Sunday, November 22, 2009

Friends indeed?

If you are single and want to find love you should stop listening to your friends. I know your girls are lovely and wise and when talking about the latest goss over a cup of coffee it feels like they totally understand you and want the best for you. But before you blindly take their advice, hang on a sec…

First of all, your friends want to stay friends with you, so they will not be absolutely honest. They will probably flatter you, make you feel a million bucks and always think you are right. This is a good sign, it means that they truly love you and stand by your side. But when it comes to love advice it’s not always positive to listen to your fan club.

A guy came to me for coaching frustrated by the fact that he’d been single for years, while his mates just said “You are such a great catch”. But if that was the case, where were all those girls who should want him badly? Why was he still single if there was nothing wrong with him?

The truth is that if a person has been single, and longing for love for a while, there is probably something wrong, and that person is better off being told than kept in silence. Your friends will not be the whistle blowers. Why not? Well, because the truth hurts sometimes. Imagine if your best friend told you that you gave the wrong vibe, that you came off desperate to men. That’s not a nice thing to hear, right? You would be insulted. So no, our friends will never really tell us what we need to hear.

The guy I coached needed to see his value beyond being “a good guy”. Calling on time and taking ladies for fancy dinners is not enough; he needed to bring out substance as well. He thought he could buy love, but a little self-esteem and edginess made him much more interesting and attractive. When he saw that, he changed easily.

What about you? If you accept the fact that you don’t have what you want because you might be doing something wrong, you open up a door to a better future. What three things can you do differently and make your life a better place?

Stop listening to your friends and face facts. Mates telling you “he’s an idiot, you should be happy he broke up with you” does not help. What if he wasn’t an idiot, what if you were the one stalking him, acting insecure or partying too much? It’s hard to accept, but just ask yourself the question and start changing. Compare with training with a girl friend or a personal trainer; a bossy muscle bloke will give you a harder time but also a fitter body, right? It’s worth it. You are worth it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

How to have that tricky conversation

In a perfect world, arguments with your man would involve him saying things like, “You’re right – I’ve never thought of it like that,” and end with some fabulous make-up sex. Unfortunately, we live in the real world, where tricky conversations are more likely to involve a bottle of wine, a pyramid of soggy tissues, and end in a shouting match to make the neighbours run for the hills. Here are some hints to help you through those toe curling tête-à-têtes – without the hole in the wall.

Before you start…
“Firstly, make sure you’re armed with a plan,” says relationship expert Jenni Trent Hughes. “Think through what he might say and decide how you’d respond. Secondly, make sure you listen, and give him time to digest what you’ve said. Finally, remember that some important conversations happen gradually – it could take a month of talking to get through everything you need to discuss."

The Dilemma: "I wish our sex life was more adventurous"
This is the one topic where a glass of wine might be helpful to get you relaxed. “Switch off your TV and mobile phones, and stay away from the bedroom, which is where you’re most intimate,” says Relate’s Denise Knowles. “Begin by asking how he feels your sex life is going, and if he’s happy – without pointing the finger of blame. Then say something like, ‘I thought we could try some new things together – what do you think?’ Make some simple suggestions, like having a shower together, then ask if he has any ideas of his own, so he doesn’t think this is about being bad in bed.” If he still does take it to heart, ripping off his trousers is a quick way of telling him you still think he’s sexy…

The Dilemma: "We’ve been a couple for years – will you ever propose?"
“You might feel like giving him an ultimatum, but don’t," Jenni warns. “If getting married is important to you, tell him so – but never guilt-trip him into a proposal. Marriages that start with tears usually end in them too.” The key is to make him think seriously about the relationship without being pushy. “Start with positives: tell him what you love about him, then ask where he sees the relationship going,” advises Jennie. “If he doesn’t see marriage, say something like, 'I’ll have to think about this – I see it differently.’ That way, you’re giving him space – and you’ll have time to decide what to do if he doesn’t change his mind.”

The Dilemma: "Are we ever going to agree on having children?"
“It always amazes me how many couples don’t have this conversation," says Denise. “It’s a crucial question, but a difficult one – you can’t just have a baby and decide you like it. The way to approach this subject is to ask what thoughts your partner has being on a parent – what he’d worry about or look forward to.” Once you know how he feels, you have to accept that when it comes to children, there’s very little room for compromise. “If you disagree, arrange to discuss it again later,” Denise says. “But never belittle his feelings – saying he’s being silly or stubborn isn’t helpful. If his answer is the same, you’ll have to decide if having a baby – or not – is more important than your relationship."

The Dilemma: "I want to call time on our relationship"
“The best way to tackle this is to make it seem like the decision is mutual,” Jenni explains. “Saying, 'it’s not you, it’s me,' is a cliché that won’t wash. You need to be honest, but not too blunt." A good way to start is to massage his ego. “Focus on his good qualities, then break it to him gently.” Jenni says. “You could say, the relationship’s gone as far as it can”. After you’ve broken the news, it’s best to leave him alone to lick his wounds. “But make sure the break-up happens face-to-face,” warns Jenni. “The only time it’s acceptable to split up over the phone is with a long distance relationship."

What a break-up does to your body

It's over, but the symptoms have just begun…

When your heart is broken, you can end up wearing the pain on your face, says naturopath and skin specialist Ananda Mahony. “The additional stress can cause skin inflammation, worsening breakouts, sensitivity and blotchiness.

How to help yourself:
“If skin is inflamed, use serums containing vitamin C, rosehip and chamomile. If it’s dehydrated, use a richer cream and if it’s congested, run a bath, exfoliate, put on a mask and treat yourself to a pampering afternoon,” advises Mahony.

Dark circles:
If you’re doing a lot of crying, hide the evidence by placing two chilled green tea bags on your eyes. “It will get the circulation going again and reduce puffiness,” says Mahony.

When upset, women tend to either lose their appetite or comfort eat, says consulting psychologist and nutritionist Selina Byrne. The latter crave foods high in sugar or fat. “So-called ‘comfort foods’ bring discomfort [as] they lead to weight gain, which can make you feel worse,” says Byrne. Comparatively, people who lose their appetite often lose weight and are prone to mood issues.

How to help yourself:
If you’ve lost your appetite, “Eat small amounts so you don’t go into starvation mode, [increasing] your stress hormones,” says Byrne.

Break-up PMS:
Be aware of what is happening with your menstrual cycle, says Byrne, as PMS can be worse after a break-up. Note the days prior to your period in your diary so you can say, “OK, I’m premenstrual so everything seems worse, but it will get better in a few days.”

Digestive system:
“Anything that affects our central nervous system will affect the gut nervous system,” says Byrne. When you are distressed, it is common to feel like you’re going to throw up or experience IBS-type symptoms, like stomach pain and bloating, she adds.

How to help yourself:
Stay away from foods that trigger digestive problems like wheat, flour, sugar and fatty foods. Avoid alcohol, but if you must have a drink try vodka and soda instead of wine. “Wine can be a depressant, whereas vodka doesn’t have the same emotional effect,” says Byrne.