It’s probably just me, but…

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Pretty much every person that I meet in a coaching session start telling their story by explaining how they are probably very different and unusual for having their problems. I find this very interesting.

We all seem to share so much, but without realizing it, and it makes me sad. Because for me as a coach it becomes very clear how much we have in common, but also how we think that we are alone…

The specifics differ, but the emotions are so similar. We all have our own unique insecurities, backstories and fears, but if we only shared them with each other the shame and feelings of being different or weird would disappear.

One of the things that I say the most often when I coach is “I hear this all the time”. Or “I recognize what you’re saying, from my own life and from other clients.” And “It’s not just you”. Because it’s never just you.

Feeling stuck in the single zone, not being confident enough to flirt, or not even knowing how to flirt, it’s so very common. And it’s pretty easy to change – if we speak up about it and realize that it’s a learnable social skill like any other.

There is nothing wrong with you, you’re just doing something that’s not working the way you want it to. Millions of others experience the same thing in their love lives, and it’s no wonder! No one teaches us how to flirt well or create working and fulfilling relationships. Some people have good role models, are naturally outgoing and flirty or simply lucky, but what about the rest of us? Well, we learn what we need to know and practice it until it works.

I know it may seem unfair, but another pattern that I see very clearly is that my clients simply have their strengths somewhere else. They are usually very skilled and successful in another life domain, like work, sports or friendship. Things that they usually take for granted and are totally unaware makes others jealous of them…

Another reason for lack of flirting skills or experience is that life has simply been hard. A lot of people spend their childhood, teenage years and/or young adulthood struggling with family problems, bullying, sickness and other hardships that put the focus on flirting a bit further down on the priority list, or even makes it impossible for them to try… They are simply busy surviving. But it’s never too late. You are an adult now, and you are no longer the person you used to be or restricted by others. If you want it to go out and get it, the world is yours.

And I’m glad to help you.

When life hits you right in the feelings

Skärmavbild 2015-07-08 kl. 12.16.29I know, dating can indeed be an emotional roller coaster. A big one. With huge highs and lows, and sudden stops, turns and loops. It’s easy to get dizzy sometimes, especially if you are not used to, or comfortable with, strong emotions.

Many of us live calm, or maybe stressed, but often at least pretty controlled lives, lead by our intellect. Many of my clients are used to understanding what’s going on, staying on schedule and taking care of big and challenging projects in their lives and careers. They are very skilled at what they do and completely at home in the world of the intellect, thought, logic and business. Unfortunately this doesn’t help them very much in their love lives.

It’s two completely different parts of life that require completely different skills. If you only have one kind of skills and try to use them “on the other side”, it’s kind of like trying to use a hammer when you need a saw. It doesn’t matter how nice your hammer is, or how many you have, or how hard you hit. You need a saw.

And trying to use your intellect to deal with your emotions is like using the hammer to saw. Your emotions don’t need to be analyzed or explained, or removed. They need to be felt. That’s it. It may sound simple, but someone who has learned to excel in the world of thought and intellect many times have done so to overcompensate for a lack of emotional skill. Maybe some emotions, or all of them, were not encouraged or even accepted in their family, maybe no one thought them how to handle their emotions (it’s a skill, as you remember) or maybe they someway along the path of life decided it hurts to much and started avoiding everything that involves emotional risk, such as love.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, your emotions won’t leave you alone. They will haunt you and nag at you until you give them their full attention. And then they will leave.

That’s the irony. I spent so much effort trying to avoid my emotions, but when I learned how to feel them, I realized it was quite effortless. At least in comparison. It sure was uncomfortable, sometimes even painful, but oh how sweet it is when a negativa feeling leaves the body – and is does as soon as I give it my full attention. Which was, paradoxically, the only thing I was not willing to do before to, so I did everything else but that.

And as we all know, doing everything but the one thing that works, is pretty exhausting…

Same same but different

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I did a radio interview recently where the radio host asked be about similarities vs differences when looking for a partner. Should we try to meet someone who is similar to us or different from us?

My answer is yes. Yes to both, because it will strengthen the relationship in two different ways.

The similarities between you and your partner will create a foundation where you can connect, feel safe, understand and be understood. It’s also practical to share values and life goals (if only one of you want to have children or live part time abroad it’s definitely a challenge).

But then we also have the truth of opposites attract. Your differences, and the polarity between you will create attraction, playfulness, excitement, sexual tension and flirtatious connection.

The thing is that we want both of these opposing qualities in our relationships. We want to feel safe but not bored. We want deep friendship and interesting conversations and hot sex and passion. We want to feel excitement, but not fear.

If we only have (or know how to create) one or the other we end up with a friend or a lover. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that either, if it’s what you want.

But if it’s not, you need to understand the importance of creating both safety and excitement with the other person.

“What should I do?”

shield-492987_1280One question that I get asked a lot, when someone has told be about their current situation and would like some help and advice is: what should I do?

I always respond with another question, like what do you want to do?

Because even though I gladly help my friends and clients with coaching and sometimes even advice, there is no point in me sharing that until I know what is important and feels right to this specific person.

It’s like asking for driving directions without knowing where you are going.

 
– Should I turn right or left?
– Well that depends on where you want to go. And what kind of route you like. Do you want to get there fast or take the scenic route? Are you even driving in the right direction right now?

What I find interesting is how common it is to lose touch with yourself when you start to get involved with someone else. When I ask people what they would like to do, or how they would like the situation to turn out, surprisingly many haven’t really thought about that. And of course, it’s much more practical to ask someone and get a “right answer”. Unfortunately (and luckily, I would add), there are no right answers for your love life. You need to figure out what is important to you, and act accordingly.

And a good start is letting the question what do I want to do? come before what should I do?

Can you see what you are looking for?

A friend once pointed out something interesting to me. I was complaining about the things that were going on in my love life, or rather not going on. I felt invisible and ignored by men and really wanted to meet more men that I appreciated and who appreciated me.

After an evening of talking about life, love and relationships my friend started to see a pattern in what I was saying and frankly told me that I was in fact meeting a lot of men who did appreciate me but that I for some reason not only failed to appreciate them but even failed to see that they were in my life! For me it really felt like I wasn’t meeting any men, when no less than 3 men had shown clear interest in me just during the last week.

So what was going on here? I’m obviously not literally blind, so why couldn’t I see what was right in front of my eyes (and occasionally even in my bed!)?

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When I thought about it I realized that I had a pattern of thinking that compliments, invites, flirts and even whole men “didn’t count”.

I’d think: “sure, he said I looked nice and that he really enjoyed spending time with me but I’m sure he was just being polite.”

Or: “I’m sure he flirts with all women like this, it has nothing to do with me, it’s just the way he is.”

And even: “well, he probably just wanted to see me tonight because the 3 more interesting women he asked before me were busy.”

For real! I’d think these things for real! No wonder I never felt chosen, appreciated or flirted with  – but it had nothing to do with the men. They could flirt with me in all kinds of obvious ways and I’d still find a way to disregard it.

And of course it was no fun to flirt with me when I didn’t take it seriously or even noticed it. Of course they thought I wasn’t interested or available and moved on. But when they did I could suddenly see very clearly, that was living proof that men didn’t choose me…

It was a chock to realize that my head and heart was full of countless excuses that made it impossible for me to feel close to and appreciated by men. But this was of course the unconscious point of these automatic thoughts. I was afraid of vulnerability, taking a chance and losing, or being rejected. And I must admit, disqualifying everything and everyone before it even starts is indeed a very effective way to avoid that. 😉

But the problem with strategies designed to protect our tender hearts is that they also protect them from love and joy and connection. It’s a high price to pay so I decided to take the risk, open my eyes and receive what men wanted to give and share with me. 

And when I did, as you can imagine, everything shifted.

Dating and timing

the-eleventh-hour-758723_1280Have you ever dated someone who has a completely different dating timeline than you?

Maybe you are someone who like really long dates and if you like each other want to make sure that you stay in touch more or less all the time between dates.

Or maybe you think a two hour date works fine and then want to spend a few days apart to think about how it felt and decide if you want to go on another date.

As you can probably tell these are two completely different approaches to dating. One is not worse or better than the other, they are just different – and that can create some problems if you are not aware.

Someone who wants to have a lot of contact frequently will probably interpret someones silence as lack of interest.

And the one who likes to take their time and date a bit slower might think that a more driven dater seems very intense or maybe even desperate.

But in fact, it might just be that they are dating on different “timetables”.

Keep that in mind when you meet someone who seems to be doing things faster or slower than you, respect their preference – and your own! If the tempo is important to you maybe you need to find someone who will keep your pace?

Learn from someone who k n o w s what they are doing

apple-256261_640One of my strongest beliefs in life is that you can learn anything.

You might not be skilled at everything, or even know how some things work, but you always have the possibility to learn. This is certainly true these days when extreme amounts of information about literally everything is available to anyone online.

One of the most common, wise, and effective things to do when you want to learn something new is of course to ask someone who already has that skill. Seems simple enough, right?

There is just one problem. Knowing something is not the same thing as being able to teach it.

This is especially true for things we just do without thinking about it; things that we never consciously learned but just feel are a part of us.

For me one example is writing. Since I’m working as a freelance journalist and blogger, a lot of people come to me for writing advice, and I tell them that I have nothing to teach them because I have no idea how I do it. I just write, without thinking about how or in what way it works. I just hear smart things in my head that I want to share and I write them down.

If you want to learn something from someone, you need a teacher who not only has the skill or knowledge you want, but also is able to share it with you it in a pedagogical way. Preferably someone who themselves had to learn it.

What does this have to do with dating, you ask?

Well, it might seem logical to ask a friend who is more successful and skilled than you in his or her dating life for advice. Obviously they know what they are doing. But are they? Or are they just doing it without knowing just what they are doing that create the results? In many cases this is exactly what is happening. So if you ask them for advice, they will probably say something like “it just happens, I don’t really think about it” or “I’m just being myself and meet nice people”.

They’re not saying this to annoy you, this is in fact their very real experience of how it works. But, and this is important, it might not be the least bit helpful or relatable to you, and that is a problem. Because of course you too have tried “not thinking about it” and “meeting nice people”, but with very different results, right?

If you want to learn something, I strongly suggest that you make sure to find someone to learn from who has in fact thought about it, and can relate to your situation. Most of the time that means someone who has actually had to learn it themselves, because nothing gives you more knowledge about the learning curve than actually having to go through it yourself.

And if you want to learn from your naturally skilled friends, put them in a situation where they are in  their zone of genius and watch what they are doing, rather than ask them about it, cause chances are they have no idea.

A detour to crazy town

abstract-254121_1280Have you ever been to that emotional place where you get completely hooked on the other person?

Where they are all you can think about, and it feels like the only thing that is important is seeing or at least connecting with them again, NOW. Your emotions are all over the place, as well as your thoughts, which go back and forth between heaven and hell. You are longing so much for this person but at the same time you’re so afraid of it not working out that you almost can’t bare it.

This is what I call Crazy Town. The thing about Crazy Town is that it’s super easy to see when someone else is there (they’re obviously over reacting), but when you end up there yourself it really does feel that urgent and not like an exaggeration at all.

Just knowing about this place, and giving it a name, will help. Hopefully you will recognize what is happening the next time it does, but then what? How do you get out of crazy town? Here are 5 steps you can take to get yourself back.

1. Do nothing!
I know that the urge to “take care of the situation” is huge when you are in Crazy Town. You might want to send a million text messages, call the other person and tell them how much you like them or break up because you can’t stand the uncertainty of the situation. Don’t. Your brain is “emotionally hijacked” and what you feel doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with reality. The only thing you need to “fix” right now is your own emotional state, then you can take care of more practical things, if you still think it’s a good idea.

2. Self compassion
First of all, acknowledge that Crazy Town is a horrible place to be. It stirs up all of your insecurities, the uncertainty is painful and you go into a panic-like mode that actually cuts you off from the more logical parts of yourself. This hurts. This is not something you can just “get over” by telling yourself to. Take a moment and sit down with yourself and take the pain seriously. Feel it in your body. Maybe it’s like a gray raincloud in your belly, maybe it’s your heart pounding really hard, maybe it’s a lump in your throat. This is your nervous system reacting to stress, it feels threatened. Take care of that, in the same way you would if a friend was sad, afraid or worried. Ask yourself what you need to feel safe and calm again, and do that. Also remember that you are not alone, weird or crazy. We all end up here every now and then (yes, even the person who caused you to end up here).

3. Meditate
When your head is filled with a thunderstorm of thoughts and your body with an hurricane of emotions, it might feel a little bit crowded inside of you. To create space: meditate. It slows everything down, brings you clarity and gives you a little more room to breathe, think and feel in your own terms.

4. Live your life
When something or someone grabs your attention as powerfully as this, it creates a huge impulse to rearrange everything else around it. You want to keep things open in case that person gets in touch or you start doing things so that you might “accidentally” run into each other, and a lot of time is spent just thinking, almost compulsively, about it. An effective way of avoiding this energy consuming behavior is to stay busy with your regular life. Meet friends, go to the gym, help someone with something and make sure that you do things that keep you occupied, just like you would otherwise. Don’t cancel plans because maybe you’ll have another date this weekend or change your behavior in big way “just in case”. Live your life! It is needed to stay sane and grounded, and to keep the relationship working. There can be no good relationships in Crazy Town, so make sure to stay connected with your regular life.

5. Trust
There are things in life that we cannot control. This is hard, especially when we want something really bad. We want to make what we want to happen, happen. Unfortunately not everything is up to you. You cannot will someone into calling you or liking you. You have to let them do their part of things on their own terms. You have to let life happen. I know this sucks really hard, especially if you’re used to being in control in other areas of your life. But love, flirting and relationships don’t work like that. You need to give other people space to come to you. And yes, that involves the risk of that not happening. I’m sorry, but you need to be willing to take that risk, and trust that if it doesn’t end the way you want, you will be able to survive it. All you can do is to be clear on what it is that you want, be brave enough to convey it to the other person, and then trust life. It’s the only way. Not trusting life, but rather trying to force things into happening will not work. I’m sorry.

Are you taking dating advice from your friends? Should you?

girls-685778_1280I would guess that the most common topic of conversation between many friends is their love lives. Endless conversations, phone calls and coffee breaks are spent analyzing the latest fling, date or text message.

What did the other person mean? Do they like me? Will there be a second date? Is it gonna get serious? Do I like them?

And if things go bad a million other questions get up on the table. What went wrong? Was it me? Can I get them back? Will I ever find someone else?

On and on it goes, and hopefully your friends are there to listen, support and share their advice. It usually makes it all feel better, but I want to challenge how wise it is to listen to your friends in this regard. Cause there are a few problems with that.

1. First of all, do your friends know more than you about successful dating? Or are they just as confused as you? Are you taking advice from someone who means very well, but doesn’t really know what they are talking about? That might not be the best idea.

2. Friends who are successful in their dating life might actually be even worse to ask for advice since they usually have what is called “unconscious competence”, which means that they don’t know what they are doing that is working. To them it actually feels like it just happens when it happens or that all you have to do is be yourself, and it all works out. That’s great for them, but if you are having problems, you need to talk to someone who understands those problems and can explain how to solve them, in an explicit and clear way.

3. Even though your friends know you well, they have probably never been on a date with you. All they hear about your dates is your subjective retelling of it. And they are probably assuming that you are the same awesome person on your dates as you are with them. But are you? Most people behave very differently with their friends versus on a date. And most of us aren’t even aware ourselves about all the weird things we start doing when we get nervous or interested or afraid of being rejected.

Keep this in mind when you are asking your friends for advice  – or when they come to you for advice.

Are you crushing on a friend?

couple-692715_1280Having a crush on a friend can be very frustrating. They’re so close, but still so far away. You obviously like each other, and spend a lot of time together, but it’s a totally different kind of connection than the one you are longing for.

A lot of people talk about “the friend zone” and feel very unlucky when they get stuck there. They have no idea why and sometimes even blame the other person for not liking them the way that they want them to.

But is it really about luck? I don’t think so. If you look at how most people in “the friend zone” behave towards the one they have a crush on, the behave like – you guessed it – a friend. Of course the relationship is going to stay friendly.

If you want the relationship to include something more, you must bring it.
Like this:

Behave like a frend – get treated like a friend.

Behave like a flirt – get treated like a flirt.

If you want to spice things up with your friend, you need to start doing some things differently. You have to make the change, take some risks  and be flirtatious! It’s as simple as that.

And as hard as that, because I know it’s not an easy thing to do. But it’s necessary if you want to create the change.

Here are 3 things you can do to start creating the shift:

1. Increase the amount of physical contact between you two. Initiate hugs, stay close and make body contact a natural thing for you to have.

2. Give compliments, and do it in an ambiguous and flirty way. This will change the dynamics between you two, and you need to stay centered and say it like you mean it, even if your friend starts to wonder what’s happening. Don’t laugh it off, or take it back. Then you move back to where you were.

3. Don’ be your friends relationship coach. From now on you are not available for talking about other people they are seeing. Don’t be rude or anything, just don’t encourage the conversation. Talk about something else.