How Significant is Self-Awareness for Guys?


Self-Awareness:  The New Buzzword

Self-awareness is the new buzzword in the business world–aimed especially at guys who wish to be leaders in their fields but find themselves lacking the leadership skills they have to work. Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist, tells us self-awareness is now the latest business management buzzword for good reason. [1] When we look at ourselves clearly, we’re more confident and more creative–creating sounder choice, communicating better, and building stronger business relationships.

Jennifer Porter, a managing partner in a leadership and staff development company, has a terrific take on self-reflection, which is how we can become more self-aware:

…The most useful reflection requires the conscious consideration and evaluation of faith and activities with the intention of learning. Reflection gives the brain a chance to pause admist the chaos, untangle and sort through experiences and observations, consider multiple possible interpretations and make meaning. This meaning becomes studying, which could then inform future mindsets and activities. [2]

If self-awareness is so crucial in our business relationships, why not in our romantic relationships?  Advice about self-awareness in romantic relationship frequently suggests setting aside time on a regular basis to get a self-assessment regarding values, daily tasks, life goals, etc.  Guys, particularly, will withstand this route toward self-awareness, using a bias toward action rather than contemplation; not seeing how this method contributes to a better connection, relying on”facts,” valuing intellect over feelings, not following through on a plan to meditate, etc..

We are in need of a new spin on the call for the type of self-reflection that generates the desired self-awareness.

What Are Your Triggers?

Rather than approaching self-awareness by some overall strategy about life preparation, how about a situation-specific plan –a way to recognize situations which are”triggers” to be self-reflective as opposed to reactive.

In supportive, intimate relationships disagreements and differences are often handled through a negotiation process which starts with”putting things on the table” so that the spouses can see where the gaps are.  The top negotiations lead to”win-win” results such that each spouse’s wishes and desires are heard and honored from the outcome. [3]

They often begin as a request, a remark, a difference, a debate.    However, soon you aren’t speaking to each other–you’re yelling, averting, speaking over each other, etc.  When this occurs, issues won’t be resolved because you’re making assumptions that are concealed and the ideas and feelings you are strong and negative.

The first clue that you’re setting yourself up for a battle with your spouse/partner is how you’re feeling.  If you are feeling angry with your partner, you’re set to blame her, e.g.,”I am angry because you aren’t doing your fair share.”  In this circumstance, something she did (or failed to do) has”induced” one to be mad at her.  You think that it is”normal” for you to be mad because she didn’t do what she’d agreed to do.

This scenario of believing your partner caused you to be mad (or fearful or hurt) and describing this as normal is actually your role in creating a battle.  While this angry reaction may be”reflexive,” calling it”normal” simply justifies your response.

The best way to solve conflict is for every individual to become self-reflective and personally accountable for his/her role in the breakdown of the interaction available.  Here are the steps you can take to raise your self-awareness to be able to prevent completely or resolve conflicts in your romantic relationship.

Boost Your Emotional Intelligence.  You know that anger and dread prepared you for a fight or flight response.  Daniel Goleman, who introduced the concept of emotional intelligence, perspectives such emotions as a “quick response system” that compels you to respond without proper reflection on what is happening. [4] Remember that anger and anxiety are related to the discharge of epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine, and dopamine, all of which ready you to fight or flee.

Psychiatrist David Viscott describes all the ways we camouflage our anger by expressing it as being upset, miffed, teed off, irked, annoyed, angry, enraged, and burnt. [5] Stress can be expressed as being fearful, edgy, jittery, nervous, stressed, helpless, insecure, uptight, nervous, having cold feet, and getting the shakes.  These are the words we use generally to avoid copping to being angry or fearfulto divert.

Developing emotional intelligence means being aware of your own”fast response system.”  You have to own it.

Understand Your Personal Take on the Circumstance.  Goleman states that due to this”quick response system,” you may make a fast interpretation of what is going on between you and your partner.  This will be a personalized interpretation based more on your own history than on the present situation.  We all bring our personal histories (painful and happy ) with us to our union.  Whenever your personal history influences your view of this circumstance, you may describe your spouse’s actions in perspective of what it means to you personally rather than clarify it.

Say you come home for work one day, ready to fix dinner with your wife.  You find out that she’s not gone grocery shopping on the way home as she had agreed to do.  She would like to go out to eat!  Your fast response system goes into action and you say,”I am so mad that you aren’t doing your fair share of the work.”  You might even add something like–“You’re such a shirker!”  Your partner will seldom, if ever, experience her actions in precisely the exact same manner that you describe it.  She just changed her mind!  The feeling of”unfairness” in this instance is the personal experience of this circumstance.

Characterizing an action isn’t the exact same thing as explaining it.  Characterizing is not about the event–her not going into the store–it is about a private selves!  And, characterizing your spouse’s action will certainly excite her counter-reaction and counter characterization (“You’re such a bully!”) .  Now, it’s a full-fledged conflict!

Here are some examples of the distinction between describing what occurs and characterizing what happens.

She didn’t attend me in how I wanted She ignored me
She spent money on things that she wanted She’s selfish
She checked her phone when we were speaking She’s so self-centered
She wants to have sex more often than I do She’s a sex-addict
She didn’t consider my view She treats me like a second class-citizen


Being Accountable

 Being accountable means using your self-awareness to communicate better with your partner — acknowledging that you’re reacting not interacting.  Being accountable means knowing that your words and actions have a direct impact on others, on your partner.

Self-awareness will build a stronger connection with your spouse if you are able to recognize when you’re angry, irritated, peeved, hurt, angry, or angry at her–recognizing that you’re reacting reflexively.  Know that without reflecting on what’s occurring, you may quickly and automatically characterize her as with some negative trait that caused her to behave badly toward you (she’s selfish, lazy, bossy, cluttered, inconsiderate, emasculating, and on and on). She won’t ever agree with such a characterization!

What’s the Payoff?

Self-reflection helps you determine the issue at hand.  The self-awareness attained by self-reflection leads you to describe your concerns to your partner instead of characterizing her actions or lack of action.  Characterizing is never positive once you’re reacting–it’s always negative–and likely to provoke a reaction-in-kind.  You may negotiate a debate or difference about what happened when it’s described.  You don’t negotiate conflict! You retaliate for a perceived personal salvation!

Like our company consultants point out, when you see yourself more clearly–recognize when you’re reacting instead of interacting–you’ll make sounder decisions, communicate better, and do your part in building a more satisfying relationship with your spouse/partner.

  • Self-awareness in company help leaders become optimistic, communicate better, and build stronger relationships.
  • Self-awareness has the identical effect in your intimate relationship.
  • A fresh approach to attaining self-awareness is to identify your trigger scenarios by paying attention to if you’re angry, anxious, or hurt.
  • Self-reflection permits you to describe a issue not characterize your partner in negative terms.
  • Characterizing your partner is provocative.






Harvard Business       Review.

  1. Porter, Jennifer. “Why You Need To Be Time for Self-Reflection (Even if You Hate Doing It). Harvard Business Review. March 21, 2017.
  1. Aponte, Catherine E. (2019) A Marriage of Equals: How to Achieve Balance in a Committed Relationship. Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books, 1995. The Language of Feelings. (n.p.) Priam Books, 1976.


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Ask Dr. NerdLove: Is It Time To Abandon A Friendship?

Hi Doc,

My question is about dealing with the aftermath of confessing intimate feelings to a close friend and coping with his rejection whilst not losing that friend and moving the nuclear option.

Long story short, I am a late bloomer in her early 30s with limited experience (had a first kiss and sensual experience when I was 30, just 1 connection, and had sex just 3 times in my lifetime ). So, the previous summer I’ve developed a crush on a really close friend that I knew for 2 years at the time. The problem was that he had been going to leave town to move across the sea in 4 months. Despite this, I wanted to follow a short-term relationship with him, I felt like having a short-term intimate encounter with him outweighed the fact that it is going to be a connection with an expiration date.

Being a firm believer in direct communication, I asked him if he would be interested in us dating each other and I tell him that I recognize that most likely it is going to be a connection with an expiration date and if he does not feel he is into that he should not be scared of saying’no’, I will take it. He answered he was also considering us dating each other but he was afraid he does not have the time to date someone in another 4 months (he was supposed to travel quite a bit for work reasons prior to leaving the town ). Anyway, he said {} think about it. Three days after we got together for drinks with another girl who’s very closest friend. I could not stay long and left, the following morning I got a news from her that matters escalated after I left and they decided to play a version of truth or dare game by stripping off their clothes and telling each other mad sex things they’ve done (but they did not touch each other) and that I should have stayed that night to join them. Frankly, I felt dreadful upon hearing that information, though there was not any reason. A few hours later he messaged me saying that he does not have any secrets from me and I am free to inquire about his mad sex experiences he confessed to a friend of mine while naked, but he wants to be in the perfect mood, so I should not push him to inform about them.

A month after the three of us were hanging out (he {} tell me these stories) and that I was being playful with him put his hands on my back to get back massage. The following day he wrote me that he was really considering having a romantic relationship with me despite the limited time we have, but due to the’hand thingy’ (I did not ask him for his approval ), he determined that he will change his mind. I gradually recovered then, but the fact he was keeping secrets (what he told another buddy ) was slowly eating me. Several weeks before he left the town I told him how I felt about him having those secrets from me. He disclosed these secrets, via a text message, not face to face, and it felt as though it was not genuine.

Those secrets turned were the truth he practiced some BDSM actions several years back and that he was ashamed of them. Now, here is what, I am also into BDSM (never practiced but I know I need to do it), so I told him that those things he should not be ashamed of and that I find them amazing and {} also into them. During the past week we had been talking a lot about them, and lots of day after he left the town he explained he could be up for trying some of these, 1.5 months later when we were supposed to share a hotel room for a week in a music festival in a different country. But when we actually met, he felt somewhat angry and distant (I do not know what triggered it, but he had been stressed searching for employment in a different continent), sooner or later at this occasion he said that he favors going for dinners with different people rather than me (before that we had been having dinners together and planned on celebrating New Year’s eve together at the festival). He also stated that I need to change my plans of seeing him across the sea (fortunately I did not book my flights yet). The remainder of the event was quite depressing for me.

After all of this I feel have hard time processing what have occurred (that nude night with a buddy of mine after he explained that he does not have time for casual sex, the fact he was concealing his interest in BDSM while telling me he trusts me and does not have secrets from me, or his weirdly distant behaviour at the festival). I feel miserable and have difficulty sleeping when I think about most {} things that happened between us the past year and I think about them almost daily. Am I overreacting and simply have to find mental help? The matter is that I really appreciate his friendship and that I still keep contact with him. But sometimes I think if I need to go complete nuclear option? But I’m terrified of losing a close friendship with him and doing the nuclear option and losing contact with him would do more psychological damage as opposed to maintaining a contact.

Thanks a lot for any feedback!
Nukes and Friends

This is somewhat complicated, NaF, since I think there are a couple of issues colliding here.

The first is that this man appears to have issues with really saying what he thinks or feels. I mean, it is pretty clear to me from his activities that he is simply not interested in you and — for whatever reason — can not seem to bring himself to say it straight. Maybe he is concerned about hurting you. Maybe he is just very passive aggressive. It might be that you were not as clear about the nature of the connection you wanted with him and he thinks you want something more committed than he’s up for. Maybe he enjoys dangling the notion of the two of you getting together on your head like he is dangling string above a kitten. Who knows. But what’s clear is that the problem isn’t that he does not have time for casual hot games… it is that he does not have time for casual hot games with you.

And hey, that stinks. It can be incredibly debilitating when it feels like somebody is telling you that you are simply not good enough to bang. I don’t think that is what he is actually saying, but you would be forgiven for taking it that way because he is acting really goddamn weird about it.

Now it is fair that some folks do not necessarily like being caught or feeling like they’re being forced to touch someone they would rather not touch. Everyone has the rights to their bounds and it is definitely not impossible that you crossed one of his. However, for him to tell you another day”hello, I was totally going to hook up with you but you tried to make me give you a massage, so nevermind,” is… questionable. It comes across as a bizarre and cruel way of punishing you for a transgression you’d no idea you’d made. If this was real, then I really question the need to bring up the concept of dating, rather than just saying”hey, I was not cool with your catching my hands like that.” That’s the type of thing which makes me wonder about his emotional intelligence or social calibration.

And if it was not genuine and only a way for him to escape having to turn you down (to get a question which you asked a month ago) then he is being a match playing dick.

Again: if this came from the clear blue skies, then this is a man who has been the emotional equivalent of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and you are better off not dating him.

All that having been said howeverI believe you are also making a bigger deal out of a whole lot of this than is really justified by the situation or the relationship. It seems to me like you’re far more invested in this man than you should have been, all things considered. It stinks that he was more inclined to fool around with your friend — even though nothing happened — than you. But feeling betrayed he had interests along with a background he had not shared with you? That’s a bit much. Friendships, even ones that are close, are not depositions; people are not required to share each and every detail of the lives and histories, particularly details that they might be embarrassed by or ashamed of. That is not”keeping secrets” from you, that is just him with a right to privacy rather than having to disclose every little thing he has ever done.

I get that you feel left out from the fact he told your friend about this through wacky nude time… but frankly, that’s his call to make. It is understandable that you would feel hurt that he did not trust you with this advice, but again: that is his absolute right. If he needs to tell someone he is flirting about his sexual history but not you, that is up to him.

And to be honest: with as put out as you seem about it, I think part of the battle here is that you’re so put out about all of this that it became a bone of contention between the two of you. And if you’re bringing this up on the routine with him as a problem with your relationship… well, I could see how he would begin getting annoyed by it.

I don’t think you need mental assistance, NaF, I believe you are inexperienced and overinvested in somebody you liked. It’s the type of thing that most of us do when we are first trying to navigate intimate and sexual interest beyond puppy-love when we are kids. A good deal of us go through this in middle school and high-school. A number people do this later in life. It stinks, but it is a part of their learning experience and sadly, some learning experiences involve falling on our faces and amassing some bruises. However, as much as it might sting, that is how you grow your hit points at the long term.

So I think for now, I think it can be better for you to let this man go for some time. Whether this dude is not as emotionally intelligent than you would expect, you allow a crush overwhelm your common sense or both, I believe you will need some space and perspective. Unfollowing his Instagram and Snapchat, muting him Twitter and Facebook… all of these are ways that you give yourself space to heal and get over someone. It’s hard to let things go when you are constantly tempted by the chance to verify his Instagram or see whether his connection status has changed, after all.

Give yourself a rest from this man, go and gather new adventures, fall in love over and over. Let your heart heal.

Very good luck.

I think need some guidance. I have issues with my self worth when it comes to”after relationship situations”.

In the past I had a couple of relationships but none of them lasted for at least a month or two. I understood I was a wonderful guy and began to fix it (and stumbled upon your site at the time). We would head out once and then she slowly stopped responding to my messages (even calls in 1 case), with no explanation and I have never heard from her. Despite the fact that the date sounded fine, I tried to learn from each rejection and prevent errors I have made before I felt like I have failed.

What if it is going to become usual and I’ll get rejected? What did I do wrong? She is online and she watched my message, why had not she reacted already?” . My mind comes up with catastrophic situations and I worry about things that didn’t actually occur.

At times it comes to assessing my smartphone now and then which is the behaviour I wanted to avoid and making me even more anxious.

Basically my self worth drops and the assurance I felt throughout the date is just dust.

I opted to stay cool, enjoy the day and provoke the interest in her. Throughout the day she informs me about a man she is likely to meet which was sufficient to begin doubts in me (why did she do this in the first place?) . When I was paying for her after the dinner (first date) she cried but then she was like”I will cover when we will meet for another time” (which sparked the expectation for another date in me and that she was curious ). She responds to my messages then day although I am nearly always the person who initiates the conversation. My anxiety and negative thoughts intensified when I saw a post with that man (and her response to it).

My question is: How to manage these ideas and catastrophic situations and how to keep my self worth?

Worst Case Scenario Vision

Alright, WCSV, do you see what I just said to Nukes and Friendship? A good deal of that applies to you, too. The issue you are having here is that you are mentally overinvesting in those dates with people you hardly understand. In a lot of ways, first dates are just like a sample from the deli or the ice cream parlor: you are trying to determine if you are at all interested before you commit to purchasing a complete order. Getting hung up on someone you’ve only had one date with — even though it was a very good date is the way you set yourself up for unnecessary heartbreak. You do not know this person well enough to justify giving them so much importance that assessing your phone is enough to provide you with anxiety. A sexy stranger, very possibly. A stranger you had a fantastic time with. But a stranger.

The objective of a first date is simple: you need to connect together and see whether there’s enough mutual chemistry and interest to justify seeing each other again. If there is not, then it is a shame… but you will find countless other potential partners out there. This was only one that did not work out.

It sucks that things have not worked out with these girls you have been dating, but the majority of what you have been learning is that these are women who, for some reason, you are not compatible with. A whole lot of this is simply out of your control. Sometimes you get lucky right off the bat. Other times you need to search around for some time. You may satisfy the wrong person… or you may meet the perfect person at the wrong moment. The one thing you can do is be sure you’re working on your side of this equation.

Part of this is making certain you are taking the appropriate course from these dates. It will not do you any good if you are going on those dates and supposing, as an instance, you want to overcompensate for your Nice Guy ago and become a snarky asshole. On the flip side, you might still be acting TOO fine and coming across less as a possible partner and much more as a pushover. You may be spending too much time trying to impress your date and insufficient time trying to connect together.

That is why I urge that men who what to get better at relationship should maintain a journal. Whenever you go out and approach people or go out on dates, write down as far as you possibly can about what happened — what you said, what they said, how they reacted, how you felt at the present time, etc.. Try to maintain as strictly objective as possible; report what occurred without judging or assessing or making assumptions about how the other person felt or what they believed. This gives you information, and allows you to search for patterns which may indicate particular sticking points.

The same is true with analyzing the wake of said dates. If your discussions are regularly tracking off, see if you can pinpoint exactly where the change appears to happen and if it is happening at more or less the exact same time. It could be, as an instance, that you are a small over-eager and that is putting people off. On the other hand, it might also be that they simply were not feeling it and there is nothing you can do about it.

Which is a challenging truth: sometimes there is not anything to find. Sometimes the problem is not anything that you are doing but the people you’re dating.

That’s why finally, the response to getting better at relationship is… to go on more dates and try doing things differently. You may study the theory all you want but the only way you can acquire those levels in relationship is to go out and grind out’em in the area.

And incidentally: do not sweat getting ghosted so much. As much as I wish it was not true, ghosting is now part of the relationship landscape. It is rude and it can be disheartening, but at the end of the day, it says much more about them than it does about you. The one thing you can do about it’s be the change you wish to see in relationship.

Very good luck.


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Man Alive! –You’ve probably heard of emotional intelligence.It’s discussed in many realms nowadays, including company, where it was once thought of as a”soft” or unnecessary ability.Developing your emotional intelligence is a highly effective means to create stronger connectionseverywhere from work to love.  It isn’t something to overlook.While I work with guys on cultivating their capacity to recognize and communicate their feelings, in addition to notice and react to others’ emotions, they frequently tell me life gets richer and more meaningful.They feel closer to their partners, friends, and children. They’re more motivated and less burnt out by life! If you have explored emotional intelligence and are still interested, or are interested in more equitable connections and wonder what is next, I’ve got two other intelligences to present to you, together with a guy who made a way for you to explore all three!The extra two intelligences are Energetic intelligence and Erotic intelligence. They’re lesser-known but are very powerful in their influence on your {} and your relationships with others.On today’s Man Alive podcast episode I was joined by Joe Bernstein. Joe coaches men to get healthy and concentrate on love and family, without forfeiting  what they have built.   In this conversation Joe and I spoke:The advantages of getting more emotionally, energetically and erotically mature  What happens when you give up the need to prove yourself How men can stop trying to become powerful and rather relax into a deeper, more stable power Joe’s travel with risking losing what mattered to him because he saw he had been settling for good, rather than good in his lifetime Practices to become more conscious of yourself and attuned to other people I have deep trust in him and always love what he has to say. I highly recommend this podcast to get a dose of wisdom about how to feel stronger as you make a more purposeful and passionate life!Even men on top of the game find themselves wanting more from life. Man Alive is your source for men who want to have more meaning, a larger effect, unshakable confidence, a hotter sex life, more money, deeper love, strong friendships or a strong legacy.–A version of the post was initially posted on and is republished here with permission from the author. Do you wish to be a part of creating a kinder, more inclusive society? Combine like-minded people in The Great Men Project Community. ◊♦◊Photo supplied by the author.

What happens when you give up the need to prove yourself.

The article Man Alive! Emotional, Energetic and Erotic Intelligence for Men appeared on The Great Men Project.

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Emotional Intelligence Principles for Long-Term Relationship Success

Before we dig into this profound issue, let’s dive in with a definition of emotional intelligence.

From Psychology Today

Emotional intelligence denotes the ability to recognize and manage one’s own emotions, in addition to the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence is usually said to include three or more skills: psychological awareness, or the ability to recognize and identify one’s own emotions; the capability to exploit those feelings and employ them to tasks such as thinking and problem solving; and the ability to handle emotions, which comprises both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and assisting others to do the same.

Emotional Intelligence at a Long-term Relationship

There are 3 elements to emotional intelligence.

Are you able to sense your emotions and own them as your own? Yes we get triggered by other people (being cut off in traffic, as an instance ) but tagging and feeling those feelings can take somewhat more effort. When I am cut off in traffic I feel my anger instantly, but I identify feeling and tag it anger. It’s very important to tag emotions as they’re happening, so that you can respond appropriately. In the event the rush hour ass who cut me off, my reasoned response isn’t to respond. I may yell at the driver from inside my car, letting out a number of my own anger. (But another driver can’t hear me. I’m doing them no harm.)

My response to anger (my own or that of my spouse ) is my pick. I can use that anger at the moment to pay closer attention to the way I am driving. I can take that anger with me as I drive to the tennis court for a challenge game and I will release the anger to the tennis balls and topspin crosscourt forehands.

The most vital skill of emotional intelligence is regulating your emotions (self-soothing) and helping others do the exact same when required. If I let my anger in visitors to run my life or ruin my day, I would be letting the feelings to handle me. I decide to shout in my car with the windows up, thus setting my anger and allowing my body express its anger. Concerning self-soothing, I discovered that rush hour traffic had lots of chances to piss me off when I drove without awareness, and I learned that crying in my car was a simple release of this tension in my body when I am triggered by somebody else’s inconsiderate or bad driving skills.

In a long-term relationship, you’re likely to be given lots of chances to be triggered by your spouse. If let yourself be vulnerable you’re allowing your open-hearted existence to be getting at a high level. When this loving action isn’t received you may feel anger, sadness, or indifference. In the case of connections, it is the indifference which we must watch out for. When we recognize ourselves saying”fuck that” I am moving in the opposite direction, we could learn how to recognize that as indifference. Your opinion and activities have minimum effect on me, I will ignore your request, your feelings, and I am going to do anything I want. Indifference is the reverse of emotional intelligence.

As I move into a loving relationship I must fight against my”fuck it” reaction when things do not go my way. I must trust that my spouse can and will get my pain, frustration, or sadness with all the care we have started to establish as an emotionally intelligent couple. When our interactions begin trending towards indifference it is time for an intervention of some type or an end to the relationship. We must hold each other with emotional intelligence, both from the regulation and management of our own psychological bodies, but in attention and care to the WE of the connection we’re trying to build.

When Emotional Intelligence Fails

If we are less connected to our bodies bad things often start to happen.

  • We blame others for our anger
  • We consume or use alcohol to numb our ragged feelings
  • We isolate ourselves, fearing that our hectic psychological state will harm or frighten our spouses and friends
  • We stop trying to process our emotions and get over them and only let them destroy our day, our week, and poison our interactions with others
  • We allow our bodies to move into poisonous shame or burn {} the suppression of our feelings

It’s apparent, being more emotionally intelligent has benefits for both spouses. And it’s critical for any relationship to survive the long haul, which will definitely present opportunities for expansion. Relationships with other people is the only way to construct emotional intelligence. You are able to practice and hone your skills in any connection.

The cashier at the grocery store may seem distracted or mad in a way that begins to make you respond. Identify the emotion (I am getting pissed); two.) Harness the energy (I will say hello and break the isolation); 3) I will control my own emotional response and see the interaction for what it’s (she is mad/angry/indifferent) and I will maintain my calm and joy, just enabling her to be where she is.

In relationships, you can allow your spouse to be precisely where they are, but so as to grow and get closer as a couple, you have got to become vulnerable. You’ve got to recognize the emotion at the moment, exploit the energy coming up in yourself, take responsibility for just YOUR emotions and activities. Then you must let your spouse have and possess their own emotions. And if you will need to request a modification in the events which triggered you, or if these causes become more of a routine in the relationship, then you’ve got to look at ending or changing the relationship.

Failure to Thrive in a Relationship

I read and processed Brené Browns BRAVING for this partner, but things {} progress. We were unable to make progress in our psychological processing. Here is how that looked.

Something would trigger my buddy and their emotional body started to take over. Frequently they would glaze over and stop responding to some queries, apologies, or opinions.

I would attempt to hold the higher ground and start what I called”going meta on the issue” and attempted to regulate my own emotional reaction, but I tried to hold the space for her to just”be where she is.” In this action, I had been hoping to care for my emotions or fear and frustration in getting upset my spouse. I had been allowing her the space to process her psychological experience however she wanted to. I stayed near her and assured her that I had been present, not departing, and dedicated to working through any matter with her.

Progress and Commitment to Change

The problem was, she wasn’t prepared or able to process what was bothering her. Yes, she knew I’d said no to an offer for closeness, but she did not know why my”um, not right now” was so upsetting to her. And at the moment she was not able to get her part of the”trigger” and start processing the psychological moment with me. Rather, she froze and hauled from the present time. Frequently she would be suspended for the whole night. This gave me lots of chances to feel triggered myself. And mostly, I was able to just stay present for her, promising her I was nearby and still loving her.

It’s absolutely normal for romantic couples to activate one another. It is essential, really, for growth to occur, for each partner to allow themselves to feel their feelings as deeply as you can. When a dark one comes up, it’s vital for a person to process this pain with somebody else. In the best-case situation, this processing can occur with your spouse. Another healthy approach to process these upsets would be to operate through the causes with a therapist who will help you determine the deeper emotional wounds which are causing the shutdown or isolation.

But, once the parter proceeds to shut down or react in unhealthy and indifferent methods and won’t have their side of the issue, it may be time for some serious reconsideration. In the event of my freezing girlfriend, I made a variety of spoken and clear petition for her to practice {} mental intelligence with me when these triggers would appear. After the 5th or 6th psychological departure, even after we had had the”I’ll do better” discussion, it was clear that no progress and no commitment to change was being provided. My spouse was miserable with her triggered behaviour, but she was reluctant to check at what was causing her to exit the connection emotionally.

Seconds after we broke up, I asked her,”Do not you think it may be helpful to work through those triggers and psychological shutdowns with somebody who loves you and who’s prepared to work through them with you?”

“Not really,” she said.

At least she was honest.


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Ask Dr. Nerdlove: If I Hold Out for Something Better?

I am having trouble handling the many impulses between my connection, my livelihood, my balls and my thoughts.

For a timeline: I have been dating this woman for 7 months now. Due to a family divorce and job relocation conditions, we are essentially living together today and have signed a year lease.

One on one, she is very enjoyable to be around. We are both flirty and weird with one another, are extremely experimental in bed and love doing daring things together. When I am with her it seems like nothing else matters; we are literally like kids together most nights. Her character and character are admirable: she has made me aware of my own shortcomings, has taught me the value of creating a shared story with someone I trust and her optimism is infectious. However there are two triggering scenarios that make me rethink my relationship situation:

Firstly, I always see pictures of other women and feel like I’m settling. I will admit there are angles and clothes and lifestyle changes that she works to her advantage, but sometimes it {} feel like enough. She is acutely aware of me feeling this way, as I am bad at hiding feelings, and blames my feelings on the entire’Tinder creation’ if there always being something greater. She might have a point, but to what level should I suppress this urge?

Secondly, to add fuel to the self fire, I recently got a big job promotion and will be in earnings. It is a tough enough job as it is, where I will need to be focused and sophisticated with my social interactions, but it also provides me a massive ego boost. I believe that the money, status and chances I will be presented with will be last feeding the monster within me that desperately needs all of the spoils life offers, which would contradict a monogamous relationship. I am 24, and while I have screwed many women already, I have become such a high quality person and feel that I deserve more.

Can you help me know if this is something many men feel? If so, how long is it before I can not take it anymore? Meanwhile, what can I do to keep myself satisfied with her?

Alright SDSF, I am gonna be blunt: it seems to me as if you’re searching for a reason to dump her without feeling bad about it. And if that is the case, then yes, you must break up with her. For her sake, not yours.

I mean shit dude, you are already hurting her. How you have been conveying the concept of”You are great but I believe I could do better” is a pretty shitty thing to do to someone you care for, even though she is blaming it on”the Tinder generation” rather than your having a watch out for the newer, sexier version.

So straight talk: yes, you are settling. It does not matter who you date, whether it is your present girlfriend or some unspeakably sexy Instagram model: you are always going to be settling. That is because nobody will get everything they want in a relationship. There are always going to matters that you’re going to need to let go of to maintain a relationship with someone. It could be accepting the person you’re dating is not as sexually adventurous as you would like and so there will not be some threesomes or sex clubs in your future together. It might be that they are not a bikini model and rather are a lovely but-not-unearthly-gorgeous individual. It might be that they are unspeakably beautiful but are not ambitious or do not have a lot of intellectual curiosity or won’t do monogamy. There are always going to be tradeoffs when you commit to a relationship with somebody; you need to recognize what you do get is so amazing that it makes up for the fact that you are not getting those other things.

Now going by that metric, it seems like your girlfriend more than meets that standard. You describe all of the ways that things are great… except for the fact that she does not quite stroke your self as arm candy. And look my dude, I’m not gonna say that you are bound to date her or anybody to show that you are not shallow, but if the problem you are having is that you are worried she is not hot enough to impress your friends then that is a you trouble, not a her difficulty.

The other issue is that you are doing something I have seen plenty of men do in your position: you are throwing off happiness you do have for the possibility of getting something better — something that is not guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination. You have gotten the promotion and salary bump but that does not automatically interpret”and now I have access to sexier women” You are going to be the identical person that you are now, with the identical social skills. If the only difference is that you are going to be talking to people who are more impressed by cash or standing… well, good, but you will mostly be attracting people that are into money or status. And speaking strictly for myself, if someone’s only interested in a version of me that is precisely the same but with bigger digits in my bank balance, that is someone I would rather not be dating.

In actuality, many times the very same guys who have been in your position and put aside their existing relationships to be able to”trade up” (as it were) have begun to regret iteven if they date someone who’s physically sexier or more ego-polishing, they still realize that it does not compensate for what they lost in the procedure.

But hey, if you believe you deserve, then that is your call chief. But I will tell you now that aspect of things will make it impossible for you to”keep yourself satisfied with her.” If you would like to remain with her, then everything you will need to do is begin actually appreciating what you have, how she makes you feel and what she brings to this relationship and stressing about the proverbial two in the bush. The more you can concentrate on what you like about your relationship with the more thankful you can be for what you have, the more satisfied you will be.

But if you are always saying”you are great, but I believe I could do better,” then all you are doing is condemning your connection and her feelings into a death by a thousand cuts. At which point, you would be better off simply breaking her heart today rather than slowly bleeding it dry over time; at the way she will have an opportunity to get over you faster and without unnecessary pain.

However, they don’t all bring you lasagna at work.

Dear Dr. NerdLove,

First I’d like to say I am from a South Asian country. We take relationships seriously and culturally. I have a girlfriend (4 months affair). She’s my first love. But she had a boyfriend and I am her second love. I am really suffering that I couldn’t be her first love. She informs it and I am actually feeling that. She always tells I am far better than him and she says”nobody loved me as you do”. We’ve got good sexually and emotionally love life. She’s totally happy with me. But I am really suffering.

I feel as she lies to me since she does not like to broke my heart and she secretly love her ex because it’s’first love matters’. Sometimes I ask her that she recalls her ex. But I can not believe it. I truly love her and I can not even feel that she’s considering another man even for an instant.

Dude, if you love her, then you want to shut the hell up and trust.

I will give it to you straight: pretty much anyone you date will have a history. The older you get, the less likely it’ll be that you are going to be a person’s”first”. And that is fine. There is no prize for being someone’s first love, somebody’s first connection, somebody’s first sexual encounter. It does not magically confer significance on the connection that nobody else will ever match or outdo. I mean, fuck dude, you know this because she has already told you about how her first boyfriend fucking cheated on her and dumped her. That is such a low goddamn bar that you clear you could roller-skate it over.

And here you’re agonizing about the fact that somebody else was there.

Here is another thing about firsts: they are almost never”continues”. However badly one’s culture takes connections, the reality is that the huge bulk of the population does not remain with their first spouse until death do they part. While it does happen — I have a buddy who has been with his wife because they were 13 — it is rare enough that you shouldn’t be betting the farm on it. Hence the fact that you aren’t somebody’s first only suggests that the chances are better that you two may be able, the experience, the perspective and the emotional maturity to go the distance.

But NOT when you are sitting there, telling someone that you love that she is a liar when she states that she loves you and only you.

This ai not about love, chief. This is all about insecurity. This is all about you worrying that you don’t step up and that she is going to leave you for someone else as motives. And I am here in the future to tell you that this is precisely what’s going to happen if you do not quit throwing her previous relationships in her face. You want to either accept that she is being directly when she tells you that she loves you and cares for you and wants to be with you, or you will need to prepare for the break-up which will be coming down the pike.

Rather than dealing with if she loves you or not — accept that she’s telling you the truth — you will need to work on your own self-esteem and your sense of self worth. I believe the best thing you can do for yourself is to find yourself a counselor or therapist and begin unpacking these insecurities you have, until they detonate something great you have on your life.

Dear Dr. NerdLove,

I wrote to you before about how my husband’s sex-life had cratered after the arrival of our child. In the event you’re interested, I thought I would inform you that your advice was really beneficial. We have talked to a counselor a bit.

As part of the process, he confessed that he has been in near continuous mouth pain since soon after the baby was born. He has gotten some significant dental work done (wisdom teeth removed, cavities filled, and gum disease treated) rather than being in constant pain has definitely also helped.

Things still are not perfect, but they’re a great deal better. Thank you.

Doing Better In Seattle

Hey, thanks for letting us know how you have been doing, DBIS! Glad to hear things have improved, particularly because it means your spouse is no longer coping with severe constant pain! Congratulations on the job the both of you have put in and having the guts to talk things out, and I hope things continue to improve for you both!

This post was previously published on and is republished here with permission from the author.


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