Category Archives for "Relationships"

Dec 22

How to Reject Someone When You’re Not Interested

By Ellen Orton | Relationships , Self Improvement and Social Skills

It’s impossible to create and maintain relationships with everyone we cross paths with. True, being rejected is a bottom-tier feeling, but it doesn’t mean the other party is excited about it. So what happens when someone you’re not interested in starts making advances? How do you reject someone without causing a backlash?

How to Reject Someone When You’re Not Interested

Bring It Up

In most cases, ignoring the situation and your pursuer only tends to complicate and strain the existing relationship. This is because your admirer believes you are yet to notice them or their advances, or you are just shy to reciprocate. Dragging on will only make it worse for them, and there is really no need to torture them with ambiguity. Bring it to an end as early as you can, especially if it’s a friend.

Preserve their Dignity

The goal is to let them down easy, not to tear their heart out or humiliate them. If you’re looking for how to reject someone nicely, it means that they are not bad or shameful people to associate with. If anything, their qualities are what make this tough. 

Even if you once met a boring person, you should not further limit yourself in communicating with others, look through dating sites and risk going on a date. 

Assume Responsibility

This might seem tasking and unnecessary, but when planning on how to politely reject someone, it is only fair you relieve them of any fault. To reject someone is a brutal task, so it would be kind to take fault. If possible, suggest that you share mutual attraction; it’s just that you want to protect their interest and feelings. You just seem to notice the flaws from your standing point should your relationship develop further.

The Friend Zone

Social media has somehow managed to turn friendship into the ugliest bonds, especially when one party harbours deeper feelings for the other. However, offering your friendship means you did not reject them as a whole, and you would like them to be in our life.

Some people make better friends than lovers, and friendship is not a consolation prize. You’re willing to offer more like a friend than as a lover, and that’s the real gift.

Using Cues and Hints

In most cases, not everyone can hold such a conversation or have the guts to be straight up about their lack of interest. So what happens now? If you’re looking for how to nicely reject someone without being upfront, then you should try sending cues instead. There are several things you could do to get your message across. Here are a few tips on how to politely reject someone.

Tips on How to Politely Reject Someone

  • Say You’re Seeing Someone Else

Even though lying about your relationship status is ill-advised, sometimes it is the only way to go. This is especially helpful if your pursuer is insistent on their advances. Telling them you’re already in a committed relationship makes it less awkward and personal. If you’re the witty kind, it won’t hurt to look up funny ways to reject someone, but be careful with your delivery.

  • Suggest Hanging Out in Groups

The last thing you want is someone you’re not interested in thinking you’re going on dates. Inviting other friends to hang out with you means that you are not interested in them that way, and you had not considered going out with them in the first place. If anything, friends act as buffers to prevent awkward situations and topics.

  • Say You Have Plans

Now, you can’t use this card more than twice, but it can really save the situation. Someone who likes you will want to spend time with you, so choosing your plans over them gets the message across. The goal is how to reject someone nicely, so please don’t go posting about how bored and lonely you are.

  • Ask to Hook them Up

It’s only fair you learn how to reject someone over text, especially if you don’t meet often. Thanks to texts, it is less awkward rejecting someone, and you can always change the topic.

Ask to set up your pursuer with a friend. This will prevent them from being hung up, and it also helps to shift the attention away from you. Of course, you want to ask the said friend first to avoid them being rejected twice.

  • Steer Away from Jokes and Sarcasm

The point is to avoid being a jerk, so be very careful with your choice of words. Even when working on how to reject someone funny, be careful about the jokes or quotes you use. They might seem funny or witty to you, while your pursuer might feel insulted.

If you’re trying to keep light on rejecting someone nicely via text, keep your sarcasm in check. It will help from further complicating the situation. Naturally, when someone is being rejected, their response will not be reacting to humor.

  • Be Careful With Your Lies

Naturally, a poker face will complement your lies perfectly, but that doesn’t mean you have to lie about everything. Keep it minimum – it is easier to sell a smaller lie. You can be blunt with your lies as well, especially if your pursuer is insistent. You can use your religion/culture card to get out of most situations. Some lies might be petty, but they will get the message across.

  • Don’t Leave Room for Uncertainty

Lastly, you will want to ensure that you leave no wiggle room in the situation. Redefine your boundaries, and check how you behave around them. Some people make advances because they misinterpret your actions and behavior, meaning you might be sending out mixed messages. In short, act out what you are willing to offer.

Conclusion

Rejecting someone is not a pleasant activity, and some will want to put it off as long as they can. Be sure that this will make it any easier for the people involved, so be done with it as soon as possible.

Dec 02

The Virtues & Downsides of Online Dating

By Joseph Bryson | Relationships

If you think about it, the fact that a huge number of modern relationships start on an online dating app isn’t really that surprising.

The internet has allowed for us to be more connected than ever before. We’re using it for business, we’re using it to shop and we’re using it to communicate with our friends and family, so why wouldn’t it also be used for romance? It makes sense considering it motivates out actions perhaps more so than anything else.

It’s not a new thing anyway when you think about what the actual function of it is. The internet has made it easier, but this sort of thing has kind of been around for over 300 years.

Even some 17th Century newspapers had personal ads for those seeking romance, and is that really any different from modern online dating? So really, it’s an entirely expected result of the internet becoming more advanced and more widely used.

Some people think it’s the best thing in the world and has made finding someone much easier, and others think it’s a waste of time and some believe that only the most desperate among us would resort to that.

Now, those who call it desperate are obviously just being jerks, but there are points to be made from both sides of the argument. Let’s have a look at some virtues and some downsides to online dating.

 

Virtue: The Options are Endless

You know the feeling when you’re single and you walk into a bar expecting to find someone you could potentially date or at the very least go home with for the night. Even if you’re confident, there’s only so many women there.

Even among the ones that are actually single and are looking for someone to meet that night, there’s still going to be many that you’re not compatible with. And as for the ones you are compatible with, are you going to talk to them that night?

How can you be sure that’s going to happen? Are you going to talk to every single woman in the bar? You won’t be able to, and that will turn what should be a fun night into a very stressful one. Online dating is not like a bar that has fifty women in it.

Now, there are over 30 million people in the United States alone using online dating sites and apps. That’s three times the population of Sweden. Let’s throw out a rough estimate here and assume that in your area, there are 5-10 thousand women on dating sites that you could potentially talk to.

That’s more people than you’ve spoken to in your entire life. And even if you are only genuinely compatible with a fifth of that number, that’s still a thousand women. Under what other circumstances are you going to find a thousand potential partners?

Online dating is unquestionably the path that will give you the most options.

Downside: Face to Face Communication is Always Better

It’s great that we are well past the days when if we wanted to talk to someone who wasn’t in our immediate vicinity, we had to send them a letter and not hear a response for possibly weeks. We can now write a message and have someone on the other side of the world respond in a matter of seconds.

Nobody will deny that this level of connectivity is indispensable and very useful for making new potentially romantic connections, but humans communicate most effectively when we are actually face-to-face.

This probably dates back to the earliest humans who could only communicate in person but it’s not like we’ve evolved past that, body language, tone of voice and facial expressions are still a huge part of how we express our thoughts and feelings.

And you get none of that in text form and even if you’re talking on Zoom you’re still not getting it entirely. So if you spend a lot of time communicating with someone through text before actually meeting them, you won’t know what they’re actually like.

You might end up with unrealistic expectations of them that they can’t fulfil. Or conversely, you might think that someone isn’t right for you, when you would feel the opposite way if you had initially met them in person.

Virtue: More Upfront information

Whilst it does generally depend on the app or site that you are using, you are going to have access to more information about the person you’re talking to. Some people will say that this is actually a downside, but I personally find it difficult to agree with.

Yes, there is a certain excitement to mystery and if you already know a lot of stuff about someone then it leaves you with less to talk about and discover, but at the same time, the more you know the better you can judge the likelihood of you actually being compatible.

You could have a conversation with someone and not realize until you’re an hour deep that they have a view which you find bigoted, or go on a couple of dates before realizing that you want completely different things out of a relationship. Online dating makes this less likely.

Downside: Cat fishing

You meet someone in person, you can see them and hear their voice. Online they could be anybody. They could be a different gender who is afraid to openly admit their sexuality or someone old and lonely who feels like they’ve missed their chance at love.

Sometimes cat fishing is very sinister and predatory, and sometimes it’s just a case of someone using older pictures of themselves or lying about their age, career or level of fitness. Either way, you don’t truly know who you’re talking to until you’ve met them.

That’s a downside for sure. Hell you might even be tempted to do this on some level yourself. But that’s not fair, you should be truthful and the stuff you feel compelled to lie about probably isn’t as big of a deal as you think anyway.

But if you do feel like you’ll get more responses if you were more in shape, get some exercise equipment and get to work. Or if you feel like you’re in the wrong line of work, start exploring your options. Don’t waste your time lying because the truth will come out eventually.

The most important thing to remember, is that online dating is not the only option. If you feel like the downsides are more significant, then meeting someone in a bar or through your friends or a hobby hasn’t gone away. You can still take that path.

These days, millions and millions of people are using online dating, and you can basically guarantee that you’ll be able to find someone through that method. So even if you are skeptical, it’s worth looking into.

Nov 18

The Difference Between Love and Affection

By Joseph Bryson | Relationships

Love and affection are two words that are intrinsically linked. They are of course similar in many ways: they are both feelings that we harbour for those of us in our lives who are most important to us. 

The Difference Between Love and Affection

Most of us don’t really think too deeply about it when it comes to these kinds of words, and we do have a tendency to just use them interchangeably. But they are actually quite different from each other in definition.

Although they are just words and we can kind of use them as we choose and be a bit liberal in our personal definitions, but when we look a bit more deeply into these actual sensations, we can see that there are two distinct feelings and that the different words are warranted.

This doesn’t mean that you are using the words wrong or that you should alter how you express your personal feelings, but it is interesting to note why we feel a certain way towards certain people and differently towards others.

Both of the words are expressions of endearment, and positive sensations which are based around strong relationships, so what exactly is it that differentiates the two from each other?

It’s somewhat complex:

Love is perhaps a word that we all use a little bit too liberally. We throw it around like it means absolutely nothing, when in truth, love is a feeling that means a whole lot, and that should be reserved for our deepest inclinations.

There are different kinds of love of course. The one we think about most is the love that we have for romantic partners, and the interesting thing about that is it’s the only one with which the use of the word is deemed very important.

When it comes to love that we feel for our family, our friends, or even for things that aren’t human or aren’t living, we don’t make any kind of big deal about saying it. We tell our family we love them from the first moment that we can speak.

We tell our friends that even if we don’t necessarily mean it, and that’s okay because a friend isn’t really a lifelong commitment or an obligation. We even say it about food. “I love Peking duck, even though I only tasted it for the first time five minutes ago.”

And that’s all fine, nobody really questions it, and if they do they’re kind of just being a pedantic jerk. But for your partner, when you choose to say the words “I love you,” it’s intended as a turning point in your relationship.

It’s the moment that it goes from something that’s primarily based around discovering shared interests and personality traits, going on dates, doing fun things together and probably a whole lot of sex, to a genuine commitment and an expression that you’ve fond something you want to last.

And all of us are capable of feeling that, though for some of us it takes a bit longer to find it. That all depends on a few different factors, like maybe it’s just because you like playing the field more than you like settling with one person and that’s absolutely fine.

Or maybe it’s because you are more guarded with your emotions and you struggle to let people in and that’s also not something to be ashamed of. But regardless of any of that, it’s a word that has power in romantic relationships.

Unconditionality

And why is that? Well that brings us to what I believe sets love apart from other feelings such as affection, and that’s that it is reserved for something that is unconditional. What are you really saying when you say that you love your partner?

You are telling them that you want to commit to them, that you feel strongly that if you share your life with them, you will be happy. And going a little deeper, you are acknowledging their flaws, insecurities and whatever differences you have and accepting that you can look past them.

Love takes you over those hurdles, it gives you strength to resolve problems that you might face in the future which you may not be able to resolve if you didn’t feel so strongly for the person. It is constant and impossible to shake no matter how hard you try.

And you can feel this for your friends in a way that’s non-romantic and built on a foundation of trust and companionship, and you can feel it for a piece of entertainment or a work of art in a way that makes you feel like you can appreciate the beauty and enjoyment of it over and over again.

So in a way that is unconditional, but it doesn’t have the responsibility of a romantic relationship. You can drop friends you thought you loved if you don’t feel like they’re a positive presence in your life anymore, but that’s not as easy with someone you have a family or a home with.

In that way, it’s understandable why the word love is so much more powerful when it’s attached to romance than it is when used in any other context. And this brings us back to affection and what differs here.

Because affection is not unconditional. Affection is what you feel in those early days of a relationship that we discussed above when it’s not about all of the commitment and compromise that comes with a truly loving, romantic union.

Affection is light and fun. It’s hugs, it’s flirtation, it’s a one night stand after a few too many drinks and it doesn’t have to mean anything. That initial attraction you feel when you’ve been talking to her for a few hours and you want to reach out and hold her hand or make a joke so you can hear her laugh.

That’s affection, and that’s not unconditional. You want to hold her and kiss her but if you leave the next morning and never see her again, you won’t be hurt by that. And if you have an argument, you don’t feel an incentive to work through it. 

That’s the real difference here, and it’s important for you to be able to separate these two feelings in your own mind. Love is lasting, patient and resilient in the face of adversity, whereas affection is spontaneous, energetic and can slip through your fingers with little consequence.

May 03

Attachment Styles – Theory on 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? Or do you feel that you are repeating the same mistakes in your relationships with your partners time and time again?

In psychology, 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. In general, there are four kinds of attachment: the secure, anxious, avoidant and anxious-avoidant.

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.

Here’s a useful model.

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

Research also suggests that anxious and avoidant people frequently end up in relationships with one another. It normally goes like this: the avoidant types are so good at putting others off that often times it’s only the anxious types who are willing to stick around put in the extra effort to get them to open up.

I may be generalising, but think of the man who constantly pushes away a woman’s needs for intimacy. If up to a woman with a secure attachment, she’ll 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 still ultimately avoid emotional intimacy (he’s avoidant right?).

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. She chases, he runs, and this goes in circles.

The implications from an emotional needs standpoint can run deep. The anxious and the avoidant have a fundamental belief that their emotional needs aren’t important. The avoidant denies their emotional needs by avoiding it, and the anxious attempts to force theirs by overcompensating. Ultimately, both end up failing to get their needs met in a relationship.

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. The problem with such romantic relationships is that it can feel as if you made progress after going through emotional whirlwinds with the other party. The higher highs of reconciliation and the lower lows of arguments and fights. It can be mistaken as ‘love’ or ‘passion’.

The Narcissist and the Co-dependent

One other way to think about attachment styles is the narcissist and codependent dynamic. I am going to generalize again here, but bear with me. The narcissist is usually the ‘taker’, and the codependent is normally the ‘giver’. In many dysfunctional relationships, you’ll find 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 and 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’t generally unable to listen.

Hanging out with a narcissist is 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, rollercoaster and dramatic relationships lack true intimacy and boundaries. Both individuals do not get their emotional needs met. They both are unable to accept love and validation, yet at the same time overcompensate in getting their needs for recognition, love and validation from each other (or others).

Psychologists argue that our unconscious is constantly attempting to seek out attention, love and validation that we miss out from out parents growing up.  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 plays out when someone attempts to get their needs met from people around them as adults. This can be from areas of their lives other than their 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 emotional 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, not calling back in X amount of days in attempt to manipulate someone else into doing something. They aren’t effectual on the long run, and may only work on individuals who aren’t able to express themselves directly as well. You’re blocking out any genuine real emotional engagement. You’re still not getting your emotional needs met.

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.

How to Find Our Your Attachment Style

How do you know if you are overly/ underly attached? You may do a self test to figure out which attachment style you fall under. 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 following examples to roughly give you a guess on your style of attachment. 

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?

Can Your Attachment Style be Changed? 

Is there hope for the anxiously attached hopeless romantic or the commitment phobic avoidant? Or maybe you are reading this and determined you’re either a pushover codependent or a raging narcissist. Hear me out. The good news is that attachment styles can be changed. The bad news is that it’s slow and difficult.

I was the classic hard core avoidant throughout my teens up till my early twenties.  Since I started therapy, one anxiety uncovered after another. There were periods of my life where I swung from avoidant to anxious. You’ll be surprised that underlying avoidance is actually anxiety. There were other periods where I was going through phases of emotional vomit and flipped between anxious and avoidant attachment. However, all in all, I’m happy to report that today, I’m a lot better at handling my relationships today.

There’s also research suggesting that an individual with an insecure attachment who enters a long term relationship and the other party who has 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. Other extreme negative life events such a divorce, death of a child, serious accident, lost of friendships can also cause secure attachment types to fall into a more insecure attachment.

Conclusion

There’s no quick fix for shifting attachment styles. There’s no quick fix for a lack (or overflowing) of self love.

If your happiness is derived from making extreme sacrifices to meet your partner’s needs. Then it’s a red flag. If you’re the giver or the listener, then you need to stop being a pushover. It’s time to stop being Mr Nice Guy/ Woman. You’ll need learn how to assert your own emotional needs and get your needs met in your relationships.

Now, I am 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.

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

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. 

So are all healthy relationships non dependent on each other? Nope. 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. They aren’t vicariously living through each other.  It’s two emotionally independent individuals choosing to support each other towards aspirations. 

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.