Getting Back With An Ex

Getting Back With An Ex

Getting Back With An Ex

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Getting Back With An Ex

If you’ve ever wondered about getting back with an Ex, you’re in good company. It’s very common to fantasize about reconnecting with an Ex. You might be looking for signs that you and your Ex will get back together, finding reasons to see them (do you really need that old toothbrush you left at their place?), or might be trying to figure out if you can be friends with your Ex. 

Attachment Bonds Endure

Even if, in your heart of hearts, you know that the relationship had issues (or was even toxic) it’s very hard to break your attachment bond. We don’t flip off our feelings for someone like turning out a light. What does it mean that you still have feelings for your Ex? Or that you want to stay friends with your Ex? Is that a sign that you should get back together? 

Stages of Healing After a Breakup

I’ve worked with many people as a divorce counselor and breakup therapist through their journey of healing from a broken heart, and heck, I’ve even written a book about it. (Here’s the link to Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love, if you’re interested.) Because of this, I know that one of the stages of healing after a breakup is missing your Ex, thinking about your Ex all the time, wondering if you’ll get back together, and trying to maintain your attachment to them — even if it’s just “being friends.” Nearly everyone goes through this, whether or not the relationship is salvageable (or even healthy).

These feelings are confusing, and it can be difficult to know what to do. And, frankly, they can cause problems.

This swirl of painful feelings can lead people to cling to an Ex under the guise of “just being friends” (or worse, “friends with benefits”) which makes it difficult for them to heal, grow and move on emotionally. Similarly, I’ve seen couples spend way too long breaking up and getting back together, over and over, until someone wisely calls it quits for the last time. 

But (and here’s the extremely confusing part) sometimes couples DO successfully get back together after taking a break and can go on to have a positive new chapter in their relationship with each other. In these cases, the separation was a catalyst of personal growth for both of them. It helped them make positive changes in themselves, which allowed them to have a better relationship with each other. 

It’s also true that some former partners CAN go on to have grand friendships with each other that they describe as being even better and more fulfilling than their romantic relationship ever was. 

Can You Get Back With The Ex? Should You Be Friends With An Ex?

So how do you know whether or not you should trust those feelings that are making you wonder if you should get back with your Ex? Or stay friends with your Ex? And how do you know when those feelings are keeping you stuck in an unhealthy attachment, or leading you into another round of eventual broken-hearted misery?

That is the zillion dollar question, and that is why we’re devoting a whole episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast to helping you work through it. My guest today is expert breakup counselor and divorce therapist Kensington O., M.A., MFT-C. Kensington is an experienced breakup coach who, among other things, runs our online breakup support group here at Growing Self. 

She has worked with many people grappling with these questions and has helped them figure out whether to get back together, be friends, or just work through the grief of relationship loss and move on. Today she’s sharing her advice with you so that you can get clarity and direction too.

Expert Breakup Advice Podcast

Should you get back with the Ex? Is reconnecting with an Ex a good idea? Can you be friends with an Ex? That’s what we’re discussing! You can listen to this episode right here, or find it on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Show-notes are below, and you can find a full transcript at the bottom of this post. 

What’s your story? Did you get back with an Ex? Or try to be friends with an Ex? If not, how did you get over your Ex and move on emotionally? Share your advice with our community, or ask Kensington and me a follow-up question in the comments section below.

Wishing you all the best, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Getting Back With An Ex

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Getting Back With An Ex: Episode Highlights

Questioning whether or not ending a relationship was the right choice is a natural stage of any breakup. As breakup recovery counselors and coaches, we see this all the time at Growing Self. Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love” explains that it’s normal to question whether ending the relationship was right, or whether or not you and your Ex can get back together or at least stay friends.

This uncertainty and confusion around your relationship with an Ex can be especially intense in the winter, particularly during the holidays. You may have holiday memories that trigger longing for your Ex. You may have less to do in the winter, you may spend more time alone, and your thoughts may turn to an old relationship.

These questions are hard to answer, and the mix of lingering feelings for your Ex can make them even harder. After a breakup, it’s normal to not be able to stop thinking about your Ex. You may wonder if all that mental energy means something is unresolved. 

To help you sort through the confusion, Dr. Bobby is joined by Kensington Osmond, a fellow MFT, divorce counselor, and breakup therapist at Growing Self.

Getting Back With An Ex

Kensington explains that losing an important relationship naturally triggers grief, and a normal part of the grieving process is questioning whether ending the relationship is really the right choice for you.

These feelings can be especially confusing when the relationship was toxic or just not entirely positive, as rationally, you likely know that the breakup was for the best. You can be addicted to a toxic relationship, or an unhealthy one and powerful attachment bonds will keep you missing your Ex, despite what you know rationally.

Dr. Bobby acknowledges that some “breakups” really do transform into breaks, and couples reconnect and resume their relationship, hopefully having learned new things about themselves and each other in the process.

The key to knowing whether to listen to these feelings telling you to reconnect with your Ex, or dismiss them, is assessing whether you’re simply grieving and missing the person, or whether there are compelling reasons that the relationship may actually be right for you. Think through why the relationship ended and whether anything can be improved or resolved, says Kensington.

Missing Your Ex When You Were the Dumper

Normally the partner who ended the relationship had some time to disconnect emotionally before the breakup, and weigh out the pros and cons of staying together or calling it quits in the relationship. The partner who didn’t choose the breakup may be forced to wrestle with letting go of that attachment when it wasn’t their choice.

Still, even if you were the one to end your relationship, it’s natural to miss your Ex and wonder whether you made the right choice, Kensington says.

Growing Self hosts a breakup recovery group for people working through the ends of their relationships, where other people grieving a breakup can offer empathy and support. Sometimes, these groups offer better support than family and friends, who may not understand how profoundly painful a breakup can be if they aren’t currently experiencing it themselves.

Can You Be Friends With Your Ex?

According to Dr. Bobby, the desire to remain friends with an Ex is often just the desire to not fully release the attachment. There may be a hidden agenda, or a clinging to the hope that if you remain friends, you’ll reconnect romantically at some point.

While there is no hard rule around being friends with an Ex, Kensington points out that it rarely works to shift from an intense romantic attachment to a friendship. The romantic element of a relationship needs time to fade away before a friendship can be formed.

Being Friends With an Ex

If you’re co-parenting or sharing a pet, you may have to be friends, or at least friendly, with an Ex. Or you may simply want to keep your Ex in your life as a friend. 

Whatever a friendship with an Ex means to you, it’s important to think through what those friendship boundaries would look like and how close you want the relationship to be, Kensington says. It’s also important to think about whether holding on to your Ex will keep you from forming new romantic connections with someone else. This may not be a tradeoff you would make intentionally, but not wanting to let go of the attachment could influence you more than you realize, she says.

How to Be Friends With an Ex

People want to stay friends for different reasons after a breakup. The dumper may feel less guilty if they offer to remain friends, for example. They may also simply be hoping that they can continue seeing their former partner, without the commitment of a relationship.

This leaves the grieving/still attached partner in a very vulnerable place, says Dr. Bobby, because they may be willing to accept this “friendship,” rather than let go, which could slow down their healing.

The key to navigating this, says Kensington, is developing self-compassion, which will allow you to advocate for yourself and set healthy boundaries with an Ex. If you can be kind to yourself and put your own well-being first, you can avoid connecting with your Ex in ways that won’t be healthy for you.

Kensington emphasizes that this is a journey, not a one-step process and that it takes time to release your attachment and establish a healthy friendship with an Ex if that is your goal.

Staying Friends With An Ex

Social media can be particularly triggering for people getting over an Ex. Seeing a post from a former lover can feel a lot like relapsing from addiction, according to Kensington. A picture of your Ex can put you back into a mindset that you’ve been working to escape. For that reason, consider unfollowing or even blocking your Ex, Kensington says.

Once your attachment system has died down a bit, it will be easier for you to assess from a rational place whether or not a friendship with your Ex is healthy for you. In the meantime, focus on letting go.

Reconnecting With Your Ex

There are certain situations when reconsidering a relationship is a perfectly reasonable choice, according to Kensington.

This may happen when the circumstances in you or your former partner’s life during your relationship prevented you from showing up in the way you wanted to show up. You or your partner may have since been able to do some growth work that could make another try worthwhile.

It’s important to remember you can only control your own growth work, and not your former partner’s, however. If they’re not interested in growing or changing, you can’t force them.

The key is thinking through these things intentionally together, and not just jumping back into bed on a whim.

Signs You and Your Ex Will Get Back Together

Before getting back with an Ex, look for real, tangible signs that something has changed for the positive, Kensington says. Think through the problems in your former relationship, and assess how they may have shifted since the breakup.

You may have a conversation with your Ex about what you’d like to be different in the relationship, and what has changed to bring that difference about.

Seeing real, intentional effort from your Ex (and yourself) to bring about positive change is a good sign your relationship may deserve a second try.

Back With Your Ex

If you do get back with your Ex, it’s important to take it slow, and really assess how the relationship feels this time around, as if it was a new relationship. There are stages to getting back together with an Ex — pay attention to where you and your partner are at. 

Look for red flags and green flags that the relationship is struggling, or going well. Follow up on the problems you’ve run into in the past, and how they may have changed since your first experience with this person, Kensington says.

One of the most important things you can do to improve your own relationships is learning about your attachment style, according to Kensington, and how it affects your relationships with others. This can change how you respond to your partners, and create healthier relationship patterns going forward.

People fall into a few different categories when it comes to attachment styles, with some of us having a deep, driving need for intimacy and closeness, and others feeling uncomfortable with intimacy and closeness. “Secure attachers” tend to be pretty comfortable with closeness, and to not feel too preoccupied about their relationships.

The ways we attach to our partners affect how we respond to them, and becoming aware of your own attachment style can help you step back and respond with intention, rather than simply reacting.

Building emotional intelligence is another great way to grow before re-entering an old relationship (or a new one). Close relationships require talking about feelings. Learning to be more in touch with your own and aware of those of others can make those conversations easier for you. It can also help you manage your feelings in a way that’s better for you and your partner.

Getting Back Together After a Breakup

Unless you’ve done some work on yourself, and your partner has as well, the relationship is unlikely to feel much different from the first time around, according to Dr. Bobby. Good intentions and big promises simply aren’t enough to change old patterns for the better, unfortunately.

When people breakup, get back together, and breakup again, it’s likely because they haven’t found the tools to change deeply ingrained patterns — either theirs or their partner’s — that keep the relationship from functioning in a healthy way.

The most important thing to remember if you’re going through a breakup and thinking about getting back together with an Ex, according to Kensington, is that you’re not alone. This is a very common response to releasing a powerful attachment bond, and it can feel very difficult and intense. Listen to podcasts like this one, read about breakup recovery, and join groups of people going through what you’re going through who can offer you real empathy and support as you heal.

[Intro song: Nothing to Hide by Allah-Las]

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby : Anyone going through a hard breakup, or divorce has gone through this horrible purgatory stage of ending a relationship where you're not together, but it is definitely not over emotionally. And this is such a confusing place, you might be questioning yourself—did you make the right choice? Thinking about maybe getting back together with an ex and trying to figure out if that's possible, or maybe just trying to figure out if you can be friends with your ex, and what that might look like. 

These boundaries can get very weird, and it's just an incredibly confusing time. And this is often true anytime a relationship ends, but in my experience, this ambivalence and desire for connection can be more powerful at certain times of year. For example, around the holidays, many people have memories about their relationship, miss their exes, a little more than usual, can be a triggering time. 

But I think even just in wintertime, in general, there's less going on, you're by yourself and your house more. It can really lead you to miss your ex and think about the relationship, and it's really a vulnerable time. You might be idealizing good parts of the relationship and more prone to thinking about trying to reconnect with your ex. And whether or not that's a good idea.

It can be so hard to figure out what your truth is, when you're dealing with these emotions. It can be hard to figure out your truth, that much harder even to figure out your boundaries, right? Can you be friends with your ex? Is reconnecting with your ex possible? If it is, is that a good idea for you? So many big questions. And it's such a hard space to be in. And I think anybody in this place needs some guidance and support. 

So today, that's what we're going to be talking about on our show. And to help you with this. I have asked my colleague Kensington to come on this episode with me and share her advice and perspective with you because she is a real expert on this subject. Thank you Kensington for joining me.

Kensington: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me, Lisa.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Well, I'm so glad we're talking about this, particularly with your expertise. I mean, of all, there are many people on our team, obviously here at Growing Self who do a lot of coaching with people going through divorce and breakup recovery kinds of work. But you also have a ton of experience — when you were getting your degree in marriage and family therapy at BYU, you ran a group for people working through breakups. Here at Growing Self, you lead our online breakup support group. And so every week, you're talking to people just in the trenches of this experience. And I know that you have so much insight to share, you've written blog posts at growingself.com on this topic. 

Maybe we can just open this up — I'd love to hear your thoughts about how, I guess, common it is for people like, particularly in those beginning stages of a breakup, to be grappling with these kinds of feelings and ambivalence about the relationship, even after it's officially over. Do you hear that a lot? 

Getting Back With an Ex

Kensington: Yeah, that's a great question, Lisa. And I would say almost everyone is grappling with that. I think, after someone who's been such a significant part of your life is no longer in your life in that same way, it's really normal to go through grief. Right? It's normal to miss that person and that friendship. And so I think it's really natural to be grappling with these kinds of questions.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. And that, I think, I think what's so confusing for people is that those kinds of feelings can come up, you know, that when, when an attachment bond is ruptured, we have these feelings, we have this grief, we miss people, whether or not it was a good relationship. 

Kensington: Absolutely, and I will say that's one of the things that I've seen my clients find the most confusing is that, they can look back and even if it was, worst case scenario, a really unhealthy toxic relationship. They'll still find themselves missing that person and, missing all of the good parts, but also missing just having someone around to share their life with. 

So, I think that it can be really confusing to hold both like, “I know this relationship wasn't right for me.” And also, “I really miss this person,” and holding both of those things at the same time.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, that it's like that head versus heart kind of split. Like, intellectually, I know that this person was not good for me, it wasn't going to end well, but I just can't help myself. I think about them all the time. They miss them. Yeah. Yeah. So, and I think I think the hard part, and the confounding part is that sometimes relationships do go through ups and downs and relationships. 

People take a break, and then do actually wind up reconnecting and getting back together again. And I think many times when people are having these feelings of like missing someone, they take that as, “because I feel this way, I should try to reconnect with my ex.”

Kensington: Yeah. And I think that, you know, I think that there are absolutely situations where you should think about maybe getting back together and explore that option. But I think that there's, there's other reasons at play, aside from just missing your partner, right? 

I think, kind of like we said, really, no matter, no matter how good or bad the relationship was, you're going to go through that grief process. And so the grief and the missing that person, on its own, maybe isn't a good enough reason to get back together with somebody. But, certainly sometimes there are good reasons to explore that possibility.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Well, if you could, let's just start right there. And I mean, now, this is a podcast episode, and I know that you spend many, many, many sessions and groups like helping people work, work through these and like, you know, find their own truth. But, but I am curious, like, just for the benefit of our listeners, what, what would let me ask a better question like, what, what would you advise? 

What kind of questions would you even ask somebody to sort of help them sort through that and figure out what to listen to somebody who, mixed bag of a relationship, but they still really miss this person. How do you help them get that clarity around? Are these just like normal feelings of missing somebody that everybody has, and you should still keep moving away? Or when is this a sign that you should? Maybe try to reconnect somehow?

Kensington: Yeah, that's a great question. And I think that one of the first, when I'm talking about this with clients, one of the first places where we start is—why did the relationship end? And I think, in that question, sometimes I'll get just kind of the official reason for the breakup from clients. 

But a lot of the time there's, there's more to the story than just whatever the official reason was that you share with family and friends that you decided on together. So really going through all of those reasons why your relationship really just wasn't working, and wasn't fulfilling, your needs and your partner's needs. 

I think that that's a really important place to explore, because it can help you figure out okay, are those things changeable, and resolvable? Or if they're not changeable and resolvable, are they things that maybe are okay to accept about the person and about the relationship.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Like, what was the relationship actually, like, for you? Yeah. And kind of digging into that a little bit to help people, just the experience the reality. Now, but there's, okay, let me ask you this. Because many times when a relationship ends, it's, it's kind of one person that's like, “I don't want to do this anymore.” 

That person has often had the opportunity to work through some things prior to that, like they've kind of been disconnecting for a while, whether or not their partner knew that — which is awful. But have you found it different for partners who were broken up with, and maybe even like, surprised that the relationship ended? Do they sort of miss the relationship in a different way, then people who were the ones who initiated the breakup or divorce, and who also can still really miss their partner and second guess themselves at how do you experience that differently?

Kensington: Yeah, that's a great question. And so I think that there are no hard and fast rules, but what I've seen most of the time is that, the partner who maybe initiated the end of the relationship, kind of like you've said they've, they've had some time to disconnect emotionally. Right. 

They've had the time to kind of weigh in their mind, “Okay, what am I going to be giving up? Am I sure I want to do this?” And so then the partner who, you know, wasn't their choice for the relationship and often gets stuck doing that kind of work after the relationship is already over. Yeah. So having to go back and figure out how to disconnect from an attachment that for them is still very real and very much there. 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: It's so hard. 

Kensington: Absolutely. Yeah.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Because then, they, I think when somebody kind of like works through it, and sort of eases themselves out of a relationship emotionally, like before it officially ends, even though they can have some regrets. I want to just honor what a difficult situation that is for people who are going through that, just like ruptured attachment, and like just the panic. 

I mean, that like physiologically based like, attachment, withdrawal that goes along with that, and then also having to kind of sort through what their relationship was like for them, because you idealize a relationship when you're in that, that space.

Kensington: Yeah, no, it, it's so hard. And, not to, not to plug the group too much. But I think that's, that's what you know, is so I've seen be really helpful about the breakup group that I run is just helping people connect with others who are going through that attachment, withdrawal, and that really painful, painful place that sometimes your family or your friends just, they see all the reasons why the relationship wasn't working, but they're not going through that actual attachment withdrawal themselves.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Okay, well, then, and I, we are not here to make an infomercial for the group for sure. But I am curious, what, how do you experience the way that group members respond to each other, that is different than what somebody is friends or family makes it. 

Because it's really easy, like when you're not in that place, and you see somebody who's like really suffering with this attachment, loss, and just the pain of that, but like, your friend can say that, “He was not nice to you. He was mean to you. I saw it, he cheated on you,” like, reminding friends have all these things, but the person is going through it is like, “You don't understand.” Right? 

So what, what do you see that's different with the people in the group? Like, did they also say now that, “He was actually really mean to you,” or are they like, what's the difference?

Kensington: Yeah, great question. So I think, really, what, what feels to me, like, the biggest difference is just empathy. Right? Because they're, they're able to still provide that feedback to each other around, like, what, “These are all the reasons why this relationship wasn't right for you, right? These are all the reasons why it needed to end.” But also have that really deep sense of empathy for, all of that is true. 

Also, this is really painful and really hard and you're not crazy or messed up or broken. For, for being in pain, about the loss of something that, that may be ultimately wasn't in your best interest.

Can You Be Friends With Your Ex?

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, yeah, I could hear that, like coming from somebody who knows what that pain feels like and struggling with that own attachment. Like it just lands differently because of that empathy. That's, that's a good point. Okay, well, such a confusing time. 

But just, just to have that message that that that pain, that longing has, oftentimes is not an indicator of how healthy or good that relationship was, it means that you're going through that, that emotional separation thing, which is which is different. But now, let's let's talk about the other piece of this. Because while somebody is going through that emotional phase of like, missing someone, longing for contact, that's part of it. 

Sometimes what I have seen is like, people wanting to be friends with their ex, right? can sometimes be a manifestation of like, wanting to stay connected. It's almost like that, that bargaining phase like, “I'm maintaining my connection to this person.” And if the person is in a lot of pain and missing someone, sometimes it can be like, “Because if we're friends, I might have an opportunity. And if we're hanging out sooner or later, we're gonna fall into bed again.” 

So there's like a little bit of a hidden agenda there. So, the question for you is, in your experience, to what degree is that like, usually what's happening when somebody wants to be friends with their ex? Or have you also seen someone who is in that space of longing really shift into having an actual legitimate friendship with an ex? That's just maintaining good parts of the attachment, but releasing the attachment to the romantic relationship? 

Have you seen that work?

Kensington: Yeah, that's a great question. So I think, again, like for all of these questions, there's not like a hard and fast like, “Absolutely, yes” or “Absolutely, no.” But I will say, I think if you're still in that phase, where you feel this longing for closeness and attachment to somebody, it's really, really hard to then shift into that friends only mindset. It also kind of depends on what, what friends means to you. Right?

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Kensington just made air quotes, to those of you who are not watching the video right now. What “friends” mean. Yeah.

Kensington: Yeah. I think that there, obviously, there's situations where you're going to still need to be acquaintances, or friendly with your ex, right? 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Co-parenting. 

Kensington: Co-parenting, right? Or sharing a pet.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Working together.

Being Friends With an Ex

Kensington: Absolutely, yeah. And so, I think that it's, when I, when I hear my clients say they want to be friends with their ex, there's lots of questions that come up from me, but one of the first ones is, “Okay, well, what does? What does friendship mean to you? Like, what? You know, are you looking for a best friend where it's still, feels like the relationship? Just minus a few things? Or, are we talking more of like, being acquaintances, but being like, cordial and friendly when you see each other?”

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, yeah. Well, what I, what I think I'm hearing is that you're spending a lot of time helping people get real clear about what those boundaries are, and like, a different picture of, like, a very different kind of relationship.

Kensington: Absolutely. And I think,  it's also, it's also important for people to evaluate really like, why they want that connection with that person, right? Does it feel like there's, there's something that that person can still add to your life, and you can add to their life in some way, that's not going to limit you in terms of, moving on and creating romantic connections with people? 

Or, is it really like, if you're really honest with yourself, is it really about just trying to hold on to that attachment, that you're losing in any way that you can, even if it's not in your own best interest?

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: That's a great point. Is it? Is it a way of trying to prevent pain? Is it like methadone? 

Kensington: Right! Yeah, pretty much. 

How to Be Friends With Your Ex

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, yeah. Well, okay, a couple other other things related to this. One thing that I know both of us have experienced around this, is that it can be super hard for somebody who's like really, in that pain place, and like suffering, when their ex may want to be trying to air quote, be friends. 

But sometimes for different reasons. Like, in my experience, sometimes a person who has initiated a breakup will feel guilty about that. And like, “Oh, we can be friends.” And, or, and this is much less charitable. But I think it's also true that the person that initiated the break up, it's pretty sure that they don't want to like be in a capital R relationship like this is not my person, but it's Saturday and I don’t have anything better to do. 

So do you want to, like come over and hang out and like, kind of like meeting their own needs through this friendship, that the person on the other side who's going through this attachment withdrawal is super vulnerable? And like, it's hard to set boundaries? And like, can you speak a little bit to that and what you've seen because I think that that is just this layer of complexity, like somebody is minding their own business and then they get that text from their ex and they're like, “What's up? You want to come over?” 

You know, like that thing?

Kensington: Absolutely, no, that's, that's a great question. And I think that this is something that I see a lot. And this is, it's really hard when someone has decided, “You know what? The best thing for me right now is to not really have a connection with this person while I'm healing and trying to move on.” But then the other side is still reaching out to them and trying to maintain that connection. 

That's where I think you've got to get really clear about your boundaries and really be comfortable advocating for yourself. So, in my work with clients, going through the end of a relationship, we talk a lot about self-compassion. And one of the pieces of self-compassion is really learning to advocate for yourself. Almost being like your own big brother, big sister, parents, to really have your own back. 

I think that this is one of those situations. And it's not easy, and it helps if you can have supportive people to talk through this with but really important to have your own back. Yeah, and set some of those boundaries. But it is so, so hard, especially when you're still you're grappling with missing this attachment so much hard to say no to it.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Oh, that's great advice, Kensington, that to have your own, own back. But also, do just want to acknowledge how difficult it is to come to that clarity. Like for yourself to say, this is not good for me then. So I need to not do this with you. Because that emotional part is like, “Yes, this is exactly what I want to be doing.” That is I mean, and that doesn't happen overnight. That's a journey.

Kensington: Oh, no, yeah. And I think, with all of these things that we're talking about today, like I, I really never see anyone who like, we talk about it once, and then they do it perfectly from here on out. It's a process. And it's a journey. And that's part of why, you know, the self compassion piece is so important, because it's so crucial to be gentle with yourself as you're trying to navigate. 

You know, setting boundaries and creating new skills and doing what's best for you.

Staying Friends With an Ex

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, yeah. Well, and I'm just thinking too that I think people have to, like, go around that merry go round. Sometimes it's almost like, like drinking way too much and having a horrible hangover. And then okay, I can't do that anymore. And then you do it again, you're like, “Yeah, I can't do that anymore.” 

You have to sometimes that, that old idea that relapse is part of recovery is just like noticing how you feel after you have contact with this person. And on that note, okay, this is a question that comes up all the time, I'm sure comes up all the time for you. But that idea around staying connected on social media, because that's a different order of friendship, right, but can be incredibly difficult and triggering for people. 

So and that's, that's sort of a level of friendship in the sense of maintaining a connection. What have you seen as being the impact of that social media connection? Or? And how do you help people grapple with that very real aspect of our lives?

Kensington: Yeah, that's a great question. I think, first of all, yes, I see this all the time. And I think, again, there's no like, hard or fast rule about what you have to do. But what I've seen a lot of the time is that social media can almost act like, man, it's like really, when you're in recovery from a substance abuse, you know, disorder, right? And every so often, you get, like, sent like a little hit.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: The vodka ad.

Kensington: Yeah, absolutely. It's a similar situation, when you are just scrolling on social media, minding your own business, right? Like, trying to have your own back and like, do all these great things, and boom! All of a sudden, you see this picture of your ex doing something and it, it puts you into this headspace that you've been working so hard to get out of. 

I think that's one of the reasons by a lot of my clients will choose as a way to continue having your own back to either disconnect on social media from this person, or at the very least, maybe mute them, right, so maybe you're not unfollowing each other but you're not seeing their stuff anymore, or even blocking them. Right? 

That can sound extreme, but I think that it's really, it can be really, really helpful so that you're not constantly getting these extra triggers.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. And I think I think what I'm hearing you say, in between the lines, as we're talking about all of this, too, it's like that, perhaps part of getting that clarity around, that basic question, “Is it actually healthy for me to try to have a friendship with like, a real friendship with this person? Or is it healthy for me to try to reconnect with this person?” 

I think what I'm hearing you say it's like, you have to lower the the static, the noise, like the emotional storm and triggering in order to kind of connect with your authentic feelings to think about the relationship in a more — I hate to use this word, but I don't know what other words to use — like a rational sense. It's like, but all the social media stuff and the, like, it contributes to the emotional confusion that.

Kensington: Absolutely. Yes. Yeah, I think that there's just there. Anything you can do to minimize the triggers and the bombardment, that's going to just like really hurt and kind of, yeah, I guess trigger like this, this attachment pain over and over again. 

Anything you can do to limit that is going to help you just feel a little bit more clarity about, “Okay, how much of this is just me going through the attachment withdrawal process? And, and how much of this is maybe something else that I should work through?”

Reconnecting With an Ex

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Well, let's talk about that piece. Yeah. So I think we've, we've been talking about how, when you're in pain, that is the hope that is the fantasy that, “This is all a terrible mistake, they're going to realize they love me, and everything's gonna be different, we're gonna get back together.” Like, that's, that's the fantasy that pain is telling us, right? 

That needs to be worked through, or, but there are also cases where people work through and really in a healthy, sort of rational way, reconsider their relationship. And there are actually opportunities to try again. Can you talk us through what you've seen that look like, when it is actually legitimately healthy and positive for everybody involved? Like, why would, why would a breakup even occur in the first place? If that were true? 

Kensington: Yeah, great, great question, Lisa. So I think, one thing that I've seen a lot of the time is that a breakup will occur when, when both people are just really not in a place to be the their best selves, right. And then, after taking some time apart, and both going to therapy or doing other kinds of personal growth activities, really become in a better place and more able to step into their best selves and be their best self for a new relationship.

Then, it can be a great idea to reconsider getting back together with somebody. So that's, that's one situation where I've seen that really work that I would say, like, the biggest caveat is that some of this is out of your control. True, and you can only control yourself and the personal growth that you do. But ultimately, you deserve to be with a partner who is also working on themselves, and who wants to bring their best self to the relationship. 

If you see them working on themselves, again, whether that's through like, self help stuff, therapy, coaching, whatever it is, right? Those can all be great signs that they are taking personal growth seriously, and it could be a good idea to maybe just reconsider when reentering the relationship, if you like.

Stages of Getting Back Together With an Ex

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, well, that sounds like a process in itself. I mean, I'm sure you've worked with people who are reconsidering, but I mean, even just that word implies, like a lot of thoughtfulness. It's not like you, you go out, you go out for drinks and your hookup and now you're back together again. So not that. What does this reconsidering involve, from your perspective, when people are really being intentional about it?

Kensington: Yeah, I think it you know, it involves, obviously, like a lot of personal growth on the side of each person, but a lot of conversations with each other. So spending time together kind of testing the waters to see if, if things really could be different, maybe going and talking with a relationship counselor together. But really taking it slow, I think is one of the biggest things here, right? 

Where we're not immediately just jumping back into bed together, right? But, but really trying to be mindful and intentional about, okay, these are the things that were our issues before. Like, this is what I've tried to do to work on these things. This is what you've tried to do to work on these things. But kind of test out some of these dynamics and see where we're at.

Signs You and Your Ex Will Get Back Together

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, yeah, I'm thinking right now, this wonderful article that you wrote for our blog, I think it was stages of getting back together, I believe was the title. And in it, I think you, you talked about what I thought was just such a great point, which was—what's going to be different this time around? And like, why would it be different, right? And that can be hard to figure out. 

Because I think sometimes people want things to be different in terms of the way they relate or communicate. And they also have intentions that it will be different. Yeah. But there's almost like, what, what would literally have changed that we make it be different? And so for somebody who's in that space, what would be your recommendations of like, things, things to look for, like, if say, communication was a problem, or emotional invalidation, or even trust can be an ongoing problem, right? 

What would be actual signs that something has changed, versus somebody telling you that they intend for it to be different? That's a big question. And I hope that's not too much.

Kensington: Great question. Yeah. I mean, I think that this is where, again, if you and this person have had some conversations and talks about, “I've changed in these ways, and this is my plan on how I want to do things differently.” This is where like, the taking it slow, and getting to know each other again, process becomes really important. 

If it's emotional invalidation, for example, that was really hard in the relationship trying to set time on a regular basis to even just talk about your day or talk about something hard that happened recently, and, and see, right? Like, does this conversation feel different from how you feel in the past? 

I think that those actually seeing some behavioral changes, and maybe it's not going to be perfect every time. But then, you know, like, like seeing some of those efforts to make those changes, I think, I think those can be really good.

Back With the Ex

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby : Yeah. Well, this, this is my own nerdy way of saying it, but you're talking about observational data. Yeah, like I like, okay, so we have like a pond, it's sort of covered with ice. And I'm going to walk out on this four inches with you and see if that holds. And if it does, then we'll go a little bit further. But you're saying that when going slow, it's how does this feel? Is this different? 

Can I trust, right, that this is going to be the relationship that I want it to be this time? But I also think too, that personal responsibility, like what, who am I as time around? Is that the right way to say it?

Kensington: Absolutely, yeah, I think that, you know, and it's almost like getting to know, and a new person where, you know, if you're entering a new relationship, you know, if you're trying to be intentional about it, and you're gonna take it slow, and get to know each other and, you know, be looking out for red flags, but also green flags and signs that things are going well.

I think it's the same when considering getting back together with an ex, right? I think, again, since we have a history, it's so tempting to just like, jump right back in and pick up where we left off. But if we want to create a new pattern, it can really require going slow and being deliberate, trying new patterns, seeing if they work, right? And looking for all of those signs that like you said this really would be different.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Yeah, got it. Yeah. Well, it's just that, that same idea, that having an attachment bond to somebody is not the same thing as having a healthy relationship to somebody and that’s something that you need to create on a different level. 

So related to that, and again, this may be too hard of a question, because I'm sure it looks different with every client that you've ever had in some ways, but would, can you identify any sort of patterns or themes, like when you've worked with clients who have done work on themselves, and maybe after a separation, and then go back into a previous relationship, or even a new relationship for that matter. 

What have you noticed being the most important things for people to be gaining self awareness around in terms of their own patterns? Emotional intelligence, reactivity, ways of relating to other people that you've seen being key to having a different outcome when they go back in again, because the personal responsibility piece is so important, right? What have you seen?

Kensington: Absolutely. So I think one of the big pieces of self awareness that I've seen be really helpful for people is understanding their attachment style, and how that comes out when they relate to other people. And so I think, just understanding that, and then being cognizant of, “Okay, what's coming up for me in this interaction with this new person? And, how can I respond deliberately, instead of just reacting,” right? That can be  a great, like, really tangible place for people to start.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: If we could stay there for a minute, just just for the benefit of our listeners who may not be really, or maybe have heard the term attachment styles, but don't really know what that means. What can you say a little bit more about what, what you're talking about there?

Kensington: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, attachment theory, talks about really like, what we, what we need in a relationship in order to feel safe, and how we respond to closeness and other people. And so there's, and I'll let people do some of their own research. But there's, there's a few different main categories of attachment type. 

There's a secure attachment, which is what we're all working toward. There is an anxious attachment, which means that we tend to really desire that closeness with others and feel really nervous and be reactive, when we feel like we're not getting that from someone else. And a more avoidant attachment style, where kind of that vulnerability or closeness in a relationship feels really scary, and can react based off of that. 

That's, that's just like a very brief overview. But really, I've seen for people to understand what some of their tendencies are, with how they attach in romantic relationships. I've seen that be really transformational and how they, then attach to new partners moving forward.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Definitely, it's easy to say, “Okay, I know that I tend to feel really nervous when somebody isn't like, calling me every day or texting me at certain times. And then I tend to get angry and lash out,” and just like, knowing that, “Okay, this is what I do.” And then developing ways of managing those feelings can really change outcomes in a relationship and so that to have a different experience.

If you're getting back with an ex, that's going to be something important to think about inside of yourself, as well as maybe your exes and whether they've done work on that area. Are there other things or that you've seen being important for people?

Kensington: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, I was — the attachment styles is a big one. I think another one that I've seen be really important is just emotional intelligence. So being able — one of the really important pieces of a relationship is emotional intimacy and closeness, and that involves being able to talk about our feelings. 

Really, in order to talk about our feelings, we have to know what they are. And so gaining kind of this emotional intelligence piece around “Okay, what are the feelings that I'm experiencing on a regular basis? Where do I feel them in my body? How do I experience them? What are their names?” Right? That can be really, really important work to then be able to share that with other people.

But also create new patterns around okay, well, when anger comes up for me, I can know, because of X, Y, and Z, and here are some things that I know that I can do to help me with my anger, so that I'm expressing it in an appropriate way, instead of lashing out against my partner.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Okay. So attachment styles, emotional intelligence work. I mean, that's a lot right there.

Kensington: Absolutely.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Is there anything else? Are those the biggest ones? Would you say?

Kensington: I think the, I mean, some of the two main ones coming to mind for me, and I think that you could certainly spend several months or even years, right? Like working on those in yourself. But I think that, yeah, for most clients, those are two good places to start.

Getting Back Together After a Breakup

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, definitely. Well, and this is so helpful, because this is a very, like, concrete, tangible thing. And I think my takeaway from this is that if you want to get back with an ex, and if it is going to be a positive and better experience for both of you, the work that you're describing needs to have happened or, or that there is a plan to maybe do some of that together, like through couples counseling. 

But unless there's that real reflection on your part, and your partner's part, it's probably not going to feel that different, even if you do get back together again, right?

Kensington: Absolutely. I think that, again, when two people get back together, and I heard this so many times, they have the best of intentions, and there's so many promises made around, “We're going to do things differently. And I'm not going to do this anymore.” And I think that those promises are wonderful. And, I believe that for most people, they're coming from a good place, and they're genuine. 

But if there's not some of that work, both like the insight based work, as well as the behavioral change, work to support those promises, even the most well-intentioned people are going to fall back into old patterns, not because they want to do that necessarily, but just because patterns are really hard to break out.

Breaking Up and Getting Back Together

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: They are, they're comfy, they're strong, they happen automatically, without anybody even noticing it takes a lot of intention to break out of them. Is that what you think is happening when you see, like partners, breaking up and then getting back together again, and breaking up? Is that what's going on? Is that people like want to be together, but they haven't done the work on these old patterns?

Kensington: Yeah, yeah, great question. So I think, yeah, nine times out of 10. I think that's what's going on. And, again, it's all good intentions, and people wanting to do better and be their best selves. But it's really hard to do that when there's some underlying things that haven't haven't been addressed, such as patterns or not knowing your attachment style.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: So much good stuff, Kensington. You share just so much fantastic information with us today. I'm so grateful. And I'm sure our listeners are to people who are struggling with just the enormity of all this. Any, any last words that you might have for them? I know you spend a lot of time with people who are in this emotional place, but what do you want them to know?

Kensington: Yeah, I think first, first and foremost, just know that you're not going crazy. And you're not alone! I think that going through the end of a relationship is such an isolating experience, and especially if the people who we're sharing with again, is, well-intentioned as they are, just either haven't been there, it's been a really long time since they've been there. 

There can be some pretty invalidating things that are set. And really if, if there's anything that I've seen from my work in this area is that, this intense missing of this person. Even if, again, even if, you know it wasn't a great relationship and it needed to end. You're, you're really not going crazy, like it's normal. It has an explanation, and I know that so many of your podcasts listen. In your book, EXaholics, you talked about the biological component of losing that attachment.

I think that understanding that is really helpful for people. So yeah, you're not alone. And, all of your feelings have a very rational explanation.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. That's, that's such a nice note to end on that it's legitimate. It is normal. There's nothing wrong with you. Yeah, and that, that people do understand. Well, thank you again for sharing your understanding today, Kensington. This is wonderful.

Kensington: Thank you so much for having me, Lisa.

[Outro song: Nothing to Hide by Allah-Las]


Embracing Your Cultural Identity

Embracing Your Cultural Identity

Embracing Your Cultural Identity

 

Embracing Your Cultural Identity

Feeling connected to your cultural identity can be an important part of life satisfaction for many people, and it can be a large part of one’s identity as a whole. In my work as a therapist and online life coach, I have the opportunity to sit with people who are on this journey. Knowing one’s cultural identity and embracing it is not a requirement for feeling satisfied and it does not have to be a necessary part of happiness or contentment, but the key piece here is whether that is an intentional choice for you. 

For many people living in the United States, and across the world, knowing and embracing your cultural, racial, or ethnic identity can be a complex task. For the purposes of this article, I will use ‘cultural identity’ as a broad term to include race and ethnicity (although culture and cultural identity are not limited to these 2 areas), but it is important to note these terms are different and distinct from one another. Cultural identity can also include language and location among other things, and is largely socially constructed.

Embracing Your Cultural Identity 

Why might embracing your cultural identity be important anyway? There are many answers to this question, but from a therapist and life coach’s perspective, a big factor are the emotional impacts that can arise when we don’t. 

Feelings of shame, guilt, isolation, disconnection, and emptiness may arise when we feel confused or cut off from our cultural identity, and this can be especially complex in the face of white supremacy. It would be a disservice and unrealistic not to address the role white supremacy plays on how our cultural identity forms, how culture is communicated to us, and what it can mean to us. 

Embracing your cultural identity can help you feel more satisfied, more connected to yourself, your relationship, and your loved ones and give you more confidence in who you are. 

White Supremacy and You

Connecting with your cultural identity while fighting the current of white supremacy is no easy task, and has been something our ancestors have been doing for many years whether they are conscious of this or not. As America is generally recognized as a nation of immigrants, the issue of striving to feel connected and validated in our culture while being a part of “American culture” can feel like a balancing act. 

This is particularly salient for first and second generation immigrants, and immigrant families as a whole regardless of how many generations have come forth since immigrating. Walking the tightrope of trying to assimilate into a new country and culture while holding on to your own racial and ethnic culture is no small feat, and can lead you to feel criticized or invalidated at every turn when you aren’t “American enough” or “white enough” and you also aren’t “____ enough” for your cultural group. 

Understanding this for ourselves can be challenging enough, much less in the face of colorism and microaggressions that can permeate every day life. Colorism is a way in which white supremacy can show up within racial and ethnic groups, where proximity to whiteness is met with either giving or taking away power and privilege based on the tone of one’s skin. 

Families may have learned or had the experience that embracing their cultural identity, and not hiding it in the face of white supremacy, is dangerous. For many people across the globe, embracing and embodying your cultural identity is not always safe. This is an unfortunate reality, and being able to discern when you can embrace your cultural identity and when you can’t is a critical skill. 

However, what I see as a beacon of light in these situations is that you can cultivate and embrace your cultural identity in the privacy and sanctity of your own home or living space, as well as in your mind. Now that we have been able to acknowledge the role of white supremacy, let’s talk about ways to embrace and cultivate your cultural identity even in the face of challenge so that healing can begin.

Cultivating and Connecting with Your Cultural Identity

In order to begin cultivating and connecting with your cultural identity, you first have to identify the parts that make you, you. There are many routes you can use to discover your racial, ethnic, and cultural makeup, depending on how deep you’d like to go. 

Trace Your Family Journey

If you are able to speak with family members, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins they may be a great place to start tracing the journey your family has made across different states, countries, or cities. Depending on your relationship with them, this could be an opportunity to connect and share stories about family members and the history of your family.

Research Your Family Tree

Another great option is to complete genealogical DNA testing, or to complete some genealogical research on your own via a family tree. You could complete this yourself, or outsource to hire someone else to do this research for you. As mentioned before, culture can be broad and comprise the various parts of your identity, which may include your geographic location, the way you speak, and your personality. Regardless of how you define your cultural identity, it starts with identifying the major pieces of you that may or may not be visible. 

Explore Your Identities

Once you have started to recognize your identities, it is time to explore them and be curious about what they mean to you. This may be a little more challenging than it seems on the surface, as you will have to sort through the messages you may have received about a particular identity compared to what you actually feel or believe about it. 

This process is not always linear, clear cut, or easy, and it may be a continual process until you feel firmly rooted in what you think and feel about your identities. I also use identity in the plural sense, as we are all intersectional in that we are made up of many identities including but not limited to: gender, ability, age, race, ethnicity, and sexual identity. 

Connect with Others On a Similar Path

As you are exploring and integrating these various pieces of you, it may be helpful to engage with others who are similar to you to either share in the struggles of this work or find that you are not alone in how you feel. Many times we may feel isolated or misunderstood in who we are, but from my experience as a therapist and coach, all of us can relate to one another more than we may think. 

As you are doing this work, your emotions may range from joy, surprise, and excitement to confusion, frustration, or disbelief. At the end of the day, I encourage you to give yourself patience and permission to stand in your truth and not try to force yourself into neat and tiny boxes. People may share different opinions than you, but no one can define you or tell you who you are, only you can do that. 

Embracing Your Cultural Identity While Combating White Supremacy 

Embracing your cultural identity can be freeing and satisfying, but does not come without its own challenges, as white supremacy can be insidious in its various forms. As you are going through your own journey, doubts and inner criticism may arise as you’re exploring your emotions and beliefs about your identities. 

Paying attention to these emotions as they come up and exploring what may be beneath them can also help you better understand yourself, your fears, and anxieties about showing up in this new way. The tools you will need in your toolbox as you are embracing and understanding your cultural identity will be:

  • compassion
  • patience
  • kindness
  • curiosity

You will be using each of these tools often, so be prepared to keep them accessible to you. 

You will need to give yourself compassion as you feel conflicting emotions, patience as you feel confusion or stuck-ness, and kindness towards yourself all along the way. Curiosity will be important to combat feelings of judgement, and to explore every thought, belief, or emotion. 

Curiosity may look like, “Where did I learn this?” or “What is the origin story to this reaction or belief?” and, “Do I really believe/think/feel this, or did this come from someone else?” Feelings of shame or pain can be difficult to process, and here is where giving ourselves compassion and kindness is crucial. 

Going along with society or those in power is a survival strategy, and yourself and your family did what you had to do to get to this point and there is no shame in that. However, at any time we all have the choice to pivot and make the choices that best serve us now, which may include opening ourselves up to integrating all of who we are. 

I may make this sound easy, but please give yourself patience in understanding this, like everything else, it is a process that takes time. There is just as much value in the journey as there is arriving at the destination, and you may need to remind yourself of this often. 

When confronted with white supremacy or microaggressions, you have the power to remind yourself of your truth and who you are. You are able to reassure yourself of your identities and what they mean to you and about you, and no one can ever take that away from you. 

Embracing your cultural identity may look like not censoring yourself or contorting yourself to fit the majority, but it is important to recognize you may not always have the privilege and safety to do so. In those cases, reminding yourself of your values and identity in those moments will be important to insulate you from the effects of that. Giving yourself compassion in those moments and recognizing the strength and skill it takes to adapt and protect yourself is a huge aspect of this work, and will cultivate resilience within you. 

Embracing your cultural identity is not the path of least resistance, but is a trek worth embarking on. You can utilize these tools along with the support of friends, family, and people in your community you feel safe sharing with along the way, as social support is invaluable throughout this process as well. Please know, people across the world and all around you are working to embrace their cultural identity right along with you.

 

Warmly,

Josephine

 

 

 

Josephine M., M.S. MFTC Couples Counseling + Therapy

Josephine M., M.S., MFTC is a warm, kind, and direct therapist and couples counselor who specializes in communication, compassion and connection. She can help you reach your goals and create positive change in yourself and your relationships.

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How to be Successful Online Dating

How to be Successful Online Dating

How to be Successful Online Dating

Dating Profiles, First Messages, and Red Flags

[social_warfare]

As a relationship therapist and dating coach, many of my single clients who are looking for that forever love, come to me asking, “What am I doing wrong?” expressing feelings of confusion, hurt, and even outrage at the current state of the dating world. Today I want to share with you dating tips to navigate the online dating pool of uncertainty and discomfort so that you can enter the dating world with confidence and assuredness that you’re not alone in feeling this way. 

It’s Not You…It’s Your Dating Platform

Okay, you’ve decided to jump in – to try out this online approach to dating, and what better time than now when social distancing is in full swing? It’s not like you can go to the bar or join a club to meet someone new these days, you have to get a little more creative and with SO many people circulating on and through dating apps and websites…where do you even begin?

When it comes to online dating, there are apps and websites galore for you to choose from. The biggest difference between using an app like Tinder vs. a website like OkCupid is that dating sites that require a questionnaire (or a financial commitment) tend to attract people that are more serious about looking for a relationship. Where it is more common to find people that are looking for a relationship as well as causal hookup up on swipe apps. 

Using an app or website is not necessarily better than the other but it may be helpful to think about what you are looking for and to choose a site or an app depending on the type of person that particular platform attracts. I often recommend that people join more than one platform to increase their pool of people.

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Dating profiles are intimidating – they’re intimidating to create and they're even intimidating to read. Dating clients will ask me, “How can I trust that this is real?” And it is true…people have a tendency to answer personal questionnaires as they would like to be, not as they really are. 

We all want to put our best foot forward, especially when it comes to meeting someone new. So, it’s likely that there will be embellishments on dating profiles. Consider the profile similar to a first impression – while you aren’t getting the full impression of the person, you are seeing (typically) who they want to be or believe they can be if they aren’t that person already.

My advice here is to not jump to conclusions. Don’t assume that what you read in the profile is completely true, but don’t discount what the profile says because it seems to good to be true. So while the personality questionnaire may not be 100 percent accurate they may at least give some idea of who that person is or at least who they aspire to be.

Use the dating profile as a jumping-off point to get to know the person, not to judge who they are or aren’t based on the answers they filled out. 

Finding Your Perfect Match: More than a Questionnaire 

For many online dating sites, the questionnaire will allow you to connect with similarly minded people – those who have a high percentage of matching with you based on the answers that you filled out. 

The truth is, there is no foolproof way to succeed in finding the perfect match but there are definitely things that will increase your chances such as having a great profile, clarifying for yourself what you are looking for in a partner and how to assess others for that quality, having a positive mindset about dating, having a positive mindset about yourself, identifying your shortcoming when it comes to dating and taking steps to improve those things, and obviously being willing to go on lots of dates!

Don’t discount a potential match because your “match rating” is lower than others. Dating requires getting to know people – talking, listening, and seeing where your compatibility is outside of the questionnaire answers you both filled out. 

Your Dating Profile IS Your First Impression

You may get the opportunity to turn your matches into real-life dates, but the relationship ultimately starts from your profile. As mentioned before, dating profiles (creating and reading) are intimidating! Some of my tips for creating a standout dating profile are: 

  • Include good quality and thoughtfully chosen pictures. The pictures may be the only thing someone looks at – each picture should have a purpose that gives information about you (no selfie bathroom shots!!!!). It should also be easy to identify who you are in the photo (keep it simple, don’t include a bunch of group photos). For more tips on taking outstanding dating profile pictures, see: Denver Dating Coach: How to Get The Best Online Dating Profile Photo
  • Share something unique, interesting, and important. Give people enough interesting information in your profile that they have something for a conversation starter. Saying “I like dogs and beach volleyball” might be an easy way to plan that first date, but ultimately doesn’t share anything about who you are.
  • Don’t complain. I cannot stress this enough, don’t complain and especially don’t talk about how much you hate online dating in your profile (you’d be surprised at how often this happens). 

When you find a match – or someone you’re interested in getting to know a little more, you may have the opportunity to send them a message. When messaging others, ask a specific question or comment about their profile, don’t ever a start a conversation with nothing but a “hey.”

Avoid Appearing Desperate

Dating apps are often used for casual hookups and brief interactions – and when you are looking for more than just a one-night stand it can be hard to come off as fun and flirty when you know that ultimately what you want may not be what 99% of your matches are looking for. 

Be honest about what you are looking for in your profile, and then behave in ways that are consistent with what you want. If you want a serious relationship then don’t engage in behavior that is consistent with hook up culture – meeting up late at night, texting when drinking, etc.. Also remember that the main purpose of a first or second date is only to see if you’re interested in a second or third date. Relax and enjoy getting to know people without interrogating them about future plans on the first date to avoid coming off as desperate. Be patient, these things take time.

Beware of the Bright Red Flag 

The biggest red flag is someone that waits extended periods of time between responses (days to weeks). People that are committed to this process tend to be responsive and make themself available. People that are looking for a partner are not wanting a pen pal. Limit your messaging to a couple of days and then find a time to meet in person (in public), that way you don’t waste time messaging someone for weeks only to find out that there is no real connection when face to face.

Dealbreakers – What Matters Most

Dealbreakers are specific to each person. You need to decide what are YOUR dealbreakers are before you begin dating. Some people feel like a difference in politics is a dealbreaker where that is totally fine for someone else. Be thoughtful about what you are ok with and what will end up destroying a relationship in the long run. 

If you are looking for a serious relationship, a long-term commitment, you have to be honest with yourself about what works and doesn’t work for you. To say, “Oh, I can grow to love that about them,” or “It’s not that big of deal, really” will only hurt you in the long run. 

Dating More Than One Person at a Time

Your matches are lining up, you’re feeling pretty good about your prospects and the conversations that are unfolding – but is it okay to date more than one person at a time? How many people you choose to date at a time needs to be dependent on each person. If you tend to jump into relationships quickly and put all your eggs in one basket, you’re better off dating multiple people at once. If you tend to struggle to commit, and dating lots of people supports that avoidance, try dating one person at a time. 

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to go about online dating – show up as yourself and be honest with yourself throughout the process. When things start to feel like “too much” know it’s okay to walk away, and if things start to “fit” then move forward. The wonderful thing about dating is you get to choose how you’ll move forward or when you’ll walk away based on your wants and needs. 

Here’s to you and your online dating adventures!
Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT

 

[social_warfare]
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Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT is a couples counselor, premarital counselor, therapist, and life coach who is passionate about helping individuals, families & couples create more fulfilling lives and relationships, and to function at an optimum level of health and happiness.

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Build Confidence and Charisma

Build Confidence and Charisma

Build Confidence and Charisma

How to Be Interesting & Fun To Talk To

[social_warfare]

Build Confidence and Charisma

One of the most ubiquitous of our pandemic-life experiences has been the isolation of being at home all the time and having less opportunities to socialize with others. But… (knock on wood) the end may be in sight. If you're feeling a little rusty or nervous when it comes to talking to people and chatting up new friends and old, it's time for a refresher course on how to communicate with confidence and charisma. 

My guest on today's episode of the podcast knows all about how to be interesting and fun to talk to, especially under pressure. Kristen Carney is a stand-up comedian, comedy writer, online dating coach and “conversation coach” who's specialty is helping people be comfortable with others, be interesting and fun to talk to, develop an easy rapport with others, and be more confident about themselves — especially in conversation.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to carry more charismatic conversations with people to make not just great first impressions, but lay the foundation for an enduring positive new relationship. You’ll discover the power of self-confidence and self-awareness in your interactions with others, as well as some “pro tips” for easy things you can do to instantly set others at ease, be perceived as more likable and interesting.

Tune in to the full episode to learn how to build confidence and charisma!

In This Masterclass with Kristen, You Will . . .

  • Learn about how and why Kristen became a comedian.
  • Discover the power of becoming confident about yourself.
  • Find out how to embrace your shortcomings and make light of it.
  • Realize that judgment also comes from within yourself.
  • Understand how your mood affects others.
  • Learn how to get past the judgment of others and yourself.
  • Discover ways you can become a better conversationalist.

I hope that this conversation helps prepare you to get back into the ring with confidence and charisma, as you begin rebuilding your social life and network of friendships.

You can listen to this episode right here on GrowingSelf.com (the player is at the bottom of the post), and you'll find a full transcript of these episode down there as well. You can also listen to “Build Confidence and Charisma” on Spotify, on Apple Podcasts, or wherever else you like to listen. Don't forget to subscribe!

Wishing you all the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Build Confidence and Charisma: Episode Highlights

#1: How to Talk to Random People

As a comedian, Kristen shares the anxiety that comes with standing up on stage and having the spotlight on you. Unlike other performances such as dancing, you’ll never know what kind of reaction you will get and how things will go along. In a sense, the feeling is almost like talking to a random person or being on a first date.

You only have the first few seconds to make a good impression. So if you’re dealing with social anxiety around dating or making new friends, how do you cope? Here are Kristen's tips:

  1. Remember, it’s natural for people to judge you. “You can’t control that, that’s going to happen regardless,” Kirsten says.
  2. Don’t put too much weight on whether a person likes you or not. When you focus less on being judged, people will be less likely to sense that negative energy.
  3. Enter situations smiling. Because people can sense the energy you are giving off, it’s always better to look genuinely warm and welcoming.

I didn’t want to fake-smile, of course. I just worked on the joy that is inside of me.” Kristen says that it took therapy for her to unlearn and let go of the discomfort she felt about herself, in order to build her confidence in these situations. (Listen to the full story of her personal growth therapy process in this episode).

#2: Develop Self-Awareness

How do you feel when you're around others? Kristen reminds us that even in situations where you don’t strike up a conversation, people will still sense the energy you are giving off. It doesn’t help if you physically look unwelcoming. People will naturally observe how you look and make assumptions from that as well.

Because of that it’s crucial to have self-awareness, and understand how your inner experience may be impacting others — wither you know it or not. Sometimes, although you may not be conscious of it, you become stuck in negative emotions. Kristen shares that when she’s annoyed or moody, for example, at a grocery store, it is very evident.

Kristen shares how it can affect others. “You know sometimes, I forget, this person is being a jerk, and then I realize well maybe, I’m putting out that energy of being a jerk.” 

After becoming aware of your energy in situations like that, you can still readjust. When you begin to unload all that negative energy, you also start to radiate welcoming energy towards others. Only becoming aware of this is doable for anyone and adds to your personal growth. 

#3. Embrace Your Shortcomings

Maybe your goal is to create chemistry on your first date, or perhaps to appear more attractive to an acquaintance, co-worker or new friend. However, we often overfocus too much on creating chemistry and getting people to like us that we bring ourselves down instead of becoming happier.

In these cases, we tend to have feelings of inferiority and insecurity, which is entirely understandable. However, to have more charismatic conversations, it’s crucial for you to embrace yourself.

I’ve realized that what I have to offer is unique and is great in and of itself without having to be like them,” Kristen comments about being surrounded by more educated, “decorated” colleagues. 

Here are some great tips that she’s learned from her personal experiences:

  • Stop trying to be anyone else. If a person doesn’t like you for who you are, then so be it. It’s easier said than done, but once you get to that level, the pressure of fitting in “instantly melts away.”
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. You may not like politics or literature, and that’s okay. It doesn’t make you any less of a person.
  • Remember what you have to offer is unique. You might have ways of doing or learning things that are different compared to others. Whatever you are interested in and however you do things is unique in itself.

In fact, as a comedian, Kristen usually makes jokes about her shortcomings. However, she has to catch herself when it comes from a place of insecurity. 

However, when you’re feeling good about yourself, you can use self-deprecating humor to call out your shortcomings. This doesn’t apply to just in-person conversations, as you can use this to be an exciting texter as well. In any case, it’s always better to keep it light and do this in small doses.

Ways to Be A Better Conversationalist

Other than being more comfortable in your skin, there is an art to having charismatic conversations. Kristen has a coaching program that helps people get past barriers like low self-esteem and teaches them great tips on what to do in social situations. Here are some of them:

  1. Become aware of your surroundings. Another way to start or continue a conversation is to pick up on things around you. For example, you can comment on a particular smell.
  2. Know your point of view and have a strong opinion. We are taught not to offend, but we can still hold our own opinion without being a jerk. Having an opinion allows for banter.
  3. Make connections between one thing or another. When you connect things, no matter how random it may be, you can create stories and witty conversations.

You don’t want to be shallow necessarily, but you want to be playful and short so that it doesn’t feel like work so that it feels fun,” Kristen says. You want to set the stage when you’re first drawing someone in and have fun doing so. The more in-depth conversations come later on once you’ve established a great connection.

Resources

  • Growing Self – our website has dozens of helpful articles written by several experts on communication, chemistry, and friendship.
  • Kristen and Chill – check out Kristen’s website, where you can find great resources on online-dating banter and having better conversations.
  • The Banter Coach – connect with Kristen on Instagram.

Kristen Carney has shared some practical and insightful tips on how to hold charismatic conversations. What did you connect and relate to the most? Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment down below.

Did you like this interview? Subscribe to us now to discover how to live a life full of love, success, and happiness!

 

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Build Confidence and Charisma

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

Music Credits: “Light Shines” by Atlantic Thrills

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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.

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Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

Build Confidence and Charisma: Podcast Transcript

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Access Episode Transcript

Lisa Marie Bobby: This is Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, and you're listening to the Love Happiness And Success podcast.

 

[Light Shines by Atlantic Thrills plays]

 

Lisa: That's Atlantic Thrills, this song is Light Shines. I thought it was a perfect song for us today. Because today we're talking about how to get your light to shine, particularly when you're out in the world talking to other people. Something that I think we've all maybe fallen out of practice with. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself, when we're back out meeting and greeting people in person. It's going to be like that, “Wait, what do I do with my hands again?” kind of moment. As I record this, we're still all sort of sitting in quarantine. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

 

I think that's something I've heard a lot about from clients, and people leaving comments on the blog and Instagram these days, is our relationships and our connections with other people are feeling more important than ever before. I think, we appreciate that much more than things that we feel we are losing or being threatened. I think that all of us have been feeling a little more isolated and compartmentalized than before. It is that much more important to figure out how to create really meaningful, valuable, good feeling connections with other people. And that's true for romantic relationships that are intimate partnerships, but also even friendships or connections with family—the people that are most important to us, and, and also figuring out ways to build those connections with others. 

How To Be Interesting

At the core of it, and I know we talk a lot about this on the podcast, is that the real fabric of our relationship is connection and attachment, emotional safety. I think being able to be truly authentic with others and have relationships that are characterized by caring, and a mutual appreciation, and all of these things. It is also true that especially when we are creating relationships—newer relationships, being they friendships, romantic relationships, how we show up in the very beginning can determine whether or not we have the opportunity to go deeper with people. First impressions do kind of matter. And not that it's you only get one chance, and then it's over, because that is way too much pressure for any of us to take on board. But it is worth considering. What is our leading edge when we first meet someone? If you are single and dating, how that first date goes is going to determine whether or not you have the opportunity for a second. 

 

I think that when we talk about romantic relationships or things related to couples, it is very easy to go into the deep stuff around communication and how we show love and respect. Those things are all incredibly important. It can be easy to get so into the weeds of that, that we lose sight of the fact that there also needs to be fun in a relationship, like to be a good friend to your partner, to be enjoyable to hang out with, to spend time together, doing light things that aren't the most serious things in the world. That’s really the bulk of how we spend our days with our spouse or partners, even our kids. 

 

And then also certainly with friendships. There is a time and a place to go into the deep stuff and to be vulnerable and to have those very authentic heart to hearts. Honestly, I think that it's true that if you can't do that at all with “friends”, it may not be the depth of the relationship that you want to have and. There's a lot of the rest of the time that we spend with friends that is devoted to just fun and companionship and being easy and light and just enjoyable. Again, it's like, the deep stuff is important. Chemistry does matter, that people feel a spark when they're with you, that people want to hang out with you. Like the song we were just listening to, there's a line in there that I love, “like a moth to the flame,” right. 

Confidence and Charisma

And so, I think that as we are discussing all different topics related to your love, happiness and success, it is worthwhile to be talking about how to build up your confidence in these interpersonal moments, and also your charisma, your chemistry, because you can be intentionally more charismatic, more fun to talk to, more fun to be with, make people feel chemistry when they're around you. This is not an impossible thing, even if you maybe are sort of—as I am, honestly, as many people—are kind of naturally inclined towards introversion. That is okay, that's good, that gives you depth and meaning. I think introverts are fascinating to talk to you personally. How do you put your best foot forward? Be your best self, particularly with people who don't yet know you? We have to do that to some degree to give ourselves the chance to get to know people more deeply. We don't do a cannonball into the deep end of the pool with intimacy, there's an on ramp. Being intentional about how you're coming across in the beginning is the on ramp. 

 

And so that is what we're talking about today on the show is how to increase your confidence, your charisma, your chemistry with others. And if this is your first time listening to the podcast, I'm so glad that you found this. I'm Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby. I'm the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. I'm a psychologist, marriage, family therapist, life coach. And I spend a lot of time really, I would say the bulk of it, helping people with matters of the heart. And we talk about all kinds of things on this show, we talk about career and personal stuff, and growth and all good things. 

 

But really, I think, what I have clients talking to me about most of all, and what we do most of all, in our practice is it's really related to how do I feel more connected to other people? How do I have more genuinely satisfying relationships with others. Let's take a look at my patterns and relationships and kind of think about how those are going, so that I can make positive changes. 

That's again what we're doing today on the show. So I have lots planned for us around this topic of confidence and charisma. That is not all. 

 

If you're interested in learning more about this topic, I would invite you to go to the blog at growing self.com. If you go to the blog page, there's actually a search bar there and you can type in any topic that you're interested in. If this conversation we'll have today sparks more interest in learning about communication, chemistry, friendship, dating, go to the blog of growingself.com. Type any of those words into the search bar and you will see not only more podcast episodes from me, but loads of really helpful articles written, some by myself,but some by other people on our team at Growing Self. I get to work with all kinds of very smart, talented therapists and coaches who have a lot to offer you all for free on the blog at growingself.com. So don't let your journey of growth stop here in this moment with this podcast. We're going to keep going. 

 

But in service of our topic today, confidence charisma, I am actually enlisting the support of a true expert in this area. She's not a therapist, but she has some pretty unique life experiences that have really helped her understand the art and science of being engaging and being interesting and being not just fun, but funny to talk to. Kristen Carney is my guest today, and I'm so excited to introduce her to you. 

 

Kristen is an extremely interesting person. She is a stand-up comedian, who has another career really in helping people figure out how to communicate with confidence and clarity, be successful when it comes to things like bantering in the context of dating, and she has done so many interesting things. She is the co-host of the Ask Women podcast, and she has been on Loveline with Dr. Drew, the Adam Carolla Show, she's had her own podcast, and she is on Comedy Central. Are you still on Comedy Central? 

 

Kristen Carney: I wrote for them a long, long time ago. 

 

Lisa: That’s so cool! I think is kind of something.

 

Kristen: I'll take it, I'll take it.

 

Lisa: Yes. She's here today to speak with us and to share her insights on how you too, can be more interesting to talk to.

 

Kristen: Well, thank you so much for having me. The pressure to talk about being interesting when you're talking, for me to be interesting when I'm talking goes through the roof. It's like, be interesting, and then I'm on a podcast, maybe perhaps not sounding interesting when I talk about this stuff because it is really formulaic in a sense. So it turns out to be a conversation that sounds very self help-y, rather than super fun and entertaining, which is what I want people to be, right.

 

Lisa: Well, I apologize if my glowing introduction, but you're just about like, it's Kristen Carney, the most interesting and entertaining person in the world to talk to and you're like, “Ah, crap.”

 

Kristen: Yes, I'd like to set the bar low so that I can exceed it. I can blow people away because they had such little expectation. But I'll live up to your intro, I promise. 

 

Lisa: Well, actually, if we can even just start there. And I hope that this is okay to ask you about. So one of the things that I have been so interested to learn more about you and kind of your story and your background. So you had/have a career as a stand-up  comedian. Is that right?

 

Kristen: Yes, and no. Yes, I've done stand up for the better part of 10 to 12 years. It hasn't always been paying or on television. But it's been a consistent thing through my life, which has led me to different aspects of comedy and writing and performing and podcasting. And so it's really the common thread that's linked to all of the things that I do together. It all stems from stand-up comedy. Everything in my life stems from stand-up comedy. 

 

Ever since I was 12 years old and didn't do stand-up comedy, comedy was the through line through everything for me. I was class clown. I was bullied pretty badly. So it was a coping mechanism. My dad was really funny. And I didn't know how to pursue a career being funny, but I knew, “Ookay, I have a sense of humor. I'm very perceptive. I can see things. I'm observational, and I can make clever commentary. How do I make that a career?” 

 

And so I actually originally went into the creative side of advertising, to be a copywriter, because I thought, “Well, I can write a funny commercial,” or something. I never envisioned myself doing stand-up comedy. And it wasn't until I was in the advertising school that I was at in Chicago that I delved into stand up, because they actually made us take a stand-up class to see how we could write jokes, and then put that into commercials and advertising. And so that's how I ended up getting into stand up. 

 

So my whole life has just been influenced by comedy. But it hasn't always necessarily been directly me being on stage for 3000 people or something like that. I have done stand-up on TV, but I don't pursue it the way most people pursue stand-up. I almost put it in the background and let that lead me. 

Personal Growth

Lisa: Yes. Well, that's great. I wanted to ask about that because it seems relevant, but I mean, I can only imagine. To me, it feels like the third ring of hell to imagine like standing up in front of a room full of maybe slightly drunk people holding a microphone and they're all sort of looking at you expectantly, ready to be entertained. First of all, the amount of pressure and anxiety that you must feel in those moments, and yet I'm projecting here. Also the level of empathy that there are people among us who feel similarly in the context of a party or a first date, not just like, “What do I say?” What does that actually feel like? 

 

Kristen: For some people, it's a rush. It turns them into essentially like meth heads, like they need to get that next hit of being onstage. And then for some people like me, the rush is there, but the rush is weighed down by the anxiety that I do have before going on stage. I grew up dancing. And so I always loved being onstage. I was never nervous to dance on stage. It was a different experience. I always felt a rush 100% of the time. Whereas stand up, it's so dependent on you, and you never know the context or the scenario or what's going to happen. Whereas when you're going on stage to perform with a group dancing, it's all pretty planned out. You know exactly what you're doing and what's next, where stand-up is much more unpredictable. So the anxiety for me, could actually be crippling, and I had to find ways to cope with it. 

 

And really, part of the reason I don't do stand-up as much as I would really naturally desire is due to that anxiety. I never like to play the female card, like, “Oh, it's hard being a woman in comedy.” But it is kind of hard for—if you're not funny, especially like me, I mean, if you're funny, it's great. But when you're a woman, especially not funny, then trying to do stand up, it's even worse. 

 

You have a perception about you from the audience, that as a woman, you need to instantly break down. You need to win them over within 10 to 15 seconds. If you don't get them within those first 10 to 15, 30 seconds, even, it's pretty much over. That anticipation for me was always hard, because I don't look like I would do stand-up. I don't look very nice. I don't look like the typical prototype of what a comedian looks like. So I would always have to fight against that. I would overthink and over judge myself, “Does this shirt say the wrong thing about me? Is this going to make me unlikable? This side of my face is less likeable than the side of my face. What if this side of the crowd doesn’t like me? So yes, tons of anxiety for me. 

 

But once I'm actually on stage, and things are going well, it is that meth hit where you're like—not that I would know, not that I'm for meth, no judgement. But hey, this pandemic's getting long, you never know. But once that ship is sailing, and you're flowing, it's like, “Man, this is great. Nothing better in the world.” But to get to that point, sometimes it just doesn't feel like it's worth all the pre-pain that comes along with. Especially not just the pre pain of being on that moment of stepping on stage, but just functioning in an industry like that, it's very difficult. You have to be very social, and you have to really know how to work it and network and get chummy with people. I'm pretty introverted. I'm very extroverted, in certain senses, like to the extreme. But on a day-to-day basis, I'm very introverted. And so that always was very hard for me to upkeep these relationships and meeting people. 

 

So, yes, there's nothing I love more in this world besides comedy. Well, I love sleep. Sleep is probably number one. But number two, comedy and so, yes, that that has just been a consistent source of decision making, I guess in my life. But I've never been directly completely committed to just stand-up comedy. 

 

Lisa: Well I can understand why. I mean, because just the mental and emotional anguish and also like, even though there are moments when it feels good, and you're in the flow, and you're doing it like I'm also hearing that there's a lot of self-awareness that it's not totally in your nature to be the that that it requires. 

 

Kristen: Yes, yes, I'm very in my head and I'm very self-aware and over analytical and over judgmental of myself and hard on myself. So it is always been, I think, it's crippled me, definitely. But it's also shaped me in a sense that it's given me character, a sense of humor, because I don't go through everyday life feeling great and happy all the time because I'm so in my head. And I use that for my comedy, and I use that for my jokes, my point of view on the world and all that stuff. 

 

So I try to be grateful for it. But that's also me just trying to sound positive, because I'm on podcasts that's very positive. If I was on a podcast just for comedy, I'd be like, “I hate it, I want to, I want to never get out of bed and just pour alcohol into my mouth all day long every day.” But I can't right now, so. 

 

Lisa: Well, Kristen, this is the Love Happiness & Success podcast. So we keep it extremely real. And it is also 100% fun. 

 

Kristen: Good because all I want to do really is say, “Screw it. I'm staying in bed.” But then you just dig yourself a deeper hole. And so it's not worth it. It’s only going to be harder to get out of that hole. 

 

Lisa: So true. What I think is amazing, and what I was super excited to talk with you about is how it seems like you've really taken so much of what I'm imagining you've learned from these experiences as someone who like so many of us, tend to be self-critical to overthink things or judge yourself harshly? And then going into I think that the highest stress situation, and overthinking introvert could possibly be in which is in this, an entertainer kind of role. That what you've done is really kind of figure out how do I help people that are maybe kind of like me, figure out how to manage some of the anxiety. Not just feel maybe more confident or comfortable in these situations, but also have an idea of what to say, or what to be that will help them feel more confident about, like, making a first good impression, or like you were saying a couple minutes ago, like I have 10 to 15 seconds for these people to decide. 

 

I think that it's kind of a crappy reality. I would like to believe that we live in a world where humans can be more compassionate with each other and understand that it takes a long time to know somebody fully. While I think we all know that that's true, in practice, particularly when it's a new relationship, or when you're dating, when you're first out, like even making friends, like people do judge others pretty quickly. And it's also a reality.

How to Talk to Random People

 

Kristen: It is, it is. You can't control that, that's going to happen regardless. So you can put yourself in the best position possible. And then also not put too much stock into whether they like you or not. Having just this confidence, that's an unending confidence, it’s not affected. Of course, we're human beings. And if you want someone to really like you, and they don't really seem to like you, it's a bummer. But not putting much weight on it. Because when you do put weight on it, it shines through in your interaction. You can do everything right, but if you're in your head thinking these things, people are like dogs in a sense, well, in certain ways. I mean, not because they sniff their own poo, but because they can smell, they can sniff, they can sense. 

 

So people will pick that up. And so the less you are focused on that, the less people will feel that and you'll give yourself a better opportunity to be perceived the way that you want to be perceived, or in the correct way. So, with making a first impression, I actually went through this. And it was mind blowing to me because it was so simple. But when I was doing stand-up, I was trying to meet people, I was new to the scene, and I had a therapist and I just said, “I'm very upset because I'm a really good person and I'm very nice. But people react to me very—it seems very negative. It doesn't seem like they embrace me. I don't really feel welcome. And so I had to work on that for a while, but I realized I was carrying around a lot of negative energy and a lot of discomfort within myself. 

 

And so I did start working on entering situations, smiling. Just smiling. It's so simple and confident people smile. So you don't want to be arrogant. You don't want to be like, “I'm great. And I'm going to smile all the time because I'm perfect.” Just the way you've been looked at me when I said that, when I said, I smile, you smiled so genuinely. And there's such a warmth to that. And so I didn't want to fake smile, of course. I just worked on embracing the joy that actually is inside of me before going into these situations, and you have to be a little bit aware so that you actually do it. You don't want to be in your head, but you want to be aware enough where you are actively putting out a good energy. 

 

So I would smile, I would just smile naturally, if someone came up to my friend and I was standing there with a friend, I didn't stand there, like, looking off to the side or crossing my arms or like, when is someone going to introduce me. When the person would walk up, I'd smile too and I'd say hello. And it would instantly be a comfort level that didn't exist before. And so that was just mind boggling or mind blowing to me, because it felt like such an insurmountable mountain to climb to get people to like me from the get-go. 

 

And when I just started smiling, it made such a difference. My face specifically, it's very angular, it could be a little witchy at certain angles. I've got dark hair, right? So it's like you have to compensate for people because people innately want to judge that. We've been conditioned to maybe associate a long face with a witch or something. That's not their fault. And so, I've tried to accommodate them, in the sense, not tell them that, but do what I need to do to offset the programming that's already in their head about me, and someone who looks like me.

 

Lisa: That is so important. Let's just unpack this a little bit. There's this just awareness that people—we all do can just like, extrapolate meaning about who people are just from the basic way that their face looks. You're not saying this out loud because you're probably too polite, but that phrase like resting bitchface.

 

Kristen: Oh, I have a resting bitch face. I have resting C-U-N-T face, really. That’s how extreme mine is. I go past the… 

 

Lisa: Well. And now for my podcast listeners who don't have the benefit of seeing the video right now, you're also very, very pretty, too. 

 

Kristen: I'll take it, I'll take it. 

 

Lisa: No, really, you are.There can be this like that, perhaps we are all sort of projecting things that we're not completely conscious of that maybe people are sort of absorbing. They see a pretty girl who looks aloof. Just not because you intend to be aloof, but because of the way your face is literally constructed. And they sort of take that in as and start making assumptions. 

 

So you're saying that it was huge to just like, be aware of what people do, and then really intentionally, I think you use the phrase, counteract that programming. So that you go in with a smile, and you're being very aware of your body language, so that you have some—I mean, I hate to use the word control, because we can't control everything that's going on inside of other people. But you can like, tip the scales a little bit in your favor, is what I'm saying.

 

Kristen: Yes, absolutely.

 

Lisa: Yes.

 

Kristen: Yes. It was really helpful. I mean, it really changed a lot for me. It changed the relationships I was making. It changed the perceptions people had of me. I had stories that people told me when they first met me, they didn't know me, they didn't speak to me, they didn't think I was a B-I-T-C-H, or a bitch because of anything I did. They just saw me and thought, “Oh, that girl looks like a bitch.” And they wrote me off, and that was it. Come to find out once we actually strike up a relationship somehow, they're like, “You're nothing like I expected.” And so if I'd known that from the beginning, when I first met them, and was able to make conscious decisions of how I was holding myself or the energy I was putting out. 

 

I don't know if you get into this kind of stuff, but chakras and like the energy that is pouring out of your body that people sense, I noticed that if I just felt either annoyed or kind of moody, or if I pulled into a parking lot, at a grocery store to run into get groceries and the parking lot was full and then I'd walk in the grocery store with that energy of like, yeah, like “Get out of my way.” People would react to me, like that. They would feel that energy. 

 

Sometimes I forget, and I'm like, “This person is being a jerk.” And then I kind of realized, again, “Maybe I'm putting out that energy of being a jerk,” and then I readjust. But yes, it's life changing, it was life changing for me, really. 

 

Lisa: Thank you so much for sharing that. how much for sharing that. And I love it because it's so like, doable. I also hear exactly what you're saying, too. That it's very easy for all of us, and I certainly do this too, it's we're kind of unconsciously marinating in the broth of our own feelings, or being focused on something or annoyed with something and not fully aware of how we feel to be around. People can pick up our mood states through how we look and sort of how we're vibrating almost and that can really impact people too. 

 

So particularly if you're going into a high impact social situation, or a situation where you would like to meet new people or dating or make new relationships to be real conscious of that ongoing relationships, too, honestly. But like, especially in the beginning, before people have like compiled—I have had 150 set of experiences with Kristen and most of the time, she's lovely, and nice and pleasant and today, she's not really herself. But if somebody was just meeting you for the first time, and they didn't know that you were lovely and nice, they would take that sort of annoyed, irritated Kristen as being the truth about you, right?

 

Kristen: And that sticks. That's what sticks. So if you can alter that, then you're in a great position.

Social Anxiety

Lisa: Yes. Okay, can we pull back up just a little bit, because what you're talking about is so important in terms of that self-awareness. But what I often see happening like with clients, either therapy coaching clients, and I know that certainly I myself have been in this space, it's like, the way we are thinking about situations, even before we go into them are sort of like our inner dialogue around like, well, “They don't, they won't like me, because they'll think I'm weird. I'm different from that, or I'm not quite as good as XYZ for all these reasons.” 

 

People, I think, who struggle sometimes to feel confident in social situations, can really have a lot of that inner dialogue, that anticipatory like, that will prevent them from going into these situations in the first place. Or when they do, they already, like they're expecting something bad to happen. So they're not smiling, and they're not feeling great. I know that this is a very big complex topic. I mean, there are psychologists who specialize in social anxiety is like a thing. So there's a lot here, but I'm wondering, what you have found, from your experiences personally, in your coaching work over the years that has helped you offset some of that? I think it's such a common experience. 

 

Kristen: It is, and so what I can refer to is my own experience. The first thing that comes up in my head when you ask that is, I remember living in Chicago. I had just started doing stand-up  comedy. And all the kids or all the people who were doing comedy in the scene, were highly educated from Ivy League schools. They were high achievers in a way. They seem to—I don't know, I would kind of guessed that a lot of them came from money so that they were able to pursue something like comedy because they could. 

 

Whereas, I was not an Ivy League student, or in an Ivy League college. I was nowhere near even an A student. I was like a B- student. I didn't know anything about politics and big conversational things. I just knew who I was and what I like to talk about, and I felt so nervous and scared around them. And I couldn't be myself and I couldn't speak. I would just be completely quiet. It would almost feel like in my brain, a light switch would turn to the off position. I would have nothing to say, nothing to offer, no sense of humor. I knew it was in there, but it would just shrink, it would go away and I would clam up. 

 

I look back on that. I've come so far because I've realized that what I have to offer is unique and is great in and of itself without having to be like them. So the first thing that I recommend is becoming comfortable. And it's way easier said than done to just all of a sudden become comfortable with yourself, right? But when you stop trying to be anyone else, but yourself, instantly, a lot of pressure will melt away. When I was younger, I started to try to become them so that I could fit in. And the more I tried to become them, the less funny I would be, the more people wouldn't like me. It felt inauthentic. It felt fake. People could feel that. 

 

I would learn things just so that this person would maybe like me better, or that person would like me better. And I stopped doing that, I stopped comparing myself to anyone else. I started embracing who I am. And if I don't love to read about 18th century literature, I just don't. And that's okay. I never will. I'd make jokes about not reading essentially, like I read but I don't really read, And for so long, it was like, “What a loser, you don't read, you don't add up to everyone else.” But then I realized I get my knowledge in the way that I like to get my knowledge. I like to learn things the way I like to learn things. I love movies. 

 

I started to just embrace my shortcomings, and stop comparing myself to other people. And so when I would go into social situations, I started to feel great, not great, I'm not perfect by any means. But I started to feel just more at ease. “This is who I am. This is what I like, if you don't like it, if it's not good enough, I'm not interested in you either.” And it would hurt. It's not like I'm unendingly confident, I struggle a lot with confidence, always. But I just became more comfortable in my skin so when I would go into these situations, social situations, I knew what I had to say. what I had to offer was different than anyone else there. And that in itself was awesome, and was unique and cool. I would start feeling less anxiety. 

 

I've never necessarily had social anxiety. It's interesting because when I'm in a social setting, in a group way, with people that I'm relatively comfortable with, I turn it on. I don't know what happens. But I become like Robin Williams or something, like “I’m d, the d and funny and that.” And I really become myself. But there are certain people and certain circumstances, of course, that I would dim my light. And so that's happening way less. My light doesn't really dim anymore for the people that I'm around. And so that's kind of very long winded way to basically say, become comfortable with who you are. It's a lot easier said than done.

 

Lisa: Yes. Right? I mean, it's a process. I think that we can all totally relate to that to being around people that were worried about being judged by. I know, I've certainly been in that experience too. How hard it can be to kind of like, no, even though I'm not into these things, or they know something about music or bands or whatever that I don't know—it doesn't mean that I'm not a good and worthwhile person. I think that that's the theme for this year’s is that self-acceptance is really that core, so that you're sort of having that inner voice inside of yourself is like, “You are good. You are just as good as they are. It's all okay, you don't have to be anything else. You bring value.”

 

Also I love the other part of what you said, which is that if you do encounter someone who is judging you by their own weird yardstick that they're carrying around, it doesn't have anything to do with you. Good riddance, who would want to be friends with or in a relationship with somebody who's that judgy? That's not fun. Right?

 

Kristen: No. That’s the most empowering part of getting older is not caring. Cool, great. Awesome. You're cool. You have a million Instagram followers. I don't care. I don't care. And it's this book The Subtle Art Of Not an F. Okay, I didn't read the whole book. And speaking of not reading, I did listen to most of it on tape. If I ever go deaf, though, it's because I listened to so many books, that's going to be my thing. Like I do listen to books, I don't read them. But I do listen. And that was just reiterating the whole idea of just not caring that much, caring about the right things and forgetting about the wrong things. 

 

You said something that I wanted to respond to but it's, it's escaping me right now. Oh, I know what it was. You mentioned about maybe not knowing the certain music or all about music or something. What I recommend doing is embracing literally out loud your shortcomings. Calling them out. A confident person can self-deprecate because they’re secure enough that if they point out something that makes them vulnerable, they're cool. That's okay. 

 

So self-deprecation is a very good tool to use in small doses. Of course, you don't want to become Eeyore, just constantly, [mumbles]. But every so often, if you really don't know something, or you're really uncomfortable, calling out the elephant in the room, self-deprecating about it. I also recommend self-deprecating about the positive, so that you're able to call out that elephant in the room, but in a way that's not taking you down from you're starting at zero with someone and taking you down to negative 100. You're starting at zero with someone and you're actually going up to +25 by self-deprecating. And so, you self-deprecating about the good thing. 

 

I recommend making a list of things that are actually really great qualities about yourself that you could pick on in a way to humanize yourself.It's like the humblebrag kind of thing. But if you every single day have to make your bed or something that's a positive quality that you could totally pick on yourself. If you're—I use this example, once before that I liked, with men that I was working with. But this one guy, he's like 38, roughly. Kind of rediscovering himself. He said he was traveling all the time, he was taking singing lessons, he was learning to ski or just stuff that he's never done before. And he was doing tons of awesome stuff. So I said, “Self-deprecate about that and say, ‘I'm basically like a 50 year old divorced woman.’” So turn these things that are great about yourself as a way to self-deprecate you, you become very down to earth to someone. But meanwhile, also showing that you have confidence because it takes confidence to do that. But of course, the right situation has to arise to use these self-deprecation tools. But they're always there for you.

 

Lisa: What a wonderful, like, multipurpose little Swiss Army Knife of the communication technique. It accomplishes so many things at the same time. It's like showing confidence, it's showing wit, but it's also kind of like making yourself more relatable. I would imagine too, making other people who may be experiencing their own inner demons, “Oh, no, this person is so much more interesting than I am,” like that they feel more comfortable and safe with you, too. 

 

Kristen: Yes, I used to do that as a teenager who I—I hate to say the word bullied but I was pretty bullied. 

 

Lisa: Yes, I understand.

 

Kristen: I learned to self-deprecate to make people comfortable with me. To me, I felt like it made myself more likeable. It was also a defense mechanism because I thought if I point out my flaws first, I'll get to them before other people do, which is something I was so accustomed to people pointing out my flaws, telling me what was wrong with me. So it was a defense mechanism, but if used properly and in small doses, yes, it's a really good tool. So.

Charismatic Conversations

Lisa: I know that we don't have that much more time with you because it was a hard stop. I guess I'm also wondering that maybe in our last couple of minutes, if you wouldn't mind sharing, if there are any, and I know that you have like you have a coaching practice, you have a whole program based around this, I'm sure it's very involved. 

 

But like part of what I love about your work and what I was interested in speaking with you again, is that in addition to kind of helping people feel comfortable in themselves and kind of know how to handle themselves in certain social situations. I think that there is an art and a craft and things that you can learn for how to be perceived more positively around. Things to say, like there is such a thing as charismatic communication. Again, I know we don't have a ton of time, but I'm curious to know if there's like even one or two things that you can share about things that usually work if you would like to make a positive impression. We talked about smiling and sort of energy. But what else? 

 

Kristen: Absolutely, oh my gosh, there's so many places I could go with this. But to narrow it down, for time’s sake, one thing I always recommend is being very aware of your surroundings. When you're aware of your surroundings, what you're doing is, just becoming cognizant. Is it warm in here? Is the line very long? Is there a weird smell? The reason I recommend that is because that's a shared experience with someone else who is in the room with you. They're experiencing the same thing. They may not be aware that they're experiencing the same thing but if you pointed out, oh, my God, instant connection. “Yes, it is really smelly in here. Did you smell that?” “I smelled that.” “Oh, my God, are you wearing deodorant?” “No, it's not me.” All of a sudden, it can turn into a fun playful exchange, if you simply start out just aware of your surroundings. So that's one thing. 

 

The other thing that I recommend is knowing your point of view and having opinions and strong opinions. Not to be a jerk, but to give you a place to go from in conversation. Conversation will fall flat if you don't have a point of view on something, if you don't have an opinion on something. It's really the foundation of the banter work that I teach. We start out working on opinions and how to unearth the ones that are buried deep down, because we're taught to be polite, we're taught to not offend, we're taught to be amiable. And of course, I want people to be nice and lovely. 

 

But for men, specifically, when they're dating, if they don't have these strong opinions, they end up being thrown into the friendzone, or feeling a little bit like the beta male, like not the strong masculine type that women may be looking for. So knowing your opinions, and knowing how to deliver them properly, is something that we usually get into in the coursework that I do. 

 

Finally, the last thing that I would recommend, it takes a long time to explain, so I'm going to try to say it in about 20 seconds. When you want to be witty and you want to be clever, simply really all it comes down to is making a connection between one thing and another. And so yes, it's so hard to summarize. But basically, starting to draw lines, like little invisible lines between things is where you'll start to bring out humor. 

 

So for example, I'm just randomly pulling stuff out. If I'm in the airport, and there's a vending machine with the headphones, things like that. Usually people walk by, they don't make a judgement on that. So it's like, “Okay, a vending machine full of headphones, whatever, next.” Taking these little minute things and actually applying connections to them. So say I didn't have my headphones and I had a 14 hour flight coming up. I would say something about the vending machine being like my hero, that vending machine must be wearing a cape, it just saved me, just saved my life. That's not mind blowingly funny, but that's an example of making connections to bring out humor.

 

Those three things set you up to be pretty good verbally, but also physically in terms of the way you present yourself are important as well. I don't know if I just made sense with what I said there. 

 

Lisa: No, no, it's like the physical pieces and energetic pieces are like all the foundation. Then it's like the shared experience, what's going on, making connections between different things. Also you use the word playful, too. I would imagine that just having that kind of intention in the way you communicate and having strong opinions. 

 

Kristen: Yes, playful is key, especially in dating, the beginning of conversation of conversing or connecting. You don't want to be shallow necessarily, but you want to be playful and short, so that it doesn't feel like work, so that it feels fun, it feels like you're at an amusement park. And then eventually you can get to the heavier stuff. But when you're drawing someone in, short and sweet and fun and playful, is how you set the stage for  better things to come.

 

Lisa: That's an interesting conversation. I wish I had more time with you and I'm sure that my listeners are like “Wait. No, no. Don’t let Kristen go yet.” So where will they go if they wanted to learn more about you and your work these days?

 

Kristen: So my website is called kristenandchill.com. It's a play on “Netflix and Chill”, which is about hooking up because I've really just helped mainly with the dating stuff and guys trying to get the chicks. But they can also find me @thebantercoach on Instagram. I just started that Instagram page. I’m starting to build it up and get content on there. So if they want to hit me up or ask me questions, The Banter Coach on Instagram.

 

Lisa: Thank you so much. We'll be sure to link to those in the post for this and thank you again for your time.

 

Kristen: Yes, thank you for having me. You’re so lovely. So sweet to talk to you. 

 

Lisa: Talk to you soon. Okay. Bye. 

 

Kristen: Bye.

 

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Finding the Right Person

Finding the Right Person

Finding the Right Person

Finding the Right Person

— With Dating Coach Damona Hoffman

[social_warfare]

FINDING THE RIGHT PERSON: Are you looking for “the one” and feeling frustrated with the fact that despite giving your best efforts to online dating apps, you still haven’t connected with anyone? You're not alone. Many of you reached out through the blog and on Instagram regarding the difficulties of finding true love. I've spent many years as a dating coach, and know that it can be incredibly confusing and frustrating to make progress in your love life.

But! I also know, from the same years of experience, that you just might have more power to achieve the love you're looking for than you know. It's super easy to fall into thinking traps that can subconsciously block you from connecting with the love that IS out there for you. What do I mean by “thinking traps?” Those are the core beliefs or inner narratives — your internal script — that you operate by without even realizing it. Once you become consciously aware of this script and how it may be impacting your dating experience, things change. Really!

While I've been on this journey of discovery so many times with my private dating coaching clients, and witnessed the power of thinking traps first hand, I'm not alone in this. For example, dating expert Damona Hoffman has much to share on the subject of how to find the right person as well.

A little bit more about Damona: She is the Dating Expert of The Drew Barrymore Show and NPR, a dating coach & TV personality who starred in the A+E Networks' (FYI TV) series #BlackLove and A Question of Love. She’s a contributor for CNN Headline News (HLN), BET.com, The Washington Post, LA Times, Match dating app, e News and more. Her advice has been featured in hundreds of publications, podcasts, and TV shows and she was the subject of an Oprah O Magazine cover story in 2019. She hosts The Dates & Mates Show as well as the “I Make A Living” podcast.

Today, on this “How to Find The Right Person” episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, I am getting Damona to spill ALL THE BEANS about the strategies you can use to navigate the perils of dating and find the right relationship for you.

Damona is sharing her thoughts about why dating is not as simple as we may think — it is really about our personal growth and understanding. You'll discover why it truly starts with overcoming fears and self-reflection. You will also find out why character is better than chemistry and how to bring curiosity into your dating life. Finally, you will learn the nuts and bolts of successful online dating strategies and making sure that there are no weak spots.

In This Episode…

We're dishing out dating advice and success strategies like:

  • How (and why) it's so important to understand yourself first before finding the right person.
  • How to tell that you may hold limiting beliefs about relationships that are creating obstacles to your success.
  • Learn that rejections in dates are not about you but the situation.
  • Find out the five simple steps in the dating process.
  • Discover the power of being deliberate and focused on the dating process (and what that entails).
  • Recognize the importance of overcoming your fears.
  • Become aware of what makes a person compatible with you.
  • Uncover some biases you may have.

Tune in to the full interview to learn how to finally find the right person while being at your best and most confident self!

You can listen to “Finding the Right Person” on Spotify, on Apple Podcast, or wherever else you like to listen. Or you can scroll down and listen to this episode on the player at the bottom of this page. 

While you're listening and soaking up all the great dating advice Damona shares, don't forget to rate, review and subscribe to the podcast. (You can follow us on Instagram too, for a daily dose of positive, affirming, Love, Happiness & Success advice.

Thanks for listening!

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Finding the Right Person: Episode Highlights

First: Knowing What You’re Looking For

Cultivating and finding the right relationship is much like any skill — it’s a skill to be learned and honed. The first step is finding what we want in the first place. Damona notes that “the biggest mistake that I see is that people have no clarity on what they're looking for in a long-term relationship.

Clarity does not mean a checklist about how the other person should be. Instead, it starts with self-reflection and a deep understanding of your values and beliefs.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What is your ideal partner like?
  • What are your needs in a relationship?
  • What are your goals for the future?
  • What kind of person can be compatible with my personality?

Misconceptions About Dating and Relationships

It is easy to fixate on things that we think are important — money, status, career, and similar interests. We need to change this mindset and understand that empathy and communication will ultimately be the cornerstones of a relationship.

Damona lists out a few things to remember about dating and relationships:

  • It's not about a list but about doing deeper work. Dating and relationships require learning skills over time, such as building better profiles, communicating better, learning how to follow through, and so much more!
  • Don’t confuse chemistry with love. Chemistry may be a response to familiarity with a past attraction or just a physical attraction. Remember, build your relationships on something more substantial. For more, see “Don't Let Over-Focusing on ‘Chemistry' Ruin a Great Relationship”
  • Instead of looking for chemistry, be driven by curiosity. Let the connection grow and see if the interest develops over time. “If you get to the third date and you're not feeling anything, you're not more curious, then I think maybe there isn't a love match,” Damona says.

The Process of Self-Understanding and Acceptance

A lot of people are looking for reasons to say no before they're looking for reasons to say yes,” Damona says. In dating, people may resort to extrapolating the other person's personality and values. She invites us to ask instead: How can we possibly judge and stereotype someone if we haven't seen them in practice?

Rushing and looking for closure is the root cause of this extrapolation. In this era where everything is fast, it pushes some to want relationships even though it's not a good fit.   

So what if it’s not a good match? Damona says to move on — this is not a rejection of you but just a rejection of the situation. 

The process of dating can be crushing if you keep looking at the perspective of your self-worth. Damona gives this golden advice: “You date your best when you feel the best.” When you have fears and limiting beliefs, these may lead to finding validation from others. Work through these first and find self-love and confidence.

The Real Reason You’re Still Single

From her work as a dating coach, Damona was able to simplify the process into five simple steps:  

  • Mindset. What is your mindset going into this? Are you serious and willing to give time to put in the work? What is your foundational thinking about looking for a mate or about yourself?
  • Sourcing. Where is your dating pool? Is it large enough for good choices?
  • Screening. How do you determine if someone is the right date or not?
  • Presentation. How are you showing up as your best self?
  • Follow Through. Do you follow through and close the loop?

If your love life is not flowing, Damona says that there are likely leaks in any of these areas. We need to patch those up! She encourages, “You just have to believe it's possible. And you have to be willing to do that. The biggest myth is that Prince Charming is just going to come up and knock on your door.

Be deliberate and focused. People may have impressions that dating apps like Tinder are only for people who want to hook up, but we need to stop giving too much meaning to the app — it's just a connector. What we use it for is what matters.

Overcoming Limiting Beliefs

For Damona, she needed to go through a deep understanding and awareness of her fears. It was during that time that she met her person. Whatever stage you are in, she encourages you to face and work through your fears. 

Damona reminds us:

  • We are always works-in-progress. Don't be too hard on yourself when you're not getting the results you want, whether in personal growth or dating. What matters is that you keep moving forward.
  • If you don't like yourself, how can you expect someone else to do it for you?
  • Everything starts with self-acceptance and develops with change.

Finding a Good Match

There are certain aspects of compatibility that we need to watch out for. These include attachment styles, love languages, basic orientation around planning, values, among others. Beyond compatibility, it can also be about how we accept and love people who are different from us.

Relationships should not be chaotic and full of drama. These may feel wild and exciting, but know that a good match may feel more peaceful and consistent.

When looking for a match, you can widen your dating pool. These can be through online meetup groups, setups from friends, interest groups, and more. Don’t limit yourself and think that there’s no one around — look for them!

Unconscious Biases in Dating

“I would encourage people to just look beyond your traditional parameters, even within your own city, just expand your search criteria a little bit and see what else might be out there,” Damona says.

Damona shares in The Washington Post that people may still have associations around race that affect their search criteria. She notes, “That may not be reality. It may be part of their history or may not even be their stuff. It could be their parents’ stuff or their parents’ parents’ stuff.”  

She shares that we may need to expand our thinking and maybe find our person that way. 

Damona shared valuable insights into taking dating seriously for long-term relationships. What did you connect and relate to the most? Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment down below.

I'll be watching for your comments and questions!

xo, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

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Finding The Right Person

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

Music Credits: Vivian Girls, “Tell The World”

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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.

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Finding The Right Person: Podcast Transcript

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: This is Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, and you're listening to the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

That is the Vivian Girls with a song, Tell The World. Tell the world about the love that I've found. And that's what we're talking about today because finding the right person can be really challenging. And I know that that is on the minds of many of our listeners, is to figure out how to create the kind of relationship that they really want. And you know what? There's a lot to be said for creating a good relationship with your partner. We talk a lot about that on the podcast. And finding the right person to have a relationship with is that first foundational step many times. I've been hearing from so many of you through Instagram, through the blog of growingself.com, that this is a point of frustration for so many. It is really hard to connect with the right person and find the true love. To think this is the one that I've been looking for, and know what you want in a relationship, and feel like you're able to get it. You deserve that, and that is what we're talking about on today's episode of the podcast.

And in that spirit, I have to say something. Many times, people come to Growing Self. We— if this is your first time listening, so I do Growing Self counseling and coaching. I'm the clinical director, so we do love happiness and success. We do a lot of couples counseling. We do a lot of career coaching, believe it or not, life coaching individual therapy. Also, though, a fair amount of dating coaching. Right? And so, people often show up to our practice and they believe. Sometimes rightly so but sometimes it's not the whole picture. But the belief is, I just haven't found the right person yet. And if I could just find the right person, everything would sort of fall into place. And so it's, “what dating apps should I be on? What should my profile say?”, and “Where do I find the one?”. Right? And while this is an important piece of being successful in dating and creating a healthy new relationship, what many people are sometimes interested—sometimes maybe uncomfortable in learning about themselves through the actual process of deep, deep and authentic dating.

Coaching is not so much that—it's just a matter of like literally finding the right person, and meeting someone and saying, “Hello”. It is, first of all, understanding that there are a number of things going on inside of themselves—in terms of the way they think about relationships, the way they think about themselves, the way they think about other people, the way they feel the core beliefs that they're carrying into the dating experience themselves. They're their own sort of mythology or like story about how relationships should be. That they are carrying with them into all kinds of situations. Be it new relationships, new friendships, romantic partnerships. It's one thing to date, but there's also this like new relationship experience that lasts six months to a year, that can be a really trying time for many people too. And it's through these experiences that they learn about themselves that it's not just about finding the right person. It's about in some ways, becoming the right person—becoming someone who is in the right kind of mindset, mental state, emotional state, to cultivate a happy, healthy, enduring relationship. And that is where the real growth is, particularly when it comes to dating, coaching, relationship therapy, and personal growth therapy that really focuses on that relational component of our lives.

And so I thought that this topic was worth revisiting because I've heard again from a lot of you through Instagram at @drlisamariebobby, or through our website at growingself.com, that this is something that is very much on your mind. And so in order to really go deeply into the nuts and bolts of what's really going on, what it feels frustrating to find the right person, I have a very special guest joining us today. And I'm so excited to introduce you to Damona Hoffman. Damona is an incredibly busy woman. Among other things, she's the dating expert of the Drew Barrymore show. She shows up on NPR, on the reg. She has her own podcast. She is doing things with the Washington Post, LA Times, Match Dating App, CNN, bet.com. I think Oprah and you are friends.

Damona Hoffman: Oh, I wish. I wish one day. But I was in her magazine so…

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Congratulations. I mean…

Damona Hoffman: I mean basically…

Dr. Lisa: And now, she's here today to talk with us about only one of her specialties, which is dating and relationships. It's gonna be good.

Damona: I got very excited for a second because I thought you were saying Oprah was here. And I was like, “Where? Oh my gosh. Am I gonna get something? Am I gonna get a prize or a new car?” But no.

Dr. Lisa: Diamond earrings? I'm not nearly cool or interesting enough for Oprah to even have heard my name. But…

Damona: No.

Dr. Lisa: …but you are. So…

Damona: I'm so glad to be here. Thank you for having me.

Dr. Lisa: Well, I'm excited to speak with you. And just from our little chat prior to jumping into this interview, I have come to understand that you are incredibly knowledgeable. This conversation could go in many directions. So I'm excited to see where it takes us. But first of all, I think many of our listeners today are extremely interested to hear your insights when it comes to dating and new relationships because this is like a huge specialty of yours. You have hosted a podcast on this topic for eight years?

Damona: Eight years? Yeah.

Dr. Lisa: Tell us a little bit. Not just about that but I'm always curious to know, how did that even become a thing for you? Like, how did you get interested in helping people in this part of their life?

Damona: Quite by accident. I was working as a casting director and television, and I was— maybe like some of your listeners—frustrated with the dating scene. And my boss at the time had just gone through a divorce, a semi-amicable one. But she was like out on the town right away. And she was like, “You have to try this thing called online dating”. This is like 2001. So it was very new then and…

Dr. Lisa: Right. Trying to like make it work on your flip phone. I was there.

Damona: Oh yeah. No. This is like—not even like—our phones weren't even used for that. Literally just straight up desktop. And I was like, “Online dating? Isn't that what like weirdos do in their mom's basement?” And she was like, “No. There's all these guys. It's like man shopping”. So I started online dating. And I really—I had the same experience she did. I was like, there are all these great guys, and I can really find what I'm looking for. And then I began to sort of fine tune my approach because I was working in casting the whole time. And I was also teaching classes for actors and marketing because I'd see all of these really talented actors that had no idea how to get their foot in the door. They would have headshots that were completely forgettable. They would come in the room and ruin the job before they even had an opportunity to get it, like the minute they opened their mouth. And I was like, “Gosh, if only there was somebody that could teach them—just the marketing piece and the presentation piece to help them be more successful. So I started doing that. And then it clicked for me that basically the headshot was the same as the dating profile photo that I was using, and the first date is an audition. Let's be…

Dr. Lisa: Realistically, right?

Damona: Oh. I kind of systematize that for myself. And I ended up meeting my husband online. In 2003, I think. And then people started coming to me saying, “Well, you met this great guy but online dating doesn't work”. And I started polishing their profiles doing the same techniques. And after I got a number of calls saying, “I met someone. I'm getting married. I'm having a baby”. I thought, “Oh, wow. I might have something here that I could actually teach to other people”.

Dr. Lisa: That is so cool. What an interesting story.

Damona: You don’t hear it every day, certainly.

Dr. Lisa: No, really. Okay. And so then, I wonder if we could start there because like—as I was reading through your things and thinking about the sorts of things that I would like to ask you about. Do you know what came up for me? And so, I don't know if you know about me, but so my background is as a therapist. I'm actually a licensed marriage and family therapist. And so what I often do with clients—do a lot of, like, couples counseling, and all couples invariably have stuff that they run into sooner or later that needs to be worked through. And couples who are fundamentally not as easy of a match have a lot more stuff that they need to work through. And it's also more complicated and difficult to get into alignment, when from the very beginning, they weren't just quite a good fit. Some relationships are just easier than others.

And so also, I think too, like when I do relationship coaching, it's from that viewpoint of what's a healthy relationship? And like, how do you connect with people that you can have that kind of partnership with? And what is also true is that there are these lovely loving people who are so compassionate, and they have so much to give, and they would be the best partners. And like that piece right there, they are having so much trouble even just connecting with people. And certainly through that online world, or connecting with people who from the get go don't feel like a good fit. And I think it can be very easy to talk about, like best practices, and do this instead, and just to get like straight to the point. I'm wondering if you would feel comfortable with talking about some of the things you've learned over the years? As, like, some of the mistakes that people are making, without even realizing that they're making them. So it's like not conscious, just sort of blindly walking into things from the very beginning. Like even with the profiles. Does that make sense?

Damona: Yeah. I can talk about the mistakes, certainly. But I'm really curious to hear from you—about the partnerships that you see that have that friction, and what was foundationally missing? Because I do think that the biggest mistake that I see is that people have no clarity on what they're looking for, for a long term relationship. And most people come to me for coaching for relationships. Plenty of pickup artists out there, if you're looking for that you can find somebody else. I move people into relationships.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah.

Dmaona: And I see that, like, I'll ask people, “Will you tell me about your ideal mate?” And they're like, “Oh. I never thought about it, or I'll know it when I see it”. And I'm like, “Well, if you haven't seen it yet, then maybe you—maybe you wouldn't know. Maybe you haven't done enough of the foundational learning about yourself and about your needs”. Somebody will do these lists—the little lists. Still do these long lists of all of the qualities that they think that they need. And ultimately, it's a lot of superficial stuff. A lot of the time, it's not the deeper. I focused on—I focus on values and goals for the future. And so when I was building my life that I wanted to lead, I was not fixated on how much money my husband made. I was fixated on being a career woman and having a partner who would support me in that who'd be a 50-50 partner. I didn't care about chivalry or how this fantasy would play out. I was just like, “This is the life”. I need a guy that is okay living in that dynamic. And now that is the life that I live today. But I think it's because I built it so long ago. And that's what I'm really passionate about—helping people figure out so that they don't continue to make the same choices, fall into the same kind of relationships that aren't serving them, and then end up frustrated, heartbroken, or in the same place again. I want to know from you what some of those mismatches are because I think a lot of people do miss the cues and the signals early on. And then they just kind of get caught up in the momentum of the relationship, and it leads them down the wrong path.

Dr. Lisa: That I could not agree more with every single thing that you're saying. And what I see is the same as that many times people get fixated on things that they think are important in a partner. Somebody yeah, making a certain amount of money, or looking a certain way, having a certain type of career, being interested in similar things. And then what they find is that those things have no bearing on the quality of a relationship going forward. And what really matters is someone's capacity for empathy, their emotional intelligence, their ability to communicate even when they're not feeling good. The way that they show love and respect is tremendously important. And what I see, many people—even beyond that kind of mistaking is that—many people, I think, mistake that chemistry or sense of attraction for love. And they will prioritize many things under that feeling of chemistry or attraction.

And at the end of the day, and I say this as somebody who's been—oh my god, what year is this? I’ve been with my husband since 1993. And it was absolutely thoughtless. I met him when I was 19 years old. I had no idea who I was or what I want, so there's that. And with that in mind is that I am attracted to my husband, and he's a wonderful man. But that is not nearly the most important thing in terms of his character. His—the way he shows up. I find him interesting after all this time, and so it's like going a little bit deeper. And I was a teenager when I met my husband so I did not have that kind of insight or self-knowledge that I might have as an adult. But what I see, sometimes adults doing, particularly very successful adults who've been able to achieve amazing things and other parts of their life, is that they sort of approach relationships with a similar kind of like checklist mentality. Or they're looking for things that are ultimately not the connection, and the attachment that they really not just want but need and deserve. And they're disappointed, and frustrated.

Damona: Yeah, yeah, I see that too. And I work with a lot of, particularly women who are very career-focused and successful in that area of their life, and are perplexed as to why they can't seem to work through their love lives. And I actually take an approach where I want them to use the skill set that has made them so successful in their professional life. But it's like you said, “to use it in the right way”. So it's not to make a list but it's to do the deeper work. And it's also—I really have people put a process around dating. And that's where I feel like I see the biggest shift because we just—if we haven't—I look at dating as a skill set. It's a series of skills that you can learn. You can learn how to have a profile that draws in the right dates. You can learn how to text message someone to build anticipation. You can learn how to connect with someone better on a date. You can learn how to have better follow through all of these things that we think should be innate.

Like I should just know how to attract someone because we've seen fairy tales. We've seen romcoms in which that happens. But I just feel like in our society, it is a set of skills, and nobody's really teaching them. It's the same thing I'm sure that you end up having to counsel people through is that the emotional learning, but then also just the interpersonal communication learning that gets glossed over. So in my program, we do a lot of just putting a process around dating so that it doesn't feel out of your control. And then I just wanted to address what you said about chemistry because I've been known to say that chemistry is a lie. A lie to you because you're responding to maybe a familiarity that might have been something that made you attracted to someone in the past who wasn't necessarily that helped me for you. And, or maybe it's something else that's making you feel that physical spark. But true relationships are built on more substantive stuff, and I encourage my clients and my database podcast listeners to be driven by curiosity. All you need to know at the end of the first date is, are you curious enough about that person to spend another hour? Maybe an hour and a half with them? Not overstaying your welcome on the first and second dates especially, but to really practice a little love and let that connection and that curiosity develop over time. If you get to the third date and you're not feeling anything, you're not more curious then, I think maybe there isn't a love match. But I find that a lot of people opt out after the first date or the second date, and they never get to the juicy stuff, and that sort of connection like you were talking about you have with your husband, and I have with mine. Where I'm just like, I love his mind. I love the way he looks at the world. I love his heart. And I love just seeing how he navigates through the world. And I look forward to continuing to see how he and I evolved together throughout this journey.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah, yeah. But even I mean, it's based on empathy, and appreciation, and admiration for who he is, as opposed to the sort of, if only XYZ, then it could be feedback.

Damona: A lot of people are looking for reasons to say no before they're looking for reasons to say yes.

Dr. Lisa: What do you make of that?

Damona: Yeah. Instead of thinking like, “Okay, this is coming in a different package”.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah.

Damona: But I can see his empathy. I can see his heart and I'm curious. They're like, “Oh, gosh. At least I hear this all the time”. I'm just thinking through all of these stories of clients in my mind who came to me and said, “Well, he has this, this, this, and this”. They're going against the checklist again. But I don't know about this or that. He doesn't have the same—like they'll pick on things that are very ultimately inconsequential. They'll say, “I'm really close to my family and he doesn't have a good relationship with his family”. So therefore, and they extrapolate out meaning that may or may not actually be there. If you don't know the work that someone has done, you don't know how they show up in their daily life…how can you possibly make a determination about what those set of facts may mean about them if you haven't seen it in practice?

Dr. Lisa: Yes, and it's like that one of like those primary ladies award mistake. But like things that we could easily fall into is sort of like rushing for closure. Like we have a little bit of information about someone, and so we are extrapolating, and assuming all of these other things about them that may or may not be true. So we're sort of closing the door in our own mind, when in actuality—and I think this is the hard part about relationships—is that it takes a long time to get to really know people and characters revealed over time. And that a lot of people seem great when you first meet them. But it's like, I think that there can be anxiety that comes up is that you do need to take time and invest before you really do get a sense of who people truly are. That can be difficult I think and sort of goes against the grain of what our immediate gratification kind of control culture says. It should be that you just know just the one and that I don't think that's true.

Damona: I agree with you. And the speed of dating is the thing that I've seen shipped the most since I started coaching 15 years ago. We are in such a rush like you said, to get to the end of the story. And I'll hear so many times from people, “Well, I know that he's not right but I just don't want to have to go through this all again and start all the way over”. And it's like—I don't know that that's the way that you want to live your life. Trying to fit a square peg into a round hole because you're afraid of having to go and hunt for another peg. But I've just seen so many times, like when my clients are in these situations or relationships that aren't really fulfilling, and that they're willing to be brave to express what they truly want. And let go of the outcome. We're so—we're always trying to manipulate the outcome of getting the other person to see it in, through our eyes, or to behave in the way that we want. And if we could just give ourselves a break by releasing responsibility for that.

And say, let me just speak my truth. And then if it's in alignment, then we can move forward. We can figure out a path forward together. If it's not in alignment, what if instead of looking at it as a rejection—just speaking with a client about this this morning. She didn't get the response she had hoped from after a first date. And she was like, “Well, I…” She kind of placed all of these additional meaning on it. Like, “Well, it's because he didn't like the way that I looked or my…my—I'm…I'm heavier than he thought I was”. And that was not something that was ever discussed on the date, but that's how she assigned meaning to it and then imprinted it on herself as a rejection. And if we can just step back and look at it not as a rejection of you, but as a rejection of the situation. Maybe they're just looking for something completely different. Or maybe I mean, we have to take responsibility for our side of the street. Like, were you showing up authentically? Were you listening? Were you responding? Were you asking them questions? Were you letting them know you were interested in hearing what they had to say? But once you've done all of that, sometimes it might look great on paper. It might feel great from your side of the street, but you don't know what's happening on their end. And you cannot internalize that because that's crushing—that will crush you from being able to continue to show up the next time.

Dr. Lisa: It turns into this, like, this means something about my fundamental worth as a person, my love ability, when we sort of internalize it. And what I hear you saying is that it's a good thing when you realize at the beginning that it's not a match, through no fault of your own. That it's, I think, much harder and more soul crushing, ultimately, and has very difficult long term consequences when you try to force a relationship into being with someone that it's not quite a good fit. That they are looking for something that's maybe a little bit different than what you have to offer. Not that there's anything bad with what you have to offer, or vice versa. To let that be a positive thing, as opposed to something that becomes like internalized and made into a negative thing about me. We can release each other and…

Damona: And it's really interesting how we marry those fears with whatever is happening out in the world. Like if I have concerns about my body image, and I take the actions of this other person to confirm…I’m limiting belief about myself. And I just especially, I'm really passionate about working with women. I work with men as well. But I just—I hate seeing us beat ourselves up in that way. And people always ask me like, “What's your style as a dating coach? Are you like Patti Stanger? The Millionaire Matchmaker? Are you gonna get in people's face, give them some tough love?” And I just don't believe in that. I think you date your best when you feel your best. And so I'm all about positivity, lifting people up. I'll be direct and real with you. If there's something that you're not looking at that you need to address, but I'm not going to send you out in the world to date feeling depleted, or like there's something wrong with you, or like, you need to get that validation from someone else.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah. Very wise. Yeah. Well okay, so let's go there. And so I, again, I caution other people from doing exactly the thing that I'm about to do, which is trying to find simple answers to very complex questions. Because I know—you know, that dating coaching is a process that there is a multi-step thing that you do with people, and it's not like specific to answers with a capital A at the end. We all have individual answers. And I am curious to know, if over the years that you've worked as a dating coach, you have seen sort of even patterns, or like kind of the usual suspects. If your classic client is a woman, and she comes to you, and she doesn't know yet that she has been maybe operating in a way that has been getting in the way of her achieving what she wants, which is a happy, healthy relationship. What have you found over the years, as being some of the usual suspects, that through your work with them you sort of slowly gently take away from them over time. But what are some of those things if you had to identify them?

Damona: Well, I actually—I love finding simple problems. Because I think a lot of times we overcomplicate it, and that's why I actually have systematize my program. When I started and I was doing only one-on-one coaching, I was like, “It's so personalized. There's no way that I could create a system that's going to work for everyone”. And then I really started to look at what I was doing year after year with clients. And I was like, “Wow. It is the same thing. process every time”. And pretty predictably, I can tell if somebody is going to get results from my program within about—with probably with two sessions. In my program, my one-on-one coaching program is only three months long.

Dr. Lisa: Oh, really?

Damona: So, I was thinking one way that they're showing up, first of all. If somebody—if it's like very hard for me to schedule sessions, and they're like running around busy, and like…I've had people that are like, “Oh. I'm driving to my next meeting, but I thought we could talk in the car”. No. Like, you know from being a therapist. No, no, no. We can't do that deep work. If you can't carve out one hour—and we meet every two weeks—so it's like, one hour every two weeks to just focus on this, and to make this a priority. I guarantee you, that's how you're going to be showing up in your date.

Dr. Lisa: Like how they have a relationship with you is other—making other people feel as well, which is something they're kind of cramming in, as opposed to being intentional about it. Okay.

Dmaona: And then we give homework every week. And if you show up to the second session, and you have nothing but excuses about why you couldn't do the homework, then I can see also that you might not be ready to to do the work. But of the people who actually show up, I had a 90% success rate from my program last year. COVID kind of threw a wrench in everything. But that means 90% of the people who committed to three months of focusing on their love life were dating someone exclusively by the end of three months.

Dr. Lisa: That’s so hopeful. I mean… I hope it feels hopeful.

Damona: I hope people aren't like, “Well, good for her. Good for them. That's not me”. Because I just seen that. When you come in with that kind of clarity, like, “This is the thing I want to have happen, and I'm ready to make a shift”. And I know that there is a system. Literally, if you just follow the plan, it just works. So there's five steps. And I'll give you the overview. Its mindset, sourcing, screening, presentation, and follow through. And that's it. So I call it the dating funnel. There's an area—if your love life isn't flowing, there's an area where you have a leak. I'm like the plumber of your love life. I go in and I patch up the funnel. And then love life—your love life flows. So it's either something in your mindset, the way that your foundational thinking about finding a mate or about yourself. Sometimes we repeat. We loop these steps. But basically, we just keep running it until it clicks.

It's either sourcing where you're finding the dates, and maybe your dating pool is not big enough. It's screening, how you're determining if someone is the right date for you or not. It's presentation, how are you showing up as your best self on the date. Or its follow through, “Well, I didn't—I wasn't sure if he was interested in me. So I wasn't—I'm not that—I didn't follow through. And I don't know, I didn't really give him the message. And I don't know how to close the loop”. And then we just kind of get stuck in this no man's land situationships. Clarity, clarity, clarity the whole time. It's that simple. And of course, people have different—like you could get…you could be in that mindset phase for a long time. And I'm a big fan of therapy. I have worked with therapists pretty much my entire life. And a lot of my clients are in therapy simultaneously. But usually, by the time someone comes to me, they've already done a lot of that deep inner work that we really do need to do before we can be our best selves in the relationship. But once you learn the dating steps, that is a—that's a process in and of itself. Then moving into the relationship might be another place where you might need to continue your therapy work as well.

Dr. Lisa: Well, I hear what you're saying. That, and I mean, this is really such a hopeful message Damona. You're saying that it really, actually isn't that complicated. That there are sort of best practices. There's actually a funnel, and that if you kind of figure out what to do in these different stages. The part about connecting with someone who has the potential to be a good match for you becomes much, much easier.

Damona: And I wouldn't believe it. That's exactly it. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't lived it myself and seen it happen so many times over the last 15 years. And I don't know that if I really, really hit this point home at the beginning, but I was a big a cynic around love. Everything else in my life was poppin’. I was like, on the executive track at work. I have friendships that—I've strong friendships. Life was flowing except for in love. And I was like, “Why do I…why does it always feel stuck here?” And I didn't have the system. I didn't have that clarity at the time. So for anyone that's listening and thinking like, “Well, it sounds really simple but she doesn't know me”. I do want to reinforce that message of hope that it really is possible. But you just have to believe it's possible, and you have to be willing to do that. It's not—the biggest myth is that Prince Charming is just going to come up and knock on your door. And like people will say to me all the time, “I just want to meet him organically”.

Okay, well. If we, first of all in COVID, we’re at the grocery store with your mask on. That's how 40% of new couples are meeting today, and I think that number is only going up. I've been on the online dating train for a long time. But now everybody's starting sort of catching up. And look, if you're busy, and you're career-focused, you don't have a lot of time to be out here in the streets, trying to meet a man. You can be really focused and deliberate about the way that you are online dating, not get caught up in the games. People always ask me, “Well, what's the best dating app? I heard that Tinder is only people who want to hook up. I hear that this app is better than that”. It's not the app. We're associating…we're putting too much meaning on the app, and giving it too much—putting too much stock in what the app can do. The app is just the connector. It's all in what you do, once you've connected.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah. I have a couple of questions that are kind of playing musical chairs in my mind that I'll try to sit in the same little space at the same time. So let me organize them here. Okay, one of the—is it okay, if I asked you a…hopefully not too personal question?

Damona: You can ask me anything.

Dr. Lisa: Okay. When you look back at your own process, and kind of—not even what you're doing, but sort of like the mental space that you were in before you connected with your husband, that kind of experiencing that frustration? How would you sort of articulate what that was? And what shifted inside of you that allowed you to ultimately connect with your person? You want to put that into words?

Damona: Oh, yes. I am able to put it into words because I actually was working with a coach at the time myself. I'm not a dating coach, but a life coach. And I—she helped me recognize that I had a lot of blocks and limiting beliefs myself. And I actually had a tremendous fear of being alone. I have no idea where it came from but that was something that was really scary to me. And even the idea like, I would see people out at a restaurant eating by themselves. And I go, “Oh, that's so sad. They're alone”. And I constantly filled my schedule with people, and things, and chatter, and activities so that I didn't have to feel that aloneness. And she made me walk through it. And I tell you, Lisa, that was the scariest thing I ever had to be— had to go through in my life. I was terrified of this process of sitting with myself, and really digging in there. But the more that I worked with her, the more that I really got comfortable. And like people always talk about self love. But I—really, it was even deeper than self love. It was just self understanding, and awareness, and a deep sense of comfort in my aloneness that helped me get to the place where I could stand alone and be okay with that. And could find someone who would be complimentary to me, but not completing my life.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah.

Damona: Right? So I…the time that I met him, it was just a very auspicious time in my life because I had just gone through this very—I had gone through a very deep emotional process. And at the same time, I also had really fine tuned my dating approach.

Dr. Lisa: Sure.

Damona: Simultaneously, and so then now I've just been able to kind of marry those two things.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah.

Damona: They think they do need to work in tandem.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. And so in certainly, it was like the approach and the dating stuff. But you're also saying that you had really done a lot of work around understanding yourself. And this self-acceptance piece that was sort of the fertile ground in some ways for the dating approach. To that, perhaps, that hadn't had to happen previously for the seeds to fall on fertile ground, so to speak. That when you did right, people would take?

Damona: Yeah, and it's like, think of it this way. If you don't want to even be with yourself…

Dr. Lisa: Yeah.

Damona: Why would another person want to be with you? And even as I'm saying that, it's like, it's still a little bit raw for me to think that I thought of that. That was the headspace that I was in. But I know it had to be. I know it was. And so now I can look at it from the other side. And even just acknowledge some of those—those thoughts that I had towards myself. And why that tremendous fear of aloneness, why I was not enough for myself then? At that there's no way I could have really been able to move into this relationship if I was not in a place where I had processed a lot of that. And I think, we're always works in progress. I'm sure you believe everything. Not everyone believes that. But I do. And I think also, I think you learn in motion. And I think I learned through this relationship too. So I chose someone who constantly makes me want to be the best version of myself. And I learned so much from him. Hopefully, he learns a few things for me too. But I just want to keep showing up so that I can keep growing and being my best self.

Dr. Lisa: What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing that with me. And I think it's—I'm glad we're talking about this part of it too. And just like the courage and the commitment that it takes to work on on that level. And even the last part that you mentioned, like connecting with somebody who motivates you to grow. I would imagine, and we certainly not to talk about that, but like that doesn't always feel comfortable in some ways. A bit like—a really good healthy relationship that has a lot of growth potential isn't always going to feel comfortable. And there's positivity in that piece too.

Damona: The pacing of it is different, I would say. And sometimes it's a slow burn with the people that bring you to that place. And did I know that he was my husband when I first met him? Absolutely not. Like I—and we dated for almost four years before we got married. So by the time he proposed, I was like, “Obviously”. But yeah, I think it's—that's why I was so curious by by your statement at the beginning of working with couples because I mostly work with singles, or people who are moving into relationships, and help them shepherd the beginning phase of the relationship. But you're kind of coming at it from the other side, and hindsight is 2020. So that's what's so interesting to me is like, how can we learn in this lab of our life, and see how the choices we've made may be either helping us grow or maybe stifling us from reaching our full potential.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah, yeah. And that the journey I think, goes into our own heads because it's—I think on some level, there are certain aspects of compatibility that are definitely a thing in terms of somebody's basic desire for closeness. Like their attachment style, there can be differences in that. Also people's basic orientation, believe it or not, too. Some people need a lot of structure, and planning, and knowing what is going to happen next, and have just this basic orientation to the world. They're very much thinkers. And there are like a lot of different values attached to that, sometimes around home and sort of stability and community. And there are other people who have a very basic orientation to the world that is much more in the moment, and kind of roll with it, and even novelty-based. And that has the potential to be a difficult pairing, unless there is a lot of real, I think, intentional cultivation of our capacity to love and appreciate someone for their differences. And understand how somebody else's way of being that maybe isn't ours, is also still valuable, and has advantages in certain situations. I mean, like, even this COVID situation. People who have—and you see this in couples have a really strong like planning orientation and kind of need to know what's happening next—falling apart because of the chaos and the uncertainty of this time. And many of them, fortunately, are paired with people who have a different orientation, which is more like, “I don't actually need to know exactly what's going to happen next because I trust in our ability to figure it out, and it's all going to be okay”. And there's been an interesting shift, I think, in relationships because the people who had more of that planning orientation can get a little bit judgey about the way their partners do things. And right now, it's the people who have a more—not type A but type B approach—to the world who are actually handling this whole situation much better. But it's how do we develop the ability to appreciate that, as opposed to believe that people need to be more like us in order for relationships to be successful? So there’s that.

Damona: That whole opposites attract, or like, do I need to be more similar? My database podcast listeners, I swear, have written this question in like ten times. And I just—I don't believe that. I don't believe either end of the spectrum is correct. Right? that opposites attract or the sameness attracts. I do think that you need balance in every way. I do find it interesting. As I've kind of studied the love languages a little bit more. And I'm in no way an expert in this at all. But my husband and I did the quiz and found that we have the exact same three primary love languages in the same order. Yeah. And I was like, “Oh, that makes sense”. Maybe that's why because it's just always been so easy with them. And I realized that maybe it's easy because we speak the same language in many ways. So we're completely different. He's an ex—He's an introvert. I'm an extrovert, in case you can't tell. And just the way that we approach, we're just really, really different people. But at our core, I think we feel love in the same way we communicate similarly when it's just the two of us. I think there are a lot of similarities and complimentary skills.

But it's so interesting how we get caught up on this idea of what it's supposed to look like to be. Right? Or what it's supposed to feel like. And I would say in the beginning, too, because he was a slow burn. I kept feeling like nothing was happening because I had been attracted to so much chaos and drama before that it feels passionate, and wild, and exciting, and you could never anticipate what's going to happen. And then I was like, “Wow, this guy's just like super consistent, and really nice, and a genuinely good person who I could trust”. And like, is anything actually happening? People will tell me this too. What is it supposed to feel like? And it's been really rewarding to see this happen for clients to—who came to me with the predisposition to be attracted to those chaotic relationships. And I've seen so many of them, in the recent years, choose differently. And then realize, like, “Oh, my gosh. Wait. We don't have to have all this friction there. We don't have loud dramatic arguments”. And you can be that way with one relationship and have…be a completely different way in another relationship. And then a lot of times when I see that with them, when they make that shift, it happens so quickly. I've seen clients that were hopeless in love one day, and that were literally engaged within six months. And it's just happened time, and time, and time again. So, if nothing else, just keep the hope that your relationship past does not have to be your relationship future. But you have to reprogram yourself if you want to get a different outcome.

Dr. Lisa: Yeah, and thank you for saying that what a healthy, stable, long-term relationship actually feels like and is like can be very different from what people think it should feel like. And when they make that shift, and begin appreciating—maybe a calmer, more peaceful feeling relationship, it starts to feel much easier.

And hey, I know we're getting to the top of our time here, and you are fascinating. I feel like I could just talk to you all day. You're very interesting to talk to. And I wonder if it's in the last few minutes of our time, I could impose on you a couple of questions, like listener questions of this podcast. Also, at Growing Self, we often have—because there's a—we have a number of therapists on our team. And so part of our process, we do like consultation groups, like talk about things. And a couple of questions that have been coming up in various areas. What would you say to a dating coaching client, who, by virtue of their circumstance, lives in a small town, possibly a more rural town? And even though they're like, “Okay. Yes, open to doing online dating. The actual pool of candidates is not as robust as it might be in a larger area. Or I think, related to this, somebody by virtue of their circumstance is dating and living in an environment where, culturally, it is a different orientation than the one they're bringing to the table. And so, in this sense, somebody who has maybe more progressive values living in an area geographically where just by virtue of the population that isn't shared, and that feels like an important thing. What would you say to those people who are dating but who feel a little bit like they are on an island in some ways, or have limited options?

Damona: Yes, I’ve dealt with this. Both of those situation in the past and in my programs. And it's tricky when your pool—your actual pool is limited. So that goes to the sourcing part of the funnel, where you're finding dates. And I've discovered because people…it's funny. I live in Los Angeles, and I have a lot of clients here, and in New York, and in San Francisco, and in Atlanta, and in Chicago. And they'll say to me, “I think…just New York is just not a good place to date. There just are no men or no women”. Yeah. And I’m like, “Really?” Like move to my hometown, Lansing, Michigan, and then tell me the same thing. There's far more options than you realize are there. It's the overwhelm of sorting through those options that makes us feel like nobody's listening and nobody's there. So you actually, in a smaller market, have a benefit that you have a finite pool. You have a smaller pool to sort through. But the double-edged sword of that is that it is finite. And in all my years of coaching, and many years of hearing, “There's nobody here today”. I have actually only once been like, a dude, “I don't even know…you're—you might have to actually move”. I was working with someone in Lubbock, Texas, and I'm sure there's some people, some listeners that are like, “Oh, yeah. I know. college town”. And he was, I think, in his 40s. So he couldn't date the college people. But a lot of people were in relationships. And like I went through and I get when I'm working one-on-one with someone, I get really granular in their dating app. And I was like, there really isn't anybody here.

Dr. Lisa: You're actually at the bottom of the barrel. Yeah.

Damona: Yeah. We'll try like, I'll try that. I love the dating apps because I just think it's the best way to expand your dating pool today. But it's not the only thing. There's social media. There's online meetup groups. There are setups from friends. There are interest groups. There's so many ways that you still can make a connection without using a dating app. But if you go through all of those and you're like, “Literally, there's no one here”. Not like no one that I would date but just literally the pool that small. Then, you have to really ask yourself, “Well, how does—how important is finding a mate versus how important is it for me to be here?” And the interesting thing about COVID is it really is changing the dating landscape because a lot of people are moving to places where they'd rather live because they can work virtually right now. Dating apps are obviously seeing a huge spike in new users and in communications. Many of them are taking down the paywall on features, like being able to search outside of your immediate area. So I would encourage people to just just look beyond your traditional parameters, even within your own city. Just expand your search criteria a little bit and see what else might be out there. Because I always have to remind people, if you're looking for a one-on-one monogamous relationship, you're only looking for one.

And we get really caught up on, send 10 messages. The average response rate is 20-30%. So we send 10 messages, and we get overwhelmed. We get so consumed by the seven that didn't reply when you have three great ones that are sitting right there. And all you're thinking about is the seven that didn't come through. So maybe if you can flip your thinking there and just remember that you're just looking for one. You're just looking for one that can help you in navigating through. If you're in a place where the pool is a mismatch for you, it's kind of the same advice. But I have been through it myself. Being from the Midwest, and being—I am half black, and half white, and Jewish. And growing up in the Midwest and living in Chicago, where the standard of beauty really did not, at the time, was not tilted in my favor. I took it really personally for a long time. And when I moved to Los Angeles, I saw it just—it did create a lot of opportunity for me that wasn't there otherwise, and it actually made me see myself in a different way. And I've seen this also, like I wrote an article for bet.com, about black women who date abroad, and how here in the United States, we don't—we could get into a whole conversation around race and dating…

Dr. Lisa: It’s an important conversation. Yeah.

Damona: But there's so much in our history of unconscious bias and associations we make here from with race, that don't necessarily exist in other places. And you so internalized it, that when some of these women moved to Europe or to Africa, and they found they were not only having dates and attractive, but they were appreciated and revered. It completely changed their perspective of themselves, as well. So it's about not internalizing the results, right? And making that mean something about yourself. It means something only about the pool that you're dating in.

Dr. Lisa: Right. Right. To be able to move away from it where it can be easy to internalize those messages and then having some distance be able to say, “Oh, no. It's actually a white supremacist culture that has been devaluing me, and I don't have to participate in that”. And it's actually not true, what kind of—the basic lie. But getting that perspective…

Damona: Yeah. It's the first step is just acknowledging that it's there, being aware that it's there. And I think this is work for people of all races to do. What is your unconscious bias? I wrote an article for The Washington Post in June, right after the George Floyd protests ,and got a lot of hate mail. Not gonna lie.

Dr. Lisa: Did you?

Damona: Oh, yes. Oh, yes, I got my website hacked. I got attempted to be hacked. People did not like what I had to say. But in the article, I was just asking people to examine their beliefs, and to ask the questions, and really see what associations they've put around race that may not be reality. It may be part of their history, or may not even be their stuff. It could be their parents’ stuff, or their parents’ parents’ stuff. And it was actually really rewarding. A friend of mine who is a dating coach—he's a male dating coach—and he said, “Damona, I've read your article, and I really thought about it, and realize that even though I tell people to date race open, I realized I wasn't doing it. And I had to ask—I used your techniques that you talked about in the article—and I had to ask myself why. And I realized that I didn't have a good reason for it”. Like maybe it's just the discomfort of having to learn a new culture, or go through that experience of maybe people staring at you, and just the awkwardness of being in a new space. And he was like, “and now I've actually started talking to a couple of black women that I probably—I changed my filters on my dating app, and I might not have been talking to them otherwise”. And it was really rewarding for me to hear that because I thought, “Okay, for all of those negative messages I got, if I just cracked the door open enough for him, or for him, and he's pretty open minded as it is. But for him to even have that reaction to it. And I'm sure a lot of other people, if I could just nudge the door open a little bit, to get them to examine their beliefs, then I think I've done my work”. I think that's really what the point was. It's an ongoing conversation.

Dr. Lisa: What was the name of your article? I’ll be sure to link to it and I'd like my listeners to check it out.

Damona: What was it called? Let’s see. I'll tell you in 30 seconds. I write for a column called Date Lab on the Washington Post. So normally, it's…I set people up on dates, and then I write about it.

Dr. Lisa: But wait, you do date lab? I'm so sorry, Damona. I remember, I think reading a couple of those stories.

Damona: Oh yeah, yeah. I’m not the only Date Lab writer. There's a team of us, about six or seven of us who write them. But yeah, I really enjoy it. The article that I was referencing is daters say they don't—you can tell I don't title the articles—Daters Say They Don't Tolerate Racial Bias. Their Actions Say They Do Have Racial Preferences. So yeah, I do. And I also—I have a column in the LA Times called Dear Damona. And I also did one on like some questions I've received around recent dating this fall as well. So I'm just open to having the discussion. I know some people are feeling a little bit triggered by it right now, and that's okay. That's okay. It's just, I'm here to ask the questions that maybe you've been scared to ask yourself.

Dr. Lisa: And I'm glad…

Damona: And I’m glad he’s on the other side. Maybe really transformative.

Dr. Lisa: I'm so glad that we had the opportunity to talk about this. And you're right, I—we could certainly fill a whole other hour on that subject. And it would be time well spent. So we'll have to put that on there. Maybe in the future list. But in the meantime, I'll be sure to link to your articles and columns that you mentioned. And if our listeners today would like to learn more about you, and your miraculous coaching program, where would they go?

Damona: datesandmates.com is the best place to learn about my programs. And then of course, listen to the podcast, which is also on whatever platform you're listening right now. So that's where I give like it's topical advice. I look at studies, and news, and who's dating who, and all of that, and why you should care what you can learn from it, and then talk to two experts, and answer questions from listeners every single week.

Dr. Lisa: Oh wonderful. I'm going to start listening myself. Thank you so much. And this was wonderful. So we will link to that too. And thank you for a really interesting conversation. This was a lot of fun, and I appreciate your being so generous with your perspective and your wisdom. You have a lot of experience in this area. And I'm sure our listeners would have benefited from spending this time with you. So thank you.

Damona: Thank you. I really enjoyed it.

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