The Worst Advice I’ve Ever Gotten: Are you making the same small mistake that has huge repercussions

Photo on 8-23-17 at 2.39 PMIt was my freshman year at college. My first day on campus, as I wandered around aimlessly with my roommate looking for the dining hall, I walked by a guy who completely took my breath away. It was the first time I had been struck with the “love at first sight” feeling. He nodded his head in acknowledgement and barely cocked a smile, but my heart raced. I had to know who he was. Was he a freshman, too? Where was he living? I had to meet him somehow….

As the months passed I learned the answers to all my questions. No, he wasn’t a freshman. He was a Sophmore, and living quite close to my dorm. We would cross paths on Thursdays while I was on my way to Spanish. Sometimes I mustered a hello, sometimes just a smile. I knew he was in a Fraternity, and at any chance I got, I attended their parties but only to swoon from afar. I just never got up the courage to introduce myself.

Then, one day, one of my friends grew tired of hearing how much I like this guy and while we were out at a local dive bar, she grabbed his arm and pulled him over. “This is Jessica.” she said. “Jessica, this is hot-guy-you-have-been-pining-over-for-almost-a-year.” No, she didn’t really say that. She said his name, which I’ll keep confidential. Hot guy smiled at me, shook my hand, and said, “You wanna dance?”

The rest of the night was a happy blur of events. I was on cloud nine. Hot guy never left my side, ran to fill my beverage, sat with his arm around me, and then walked me to my car and asked to exchange numbers. I couldn’t believe it. I was officially going to date hot guy and this was the beginning of what would be a beautiful relationship….or so I thought.

A week passed after that night and nothing but crickets. I didn’t leave my dorm for fear I would miss his call and my answering machine would fail me (yes, cell phones were for rich people at this point in time.) On the way to Thursdays Spanish class I saw him standing outside Thompson Hall smoking a cigarette with some friends. He saw me and waved. That was it.

That night, I sat around with some girls that lived on my hall and retold the story of the wonderful night I had the weekend before and how crushed I was that I had not heard from hot guy. Then, one of their boyfriend’s who was sitting nearby eavesdropping came over and gave me what would become known as the worst piece of advice I’ve ever gotten. “Call him,” he said. “He’s probably scared to make a move.” Now, I had been told by my mother repeatedly not to chase boys, so this counsel was met with resistance at first, but the boyfriend continued making his case for why calling hot guy would be a good idea.

“He was drinking and he probably isn’t sure that you’re interested. If he was drunk, he probably lost your number. It’s 1996 and girls call guys now and we like it! It takes the pressure off. You’re in control.” And then he finally added, “It can’t hurt.” So, after 10 minutes of convincing, I picked up the phone and called hot guy.

It did not go well.

His roommate picked up the phone and told me to hold. “Hot guy!” he yelled. “Jessica is on the phone for you!” To which hot guy replied, “Who??” The next two minutes were cringe-worthy. Hot guy got on the phone and we struggled through 120 seconds of conversation. Then he told me his roommate needed to use the phone and he would call me back. He never did.

Even though I was crushed by this incident, and no relationship ever materialized between us, hot guy did me a favor that night by not calling me back. He wasn’t interested in me and although it took a while to get over that fact, at least he didn’t feign attraction or take advantage of my infatuation. My dorm-mates boyfriend convinced me that calling hot guy couldn’t hurt, but if he had taken my call, asked me to come over, hooked up with me and never talked to me again, that would have definitely caused me pain.

I might have been spared, but many single girls today fall into “go-nowhere” relationships with guys and the most of the time, it is due in large part to initiating contact first just as I did. They are under the impression that initiating a simple text to someone they like can’t hurt, but truly, it is this small misstep in the “hanging out” phase that can lead to a girl wasting her time with a guy who’s only moderately interested. It can segue into an unbalanced relationship, and the possibility of being used by someone for a mere steady hook-up.

Reaching out over the phone, email, text, instant messenger, or via some social media site when you are just starting to talk to a guy, not only sends the message that you are chasing him, it also robs you of the opportunity to assess if he is truly interested in pursing a relationship with you. I always tell my coaching clients that they need to read a guy’s buying signs, and those signs will tell you most everything you need to know about his interest. One of the biggest signs is, does he text you first after you’ve seen him? If he does, then he’s likely very interested. If he doesn’t, then he isn’t.

It’s easy to accidentally sabotage a potential relationship by doing something you normally would not do if not for cell phones or the Internet. After my epic fail with hot guy, I never called another boy again. And I’m happy to say, that strategy served me very well for all the years I dated. But most girls today don’t get the clear cut “not interested” sign like I did. Relationship have become more ambiguous and knowing when and what to text someone can be as complicated as a Game of Thrones plotline.

If you need help even on the smallest scale with someone you are hanging out with or dating, you don’t need to hire an expensive dating coach and spend an hour on the phone trying to decode a text and craft one back. I offer quick, inexpensive email advice for these small but critical situations. You can write me up to 800 words, allowing you to give me ample backstory, and within 24 hours, you’ll have a response from me about what you should or should not do. Best of all, you’ll have the peace of mind that you didn’t make an impulsive decision that cost you a chance with your own hot guy.

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“Love Bombing”: The Dangerous Dating Tactic That Can Leave You Brokenhearted

When Jenny met Matt she thought it was true love. Finally, she had found a guy that did everything right. He would text her every day, pick her up at her house, pay for all their dinners, make plans in advance, and lavish her with compliments. He was perfect and after just three weeks, he was already saying those three little words.

So imagine Jenny’s surprise when after six weeks of dating, things started to change. The daily texts stopped first, and she began reaching out to him instead. Then the planning in advance came to a halt and it was all last minute, or late night get- togethers to “watch Netflix and Chill”. And finally, the amorous professions of love ended, and Jenny was left wondering where they stood.

“I feel like I need to have the DTR talk,” Jenny said to me one day. (That’s slang for Determine the Relationship.)
“I don’t think so,” I told her. “I think you know where your relationship stands. The question is, are you okay with it?”
“I was okay with it when he was paying more attention to me. Now I feel like I’m just there. How do I get him to be like he was before?” She asked me.
“Jenny, you’ve been “Love Bombed.” And the only thing you can do now is either accept the relationship for where it is now, or don’t accept it and move on.”

What Is Love Bombing?

Love bombing is when a guy attempts to win you over with over-the-top displays of attention and affection, but then, after a matter of weeks that all stops. Love Bombing happens frequently in today’s culture because technology makes it so easy to “bomb” someone with words of affection and future promises without having to do anything more than lift a finger (or more accurately; two thumbs.) Some love bombing is normal. When a guy first meets a girl, and is attracted to her, he will naturally want to impress her by going above and beyond her expectations. As the relationship settles down a bit, and the two become a couple, however, the avid pursuit to “win” her over wanes, but should be replaced by a happy, contented relationship. The problem with Love Bombing happens when either the girl doesn’t know how to be in a relationship, and demands the constant attention and reassurance that Love Bombing provides, or the guy is using “LB” as a technique to sleep with a girl or get her attached to him for his own selfish purposes.

How To Spot A Serial Love Bomber

Jenny eventually learned that Matt was a serial Love Bomber, and routinely came on strong with all his other girlfriends. He wasn’t a bad guy, he just had a habit of coming being overly effusive when he wasn’t yet in a relationship. But not all guys are like Matt, and some will Love Bomb you just to get what they want, and then leave you confused, disappointed, and still very single.

It’s important to be able to know when you are being “Love Bombed” and to remain skeptical if you see any of the following signs within the first few weeks:

– He texts you “Good Morning, Beautiful” every morning and “Good Night, Beautiful” every night, even though you just met (or haven’t met in person.)

– He talks about future plans, vacations, and even marriage and you’ve only been on a handful of dates.

– He comments or likes all your posts the minute you post them.

– In almost every communication with you, he flatters you.

– He professes his feelings right from the start and tells you he’s “never felt this way about anyone” and “can’t believe he met someone (you) that is so beautiful, special, smart, etc” and “knows already that he wants to spend the rest of his life with you.”

Be wary of Love Bombers because they can reel you in, sleep with you, and move on without hesitation. If you think you are perpetual victim of Love Bombing and need professional help, please email me about coaching at coach@jessmccann.com. Love Bombers are notoriously looking for “soft targets” – women with low self-esteem that they can bomb and manipulate. Don’t let yourself be a victim again.

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Four Phrases That Can Save Your Relationship

newlovehateThings aren’t good. In fact, they are really, really bad between you two. The love and companionship you once had seems like a thing of the past and now your days are filled with arguments, tears, and misunderstandings. Maybe you’ve tried for so long that you are almost ready to give up, or perhaps you are afraid that the one you love might give up on you. What I know is that most couples who want to stay together make a consorted effort to do so, however, the things they try are usually ineffective.

Since communication is key to any healthy, happy relationship, most end up failing not due to lack of love but lack of understanding, empathy, and appreciation. And it’s not necessarily because we don’t possess those things, but because we don’t effectively communicate them to each other.

I’ve compiled a list of the 5 most important phrases that can turn around even the most broken of relationships.

1. How Can I Help?
When is the last time you said these words to your partner? Maybe you’ve been so caught up in having him or her do things for you that you haven’t thought about what you can do for them. This phrase is especially helpful if you use it at the very time you feel yourself about to get into yet another argument because your boy/girlfriend is in a bad mood and taking it out on you. Imagine that he comes home from a long day, doesn’t greet you with open arms, and immediately jumps down your throat for something trivial because he’s just had it with crappy job, shitty boss, or anything that is unrelated to you. You could get your panties in a bunch, defend yourself and retort with some snide come back, or you can recognize that his bad attitude is actually a cry for help.

2. What Would You Like Me To Do or Say?
Said honestly and not sarcastically, this statement can save you a ton of time and frustration. Most of the time we think we are hearing people accurately (when we are not) and then we decide on what action to take based on that inaccurate assessment (which ends up doing nothing for them.) To get to the point, and start making positive changes right away, just ask your partner what they need from you instead of guessing.

3. You’re Right.
I find this phrase is more effective than the ever-popular “I’m Sorry.” It may be because “I’m sorry” is over-used, or sometimes said half-heartedly, but “You’re Right” hardly ever goes wrong. The key with these two words is, again, in timing. When your partner is telling you how they feel, citing places where you could improve, don’t jump to point your finger back at them and start listing examples of where they, too, could improve. Instead just sit there, listen, and say, “Your Right.” This is usually so disarming that it stuns the other person into softening up immediately. Then, you can have your turn to vent your frustrations.

4. I appreciate that you…
This one speaks for itself. It’s been said by numerous experts that the number one reason people leave relationships or cheat on their spouses is lack of appreciation, not lack of love. So how important do you think it is to actually say the words, “I appreciate”? Yeah, pretty important. It doesn’t matter what it is that you appreciate either… emptying the dishwasher, sending a sweet text, remembering an important date, whatever it is, just tell the one you love that you appreciate their efforts.

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Does He Spark Joy? Is this the only question you need to ask in your relationship?

Recently I had lunch with best-selling author and good friend of mine, Heather Maclean. She was in town for a quick visit and luckily had time to see her old reality TV friend. As we caught up over a spicy chicken pizza, the topic inevitably turned to books. One that seem to be all the rage today is The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, which Heather had just finished and I had just started. Although the book had many interesting and unique tips and advice on how to declutter your life, the one that stood out the most to her was the practice of sorting through your things, holding them up and asking yourself one question…”Does this spark joy?”

Being a purger myself, and always looking for new ways to organize, I really loved this technique. After all, at the end of the day, isn’t that the best reason to keep something in your life? Because it brings you happiness? As Heather and I chatted on about the author’s brilliant rumination, we began brainstorming what other areas could this simple question be applied? Dozens, apparently. It could work for the small things like selecting music to buy, as well as the bigger things, as in what career path to choose. Of course, it didn’t take long for me to consider if this could also work for relationships. So many of my clients contact me when their relationship is in a state of flux, looking for guidance on whether they should work to save it or walk away. They agonize over their pros and cons list, lament over the few things they can’t seem to change, and vacillate between starting all over and just sticking it out. The question they always ask me in the end is, “What should I do?”, and perhaps now would be a good time to answer their question with a question. If a relationship no longer sparks joy, then what purpose is it serving anyway?

Most people, even those in volatile relationships, might jump to defend themselves when posed the joy question. “Yes, it brings me joy!” They might say. “It just also frustrates me, makes me sad at times, and forces me to do more cyber stalking than I’d like.” The key it seems would be making sure you truly understand the meaning of the word joy. Because if a relationship is bringing you a significant amount of pain, it’s likely that what you think of as “joy” is really the pleasure portion of the pleasure-pain cycle taking it’s turn. (If I’m losing you, just bear with me.) Joy is a feeling that arises from within you, and pleasure is something that is always tied to something outside of you. Pleasure is not ever in our control and therefore, can instantly turn to pain when it goes away or changes on us. (For example, we might feel great about our relationship until we send a little text and don’t get an immediate response. Suddenly, all the warm and fuzzy feelings fade and we are in a flat spin of negative emotions.) Of course, we might be sad when a relationship ends, and that doesn’t mean it didn’t bring us joy. It’s natural to feel brokenhearted when love is lost. It’s while you are currently in the relationship that this question must be asked. If you are truly in love, and with the right person, then joy should arise despite little (and some big) bumps in the road. Regardless of his annoying habits, or her idiosyncrasies, you should really feel immense joy within yourself just be being around the other person. If, however, what you mostly feel is stress, anxiety, and a constant rollacoaster of emotions, then it’s likely that this relationship is not sparking joy.

I have seen too many of my single female clients stick out a relationship that strikes more fear than anything else. The joy they claim to feel is really just a brief buzz when anxiety is absent and the guy is “being nice” for a change. In cases like this, the joy question is definitely a fitting one. What about couples that are married, and have been married for many years though? Does the question still apply so fittingly after kids, second mortgages, ailing parents, and the many other responsibilities that lean heavily on a relationship? Is the joy question too simple, and too flippant for all that a marriage is? Can we really boil down it’s worth to such a simple yes or no question? At this point, to me, the query is not one of evaluation anymore, but more so a reminder that the reason we chose to be in together in the first place was because life is inevitably better when it’s shared with someone, and joy is something we do have control over. So after years of being together, if our relationship isn’t sparking joy anymore, we can take a look at ourselves and ask why not, and what can we do to reignite it? The answer to that may not be so straightforward, but it does spark thought, self-awareness, and reflection…and none of those things are bad.

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Same Fight, Different Day: One little change that can make a big impact when communicating with your partner

“We just can’t seem to stop fighting,” he told me. “And when we do stop, and try to figure out how not to fight again, we get into another fight!”

I was sitting across from a newly married couple, attempting to save their marriage. The last year had been extremely volatile and they were both at their wits end. They didn’t know how to reach each other, make the other understand their side, and move on from whatever problem they were having. It’s not that they fought about everything, in fact, they had only had three fights over the last year. The problem was that they fought numerous times about those three things. I had talked to them each separately, and now we were all together trying to work through their issues and get to a final resolution.

Finally, we made some headway and the husband and wife came to terms with how to handle their communication going forward. But just as we were about to part ways, the husband brought up something the wife had said in one of their fights; something she had insisted she didn’t say.

“Absolutely you said that!” He insisted quite loudly.

“That isn’t what I said at all,” she shouted back, and then recounted her side of the story for the third time that day.

As I listened to them go back and forth, and watched both tempers rise again, it became pretty clear why they kept repeating the same arguments.

I asked the husband why he brought up what his wife had said when we had already discussed a plan to move forward from this particular argument. He stated that they needed to get the facts straights. It drove him crazy that she said certain things and then just forgot or denied that she said them. After all, what she said started the fight to begin with, in his opinion. The wife just sat there, shaking her head while he told me this.

“Why is it so important to you that she admit what she said?” I asked. “Since you have already resolved the argument and decided on how to move forward, what point is there in bringing up something she said during your fight? Are you looking for her to admit she made a mistake? Do you want an apology from her? What is your goal here?” I asked him.

He looked stunned for a second and drew a blank. He wasn’t sure. Why was he going over things she said when we had all come to a resolution on the problem. Like most couples, and the husband in particular in this case, they both had trouble letting go of things. This time, something the wife had either said, implied, or something the husband had inferred had hurt his feelings and angered him, and now he wanted her to admit her wrongdoing.

The Future Is More Important Than The Past

The problem with most feuds is that in the heat of an argument most people don’t say, or remember things that were said, accurately. Most of the time, their words are motivated by raw emotion and because of that we may not speak as clearly as we think we do and we certainly don’t hear as unbiasedly as we could. So, while it might make sense to go over exactly how a fight went down in order to figure out how to avoid it in the future, rarely do both sides remember an argument exactly the same way. That’s why rehashing your version and badgering the other person to concede, is pointless. What makes the most sense, and gets the fastest resolution is stating how you interpreted what they said and how they made you feel. And on the flip side, apologizing quickly for how your words came across.

Communication isn’t as easy as just saying whatever is on your mind, unfortunately. With a relationship, it’s mostly about learning how the other person interprets messages. Some people you can be quite blunt with, and with others you have to be more tactful. Certain people take offense easily, and others have a thicker skin. Learning each others “hot button words” and avoiding them is particularly helpful when having a disagreement. As is trying to remain objective and unemotional, even though the fight likely began because someone’s feelings were hurt. It’s not easy to do, but if you can try to remember you are both on the same team and work with, instead of against each other to find a solution, you’ll find you yourselves making amends much quicker.

The last thing I told this couple was for each of them to be mindful of the words they used to express their emotions. There would be a lot less to work through and forgive if they simply fought “above the belt” in the first place. That way, the past wouldn’t stick to them as easily, and their emotional wounds wouldn’t take so long to heal either. It’s human nature to meet anger with anger and lash out at someone when they are lashing out at you, but staying rooted in love even when you’re upset can make a world of difference in how your altercations play out. So, if your partner starts yelling and making verbal blows, don’t rise to meet him. Instead, bring him back to your level by remaining clam, grounded, and thoughtful about your ultimate goal… which shouldn’t be to unload frustration, but to get both of you to a better place of understanding going forward.

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Too Much Fighting? How do you stop the daily bickering with your spouse?

Dear Jess,
I have a problem that I cannot seem to solve. Lately, my husband and I have been getting into a lot of fights with each other over absolutely nothing. The fights start small but blow up into an all out, days long, brawl. I know fighting can be healthy, but the kind of fighting we are doing can’t be good. Yet, it just keeps happening. For instance, the other day my husband and I were driving somewhere and suddenly he yelled, “Get over! You’re not supposed to be in this F’ing lane! What are you doing?!?” To which I snapped back, “Can you just let me drive?!” And he said, “No, I obviously can’t because your not doing it correctly.” And I said, “Who died and made you president of the DMV? If I’m driving badly it’s your fault for stressing me out!”
The fight snowballed from there and we didn’t speak for three days. I just don’t know why we get so mad at each other and how to stop it. Any advice?
Thanks,
Fighting in Frederick

Hi FIF,
Sorry to hear this. Fighting is only good when it’s productively resolving a serious issue, and whether or not you are a bad driver doesn’t sound like one to me. If you really want to stop these petty arguments, you are going to have to be the bigger person and not indulge when your hubby kicks them off. Like most people, it sounds like you are both arguing with each other just to save face, and not to defend any particular position. If you notice that a large part of your bickering consists of making the other person wrong or feel bad, then you aren’t arguing – you are just criticizing and condemning. The first step for you is to not jump on an opportunity to chastise your husband because he last chastised you. Then, what will be even more difficult is to not engage the next time he wags his finger at you for something trivial. For example if he yells, “Get over! You’re not supposed to be in this F’ing lane. What are you doing?!” Instead of yelling back, remain calm and give him the opportunity to hear his own words loudly echo in the air. Don’t respond verbally. Just sigh, turn on your blinker, and get over. Let his words and be the last ones he hears so he can realize how obnoxious, angry, or hurtful they sound. If you yell back he won’t get that because he will hear your words instead which only provoke him to keep arguing. I know you are likely snapping back and him because you don’t want him to think he can scream at you and get away with it, but the truth is, that is why you end up in a screaming match. It will be more effective if you use silence instead of any words. Then, keep your conversation with him to a minimum for the next hour or so. Answer if he talks to you, but let your attitude be clear – you aren’t happy with him.

You don’t need to vocally meet your husband half way to teach him a lesson. You’ll get through to him much quicker if you don’t engage when his temper flies high. Just realize that when he comes at you with tongues a blazing, it isn’t because of something you are doing – it’s because he’s in a bad mood. And when most people are in a mood, they try their best to suck other people into it, too. Let him be in the mood all by himself. Let him feel isolated and alone for his remarks. This is how he will recognize the error of his way and help you to end the frequent feuding.

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