BOOKS FOR 2017

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Why Am I Still Single?

By Dr Chloe Carmichael

"Why am I still single?" It's a question I hear a lot in my practice. As a clinical psychologist in New York City, I work with many successful clients - while they're really good at getting things done in their professional lives, their dating life is either nonexistent or chaotic.

If you're anything like my clients, you may at times feel frustrated because while you believe you've done all the right things to find the right person, you don't understand why it isn't happening. If you feel like you hit a wall when it comes to dating when you're otherwise confident and successful, see if what's holding you back is one of these top reasons that I find my clients often struggle with.

1. Your idea of being open to dating someone different means they have a different favorite color.

OK, I'm being a little facetious here, but I do see a lot of clients who rule out potential matches over things that are actually really minor in the context of lifelong partnership - whether because of a height that's less than ideal, political views that don't match perfectly, or even a grasp of the hottest nightclubs. Remember that in a partnership, the way you manage the areas where you differ is actually very important. Try to boil down a short list of your absolute essentials in dating (aim for 3 to 4 qualities, such as "kind-hearted, wants marriage/kids, successful, physically fit") and then do your best to let the other things fade into the background so that chemistry has a chance to develop.

2. You come across as critical without even realizing it.

Some of my clients have a way of presenting themselves that makes them look and sound critical: They squint their eyes and use a dismissive tone of voice, or they don't make a lot of eye contact, smile, or demonstrate a lot of interest or excitement in the world around them. The interesting part is that when asked if something is wrong, these types of people seem genuinely surprised. They aren't depressed - this is just their normal way of presenting themselves.

Why do they do this? There are all kinds of reasons why someone could come to present themselves in a way that others experience as closed off. Maybe they're insecure and take on a dismissive air because they're afraid of being rejected, for example.

Because I'm meeting them as a psychologist rather than a potential friend or date, I am undeterred by all this - even if they give me terse answers or quizzical "umm's," I continue to show interest in them, try to engage them, and draw them out. Usually, this is all it takes - after five to ten minutes of me being super-nice and reassuring, they come out of their shell and actually turn out to be really sweet people. However, I'm not surprised when they complain that their dating life is stalled and that they can't seem to attract a positive and enthusiastic partner.

I'm not saying that people should be false and pretend to be the Happiest Person Ever on dates, but it's important to let your date see you in your best light. Start by making sure you arrive in clean clothing in flattering colors, styled hair, and wearing a little makeup. Then once there, smile and say something positive about the setting or the weather. Don't put yourself or your date down, even in jest, and remember: First dates aren't the time to open up about your abusive boss, mounting credit card bills, or your psycho roommate. One more how-to on letting date see you in your best light: Before the date, scan a newspaper so you can talk about current events like art exhibits, local news, or whatever piques your interest. This gives you a way to share yourself in a way that is confident and relatable; and it can prime the conversation pump so you and your date can have fun getting to know one another!

Human beings have something called mirror neurons - whatever emotion you're displaying, your date's mirror neurons will actually respond as if he is feeling your emotions. So if you're focused on negative things, your date's mirror neurons could give him a negative feeling, resulting in a closed or withdrawn facial expression. This, in turn, causes your mirror neurons to give you a negative feeling back about him. The good news is that by focusing on positive things, the mirror neuron circle will work in a positive way for both of you. And you will actually be doing yourself a favor if you give the date a chance to succeed by deliberately projecting an open, positive attitude.

3. You run your dating life like a boardroom.

Many of my female clients are very successful at work, and they are accustomed to getting what they want in their professional lives. What they want in their personal lives often includes a man who is at least as successful as they are, taller than they are, and who will pursue them. But it's sometimes difficult for these women to actually let the man take the lead like they say they want him to do. Just to make it clear, I'm not telling these women that they need to let a man pursue them; these women are telling me that they're frustrated by men who don't pursue them.

So what's the problem? While they like the idea in theory of letting a man pursue them, they get very frustrated if he doesn't pursue them on their timeline and in the manner of their preference. They have "talks" with men who they don't feel are "doing enough" - much like they'd have a chat with an underperforming employee.

But you cannot dictate pursuit. You cannot complain to someone that he isn't pursuing you. If you do, then he's only pursuing because you told him to, in which case he is following your directions - which is almost the opposite of pursuit.

If you want to call the shots, fine with me - I'm not here to judge, I'm here to help clients get (almost) whatever they want! But if you want him to lead, you can't tell him how to do it. This doesn't mean you have to sit around waiting, though. If he isn't pursuing you the way you want, date others who will! But don't tell him to pursue you and then feel surprised when you're both sensing the awkward tension that will inevitably arise.

Telling a man to pursue you is like telling him how to lead. By doing so, you are actually leading - and depriving yourself of what you're really craving.

4. You over-invest in a man who hasn't even asked you to be in a relationship.

The reason many women have trouble just distancing themselves from a man who isn't pursuing them is because they've over-invested themselves in the relationship before the man has earned the investment. They've quit dating other people simply because their "favorite" is requesting a lot of dates.

What they don't think about is that just going on five or six really fun dates where each time you go a little further physically is totally enticing to men, but it doesn't mean anything in terms of the man's interest or ability to make a commitment. It can get even more confusing if the man has been saying things like, "I see myself getting married and settling down sometime in the next few years." The women sometimes misinterpret this as having a talk about his goals and interests pertaining to them specifically.

Like it or not, women have a biological tendency to become commitment-oriented sooner than men when they start having great sex (oxytocin - we've all heard about it!). So if you're having great sex and the man mentions the future, perhaps even invites you to a friend's wedding or to meet his parents when they visit him next month, your heart can quickly go in limbo.

My advice: If you meet someone special, consider taking things really s-l-o-w. Don't quit dating other people till he asks you, and if he doesn't ask you, take that as information about either a) his interest in you, b) his interest in commitment, or c) his ability to pursue and go after what he wants. A man must demonstrate ALL of the above if you're looking for a committed relationship with someone who pursues you. This is what 99% of my female dating clients specifically tell me they want (a man who will pursue them), and if that's you too, these tips may help you.

5. You haven't let go of your ex.

Are you in a pattern of being "just friends" with someone you recently broke up with? If so, the texts, phone calls, and get-togethers could be holding you back from giving yourself wholeheartedly to single life and moving forward. If this is you, it's time to leave the past behind. Instead of letting someone with whom a relationship hasn't worked take up all your mental space, why not let go and direct your focus toward the possibility of a new relationship that will potentially be even better that the last?

6. You're afraid.

Fear is a sneaky thing that could be sabotaging your love life without you even realizing. Dating requires vulnerability, and putting yourself out there without quite knowing what you'll get in return can be scary. If you haven't had the rosiest of endings in your past relationships, you could be looking at potential dates or new relationships from a fearful lens - whether the fear is being rejected or falling for the wrong person again.

Fears like these aren't uncommon, but if left unexplored, they can eventually evolve into a reason to consciously or subconsciously avoid dating altogether. If you've caught yourself wondering whether you should even bother giving someone a chance because it probably won't work out anyway, fear could be holding you back.

If you know deep down that the fear is actually more about your own difficulty becoming vulnerable, then encourage yourself to open up slowly - chances are, your fear of intimacy is running alongside a fear of being alone, so give yourself a chance to try something new. And if you know you have a pattern of choosing people who are unavailable, unreliable, or otherwise hurtful, then your fear is actually serving as a helpful reminder to you that you need to get support in choosing healthy dates. Support can come in many forms, such as self-help books, good friends, family, or therapy. One of the most effective treatments for overcoming anxiety and fear is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), specifically, so speak with a mental health professional about it. You owe it to yourself to give love a chance this Valentine's Day - and beyond!

Happy Birthday Wishes 

We want to Take a moment to wish all those born in the month of August a Happy Birthday.



Don't Feel Chemistry With Nice Guys? Here's How to Change That!

By Dr Chloe Carmichael 

Have you ever felt frustrated that you seem to get hopelessly "head over heels" for unavailable men, yet find yourself hopelessly impervious to the advances of nice guys who are genuinely available and ready for a serious relationship? Would you like to change this pattern so you can finally start enjoying a great relationship and quit wasting time with men who play hot-and-cold with your emotions? Keep reading to see how the science of psychology can come to your rescue!

In a classic study of social psychology, Dutton and Aron conducted an intriguing study in which a female experimenter stood at the end of two different bridges, and asked random men who crossed the bridge to tell a short story as part of a psychology experiment. The first bridge was a safe, sturdy bridge ten feet over a calm rivulet- we'll call that one the "safe bridge" for our purposes here. The second bridge was rickety, scary bridge that traversed a 230-foot drop to rocks and rapids- we'll keep it simple and call that one the "scary bridge" here. What the researchers found was that the men who crossed the scary bridge were more likely to use sexual or romantic imagery in their stories. These men who crossed the scary bridge were also more likely to rate the female experimenter as attractive, even though it was actually the same woman at the end of both bridges.

Why did the men crossing the scary bridge tell more sexual or romantic stories and rate the female experimenter as more attractive than the men who crossed the safe bridge? Results suggest that these men misattributed their arousal symptoms (such as increased heart rate or sweaty palms) that arose from crossing a highly stimulating, albeit somewhat scary bridge to romantic or sexual attraction for the woman.

This study may explain a phenomenon I've seen in my practice. Many of my female clients complain that they don't feel chemistry with nice guys; yet find themselves drawn to men who are unpredictable and keep them guessing (I also occasionally see this in my male clients). If you experience this in your own dating life, you will want to learn how to see good guys as more exciting and the not-so-good guys as less so. Keep reading for tips on how to do this!

Make a List

Your first step will be to make a list of Scary Bridge behaviors. Scary Bridge behaviors are behaviors that are undesirable in a dating partner, and which therefore may result in considerable worry or irritation for you. Unfortunately, this worry or irritation can often be misattributed as attraction for the man who is provoking the worry or irritation. That is why it's important to identify these behaviors so you can recognize them as they occur. Your list may include the following:

Showing up late to a date (even if for a good reason- any type of lateness can increase anticipation, which increases physiological arousal)

Canceling a date at the last minute (again, even if for a good reason- the point here isn't to evaluate his reasons, just to notice the effect of the behavior on your physiological arousal)

Suggesting a date but failing to make clear plans with you or keeping you guessing about exactly when/where the date will occur

Telling you he isn't sure if he's ready for a relationship

It's important not to get stuck in trying to evaluate whether his reasons are "good" or not for the behaviors above. To your body, it makes no difference- if there are sudden changes or periods of uncertainty, your level of physiological arousal can get heightened. We all have occasional last-minute emergencies, but if you're dating someone who seems to have an endless array of issues (sick mother, emergency meeting, been hurt in the past, the list goes on... and on... and on... ), consider that his unavailability could actually be creating drama that ironically actually makes him more tantalizing.

In addition to your Scary Bridge list, you will also want to make a list of Safe Bridge behaviors. These are behaviors which you may have previously seen as sappy or boring, but which are often found in good guys. Your list of Safe Bridge behaviors may include the following:

Showing up to a first date with flowers

Offering to pick you up or see you home

Arriving on time for dates

Ending a date with plans to see you again

Making it clear that he is smitten with you (nice but cheesy text messages, nervous laughter, sweaty palms, finding himself tongue-tied in an awkward silence, nervous about first kiss, etc)

Reading this, you may be thinking that you do like it when a guy does some of the Safe Bridge things above, yet you still find yourself attracted to unavailable men. But consider the context of those behaviors. If you find yourself attracted to men who do Safe Bridge behaviors inconsistently, these behaviors may excite you mainly due to their rarity. Intermittent reinforcement is actually the most excitement provoking- this is why casinos set slot machines to give rewards in a randomly ordered manner where the user never knows what to expect, and keeps chasing the rewards. Don't let intermittent reinforcement create a misleading sense of excitement that keeps you trapped in a holding pattern with a Mr Wrong who plays hot-and-cold with your emotions or your schedule.

Re-Slot Behaviors

After making your list of Scary Bridge and Safe Bridge behaviors, you will next want to change the way you see these behaviors. While you may find Scary Bridge behaviors to be exciting or signs that a man must be "hard to get" or "just so busy and successful" or "really cool and not rushing things", you will want to re-slot these behaviors as flaky, non-assertive, and undesirable. The goal is to get to the point where you can roll your eyes at these behaviors rather than getting tantalized by them.

You will also want to re-slot Safe Bridge Behaviors. Below are some ideas on how to see nice guys as more exciting:

Think about how thrilling it would be to get engaged or to plan a wedding. How can the cheap excitement that flaky guys provide compare to the thrill of being in a deep relationship that leads to marriage?

Do something a little scary with your date, such as going to a horror movie. Should you misattribute your fear as attraction for your date in this context, it would be a positive thing!

Come up with a sexual fantasy to imagine while on a date with Mr Nice Guy. If you need help coming up with ideas, you might try searching online for erotica or porn till you find something that really excites you- it should feel naughty, forbidden, or whatever it takes to get your heart racing. When you go on a date with a nice guy who might feel so safe that he's a little boring, call the fantasy material mind while you focus your gaze on your date. This will help arouse your body and make you more open to advances from Mr Nice Guy.

If you are able to successfully re-slot Safe and Scary Bridge behaviors, this could go a long way towards reducing frustration in your dating life. I have seen my clients apply the principles in this article to great success.





Man-to-Man: Advice Column

by Wayne M. Levine

He’s accepting the unacceptable

Dear Wayne,

Wayne M. Levine, M.A., mentors men to be better men, husbands and fathers. Email your questions to MantoMan@BetterMen.org. See how you can become a better man at www.BetterMen.org. 

©2013 BetterMen®



CALENDARS FOR 2017


Single and Waiting

By Connie Jackson 

Are you waiting for your Boaz? If you don't know who Boaz is, he is a character from the Book of Ruth in the Bible. Boaz was a wealthy landowner. He noticed a foreigner named Ruth, took interest in her and immediately began to protect her. He found favor in her because of her kindness and Godly qualities. He instructed his male servants not to lay a hand on her and treated her like a queen. He knew that she was the woman for him when he first saw her. Today, many Christian women compare his qualities to those of the man they want in a husband; a man who will take care, protect, and treat them like queens.

Whether you haven't met him yet or you think you have but you are still technically single, you may often find yourself wondering either "where is he?!" or "when is he going to ask me to marry him?!" Simply based on our feelings of readiness, we place all the blame on him.

I want to make a suggestion that perhaps this man is chosen for us by God and this chosen King will come when the Queen is really and truly ready. Just because we are tired of the single life, we feel like we are ready to settle down, we are in love or have met the man of our dreams does not mean we are ready for the purpose that God intends us to execute as a match for His chosen Boaz. We need to be open and ready to receive this man, emotionally healthy so that we have something to offer. Here are a few things to consider while waiting for your future hubby to arrive:

#1 Stop blaming him for not being able to fulfill your need to get married just because you feel you are ready! Everything happens for a reason and maybe the reason that you are waiting is because you are not as ready as you think.

#2 Dig deep. Take a look at yourself and ask if there is anything that you can work on to make yourself the very best you there is to offer. Are there any childhood troubles that haunt you or hold you back? Are there secrets that you have never discussed that have negatively shaped you into who you are today? Did you pick up a couple of undesirable traits from your parents that you wish you hadn't? What about past relationships that you still hold resentment or shame about? Now is the time to reflect and face any demons or excess baggage that you carry. Try counseling or therapy and prayer to help you talk about it. This will not be easy, but God is watching, and sometimes He won't allow you to move forward because He needs you to drop some things from your past. These things can get in the way of the role He needs you to play paired with your husband and your purpose. Your marital stagnation may not be Boaz's fault at all. Your future hubby is going to need a helpmate not a patient.

#3 Have you ever really listened to the lyrics of the song "Bag Lady" by Erykah Badu? STOP RIGHT NOW and YouTube it. It's quite deep and the message is clear. The bag lady portrayed in the song isn't carrying physical baggage but the emotional kind. She states "Bag lady you gon' miss your bus, you can't hurry up, cuz you got too much stuff", "one day, he gon' say you crowding my space". The lyrics elude to the fact that carrying too much baggage will delay life progress, slow you down from establishing successful relationships. It can get in the way of a current relationship, creating doubt by your mate that there is enough room for him along with your emotional baggage. Spend this time of waiting, reflecting and challenging yourself to learn more about you and face the tough stuff BEFORE you bind your man into marriage.

#4 It doesn't have to be that deep. If in review of yourself your findings say that you are not emotionally challenged but yet Boaz is still not here, then use the time to check off a few bucket list items. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and amaze yourself about what you thought you could never do. Experience something new, discover new things.

#5 Last but not least Volunteer! Often times when you take the focus off of what you don't have and put it into helping others, God will begin to answer your needs (this is how I met my husband).

My point is, if you take the focus off of him and invest it into yourself NOTHING but good can come out of it. One of three things will happen.

#1 You will distract yourself from the waiting period and next thing you know, your Boaz has arrived.

#2 You learn more about yourself; your confidence level goes through the roof and improves your chances of being noticed by the man of your dreams.

#3 After making all these improvements to yourself you may realize that the guy you were waiting on isn't the Boaz you thought he was and you deserve better. There is definitely nothing wrong with that!

Visit my blog for a unique take on dating, you've tried everything else. Why not? https://expectmoreblog.wordpress.com/


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