First Date: 3 Red Flags to Avoid

It’s time for your first date. You want to make the best-possible first impression. But first impressions are a two-way street.

What if that first date winds up being an epic fail and it wasn’t because of you?

Worse yet is another fear. What if your first date gives you some serious red flags and you don’t even notice them? Because you don’t notice them, you later find yourself deep into a toxic relationship?

Although there’s a host of potential red flags, here are three to consider.

Your First Date Only Talks About Themselves

Want a major Red Flag?

You’re an hour into your time together and your date hasn’t ceased talking about themselves. It’s almost like you’re invisible—like you’re not even there.

Have you noticed or are you blindly overlooking that fact?

Your relationship will always struggle if only one side is numero uno.

Things aren’t likely to get better, either. Most sensible people are on their “best behavior” for first dates.

What’ll happen when familiarity sets in? The odds aren’t very good that your opinion will matter or that you’ll be valued.

All your needs, hopes and dreams will be eclipsed by the narcissist you’ve made such a large part of your life.

Your First Date Pressures You to Be Physical

You shouldn’t feel any pressure to be physical on your first date. Your date needs to respect that fact or you’re starting out on shaky ground.

No, you don’t owe your date a thing if they buy you something to eat or a memento.

Take some control and avoid opportunities or places that could lead you to compromise or even danger.

It’s best to decide ahead of time on this issue. If your date can’t respect your boundaries on a first date, tell them to get lost.

Your First Date Is Too Pushy

Your initial date should be relaxed. It’s better if you don’t go to a fancy dinner or do something that could feel high pressure.

If your date tries to make things feel otherwise, they could be intentionally (or unintentionally) moving too fast.

They may fear losing you and feel the only way to prevent that is to do something big.

The truth is that there’s already enough pressure on a first date as it is. Find something to do that’s fun and relaxing instead of cramped and potentially stressful.

There’s no need to feel pressured into another date. You’ll need time to process that later.

In Conclusion

Watch how your date treats other people and then decide if you’d like to be treated the same way.

No date will be perfect just like you’re not perfect. This needs to be understood.

At the same time, you want to look for patterns that could cause you more grief than it’s worse. And if you find patterns like that, put the brakes on and then change lanes. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Big Expectations—The “Killer” Of A Good Relationship

Big expectations in relationships are a greater problem in America than ever before.

If anyone would disagree, the fact that our country experiences more failed relationships than anywhere else in the world should be explored first.

One thing is constant for us—choices.

We have a baffling amount of choices at our fingertips. More books are being written than ever before. There are more services and products than there ever were. The option to live virtually anywhere is a real possibility and career choices abound.

Although we’ll explore this topic in light of a committed relationship, many of the principles are easily transferrable to other friendships.

Choices and Expectations

Due to the consumer mentality of our nation, we’re used to a myriad of choices. Near-perfect choices.

So, what happens when we take that consumer mentality into a committed relationship? The results are predictable if we’re not careful.

We secretly tell ourselves that if our mate doesn’t turn out to be darn-near perfect, somewhere out there, someone will fill that perfection void.

This often leads to virtually insurmountable expectations placed on a partner.

The Consequences of Big Expectations

The consequence of absurdly high expectations also has a predictable result.

Expectations go unmet. Surprised? Bet you’re not.

When expectations aren’t met, disappointment ensues. Ongoing disappointment leads to an increasing desire to want out of a relationship.

We also should mention that the person who receives unrealistic expectations loses trust, becomes bitter and feels powerless to measure up. Many rebel and become emotionally detached under these circumstances.

When the person with high expectations doesn’t get what they want, they’re prone to pick out the smallest faults in their partner.

Because of the many faults, those with high expectations justify there are now grounds for the relationship to end.

There’s just one problem: No one can meet unrealistic expectations for long. There is no Mr. or Mrs. Perfect. It’s a lie, a mirage.

And so, in time, the next relationship is not what was hoped for. In fact, none of them will be. Too high of expectations will kill any and every friendship and romantic relationship.

A Better Focus

Most people don’t begin a relationship focused on how they can make someone else happy. They seek their own fulfillment and pleasure above everything else.

That is also the goal of unrealistic expectations. The problem is that these desires, taken too far, become selfish and destructive.

It’s not bad to desire pleasure and happiness in a relationship. Things can disintegrate when one’s desire for happiness comes at the expense of a partner, though.

The best thing you can do is set high expectations for yourself instead of for others. After all, you can only control you.

Instead of setting high expectations for your partner, consistently encourage them knowing that you still have a long way to go yourself. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

The Pressure to Be “Manly”—How that Affects Our Relationships

What should you do with our culture’s pressure to be manly? The first step is to decide what really is manly instead of things we’re only told are so.

Manliness is the best thing for our relationships. True manliness, that is.

The problem is that much of what is packaged as manliness has nothing to do with what it means to be a real man.

Let’s look at a few examples of what has nothing to do with being a real man. Then, we’ll follow up with thoughts of what a real man looks like.

Manly? Uh, Maybe Not…

If you judge manliness by superficial things, you’ll strike out every time in coming up with the real thing.

Some men think being a complete jerk makes them manly. The art of being a jerk is the umbrella that virtually all fake manliness falls under.

There’s a saying that suits this occasion quite well:

“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.”

Cut-throat business deals, the flaunting of wealth, verbal abuse, sleeping around on your mate and similar things don’t make you a man.

They actually erode true manliness. Little by little, you become less of what you were meant to be.

If you spend any time in thought, there’s something in your heart you want to rebel against.

The superficial measuring stick of outward success, having the prettiest girl, or being physically tough isn’t really doing it for you.

If you’re feeling the pressure to be the sort of man described in this section, just walk the other way. That’s the kind of stuff that gives men a bad name.

My guess is that if you’ve read this far, you’re after more than being a jerk or superficial success.

You want something more and so do those around you.

People don’t want the Hollywood version of manliness. They want something that works in real life.

If you attempt the fake version, your relationships will struggle and it’s no small wonder why.

The Pursuit of True Manliness

Ready for a shocker? The truest form of a man has nothing to do with how fancy your car or house is or how “perfect” your family is.

If all those things were taken from you in a moment, what is left would either prove or disprove your manliness.

True manliness is strong, yes, but at its base, it boils down to a loving person fused with that toughness.

True manliness is character—something that couldn’t be taken from you even if you were locked in a concentration camp.

It’s the active love for humanity that lives in your soul. It is something you can continually grow and improve upon.

True manliness is visiting your mom in the nursing home when you’re busy, having integrity in business deals even when you lose money and staying faithful to your mate even when badly tempted not to be.

If you exercise true manliness, your relationships will grow.

Best of all, no one and nothing can take true manliness from you.

In Conclusion

If the pressure to be a man is grounded in reality, listen to that pressure. Don’t let it weigh you down. Just take small steps towards the goal.

If the pressures to be manly are rooted in fake manliness, take that junk and throw it in the dumpster. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Can Stress Cause Physical Pain?

Everyone knows that excess stress isn’t good for you. But can stress cause physical pain?

Actually, yes. Stress can wreak havoc on your body in a wide variety of ways.

Most people have heard the saying “depression hurts.” Depression is a specific form of ongoing stress that is well known to cause physical pain and mimic other physical illnesses. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that ongoing, excess stress, regardless of the cause can lead to physical pain.

Although healthy levels of stress are normal, when you start feeling pain due to stress, things have crossed the line of what’s good.

When prolonged and significant stress isn’t properly managed it can lead to a negative stress reaction known as distress. A myriad of potential physical pains could result.

Stress can present itself in virtually every imaginable ache and pain. Some of the more common ways stress expresses itself in bodily pain include some of the following:

  • Upset stomach, stomach ulcers and pain
  • Migraines
  • Tightness of the muscles, especially in the neck
  • Chest pain
  • General aches and pains
  • Pain associated with digestive problems

The Dangers of Pain Caused by Stress

These aches and pains shouldn’t be ignored. They’re really a blessing in disguise.

Much like thunder and lightning serve as a warning to take cover as a storm approaches, these pains are indicators of bad things to come if not properly dealt with.

High levels of stress can literally kill you but that’s not the goal. The goal is for the sufferer to identify life stressors and then problem solve to resolve the stress.

Not only can stress lead to a shortened life, it can lead to the pursuit of risky behavior such as drugs and alcohol.

When you feel poorly on a consistent basis, there often is the attempt to feel better synthetically. This only compounds the problem.

Although escapes like substance abuse may cause short-term relief, the overall consequences obviously aren’t worth it.

I’m In Pain—What Should I Do?

You first want to rule out any physical problems by seeing a physician. Don’t just assume your pain is stress-related.

If you already know you’re under heavy amounts of stress and your physical-health diagnosis keeps coming back normal, your pain could be stress-related.

Do what you can to step away from stress whether that means a sick day (or two) or distancing yourself from people who increase your stress. Get good sleep, exercise and eat healthy and see if your problems resolve.

Also, consider therapy. A caring professional can help you identify stressors and what to do about them. Sometimes even simply admitting stressors can help immensely. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Are These Normal Relationship Issues Or Is It Time To Get Help?

Women are relational by nature. When your relationships hurt, you hurt deeply. Something we feel is a crisis may be viewed differently by our mate—at least at first.

When to seek help is a common question of many women. Women don’t want to make a problem out of something that isn’t a big deal. They also don’t want to wait until a relationship is in a death spiral.

So, when should you seek help? Although no one relationship is the same and there isn’t a blanket answer, here are some ideas.

Relational Emergency Room or Fitness Center?

Counselors and therapists are working hard to change thinking about how and when to seek out treatment.

For example, is there a better chance of survival if you regularly work out and exercise or if you let yourself become 200 pounds overweight and need to be rushed to the hospital with a massive heart attack?

The first option, of course. But many still view therapy as the last resort once a relationship that has been disintegrating for years and months finally goes into “cardiac arrest”.

Therapists do all they can in these cases but the success rate will be lower if you wait that long.

A better way to view therapy is maintenance to something that is already good but could always be better. You do all you can to strengthen your relationship with your mate and part of that healthful process is periodic therapy.

Both parties will be more involved in the process in this way.

When there are ongoing problems, it’s not uncommon for one person in the relationship to feel that going to counseling is the only way to save a relationship. That’s a lot of pressure and not all of that pressure is healthy.

Seeing a counselor early can help you do “preventative maintenance” just as you would through seeing a dentist (Although we hope your sessions are more enjoyable than going to the dentist!)

What are some specific reasons it couldn’t hurt to get help besides? Here are a few:

  • Ongoing communication difficulty
  • Impulsive spending that is damaging your relationship
  • Unfaithfulness
  • Sexual problems
  • Difficulty controlling anger and other emotions
  • Mental illness that is getting in the way of your relationship
  • You want to take your relationship from good to great!

Summing It Up

These potential reasons to get help are only a few possibilities. If you are unsure about whether to find a therapist, a great place to start is to call for an initial appointment. You can quickly get advice from a professional about what would be best given your unique situation.

Don’t let the need to “get help” scare you off as it does with too many people who could have relief. We all need help from time to time. To need help and to seek it out is completely normal and human. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

How to Get Rid of A Break-Up Emotion

Perhaps a better title for this article would begin with “how not to.” 🙂

That’s because we find an absurd amount of ways to cope with intense break-up emotions.

The problem is that these coping strategies aren’t always good for us or the people around us.

Oh, we find any way we can to numb our lives. We all but knock ourselves unconscious in attempts to forget and feel “normal” again.

If we’re not careful, we can end up worse off than we started.

So, how do you get rid of a break-up emotion? Here are some ideas.

Remember You Need Time

You aren’t going to read this article and walk away miraculously healed of all your bitterness, volcanic anger, jealousy and despair.

You’ll hopefully gain some empowerment, though. A few more shreds of hope you can sanely pull this off. Because you can.

That takes time. In some cases, a lot of it. Keep reminding yourself of that.

If you’re experiencing strong emotions you at least at one point cared about the person you were with.

Maybe you ended the relationship, it was mutual or maybe it wasn’t your decision at all.

Depending on how much you invested in the relationship, we could be talking weeks, months and even years to feel completely normal again.

Vent Your Emotions

Time by itself, will not cause your break-up emotions to vanish, though. Those powerful emotions need to come out.

Slapping your ex, yelling at an innocent bystander, breaking something or eating an entire Texas sheet cake obviously doesn’t count.

Nor does quickly jumping into another relationship or finding every bottom of every bottle you can.

Any one of those things could be tempting especially depending on how you’re wired and your background. Many others besides could seem tempting, too.

Instead, try some of these much-healthier options:

Rigorous physical exercise—Gets out aggression, gives you better health and no one gets hurt.

Journal through your emotions—It’s beautiful. You can unleash all the thunder and lightning you need to and no one needs to see.

Take up a self-forgetting hobby—For some, that’s shopping, fishing, painting or reading. This will keep you calm.

Talk to a trusted friend—Just admitting what emotions you’re feeling can help.

Eat healthier—A healthier body leads to better ability to handle emotional stress.

Seek out a professional—You’ll get plenty of compassion and solid help to deal with those complex feelings.

At the time, break-up emotions can feel like they’ll go on forever. Thankfully, they won’t. Start today towards something better! Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.