UK samples, dishonesty declined with age. Maybe older people are just more interested in projecting their real self, rather than an imagined or ideal version.

2. Looking for a relationship? That must mean all you want is sex

One of the big problems with online dating for women is that, although there are genuine relationship-seeking men on the sites, there are also plenty of guys on there simply looking for sex. While most people would agree that on average men are more eager for sex than women, it seems that many men make the assumption that if a woman has an online dating presence, she’s interested in sleeping with relative strangers. Online dating does represent the convenience of being able to meet others that you possibly never would have otherwise, but women should be aware that they probably will receive rude/disgusting messages from horny guys, sexual propositions/requests, dick-pics, and a lot of creepy vibes.

3. Negotiating the scam-ternet

Let’s be honest, the internet is really just a super elaborate and sophisticated farce designed to distract you from having your pockets picked by greasy conmen in cheap suits, right? Not quite, but it is full of unscrupulous vendors looking to separate you from your money by whatever means possible (in other news, have you heard about the secret to getting killer abs in less than 7 minutes using this 1 weird trick…?).

Scams have been around as long as the internet (possibly even before…). Of course there are pitfalls and tripwires in every sphere of life, but this may be particularly true in the context of online dating. There are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of online scams, and I’m not going to run through any in detail here, but do some research before you go giving your bank details to ‘Nigerian princes’ promising ‘fun moments’. As a matter of fact, you should probably be wary of any person, group or entity asking for any kind of financial or personal information. It might even be advisable to follow these general guidelines:

Set up an anonymous email account from a widely used email service (I_heart_scamming123@gmail.com (link sends e-mail) is already taken)

NEVER give out your home phone, address or your personal email address, unless you absolutely trust the recipient.

Drive yourself to the date (your date doesn’t need to know where you live), keep an eye on your drink/food (…), pay half of the bill (you don’t need your date having expectations of repayment)

Of course there are plenty more do’s and do not’s of online dating but I guess the most important thing here is to use your common sense. If something feels off, trust your got. You don’t necessarily have to develop a ‘trust no-one and sleep with 1 eye open’ approach to online dating, but it is probably worthwhile having a healthy degree of skepticism in general.

4. Relationships don’t last

Never mind the fact that more than one-third of all people who use online dating sites have never actually gone on a date with someone they met online, those that somehow do manage to find someone else they are willing to marry AND who is willing to marry them (a vanishingly tiny subset of online daters) face an uphill battle. According to research conducted at Michigan State University, relationships that start out online are 28% more likely to break down in their first year, than relationships where the couples first met face-to-face. And it gets worse. Couples who met online are nearly 3 times as likely to get divorced as couples that met face-to-face.

However, it isn’t all misery and woe. While the overwhelming majority of romantic relationships still begin offline, around 5% of Americans that are currently in either a committed relationship or marriage, suggest that they did in fact meet their significant other online.

5. It makes you picky and judgmental

It’s very easy to send one course back (or even one after another, after another, after another) when the menu is overflowing with other potential courses. The US Association of Psychological Science found that reviewing multiple candidates causes people to be more judgmental, and inclined to dismiss a not-quite-perfect candidate than they otherwise would be in a face-to-face meeting.

2 Questions You Have to Ask About Your Relationship

This simple but powerful exercise can bring compassion and deep insight to your most important relationships, and point you toward greater closeness, joy, and healing with your loved one. The exercise asks you to reflect on perhaps the two most important questions that can lead you to a richer, more connected life.

The questions are obvious, but our ability to discount and dishonor our responses to them is nothing short of breathtaking. You’ll see what I mean…

Start by choosing the relationship you want to focus on. Now, ask yourself:

Which interactions in this relationship inspire me most?
Which interactions in this relationship hurt me the most?
There’s something existentially important in our answers to these questions—and here’s why: We get most hurt—and most inspired—precisely in the places where we care the most. And it is these parts of our psyche that influence our behaviors most powerfully. If you wish to create a truly useful “users manual” for the relationship you’re focusing on, you must become increasingly familiar with the answers to these two questions, both for yourself and for your loved one.

These tender parts of ourselves are highly active in our closest relationships. I call them Core Gifts, and they are like our fingerprints. At first glance they look similar to everyone else’s, but upon closer reflection, they are completely unique. We all want to be loved, listened to, and validated—those are universal needs. However, the parts of ourselves that feel most vulnerable, where it feels most urgent that we are understood and appreciated, are the parts that need our greatest care and respect. Within them lie our unique genius, and our deepest ability to give and receive love.

Think back on your past experiences in this relationship. Using easy bullet points, reflect on your moments of inspiration—in other words, the joy, peace, connectedness, love, or meaning—and your moments of feeling hurt.

Don’t just look for the big hurts and inspirations. Remember the micro-hurts and the micro-joys. Those simple moments can tell you worlds about who you are, who your loved one is, and what matters most to each of you. In those recollections there is a sense of truth—not necessarily grand universal truth but a sense of personal truth, a feeling that says, “This touches me where I live.”

For each bullet point, ask yourself, “What does this say about what’s most important to me?”

Pick out the themes that emerged again and again. When we take the time to notice these common themes, it’s like a connect-the-dots game. With careful attention, what emerges is a picture of our truest self.

We often pass over our moments of joy instead of relishing them. Many of us feel uncomfortable or unworthy in the presence of inspiration and try to minimize our good feelings: “Oh, well, everybody feels the same thing.” Or we instantly pair our joy with a self-deprecating comment that degrades or minimizes the positive feeling we’ve just had. Inspiration can frighten us. It makes our defenses quake—it almost invites a superstitious fear of the other shoe dropping. We can bear joy for a few fleeting moments, but for most of us, appreciation all too quickly devolves into critique.

We also minimize our hurts, telling ourselves that we are being too sensitive or that we should be the bigger person. Yet, if we don’t honor those hurts and listen closely to the truths they are trying to tell us, we are doomed to keep repeating the same interactive patterns again and again.

As we learn to listen to the things that feel wrong, we notice large red flags more quickly, and learn from the “micro-hurts” we may not have even allowed ourselves to register in the past.

After doing this exercise, allow yourself time to process it and reflect. In going through this process, you will have touched upon the most precious and important parts of your being. That’s a very big thing. See if you can imagine what it would be like to honor those parts of yourself more deeply in this particular relationship, and in your life in general.

When you’re ready, it’s time for the next part of this exercise—to re-do the same process for your loved one. Try to place yourself in his or her shoes and imagine how he or she would answer these same questions about your relationship.

Again, for each point, ask yourself, “What does this say about what’s most important to my loved one?” Note the themes that emerge again and again. The more you understand and appreciate these precious parts of your loved one, the more he or she will feel loved and valued by you, and the more joy and connection will be possible in your relationship. In all relationships, there are few greater keys to closeness than having these parts of ourselves seen and honored.

The more you do this exercise, the deeper your own self-love will become, and the deeper and more loving your relationships will be.

Best Ways to Get Your Self-Esteem Back After Divorce

Divorce is painful. There’s no way around that. But for many people, divorce also has a negative impact on self-esteem.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are a few tips to keep your self-esteem from slipping as you navigate a potentially rocky path.

1. Stop thinking of divorce as a failure. Your marriage ran its course and ended, and you have lots and lots of company; a very large minority of all marriages in the U.S. don’t last a lifetime.

Remember it takes courage to let go of the familiar, even when the familiar isn’t working or causes you pain. Think of divorce as a transition to the next phase of your life – one to which you’ll bring the benefit of your experience.

2. Grieve what you’ve lost. If you refuse to acknowledge the good parts (and surely there were good parts), those feelings of grief will follow you until you do.

Let yourself miss whatever was positive about the relationship, so those feelings can move through you, dissipate, and make room for something new. Practice constructive wallowing.

3. Don’t let emotions drive your behavior. Being angry at an ex-spouse is one thing; going after them in court is another. Missing someone has no impact on the situation; texting them does. Feeling unlovable is painful; dating too soon can delay (and multiply) the pain.

Don’t act on feelings that may be temporary. Instead, act according to your values, the interests of any children involved, and your own long-term goals.

It’s okay to go back and forth in the privacy of your own mind, but it creates havoc when you do so with your actions in the real world. Keep a rein on your behavior and you’ll be favorably impressed with yourself.

4. Don’t assume your children are irreparably damaged. Research indicates that living with frequent parental conflict is damaging to children. If you were in a high-conflict marriage, your divorce could bring more good than harm to your children.

But take note: How you divorce can have a greater impact on them than whether you divorce…

5. Never, ever speak ill of your child’s other parent in front of them. No matter what the other parent has done, bad-mouthing them will only ruin your relationship with your child. Not to mention damaging his or her sense of well-being.

If your ex-spouse is neither a parent nor a parental figure, still be careful with your words in front of children. You’re the one who chose to be with this person; what do you suppose your kids will learn if he or she turned out to be a kook?

Protect your self-esteem and your children’s emotional health by being “the bigger person” who never speaks ill of an ex in front of your kids.

6. Get physical. If you’ve never been in shape in your life, after a divorce is a good time to start, assuming you get the go-ahead from your doctor.

If you’re used to working out or playing sports, it’s important to keep that up.

Exercise triggers good feelings. So does setting and achieve goals. With all you’re going through, you deserve to feel good. A fitness regimen or a new goal such as a half-marathon will boost your mood and increase your self-esteem.

7. Get support, especially if you feel unlovable in the wake of your divorce. Join a divorce support group or find a compassionate therapist, and talk about what happened in your marriage.

Underneath a cloud of guilt, shame, or feelings of unworthiness, you might find areas of potential growth in yourself that you can actually do something about.

When you actively address any “baggage” you brought to, or from, the marriage, you’ll gain a sense of control over your destiny.

The courage it takes to look at your core issues, and your commitment to following some of the other tips above, will convince you that you’re a courageous, constantly growing human being – someone who deserves your affection, respect and esteem.

How If You Don’t Agree to Having a Baby

You really want to have a baby. Your partner is less sure; the stabs at conversation are always the same—perhaps, not now, maybe not… or occasionally, I don’t want to do this. You’re frustrated.

This is tough. Opposite ends, polarized, stalled. The challenge here is figuring out the problem under the problem. Some likely interrelated suspects:

Commitment: Depending on where you are in your relationship, having a child or even talking about having a child can seem like a new level, another layer of cement leading to feeling really trapped. We’re okay living together but having a kid…whew—big step! This ties into the relationship (are we that solid, could we break up?) and childhood history (my parents stayed together and were miserable because of the kids).

Visions of life: Here is where the priorities of what makes a good life are on different pages. Being able to travel or move without being tied down with kids or their schedules; focusing on career and making lots of money without distractions. This may change over time, but right now the vision is important.

Fears: Worries about not being a good dad/mom. About birth defects, about the birth process, about cost of raising a child, about problems having to struggle through those teen years where all kinds of problems are always lurking about. The fears are based on scary stories of friends, but most often from past experiences of childhood; Worse-case scenarios take over.

Relationship process. A bit more complicated. Here it really isn’t about having a child but more about the underlying dynamics of the relationship: I’ve been compromising throughout our relationship and I now need to take a strong stand; I’m fed up about you running the show and getting your way—no more!

You get the idea. The baby is just the last or biggest straw, but it’s about changing how we make decisions, about speaking up, about the emotional roadblocks always getting in the way of what you want.

What to do?

Start by asking yourself what it is that you really (in your gut) want? Sounds easy, but this is where couples can get into trouble because they mentally pre-compromise. They cross off their list what they truly want and feel because they believe it will cause too big a conflict. Instead of trusting their gut, they prematurely move towards the middle ground—hedge on the idea of a child, look for ways to put off the issues—rather than fighting for what they want.

And if you discover that you really don’t know what you want, have mixed feelings and not sure why, its time to figure out the problem under the problem—commitment, vision, anxiety, process? Start by noticing thoughts arise in your head.

Commitment. Putting aside the child issue, is there a problem in the relationship—some crack in the foundation—that needs to be addressed? Is it about you and your anxieties? What’s the one thing that would have to change for you to feel comfortable taking the next step towards solidifying the relationship whatever that might be?

Fears. The key to dealing with fear is to run towards it and take action. Worried about the birth process?—get information, get consults. Worried about parenting?—map out your concerns, take parenting classes, go into therapy. Yes, raising a child is an ongoing moving target. There’s lots that you can’t predict and have to deal with in the moment. If that is difficult for you, find ways to both anticipate realistic problems and learn to take things in stride. Here you look at skill training, medication, meditation, working as a parenting team.

Process. This usually is about an imbalance in power, in decision-making, in accommodation, in putting out effort, anger and resentment. Someone needs to step up more, someone needs to step down. Don’t talk about baby, talk about the process and how you need it to change. If it’s too difficult to talk about face-to-face, write it down and then follow up with a discussion, or get couple counseling. This is important to fix whether or not you have a child.

Vision. What, right now in your vision of your life, is most important to you? What gives you a sense of purpose? Here you want to drill down. If it is work, what about work that makes it important? If flexibility, what does flexibility enable you to do? Go deeper. Find that core value that feels like a bedrock rather than yet another fear. This is where integrity starts. Is there a way to retain this value with or without kids? If children are the means, what is the end?

Figure it out. If you are still struggling, get counseling even for just a couple of sessions just to have someone else ask you the hard questions and help you see where you thinking breaks down.

Tips to Fix a Clingy Relationship

Are you clingy? Or, is your spouse or partner too demanding?

The wierd thing is that you were fine before this relationship. But, now you find yourself demanding his attention. Or you find yourself paranoid about what she’s up to. You don’t get it, but it’s ruining everything.

To understand what’s happening, let’s examine the power of intimacy.

The Power of Intimacy: The world of physics teaches us a lot about relationships; it’s called The Field of Intimacy. When inside the field, all the rules of behavior change. Imagine when a rock traveling in space enters Earth’s gravitational field. The rock changes course and becomes a meteor – hurtling to oblivion.

When The Field of Intimacy works in your favor, the pull of a relationship can be enchanting. And when it triggers neurotic symptoms, it can hurt like hell. Once in the field’s grasp, you may ask yourself: Why is he so controlling? Or, why is she so angry?

Or, today’ question: Why Am I So Needy?

The Scene: Tammy heard from her boyfriend, Rory about thirty minutes ago. That’s about twenty five minutes too long, as Tammy sees it. She begins to get nervous, no agitated. Should I text? Why isn’t Rory getting back to me?

Tammy texts him again, not so subtly: WHERE ARE YOU?
No response.
A few minutes later, Rory’s back: What’s the problem?
Tammy: Why are you NEVER available?
Rory: THAT’S NOT TRUE.
Tammy responds: You’re so selfish.
Rory answers: I can’t deal with this right now. GOODBYE.
Not good. Here’s the question. Why is Tammy so needy?

And, why is Rory fed up?

Tammy’s Story: After graduating college Tami, age 25, has enjoyed a nice career. She writes for a well known blog and is respected, even by senior staff. Pretty and quick, Tammy has dated easily. Rory is a guy she really likes, which makes her neediness all the more annoying. She just can’t help it.

Tammy grew up in the suburbs, with a mom and dad, plus three younger siblings – all boys. Growing up, her mom dedicated herself to a great life for her kids, with endless driving, sporting events and performances. Dad, on the other hand, wasn’t around much. He ran a great business, and got most of his gratification from LEAVING home. Unfortunately for Tammy, Dad was narcissistic and not all that interested in her, despite her success.

As ridiculous as it may sound, Tammy still hopes that one day Dad will marvel in her success. She may not be consciously aware of it, but Tammy’s drive to succeed is colored by her father’s lack of true interest. And, her love interests are affected as well.

She wants guys who acknowledge her achievements. But often chooses guys who couldn’t care less. Tammy is in a neediness trap.

Rory’s Story: Life was tougher for Rory growing up. He had burdens, and in his case it was his mom who had the narcissistic tendencies, always needing to be right and in control. When Rory was three years old, his Dad got out of the house and eventually started a new family. Rory kept contact, but lived 98% of the time with his mom and older sister.

Mom was annoying. She insisted on things her way, and never said she was sorry. Control was essential, and since she was left, Rory’s Mom insisted that she was a victim in life. Since Rory was no weakling, they battled incessantly. Dad was of little help.

In essence, Rory had to raise himself.

College was a blessing for Rory, who was happy to pay for much of it himself; anything to get out of the house. He emerged bright, independent, capable and suspicious of women.

At 31 Rory’s on his was to partner in a prestigious accounting firm. Since college, he keeps his distance from women, preferring a long line of non committed flings. He’s not even sure he wants to get married one day.

The Field of Intimacy: If ever there was a crazy wonderful fling, then Tammy and Rory certainly had it; pure fireworks. Type A meets Type A for an intense love affair . Tammy loves – and respects – this self sufficient and capable older man. She finds herself wanting more and more of him. They can talk about anything, business, politics, and life. This is the brilliant, successful man of her dreams. When Tammy has sex with Rory, she feels both excited and invulnerable; it’s the time of her life.

For Rory, this young woman is the hottest girl he’s ever been with. And, it’s not just the looks. It’s the way she holds herself, her intelligence and class. She’s something else; professional, worldly and beautiful. He finds himself spending increasingly more time with her; and texting a lot.

It’s great for a few months; pure bliss. They are in The Field of Intimacy, where the world operates by different rules. Everyday is infused by the playfulness and magic of being in a love relationship. It’s what most people want.

The Field of Intimacy sucks them in. And after a few months of happiness, some old neurotic worries force their way to the surface. And, it’s not pretty.

Tammy notices when Rory is not immediately available. A call missed; or an unanswered text message triggers rejection fears. She finds herself wondering who Rory sees and what he’s doing. Tammy feels crazy; indeed, she’s crazed. She begins to get clingy and demanding. It’s not her, but Tammy can’t help it.
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On Rory’s side, he needs a little distance. He’s crazy about Tammy, but it feels suffocating. He’s out of touch with some good friends and now catches up, at the expense of time with Tammy. And, despite his best intentions, Rory just can’t answer all the calls and texts – he’ll do it later. He begins to get annoyed (like he did with his Mom). What’s wrong with Tammy? Where did all these demands come from?
From the Couch: This is Phase Two of a love affair. Phase One is falling in love and entering the Field of Intimacy. Phase Two is when unconscious issues force their way to the surface. It’s a test; this couple need not lose their fabulous love affair.

Once a couple enters the Field of Intimacy, psychological dances like this are the norm.

This love affair triggers Tammy’s inner child. Her father was more interested in other people – anyone out of the house – and now Tammy’s back where she was at nine years old. Her Dad ignored her – and she experiences Rory the same way. She’s clingy and can’t stop it. It’s as if her adult mind has been overrun by events that happened years ago. Rory is no longer her boyfriend, he’s now the unavailable narcissist – and Tammy is left out in the cold.
On the other hand, Rory’s been activated. He too is back in his family of origin; with his narcissistically demanding mother. He distances by calling on friends. Rory avoids Tammy’s texts and he rages at her when it’s too much. Note that Rory may look healthier than Tammy, but he too has issues. His compulsive need to escape triggers Tammy and her demand for contact triggers Rory.
They’re both trapped; and it doesn’t have to be this way.

The Layers of Love: What you need to understand is that in intimacy, each person brings something different to the table; and the Field of Intimacy percolates it all to the surface. You may not like it, but a parental bond (or lack thereof) can affect intimacy. Like Tammy and Rory; it can happen to anyone.

Early love is great – enjoy it: This is a special time together. It’s all positive. But, take a moment to explore your past with each other. It may come in handy when Phase Two kicks in.
Learn from old relationships: Without doubt, you’ve learned a great deal about yourself from former relationships. Do you tend to run, or get clingy? Or, do you pick fights or compulsively withdraw? Perhaps, you just bore easily? My advice: take control of past triggers; and give your boyfriend or girlfriend a fighting chance. Therapy can help a lot.
Keep things in perspective: Once in The Field of Intimacy, you’re likely to be vulnerable to triggers. You may get really hurt or really angry. It goes with the territory. So, don’t get crazy over one bad day. Make a do-over. Forgive. Let go. Often, it’s just some random regression; and it’s really not that important.
Intimacy needs many roles: Sometimes he’ll be needy. Sometimes you’ll be distancing, and sometimes you can’t get enough of each other. Relationships are fluid – accept and work with the love you’ve got. Good relationships carry many roles.
Who doesn’t want love?

Just know that like Tammy and Rory, the intensity of love brings you into the Field of Intimacy, with fantastic opportunities and real dangers. The opportunity is the wonder of love; the danger is the misery of a neurotic relationship.

Being this needy is not good for Tammy. Being this unforgiving is not good for Rory.

Take Home Message: If you want to succeed, keep your relationship in perspective. Phase One will yield to Phase Two, and one or both of you will regress. It’s almost inevitable. Just don’t get stuck there. Worst case scenario: you find yourself in a neurotic bond and break up. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be?

Look to Phase Three, where you weather the storm only to feel closer to each other.

Here’s the thing, get curious about who you are; and who he is. Get to know what triggers each of you and why. Let your adult selves keep the angry or hurt inner child in place. Tammy tells him; oops…I’m getting demanding again. Sorry. Rory tells her, no worries, I’m no saint. It’s okay.

Know More About A Great Way to Expand Your Capacity for Joy

Linda: Great relationships are characterized by sympathetic joy. The definition of sympathetic joy, according to Wikipedia, is a translation of the Pali and Sanskrit word Muditā “the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being.” It is characterized by sharing positive feelings with another, looking upon them with favor, and particularly characterized by feelings of respect for the successes of another.

According to Martin Seligman in his book Flourish, there are four possible responses when someone shares something with you about their success: active constructive, passive constructive, passive destructive, and active destructive. If something wonderful happens to you and you share it with someone, the most likely response is a passive constructive response like “That’s nice or congratulations.” Occasionally there is passive destructive response such as being ignored when you share your good news. And what is even more rare is an active destructive which is critical such as “You didn’t earn that promotion.”

What truly enlivens a relationship is an active constructive response, when the person who hears of our success is sincerely happy for us. An active constructive response shows our generosity of spirit and eagerness to hear more details about their good news. Celebrating the triumphs in life, from the small seemingly trivial ones to those that are more significant, strengthens the bond. Being genuinely enthusiastic in our response to our partner’s good fortune has a weighty impact on them. Here’s a good example of an active constructive response.

Jesse: “I’ve been selected to receive an award at the company party because of my leadership and high performance.”

Cassia: “That’s great! You really deserve to be publicly acknowledged. You’ve worked so hard for this. We must bust out a bottle of champagne to celebrate right now. I am so proud of you I could pop. Tell me all about it”

Cassia is being sincere about her enthusiasm about Jesse’s success, rather than envious and competitive. She is happy to have Jesse speak of the details leading up to the good news, how he worked towards promoting the conditions that gave rise to the success and what it means to him. For Jesse to have Cassia rejoice in his good fortune with him is a direct method toward building their trusting bond. Cassia’s taking time to show interest in him and his accomplishments shows deep respect.

Great relationships don’t just happen automatically; they occur when we give our time, attention, and care to another. One of the big benefits of romantic partnerships is support when difficult life circumstances befall us. Our partner can be there in our time of need when dark events happen, to be sympathetic and provide a shoulder to cry on. Such sincere support softens the blow and helps us to get through it.

It is an equally bonding experience to celebrate the successes, to have our partner’s vote of confidence when things are going well. We want to know that they are not competitive with us, or envious of our good fortune. We want them to be proud of our achievements, and to celebrate with us to magnify the joy. Envy, by becoming aware of its presence, is a trait that can either be cultivated or starved. When we are aware of the negative effect that envy has on our relationship, we can use that awareness to be inspired to become a bigger person, rather than to attempt to have our partner be less.

Shelly Gable, professor of psychology at University of California, Santa Barbara, in her important article entitled Will You Be There for Me When Things Go Right? (Social Support for Positive Events in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2006, Volume 91, No. 5 904-917 Gable, S. L., Gonzaga, G., & Strachman, A. 2006.) makes the claim that how we celebrate is more predictive of strong relationships than how we fight. She writes about the frequently overlooked positive exchanges that characterize good romantic partnerships. Gable speaks about the body of research that documents couples that fight poorly, criticize, and are jealous. The findings of her study were that those couples showing the most enthusiastic responses reported with their relationship, the least conflict, and the most fun and relaxing activities, and the most all around satisfaction.

When romantic partners have not yet appreciated the impact of sympathetic joy, they fail to make a big deal out of each other’s successes. These couples are more likely to stay in a less successful relationship. Combined with other flaws n the relationship, this lack of interest and generosity could lead to a break up. Putting a stop to destructive behaviors such as jealousy and envy only brings a couple up to the neutral zone. To pull into the plus category of great relationships, highly positive responses that promote understanding, validation, and caring are necessary. The reassuring feeling of support when times are not stressful gives us confidence that when stress inevitably does occur, that we, as a couple, can handle it efficiently.

Both the genuineness and frequency of active positive responses are essential to the development of healthy relationships. Each an enthusiastic response is a deposit in Karma Savings and Loan. All those accumulated positive emotional interchanges indeed serve as an account abundant with commitment, satisfaction, intimacy, trust, and appreciation. When the inevitable difficulties come along, there is a big account on which we can draw. When we celebrate each other’s accomplishments, we thrive. We are more likely to be securely bonded to each other, satisfied with our relationship, and to enjoy greater love and happiness.