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Building Better Relationships

Building Better Relationships

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Communication & Relationship Skills To Make Your Good Relationships Great

 
Building Better Relationships: Have you ever left relationship books laying around, or put a relationship podcast on hoping that a certain someone may reflect on their own behavior and be a better partner or friend for you? Have you ever dropped a hint (or SEVEN) to a coworker, boss, or friend about how you feel in your relationship with them, and how you hope they might change?
 
So often, we feel helpless around how to improve our relationships, because we feel like the quality of our relationships depends on what OTHER people are doing or not doing. Relationships are frustrating when it feels like people aren’t communicating well with you, or aren’t meeting your needs, or respecting your boundaries, or are just being plain annoying.
 
It is totally natural and normal to think that our relationships would be better if only the other person got it together. (And hey, that would be much easier! I hear you!) However, needing the other person to be the change you wish to see in your relationships is not just frustrating, it’s disempowering. If you believe that having better relationships are all about how to get someone else to change it deprives you of the ability to actively build better relationships, and leads to a cycle of hurt and resentment.
 
Not knowing how to improve our relationships can lead to feelings of disappointment, resentment, and frustration. When relationship problems go on for too long, these feelings can begin to erode the fabric of our relationships. Hurt and resentment can lead to conflict in our relationships, or even worse, lead us to withdraw.
 
You don’t have to struggle with frustrating or disappointing relationships. There is an empowering path forward, and a way to build better relationships. A way YOU control.
 

Improve Your Relationships, Improve Your Life

 
You deserve to have fantastic relationships. You deserve to feel loved and cared for. You deserve to have your friends, family and partner show up for you. Our relationships — particularly the quality of our relationships — can be the single greatest source of happiness… or pain, anxiety and frustration. Building better relationships with your family, your friends, your coworkers, and your partner can be one of the most powerful strategies to improve your mood, self esteem, and overall happiness and life satisfaction.
 
Research shows that happiness is strongly correlated with the quality of your relationships. (As does health, and longevity for that matter.) The key to building better relationships with everyone starts with you: YOUR ability to communicate, to listen, to be assertive, to handle conflict, to manage your emotions, and to understand others. In short, your soft skills.
 

What Are Soft Skills and Why Are They So Important?

 
This may sound counter-intuitive, but by focusing on your own “soft skills” you can transform your relationships single-handedly. What are soft skills, and why are they so important? Soft skills are communication and relationship skills that contribute to high-quality, harmonious relationships.
 
Soft skills are vital to success in the workplace, happy, healthy marriages, and fulfilling, supportive relationships with friends and family. As a matter of fact “soft skills” are tied for first place with creativity, for the most important qualities that employers are looking for. But aside from your ability to get ahead in your career, investing in improving soft skills can lead to immense rewards in every area of your life. Why? Because although you cannot change others, you can change the way that people respond to you through developing excellent communication and relationship skills.
 

Building Better Relationships: It’s All About Empowering YOU

 
So today, on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’m taking to my colleague (and relationship expert) Kathleen Carroll-Stutts. Kathleen is a life coach, individual therapist and couples counselor here on the team at Growing Self. She is the facilitator of our Online Relationship Skills Group, and is here today to share her system for how to develop yourself so that you can build better relationships with the most important people in your life.
 
Whether you’re hoping to have better relationships with your coworkers, wanting to heal rifts with your family, develop more close friendships, if you want to get better results in dating, or have a better relationship with your partner, you get some ideas about the communication skills and relationship skills that will empower you to get better results with other people.
 

How To Improve Your Communication Skills

 
Listen to our interview to learn how to develop the communication skills and relationship skills that can help you build better relationships. Specifically:
 

Foundational Relationship Skills

  • Self awareness – How understanding yourself, your needs, your feelings and your personal values can help you build better relationships with others.
  • Emotional regulation – How being able to manage your feelings can help you communicate more effectively in relationships.
  • Self respect – How having healthy self-esteem and self-love helps you have stronger and more authentic relationships.
  • Assertiveness – How to develop your voice and your truth in order to communicate your needs, rights and feelings to others.

Intermediate Relationship Skills

  • How to improve your communication skills by cultivating both self-expression skills as well as listening skills.
  • Setting boundaries – How to set appropriate and healthy limits with others.
  • How to manage conflict.

Advanced Communication Skills and Relationship Skills

  • Identifying our triggers – How to use our self-awareness, self-respect, and communication skills to avoid situations that would be bad for us and bad for our relationships.
  • Empathy – Learning how to understand the needs, rights, feelings and perspectives of others, and how to use that awareness to improve communication and build better relationships.
  • How to cope with relationship challenges including dealing with toxic people, how to deal with criticism, and what to do with bullies.

 

We sincerely hope that this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast helps to give you some direction for building better relationships in your life!

xo,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby and Kathleen Carroll Stutts, M. Ed., LPC

 

Resources:
 
Personality Test: Enneagrams
 
 

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Building Better Relationships

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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How to Leave a Toxic Relationship, With Dignity

How to Leave a Toxic Relationship, With Dignity

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Letting Go Of a Toxic Relationship

We’re approaching a new year, and as such, you may be thinking about changes you want to make in your life. If you’ve been stuck in a relationship with someone who is not treating you well, and who is causing you hurt, anxiety, pain and frustration, now is a wonderful time to consider leaving your toxic relationship behind… and creating a new year full of healing, health and happiness for yourself.

Toxic Relationship Warning Signs

Letting go of a toxic relationship can be one of the hardest things for anyone to do. In my work as a life coach, therapist, and couples counselor, I have had the privilege of walking with many people through the experience of first recognizing that their relationship is toxic, then ending a hurtful relationship, and then healing after the “toxic relationship experience.” Toxic relationships take a toll on you, at every level. And every step of this journey is hard. (Necessary, meaningful, and empowering… but hard). I know, I’ve been there personally too.

Letting of a toxic relationship often starts with people working to improve their relationships.  At this stage they often believe that if only their partner could make changes, then they’d finally get the love, respect, and consideration they deserve. They come in to life coaching or even drag their partner in to couples therapy, hopeful that they can make improvements. (And I will say that almost all the time when two people are both committed to a relationship and willing to make changes, relationships can be transformed).

However, if your relationship is truly toxic, it is unlikely to be healed in marriage counseling or couples therapy. Instead, you’ll continue to feel frustrated, hurt, angry… and then elated when it seems like your partner is finally hearing you and caring about your feelings… only to be crushed when they disappoint you again. [Read: “Are You Addicted To a Toxic Relationship?”]

But in many genuinely toxic relationships, the biggest “warning sign” of all is when your partner routinely shows a lack of interest or follow-through in changing anything about the relationship. Instead, you when you bring up your feelings you get yelled at, blamed, rejected, or made to feel that the problems are all your fault.

Characteristics of a Toxic Relationship

In these situations of course, attempts at couples counseling often end badly. Most of the time, since their partners are unwilling to work on things with them, people in toxic relationships wind up entering empowering life coaching or effective therapy on their own.

Only over time (and often through deep personal growth work) do they then learn how to spot the characteristics of a toxic relationship, and come to terms with the fact that the only way to improve their situation is to take their power back and move on.

But until then, people in toxic relationships often struggle. They struggle with the mixed signals they get from their partner, because sometimes they are loving. They’re told that things will improve, and maybe they do for a little while. Many people believe that if THEY work harder at the relationship, are more loving, are more generous, and more patient that their partner will eventually change. (Because often, their partner is telling them in both overt and covert ways that the relationship problems are their fault).

Over time, a genuinely toxic relationship will destroy your self-esteem, interfere with your other relationships, make it hard to focus on positive areas of your life, and consume all of your time and attention. But through self-reflection, self-love, self-compassion (and sometimes excellent therapy or life coaching) you can begin to see that you have become attached to a profoundly unhealthy partner who is never going to give you the love and respect they deserve.

Then you can work to create positive, empowering changes: Like insisting that you are treated well, and setting firm, clear boundaries with anyone who doesn’t — especially the one who’s supposed to love them the most.

Can a Toxic Relationship Be Healed?

Ending any relationship is hard, and even people who are addicted to profoundly toxic relationships can hold on hope that the relationship can improve, sometimes for years. Many people (understandably) need to know if their toxic relationships can be healed before ending them permanently.

In fact, I get many, many relationship questions on the Growing Self blog about this very subject. Of course the writers of the questions are not labeling their relationships as toxic. They are instead describing extremely frustrating, hurtful, even crazy-making relationship experiences and then asking, what should I do? (Usually phrased as, “How do I get this person I love very much to stop treating me badly?”

If a relationship is truly toxic, it is unlikely to change no matter how hard YOU work at it. Why? Because it lacks the fundamental building blocks of a healthy relationship: Empathy, commitment, personal responsibility, and true love.

Your toxic relationship will finally be changed forever, when YOU decide that you’re not going to participate in it anymore. When you commit to yourself that you are worthy of love and respect, when you recognize your toxic relationship addiction for what it is, and when you learn how to cultivate the type of healing mindset that will set you free, you can end your toxic relationship for once and for all.

Letting Go of a Toxic Relationship

Because so many people have been reaching out for relationship advice on how to deal with these types of toxic relationship situations, I decided to devote an episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast to this subject. On this episode we’re going to be talking all about toxic relationships, including:

  • How to identify toxic relationships. I’ll be sharing the top 5 signs that you’re in a toxic relationship. Listen and give yourself the mini, “toxic relationship quiz” to find out if your relationship is actually toxic, or just temporarily frustrating.
  • Why toxic relationships are so addictive. Instead of beating yourself up for remaining in a bad relationship, learn why you’re biologically predisposed to developing intense attachments to others and why toxic relationships are actually MORE addictive than healthy relationships.
  • The difference between healthy vs toxic relationships. Just because your relationship feels hard and frustrating does not mean it’s toxic and irredeemable. Learn the difference between toxic and healthy relationships, and get access to some relationship resources to help you determine whether you should keep working at this, or move on.
  • How to leave a toxic relationship with your dignity intact. Too many toxic relationships end with, ironically, the person who was caring, trying, and hurting getting broken up with. If you’re in a toxic relationship, don’t continue to dangle on this string, waiting and hoping it will get better until they end it. Take your power back, and decide for yourself to be done. If you’re realizing that it’s time for you to pick up your self respect and move on from a toxic relationship, we’ll talk about how. We’ll discuss how to cultivate  self-compassion, self-respect. and the ability to stop depending on an unreliable, hurtful person to love you, and instead, learn how to love yourself.

 

You might be listening to this podcast at the cusp of a new year (or other major life change) and ready to leave this relationship for good. You might be just starting to explore whether or not the relationship you’re in is salvageable. You might be realizing that your relationship is toxic, but still in love and not sure how to end things. You may be caught in a toxic relationship cycle of breaking up and getting back together again. Or, you might be sitting in the pain, anger and heartbreak of just having been hurt again for the dozenth time, and looking for answers.

This podcast is for YOU.

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Ps: One of the tools I mentioned if you’re still in that “can this relationship be saved” space is my relationship quiz that can help you learn whether your relationship is fundamentally strong, or fundamentally toxic. Here’s the sign up box in case you’d like to take it. xo, LMB

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How to Leave a Toxic Relationship, With Dignity

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Handling New Relationship Anxiety: Advice From a Dating Coach

Handling New Relationship Anxiety: Advice From a Dating Coach

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Anxiety About a New Relationship?

Are you on pins and needles, riddled with anxiety about a new relationship? You’re not alone. For most of our dating coaching clients, the “dating” part is not that hard. You put a profile together, attend social functions with a smile on your face, and you’re going to have opportunities. Going on an actual date or three is not the biggest deal.

What IS the biggest deal, and what our dating coaching clients really struggle with, is how to manage all the anxiety, insecurity, and angst about the unknown that comes with finding someone they really like and who they’ve started seeing regularly. That’s when all the questions come up: Should I text? When should I call? When is it time for us to take down our online dating profiles? Is it okay for me to bring up certain subjects? How do I show them I like them with out seeming too needy? Or should I play it cool? Are we moving too fast? Not fast enough? Is this going somewhere? Is it okay for me to ask that? Or will that push them away? AGGGH. 

We associate this sort of obsessing about another person’s feelings for us with the horrific junior high experience of crushing. But, sadly, this life experience is not just for fifteen year olds. Grown-a** people, even senior citizens, still struggle with the angst and vulnerability of how to handle themselves in new relationships when they really, really don’t want to blow it.

New Relationship Anxiety: It’s a Thing

New relationships are incredibly anxiety provoking, and for good reason. When you really like someone but aren’t sure how they feel about you, it’s all consuming. When romantic love starts to pulse inside you, it actually changes the way you think and feel. When you feel like you cannot take your mind off of someone, and like you have way too much mental and emotional energy going into a brand new person, it’s not just you. That experience of infatuation is what nature designed to weld you to another person. It’s fierce. To have such intense feelings for a new person, and not know if your budding love is requited is the absolute worst.

This anxiety about new relationships churns up all kinds of self doubt and questions. For this reason, in addition to the usual questions about dating coaching we get, we have been fielding questions about how to handle various situations in new relationships from our dating coaching clients, in our solution sessions, and with questions coming in from listeners of our podcast, readers of our blog, and even journalists. [Read more about our empowering approach to dating coaching on DatingNews.com]

Today, on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, I’m tackling some of your new relationship questions in hopes of putting some of that new relationship anxiety to rest. We’ll discuss:

  • How to manage new relationship anxiety
  • The stages of a new relationship
  • New relationship questions
  • When to bring up topics like dating exclusively, or how you really feel
  • Things to look for that indicate red flags and / or compatibility
  • When you should move forward dating someone with a history of depression or other issues (and when to fold ’em).
  • What to do when someone you like hasn’t called or texted in a while, or gives other signals that they might not be that into you
  • How to put self-love and self-worth front and center of all new dating relationships
  • How to move a new relationship forward without “scaring someone off”

All that, and more, on the podcast.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

PS: Resources we discussed on the show: The How Healthy is Your Relationship Quiz, and How to Cultivate Healthy Self-Love

PPS: Do YOU have questions for me? Dating questions, or otherwise? Leave them in the comments: I read every one! 🙂

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New Relationship Anxiety? Your New Relationship Questions, Answered

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Attachment Styles: How Do You Connect?

Attachment Styles: How Do You Connect?

Jenna Peterson, M.A., LMFTC is a marriage counselor, couples therapist, premarital counselor, therapist and life coach at Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She has a friendly, light style, and uses effective, evidence-based techniques to help you achieve your most important goals for your life and your relationships.

What Are Attachment Styles? Why Do They Matter?

Attachment styles impact the way you “do” relationships. Do you tend to push your partner away when it gets emotional? Do you get anxious when your partner walks away from an argument?  Do you do both? There are four different patterns of adult attachment styles that start in childhood and continue into our adult relationships. Take this mini attachment style quiz to find out which one you are — and how to manage it!

Attachment theory, based on the research of John Bowlby,  began as a way to understand children and the different bonds they form with their caregivers as “patterns of attachment.”  

However, we now understand that attachment styles show up in adult relationships as well and can have a negative effect on a relationship if not understood and attended to appropriately. As a marriage counselor and couples therapist, I often keep attachment styles in mind as I’m working with couples eager to improve their relationships.

The Four Attachment Styles. (Which are you?)

Secure Attachment Style

Those with secure attachment tend to have the ability to trust and feel trusted by their partner with ease.  They view their partner as their “secure base” and tend to feel comforted in an intimate relationship. In romantic relationships, they can express themselves and their feelings. A securely attached person is also likely to be self-aware and have an understanding for what triggers them. Additionally, they have empathy for others too.

Paradoxically, a secure attachment style makes it easier to have space in a romantic relationship. A person with secure attachment can be left alone by their partner for a period of time without feeling abandoned. Or if they do feel anxious or concerned, they talk about their feelings openly (and appropriately).

Though securely attached people seek to get to resolutions when problems occur, that doesn’t mean they don’t argue with loved ones.  People with this attachment style may get angry and frustrated with their partner, but they try to resolve issues with their partner’s needs in mind. They also tend to calm down more quickly after conflict.

At the core of a secure attachment style is self-love. [More on this topic, read: “What is self-love?”]

Avoidant Attachment Style

People with avoidant attachment usually prefer to not argue at all and may walk away from conflict, rather than engage.  Shutting down and becoming silent can be common for people with this attachment style.

Even though people with an avoidant attachment style may seem like they don’t care, the truth is that they often feel threatened and overwhelmed in emotionally intimate situations. Therefore, they may distance themselves emotionally from others and withdraw once a situation requires vulnerability.

Though people with avoidant attachment styles may long for closeness and intimacy with their partner, the urge to protect themselves and avoid feeling painful emotions become the ultimate motive for their behavior.  

Anxious Attachment Style

An anxious attachment style usually involves a person who deeply desires closeness with their partner in order to soothe the anxiety that distance creates.  People with anxious attachment styles often make bids for attention and connection (which is good!) but sometimes to the point where they may be perceived as “needy” in romantic relationships.

A person with an anxious attachment style may become insecure and jealous of their partner if they perceive that they’re not getting what they need, particularly around emotional support. They may feel fearful when their partner leaves for extended lengths of time. Although they desire closeness and connection, their attempts to communicate their pain may be perceived as angry or even hostile by their partner. [Check out, “Getting Anger Under Control”]

Unfortunately, because people with insecure attachment styles tend to worry and struggle with trust,  they may accuse their partner of inappropriate behavior, with or without evidence. People with this style may feel as if they show their partner love far more than they get in return.

Disorganized Attachment Style

Disorganized attachment tends to have a mixture of avoidant and anxious attachment styles (it’s also known as “fearful avoidant” attachment).  People with this attachment style often pull their partner in, but when they start to feel vulnerable, shut their partner down.

It is difficult for a person with a disorganized attachment style to feel secure in a relationship, sometimes even when their partner is supportive and caring.  A disorganized attachment style may demand attention and intimacy from their partner, then withdraw and shut down once they receive it.

Though it can be challenging, it may help to understand that people’s attachment styles are rooted in early childhood experiences. Keeping this in mind may help you to have empathy for your partner’ attachment style.

What is Your Attachment Style? What is Your Partner’s Attachment Style?

In reading through these attachment style descriptions (aka, our mini attachment style quiz), you may have noticed already that you have one attachment style and your partner has a different one.  That is very common! As a couples therapist and marriage counselor, I often work with couples with different attachment styles. I know this can make understanding and communicating with one another all the more difficult, but it’s a solvable problem.  

Different Attachment Styles in a Relationship: Tips For Bridging The Gap

  • Strategy 1: Express Yourself – Do you know what your partner needs from you in order to feel fulfilled and supported?  Have you told your partner what you need? If not, that’s a great place to start. Sit down together with some paper or a whiteboard and write down what each of you need.  
    • For instance an example might be, “I’d like you to tell me I look nice, or compliment my appearance more often.” Or, “I’d like you to initiate sex more frequently.”  The more specific you can be, the better!
    • If things start getting tense, take a cool down and come back to the list when you feel calm.  If you can hear what your partner needs from the relationship you can better understand how your attachment styles are coming into play!
  • Strategy 2: Recognize Your Attachment Style – Start to notice what attachment style you are and when it comes up.  When it does, explore it!
    • Examples:
      • Did I just walk away from a fight? What made me walk away? What would I have needed to stay in the room and continue the conversation?  
      • Or, when do I feel most anxious about my partner?  Why am I so upset when I don’t hear back from my partner for a few hours?  What could my partner do to make me feel more secure in this moment?

(FREE ADVICE FROM A MARRIAGE COUNSELOR:  Before you do any of these exercises, each partner has to agree not to get defensive, and do their best to hear what their partner needs.  This isn’t a time to list grievances and tell the other what they’re doing wrong, but to tell your partner directly how they can make the relationship even better for you. If you try to have this conversation and it disintegrates into a fight, this could be a sign that it’s time to see a professional couples counselor.)

If you try these strategies you may have an easier time understanding your partner and also yourself.  By paying attention to how attachment styles come up in your life, you can increase your overall awareness and more easily replace old patterns with new ones, keeping your partner’s needs in mind.

Over time, as you both work on empathy, responsiveness, and taking ownership of the way you show up in your relationship, you can create a safe, secure attachment that feels good for both of you. 

Warmly,

Jenna Peterson, M.A., LMFTC

 

Designing Your Life: How to Create The Life You Want

Designing Your Life: How to Create The Life You Want

Maggie Graham, M.A., LPC, CPC is a life coach and career coach with Growing Self. She is one of 45 international coaches certified in the Designing Your Life curriculum that is based on the New York Times #1 bestselling book. She specializes in helping people create their ideal careers, and attain their personal and professional goals.

It’s Time to Grow…

The fall season is nearly upon us, and with it comes fresh, transformational energy. If you’re like many people showing up at Growing Self for life coaching, career coaching or therapy right now, it’s because this is the time of year to let go of the old, get re-aquainted with yourself, and design new goals for the next chapter of your life.

To support you in your quest for personal evolution, life coach and career coach Maggie Graham will be sharing her advice for how to move forward fearlessly in your career, your life and your relationships.

On this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast Maggie is talking about:

  • How to organize your life around what brings you the most energy and fulfillment
  • Identifying the self limiting beliefs that may be holding you back
  • Avoiding the common, self-sabotaging traps of perfectionism and negative self-talk
  • Resources to help you to get clear about your values and your goals
  • Key skills to making good decisions about where to go next with your life
  • How to transform your personal and professional relationships

Here are the links to the life coaching and career coaching resources we discussed in this podcast:

All the best,

Maggie Graham, M.A., LPC, CPC and Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Designing Your Life: How to Create the Life and Career You Want

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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How Men Feel Loved

How Men Feel Loved

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Men Need Romance Too

I was recently interviewed for a feature in Fatherly.com about how “Men Need Romance in Their Lives Just As Much As Women.” I was happy to do it, because I’m so glad that men’s issues — particularly when it comes to relationships — are getting more attention in the media. As I discussed with some of my male colleagues on a recent episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, “How to Understand Men,” too often, the emotional reality of men goes either unseen, or is disregarded. This can create a barrier to men becoming fully self-actualized, or to having the kinds of high quality relationships that they deserve.

In my experience, one of the main issues when it comes to men in relationships is that their feelings or emotional needs aren’t often acknowledged or addressed. It can be hard for many guys to put a voice to how they feel. As a result, sometimes their partners don’t fully understand them.

It’s a common misperception that men don’t crave feelings of closeness, connection, and emotional intimacy just as much as women do. As a marriage counselor, and couples therapist, I can’t tell you how many poignant conversations I’ve had with lonely men who want nothing more than to feel connected to and loved by the most important woman in their life. When they get the love and affection they crave, they’re like plants being watered. 

Men and Women Experience Love Differently

There are differences in the way that men and women feel connected and cared for, often having to do with their “Love Languages.” While there are no hard and fast rules that are true for all men, often times men experience love through physical affection, quality time together, and words of affirmation, whereas women are more likely to experience feelings of love through acts of service, words of affirmation, as well as gifts. Another difference is that men often have a higher need for novelty and excitement than women do. 

Men Need Love and Affection

In plain language: Men often feel most loved by the women in their lives when their partners hug them, kiss them, smile at them, and explicitly offer gratitude, praise, and words of affection. Men also feel loved and connected through sexuality, often to a greater degree than women do. Whereas women often need to feel emotionally connected as a prelude to sexuality, men often need to feel sexually connected before they can connect emotionally. Additionally, some men feel stronger feelings of attachment and connection when there is novelty and adventure in a relationship.

Respect + Freedom = Love, Too

In my experience many men also long to feel respected, and supported in the things that are most important to them. For some men, having partners who support them in pursuing their hobbies or interests outside of the relationship is a very meaningful way of feeling loved. It may sound paradoxical, to love someone by setting them free, but many men feel an enormous amount of satisfaction in relationships where they are not just accepted, but prized, for who and what they are.

One mistake I often see women make is assuming that men should feel connected and romanced in the same way that they do: through conversation, time together, gift giving, etc. (Leading women to feel frustrated or rejected when they try to show love in the way they think their partner “should” experience it, and it’s not received well). This can lead to conflict, or even worse, partners withdrawing in their attempts to show love.

The Platinum Rule of Relationships

Never forget that while the golden rule we’re taught is, “Treat others as we’d like to be treated,” when it comes to having a great relationship the platnium rule takes precedence, which is “Treat others the way that THEY want to be treated.” (Learn more about the “platinum rule” from Dr. Helen Fisher, in the podcast episode we recorded together, “Understand Your Relationship, Finally.”) Often, more than anything, your man wants to know that you like him, you respect him, and that you find him sexually attractive. When in doubt, start there.

Never Assume What “Love” Means to Others

However, all men are different. Some men feel the deepest connection through sexuality. For others, the height of emotional connection is through conversation, time together, or acts of service. All romance starts and ends with paying attention to the other person’s feelings, and showing them that you love them in ways that are tailor made to be meaningful to them. Aren’t sure how your man feels most loved? Ask him! 

But never forget that men crave romance and connection just as much as women do, even if they experience it differently. Take the time to figure out what’s most meaningful to your most important person.

If this sounds like a lot of work, consider that a wonderful side benefit of romancing your man is that when you do, you’re much more likely to have romantic energy coming back to you, too. It’s effortless to love when we feel loved, isn’t it?

Be the change you wish to see in your relationship!

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

Growing Self Counseling & Coaching