Monday, February 28, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Do You Need To Be Right?

Everyone likes to be right! However, in the midst of a relationship -- be it personal or professional -- is it more important to be "right" or to get the result that you desire?

Although conflict approached in a healthy manner can be beneficial to a relationship, incessant arguing and the need to be "top dog" decreases contentment and happiness. After a while, you come to expect an argument about every little thing and you become tense at each interaction with your partner. In this scenario, even when there is no conflict, you start looking for it or even hearing it in benign comments.

This circumstance can be the start of a downward spiral in a relationship. Now, when an argument crops up, you may be thinking about past hurts and letting this infringe on the current situation. This is not fair to either partner.

Next, doubt about your partner can begin to seep in. Doubting your partner, or not fully supporting him or her, can separate the two of you even more. Intimacy and trust are stretched to the limit when one partner feels he/she cannot reveal his/her innermost thoughts and fears without full and continued acceptance.

So what can you do to halt this cycle?

It is unrealistic to think that two people living in close proximity every day are never going to have conflict. Of course, you can choose not to participate in every argument to which you are invited to join!! You can take a step back and ask if the situation can be discussed at a more appropriate time.

It is best to approach an issue in a non-confrontational or non-accusatory manner. Use "I messages" rather than pointing a finger at your partner. Moreover, choose a time to discuss a problem when you are both relaxed and not highly emotional. This will allow you to hear what the other has to say with open ears and a more open heart. When your partner realizes that he or she need not cringe in fear of criticism from you, defensiveness is able to melt away and trust can be restored.

Partners need not be "Yes men or women" and never voice their opinions. However, you can agree to disagree and both partners can be winners rather than one feeling dejected and beat up by the other.  The need to always be right may satisfy your ego, but it can have a very detrimental effect on a relationship. Choose the result you want!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Is Silence Golden?

I am not a chatty person. Don't get me wrong! I can hold my own in the conversation arena, but I am also a big fan of silence.

I agree with Count Vittorio Alfieri who stated, "There is a silence, the child of love, which expresses everything and proclaims more loudly than the tongue is able to do."

In a relationship, it is important to possess the ability to have lively and interesting conversation, but in planning a long life with a partner, the ability to say 'I love you' in silence rates right up at the top of the list too!

When it comes to expressing love, here's my take on silence vs words.


There is more love in silence than words --
that special look, the fondness in the eyes, the soaring of the heart

Words cannot possibly express a feeling so powerful and strong,
for we need our hands and bodies, which are limbs of feeling,
to express the emotions of love

Words merely circle and sometimes complicate
how our bodies wish to sing

Not eloquent with words,
a simple caring caress will speak volumes to the recipient

And for those more expressive,
without the synchronicity of heart and body, the words will fall on deaf ears

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day: A Real or Contrived Holiday?

Valentine’s Day  -- a double edged day that reflects the natural duality of this planet.

While it can be a wonderful day for lovers to renew their commitment to each other, the single community usually dreads the onslaught of the media hype that surrounds the day.

Let’s take a hard look at Valentine’s Day and its true meaning. 

Historically speaking, there are quite a few theories on its origin, and, in fact, there were three St. Valentines. One theory states that St. Valentine was a bishop who held secret marriage ceremonies for soldiers and their intendeds. This was in opposition to Claudius II who had prohibited marriage for young men who were going into battle. Claudius felt that married men naturally held an emotional attachment for their families and thus did not make good soldiers.

Bishop Valentine was also said to have formed an attachment with a young woman and, before his execution by Claudius II on February 14, 270 AD, wrote her a letter which he signed “From Your Valentine.” This phrase has lived on to this day. After that, February 14 became known as a day for lovers and Valentine became its Patron Saint. On this day, young Romans sent handwritten notes of affection to the women they admired. These notes were called valentines. 

It wasn’t until the 14th Century that St. Valentine’s Day, or February 14th, became definitively associated with love, for this was a day that it was believed birds mated. A UCLA medieval scholar credited Chaucer with linking St. Valentine’s Day and romance in his “The Parliament of Fowls” where he wrote, “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.”

The holiday evolved through the centuries and eventually made its way to the shores of the American colonies. During the 1840s, Valentine’s Day became commercialized by Esther A. Howland (aka the Mother of the Valentine) when she created the first greeting cards specifically for that day. (Source: The Holiday Spot)

The “holiday” as we celebrate it today seems a bit contrived when you look at it in the light of its history. And you can say my attitude is one of Bah, Humbug, but I really don’t like the day. Why is that? Because, in truth, it is really a day perpetuated by mass marketers. After all, who are the big winners of this commercialized holiday? Not the average person but rather greeting card makers, jewelry stores, candy makers, flower stores, and an assortment of other businesses. In fact, according to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of all cards sent each year are valentines!

I ask you, since when should saying “I love you”, with or without gifts, come only once a year – especially when you feel obligated to do so from societal pressure? In my book, if Valentine’s Day is the only day my partner can muster up the enthusiasm to express his love, it doesn’t count. To keep a loving relationship vibrant, the partners need to find ways to “I love you” in lots of different ways and every day of the year. Of course, for couples who do express their feelings throughout the year, Valentine’s Day can just be a bonus.

If you find yourself alone on this day, try not to feel sorry for yourself. Instead, feel sorry for those who scurry to make Valentine’s Day a special occasion but either ignore their partners or do not give their relationships the reverence it deserves every other day of the year. Every day is a one that you can walk and live in love. I believe it is foolish to think love expressed with candy and flowers speaks louder than every day respect and a caring attitude.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Internet Dating and Your Profile Picture

Is a picture worth a thousand words? Apparently, if it is a representative photo. A study published in 2009 by the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that you can learn valuable information about a stranger simply by looking at his or her picture.

The study had viewers look at two types of pictures of individuals. One was a controlled pose with a neutral facial expression and the other a more natural pose. Viewers then rated each person in the picture on ten personality characteristics. The study showed that viewers were able to accurately determine personality traits of the photographed people. In fact, when looking at the more naturally posed pictures, the judgments were accurate for nine out the traits rated, which included extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, likability, self-esteem, loneliness, religious leanings and political orientation. The tenth trait, neuroticism, was very hard to detect on a first impression.

What does this mean for online dating sites and the way you post your profile?

Although we don't want to be only judged on outward appearance nor do we want to think we judge others on theirs, it is just a fact of nature that we are a visual species and, accordingly, we often make decisions based on what we observe ... if not consciously, then at least subconsciously.

That said, be very careful in choosing your profile picture for a dating site. You may be giving off more non-verbal clues than you realize. These might be influencing who contacts you and who does not.

Let's review some of the elements of which to be aware and their possible meanings. Remember, these are only some of the possibilities and not always true. They are just something for you to consider, especially if you find that you are not having much luck getting responses from prospective dates (or you are getting responses but not the type you want).

1. Smiling vs Neutral Expression
Smile: more extroverted. warm, open
Neutral: aloof, quiet, not confident

2. Stance: Stiff vs Relaxed
Stiff: uncomfortable in your own skin, stubborn, can't go with the flow, not physically agile
Relaxed: easy-going nature, fun-loving, energetic

3. Jewelry
Are you wearing a religious icon that indicates your affiliation. You may be so used to doing this that you think nothing of it. However, it may be regarded as a sign of religious devoutness.

4. Clothing/Grooming
Neat or messy?
Athletic wear or more formal wear?
Color of clothes: vibrant or dull?
In fashion or hopelessly outdated?

5. Background of Picture
Is it outdoorsy, in front of a church/temple, shows a house (size/location); shows a car (fancy vs heep); includes family members; includes a pet; against a foreign background indicating you are a traveler.

These are just a few points to keep in mind when choosing a picture for your profile. As a check-in, you might ask a friend to look at your picture and ask what he/she sees. You are making a statement about yourself and you want to be sure it is an accurate and representative one. 

Go forth and find that photograph that captures your essence!