Relationship Tip #14 – Keep Your Pants On. . .All The Way On.

I really struggled with writing this tip; it’s steeped in timeless controversy.  Hold on to your seat because what you’re about to read goes completely against our culture, but it works.  My intention for putting it out on the worldwide web is to make a difference for you.

When you’re dating these days, keep your pants on.  Stated simply, don’t have sex.  I can just hear your argument as I write this.  In all of my discussions with all sorts of people from all different walks of life, most people argue with me.

Just like everyone else, I have an opinion and you can either agree with me or not.  However, based on my experience refraining from sex simply works for a number of reasons.  Here they are:

  1. Chances are, you don’t know him very well.  Why do most jobs require a 90 day or longer probationary period for new hires?  Companies these days are wise to the fact that it takes some time to find out if a new hire is the right fit for a position within the company before they’ll extend full benefits.  Knowing that corporations proceed with caution when they form relationships, why would a woman give her body to a man after knowing him for even less time than that?  Realistically, it takes far longer than 90 days to get to know someone well.  Many people I know, hop in the sack with a guy after only a few dates.  Do you really want to give your body to a man before you know him?  Is he going to look out for your best interest?  Is he trustworthy?  Does he trust you?  Does he love you for the woman that you are?  Does he have good friends?  I could go on and on. . .
  2. You’ll have no regrets.  Ask any girl who has had sex with a guy and I promise you’ll never hear her say, “I wish I had sex with him sooner.”  Most girls wish they had waited longer and gotten to know a guy better before having sex.
  3. Whether you want it or not, sex creates an emotional bond between you and your partner.  How many times have you stayed in a relationship with someone who wasn’t right for you because you had trouble walking away from him?  How many times have you sat by and watched a friend stay in a miserable relationship with a guy who was wrong for her?  Whether you like it or not, you’re going to bond with a man with whom you have sex.  Take an, honest, realistic look at the man with whom you’re involved.  Ask yourself, “Do I want to bond physically with this man such that I will remember his body for the rest of my life?”
  4. Sex creates baggage you carry into your next relationship.  Yikes!  It’s the “B” word.  When you bond with someone physically and that person leaves your life via a breakup, baggage results.  Often what you’re left with are feelings of inadequacy:  “I wasn’t _______ <you fill in the blank> enough for him to stay.”  What happens is that you spend energy in the next relationship trying to be “enough” of whatever you believe was missing in the last one.  The man you’re then dating is left scratching his head wondering why you’re trying so hard to be something you’re not.
  5. Refraining from sex keeps your head clear.  While I won’t get into a chemistry or biology lesson, most of us know from experience what a powerful motivator sex can be.  You’re a grown up.  One of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life is who you choose as your partner in marriage.  Supposing that you date for the purpose of finding that partner, you’ll want to make your choice wisely.  I think we can all agree that would be incredibly stupid to make that choice under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  It is equally as stupid to make that choice under the influence of sex.
  6. You want to stay STD free.  STD’s are a whole different kind of baggage.  Contract something serious and you’ll quickly learn that pre-existing conditions are not covered by health insurance.  To put a nasty, ugly spin on it, you don’t want to make yourself a carrier that perpetuates disease in our society.  Besides, your health and well-being are far more important than a romp in the hay.
  7. The last thing you want is to be a single parent.  Condoms break and birth control can fail.  Even though the birth control pill can be 99.97% effective if you use it “perfectly,” it can fail as much as 8% amongst those who use it imperfectly, according to Wikipedia.  Eight percent!  There’s a reason why there’s a disclaimer with every package of any type of birth control; the statistics are real.  Having been raised by a single parent I can tell you it’s far from ideal for both you and a child.
  8. It won’t make him stay.  If there’s a man in your life who loves you, he’s going to stay with you through the good times and bad, sickness and heath, job or no job, because he loves the person you are.  A man who is willing to walk away from you because you won’t have sex with him is not with you because he loves the person you are.  Should you date a guy who needs to “take you for a test-drive” before he’s willing to commit, let him go.
  9. You’re worth more than your body.  Let’s face it.  The easiest thing is for someone to be attracted to you because you’re beautiful or well-dressed or successful or athletic or anything else that shows on the surface.  Ask anyone, even men, and they’ll tell you that one’s physical appearance only goes so far.  I’ve known more than one girl that lots of guys found “Hot!” or “sexy.”  Yet, when the guys found out they were opportunistic, dishonest and materialistic they wouldn’t have anything to do with those girls.  A man who loves you will grow more attracted to you the more he gets to know you.  The woman that you are will be increasingly more beautiful to him.
  10. Once you go there, you can never take it back.  I’ve witnessed the regrets of some of my friends who’ve had sex with someone they wish they hadn’t.  So great was their regret that they would literally hide whenever they’d see that person coming.  While that’s a bit extreme, realize that when you’re in a relationship you can always choose as a couple to pick up the pace in your relationship.  Remember that once things get sexual, it’s nearly impossible to slow things down.
  11. It makes a difference for the man you date.  Unless he’s weird, there’s not a man on the planet that likes to imagine the woman he loves or is dating having sex with another guy.  Even as a woman, I hate the idea of the man I love being with another woman.  Imagine the security you bring to the table in your relationship if you’re the type of woman who demonstrates that you don’t have sex with every guy you date.  There’s a lot of comfort in that.
There are my 11 reasons.  I could actually come up with more.  Keep in mind that I write these tips in the hopes that it could bring one woman closer to having the relationship she so deeply desires.  That you’re reading this means you are a thinking individual capable of making your own choices.  Think about what you’re doing.  Always remember that you have a choice in relationship too.  
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Relationship Tip #13 – Date With Intention

In the midst of breaking up with you, have you ever heard a guy say, “I don’t know what I want”?  On the other hand, have you ever been the one delivering that statement to the guy with whom you were breaking up?  If the truth were to really be told, you actually did know what you wanted and that’s to not be in that particular relationship.  For one reason or another, you were just afraid to say so.  My question would be why did you get involved in the relationship in the first place?

Over breakfast not too long ago, I was sitting with a girlfriend who was dating a guy she really liked.

“Do you want to get married some day?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said.

Okay.  What would it be like if someone asked The President, “What are your goals while you’re in office?” and he responded, “I don’t know.”  Huh?  At that point, the purpose and drive of his cabinet would vaporize.  Confusion would ensue.  Believe it or not, this is what many singles do in relationship.

Having an intention is important.  People respond to purpose.  This principle applies in the realm of dating and relationship too.  Intention requires for you to be clear about what you want.  When you know what you want, you can say “Yes!” to the things that fit and “No” to what doesn’t.  It means that you’re clear with the person you’re dating.  If you’re like me, being with someone who doesn’t know what he wants is royally annoying because the indecision shows up as him being wishy-washy — in a sense, weak.  We owe it to the men we date to be clear about what we want.  That leaves them the opportunity to proceed saying, “Yeah!  That’s what I want too!”  or, “No.  That’s not what I’m looking for.  I need to move on.”  Well, okay!  At least we know.

Without intention, a relationship goes nowhere.  You can only go nowhere for so long.  At some point, someone asks the uncomfortable question, “Where are we going with this?”  Until then there’s no way of knowing why you’re spending time with the guy you date other than you just want the company.  What then happens over time is you become attached to him and he says, “Well, I don’t want to be in a relationship.  You know I’m not the relationship type.”  Ummm, no.  I didn’t know that because you never told me.  Had I known that, I wouldn’t have wasted so much of my time.

This has happened to so many people I know, both men and women, even me.  Now that I look back I can take responsibility for the situation and honestly say that I was not clear with my intentions with my “boyfriend” and barely expressed them to him, if at all.  I wanted a relationship.  To him, we were just hanging out.

Why did I do this?

  1. Like most people, I thought I could avoid disappointment.  Without any intention, I set no expectation on the relationship.  That’s what we’re encouraged to do, right?  What a farce!  What I was really doing was prolonging the disappointment.  When you want nothing you expect nothing and you get nothing.  Getting nothing out of a relationship is disappointing.
  2. I didn’t want to hear the word, “No.”  Whenever I heard that word, it meant “rejection” to me.  Just like so many others, I would rather have been in a wishy-washy, lukewarm relationship than be rejected.
  3. I didn’t think enough of myself to actually say what I wanted in relationship.
  4. I didn’t think enough of my boyfriend to believe that he wanted to provide for me what I wanted in relationship.

Now, I have but one intention for dating:  to determine who my husband will be.  With my intention set, here’s what it does for me in relationship:

  1. I respect the man I’m dating with honesty.  He deserves to know me.  He also deserves the opportunity to respond to what I want with a choice to either say, “yes” or “no.”
  2. I can look for qualities in the man that are aligned with my intention.  If he doesn’t have qualities that would make a good husband for me, I can quickly make my exit.  If he does, I can invest more time with him.
  3. I avoid being discouraged.  Listen, quantity does not equal quality when it comes to dating.  What I mean by that is going out on a lot of dates could actually work against you if you’re looking for a lasting relationship.  The more frequently these dates don’t work out, the more likely you are to become jaded thinking, “There are no good men out there”  (my readers know how much I detest that completely false statement).  I’m selective.  I seldom date, but when I do I date guys I really like.
  4. It saves me time.  I don’t want to be in another long-term relationship that goes nowhere.  When I’m in a relationship with a man it’s because we’ve talked about what we want, we are in agreement and we’re interested in pursuing it together.
  5. I hear “No” and I say, “Next!”  The word “no” simply expresses a difference in preference.  It has nothing to do with me.  In fact, there is infinitely more comfort in the word “no” than the word, “maybe.”  I can act on “no.”  “Maybe” leaves me in limbo.
Be honest with yourself.  Know what you want.  What is your intention for dating?  While my intention is ultimately marriage, yours could be different. You might just want someone to take you out every now and then; you may want a companion; you may be seeking someone with similar business interests.  Whatever it is, it’s up to you to be straight about it.  If you don’t know, don’t date.  It ends up being a complete waste of your and his time.  When you do know what you want, say it clearly so that your date can respond with either a “yes” or a “no.”

Relationship Tip #12 – Courtesy Of Marie Osmond

“You marry at the level of your self-esteem.”  – Marie Osmond

Thanks for the reminder, Marie.

Relationship Tip #11 – Expect Imperfection

One common desire I hear from many of my girlfriends is that they want to have a relationship with a man who will love her just as she is.  I’m extremely cranky when I’m tired; I’m nearly compulsive about keeping the sink free of dirty dishes and putting them in the dishwasher; when I’m really irritated I will rant intensely for a short period of time (what I call “verbal vomit”) as a process of getting over it; I hate getting my hands dirty;  normally it takes me 30 minutes or longer to wake up in the morning; and when I’m leaving the house, I will have to go back in once, twice or more to retrieve things I’ve forgotten.  These are some of my obvious, annoying quirks; there are others far more annoying, unattractive.  I can only imagine how it would be to have that one special man who can see all of these things about me and still choose to love me.  To my single, female readers, do you ever wonder what it would be like to have the kind of partnership with a man who knows and sees everything about you (good, bad and ugly), but loves you anyway?  I speculate it would be quite like it is with your best friend with whom you’re able to relax and be yourself, only he’s your boyfriend.

Every single one of us, even men, has our own set of quirks or imperfections.  Some we can change, some we can’t and most we would prefer to leave as-is, just because.  With that said, when you meet a guy that you feel is worth seriously dating, expect imperfection.  Expect that as you spend time getting to know each other he’s going to do or say something that hurts your feelings or annoys you.  Things will happen that will impact his mood.  On occasion, he’s going be selfish, forgetful, late or impatient.  When it comes up, here’s what you do:

  1. Hang in there. Especially if you’ve been single for a long time, your knee-jerk reaction may be to bail.  Sure, it’s much easier to cut bait, but anything worthwhile takes effort.
  2. Remember that you love him. Recall everything about him that attracted you to him and refer back to that frequently.  Tell him and others these things rather than harp on what annoys you.
  3. Talk about it. It’s really easy to “step over” something that bugs you and keep it inside for whatever reason you have.  If your feelings are important to you and to this man in your life, I’ll assume that they are, isn’t it worth it to give him the opportunity to address the issue?
  4. Listen to what he has to say. That would mean you have to stop talking.  He has his reasons for doing what he does and he may not even realize he’s doing something that annoys you.  Hear the intentions of his heart.  If he apologizes you won’t even hear it if you’re talking.
  5. Forgive him. These little quirky things he does aren’t intended to hurt your feelings.  There will come a time when you’ll do something that annoys him and you’ll want him to turn the other cheek.  Forgiveness requires that you wipe the slate clean, meaning you never mention the incident again.
  6. Laugh about it. Once the dust settles and you’ve found a way to work with each other, make light of your quirks.  It’s only heavy and significant if you make it that way.

In this lifetime, you want someone who will love you for all that you are and all that you’re not – just as you are.  Consider, that is what the men in our lives want from us too.  Whether we give such unconditional love to him or not is a choice we make on a moment by moment basis, every single day.  Giving it requires that we expect his imperfections and choose to love him anyway.

Relationship Tip #10 — Take The High Road

It was never my intention to start the new year off with a post about breakups.  Do any of us ever really like to talk about it unless we’re actually going through it?  Of course not.  Nobody likes to talk about breaking up, or go through it, or even consider it.  Yet, nearly all of us have experienced it at some point.  Hopefully you and I will be making such great choices in the men that we date that we won’t ever break up again, but just in case we do here’s my advice:  take the high road.

Breakups hurt.  Pain from a breakup can stir emotions like rejection, abandonment and/or disappointment, all of which most of us don’t like to face.  When emotions are running high, a knee-jerk reaction might be to retaliate in order to ensure that the other person experiences some degree of pain along with us (we naturally assume that he doesn’t).  In a situation like that, I’m telling you to stop, run the other way and practice some self-control.  Here’s why:

1.  You’ll be above reproach. Retaliation has but one intention, to harm another.  Taking the high road involves choosing not to hurt someone else even when you know that you can.  Being in relationship means that you become privy to someone else’s soft spots.  Therefore, you know where you can fire a shot that can cause damage.  There’s a lot of power in that.  Knowing that and choosing not to exploit someone else is even more powerful.  Remember that your ex- chose to share things with you that made him vulnerable, as you did too.  Being vulnerable to another is a gift not to be abused, even when you’re hurting.

2.  You’ll maintain your integrity. In other words, you won’t do something for which you’ll be sorry later.  There’s nothing like lashing out in the heat of the moment, behaving like crazed maniac only to realize, after the dust settles, how stupid you were being.

3.  You’re actually hurting yourself. Have you ever been so angry about breaking up that your first course of action was to do something that made your ex- jealous?  We want him to think that we are completely unaffected, better off in fact.  Even I have been guilty of that a time or two – maybe more.  I’ve also witnessed some of my friends (both men and women) do some crazy things to “get back at their ex-”  I put that in quotes because you trick yourself into thinking that you’re getting back at him, but in reality you’re only hurting yourself.  Some examples are, sleeping with someone else, excessive partying, jumping into a new relationship, sport-dating.  Deep down inside you don’t really like what you’re doing, it’s not fulfilling and there’s no joy in it.  Realistically, you are adding to your own wounds that have not yet healed.

4.  It’s irresponsible. Nobody wins the blame game.  Yet, after a breakup we’re so desperate for reasons why it didn’t work out so we churn up all our hostility, aim it at our former partner and fire  away at everyone who allows us to bend their ear.  Last I checked, it took 2 people to be in a relationship and each had to make a choice to be in it.  He chose you; you chose him.  Acknowledge that you made a choice to be in a relationship with someone that wasn’t right for you and move on.

5.  There’s the possibility of reconciliation. Look.  Couples break up then get back together all the time.  Obviously there was some difficulty you both encountered that caused the breakup.  That’s enough to overcome.  Hurt caused by revenge is just one more thing to fix later.  I’ve known people who ruined all opportunity to reconcile by hurting their partner so badly during the breakup, the trust between them was destroyed.  If the possibility of getting back together appeals to you, exercise some self-restraint.  There will be less of a mess to clean up later.

6.  You love him. Remember, he was your boyfriend because there was something about him that you loved.  It’s easy enough to do things unintentionally that hurt someone you love.  Intentionally hurting someone you love, or anyone for that matter, is selfish.  Think about it.  You’re doing it because you actually want the other person to hurt.  Examine your heart.  Do you really want someone you love to hurt?  Tell the truth.  There’s likely something in your heart that is unresolved because you’ve been unwilling to deal with it.  It’s up to you to get to the source of that so you can be free to love and be loved without that baggage.

The bottom line when it comes to relationships is to choose wisely so you don’t have to go through a break-up.  Choosing a partner isn’t like shopping, even though Match.com would like for you to think so.  There’s no “returns and exchanges” counter or “undo” button.  I’m talking about seeing, thinking, feeling people just like you who want to be unconditionally loved and appreciated just like you.

Let’s tread gently so as not to add to the hurts of the world.  If you do break up it may be painful, but it’s okay.  You’ll still be breathing air.  Just stay in control of yourself and take the high road.

* Header photo courtesy of Andrew Wheeler – AutoMotoPhoto

Relationship Tip #9: Text Only What You’d Talk

If you ask me, text messaging is out of hand.  What was intended to be a quick and easy way to confirm meeting times or places has turned into a primary means of communication for some.  With the holidays drawing near, you could find yourself spending some time away from your sweetie to be with your family.  During these times, wireless communication becomes key.  There’s absolutely no excuse for falling out of touch with anyone these days because there are so many ways to “reach out and touch someone” – email, text, cell phone, Skype, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, picture and video messaging, etc.  Keep this in mind, though.  Whatever method of communication you choose, put in writing only that which you would say in person.  Stated differently, if you can’t say it in person, don’t text it.

As I write this I laugh recalling an ex-boyfriend.  I’ll call him “The Clam.”  The Clam loved to text message me from the four corners of the globe when he traveled.  All hours of the day and night, I’d get sweet, flirtatious text messages from him wherever he was.  Being also well-written, his messages would easily engage my imagination such that I could have easily been at his side.  Face-to-face, was an entirely different story.  It was as if his courage and eloquence had evaporated in my presence.  While we would have some interesting conversation, his heart shut up.  In person, he was a clam.  I saw it as cowardice.

We all have examples of times we’ve hidden behind our email or text messages. Without having to personally contend with the other person’s emotions, it’s really easy to use language boldly through these means.  I think this is why a lot of guys ask girls out on their Facebook pages, but I’ve seen some of my girlfriends say some pretty uncomfortable things via text messages and email too.  Think about it. We can say whatever we want in email or text without ever having to face that person – or their embarrassment, rejection, anger, hurt feelings, whatever.  Just remember that if you insist on putting it in writing, be sure it’s not something you’ll regret later.

One of the gauges I use to determine if a phone call is warranted is if it’s difficult to make it.  If I’m trying to avoid something – be it uncomfortable emotion or confrontation or even the truth – I pick up the phone and force myself to deal with it.  Sometimes it sucks; sometimes I stumble over my words; sometimes I don’t express myself quite as well as I would if I had been given time to write it out; and it’s always uncomfortable.  As imperfect as it is, it’s real.  It’s me.

Ladies, via text or email it’s really easy to be something you’re not when you don’t have your voice and body language to blow your cover as you think on the fly.  If there’s any emotion behind your message whatsoever, speaking in person is always best.  However, if distance keeps you from being face-to-face with its recipient, think twice before you tap out your next text message – or email too, for that matter.  Pick up the phone to give the person with whom you’re communicating the honor of hearing your spoken voice.  Let him hear your heart in your voice inflection and tone.  If you’re courageous enough to add a visual dimension, use Skype and let him see your face (it’s free, by the way).  Be your authentic, beautiful self, emotions and all, whether you’re at his side or on the other side of the world.  Get real in your communication and real in relationship.

Relationship Tip #8: Avoid Alcohol On Your First Date

There’s a reason why driving under the influence of alcohol is against the law:  it impairs your judgement.  Why should your dating life be any different?  I mean, we are talking about your life here, aren’t we?

All hail alcoholic beverages – the most widely-accepted social lubricant!  A shy guy comes out of his shell; one who is up-tight loosens up; if he has little personality, suddenly he’s the life of the party; if he’s afraid to speak to a woman, he’s got new-found courage to approach her; affection is abundant!  “I love you, man!”  What you’re left with when he sobers up is a silent, anal-retentive clam who can hardly carry a conversation with you much less give you a hug to say, “Hello.”

What I just described is the extreme, of course.  You have to really consider, though, why you or your date would require consuming an alcoholic beverage on the date in the first place.  More than likely it’s to ease any social tension because being with someone for the first time whom you don’t know can be a bit awkward initially, right?  Really tell the truth about it and you’ll find it’s simply someone trying to be something that he or she is not.  Add to that, it’s someone trying to make something happen that otherwise would not without the alcohol to get over the weirdness of being with someone new.  That’s tough for anyone to admit.  By the way, there’s no way you can say with all honesty that after you’ve had a glass of wine or two you are really being your true self.

When you consume alcohol on a date, your defenses are down.  That means you might say “yes” when you would normally say “no” to __________<fill in the blank>.  Think back on some past dating experiences when you woke up thinking, “Ugghhh!  I can’t believe I did that!”  What was it?  Did you say something stupid?  Sleep with a guy?  Go somewhere you usually wouldn’t?  Drink too much and drive yourself home?  For crying out loud, I’m famous for doing and saying stupid, annoying, offensive things that I regret even when I’m sober.  When sitting across from someone I barely know, the last thing I want to do is fuel that fire with a good, alcohol-induced buzz.

I can just imagine the response from readers saying, “Chrissy, that’s no fun.  You can’t expect me not to have a glass of wine or two with dinner.”  Oh, yes I can.  All I’m saying is take some time to get to know your suitor before you add alcoholic beverages to the mix.  If you really want to live on the edge, you can even wait a few dates.  Should you find that impossible to do, you have bigger problems than just your dating life.

Get over the awkwardness of a first date simply by acknowledging that it’s awkward.  Talk with your date authentically about what makes you nervous and ask him the same.  You’ll find that you can get past that initial uneasiness more quickly by putting each other at ease.  Honest communication like this will also open the flow of conversation so you can really get to know one another to determine whether or not this is a relationship you’d like to pursue or not.  Cheers!