Category Archives for "Relationships"

May 03

Attachment Styles and Theory – Understanding Rollercoaster Relationships

By Marcus Neo | Relationships

Ever felt like you can’t live without a certain relationship, be it a friend or a romantic partner? Or do you find yourself too afraid to be alone or make decisions on yourself? In psychology, the attachment theory can be used as a useful model to explain why your relationships have succeeded or failed in the manner they did. It can also point out repeated patterns of your relationship problems.

Research shows that anxious and avoidant people frequently end up in relationships with one another. The avoidant types are so good at putting others off that oftentimes it’s only the anxious types who are willing to stick around and put in the extra effort to get them to open up.

Think of the man who constantly pushes away a woman’s needs for intimacy. Someone with a secure attachment will simply accept the rejection and move on. However, an anxiously attached woman will be more determined by a man who pushes her away. The avoidant man then is reassured that he can behave independently around her and ultimately avoid emotional intimacy.

When one chases, the other runs, and this goes in circles.

From an emotional needs standpoint, both the anxious and the avoidant have a fundamental belief that their emotional needs aren’t important. Hence one denies their emotional needs by avoiding it, and the other attempts to force it down someone else’s throat.  Ultimately, both end up failing to get their needs met in a relationship.

Psychological research backs it up as well, people with the same level of self esteem end up dating each other.

I experienced this chaser and chase pattern in my first serious relationship with my ex-girlfriend.  Every time I chased, she ran. Every time I got sick of it and threatened to leave, she came back chasing. It was constant, tiring too and fro. It felt exhilarating at times, however, it’s not long before that relationship ended up exploding. 

Someone with insecure attachment who enters a long term relationship and someone with a secure attachment can be “raised up” to the level of secure over an extended period of time. Unfortunately, insecure attachments such as the anxious or avoidant can also “bring down” a secure attachment.

Extreme negative life events such a divorce, death of a child, serious accident, lost of friendships, can cause attachment types to fall into a more insecure attachment.

Secure Attachment

People with secure attachment strategies are comfortable with displaying interest and affection. They are also comfortable being alone and independent. They’re able to prioritise relationships accordingly and are able to draw clear boundaries and stick to them.

They also have a positive perception of others and positive perception of themselves. They make the best romantic partners, family members and friends. They are capable of accepting rejection and moving on despite the pain but are also capable of being loyal, sacrificing when necessary. They have little issue trusting the people they are close to and are trustworthy themselves.

Anxious Attachment

People with an anxious attachment style of attachment value intimacy to such an extent that they become overly dependent on the attachment figure. Compared to securely attached people, people who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment tend to have less positive views about themselves.

People with anxious attachment have a positive perception of others and negative perception of themselves. This strategy may be developed in childhood by infants who receive affection and care with unpredictable sufficiency.

Avoidant Attachment

People with avoidant attachment types tend to be independent, self-directed, and often uncomfortable with intimacy. People with avoidant attachment have a positive perception of themselves and negative perception of others. This strategy may be developed in childhood by infants who only get some of their needs met while the rest are neglected.

Anxious-Avoidant Attachment

People with this attachment style are much less comfortable with expressing affection. They frequently deny and suppress their feelings. They commonly have a negative worldview on others and view themselves as unworthy. These mixed feelings are combined with unconscious, negative views about themselves and others. They often have other emotional problems in other areas of their life: substance abuse and depression. This attachment type is commonly developed from abusive or negligent childhoods.

The Narcissist and the Co-dependent

In a dysfunctional relationship, there’s the giver and the taker. The giver is the one that always gives and gives without taking, as he or she feels unworthy of the validation or unworthy unaware of his or her own emotional needs

  • The Narcissist

The taker, the narcissist always takes and takes because he or she is unable to meet their own emotional needs and is attempting to fill a void.

The narcissist only cares about his or her own needs. He’s the overly domineering one in social interactions. This is the annoying individual who is always going on and on about him or herself and is unable to empathize with the people around them. It’s always him, his stories, her failures or her successes. They aren generally unable to listen.

Hanging out with a narcissist equivalent to social waterboarding.

They always require more because external validation is a temporary high, it feels good at the moment but is still an empty victory. I’ll argue narcissists get more results in their dating life than co-dependents, just because of their willingness (and blindness) to assert themselves in spite of negative social feedback.

The taker, the narcissist is unable to generate self-esteem from within and hence strives to generate it from relationships.

  • The Co-dependent

If your life choices, decisions or self esteem is dependent or another person, you may have a co-dependent relationship. This can be your best friend, your parents or your romantic partners.

Co-dependents find themselves in relationships where their primary role is that of the rescuer. Their happiness is reliant on their ability to meet their partner’s emotional needs and not their own. 

Unresolved patterns of co-dependency can lead to other problems such as alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, sex addiction, self-destructive and defeating behaviours. Co-dependents also have higher chances to form abusive relationships, stay in stressful jobs or relationships.

The listener, the giver, the co-dependent who listens to the narcissist’s troubles quietly and doesn’t give any input. He or she just takes it in and may seem sympathetic to the narcissist’s sorrows. That’s because the only way the listener can feel loved or accepted in that social situation is to tend to someone else’s emotional needs.

For the Overly Attached: Note on Roller Coaster Relationships

Ultimately, overly attached relationships lack true intimacy, boundaries and both partners’ needs do not get their needs met. They both are unable to accept love and validation, yet at the same time strive for love, recognition and have a desperate need for love and validation from others. 

Psychologists argue that our unconscious is constantly attempting to seek out attention, love and validation that we lack from out parents growing up the from people around you as adults. There’s research suggesting that parents who view their children as an extension of their own self, hence, getting their needs met by the child leads to the child to believe that his or her own needs aren’t important. The child becomes attuned to the parent’s needs and feelings instead of the other round.

This can play out in other areas of their lives other than your relationships. You may overcompensate and seek to meet your unmet needs through sex, achievements, financial pursuit or just about any area of life. Look, everyone needs a pat on the back and validation at some point, the question to ask yourself is this: are you pursuing something to scratch an itch or are you scratching an unresolved need.

The Attachment Theory – Self Esteem Model

The problem with a lot of dating and relationship advice is that they don’t encourage the expression of emotions from a secure standpoint. Instead, they promote insecure strategies such as using of lines, techniques in attempt to manipulate someone into doing something. This way you’re blocking out any genuine real emotional engagement.

You can argue that women that are willing to stay around and be manipulated are probably anxiously attached. The inability of an avoidant attachment styled male to express genuine affection and intimacy triggers her anxious attachment that makes her chase even more that in turns rewards the avoidant style that he adopts.

If you’re wondering if attachment theory has something to do with one’s self esteem. You’re right. Psychologists also hypothesised a model showing one’s attachment strategy corresponding to the self image of yourself and your perception of others. Your attachment style is connected to self esteem, emotional needs and vulnerability. These ideas are interlinked.

Can Your Attachment Style be Changed? 

I was a hard core avoidant throughout my teens up till my early twenties. Since I started therapy, one anxiety uncovered another defence. Okay, if you’re reading this and determined you’re either a hopeless codependent or a raging narcissist. Hear me out. The good news is that attachment styles can be changed. One of the ways is through therapy. The bad news is that it’s slow and difficult. There was a period of time that I was going through a phase of emotional vomit and flipped between anxious and avoidant attachment.

There’s an attachment theory test that you can take to find out your attachment type. If you don’t want to take the test, then rely on the above examples to roughly give you a guess on your style of attachment. 

The Litmus Test

How do you know if you are overly/ underly attached? You can ask yourself some questions:

  • Do you have your own life handled or are you merely using your relationship as an excuse?
  • Flip it around and ask yourself if the person across you has his or her own life going on, or is he or she living vicariously through her relationship?
  • Are you dependent on each other for each other’s happiness, or are both of you already happy as individuals with or without a relationship?

If your happiness is derived from making extreme sacrifices to meet your partner’s needs. Then it’s a red flag. Now, I’m not saying you can’t sacrifice for each other in a relationship. However, there’s a difference between sacrificing for someone and a lack of relationship boundaries.

If you’re the giver or the listener, then you need no more often. It’s time to stop being Mr Nice Guy/ Woman. You’ll need to assert your own needs and get your fair share in your relationships. The point here isn’t to be overly selfish or aggressive. It is to find a fine balance between caring for their own and other’s people’s needs.

Or maybe you’re a raging narcissist and constantly get pushed away by others. You may want to take a step back. 

Unfortunately, I’m not immune. In my life, I had my fair share of stages in my life where I was slightly co-dependent or swerved to my narcissistic side. 

The best forms of relationship are not exactly independent, but interdependent. An interdependent relationship is where two partners support each other unconditionally. They are able to generate self esteem on their own. but aren’t vicariously living through each other. It’s two independent individuals choosing to support each other towards aspirations. All in all, I’m happy to report that today, I’m a lot better at handling my relationships. 

Works Cited

Alan Rappoport, P. (n.d.). Co-Narcissism: How We Accommodate to Narcissistic Parents.Retrieved from AlanRappoport.Com: http://www.alanrappoport.com/pdf/Co-Narcissism%20Article.pdf

 Hazan C.; Shaver P.R. (March 1987). “Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process”J Pers Soc Psychol52 (3): 511–24.

Feb 29

How to Be Vulnerable – The Power of Vulnerability

By Marcus Neo | Relationships

I grew up in a culture where men aren’t supposed to be showing their emotions. You know, the typical Asian male. He’s suppose to stoically get into a good University, do something related to Science or Math, get a ‘stable job’, get a wife, raise a couple of kids and achieve career success, whatever the hell ‘career success’ means.

How to be vulnerable? What is vulnerability? You may think it’s some thing you do that’s feminine, soft hearted and sprinkled with fairy dust. 

Singapore, my home country, also happens to be one of the costliest cities in the world. A patriarchal society where the metric of success of largely measured by material wealth and academic success. You’re supposed to achieve these pursuits stoically. The expression of any emotion or vulnerability along the way is seen as weak.

However, vulnerability isn’t only limited to the emotional aspect of it, but also social vulnerability and physical aspects of it.

Boldness

The first form of vulnerability is your willingness to risk rejection and embarrassment. The truly confident individual will not be afraid to show that he’s attracted to her. The truly confident man pursues a woman based on his own values and desires.

He’s has no problems with rejection. He understands he cannot be accepted by everyone, and rejection is inevitable. This form of confidence also cannot be attained by external factors.

The process of attracting women is controversial and polarizing by nature. Why do you think all the girls go for the ‘bad boys’? That’s because they stand for something. They are a leader and are willing to face humiliation, rejection, and controversy.

Ramit Sethi, talks about excellence versus vulnerability. He doesn’t really like people talking about ‘how vulnerable they are’, because he argues that it’s easy to be vulnerable, and difficult to be excellent. I’ll argue that excellence, is also part of being vulnerable.

The Power of Vulnerability

I define the second form of vulnerability by the willingness to open yourself up. The majority of men get confused with what vulnerability looks like. They think it’s a macho activity where you HAVE to be dominant or right in every conversation. 

He doesn’t just run his mouth on everything and anything. There is weight in his word. When he makes a mistakes, he’s willing to apologize and admit it. He’s unafraid speak up, even if it means getting rejected. 

Now, take the second person. He has always done everything in his life to fit in to society. He studied hard because that’s what society told him to do. He gets a job not because he truly enjoys it, but because he’s afraid of not fitting in. He avoids conflicts. He never takes any risks in his life, too concerned about fitting in. When he fucks up, he tries to blame others or pretend like it never happened.

Who will you trust? Which of these two men is more powerful? Which one do you think women would be more attracted to?

In the dating advice community, the reason why many people memorize lines and techniques is because they are still using is a control strategy: it is ultimately to avoid the fear of rejection, instead of hiding behind scripted lines and routines, why not take some risks and be comfortable with your vulnerabilities?

Word On Vulnerability and Boldness

OKAY MARCUS!

Let’s tell women about my dead goldfish and how much I cried when I flushed in down the toilet. She’s going to love it and have sex with me.

One mistake that many people make when it comes to vulnerability is seeing it as an exchange.

Vulnerability has to be expressed unconditionally, as a gift, and not used as technique or a line. If you share a heart-breaking story to get attention, validation or love from the opposite sex, then you’re not being vulnerable, you are downright manipulative and desperate. 

However, if you’re sharing a story as a means of relating to the emotions and experiences of someone else. Then, that’s just the who you are. That’s an honest expression. There’s no desire to control her perception of you.

Emotional Vomit

Secondly, you should not use being vulnerable as an opportunity to unload an inappropriate amount of emotions and personal history onto someone else. 

Emotional vomit is difficult as it’s genuinely vulnerable, but on the other hand, it’s you being honest about how pathetic and needy you are.

It may feel good in the moment. However, emotional vomit only doesn’t actually fix anger or hurt. Emotionally vomiting actually points you to do the healing, however, not is ISN’T the healing itself. However, at times, it’s necessary, and part of the process. I recommend consulting a therapist, where healing can be done in a safe environment.

The golden rule: any form of vulnerability HAS as to be accompanied with personal accountability.

How to Be Vulnerable (like actually)

Let me ask you, what’s the difference between having a general enthusiasm for meeting new people versus using scripted lines hoping to get a positive reaction from a potential romantic partner? One is a long run behaviour and one is a short-run behaviour. One is sustainable and the other one isn’t. One is a vulnerable behaviour and the other isn’t. 

Vulnerability is actually nothing like that, it’s about being introspective and engaging emotionally. 

If you’ve bottled up your emotions throughout your life, the more painful these actions are going to be. The less you talk about your shame, the more you have them. Eventually, you’ll have to be responsible for your baggage.. If not, you’re just going to be resentful, angry and frustrated, turning off everyone that comes your way.

Perhaps you realize your anger of towards you ex girlfriend stems anger towards your parents and this is the first time in your life you’re forced to confront this issue. When I was rubbing up against my emotional realities, I found myself at developing weird beliefs and getting extremely angry at certain people in my life.

The Shit Test Paranoia

The term ‘shit test’ is a common terminology used in the men’s dating advice industry where woman consciously uses tests to figure out if a male is really who he portrays himself to be or not.

Hence everyone’s half afraid of ‘shit tests’. Usually, these guys rely on ‘game’ and perceive other people’s behaviours as something that can is controlled. They think it’s a logical mathematical game to be won, they see social interactions as something that you can just run the numbers and it will just happen. These behaviours fall into non vulnerable behaviours.

If you take this worldview, the friendly way she jokes about your hair suddenly becomes shit test. That honest question about your job becomes a ‘shit test’. That concern from her that you don’t speak to your Dad becomes a ‘shit test’. Every time a genuine question of what you do for a living becomes a shit test, every time a woman makes fun of you becomes a test, on the other hand, she could just be genuinely concerned and or interested.

It’s a miserable perspective.

Sometimes, they’ll continue to pursue a woman even when it’s a clear big fat NO from her. Why? That’s because he thinks that she’s merely ‘testing him’.

If you’re strong in your values and boundaries, then it doesn’t what the opposite person across you says. I don’t care if she’s testing me or not. If she’s trying to play mind games with me, then I’ll simply ignore her and move on. I prefer spending my time with women that don’t play mind games. 

Of course, I know, there are people out there that purposely set hoops for you to jump through. However, we’re looking for high self-esteemed, non-bitchy, non-manipulative partners to be with, right?

  • The ‘I Have a Boyfriend’ Issue

Now, you’re going to run into this common line. Some girl down the road is going to say that she has a ‘boyfriend’.

There could be mainly a couple of reasons why she’s saying that: 1) she really has a boyfriend. 2) She’s not interested and is politely rejecting you. 3) Let’s presume she’s REALLY testing you. Then she must be quite screwed up person to tell you that she has a boyfriend to try to get you win her over

Hence, it doesn’t matter, just move on. If she is trying to fuck with you, then she is out.

The Power of Vulnerability 

I don’t just hold these standards in my relationships in my dating life. I hold these standards with my personal friends, my business partners, my clients and my family.

You put in less effort, you’re no longer spending time coming up with witty one liners, you’re no longer spending time worrying. You actually get to enjoy your relationships. Well, the whole point relationships IS to enjoy each other’s company, RIGHT!?!

The psychological research demonstrates that you are who you hang out with. If you’re genuine and honest in your behaviour, people are more likely to respond in a genuine and honest manner. If you constantly attract manipulative women who’s constantly testing you, then there’s something manipulative in you that you don’t see yet.

The majority of us like you and I were brought up in way as to not express our emotions. Don’t be controversial. Don’t be unique. Don’t do anything ‘crazy’, ‘stupid’ or ‘selfish’. You need to be ‘useful’ to society. Straying from the conventional path is seen as ‘rebellious’. Expressing yourself openly about topics such as sex is shamed upon, divorce is seen as taboo, being upfront and honest is viewed as rude.

They can come from our upbringing, culture or a combination of both. Perhaps, our parents themselves were shit poor with their emotions.

So how can vulnerability look like in your day to day life?

It can come in many minute manners. For some, it can mean actually putting in work for an examination, and finding out if you were all that smart or not. It can come in the form of finally taking action in your relationships and building the required social skillsets and behaviours to better your dating life. The art of being vulnerable can be expressed by pursuing that lifestyle or job that we’ve been hesitating to pursue, making that career switch, that business hustle, and other pursuits that we’ve held back because of the fear of what our family, friends and society might think.

You’re going to rub up against your fears. You’re going stand out. You’re going to risk rejection and embarrassment. You are going to face inevitable failure, in a multitude of tiny and macro ways. Unlike everything else people tell you, real personal growth is not always rosy. In fact, many a times, it’s often downright painful. However, it’s necessary for long term growth and happiness.

 

Feb 27

How to Overcome Shame – Toxic Shame Recovery Guide

By Marcus Neo | Relationships

Shame is a concept ignored in many of the dating and relationship advice and self help community.  It isn’t exactly sexy or the new trend to be talking about your childhood issues. However, my personal belief is that people struggling with issues in their personal life to relationships may be struggling with shame.

How Does Shame Occurs

Shame is the belief that you’re fundamentally flawed as a human being. Shame often leads to emotional discomfort and the gnawing belief that one is inherently flawed, defective and unworthy of love. Shame is different from guilt. If you feel guilty, there’s no judgment on yourself, on the other hand, shame places a judgment on the self.

Shame may be formed in childhood, and is the result of early trauma, emotional abuse and negative experiences. 

  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Strict/ Religious Upbringing
  • Neglected family background
  • Growing up in dire economic conditions

These events may lead the child to internalise that he or she fundamentally isn’t worthy of love as an individual. That he or she is only worth of love from his actions or achievements and not as a human being. The child has to learn that he can not be perfect or even good at something and still be worthy of love and still not be defective. They are the repercussions of trauma.

Shame causes us to disconnect from pleasure or comfort.  Suppressing one’s core feelings take a huge amount of energy. It saps motivation and willpower to pursue worthwhile goals. Meanwhile, you are accumulating stress hormones, leaving you emptied out, with headaches, migraines, problems with bowels and sexual dysfunction.

Trauma triggers a fight or flight response. This cause anxiety or avoidance. You either react by being hyper aroused (anxiety) or you shut down from the stimuli (avoidance). It’s also an issue of being stuck in the past and as much a problem of not being fully alive in the present. The apprehension about being hijacked by uncomfortable sensations keeps the body frozen and the mind numbed. 

In order the avoid these negative feelings, some of the common coping measures of people inflicted with shame are:

These actions not only aren’t helpful, but they also exacerbate pre-existing shame. They create a deeper sense of emotional discomfort and a more powerful need, desire to escape and dissociate.

It’s suggested that shame based individuals didn’t receive the nurturance, unconditional love and their needs fulfilled when they’re a child. 

Someone that is shamed may seek to fulfil these unmet needs in adult pursuits through accomplishments, sexual pursuits, financial goals or any other means. This leads an ever fluctuation of self esteem and mood, because the external world is always changing and one’s self esteem cannot be dependent on the reactions of others. 

Ultimately, if you go on to try to meet these unmet childhood needs solely through external pursuits. They are band aid solutions. 

In such cases, one is reacting to an insecurity by either avoiding, surrendering or overcompensate around that insecurity. If one is overcompensating in that certain aspect, it’s feeds further into that insecurity. For example, if an individual is insecure about his sexuality around women, attempting to overcompensate and sleeping with a hundred girls is still feeding that insecurity. The way to get comfortable with your sexuality isn’t trying to have sex with the whole planet but to find that middle ground of not overcompensating or avoiding that insecurity. 

The Problems that Come along with Shame

  • Self Criticism 

One of the effects of shame is self criticism. The amygdala is designed to detect threats in the environment, when we experience a threatening situation, the fight or flight response is triggered and the amygdala sends signals that increase blood pressure, adrenaline and cortisol.

This system was designed to deal with physical attacks and is activated just as readily by emotional attacks. From ourselves and others. Over time, increased cortisol levels lead to depression by depleting various neurotransmitters involved in the ability to experience pleasure. It leads to a lot of unneeded daily mental stress, as if you’re constantly in fight or flight mode.

  • Self-Handicapping

Shame based individual’s self handicap themselves a lot. This can play out not only in your relationships, but in all other areas of life.

This is because they perceive every rejection or failure as a judgment about their identity. It’s the guy who doesn’t studies and goes into the examinations. If he failed, it would be an easy excuse to say: well, I didn’t study after all. If he did alright: he’ll be able to say that he could have done better if he had studied. It’s much easier to go in half assed, and not put his identity on his line, rather than give it his best, and put himself up for failure or rejection.

  • The Sub human/ Super human Dichotomy

Shame based individuals may also have trouble integrating worldview. This is also known as the subhuman and superhuman dichotomy. Everything is all or nothing, black or white, one extreme or another. Everyone’s your best friend or your enemy, every pursuit is your life purpose or a waste of time, everyone girl you date is either your soul mate or a time sink. They cannot see a situation or a human for it is good and bad, and understand that it can both occur at the same time.

How to Heal Your Shame

In my own experience, it’s difficult to heal shame through willpower or pure discipline.

  • Psychotherapy

Human beings are driven by unconscious and subconscious drives and some times, circumstances that are out of our control. Our minds are really smart at building up defence mechanism.

You may find yourself in temporary frustration of the surroundings around you, upset at how little you expected out of yourself in the past, upset at all the decisions made out of shame.

Nonetheless, the only way is through and the self responsibility of healing growth and change. 

So far, I’ve discussed methods that are self generated. However, as with everything done by your own, it has limitations. 

One of the most helpful ways to get a third person’s perspective is the hire a professional psychologist. You’re dealing with someone who you can openly talk about your shame, who is capable of not only listen to it, but help you with it. 

There are many forms of therapy that can help with resolving trauma and shame ranging from cognitive behavioural therapy to EMDR. 

You’re going to find yourself being angry at certain people in your life for no reason. More often than not, behind anger is almost always hurt and sadness. Instead of feeling hurt, you covered it up with anger.

In psychotherapy, the aim of it is to make unconscious emotions conscious and to grief through them. 

It’s only after you identify the root of these responses that you can start identifying why you behave in a certain way and another.

You cannot put traumatic events behind until they are able to acknowledge what has happened and start to recognize the invisible narratives you’re struggling with. 

Through being more forthright about your thoughts, feelings and desires to yourself and others, you’re closer expressing your shame, expressing parts of yourself you were embarrassed about. 

  • Cultivating Mindfulness

Shame often leads us to be disembodied, removed from our physical experiences and often unable to experience the pleasure that we would normally experience if not for all the layers of shame. 

Learning to locate tense body parts and progressively relax them in anxiety-provoking scenarios (real or imagined) allows us to re-experience our bodies in non-shaming ways. This way, you nudge yourself to explore our sexualities in new, safe and pleasurable manners, you can chip at your emotional habits.

One of the techniques I found helpful over the years was to be aware of how I was feeling of my body. This is to simply focus on the sensations in your body when you’re in different situations. 

You can yourself questions like: why does that part of your body feel stuck when I’m talking to this person. Was I repressing a certain emotion? 

Mindfulness puts us in touch with the transitory nature of our feelings, beliefs and perceptions. Simply noticing our annoyance, nervousness, anxiety, helps shift our perspective and opens up new options other than automatic, habitual reactions.  You can recognize the ebb and flows in your emotions, and ultimately have more control over them. 

  • Meditation

Meditation can also help by observing our thoughts, emotions throughout our day. By being aware of our beliefs, you can test out new beliefs and find new evidence to support new beliefs.

  • Challenging Your Core Beliefs

You can also try to figure out where did these old beliefs came from. These beliefs probably came from past experiences in your life. This may come in the form of overbearing, critical parents, past trauma from past experiences. For EG. If you had been constantly turned down by your parents when you’re in need for affection, you’ll may constantly feel unworthy of love or attention. 

In my case, my core belief is that I’m not ‘useful’, ‘smart’ or ‘hardworking’ if I don’t have a ‘practical’ degree. The counter argument for that would be: I’ve consulted two businesses in their digital marketing campaigns and achieved results for them, there’s no reason why I’m not ‘useful’, ‘smart’ or ‘hardworking’.

  • Self Compassion

Through the last few years, researchers have taken an increased interest in the subject of compassion. There’s been research done between shame and self compassion. 

Research also suggests that self compassion is significantly associated with positive mental health benefits and adaptive function.

When I first started bettering my social skillsets, the primary motivation was to get better with women and influence others. There were many instances where I ended up feeling empty inside at times. It’s almost as if I was trying to please others, or become someone else in order to win their approval. I felt like I could understand them, but they couldn’t understand me. It’s not enough to be understanding or empathetic to your world around you. You got to extend it to yourself. 

  • Social Support, Safe Relationships and Communal Rhythms

Safe relationships are important for the healing process. You need to find someone who is emotionally mature enough to talk to and express your hurt and anger without giving you biased advice or judgment. Social support and safe relationships are one of the key factors when getting better with trauma. 

It is going to be difficult to express grief in modern society. You need to find yourself someone that can REALLY listen. Family members or friends around you might feel impatient if you’re in the grieving process. This is why I highly recommend hiring a therapist and letting him or her do the heavy work for you. 

I also recommend keeping a community of friends around you and take part in social activities. Socializing is a helpful activity to find a sense of connection.

There’s research that goes to show that taking part in activities involving music and communal rhythms can help with trauma. This can come in the form of aikido, kickboxing classes, tango dancing and other forms of communal rhythm.  Some of these activities helps you reconnect with your bodies. Traumatized people are afraid to feel, remember? When you play together, you feel physically attuned and experience a sense of connection.

Jun 20

How to Deal with Rejection – Compatibility and Chemistry

By Marcus Neo | Relationships

No matter how much charisma you think you have, or how you alter your behavior, a good portion of people you meet isn’t going to be interested or available at that point of time. Unfortunately, there are ton’s of dating and relationship advice out there that sells you a foolproof technique to get around dealing with rejection. Unfortunately, that’s just marketing. It doesn’t happen in real life.

It’s no surprise that the person who fails or get rejected the most often gets the most results as well. This doesn’t happen by chance. To get good at rejection, is to simply reframe your lenses on being rejected: your job is to get to the point whether someone either is going to move forward with us or not, in the shortest time possible. Instead of seeing a rejection as a negative, you can view it as a time saver. To save you hours, days and years of time sink.

How to Deal with Rejection

Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, a revered politician, stated that he thought love at first sight is foolish. He also famously defied Asian traditional by marrying a girl who is smarter or more successful than he is. He married his academic competitor, who topped his cohort, beating him to second place when he was studying in Raffles College. What Mr Lee Kuan Yew was gunning for was the filter of relationship compatibility.

You and I spend our time painting ourselves as social chameleons, attempting to make the best pitch to just about any human being with a pair of legs, hoping that they accept the pitch without questioning if they are the right dance mate for us. You spend all your time worrying about the person across you without thinking if he or she is compatible to us.

Compatibility and chemistry are concepts left out by majority of dating and relationship advice. Not because they aren’t important, but because these are concepts that can’t be optimized, scripted or changed.

Chemistry

Studies that show that people are attracted to the emotional make up of their parents. It’s suggested you can’t differ the love you once received from your parents with the love you are receiving from your partner.

Chemistry is defined by a high degree of sexual and emotional attraction. It happens on a subtle level and felt immediately by both parties equally.

Chemistry is the warm fuzzy feelings you feel when you’re around her. It is when you can’t get enough of him or her. The whispering of sweet nothings, the constant need to be with and see one another. They monopolize your thoughts day and night. You find yourself irrationally organizing your scheduling around him or her. You find yourself wanting to share with him or her about your daily events

Ever went through a roller coaster relationship, where you’re hitting new lows and chasing new highs every couple of weeks.

There’s research suggesting high levels of chemistry may come from opposite yet complimentary traits. Introverts usually have a high chemistry with extroverts. People who are orderly and organized may work best with people who are spontaneous and unorganised. Someone who is laid back with a wider perspective works best with someone who keeps a tight schedule and routine.

On the other hand when there’s a lack of chemistry, there’s a lack of emotional intensity. There’s basically a lack of mutual attraction. There’s no spark and no desire to jump on each other. There’s no long stares in each other eyes, there’s no rationalizing she’s an angel that descended from the heavens to save you.

You and I are influenced by psychological biases as human beings. Some of these biases may work against you. For example, in the mis-reaction tendency, a wonderful woman with terrible parents may marry a man who would be judged satisfactory only in comparison to her parents.

There’s also a quote that goes: “When I’m not near the girl I love, I love the girl I’m near”.

Compatibility

Compatibility is an intellectual construct on how well your lifestyle and worldviews fit together. You can have high levels of chemistry with someone, but poor compatibility. That’s when your lifestyles and values differ. In the long run, the relationship is most likely going to fall apart. Compatibility is key to long term relationships.

Compatibility and chemistry don’t always occur together. This is the law school professor dating a stripper. This is the rock singer in a band dating a hard-core Christian girl who goes to church every Sunday morning while he’s recovering from a hangover from the previous night’s gig.

Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • What do you want in a partner?
  • What are the feelings you expect to feel when you’re with them, how do they perceive the world?
  • Their goals in life and what they expect out of it?

You can have the best conversational skillsets in the world, however, at any one point of time there is going to be a large pool of partners that aren’t going to be attracted to you. Then there’s going to be a pool of partners that are attracted to you, who aren’t going to end with you because of their current life situation.

Navigating Compatibility and Chemistry

High compatibility but lack of chemistry is akin to dating someone who looks good on paper but is dry and boring. Having compatibility without chemistry is akin to ticking the boxes on someone’s dating resume saying that she’s the one because of X, Y, Z. When you’re together it feels like you’re pursuing her because it makes ‘sense’, as opposed something you look forward to. Sadly, this sort of arrangement happens a lot.

Compatibility is a also prerequisite I look for in a long term, committed relationship. I mean, my mental health is at stake here right?

Chemistry without compatibility on the other hand, usually leads to roller coaster relationships that entails a lot of drama. It’s the person you know is bad for you but can’t stop seeing. These relationships often begin quickly and passionately. You suddenly see yourself rationalizing away the fact that she has a track record of drugs. This when your friends stare, give you the same repeated advice, but you choose to continually go against their point of view. After all, love conquers all right?

You can’t have one without another. You need both chemistry and compaibility for a fulfilling, passionate long term relationship.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t choose to be with someone in the long run just because the sex, emotions are amazing, you should choose someone because you have similar life values and worldview. You also shouldn’t cut yourself short by being with somebody just because she or he looks great on paper.

How to Reframe Rejection: Incompatibility

Some times my clients ask me what should they do when people flake on them on dates. Should they chase them? Come up with a fancy text message to get their attention? Personally, I made a value of not dating/ associating with anyone who doesn’t value my time. The people that flakes on me immediately become incompatible. If you’ve drawn the line of not going out with people who don’t value you or your time, then you’ll no longer need to play the chasing game.

  • Life Circumstances

In my experience, most of the time (assuming you’re a well rounded individual) you get rejected not because you did something creepy or obnoxious, but because of life circumstances.

There is a ton multitude of external factors that prevent someone from moving things forward romantically or sexually with you.

External factors can range from being already attached, the number of days you have left within the city, her cat dying, her friend’s opinions on how you look like the ex-boyfriend that cheated on her. This is when are conversing with someone who looks at your longingly and deep into your eyes but holds back giving you her number. She probably has a boyfriend or a husband. These are factors that you can’t control.

These are perfect examples of the limitations of attraction and how most men and women at any given time won’t be available to you no matter what you do or say, or how attracted he or she is to you at that point in time. There’s nothing you can do when if you’re out with a virgin that has sworn off sex till marriage. It’s not about your ability to be charismatic anymore, it’s not about ‘persuasion’ anymore. No expert, line or ‘frame’ can help you. It’s a simple incompatibility.

It’s only when you reframe rejection and invite rejection by exposing your values in the shortest period of time possible. You cut out the mind games, you expose your needs, desires and you establish clear boundaries. You stop wasting time and moves things forward efficiently.

No matter how much you alter your behaviour, you’re going to reject a certain demographic of romantic partners. There’s no other way around it. The bolder and polarizing you become, the more people you’re going to attract and reject. Psychological research also backs this up, people of similar self esteem end up dating each other.

  • Psychological Projection

Projection occurs when someone projects one’s own unconscious judgment onto others in everyday life.

This often comes in the form of character judgments. In dating and relationships, it can occur when you meet partners who for whatever reasons, are uncomfortable with their own sexuality and they lash out at you for having attempting to move the interaction forward sexually.

These people may harbour trust issues or are completely uncomfortable with their own sexuality or the sexuality of the opposite sex. They may have a history of some sort of emotional, sexual abuse or had a string of disappointments or anger from the opposite sex.

Their belief systems on sexuality are negative and when confronted when with a sexually confident individual, they end up lashing out. They may accuse you of being demanding, sexist, overbearing, horny, untrustworthy and etc. They aren’t lashing out for a lack of attraction, but because they are attracted and that attraction scares them.

These accusations usually have little to no connection to reality and a truly confident individual will simply ignore these accusations. The more forthright and authentic you make yourself, the more polarizing response you’ll invite from others.

Redefining Rejection and Success 

How do you define yourself as someone successful in your dating life? By having three romantic partners at a go? By committing to one partner? Who’s more successful? The guy who dates 10 strippers at one go or the guy who commits to a long term relationship with one girl who he really enjoys being with.

It’s easy to get sidetracked into the ego boost or validation. After all these years, I’m still amazed at how poorly I choose my romantic partners at times, after all, our minds are filled with unreliable biases.

Take the average guy improves this area of his life by learning social skillsets. Not before long, he understands that dating and romantic relationships can be generated through his own actions and it’s not something that’s left to luck or fate.

“Self-development” is working out for him.

Through his newfound social skills, he goes around pursuing women who he isn’t genuinely interested in but for the sake of bragging rights. Is it an improvement after all right? He went from zero dates to many dates that he’s shit bored of. Forget about the fact that he isn’t really enjoying himself on these dates.

Unfortunately, this, is a failure in itself, although he went from not dates to dates with girls that he feels “meh’ about. He’s still avoiding feeling vulnerable and at risk of being rejected by women that he’s genuinely interested in. The avoidance of this feeling is a failure it itself.

“It’s better to fail on a date with a potential partner you desire, than to sleep with someone you don’t enjoy being around with.”

 – Marcus Neo Kai Jie

You and I have both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators when it comes to our dating and relationship lives. External motivators such as physical beauty cannot be the only metrics of success. In the long run, internal values such as respect, trust and empathy make healthy and meaningful relationships. Even though I value physical beauty, it is not the only metric that I hold in my dating life.

This is why it’s important to define your own metrics of success in dating and relationships, not some arbitrary metric defined by society or other ideologies.

The Power of Demographics – How to Get Rejected Less

Contrary to common belief, dating and relationships aren’t solely a numbers game. You CAN optimize your approach. You can narrow down your ideal partner.

Firstly, you can control the quality of people you converse with. Secondly, you can control how you dress, your conversations and how you present yourself. In general, the more empathetic you are, the more varied the demographics of partners you’ll be able to date and connect with. This is especially useful in Singapore, where you are exposed to a mixture of Asian and Western demographics with many subcultures with different value systems.

If you’re a hot shot engineer who is brilliant with physics and you want to date beautiful women, let’s just agree that a lot of them aren’t spending their time in libraries attempting to understand intricate systems. However, if you make the effort to cultivate a fashion sense, get competent at the ability to meet women in different demographics, you’ll have an advantage by being unique.

You can get closer to meeting your ideal partner by niching down the physical and personality traits of your ideal partner, finding her demographics, and putting yourself in front of social opportunities that’ll increase your chances of meeting someone similar.

Here are questions to ask yourself:

  1. What do you value in a partner? What personality traits and values are you looking for?
  2. How does you ideal partner looks like? The way they dress to their education level?
  3. How can you put yourself in demographics to meet someone that fits the image of your ideal partner?
  4. How you can develop social skillsets so you can start a conversation he or she in that demographic?

You’re not going attract one that comes you way. If you behave in a certain manner, you’re going to reject other demographics. That’s just life. On the other hand, if you attempt to be accepted by everyone, you’ll find yourself altering your identity and personality day after day, ultimately attracting nobody.

The more well read I become, the more I reject women (and people) who don’t read or aren’t interested in personal growth. I also can’t get along with women who aren’t capable of communicating on a deeper level: normally those that are solely focused on looking good on Instagram. Going on dates with them is an equivalent of social waterboarding.

Whilst I can force myself to lower my standards (and have done so), it’s no surprise that I find myself more compatible with girls who value intellectual curiosity.

The key here is finding overlapping values. If I am somewhat a nerd and enjoy reading up on psychology she enjoys debating human right issues. That’s an overlapping value.

The Art of Presenting Your Ideal Self

All of us share one common experience of obsessing over this one girl or guy at work or school. You probably do not dare to ask him or her out… and it has been months. You start dreaming of a perfect scene… you and her walking down the wedding aisle and you so desire that ONE person as your boyfriend or girlfriend.

I, like you, and millions out there once spent the good part of my teenage life fantasising over ONE partner. Taking months to speak to her, and then taking years to ask her out.

The better way to tackle this is not to obsess over one partner but to constantly present your ideal self. It is to constantly focus on becoming the ideal version of yourself. That’s where self-improvement comes in. When you focus on presenting the best version of yourself to the world, something that is immediately controllable, when the right person at the right time comes into your life, you’re more than prepared.

When you’re out on a date, instead of worrying if they like you, sit back and evaluate if he or she has the values and traits you’re looking for. This way you relieve pressure on yourself. You get to enjoy your dates and don’t have have a need to impress him or her.

Closing Thoughts

Ayn Rand said love is the expression of one’s values: it’s the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another.

Throughout the years, I find myself compatible with partners that are curious, intelligent and patient. I’m not bragging here or anything. I’m pretty disorganised, impulsive, unstructured and I’m not really good dealing with authority figure. . I can be quite blunt and forthright. Some times I say things that I don’t mean. For Eg: I like making fun of overweight life coaches and authority figures that take themselves too seriously. If she’s too caught up with me spouting unintended stuff instead of laughing it off, then needless to say we’re not going to get along.

Opposite qualities of being structured, detail oriented compliments mine. I find myself seeking out longer term relationships with partners who are working in fields that are making a contribution in some sort meaningful way. They can be doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and social workers. They also aren’t limited to the medical or scientific fields. She could be running a business to better the agriculture system of a third world country and I’ll find myself admiring her ambition.

I can’t date women whose main concerns are taking a hundred selfies a day and overly concerned about how she looks like on social media, it’s akin to social torture. If I get rejected by someone who has an attention span of a goldfish, I don’t perceive it as a rejection, I see it as incompatibility. This is the way I deal with rejection, by viewing it as a simple incompatibility, how about you?

Works Cited

Geher, Glenn.  “Perceived and Actual Characteristics of Parents and Partners: A Test of a Freudian Model of Mate Selection,” Current Psychology (Fall, 2000), vol. 19, no.3, 194-214.

Markey, P.M.; Markey, C. N. (2007). “Romantic ideals, romantic obtainment, and relationship experiences: The complementarity of interpersonal traits among romantic partners” (PDF). Journal of Social and Personal Relationships24 (4): 517–533.

 

How to Set Boundaries in Dating and Relationships 01
Jan 11

How to Set Healthy Dating and Relationship Boundaries

By Marcus Neo | Relationships

You can argue that the majority of dating and relationship problems are a boundary issue in one way or another. Years ago, I was enrapt in a relationship that felt great at times and just dirt poor other times. It was like a rollercoaster ride. It was only years later after knowing the concept of boundaries, that I realized that my ex-girlfriend and I had piss poor boundaries in our relationship.

So other than sparring yourself from rollercoaster relationships, why are boundaries important?

Firstly, strong boundaries are the cornerstone of attractive behaviour. Secondly, they create emotional health and are created by people with emotional health. They lead to emotional stability and healthy self-esteem. They are also something you can work on right away.

Okay, before you get into deeper details, let’s take a look if you have a boundary issue.

You May Have a Boundary Issue if You:

  • Constantly feel like people take advantage of you or use your emotions for their own gain?
  • Feel like you’re constantly having to “save” people close to you and fix their problems all the time?
  • Find yourself sucked into pointless fighting or debating regularly
  • Find yourself far more invested or attracted to a person than you should be for how long you’ve known them
  • In your relationships, you feel like things are always either amazing or horrible with no in-between. Or perhaps you even go through the break-up/reunion pattern every few months?
  • You tell people how much you hate drama but seem to always be stuck in the middle of it
  • You spend a lot of time defending yourself for things you believe aren’t your fault?

If you answered “yes” to even a few of the above, then you probably set and maintain poor boundaries in your relationships. If you answered a resounding “yes” to most or all of the items above, you not only have a major boundary problem in your relationships but you also probably have some other personal problems going on in your life.

What are Relationship Boundaries?

There are many reasons why someone may lack boundaries. Psychologically speaking, people with a lack of boundaries may appear may be motivated by an unconscious need to ‘keep the peace’ because of the fear of getting hurt.

So, what are boundaries and how do they look like?

Healthy Boundaries:

  • NOT taking responsibility for OTHER people choices, actions and emotions
  • Taking FULL responsibility for YOUR own choices, actions and emotions

Healthy Boundaries from the outside:

  • NOT expecting others to be responsible for your choices, actions and emotions
  • Other people should be responsible for THEIR choices, actions and emotions and NOT responsible for YOUR emotions and choices.

Dating and Relationship Boundaries

Examples of Poor Boundaries:

Since I’m Asian, I can use a couple examples from the Asian culture, I’ll chime in a few examples.

“If you go out with your friends tonight and not keep me accompany, I’m not going to give you allowance next month.”

“If you don’t study the subjects as I want you to, I’m not going to pay for it.”

“If you don’t do as I say, you’re not being filial to the family. Hence, you’re not a good child.”

This is an example of a parent’s expectation for his or her child to take responsibility for the parent’s choices and emotions.

In this scenario, the person is taking responsibility for actions or emotions that aren’t theirs or are expecting someone to take responsibility for their actions or emotions. When you set boundaries in your relationships, it can be as simple as saying no to someone and letting the chips fall where they may.

You’re NOT responsible for someone’s else emotions.

Flip that around, it’s also the willingness to take a no from someone else. That’s because if you feel crappy about hearing a no, you’re are responsibility for your own mood and not expect or blame anyone else for your emotions and choices. Ultimately, having strong boundaries does not mean that you don’t want your partners or friends to be happy. It just means that you can’t decide if your partners or friends are happy or choose to behave in a certain way.

The Breaker and Fixer Pathology

People with poor boundaries typically come in two flavors:

  1. Those who take too much responsibility for the emotions and actions of others
  2. Those who expect others to take too much responsibility for their own emotions and actions.

They are called the breaker, and the fixer. Interestingly, these two types of people often end up in relationships together. My first relationship was like that, it felt like it was us against the world. However, in hindsight, it was soul-sucking and emotionally tiring. She and I had pathologies of both the victim and saver, oscillating between both roles at different points of time.

  • The Saver

If you are someone who tends to feel a need to make their partners happy all the time, you may be playing the role of the saver in the relationship. You have a boundary issue. This is because, at the core of it, you’re attempting to decide/ control how your partner acts and feel.

The saver doesn’t save the victim because they actually care about the problem, but because they believe if they fix the problem they will feel loved.

  • The Victim

The victim creates problems not because there are real problems, but because they believe it will cause them to feel loved. If you are that someone who is always creating problems, expecting others to take responsibility for your actions and emotions. You are playing the role of the victim.

The saver and victim commonly end up together in relationships and often lead to unstable roller coaster relationships. In such scenarios, the lack of boundaries leads to needy, co-dependent.

From an attachment theory perspective, victims tend to be anxious-attachment types, and savers tend to be avoidant-attachment types. They both push away secure-attachment types. They may also grow up with parents who had poor boundaries in their relationships that led to their model of a relationship that is based on poor boundaries.

You may ask, Marcus, isn’t it cold and cruel to not care about others and fix their problems?

You see, the saver or the victim don’t ACTUALLY care about each other or the relationship, they are behaving in these ways to meet their own need for self-esteem through other people’s problems. The victim needs to create problems to feel loved whilst the saver needs to fix problems to feel loved. There isn’t any real authenticity or genuine emotional connection with these relationships.

Their behaviors are based on their OWN needs to feel loved and not actual unconditional love itself.

If the victim really cares about the saver and the relationship, he or she would say, “Look, this is my problem, you don’t have to fix it for me.” That would be actually caring about the saver.

If the saver really cared for the victim, the saver would say, “Look, you’re blaming others for your own problems, you should be responsible for it yourself.” That would be actually loving the victim.

The hardest thing for a victim to do in the world is to hold themselves accountable for their feelings and their life as opposed to blaming others. They spent their whole life believing they must blame others in order to feel any intimacy or love.

For the saver, the hardest thing to do in the world is to stop fixing other people’s problems and trying to make them feel happy or satisfied. They may have spent their whole lives feeling valued and loved when they were fixing a problem for someone. Hence, letting go of this need is terrifying to them as well. If you see your relationships as economical transactions, only seeing others as beneficial or economical exchanges, not only it’s a form of poor boundaries, it’s also going to tear you apart emotionally eventually.

The Boundary Problem in Modern Culture

Now, I may take some criticism for this, but I’m going to say it anyway. In Asian culture, there’s a cultural belief that children are inherently SUPPOSED to be filial to their parents or grandparents. It’s a common cultural Asian cultural narrative to love, respect and obey your parents JUST because they are your biological parents, not based upon the fact if they are good parents or not.

This often expressed in the value of filial piety.

I had a friend to said that he would give in to demanding/unreasonable requests to his parents just because they are paying for his University fees. His parents are using monetary support as a bargaining tool to get their child to conform.

I’m may piss off some you reading here but listen to me.

That is an unhealthy and toxic relationship dynamic between him and his parents with a lack of boundaries. On one hand, his parents are using money as a means to control their child’s behaviour. Secondly, on his end, he is giving up his self-respect, his honest thoughts, and desires because he’s afraid of not getting the money from his parents.

If your parents only provide for you financially if you give in to their whims and demands. It’s a conditional relationship. The underlying meaning of the relationship would mean: I only love you if you listen to me. I will only provide for you if you listen to me.

Firstly, these are a poor form of boundaries. Secondly, there isn’t any genuine support or affection in their relationship.

From personal experience in the Singaporean culture, there are many that have this perception that if their parents provide for them financially, it’s a MUST to give in to their parents, against their genuine thoughts, desires and beliefs.

Some of the people reading this might say: Marcus, you’re such an INGRATE for speaking out against the age-old values of filial piety. You’re Asian yourself and you SHOULD be filial to your parents.

Okay, shut up.

I AM filial to my parents. However, I act on it as a gift, with no expectations of return, as opposed to an OBLIGATION. There’s a difference.

The act and value of filial piety should be something that’s given unconditionally, rather than demanded or assumed because of cultural or social reasons. 

If you’re forced to visit your grandparents every weekend and you secretly hate it. Then you’re not acting out of a genuine desire to see and care for your grandparents. You’re doing it because you don’t want to piss your Mum and Dad off.

As I argued, acts of affection are only genuine if they’re performed without expectations.

Is It Okay to Sacrifice?

You may ask then, Marcus, what about making sacrifices for people you love? What about going the extra mile for best friends? What if my girlfriend wants me to call her daily? What if my pet cat requires me to stroke his belly 20 times a day?

I SHOULD make that sacrifice right?

Firstly, sacrifices that are made out of obligation aren’t genuine sacrifices. They are actually your inability to say no.

True sacrifice only comes in the form of unconditionally, as a gift, with no expectations of return. One common behavior I noticed during my stint as a dating coach for men is that they compliment women in hopes of getting her attention. Needless to say, they didn’t get far.

Sacrifice is only true and genuine when you desire to do it out of no expectations, as a gift, and not because you should feel obligated to or fear the consequences of NOT doing it.

You can simply ask yourself this: If you stopped doing an X behavior, would it change anything about your relationship with Y? Read: I know, the algebra. I’m Asian, live with it.

  • If I stopped picking her up from her house or sending her home, will she still love me?
  • If I stopped agreeing with her on everything she says, will she still love me?
  • If I told my friend that he should be on time in the future, and being late isn’t cool at all, will we still be friends?

If your answer is NO, it wouldn’t change a damn thing in the relationship, if you stopped doing a certain behavior, then that’s a good sign.

If YES, then you probably have a boundary issue. You’re making a particular sacrifice or behaving in a certain way because you fear to lose the relationship.

How to Set Strong Boundaries

I started off a YES man. I’d say YES to events, business opportunities, introductions, trips and I was the guy that was flexible and easy to get along. Yes, that helped a lot. However, as I grow, I realized it’s so much better to say NO and truly evaluate how and who you spend your time and effort with.

These days, I’m always evaluating how I feel after spending time with someone. If I feel emotionally recharged, listened to or that I learned something from him or her, I’ll continue pursuing that relationship. If I feel disrespected, belittled or unjustly criticized then I’ll stop.

In my business career, I had instances where potential clients waste my time by getting me to draft out long thought out proposals for their digital marketing campaigns and I don’t hear back from them. No, no more. You need to be a good fit to work with me.

I had instances where girls waste my time and don’t show up for a date. That’s on me. That’s MY fault. I didn’t qualify her properly. If I had disqualified and said: ‘You and I are probably not going to get a long because you’re always late’, she’s going to either straighten up or not waste my time by not showing up.

These days, I hold by these standards throughout all my relationships, from friends, family, clients, business partners, and life choices. In that sense, I’m valuing my time and myself. Only by valuing your time and yourself, that you can get others to value you and your time.

Here are some of the lines you can use:

  • I prefer not to discuss them as these matters are private to me’
  • I never kiss and tell’
  • I already stated my opinion and I’m not going to argue with you further.’
  • ‘If you keep doing X behaviour, then I’m going to leave.’
  • ‘This is are my values, and I hope you can respect that.’

Closing Thoughts

Setting boundaries by cutting an acquaintance out or an ever unaccountable friend is easy. It’s as simple as cutting them out from your life or seeing them lesser. However, setting boundaries and maybe even cutting family and best friends out are a lot harder. You can dump your girlfriend, you can’t dump a bad family member. Family relationships are the hardest to deal with. Trust me, I’ve been there.

One time, I stopped driving a couple of my friends around. I realized that if I stopped driving them around, they wouldn’t bother hanging out with me. Tough truth to face, but that’s life. When I go out with a girl on a date and she says something offensive, I don’t just play nice and ignore, I call her out on it. That’s a form of my boundaries. I don’t accept rude or offensive behaviours in my life.

How to Set Boundaries in Dating and Relationships 03

Someone with strong boundaries isn’t afraid to say no. He or she isn’t afraid of a temper tantrum or getting into an argument. He or she also understands that he may hurt someone else’s feelings at times and ultimately can’t control how someone else feels.

He or she also understands that a genuine relationship isn’t made up of two people deciding on each other’s actions or emotions, but instead, an unconditional relationship is made up of two people supporting each other, without judgment or expectations.