Archives for November 2006

Relationship Tips: 16 Practical Dramatic Ways to Know if He/She is REALLY Changing

Every relationship hits a snag, or worse, a major crisis (such as infidelity), that demands significant change if the relationship is to survive.

So…there are promises to change and the two of you embark upon a new path. You watch carefully.

“Can I trust this change? Is it permanent? temporary? How long will it last? Is he/she REALLY changing?”

Good questions. Here are 16 ways to know if the change is going to last:

1. You notice opposite behaviors and nonverbal communication. Passivity becomes activity. Recklessness transforms into thoughtfulness. Aloofness turns into engagement.

2. You find yourself surprised. “Hmmmm, this hasn’t happened before, but is really nice! I wonder where this came from? But, I will take it!”

3. He/she expresses more curiosity about you, about him/her self and others. He/she observes more closely what happens in relationships, without criticism or defensiveness.

4. You feel that somehow there has been a shifting of gears. There is a different rhythm or flow in the relationship. Much less effort. Much less tension.

5. You find yourself noticing how differently he/she talks. The words seem different. The emotional tone of the words seem different.

6. The negative times, where you felt very stuck, helpless and hopeless, are less intense, happen less often and you seem to have more effective ways to move out of those times more quickly.

7. Your gut (intuition) tells you that this is ok. You begin to trust that part of you more implicitly. A part of you is clapping and cheering inside!

8. He/she seems to have more direction and purpose. Less drifting. He/she seems to be driven more by internal desires and wishes rather than reacting to people or external circumstances. He/she takes up interesting hobbies or finds more enthusiasm for career.

9. The changes seem to be more consistent and carry over for a longer period of time. More stability. Fewer swings. You seem more consistently on the right path.

10. More concern is expressed for family, children and close friends.

11. Words such as: “I promise. I’ll try. Or, I’m going to…” are NOT in his/her vocabulary.

12. Moments of effusive crying, tear letting and chest beating are gone. Apologies are past and there is a sense of working right here right now to create what we want down the line.

13. You hear no blaming of others. He/she does NOT make others responsible for his/her actions. You sense that he/she is intent upon responsibly creating his/her world.

14. There is good eye contact.

15. He/she is taking great steps toward self care both physically, emotionally and spiritually. He/she can state what he/she needs and negotiate with you to get those needs met. At the same time, your personal needs are considered.

16. You worry much less about what will happen next.

Extramarital Affair – He Won’t Stop Seeing the OP (Other Person): Says I Need “Patience”

My husband admitted to the affair, but yet he still continues to contact this person and has asked me to be patient. He said he will need to get her “out of his system” and to give him some time. How do you handle that?

My Response:

Ending the relationship with the OP is often a gradual process.

For example, in the 7th kind of affair I describe (I want to be close to someone…which means I can’t stand intimacy), ending the affair often takes time. Yes! No! On again! Off again is the scenario.

Affairs also lolly gag for those who are “in love”…and just love being “in love” or My Marriage Made me Do it.

So, in particular kinds of affairs, expect a roller coaster ride. You don’t have to like it. But be prepared. Breaking off an affair relationship, as in no more contact, may take weeks.

So, let’s assume this is your case. Here are a few things to do:

1. You are entitled to set some limits. Keep clarifying the limits, but don’t make them ultimatums. You don’t want to paint yourself into a corner, especially with this kind of affair. Experiment with phrases such as: “This is extremely difficult for me. I refuse to share you with another person. And, I know it is difficult for you. But, at some point I will draw a line in the sand.”

2. “Get at” the specific issues. Ask, “What does it mean to “get it out of your system?” What are a couple or three things you need to “get it out of your system?” (If he/she is open to this exploration, the prognosis is good.)

3. If he/she is reluctant to go there, throw out suggestions. “Is he/she controlling you?” (very often the case). “Does it feel good to be wanted by two people?” “Waffling like this seems to be theme in your life?” “Are you afraid to face the hurt? Are you afraid to lose something?” Allow your voice to trail at the end. Do not be dogmatic. Open the door for discussion.

4. See this as his/her problem. (I know! I know! Easier said than done!) Define your standards. Get your personal needs met. Begin to design the future for you. And tell him/her, “I would like to make it with you, but if not, I will certainly create something wonderful for me.”

5. Notice the changes in your relationship. Do you see a movement toward what you really want? Are patterns changing? Is their more effective, in-depth, heartfelt communication? Sometimes the larger picture is comforting.

6. Surround yourself with people who accept and listen to you. Friends/family often blurt out: Get rid of the #$%#$! They fail to understand the complexity and long-term process.

Remember, affairs are exceedingly complex and don’t go away easily. You will never forget, although the pain and memories fade over time. As well, it takes, on the average, 2-4 years for most couples to work through effectively the trauma.

Emotional Infidelity: Lover or Just Friends?

A common plea: But, we’re “just friends.” However the “emotional connection” is quite obvious by the amount of time spent in communication and the “vibes” that are set off.

These emotional connections often arise at work or in a social context in which working intensively toward a common goal consumes energy.

Here are a few observations of the “just friends” emotional affair:

1. This person often struggles knowing where to draw the line. S/he often throws him/herself into something 100%. Other aspects of his/her life may suffer or be ignored. There often is a lack of personal balance between family, work, self care.

2. He/she struggles with intimacy. (I want to be close to someone, but don’t like intimacy.) The “just friends” emotional affair means neither spouse nor OP (other person) ever get “intimate.” Neither relationship is fully consummated or has potential for growth.

3. Of course the “just friends” comment means either “stay away” or I’m, underneath all this, really confused about where I fit in relationships, what I want from them, or what they mean to me. There is an “emotional connection” to the OP that defies description. A sad kind of “stuckness or lostness.”

The lover or “falling in love” emotional affair has a different twist.

The common complaint to the partner is: “I feel badly about this, and I don’t want to hurt you, but, I’m not “in love” with you anymore. “I love you but I’m not in love.” This often indicates:

1. This person usually has a need for drama and excitement. Life easily becomes a soap opera. Emotional juice from the fall-out of emotionally intense relationships reigns rather than living life from the core of who one is.

2. The person “looking for love?? is actually looking for the ideal, someone out there, who will project back to him/her that he/she is OK. No, more than OK, close to perfect.

3. This person needs to be adored, or think another adores him/her, because there is a lack of inner strength and solid identity. The other becomes my world, because I lack a world. Being “in love?? is the panacea for my emptiness.

4. This type of affair often occurs when there is a “lull?? in the marriage relationship. The responsibility of raising children, starting and maintaining a career, paying bills, etc. become the focal point for the couple. Romance becomes a foreign word.

There are many many subtle differences in affairs. Emotional affairs are only one kind. Once you begin to see and understand the differences, a new sense of empowerment overtakes you embark on a more confident path of resolution.

This type of affair is one of seven is one of seven described in Break Free From the Affair.