Category Archives: Relationship

The Reasons Why Do People Have a Type

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding attraction. When we talk about our “type,” what pops into our head may be certain physical features or a number of positive qualities that seem totally reasonable to desire. Yet, there appear to be mysterious forces at play pushing us to choose certain people, and not all of these forces work to our benefit. Most of us have felt a spark with someone we knew wasn’t right for us. We may even notice a pattern of seemingly selecting people who are precisely wrong for us. Too often, we fail to acknowledge or even notice the less favorable qualities that are luring us toward certain choices, subtle characteristics that are drawing us in. Without knowing why, many of us aren’t just attracted to certain people despite their negative traits but because of them.

To understand why we’re drawn to the people we are, we have to understand a basic law of attraction: we choose people whose defenses fit with ours. If we protect ourselves by being quiet or withdrawn, we may choose partners who are more pursuing and aggressive. If we are insecure or clingy, we may choose partners who are aloof or less available – people who we have to chase. If our defense is to try to control everything around us, we may choose a partner who is passive and eager for guidance. In a sense, we fit with these people, not because their patterns perfectly complement ours, allowing us to get closer, but because the way our defenses line up actually sustains our individual defenses and serves to keep each of us at a certain, safe distance.

For those of us who wonder why we keep winding up with the same type of person or stuck in the same dynamic, the answer dates back to our earliest relationships. As young children, we developed  defenses to cope with painful or frustrating circumstances. Growing up, we became wedded to our defenses, believing them to be part of our personality. If we formed negative ideas about ourselves, for instance that we’re unlovable or unattractive, we now seek out people whose behavior will support these beliefs. We choose romantic partners who reinforce familiar attitudes we’ve long had toward ourselves. You may think you were drawn to the aloof and mysterious guy, because he seemed deep and interesting, but ultimately, you may have been drawn in by his absence or inability to fully relate to you. You may not be able to stop thinking about that woman who demanded your attention all night, but it may actually have been her controlling attitude that won you over.

Our defenses informed the attachment patterns we developed as young children to get our needs met by our primary caregivers. These early attachment patterns became models for how we expected relationships to work in our adult lives. Therefore, if we felt rejected, ignored, intruded on, insecure, criticized, resented, or drained in our early life, we tend to seek out relationships that recreate that same emotional climate today. If, as kids, we felt our needs were often ignored or overlooked, we now feel drawn to people who are emotionally unavailable, noncommittal, even married to someone else. If we felt we had to take care of everyone in our household, we now seek partners we feel we have to rescue. If we felt rejected or unloved, we find people we have to convince to love us or who we have to “win over.”

The problem is we may not even like or want a relationship with someone with these qualities. They may not even sound appealing, and we may even ultimately feel driven a bit crazy by them. But, in truth, we are actually attracted to that feeling. On some deep,unconscious level, we feel we need someone with these precise qualities to survive, to heal our old wounds, to make us feel like our needs will be met. For example, if we feel a need to be taken care of, we may find someone who’s quick to take the reigns, wants to be the boss, and promises to take care of us. If we’re driven to take care of ourselves and don’t want to rely on anyone else, we may select people who are pseudo-independent, distant, and unavailable.

Our early attachment styles and the defenses and adaptations we form around them have a strong influence on the partners we choose in the present. In order to break any negative patterns of choosing the same partner, we have to consider, what are the not so great qualities I’m seemingly attracted to. What are the negative traits of my type? Think about the people you’ve dated and note any patterns or similarities between them. Don’t just think about the obvious comparisons but the more subtle aspects of how they treated you, how they made you feel about yourself. What characteristics did they seem to look for in you? Did they want you to take care of or control them?  Did they pull away when you came toward them or react when things felt close?

Of course, when you first met there were probably a lot of obvious and sensible reasons you chose that person: sense of humor, sensitivity, an amazing smile, or a great laugh. Try to think about if there were any less obvious qualities that drew you to these people or deepened your attraction to them. Was it a faraway look in their eyes? An initial disinterest? Did they pursue you aggressively? Did they fawn over you or build you up? As you do this, you may be able to start making connections to your past. Do any of these relationship dynamics or feelings seem familiar? Do they remind you of anything or anyone from your early life?

As we come to know our patterns, we can start to make different choices about who we date. This may involve making some decisions that are initially uncomfortable but that will ultimately make us happy. We may have to date outside our comfort zone, pushing through the trials of getting close to a person who challenges our defenses. If we feel easily overwhelmed, like someone will want too much from us, we may have to stick it out with that person who outwardly shows affection. If we feel like we need to go after someone or they’ll never show any interest, we may have to wait for that person at a party who approaches us instead of vice versa.

These old patterns of defending ourselves can steer us in the wrong direction, pushing us to pick partners who fit with our defenses. Finding people who challenge our defenses and offer us a more secure attachment is the best strategy for changing our ideas about how relationships work, challenging critical feelings toward ourselves, and ultimately, even changing our attachment patterns, so we can bring more love and closeness into our lives. In the end, we may find ourselves with a new, healthier “type” that offers just as much spark, but with the potential for deeper, longer-lasting closeness and attraction.

Learn How to Love you

In working with couples for over four decades, I have rarely heard intimate partners ask each other what they could do or say that would make the other feel more loved. I’m much more likely to hear self-serving statements like: “Why don’t you just remember what makes me happy?” “No matter what I do for you, it’s just never enough.” “You just never get me, do you?” “Why is it always about you? Don’t you ever want to know what I want?” “Why do you keep hurting me this way? Don’t you even care?”

Why is it that people, who once cared deeply for one another, seem so intent on getting their own needs met, and no longer interested in how they can love their partners more successfully? Why do long-term committed couples, who once seemed to care about the other’s deeper feelings and thoughts, become partners who are content to know each other by old assumptions and observations?

If you are an intimate partner who hasn’t kept up to date on your significant other’s internal feelings and thoughts, you are not alone. Many people become lazy in long-term relationships and just adjust and adapt to things as they are, forgetting that successful relationships depend and thrive upon continual regeneration. People get too easily caught up in other life priorities, assuming that if something is important, it will somehow find its way to the surface.

If they have made a practice of avoiding searching for each other’s more vulnerable inner worlds, many intimate partners, instead, engage in repetitive, negative interactions that they seem unable to adequately resolve. In my working with them, it quickly becomes apparent that they are unable to do so because they have either never shared some of their deeper thoughts and feelings with their partners, or buried them because they created a threat to the relationship.

When I observe those kinds of limited or superficial interactions in their therapy sessions, I’m reasonable certain they have done exactly that. Without either never have known each other’s deeper fears, traumas, and vulnerabilities, never have known them, or forgotten them, they are unable to go beyond what they have practiced.

If they are willing to re-open a genuine exploration of what they may have missed in the past, suppressed, or are currently ignorant of, I can take them to a place of a more genuine connection and re-open their hearts to a deeper and more alive connection.

I’ve designed an exercise that will get them there. It’s called “How Can I Make You Feel Better Loved by Me?” It is in two parts. The first has each partner asking a series of two sets of unique questions designed to identify his or her past or current hidden fallibilities, wishes, vulnerabilities and genuine wishes. It gives the listening partner needed information he or she needs to restart, rehabilitate, and regenerate their love for the other.

The second part is when the partner who has written down the answers to those questions, shares them with his or her partner. The partner listening does not comment, but simply listens with compassion and interest, even if they are surprised, defensive, or emotionally moved.

If you are ready and willing to challenge your own relationship limitations, I invite you to try this exercise together.

How Can I Make You Feel Better Loved by Me?

One partner will ask the two sets of questions in order. The first set of questions uncovers words and actions that can help that partner feel more deeply known, safe, and cherished. The second set of questions brings forth any words or actions that may hurt, offend, or distance that partner. The partner being asked silently writes down the answers to both sets of questions, one at a time, but does not share those answers during this part of the exercise.

The listening partner does not comment or interrupt. He or she is there just to take the information, to listen with compassion, and to more deeply understand what the other person feels and thinks.

At the end of the first set of questions, the partner answering them then reads the answers aloud and the inquirer listens but does not comment.

The couple then sits quietly for a short while to let the new information sink in while keeping their hearts open to each other. Without any more exchange, the second set of questions is asked and the same procedure follows.

The couple decides who should go first and they then alternate the exercise.

Section One Questions – Words and phrases that soften and heal

Whether from childhood, media experiences, fantasies, or past relationships, every man and woman know some of the words, phrases, or behaviors that would melt their hearts. Though many of them may be easy to know and share, others may be harder to access, especially if they’ve been hidden by traumas from the past. Some may even be embarrassing to share, especially out loud or expressed for the first time. The answers will also be strongly influenced by voice intonation, body language, facial expressions, rhythm, timing, and touch.

If you are the first person to start answering the questions, you will respond by writing the answers down on paper after your partner asks you each of them. If there are specific past experiences that come up when you think of them, jot them down as well. When you share these with your partner later, they will help him or her understand you better.

If you are the listener, you will be simultaneously listening to what your partner is telling you from the past while imagining whether what he or she is sharing is taking place in your current relationship as well.

1. Think of someone from your childhood with whom you felt safe and cherished. Can you remember the sound of that person’s voice, and the words he or she used that gave you those wonderful feelings?

2. What kinds of words or touch help you the most when you are already feeling badly about something you’ve done?

3. When you are feeling insecure or shaky about your own value, what phrases could I utter that helps you feel better about yourself?

4. What is the best way I can respond when you are irritated or upset that would help quiet your distress?

5. When you feel depressed or pulled in, what is the best way I could respond that would help you to feel better?

6. When you are distressed but can’t understand why, what would be the best way for one to respond?

7. When you need something but are afraid to ask, how can I make that easier for you?

8. What are the words, phrases, or behaviors that you see in others that would melt your heart were they to come from me instead? In what kinds of circumstances do they occur?

9. If you are angry or hurt at me, what is the best way for me to help you to sort through your feelings and thoughts?

Section Two Questions – Words, Phrases, or Behaviors that hurt or distance

All of us have been hurt or betrayed in some way in our lives. Sometimes those experiences leave traumatic scars or trigger-quick negative responses that we may not even see coming. If we haven’t shared those with our partner, he or she can misunderstand the severity of a past experience, and may inadvertently respond incorrectly. Even though it might not, in any way, be appropriate to your current relationship, the person re-experiencing the trauma may feel as if it is again happening in the present.

Past traumas are not always easy to share, but if they are tap roots that could damage or destroy your current relationship, your partner can only help you if he or she knows what they are. Also, certain words, phrases, or actions are easy to misinterpret if the partners come from different backgrounds. When a partner is sharing a painful or embarrassing thought or feeling, he or she is often overly sensitive or vulnerable. If they are not interpreted correctly, they can be hurtful when not meant to be. That is why silent and compassionate responses are important.

Following are the questions that tap those potentially painful places. Again, if you are the speaker, write the answers down. Try to include any memories you have of when those experiences occurred and how they caused you distress.

Again, as the listener, you may become aware that you have inadvertently or unknowingly said or done some of the things your partner will share with you. Though that may be painful to hear and realize, do not tell your partner at this time.

1. What are any traumatic experiences that have happened in your life that have left heartbreak scars, and the words and actions that accompanied them?

2. What are some of the words or actions that I might say that can make you feel defensive or badly about yourself?

3. Were there any words or phrases that people called you in your childhood that labeled you in ways you felt misunderstood, mocked, or invalidated?

4. What words or actions have undermined your self-love and self-confidence?

5. Are there any words or actions that have been particularly offensive or painful to you?

6. Where have you felt the most misunderstood and unfairly defined in our relationship and what would you have preferred?

7. If there was anything I could change to make you feel more comfortable and more beloved in our relationship, what would that be?

8. When I am angry, upset, or don’t like what you’re doing, what is the best way I can express my feelings to you without setting off your need to defend or counter-punch?

9. What are the words and actions of mine that are the most consistently hurtful or dismissive of you?

This exercise is not easy, but deeply moving for most people. In the process of sharing these experiences, vulnerabilities, and open desires, intimate partners become accountable to each other in a whole new way. They now have information that honestly tells them when their partners feel loved and when they feel damaged. Any future words or actions must then take those new learnings into account. In other words, neither partner can feign ignorance once they know what is true.

That new knowledge, of course, cannot guarantee that both partners will always be able to remember or act on it. But it helps them to take responsibility when they cannot, and to keep from blaming the other when they slip. “I didn’t mean to hurt you,” becomes “I knew that might hurt, but I wasn’t yet able to keep from saying or doing it, and I’m so sorry.” Or, “I knew that saying something different would really help, but I was too upset myself to give that to you in that moment.” The answers might not feel good, but the interaction does not blame either partner.

It is so much easier for a couple to be on the same team when both are willing to work on these changes together. When they are successful in coming together, they become more confident in knowing how to accurately love each other in a whole new way.

Here Ten Ways to Defuse the Hostility of People Who Are Angry

We all dread dealing with the anger of those in our inner and outer circles. In fact, I can’t think of even one person who has described with relish an enjoyable moment dealing with the anger of a co-worker, a friend, a child, a stranger, etc. Dealing with the bitter, the hostile and the antagonistic among us is not easy for any of us but we can probably all agree that some of us are better equipped at dealing with the angry than others.

And this makes perfect sense. It is extremely unpleasant and anxiety producing to face the wrath of individuals who seem to give themselves permission to express their anger freely and to direct it at individuals who may or may not have anything to do with the creation of this feeling. And, most of us prefer harmony to conflict, right? Who among us feels good about themselves after getting yelled at, devalued or even ignored? We as members of many communities want to feel good and experience harmony in our daily connections. We thrive with social support and smooth interpersonal connections. Nonetheless, there are lots of angry situations that we all deal with and I would like to impart some skills that may make dealing with antagonism easier and a bit less draining. The goal of course is not to eradicate all anger but instead to face it down with some skills in your proverbial tool box.

Let’s begin:

1. When feeling barraged by the angry tirade of an individual either in person or on the phone consider remaining silent until the person calms down. As long as there is no threat of violence this often works well. The angry often run out of things to say if you don’t give then them any material to work with. You see they are often hoping for you to react and a lack of reaction may make them feel foolish or even bored or ineffective.

2. Similar to the advice in Number 1 you can listen quietly and perhaps even nod occasionally. This, too, may have the effect of frustrating the bitter person who at the very least will go seek to do his or her dirty work elsewhere or even alone.

3. Express empathy. I know. This seems so odd but this may work simply because it is such a paradoxical and unexpected reaction. Try “That must be so difficult for you” or even something like “That doesn’t sound like fun.” I must warn you to never ever make the mistake of saying “I’m sorry you feel that way.” That last statement always leads to increased frustration and agitation. I kid you not. Remove this statement from your vocabulary as soon as possible.

4. Change the topic. Ask the person questions about a topic that they have some expertise about. Who, after all, doesn’t long to talk about what they are good at? If you are not sure what this person is good at then change the topic anyway and ask questions about a neutral topic. Look, people like to talk about themselves. That is the simple truth.

5. If the anger is too fast and furious and you do not want to be around it then excuse yourself. Simply state that you have another task to attend to and the person will hopefully either move on to a different feeling or a different audience. It’s very interesting to watch emotional tone change within different contexts and with different audiences.

6. You can try stating that you are having a bad day and simply can’t be helpful with your conversational partner’s mood and difficulties. You are sorry but you simply don’t have the emotional reserves to be helpful today. You see that redefines the roles. The angry person is then seen as a needy rather than as an angry person. Interesting, huh?

7. If you feel that you can do this genuinely then you may want to validate the angry person’s feelings. Only do this if you are being true to yourself, okay? You can try something like “That must be so enraging,” or even “I can’t imagine having to deal with that.”

8. Guide said angry person to a different arena. Perhaps you can suggest that they make a phone call or even express their dismay in a letter. This may serve two purposes. You will be able to exit the situation more easily and you may even have provided the individual with another modality for expression.

9. Angry and disgruntled individuals often speak very quickly. Ask them to speak a little more slowly so that you can understand them. Generally, when individuals slow down their anger dissipates. Go ahead and try this if you are so inclined.


10. Be a good role model. If you choose to speak to the angry and bitter among us then speak softly and slowly. They may just choose to try your style. At the very least you are not joining them in their unhealthy tirade.

Keep in mind that I am not at all suggesting that you tolerate unreasonable aggression from those in your life. Sometimes the anger becomes abusive or so intolerable that you have to cut ties with people. We are all well aware of that. I am trying, instead, to assist you in dealing with the sometimes emotionally unregulated among us. I hope that this is helpful.

Dr. G.

This The Ones We Love

“How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?”— Albert Einstein

We each perceive love in our own way. Your perception of love would be determined by your past experiences. If you were raised by particularly difficult parents, your perception would be totally different than that of someone raised in a family with two loving, caring and devoted parents.

Did your parents openly show or express their love for each other and you? Most often, the love we’re shown is the love that we will then show to others.
As we all have a unique perspective on love, how would one define it? There is the love of a partner, yet the love for a child is different. There’s the kind of love which is felt for a sibling, and then quite another for our parents. An inanimate object such as a good book can bring about an entirely different expression of love, or what about a favorite hobby?

What I have found is that we each would arrive at our own definition of love if asked. But, when asked to describe how you feel love, unless the person you’re addressing has felt the same depth of emotion, they could only truly understand if they too had foreknowledge of the emotions involved in the act of loving.

Ask your friends and loved ones what their definition of love is. I bet you’ll get different answers from each person you meet. Take these definitions and internalize the depth of emotion elicited—good or bad. All emotions teach us compassion and unite us with one another.

Author’s Bio:

Experiencing paranormal and spiritual phenomenon for more than five decades, Lisa began seeing spirit at the young age of four years. Around the age of six Lisa knew there was more to this world than what we see in the here and now. Information was imparted to Lisa about living multiple lifetimes and thus began her deeper understanding of the spiritual realm, reincarnation, and the possibility of communication with those in-between lives.

Today, Lisa’s communication with departed loved ones and ancestors have touched thousands of people worldwide. Lisa is a Survival Evidence Medium, meaning she is able to bridge the gap between that of the living and the dead by providing evidential proof of life after death via detailed messages and proven facts.

Lisa has written countless articles, which have been featured on websites, in print magazines, and her own personal blog. Her first book, The Lessons Of Jesus Christ, was published in 2013. Her book, The Visible Energy Around Us: A 4 Week Guide To Reading the Aura is a self-study class you can take at your own pace. Two more books are in the works; From His Lips: 365 Daily Devotions From Jesus Christ and Tracking; Following Your Loved One’s Passage To Heaven . She has made appearances on television and radio and co-hosted on CBS and Blog Talk Radio. Lisa teaches spiritual development classes and holds public Spirit Galleries nationwide.

Lisa has presented at a multitude of Spiritual, Metaphysical and Consciousness events. Her sense of humor as well as her vast knowledge of the subject matter make her an internationally sought after speaker, presenter and instructor.

Body-Mind-Spirit-Festival: Lisa was a reader, vendor, presenter and performed Demonstrations of Mediumship.
Your Spiritness Expo: Lisa served as a reader, vendor and performed public Demonstrations of Mediumship.
The Awake & Empowered Expo: Lisa sat on the Spiritual Development and Consciousness Panels, did a performed a Demonstration of Mediumship, and presented The Cycle of the Soul.
The Afterlife Awareness Expo: Lisa is a vendor and does private readings.
CBS Radio: Radio host
The Woman’s Everywhere Expo: Lisa is a vendor and does public Demonstrations of Mediumship and presents on a multitude of spiritual topics.
Blog Talk Radio: Radio Host
The Body, Mind, Spirit Expo: Lisa is a vendor and does public Demonstrations of Mediumship and presents spiritual topics.
The World Of One Expo: Lisa is a vendor, will do select readings, and performs public Demonstrations of Mediumship.
Healing Body & Spirit Expo Psychic Fair: Lisa will be a speaker presenting upon her book Tracking, doing select readings, Demonstrations of Medium, and have a vendor booth.
Intuitives Interactive Expo: Lisa will be speaking upon the Ethic and Professionalism of Psychics and Mediums.
Lily Dale Assembly: Spiritual Development Instructor

Lisa is continuously updating her skills in the fields of Mediumship, Spiritual and Personal Development, Metaphysics, and Parapsychic Science. She is a certified Spiritualist Healer, Reiki Master, Certified Spiritualist Medium, Certified Psychic Medium, Ordained Spiritualist Minister, Ordained Metaphysical Minister, and currently holds a Bachelor’s degree in Metaphysical Sciences from The University of Sedona.

Are You a Realist or a Romantic For Your Relationship

In romantic relationships, people are generally either realists or romantics. Very few people describe themselves as endowed with both a romantic spirit and a realist’s practicality. At the same time, many men and women search for relationships that are both exciting and stable, passionate and long-lasting. Yet, as many of us can attest, finding and sustaining this kind of a romantic relationship is hard. It requires partners learn to tolerate and cultivate both romantic and realistic parts of their own personalities.


Realists try to accept other people as they are, without insisting on improvement. They focus on making their relationships run smoothly and do not demand or crave fireworks. As a result, their romantic life tends to be stable and predictable, yet not particularly passionate or exciting.

My client Valerie is a realist. She grew up with a depressed, emotionally withdrawn father and now looks for closeness and connection in her relationships with men. At the same time, her love affairs lack spontaneity and excitement. Emotional stability and sexual monotony eclipse experimentation and surprise.

But Valerie complains that her romantic relationships become dull. And she blames her boyfriend for their joyless, lackluster romantic experiences. What she doesn’t realize is how precious this stability is to her—even when it borders on boredom.


By contrast, romantics value and pursue spontaneity and surprise. Some romantics are so afraid of boredom and repetition that they refuse to commit to one person. Thomas, a gay man in his thirties, prides himself on being an incorrigible romantic. His ideal partner is a charming intellectual with the body of a fitness model, and he refuses to settle for anybody less than his fantasy man.  Romantic love, he states, should not be sullied by bickering about household chores. Unfortunately, that perfect relationship remains a figment of Thomas’s imagination and he struggles with loneliness.

Reconciling reality and fantasy

People often realize it would be a good idea to keep one foot in reality and the other in romantic fantasy. But how do you do that?

Whether you are a romantic or a realist, it’s tempting to look for a partner whose personal qualities complement your own.  However, the same traits that were attractive in the beginning: “she was so fun and romantic” or “he seemed so grounded and reliable” can become the source of tension and frustration as time goes on.

Valerie and Thomas both turned to therapy to make sense of this struggle. I invited them both to examine their roles in romantic encounters; roles often outside of their conscious awareness. As they explored their habitual–and often overlooked–ways of thinking about the romantic and realistic traits in themselves and their partners, I asked them to consider the following:

  • Explore the romantic and realistic streaks in your personality both as gifts and potential limitations. For instance, idealizing your lover’s beauty and cleverness can make a romantic relationship more exciting and less likely to become boring. However, you may be ignoring red flags, such as a partner’s inability to make or keep commitments.
  • There is always a tension between the need for routine and stability on the one hand, and desire for surprise and spontaneity on the other. The same romantic or realistic traits that are so attractive in a partner at the beginning of a relationship can become the most bothersome as time goes on.
  • Cultivate traits that might not come naturally. Valerie has given herself permission to be less serious and act with more spontaneity. Similarly, Thomas is coming to terms with the fact that sexual passion without commitment has its limitations.   Along the way, they are gradually learning to tolerate and appreciate the unavoidable clashes between fantasy and reality, love and desire.

As they become more appreciative and accepting of the inescapable tensions between reality and romance, Valerie and Thomas experience their new romantic involvements as both exciting and grounding, intriguing and intimate.

Info Caregiving and Complicated Family Dynamics

Caregiving for an aging, ill parent is a common, though generally gruesome, experience. And, witnessing and experiencing family violence is also a painfully common reality. As a culture, we have slowly learned to be able to talk more about each phenomenon thus removing some of the pain, isolation, stigma and turmoil of each. Yet, nowhere do we really talk deeply about what it means to care for an aging and ill parent who also happens to have been an abuser.

According to The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2009), 65.7 million caregivers make up 29% of the U.S. adult population providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 43.5 million of adult family caregivers care for someone 50+ years of age and 14.9 million care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia (2012). And, caregiving is gendered: an estimated 66% of caregivers are female.

So, what about caregiving that takes place amidst complicated family dynamics such as abuse and control? It is important to acknowledge how common family violence is. Most acts of domestic violence go unreported so the statistics on this are even harder to decipher. One in four women report having experienced domestic violence. Two million injuries and 1,300 deaths are caused each year as a result of domestic violence, and more than three million children in the United States witness domestic violence in their homes every year (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 2015).

It’s one thing to know the prevalence of these issues; it’s another thing when the magnitude of it all hits home. My adoring and abusive dad was very sick for almost eight years, and this gave me time to reflect on and wrestle with the complexity of his behavior and personality and the effects it had on me. As an only child with parents who split up very late in life, in their sixties and seventies, I was enmeshed in other complicated ways of caring for my dad after the divorce.

It was in the context of caregiving and writing about it that I have had to think about my resistance—to my dad’s abuse, his affection, his illnesses, and ultimately his death, and I have also had to think about all the things that drew me close to him—to his abuse, his affection, his illnesses and his death. Yes, precisely the same things that repelled me had gravitational pull.

Family violence is a dynamic process, not an event, that takes varying shapes and forms, often over years, and it can be lodged in caregiving. Caregiving, also a process and not an event, can be lodged in a context of family violence.

Years ago, I shared with a colleague in film studies my idea for writing a book about these intertwined phenomena, and he said, “I can imagine if it were a film, the trailer would be, ‘Caring for the parent who didn’t care for us.’” It surely sounded like a slick line. Over the years of describing this project to others, they have summed it up much the same way as my colleague, attempting to package it neatly and absolutely, with not much gray area. It’s as though people interpret that there is care, and then there’s the absence of care.

But, the thing is, that rendering is less than truthful. I wanted to learn to care well and lovingly for my dad in spite of, and maybe even because of, his history of abuse.

Caregiving and family violence are each predicated on dimensions of ambivalence. Of what it means to stand on a precipice of love and fear. And what it means to navigate betweenforgiveness and blame, care and disregard, and resilience and despair.  It’s about figuring out how we might come to live our own lives better in and through grief and healing.

For me, healing from abuse has been multi-pronged—besides therapy which I think is profoundly useful, I have found healing through teaching and researching about family violence, counseling abusers, working with survivors, and writing about it. But, far and away, the most significant healing has occurred for me in two ways—first, perhaps surprisingly, actually being nestled in the uncomfortable, painful and intimate caregiving relationship with my dad— and then writing about that creatively in memoir. I never would have imagined that healing from abuse could have occurred in the context of caregiving, but for me, it did.

A childhood friend told me that the most meaningful advice I had given him when he was caring for his father with dementia was to make new memories. Both caregiving relationships and painful family dynamics present us with this redemptive, healing challenge.

Eight Signs You’re a Romantic Introvert

Introversion can be defined as “the tendency of being predominantly interested in one’s own mental life.”[1] When it comes to matters of the heart, an introvert may think, act, and communicate in ways that are different than those who are moreextroverted. Sometimes her or his intentions are misunderstood, or overlooked.

Here are eight signs that you may be a romantically inclined introvert, excerpted from my book: “Relationship Communication Success for Introverts.” Although this article focuses primarily on dating and courtship, many of the ideas examined below apply to committed romantic relationships as well.

Of course, each individual is unique, and some introverts many exhibit few or none of these signs. Nevertheless, the characteristics identified below are consistent with multiple studies and writings on the topic of introversion.[2][3][4][5][6] Many introverts are likely to have at least a number of the following traits:

1.   Looking to Meet “The One”    

Introverts often adopt a more thoughtful, introspective approach to courtship, and tend to take romantic relationships seriously, often from the outset. Instead of “flirting around,” “casually dating,” or “playing the field,” many introverts focus primarily on finding “the one” partner who is right for her or him, and then settling down. For introverts, the “game” of courtship and dating involving multiple prospects is often tiresome. When someone who may be the right partner appears, and a committed relationship forged, dating rituals are quickly left behind with a sigh of relief.

2.   Seeking Trust and Dependability in a Mate

Many introverts look for reliability from relationships in general, and romantic partnership in particular. Reliability, along with trust, fulfill the core needs of many introverts: safety and security for the more emotionally oriented, and predictability for the more analytically oriented.[6] Most introverts, of course, seek a combination of all of these needs.

To be sure, many extroverts desire safety, security and predictability from a partner as well. However, instead of being primary and central needs, they are more likely part of a mix of other qualities sought by extroverts (especially during courtship) such as fun-loving, spontaneity, adventuresome, social savvy, charisma, etc.

3.   In Courtship, Hinting and Hoping to Get Noticed

When I was young, one of the adult tutors who volunteered at my school was an intelligent but quiet man. Years later, I learned that he was romantically interested in one of the teachers. But instead of expressing himself directly, he hoped to catch her attention with his volunteer work, which lasted for quite some time.

Some introverts express their romantic interest in a higher context manner, which simply means that they tend to hint, imply, or put themselves in an opportune situation, and hope to get noticed.[7] An introvert may be active in the hinting and positioning, but passive in waiting for the romantic prospect to take notice and respond.

Of course, this indirect approach to courtship may or may not yield desired results, and could generate mixed-messages and misunderstanding. For some romantic introverts, this is a source of hidden longing, disappointment, and heartache.

4.   Spending Time Thinking or Reflecting About Love

Being more introspective by nature, many introverts spend time thinking and reflecting about romantic relationships, far more so than their extroverted counterparts, which tend to focus more on action. This analytical process may include the period prior to dating, when one contemplates the qualities of an ideal mate, as well as during courtship, when chemistry and compatibility of the relationship are evaluated closely (more on this in point number eight).

5.   May Enjoy Fantasizing About Romance

Since research suggests that certain introverts tend to be fantasy prone, it is not surprising this characteristic applies to romantic fantasies as well. Some introverts enjoy fantasizing about, or “losing oneself” in romance, whether the fantasy is based on a real life scenario or fiction. This is especially true for introverts who are more emotionally oriented, and may apply to some cerebral introverts as well. Forms of fantasy engagement may include, and are not limited to reading, writing, entertainment viewing, internet surfing, gaming, art making, or just regular daydreaming.

From romantic interludes to sexual fantasies, these are parts of the rich and multi-faceted inner world of the introvert.

6.   Prefer to “Take it Slow” in Courtship

Once an introvert begins to date a romantic prospect, she or he may prefer the relationship to progress slowly but steadily. In many ways, this is healthy and plays to the introvert’s strengths: The opportunity to get to know the partner better, and observe whether the relationship will progress satisfactorily over time. For some introverts, a fast and intense romance – like loud noise and bright lights – can feel overwhelming. It’s better to take things slowly and steadily, in order to forge a more reliable relationship.

7.   Even in a Happy Relationship, Need Time to Recharge

For many introverts, even when they’re in a satisfactory romantic partnership, it is still important to have alone time, both to recharge one’s batteries, and reflect on the progress of the relationship. For introverts, this is an important aspect of relational health, as having “downtime” provides the inner retreat necessary to reorganize and rejuvenate, before reaching out again.

8.   Processing What Went “Right” or “Wrong” After a Date or Dispute 

During courtship, it’s natural to want to process details of a positive or negative romantic outing after the experience, and consider what might have gone “right” or “wrong.” Both extroverts and introverts do this. However, whereas an extrovert may do so publicly, often as a form of socialization with others, introverts tend to do this either quietly within oneself, or privately with one or two confidants. In some cases, an introvert may risk over-analyzing a relationship. However, since most introverts prefer to observe and reflect before they speak and act, this internal process is an important tool to help make better sense of, and feel more at ease with navigating a relationship.

The Time When Your Teenager’s “In Love”

There was this song that came out when I was 13 years old.  It was by Dan Folgelberg, and I played it over and over again on my Pioneer turntable.  It went like this:

“Longer than there’s been fishes in the ocean.  Higher than any bird every flew.  Longer than there’s been stars up in the heavens.  I’ve been in love with you.”

I learned the chords on my guitar.  I hummed it while I rode my bike to and from school.  I mouthed the words as I shaved the blond peach-fuzz that was sprouting where a mustache might some day take hold.  I was smitten by this song.

The way I figured it, there were any of a number of girls in my 7th grade class whom I could easily imagine entirely and without any conflict whatsoever loving until the end of time.

Isn’t that funny?  I could totally picture, at the pudgy age of 13, falling utterly and “I-don’t-give-a damn-who-knows- it” in love with about 30 different girls.  My love would be absolute and uncompromising, just like in the Dan Folgelberg song.  It just didn’t matter that much to me which girl I’d be in love with.  It was like any girl would do.

I was in love with the idea of my being in love.

Here’s another embarrassing revelation:  I used to have this thought-experiment that I’d do with my friends when we were at camp. If, and here you just insert the name of any girl who has currently kidnapped your ability to be rational, if that girl was with you, on the shores of a lake like the one we had at camp, under the pine trees and staring at the reflection of the full moon as it painted a silver streak across the water, and if the night were just a little bit chilly, and if we both were startled and tickled to hear the lonesome call of a midnight loon, then there was no earthly way that either of us would be able to resist making out that night.  It was as if my friends and I figured that there were these settings, these songs, these perfect scenarios, where the potential for romance, the opportunity to kiss someone, was among the most fundamental laws of nature.

You can see that Valentines Day for me, in my dreams, was near epic.

Now I hope I’m a bit wiser, and without question I’m a lot older, but still I have to admit that this love thing doesn’t always add up.  I don’t even think it’s supposed to.  If it added up, there’d be no Shakespeare or slow dances or gushy texts that today’s teens wish they hadn’t sent.  I mean, think of Romeo and Juliet.  For goodness sakes, they just met!  And they’re going to die for each other?  That’s how crazy things can get.

Nevertheless, in honor of Valentine’s Day, and because these elusive subjects are kind of my job, I’d like to try and tackle love.  I harbor no illusions.   I don’t think I’m likely to bring any kind of grand profundity to understanding this funky emotional dalliance.  Love just plain doesn’t make sense a lot of the time, and indeed, much of the suffering that comes into my office is about the stubborn unwillingness to accept this painful realization.

“Help me,” kids say, “to understand why all this has happened.  Why did it feel so totally right and then become so horribly wrong?  Why were we so sure, after we tried on each other’s glasses and found that we seemed to share the same prescriptions, that we had found a soul mate?  And why, WHY, does it hurt so much now that it’s over?”

I can’t really answer that question except to say that it just does.  It hurts.

This stuff doesn’t lend itself to explanation.  It never has.  In fact, as parents we get ourselves into trouble when we try to explain this cliche to our kids.  More on that in a bit, but first, let’s look at the research.

To be sure, there are some pretty cool findings.  Much of the academic literature is categorized under the term Affiliative Behavior.  For example, there are lots of studies that suggest that the capacity to solve disagreements with a loved one improves the longer you’re together.  Well, duh, you might say.  You might reasonably conclude that the capacity to resolve disagreements with your romantic interest HAS to improve with time or else the relationship fizzles and dies.  That’s kind of true, but that’s not the punch line.  It turns out that many people in the early fazes of romance, what people who study love call “romantic attraction”, have virtually no disagreements.  It is as if the two people who are together are in synch with the universe.  The disagreements come later, after the “romantic attraction” progresses towards “romantic attachment.”  That’s when the two people who thought they were amazingly in synch find out that they have disagreements.  There’s even data to suggest that the you can present people who have just fallen for each other with clear examples of where they powerfully disagree, and it’s not just that they choose to ignore these factors.  It’s as if these factors never even existed in the first place.

If you think about the exquisite pain of a dissolved relationship, the notion of being in synch and then jarringly out of synch makes sense.  Being shoved back into the world of individual differences is soul crushing.  It’s like losing a piece of yourself, because for that brief, early period of romantic attraction, you lose track of where you end and of where the other person begins.  We shrinks could try and warn kids about some of this, but it wouldn’t’ do any good.  It’s in our species’ DNA to romantically merge.

Adults, and especially parents, play a super-important role in all of this.  There are studies that measure kids’ response to their parents’ attachment to each other and to the kids themselves. You can even measure these attachments by assessing in parents and kids the content of a brain chemical called oxytocin.  Though this is way oversimplified, it turns out that the more oxytocin you see for parents in their own relationships and the more oxytocin you see in parent-child relationships, the more likely it is that the kids will themselves enjoy relationships characterized by longevity and the capacity to withstand conflict.  In short, if parents demonstrate how to get along with themselves and with their kids, then their kids are measurably better at getting along romantically.

Still, parents quite understandably might feel flummoxed when they see their own kids stagger from the fickle tricks of Cupid’s arrows. If your teen is head over heels for someone, don’t spoil it and tell your little lovebird that it isn’t love.  First of all, that’s kind of missing the point.  This is a crush.  I’ve always thought that we call it a crush because that head over heels feeling literally has the capacity to be soul crushing.  Anything that powerful isn’t about to yield to mere logic.  If you tell your teen that he’s not in love, or if you insist that her love isn’t real, you probably won’t start an argument. Your son or daughter will just think you’re talking nonsense. Then they’ll listen to whatever their version of the Dan Folgelberg song is and dance out of the room.

Parents, when your teen is in the midst of all this, just hold on to the side of that ancient roller coaster.  Remember that your kid has his or her hands in the air.  The rollercoaster is gaining speed, and the ride, by definition, is going to end.  You want to be good and steady if and when things go south.

Because, as a rule, most teen romances go south.  That’s not a tragedy.  That’s the way of the world.  Teens are practicing romance, and your job as parents is to be there to pick up the pieces and put things back together again.  That’s not the same thing as raining on the parade.  If that break-up occurs, don’t try to explain it.  I know this is shrinky (I’m a shrink, after all), but go with the feeling and not the logic.

Don’t say: “Listen, son, of course you broke up.  This is just a teen romance.”

Say something more like: “I remember when I broke up with my girlfriend.  It hurt like hell.  Let me know if you want to talk about it.”

And then watch your child for signs of not bouncing back. Remember that most of us survived that heartbreak, but also know that this is a very vulnerable time.  Check in, empathize, and be available.  That’s the best you can do, and that’s actually pretty awesome.  It is one of the most wonderful and painful aspects of being a parent.  That’s what gets the oxytocin flowing for the next go-around.

It’s quite a ride, this love thing.  It just doesn’t make all that much sense, but then, think back to that first crush.  Did it ever make sense?

Valentine Day

Valentine’s day may have its origins in the Lupercalia, an ancient Roman, and possibly pre-Roman, pastoral festival. The Lupercalia were celebrated on the ides of February, and subsumed the spring cleansing ritual of Februa, which gives the month of February its name. By purifying the city and purging it of evil spirits, the Lupercalia brought health and fertility. Priests sacrificed a goat and a dog to the god Lupercus, whose image, nude but for the girdle of a goatskin, stood in the Lupercal, the cave in which a she-wolf (lupa) suckled Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome. Lupercus is associated with Faunus, the Roman equivalent of Pan, the Greek god of the wild.

The origins of St Valentine (or Valentinus, meaning ‘strength’) are so obscure that, in 1969, the Catholic Church removed him from the General Roman (liturgical) Calendar. There are at least three early Christian saints by the name of Valentinus. One was a priest in Rome, the second was a bishop in Terni, and the third was martyred in Africa. The flower-crowned skull of one of the first two Valentines can be venerated in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. In 496, Pope Gelasius I established St Valentine’s February 14th feast day, perhaps to replace or Christianize the rowdy Lupercalia. St Valentine, usually represented with birds and roses, became the Patron Saint of courtly love, lovers, affianced couples, and happy marriages, and also beekeepers, epilepsy, fainting, and plague, among others.

Over time, legends grew around the figure of St Valentine. According to one prominent legend, he was a priest who attracted the opprobrium of Emperor Claudius II. Believing that bachelors make better soldiers, Claudius prohibited marriage for young men, but Valentine continued to marry them, and, when challenged, attempted to convert Claudius to Christianity. To punish him for his insolence, Claudius ordered that he be beaten, stoned, and beheaded. While in prison awaiting his ordeal, Valentine fell in love, or made friends, with Julia, the blind daughter of his gaoler Asterius, and sent her secret letters signed ‘from your Valentine’. He restored Julia’s sight, and, beholding this miracle, Asterius converted to Christianity.

It is not until the epoch of courtly love in the Middle Ages that the feast of St Valentine became linked with romantic love. The earliest evidence of this association is fromParlement of Foules (1382), a poem by Chaucer to honour the first anniversary of the engagement of Richard II and Anne of Bohemia: ‘For this was on St Valentine’s Day (seynt Volantynys days), When every bird/bride (byrd) cometh there to choose his mate.’ In England, birds do not start mating in mid-February, but by the Julian calendar in use in Chaucer’s time, 14th February would have fallen on what is now 23rd February. The oldest known valentine is a rondeau (a mediaeval verse form) to his wife from Charles, Duke of Orléans, who had been captured at the Battle of Agincourt (1415) and locked up in the Tower of London: Je suis desja d’amour tanné, Ma tres douce Valentinée…

Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday is one of the several things that Shakespeare helped to popularise, with these lines in Hamlet spoken by Ophelia: ‘To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day, All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine.’ By the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging cards made of lace and ribbon had become commonplace in England. In the 19th century, the custom spread throughout the English-speaking world, and then, in the later 20th century, well beyond. Today, Americans spend some 30 billion dollars a year celebrating Valentine’s Day, which, after Christmas, has become the most popular card-sending holiday. Women buy 85% of all Valentine’s Day cards, but men buy over 70% of flowers and, according to the National Retail Federation, fork out twice as much overall!

Here Tips for Your Wedding Photoshoot

You think: “Photo Shoot, whoopee!” Or do you just think: “Photo-shoot … meh”. What your response may be: Let’s look at the photo shoot in perspective. It is by no means the most important part of the day! It is not even the most important part of the wedding photography! A picture of your mother with a tear or the laughter of your brother, after 10, 20, 50 years are more valuable. It’s about the stories, the moments, the little spontaneous things that are almost invisible during big moments. These pictures are more important than the one picture of you in that beautiful forest with a perfect composition.

Yet, if you guys are so nicely dressed, it’s nice to have photos showing well how you look. Of course to have a little fun. Sorry, no one could give a complete list of all the beautiful places in your country, but your photographers can see an area which is eligible and how he can shinen you! Your photographer will therefore always considered doing.

How long does such a shoot, is quite different, but most couples choose to one and a half hour schedule (excluding travel). Of course they all are open to a shorter (or longer) photo shoot, but your photographer know experience that he can shoot a nice variety of photos at this time without the need to rush.

You meet for the first time during the ceremony? In that case, it is of course not possible to place the photo shoot for the ceremony. No problem! You can then immediately after the ceremony or getaway during the reception slip to take nice pictures. Remember, you think you during that time not to socialize with your guests and bubbling. Many find obviously unfortunate, so most couples therefore choose to shoot a place where you do not have to travel far. Usually that is so in and around the wedding venue.

If on the other hand you have a meeting before the ceremony begins, it gives more opportunities for the photo shoot. It is then not necessary to let the guests only and Wedding photographer Washington DC, Virginia Maryland are more flexible in choosing a cool place.

Regardless of when you meet for the first time during the wedding: it is still possible to insert a brief photo opportunity during the so-called “golden hour”. So they can at the end of the dinner a bit secretly go out for some pictures during a beautiful sunset. And you guessed it: this is somewhat dependent on the weather.