How to Ask for More Time for Yourself

Solitude is like an all-inclusive vacation for your soul. It replenishes and rejuvenates; it allows you to breath more slowly, to hear more keenly and to think more clearly. It also helps us be better– better parents, better partners, better employees. Yet even as most of us know this, we struggle to make time to be alone. A date with ourselves. Often, one (or more) of three themes emerge when people explain why they don’t schedule time to be alone: feeling guilty, feeling selfish or not enough time. Privately, the lack of alone-time may also stem from fear.

Our externalized culture emphasizes putting ourselves out there. Extroverts are perceived as fun, friendly and overall much happier. Introverts, on the other hand, are perceived as withdrawn, conceited, sad. Neither description really captures the essence of what it means to be introverted or extroverted, of course, but we fall into these assumptions partly because our society rarely values going inward. Nonetheless, the journey into ourselves is an important one.

In honor of all those people out there who struggle to find “me” time, as well as those who have figured out that the path to success involves “me” time, we’ve identified some shortcuts to carving this time out for yourself:

Put your mind to it

Even if you’re wracked with guilt about taking time for yourself, do it. This is a situation where “fake it till you make it” applies. Recognize that you are a more giving, able person when you find some time to pursue your own passions. Sure, the kids may miss you or there may be something pressing going on at work; nevertheless, it is difficult to give your all without this important dimension to self-care.

Communicate how your relationships will improve

When asking for alone time, explain why the relationship will improve if you create space for yourself. Use phrases that open up the conversation rather than putting the other person on the defense. Instead of saying, “I need a break from you,” try, “I want to be the best person I can for you. To do so, I need time alone to think and unwind.”

Recognize the other person’s needs, too

When seeking alone time, recognize the needs of the person you’re speaking to. If the person expresses a desire for more time with you, evaluate whether you’ve truly been present lately. If the person says he/she is afraid you don’t like them anymore, reflect on whether you’re showing them love in a way they can understand.

Having “me” time allows you to appreciate and enjoy the time you’re with others more. It refreshes your outlook on life and allows you to see more clearly. Carving out time for yourself is an important way to affirm that you matter. Even if it’s a mere 15 minutes a day, strive to schedule in some time for yourself every day.

Let us help. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Things to Think About Before You Move In Together

Making the decision to move in together is a really big step in any relationship. If you are discussing moving in with your current partner, odds are that it is the most important, and perhaps most serious, discussion you have ever had. Beyond obvious red flag issues, there are some specific practical problems and emotional issues that have to be sorted out before you should move in together. Here are some of the questions you should discuss before taking the next step.

  • What is your motivation for living together?

Living together is the most common step couples take when they want to increase the level of intimacy and commitment in a relationship. Unfortunately, not all relationships are symmetrical, meaning that in many relationships one person involved is more serious and committed than the other. Sometimes, the more committed person in the relationship will put pressure on the other to move in together as a way to force them into a deeper commitment. If you think that this might the case, it is probably better to allow things to develop naturally and move in together when both parties feel equally committed to the relationship.

  • Are we in a committed relationship or are we doing this for practical reasons?

Nothing can smother the flames of new relationship faster than premature and forced intimacy. Even if your relationship seems perfect, moving in together because you want to share a vehicle or cut down on expenses is likely to put unwanted to pressure on your relationship. Practical considerations like transportation, splitting rent or getting onto the same cell phone plan are reasons why you split an apartment with a friend or room mate, but not the ideal way to deepen a romantic relationship.

  • How will you handle various practical matters?

Financial disagreements are often more difficult to overcome in a relationship than anything else. How are you going to split up the bills? Is everything going to be 50/50 or is one person in the relationship in a better financial position than the other and able to contribute more? In any cohabitation situation all of these matters have to be openly discussed and the expectations must be absolutely clear to both parties. Nothing contributes to animosity between people faster than the feeling that someone is not pulling their weight.

  • How is your communication?

Moving in together will test your communication. Many couples communicate very well romantically, but hardly at all when it comes to things like household chores, spending and more intimate things like hygiene and other personal habits. However, when you move in with someone, you are going to see a side of them that you are not yet acquainted with. Therefore, communication is key to keeping your relationship from hitting snags. If you can’t communicate over whose turn it is to vacuum or do the laundry, how are you going to handle serious issues?

Moving in together is a big step and can be even further complicated when children and extended families are involved. For this reason, it is important to communicate openly and respectfully with everyone involved in the situation. Most important of all, don’t take cohabitation too lightly. Search your heart and make sure that the relationship is ready to take the next step.

Let us help. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Dream Big Together

Like a shiny new car you just drove off the lot, the excitement of new marriage and the infatuation of new love almost always changes after the proverbial honeymoon period. That doesn’t mean it goes away; far from it. It’s just that as you begin to tackle some of your first challenges together as a couple and return to some sense of normalcy—or at least the “new normal – most couples inevitably trade novelty for the maturing of the relationship.”

It’s not a bad thing, and it is also inevitable. But in spite of the time you might now spend making grocery lists together, where before you were only concerned with making dinner reservations, there are ways you can continue to change the status quo in a positive way to keep the relationship fresh, alive and growing.

One of the most important is to talk about your dreams for the future. For a long time, marriage itself was the dream—and before that, the wedding, which can be an all-consuming period of excitement filled with dress designs, menus, guest lists and seating arrangements. Maybe before long you were dreaming of children, and you went through your first (or second or third) pregnancy together filled with anticipation and hopes for your children’s future.

Nonetheless, as couples and relationships mature, some people forget that those are in some ways “starter” goals, not the end of the line, lest you hit your 30s and 40s believing your biggest dreams are already behind you. If your relationship is going well and your children are happy and healthy, those are things to be extremely proud of. But it doesn’t stop there. Regularly taking time to explore and reveal your other hopes and dreams for the future can be a priceless bonding experience that reminds you the best may still be yet to come—together.

Otherwise, the risk is that one or both of you grow restless with the how things stand and take matters into your own hands. This could mean pursuing hobbies, friendships or even flirtatious relationships, maybe because you believe that admitting you feel bored and stuck will offend your partner. After all, the last thing you want to do is to make your spouse think that they are the reason for this restlessness, or that the relationship itself that’s become boring. The truth might be far from it.

Instead, take a risk and introduce to your partner what some call your “bucket list”—that list of audacious adventures you hope to conquer while you still can. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of visiting Africa, or writing a novel, or making plans to one day retire in another part of the country. Here’s the key: It’s nice if you have at least one goal you might pursue together, and unless you’ve married your personality-twin, that might require some brainstorming.

Even if your goals are separate, you can still experience embarking on adventures together. I knew a couple in which the husband always dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail. When his wife accepted a promotion requiring them to move, he was temporarily between jobs and decided to seize the opportunity. Over six months, as he undertook the challenging trek, he sent her pictures of the beautiful vistas every morning and told her stories of the people he met. Every few weeks, she got on a plane to meet him at spots along the trail so they could spend some time face-to-face and connect over his adventure. It was his dream—but she shared in it, encouraging him every step along the way.

Meanwhile, it’s not just the execution of the plan, but the time spent imagining it together that helps keep your relationship alive and exciting. You’ll be continuing to learn new things about each other, staying youthful with excitement for the future and keeping the relationship fresh….with future plans that will probably prove far more fulfilling than the time you spent opening all those crystal goblets, serving trays and salad spinners after you returned from your honeymoon.

So think beyond the routines and challenges of the everyday, have some fun and let your imagination run wild. It’s never too early or too late to dream big, together – and your relationship will benefit, too!

Your marriage was once your most important investment. We’d like to help you keep it that way. If you are considering couples counseling, let the counselors at the Relationship Center of Orange County help you renew your connection.  Call us today at (949) 430-7198 or book your appointment via our online calendar.

Dating after Divorce

Relationship Center of Orange County

Dating again-

No matter how long a divorce has been in the making, the idea of actually dating again is going to feel a bit surreal, at least in the beginning. It’s been years or maybe decades since you’ve socialized romantically with anyone other than your ex; chances are, you never expected to do so again.

So where—and when—do you start?

The first order of business is simply to take your time. Divorce is an enormous adjustment, almost akin to mourning the death of a loved one. You need time to grieve, heal and get back on your feet emotionally. Some say this can take up to two years, but everyone is different and the only healthy timetable is the one that works for YOU. It also depends on the circumstances and your frame of mind. If the divorce was relatively amicable, you might be ready sooner than someone who feels bitter or betrayed by the breakup of the marriage.

Your expectations will also come into play. If you just want to get out and enjoy meeting new people in general, or find someone with whom to share an occasional movie or dinner, that’s one thing. But, if you feel driven to go out and find the next Mr. or Mrs. Right because you are uncomfortable being alone, you’re probably not yet ready to enter into another relationship yet and fear of being alone is not a place from where one makes the wisest decisions about relationships. It’s better to spend more time first getting acquainted with your post-divorce self—who you are, and can become as you start to move forward.

Whenever it does feel right to start dating again, there are two very important things to keep in mind: If you have children, they come first

Your kids have already been through a lot in the divorce, even under the best of circumstances, so proceed with caution to make sure your new foray into the dating world does not hurt or confuse them. The simplest tip is not to introduce them to men or women you are only casually dating, lest they expend needless energy sizing up potential suitors. Even if you think a relationship is becoming serious, proceed with caution: if your children like this person and develop their own expectations of where the relationship is headed—and what role your new suitor might play in their life—they’ll only suffer more if the relationship does not work out.

Regardless of if or when you introduce your dates to your kids, this is also a time to be mindful about how you speak of your ex. Showing respect for your children’s mother or father—no matter how well or poorly you’re getting along with them at the time—is always best for the sake of your kids. When you are seeing other people, it’s even more important.

Learn from your past

Remember how you said to your friends, as the marriage was headed south, “If only I knew then (when we got married) what I know now…” Well, this is your chance. You do know more now. Chances are you have matured immeasurably and have a much better understanding of what you want (and don’t want), and need, from a relationship. Use that knowledge to make decisions about your new relationships going forward. Learn from past mistakes, and allow this transition to be a period of growth.

Think about some of the problems that undermined your marriage and what contributed to them: Did you tend to undermine your own self-worth? Did you often say what you thought your partner wanted to hear rather than what you really thought? On the other hand, were you on the opposite end of the spectrum, tending to domineer your ex to the detriment of the relationship? Either way, you might benefit from some time in therapy to understand these aspects of your behavior and how they affect relationships before entering into a new one.

Only then will you be ready to test the waters and enjoy the benefits of starting new relationships with your eyes wide open. Post-divorce relationships that are approached after a reasonable time and with a healthy attitude will benefit from the knowledge gained from past mistakes. Don’t let it go to waste!

If you have been through a divorce and need help transitioning into the next phase of your life—including dating again—please give us at a call at 949-220-3211 or schedule an appointment via our online calendar. We at the Relationship Center of Orange County are here to help you.

Three’s A Crowd – Keeping Your Communication Inside the Marriage

Did you know that when things get tense in a relationship, it is human nature to bring in a third person do calm yourself down? When everything is lovely in a marriage, we’re often content to keep details just between our partner and us. But when tension rises, we have a tendency to pull in the first available person to listen to our countless woes.

Sometimes including a third party such as a therapist can be a great resource for a couple. But when one person in a marriage constantly relies on friends and family to vent about his or her spouse, these actions only increase the emotional distance between them and their partner. The twosome becomes a three party issue, sometimes referred to as an emotional triangle, and it can become more and more difficult to bring thoughts and concerns back to where they belong, which is between a person and his or her spouse.

Here are some of the most common people you might be tempted to “triangle” into romantic relationships.  Which ones are your “go-to” third parties?

1. Your children.  Children should never have to carry the weight of the conflict in a marriage, but they are often the first person a spouse turns to when complaining about a husband or wife. When a mother or father turns to their children to be the confidants for the secrets of the marriage, the other spouse is left feeling on the outside. This only increases the amount of conflict or emotional distance in the marriage, and it can create anxiety or “acting out” behaviors in the child, who feels overwhelmed by the emotional intensity.

2. Your Best Friend. Your best friend should know everything about your marriage, right? You might want to think again, if you’re constantly turning to a close friend to vent about your husband’s emotional aloofness or your wife’s irrational worries. Any friendship built on complaining about other people is not much of a friendship to begin with.

3. Your parents. Television and movies often make jokes about the mother-in-law being the third person in a marriage, always defending her son or daughter when they have an argument in their spouse. But it’s no joking matter when this alliance prevents equal and honest communication from happening. It’s difficult for any member of your family to be objective about your spouse when you constantly turn to them to share the negative and never the positive.

4. Your coworkers. Everyone knows that one person at the office whose spouse is a constant source of comedic relief in the break room.  Letting off steam to your coworkers may be a quick way to bond with them, but addressing marital issues at work rather than in the relationship will only lead to increased distance or conflict between you and your significant other.

How do you escape these patterns? The easiest way is to start paying attention to your habits and direct your thoughts back to your one-to-one relationships. If you have an issue with your partner, then direct it back to them. Every relationship in your life will benefit from these practices, because relationships that are not built on blaming or gossiping or criticizing others are the ones that will stand the test of time. A friendship or a romance built on complaining about a third person will only make you more anxious and more stressed as an individual.

Fortunately, not all triangles are unhealthy! Enlisting a therapist to help direct the communication between the two of you can help you bring your relationship to a level that is more open, honest, and equal. Having a third party to help you decide when to share with each other and how to share with each other will decrease the temptation to bring anyone and everyone into the twosome.

Ready to start the work of better communication in your relationship? Let the counselors at the Relationship Center of Orange County help you take that first step. Call us today at 949-220-3211, or book your appointment via our online calendar.

Emotional Texting

When to Share and When to Put Down the Phone    

Sharing your anxiety or frustrations these days is as easy as pulling your phone out of your pocket. When your unreasonable boss or a demanding family member is stressing you out, the temptation to share your annoyance with your spouse or significant other is almost irresistible.

While there are benefits to being able to contact loved ones with the touch of your fingers, sharing every little thought and emotion of the day can put unnecessary stress on a relationship. You might text without thinking, not considering what your spouse might be experiencing on the other end.  Maybe you grow frustrated when your messages are met with radio silence or a seemingly unsympathetic reply.  And all of a sudden, your frustration with others has been channeled into the relationship you cherish the most.

Are you a perpetrator of emotional texting? Do you feel like your cell phone is getting in the way of a healthy relationship relationship? Here are three simple questions you should ask yourself before you send your significant other a text.

1. Will I feel the same way an hour from now?

When we experience emotional reactivity to a situation, it’s difficult to be thoughtful. What might seem like the end of the world is usually a momentary setback, but a text can never be undone once it’s sent out into the world. If you ask yourself whether that anger will be so urgent in sixty minutes, and the answer is no, then it’s probably not worth the text.

2. Does this require a face-to-face conversation?

Another problem with texting is that it is easy for those receiving a message to misinterpret your meaning. You also have no way of gauging the emotional state of your spouse when you can’t see them face-to-face. If the seriousness of the emotion outweighs the immediacy of the situation, then your relationship would benefit if you wait for an in-person conversation. Too often people use technology to avoid the open and honest contact that is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship.

3. Am I asking someone to do something I can do myself?

Because our cell phones make it incredibly simple to reach out to others for support and empathy, we often forget that as individuals we are also capable of taking responsibility for our own distress and reactions. Emotional support is key in any relationship, but relying on your spouse to take responsibility for every reaction you have in day-to-day life is no fair deal. So the next time you want to reach for the phone, consider whether you might be capable of providing your own calm and comfort.

Asking yourself these three questions can keep your itchy fingers from making any rash decisions when it comes to your relationship.  While a text might be the quickest solution to your stress, it is often never the most thoughtful one for your relationship. All it takes is a few seconds of good thinking to gauge when and how you should lean on your partner, and when you can stand up and support yourself.

Ready to work on communication in your relationship? Give us call today at the Relationship Center of Orange County at 949-220-3211, or schedule your appointment via our online calendar.

Happy Wife, Happy Life: How to Show Appreciation for Your Wife

couple breakfast bed apprHappy wife, happy life!” It is an old saying but it is true (and it goes both ways, by the way). Appreciation goes hand in hand with admiration, respect, and esteem.  All of these things are adjectives that describe how you probably felt about your wife before she was your wife; when you were trying to catch her eye, while you were dating, and when your relationship moved to “exclusive” status.  Most likely, she felt the same way about you, so you did it … you proposed!

You got engaged, you got married, and life was good.  Life was good.  So what happened?  What changed to make things more difficult than during those “good” days?  It’s called getting comfortable.  For whatever reason, at some point in time, you stopped leaving notes on the bathroom mirror, putting cards in her luggage when she was going out of town, buying flowers for Valentine’s Day or her birthday, and every other little thing that you used to do to make her smile, feel appreciated, and know that you love her.

If your wife is not feeling appreciated or loved, you are paddling into dangerous waters.  It is a fact that random acts of kindness towards your wife are crucial to marital satisfaction.  If you’re feeling less connected in your relationship, it may be time to take a step back and commit to showing appreciation to your wife.  Here are a few small things that you can do to make sure your wife knows you appreciate and admire her.  There are hundreds more, but these are little gestures that can easily show your wife how much you love and appreciate her.

  1. Make her morning coffee.
  2. Warm her car up in the winter.
  3. Hold her hand or make other gestures of affection, especially when she’s least expecting it.
  4. Speak highly of her to others.
  5. Open the car door for her.
  6. Cook for her, or pick up take-out so she’s off the hook for the night.
  7. Show her you’re a team by cleaning up the kitchen after a meal or help her do the dishes.
  8. Communicate; be interested in her topics of conversation. Ask how her day went.
  9. Give her a night out with the girls while you take care of the kids.
  10. Notice what she has accomplished and say thank you.

Many people like to hear, “I love you”, while others feel those words are just words.  It’s always nice to hear, “I love you”, but it is even nicer for you to show your wife how much you love her. Actions speak louder than words to show your support and your overall fondness of her.  Multiple studies show that the happiest marriages are made up of partners who regularly show compassion and appreciation to each other.

When random acts of kindness disappear and you no longer show your spouse that you care for her, it is an indication your marriage needs help.  On the contrary, when you are compassionate and your wife knows, without a doubt, how much you care, your own happiness increases as well.

As part of a study done in the 1990s, more men reported putting their wives’ wishes before their own.  For example, men were more likely to modify their plans for their wives’ sake, especially as newlyweds.  Additionally, men are often more comfortable showing their love by their actions, and not by their words.  So, why did you stop showing appreciation for your wife?  Most likely, life did it to you. Maybe you’ve been married for several years, you now have children, you have a house to take care of, etc.  There are many reasons why people feel comfortable in their marriages and go through each day in a routine, forgetting how to keep things alive.

Maybe you think that by now, your wife should know how much you love her.  Maybe you feel showing compassion, as far as leaving notes and doing little things to show your appreciation, are for younger couples and those who are just falling in love. Or maybe, you are lucky enough to be on the receiving end of random acts of kindness, and you never give it a thought that you should be doing the same for your wife. Don’t take your wife for granted. Rough times are often the result of communication breakdowns, as well as when spouses no longer feel loved, appreciated, or respected. Those little acts of kindness can be the glue that keeps your relationship together.

All marriages go through hard times at one time or another. If you are struggling in your marriage and need to talk about your issues and learn how to get things back on track, the counselors at Orange County Relationship Center can help you.  Call us today at 949-220-3211 or book your appointment via our online calendar.

Relationship Yellow Flags: How to Know if Yours is in Trouble

Are you having trouble in your relationship?Are you having trouble in your relationship?  Can you imagine having no idea your marriage is in trouble? Many people who find out that there are issues in their marriage have no idea, or frequently say, “I didn’t see it coming.” Their wake up calls come in the form of finding out their spouse is thinking of calling it quits, or worse, have found another to fulfill their needs. Happy marriages don’t end in divorce, but what does it take to remain happily married? It can take a lot of work in today’s world where we constantly face stress from our jobs, the pressures of child rearing, financial concerns and many other stressors, depending upon your age and where you live.

There are many yellow flags that can indicate that your relationship may be in trouble. These days, people are busier than ever before or are so wrapped up in their own lives and issues that they either don’t see the warning signs, don’t care, or they think their partners are happy to live life going through the normal day-to-day routine that their lives have taken on.

Never veering from day-to-day routines or patterns can actually hurt a relationship. Think about it. A lot of people get up in the morning, go to work, come home after work, make dinner, do laundry, clean up the kitchen, relax for an hour or so, go to bed, and do the same thing the next day – over and over, for at least 5 days a week. Being contented to live this sort of life can result in complacency. Complacency can lead to people getting too comfortable in your relationship. Never get too comfortable in your marriage. Every living person has needs, and not just sexual needs. Make sure to be cognizant of time spent, or time not spent, with your spouse. Make sure you do not turn into the couple who simply shares a household. People in those types of relationships are more like roommates than spouses, and this can lead to dangerous consequences.

What follows is a list of relationship yellow flags – things you need to notice before they turn into red flags. Once the red flags start showing themselves, most likely, your marriage is on the path of failure.

  1. If you and your spouse spend minimal time together as a couple, you are going down a dangerous path. Although the reasons for this could be due to working different schedules or other outside influences or hobbies, you should not let this continue.
  2. If you and your spouse spend more time with family, friends, or coworkers than you to together, those other people are taking the place of your spouse. Additionally, it is likely those people know more about what’s going on in your life than your spouse does. This can cause distance to grow between the two of you.
  3. If there is no communication, other than arguments, you are in trouble. Additionally, if there is no eye contact or little to no telephone contact, you are also in trouble. If you notice that the only time you speak about your spouse is when you are making snide or criticizing remarks, or the smallest things annoy you about your spouse, it’s time to change things in your relationship.
  4. If there is little or no intimacy or no physical contact, such as hugging, snuggling, and holding hands, or if you or your spouse make excuses when the other tries to initiate sex, these are huge yellow flags. If you lose the intimacy you’ll lose a critical connection that is absolutely necessary for a healthy relationship and that relationship could be doomed.

If you and your spouse are going through a difficult time, and if you are both committed to saving your marriage, it is possible to turn things around in your relationship. It will not be easy; but nothing worth doing or having comes easy. Try to remember than you chose each other, you vowed to stay together and to stick together through better or worse. Yes, this time in your marriage would definitely fall under the “worse” category.

You can read all sorts of books and articles for advice on how to get through difficult times in your marriage. However, one person cannot save a marriage. The best approach is to ensure that both people want to save the marriage and are committed to saving the marriage. Just as your marriage didn’t fall apart overnight, it cannot be saved overnight. It will take hard, constant work. Start by trying to focus on the bigger issues. When you do this, the smaller issues may just disappear or not seem like such a big deal anymore.

Once upon a time, the two of you couldn’t wait to be together every day after work. You couldn’t wait to talk about what went on in your world and share daily stories. Once you had conversations with your eyes, not your mouths. Once you looked across a crowded room and saw the love for you in your spouse’s eyes, no matter who he or she was speaking with at the moment. Once, you were devoted, committed, and connected with the person you chose to spend the rest of your life caring about.

It’s hard to determine what causes so many relationships to fall apart, but remember, you obviously meant the world to each other at one point. You chose to marry your spouse. That being said, isn’t it worth whatever it takes to get back on track?

If you recognize some of these yellow flags in your relationship, but you are both committed to making changes that can save your marriage, the counselors at Orange County Relationship Center can help you get your marriage back on track. Call us today at 949-220-3211 or schedule your appointment online.

Should I Stay or Should I Go? (Part 1)

Let the OC Relationship Center help you work out the relocation dilemma.

Are you AND your relationship ready to make the big move?

Angie and Scott, who live in Atlanta, have been dating seriously for about a year. One day, Scott comes home with big news: he’s been offered a new job…in San Francisco.

For Scott, the opportunity is a no-brainer—it’s a promotion and exciting change of scenery—and Angie’s happy for him. But what does it mean for their relationship?

They have talked about one day moving in together and eventually getting married. But a cross-country move introduces pressure into decisions they might or might not be prepared to make—and certainly shouldn’t take lightly. If Angie is considering making the move with him, here are a few questions each should consider:

Are there any false assumptions at play?

Angie may be head over heels in love and willing to follow Scott to the moon, but before she starts apartment hunting, she needs to know this is what he wants as well. If he doesn’t explicitly say that he envisions this as a joint move, she needs to ask outright—and he needs to answer honestly. He needs to understand that she might be giving up a lot to move cross-country, so giving lip service to the idea of having her join him is not enough. It’s a major commitment for both, and they need to do an honest assessment of their relationship before making such a big decision.

Part of that is making sure that whatever you decide, it is for the right reasons. By no means should Angie move to San Francisco­ because she’s afraid of losing Scott, only to find out months down the road that he still has lingering ambivalence about the relationship (and here she is, stuck in a strange city).

How Does Each of You Handle Change?

Are you the kind of person who embraces new environments, or are you more change-averse? Now is a great time to think and talk about this, when it’s relatively early in the relationship. If it turns out Angie had planned to stay, marry, build her career and raise children in Atlanta—whereas Scott has a streak of wanderlust—discovering this difference in personalities now is probably a blessing in disguise. Does Scott see San Francisco as a permanent move, or does he hope to move back to Atlanta after a while? Maybe it’s neither—he’d be happy to keep moving every few years in search of better career opportunities and new adventures. If it turns out they’re near-opposites in that respect, each should think long and hard before committing to a life together.

Do you have realistic expectations for the transition?

If Angie and Scott do decide to move to San Francisco together, they need to find out—and talk about—what that is going to look like, at least during the transition. With a new job in a demanding field, does Scott expect to be working long hours—and is Angie prepared to be understanding of that and find ways to keep herself occupied in the new city? If she’s career-oriented, does she feel good about her job prospects there?  At least at first, she’ll face a different set challenges than Scott without a job awaiting her on day one and the built-in professional network that comes with it. She needs to go in with eyes wide open to avoid becoming resentful that his transition is easier in some ways, though also more demanding of his time.

If they are honest about their expectations, it could be one of the most exciting moves of their lives. If, instead, they discover a hidden but serious area of incompatibility, it will be a painful realization but one they’re better off facing now rather than later. The good news is they’ve each gained valuable insight into their personal visions for the long-term, which should help in building future relationships. Dating is always a learning experience, if you let it be, and we should embrace the challenges along with the good times for what they can teach us.

Stay tuned! Part 2 coming next week.

From Perfectionism to Peace

Can let go of perfectionism? Let the trained therapists at OC Relatinship Center help.In a society hell-bent on achievement and prestige, it’s no wonder that so many people strive for perfection in everything they do. After all, if it’s not perfect, then someone else can do it better and is therefore believed to be better. But trying too hard to be perfect can actually have the opposite effect. If you or your significant other has been plagued with a perfectionist drive, then it may be time to let go of the wheel.

Doing so, of course, is not easy, but is absolutely necessary if you want to have a healthy relationship. In fact, perfectionists typically have a hard time maintaining healthy relationships because they project their same perfectionist traits onto their partners, who are human and, by nature, imperfect. Thus, insisting on perfection from a partner puts unfair pressure on them to perform beyond their capabilities and adds unnecessary stress to the relationship as a whole.

The effects of perfectionism

People can never be perfect. To quote John Lennon, “there’s nothing you can do that can’t be done” and more than likely, someone else can not only do the same as you, but can do it better. This is not to say that you shouldn’t try to do your best, but rather that your best is good enough and anything more is unrealistic.

Striving for your best and striving for perfection are two completely different things: one encourages pride and self-worth, and the other discourages it. Here are just a few ways perfectionism can have an adverse effect on those involved.

  • Perfectionism casts doubt on one’s self and those around him: When everything is expected to be perfect and isn’t, then the person wrapped in perfectionism will lack trust in those around him, which will yield a hefty price tag when the people closest to him realize they cannot live up to these lofty expectations.
  • Perfectionists have hard time learning from experience: One thing they may learn is to not try new experiences if they may result in failure. They take mistakes very personally, and often attempt to find blame elsewhere so that they will not be responsible for it. This move is not only unfair to those on whom the blame ultimately falls, but to the perfectionist herself who cannot gain from these important life lessons
  • Perfectionists lack intimacy: One of the most important ways to gain intimacy is through vulnerability. Be it through the disclosure of personal information or through a risk-taking activity, showing our vulnerability to a lover is a key part of intimacy. Perfectionists, however, view vulnerability as weakness and avoid it at all costs.

Letting go of perfectionism to find peace

Nothing on earth is perfect, which is what makes it so unique and amazing. Trees may grow without symmetry and animals may be born with missing limbs, but they are all unique and, with encouragement and support, can still thrive despite their potential setbacks. So, too, is the case with interpersonal relationships. Here are some reasons to put perfection aside and embrace the uniqueness associated with your imperfection.

  • Get more accomplished: Perfectionists devote a lot of time and energy into creating the perfect outcome, but doing your best without striving for perfection will actually open up more time in which to get more done. You will be happier with the final outcome, too, which will lead to a happier, more fulfilling life.
  • Increase your compassion: When we stop expecting the best from ourselves and our partners, we can learn to appreciate them and ourselves more. With increased compassion for your lover, you can regain intimacy and begin (re)structuring a healthy, rewarding relationship.
  • Reduce your anxiety: Anxiety can be defined as fear, worry or unease, and can be brought on by any number of things; one in particular is the fear associated with imperfection. But, when we take the time to embrace our imperfections, we can learn from them rather than fear them. This will not only reduce the stress, but will also increase the over-all happiness within your relationship.

Everywhere we go, it seems that someone is either boasting about their accomplishments or putting others down for theirs. We live in a perfectionist society where people who seemingly lack the drive needed to succeed are condemned for their failures so that others who have done better can feel better about theirs.  But, if you get caught up in the hype about the need to be perfect in everything you do – including your relationships – then you are ultimately setting yourself up for failure.

By taking a step back and loosening up your grip on the situation, you can actually increase the odds in your relationship, because, when it comes to love and marriage, understanding your and your partner’s imperfections can actually set the stage for perfection through imperfection.

Sometimes it takes the insight of a professional in order to see things differently, and begin to work toward letting go of perfectionism and working toward peace.  If you feel that speaking to an unbiased third party may help, please give the counselors at OC Relationship Center a call today at 949-220-3211 or book your appointment online.