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Archive for April, 2013

Ask Sarah – Supermarket Serendipity – pt. I

Dear Sarah,

Over the years I’ve kind of developed this theory that what pornography does to men destructively, the cute romantic comedy and romance literature, and Disney movies do to women (obviously they’re not the same in terms of decency). I mean that it creates a false sense of the norm, generates unrealistic expectations, and encourages dangerous unhealthy behavior. That said, there’s a fine line between romantic and creepy. Things on the silver screen which can take your breath away positively, would negatively take your breath away in real life, and possibly end with mace. Wild romantic gestures, whether in a relationship or to initiate one, wreak of creepy more than cute in real life.

I think about this often. One of the recurring themes is the “supermarket serendipity”. Women often dream of meeting their guy at the grocery store. When I’m grocery shopping I notice women, but it certainly seems like the most inappropriate place to hit on girls. If you strike up a conversation over things in the buggy, that’s weird. If you look like you’re hanging out there to pick up chicks it/s pathetic.

When I go to the grocery store I leave the kids at home; it’s a mini vacation, and my grocery bill is lower. I love the idea of randomly bumping into someone and meeting, but it definitely seems like poor timing. We’ve all got ice cream in our carts, and making a date is next to impossible.

Oh well, I’ll quit blabbering, but I’m curious what you think.

 


 

Dear lonely shopper,

There are two big questions here.  The first is – have romantic comedies set an impossible expectation for men to live up to, and the second is – is there any realistically good way to navigate the supermarket meet-up?

I think I’ll cover this in two posts because there’s so much good food for thought here.

To the issue of women’s “porn”…romance

Yes.  I think there’s definitely some “danger” in the over-the-top gestures and language used in (and made to seem normal and “findable” in real life) many movies and shows that women enjoy.  (These are mostly written by women… so it’s a fantasy world BY us, FOR us.)

But, like any good story – the onus is on the viewer/participant to distinguish between reality and fantasy.  An emotionally healthy adult can watch the Bourne Identity and not feel the need to sneak up behind their boss the next day with a knife to his neck because he’s ‘probably’ an enemy spy.  In like manner, a normal well-adjusted person isn’t going to start trying to breed an especially powerful species of orcs after enjoying the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  So, one can assume that, while you may willingly suspend disbelief DURING a movie (to enter into the story for maximum enjoyment), you un-suspend that disbelief when you return to reality – for the sake of your own sanity.

The thing that’s different from action movies or sci-fi/fantasy and the movies you’re describing is in RECOGNIZING the fantasy.  We women WANT the dramatic displays of love in real life.  We WANT men to speak with us in terms of emotion and affection.  We WANT them to be thoughtful.  So, when it’s in front of us on the silver screen, it doesn’t always register as fantasy… but as potential reality.  In other words, we DON’T suspend disbelief.

When Mr. Big grabs Carrie and pushes her up against a wall and kisses her passionately, I don’t think to myself, “that’s fiction.”  I think to myself – “see?  There ARE men out there who do that… and I want one.”

And the good news and bad news is this:  these movies represent a small percentage of men who actually ARE incredibly romantic and enjoy going to great lengths to show a woman they love her.  I’ve dated a couple – and I’m not gonna lie – it’s pretty awesome.

Collection of puzzles Brad gave his sweetie - one piece at a time - for her to put together.

Collection of puzzles Brad gave his sweetie – one piece at a time – for her to put together.

I keep up loosely with my high school friend, Brad, on Facebook.  Brad met a woman who he’s now madly in love with and is constantly talking about how lucky he is to have her, and surprising her with little gifts/notes, and being thoughtful and creative in expressing his love for her on special days AND just-because-days.  And this isn’t just the beginning/honeymoon stages of love – it’s been going on for quite some time.  I watch her page as well, even though I’ve never met this woman, just to enjoy how much she gushes in response to his love.  It’s not fake.  It’s real-world fantasy.  HE is the real-life version of Matthew McConaughey.  So – it DOES exist.  But, it’s rare.  Probably about as rare as your boss being a high-level Soviet mole.

So, what are we to do?  Women know there are the Brads and Mr. Bigs out there.  So… we wait and hope that we land with one of the 5% of those guys, much like many men must hope they land a real-life version of a porn star.  (In the same way that 100% of on-screen heartthrobs represent about 5% of true romantics in the pool of men, 100% of women in the pornography industry represent about 5% of that female body type/figure in reality).

But, odds are that I am going to end up with a guy who, while passionate and caring, isn’t going to dedicate the entirety of his days to the sole purpose of showering me in his affection and romantic gestures.  And if I’m waiting for THAT…I fear I’ll be waiting myself right into a house full of cats with a subcription to “Spinster Life.”

But I CAN wait for the real-life version… as long as I have a healthy understanding that the real life version doesn’t have a Hollywood budget – and is subject to things like:  fatigue, cricks in the neck, bad traffic, work stress and other real-life romance-killers.  Romance isn’t about perfection – but about thoughtfulness and sacrifice.  Holding out for those is a good thing, as long as I’m not waiting for Harry’s end-of-movie-speech to Sally (though… if I found a man who talked to me that way, I’d lock that junk down, just to be clear).

I guess I’d say the trick is to be honest with ourselves about reality and fantasy.
Love – the good, big love that is actually out there – DOES have an element of fantasy in it… or it should… combined with other qualities like commitment, hard work, communication and sacrifice.
And a good story – instills hope, renews our faith in relationships, and if taken in the reasonable and realistic light of its place in life (that is – that it is JUST a story), lets us enjoy an exaggerated version of something fun – and MAYBE even spur us on to love others in our lives just a little better.  Just like watching Frodo endure to the end to destroy the ring of evil – watching Bradley Cooper or (my personal fave) Jason Bateman, give an empassioned speech of their enduring love for fill-in-the-blank-because-I’m-not-really-interested-in-the-woman-anyway – lets us crawl into the “other” (a story outside of ourselves) for an hour and 20 minutes.  And that’s not so bad – as long as we can take our minds back to reality when the credits roll.

If a woman waits around expecting George Clooney and is constantly disappointed by the Joe Smiths she goes out within real life, she’s missed the point of the story.

But, hey – more Joe Smiths for me.

 


Next time… finding love in the produce aisle…?


Sister Rivalry

A friend of mine threw a costume party recently and I bought an outfit online to wear (dumb move).  When it arrive and I tried it on, it was immediately apparent that it wasn’t gonna work.  So, I offered it to a sweet friend of mine who I thought it would flatter better than me.  She came over to try it on and looked like a goddess/model in it.  And, while I was happy to help her out, a dark corner of my mind thought, “great… you’ve just fueled your competition” – as if I’m in a race with her to see who can look the cutest at this party.  Almost as if she is the enemy.  Ridiculous.

What is my DAMAGE?  What is ALL of our issue(s)?
Because y’all KNOW it’s not just me who has these undesirable thoughts creep in…

The truth behind the quickly raised eyebrow...

The truth behind the quickly raised eyebrow…

Women are competitive.  Everyone knows this.

But just because it’s a universally understood thing doesn’t make it ok.  It’s NOT ok!

It hurts us as a gender.
It hurts friendships – even if you truly love the person you’re ‘up against,’ this sense of rivalry is divisive.

This happens in the most deceptively subtle ways… oftentimes I think men don’t even pick up on those nuanced jabs we throw each other in conversation.  But, we know.  Women – no matter how sweet your face and tone are… if you use your words or implications to even slightly tarnish another woman’s reputation – you’re doing something wrong.  I think we so often justify those little barbs by denying our true motives.  We feel threatened.  So, we attack FIRST.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit in the last few months.  Being single on the dating scene exaggerates any existing insecurities or fears that feed into the feminist competition.  “Why is she getting more dates than I am?”  “Why did that guy message HER on OKCupid, but  not me?”  “Why don’t they serve brown rice at the upscale sushi place?”  Ok… so some rogue questions sneak into my emotional inner dialogue.  Sue me.

And it occurs to me, that – like SO many ‘bad’ things in this life – the root of this struggle is – fear.

We fear that another woman will be better than us.

We fear she will…

  • get the affections of men more than we will
  • succeed in her endeavors more than we will
  • make us look bad/worse by being more beautiful/skilled/witty/etc.
  • be happier

And this happens in every arena:

  • Working moms vs. Stay-At-Home-Moms
  • Single women vs. Married women
  • Blondes vs. Brunettes
  • Extroverts vs. Introverts
  • Athletes vs. Academics

And on and on it goes…

In the physical realm alone, there are SO many ways to beat out the competition if you want to.  It starts small – sucking in the tummy and wearing high heels… then to wearing spanx to “smooth the curves” to dying your hair…  And then it’s eyelash extensions and vein lasering and electrolysis and hair extenstions and microdermabrasion… and tummy tucks and breast augmentation and nose jobs and ….. I’m out of breath.

And I can’t keep up.

I can’t AFFORD to!… but also – I’m not sure I WANT to.  Where does it end?
It’s an endless climb up a seemingly futile ladder…

Just the other night, I was in a conversation about hair removal where I realized two of my friends spend ultimately thousands of dollars on hair removal… do you KNOW how much ice cream that would buy??

How nice would it be if we did the same thing we want men to do with us – assigned each other good motives, encouraged each other, helped each other JUST because we love one another and not just to gain some kind of moral high ground…?

The way it starts – is by identifying the reason behind the fear.

For me – and for anyone who still has hope/optimism – I believe that there is something greater than me at work in my life.  I believe that God is “sovereign” (meaning – he is in charge and orchestrates all things).  If I REALLY believe that, then I wouldn’t have to try to control my own circumstances SO much.  I wouldn’t have to worry that my friend looking smokin’ hot in a dress I gave her, will somehow bring HER the affections of the man God has for ME.

Do I think I can thwart his plans with expensive makeup and shapewear?  Ha!

And for those of you who don’t believe the way I do… you must still see the foolishness in trying to control something by way of sabotage…  Regardless of religious beliefs, the concept of right & wrong is universal to humanity.  So, rather than tear down the competition, why not build up confidence in ourselves?

This is all easier said than done, especially in this ‘cat eat caddy’ world where botox and body-wraps abound.

So, for now, the best thing I can do – is be aware…

For my part, I want to be constantly self-analyzing my thoughts/feelings/motives when it comes to the women in my life.  And I have some pretty AMAZING women surrounding me – women who deserve my love and encouragement, not my subconscious hope that they’ll fail in areas that will make me look better.

If we ALL do that… think of the money we’ll save on laser treatments and Keratin rinses?!?  Sounds dreamy to me.


Ask Sarah – Money, Money, Money

Dear Sarah,

At what point in the course of dating is it fitting to start talking finances, i.e. income, net worth, assets, debts, etc?  This is a part of reality that can’t be ignored. But it also isn’t appropriate for a new relationship. So the question is, where between date one and engagement would you slot this convo?


money 5I had a professor in graduate school say that the majority of all conflict between couples has to do with one of two topics:  Sex and Money.

So, it stands to reason that there’s quite a lot to consider in the course of relationship about both of these areas.  And for today’s purposes, I’m going to suggest that we view them in the SAME light – and that’s this:

Both sex and money-talk, should happen/progress commensurate to the level of intimacy in the relationship.

For instance… in the same way that it is healthy to pace yourself sexually to match the level of emotional closeness, I think you should parcel out your financial situation discussion AS you feel emotionally safe to do so.  What do I mean by emotionally ‘safe?’  You can see the longer version of that here.  But, in essence, it’s where both people feel loved, known/understood and valued by the other person, so much so that they feel comfortable being vulnerable, knowing that they will be cared for.Money 3

Most people would agree (even if they’ve broken their own rule) that sex on the first date is damaging to the long-term goal of a good relationship.  Why?  Because the physical intimacy is WAY ahead of some other basics that should be in place for the sexual relationship to really blossom – love, trust, care, emotional safety, committment, etc.  So, the relationship is off balance… which makes it vulnerable to misunderstanding, hurt, frustration and ultimately failure.  This is not to say that every time a relationship begins in an unbalanced way, that it’s unsalvageable, but that it makes it difficult to get back to a place of safety and love.

In that same way – talking about finances before you’ve established some intimacy/safety, can be just as damaging.  Especially when the two people are in different places, financially.  This is all much easier if you sense (and you will) that you’re in a similar situation as your partner.  People will make jokes about being poor (I know this from personal experience), or you’ll be able to tell by someone’s spending, that s/he is financially comfortable… so if you’re equally matched up, this conversation can happen sooner and probably more easily.  Two people steeped in debt can empathize with each other on how difficult it is to climb out.  Similarly, two people doing well for themselves can celebrate each others’ situation and enjoy the equity that brings to the growing relationship.
But, when one has money and the other doesn’t (QUITE often the case), talking it out can be really scary…

 

Let me back up for a moment.money 4

SOME financial talk is inevitable at the beginning of a relationship.  Heck – whether it’s spoken or unspoken, there is “talk” of finances on Date #1 when the check comes.  Who pays?  Is there an assumption?  Do both offer to pay and then there’s a short transaction of terms?  Money is always a present factor, whether we dive in fully or not.  But, there’s a difference between dealing with the immediate financial situation, and delving into the deeper waters of net worth, savings, debt, etc.

Side note:  Men… while there ARE women out there who don’t fit this rule, the quality single women out there value GENEROSITY much much more than WEALTH.  Now, a wealthy person has much more opportunity for generosity, so wealth itself isn’t bad or wrong, but when a man tries to show a woman JUST how well-off he is, it’s off-putting.  A man who insists on paying for dinner in a kind and gentlemanly way is FAR sexier than a man who brags about his cars, watch, 401k, etc. 

I’ve been on dates with men where they show me photos of their cars or shove their watches in my face expecting a reaction of awe… except that I know NOTHING about watches, so I can’t tell if it’s from a plastic box from WalMart or the felt-lined displays at Patek Phillipe.  So, it only serves to make me feel silly/awkward for not knowing how to respond.  Do I go with a “OOoooh, how nice!”  or “I like a man who can bargain shop!” (note…do not use this one unless you’re certain it’s a reasonably priced watch.  I’m just sayin’…. it doesn’t end well.  I ought to know.)

But a man who pays for the date without complaining about menu prices – that’s ‘money.’  (<—yes…I’m using that as an adjective.  Meaning… it’s good.)

Alright – back to the issue at hand.

money 6Part of the advantage of waiting for this talk until you know the person better… is that you’ll learn the character of the person BEFORE hearing the financial situation.  You’ll start to see whether the person is greedy, kind, impulsive, overly-cautious, free-spirited, calculating, etc.  So, when the conversation finally does happen, you’ll be able to weigh the cold hard facts against what you know to be true about the person.  That’s no small thing.  Think about it this way, you would have a grossly different reaction to finding out that your potential partner has major medical debt that s/he’s still fighting, if you know the history:
Option 1 – she was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that took a few years to figure out, treat, and come up with a maintenance plan for.
Option 2 – after a car accident, she became addicted to prescription pain-killers and struggles with substance abuse.

Neither is insurmountable, but they’re awfully different, right?  And KNOWING the person will shed light on the financial situation.

I’ll tell my own sad tale as a way of proving my point… (prepare for disillusion) — I am a divorced single mom with 3 jobs.  I don’t have any fancy 401k’s or money sunk into the stock market.  I have student loan debt (how do you think I got THIS smart?), and other annoying financial burrs in my side.  As much as I like to think I’m wise with my money (not using credit, saving, etc.), there just never seems to be enough…   So, for someone like me, there’s no way I’m going to feel comfortable putting all the details of my grim financial situation out there for someone until I know I’m loved, cared about and there’s a level of commitment that’s NOT conditional on my financial standing.  Once I feel safe with someone, I will start to give him pieces of the overall picture.
With an ex-boyfriend, we were almost a year into our relationship when we finally started putting actual NUMBERS out there.

money 2

So, unfortunately, there’s no clear timeline answer on this.   YES, you have to talk about it as you become increasingly closer and more commited to each other, but NO, you should talk about it until there’s a layer of safety and understanding/love there to protect that conversation.

Building the relationship should be the number one focus of your energy, and as you grow in trust/love, and as intimacy increases, so will physical connection, as well as openness about topics like money.


Let’s Not Get Greedy, Now

Yesterday I overheard two girls talking in line at a cafe, and one said, in a cavalier tone, “I mean… JUST because I’m engaged, doesn’t mean I HAVE to marry him!”

Um………..it doesn’t?

I posted this on Facebook and got quite the response from men and women – which inspired this post.

It occurs to me that this attitude of committing to something without really committing to it – is becoming a dating/relationship epidemic.  People are saying yes to anything from a second date to marriage proposals – out of fear that maybe there won’t be anything better… so they hedge their bets by holding on to something that isn’t perfect for them.

Greedy - dressIt’s like when you’re shopping at Ross and you buy up any dress you think MIGHT actually look nice on you in the flattering light of your own home… knowing full-well you’ll likely return some or all of them in the coming week.  So, why buy them at all?  You buy them so that you can have the OPTION of owning them, and so that no other woman can scoop them up.

And I do this too – you try it on and you don’t LOVE it, but you think you might GROW to love it, with the right level of Spanx scaffolding and distracting accessories…you could make it work?… so, you don’t want to give up the possibility of ownership… even though your gut tells you it’s way too hoochie-mama, or see-through, or tight or unflattering in some way.  You hold on to less-than-perfect

Are we doing this in the dating world?  Holding onto a girlfriend or boyfriend longer than we ought to… just because they’re the ‘best so far?’  Do we keep our claim on someone so that no one else can have him/her even if we know deep down that s/he’s not the one?  Or do we think if we put the right proverbial spanx on our guy/girl that they might turn INTO the one we really want?  We’ll just keep accessorizing around the problem – that we’re NOT a good fit?

This is terrible!

And it’s also why I’m a fan of the quick elimination system.

I contend – and stick with me for a minute – that dating should be greedy… in order to NOT be greedy. Hold on, before you check out… check this out:

greedy - quoteI was having lunch with someone the other day who was hesitant to get back into dating because she doesn’t have time to go on multiple dates with people who she doesn’t like…. WHAT?  I asked her WHY she would go on any more than one short date with someone if he wasn’t showing potential for being ‘the one?’  She responded with this popular sentiment that there’s some sort of expectation to go on several dates with people because it’s …good manners?  Pbshhh…. Nuh uh!  I call poppycock.

I say you only spend your time hanging out with someone who you WANT to be spending your time with.  Be greedy.  Don’t accept second dates out of obligation or some kind of weird cultural expectation.  In this way, it’s OK to be selfish.  When being picky is being greedy – I say being greedy is ok.

It’s OK to want the whole package.  (Not perfection… there’s a big difference between realistic expectations and fantasies…that’s probably enough fuel for a whole other post, but for now – know that when I say the “whole package” – I mean someone that meets the parameters you’ve set in your mind/heart for who is a great match for YOU).
It’s OK to be picky and wait for it.

Be greedy on the front end, so that you don’t end up greedily holding onto something that isn’t meant to be yours.  Be greedy, to not be greedy.  See what I mean?

And in the meantime, it’s OK to let the men or women around you grab up the dresses that made you look fat while you wait for the one that fits you like a glove.

I can only hope that my perfect dress (I imagine it’s ruched for maximizing my curves, while having a big, passionate heart) is out there on some rack, waiting for me to try it on… and not being held hostage in some other woman’s closet while she holds onto something that isn’t right for her, out of fear that there won’t be something better.

 


Ask Sarah – Uncomfortable Silences

 Dear Sarah,

Ok, you meet someone online.  There’s a bit of a spark.  You chat, then move to text.  You set up a date but due to scheduling issues the date gets pushed out.  Text conversation is simmering down to “hey” and “what’s up.”  What can you talk about to keep that interest going?  Need ideas!

Seriously….I’m down to stuff like “I like the color purple.  No, not the actual color, the movie.” 

Help o loquacious one….


uncomfortable silences

First of all, I think I’m going to add “Loquacious One” to my growing list of nicknames.  Love.

Next…  I’ve been on the OTHER end of this…where I begin to lose interest before we ever meet…so communications naturally taper off… and here are the reasons why:
  1. It’s SO hard to find a time to meet that I start thinking I wouldn’t want to date this guy anyway if he’s THAT busy.  I really value availability in relationships.
  2. I’ve gone back and looked at his profile again and noticed something I didn’t see before (he’s shorter than I am, he listed ‘religion’ differently than I go for, he lives outside the loop (ok, ok…I’ll make exceptions for this one..but let’s not get crazy, League City…), he’s got a total body tattoo that didn’t jump off the page the first time I looked…you know – that sorta thing).
  3. As we’ve been texting, it’s become obvious that he’s not as smart or witty as I’d hoped…so why would I want to get together with him?
  4. While I was waiting to meet him, someone else came along who grabbed my attention more.
If any of these things were going on, I’d probably just let communication die down naturally.  After all, we haven’t yet met, so I don’t feel like I owe him an explanation.
BUT… if a guy ever asks – and they have – I’ll tell ’em what’s up.
Example: 
          Tatooed, un-funny, Jesus-hating Dallas-dweller:   “Hey ….did you lose interest?”
           Me:  “I’m sorry I’ve been MIA.  To be honest… the more I think about it, the more I just don’t think we’re a good match.”
Boom.  Just like that.
So – to YOUR question – and what you can do.

First of all, there IS just a chance that she got busy with her job, family, etc. and it has nothing to do with you.  For me, that’s almost never the case because I give a LOT of priority to relationships…even budding ones.  And if I really like a guy, I’ll keep the text momentum going even IF I’m busy.  BUT, not all women are like me.  Some are much more career-focused and can zone out of one facet of life to devote themselves to work issues/demands.  I have girlfriends who will go dark for a while and then come back to life on the weekends.

 

So – she may be genuinely busy.

 

But, if it’s NOT that… all you can do is be yourself, use your wit to keep her laughing, and get that face-to-face on the calendar as SOON as possible.  Because, honestly, so many people are more attractive once you’ve met them, than they EVER are over texting.  (Sadly, the opposite is also true…but that’s a discussion for another day).
I think you could even ADDRESS the situation with a sense of humor.  You could say, “I’ve noticed you haven’t been texting as much…is it my breath?”  Or something equally silly.  That way, she can respond to the issue if she wants, or she can avoid it with an LOL and leave you as clueless as you are now, but… still engaged.
Lastly,… one of my pet peeves is when guys text ONLY about themselves or only closed-ended topics.
Throw out a text that demands a response!  I don’t mean that you need to ask her her thoughts on the conflict in the middle east, but engage her about HER.
For instance – I love the silliness of the “color purple” bit… use that line and then ask her what movies she likes!?
If she still isn’t responsive, it might be time to just fish or cut bait…see if she’s still willing to meet up, and make a solid commitment to a time/place. 
If she hedges, cut her loose. 
You don’t need to beg.

Ready to Rumble? – Body Talk

What is your body telling people that you’re not?

Did you realize that only a SMALL percentage of communication actually occurs with our words? The rest is communicated with para-linguistic (non-verbal) cues, like facial expressions, posture, eye movements, etc. It is postulated that as much as 93% of communication happens non-verbally.

WHAT??? 93%??? That’s almost the WHOLE enchilada, peeps!
So – it seems that we should be paying attention to how we’re using our bodies/faces to ‘talk’ to others –
and no time is more important than when conflict is on the line.

SO – for today’s continuation of our series on conflict – we’re talking about bodies. Mmm…. 🙂

I could fill hundreds of posts talking about all the facets of non-verbal language, but for today’s purposes, I’m just going to highlight some tips to consider when in a conflictual situation. Without talking at all, you can use your body to soften the other person.

This is so simple. If you use your body to send the message that you’re NOT on the defensive, or NOT angry, but are open to resolution, the other person will pick up on it and hopefully mirror that attitude. This includes:

– NOT crossing your arms. I know that sometimes this is just a comfortable position. But, it sends a message of being guarded. The crossed arms are a natural “wall.” Take it down. Force yourself to put your arms by your side. NOT on your hips – that’s confrontational. By your side or on a table or something. Or you can clasp your hands in front of you, but loosely. Tight fingers, tightly clasped hands and (obviously) fists send another message!

– Turning TOWARD the other person. We’ll talk later about emotional ways to ‘turn toward,’ but for now I mean LITERALLY – turn toward them. If you turn you’re back, you’re telling them that either you’re not interested in resolving things, or that you’re afraid, or that you don’t think they have ANY validity – all of which get in the way of restoration.

– Consciously relaxing the muscles in your face/shoulders. Especially for men. That clenched jaw sends a thousand-word message to the other person – and it’s not a nice message. Force yourself to think about your jaw, your neck, your shoulders and relax them. Seems small, but it can make all the difference.

– That whole deep breath thing? Yeah… it’s legit. By taking a deep breath or two and breathing them out slowly, you’re actually bringing down your blood pressure, lowering your heart rate and relaxing muscles – all of which SHOW.

– Eyebrows up! A furrowed brow speaks of anger. I realize that often, we furrow our brows out of frustration or even innocent concentration – especially those analytical thinkers out there – you know who you are. But, if you’ll make yourself relax those muscles and raise your eyebrows slightly – it communicates openness and kindness.

– Eye contact. Alright – personal disclosure time – I have a really hard time with this and I have to force myself to do it. If I can do it, though… you can too.
Make eye contact often. It makes a connection. Now, I realize that in the heat of anger, you don’t really WANT to make a connection with someone who doesn’t feel ‘safe,’ but remember the end-game… the goal is to be happy again and to be restored with that person. And connecting with their eyes is a way to tell them that you are in this, and on their side.

– Sex. Have lots of sex. What? Ok…I was just seeing if anyone was still reading. I’m just kidding………we save that for later. Ok – back to the list.

– Use your body to show you’re really listening – a simple head nod can make someone feel so validated in a time of frustration.

– Read the other person and use proximity or even touch to show your intentions of resolve. Now, this only works if the other person isn’t afraid. Only you can be the judge of that. But, if they’re merely hurt or angry/frustrated… a slow and gentle approach into their space and then a kind touch to the arm or hand (or in the cases of intimate relationships, even the face or hair) can be EVERYTHING. I’m telling you… sometimes you can solve an entire argument by making eye contact, softening the eyebrows and touching the face in just the right way to let the other person know, “regardless of where we stand on this issue, I love you.” That can MELT a person. Use it carefully, obviously… if someone’s in a scared/vulnerable place, they’ll need more space.

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Again…there is SO much more to say on this topic. We didn’t even get into tone, rhythm/speed of conversation, types of touch, strategies for using paradox to break the conflict cycle (like taking the fight to the bathtub or switching languages…).

But for now, perhaps this gets the ball rolling in your mind so that the next time there’s friction with someone you care about, you can take a minute to relax, breathe and use an open posture to move things along toward restoration – which is really what everyone wants.

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Ask Sarah – Girls in Cars

Dear Sarah,

Why do women take so many photos in their cars?  Are they trying to prove that they know how to drive?  Big woo…


Ahhh…the classic car selfie shot.  I know it well.

Here’s the deal, fellas…car selfie

When we women get ready to go out – we do it right.  Assuming we have the luxury of time in the dolling up process, there’s a multi-step system to full beautification.

Let’s say I’m going out with some friends to dinner and dancing on a Friday night – I’m going to give myself enough time to shower, use all the expensive skin and hair products, take the time to blow dry my hair JUST right, curl it JUST right, pick out JUST the right outfit…

(which often means that my bed becomes a graveyard of rejected outfits – THIS shirt with THAT pair of jeans, …no – THAT pair only works with THIS sort of top… no, how about a dress and boots?  No…leggings and heels?  Wait…what about the first shirt with the leggings and THIS necklace.  No wait, …hard to dance with a necklace flying everywhere… maybe the heels at dinner and change INTO the boots?  What about if it’s cold?  ….the internal dialogue is dizzying, truly.)

Then, you put on your makeup the way you only can on a weekend night – where you take the time to actually put it on NOT while driving or taming children or propping the phone between your ear and shoulder to talk to your friend who’s going through a rough time…   No, this is the sort of makeup application where you start with a bold red lip so that you can feel that confidence coursing through your veins while you put on the rest… and taking the time to put that tiny bit of frosted powder in the corners of your eyes or on your cheekbones to contour your face JUST right…

And if it’s me, all the while I’m jamming to some fun music (I keep my speakers in my bathroom for just this reason, actually), which is building the anticipation for the night ahead.

So – when the time finally comes to hop in the car… and I see myself in the rear view mirror… I’m seeing what I think is the best version of me – all primped and polished and ready to go – before the evening adds its patina of wear and tear to my look – before the humidity or well-intending hugging friends undo my curls or sipping my yummy drink removes my lipgloss – just the way I want the world to see me.  So, it’s the time to snap a photo to show me at my best!

Add to that – not only do I feel my prettiest, but I’m also full to the brim with excitement about the evening ahead and confident in my ‘look,’ so my mood is great.

Is there a more perfect storm for the self-taken photo?  Lookin’ good and feelin’ great?

So – we snap away.

It has nothing to do with the car or with driving – just in the stars aligning in such a way that we feel picture-worthy.

And often there’s no one around in those moments to TAKE the picture.  I mean – if you’re single and on your way to hang out with friends – you’re usually getting ready and leaving the house alone.  So – you take the photo yourself.

And THAT is the story of how the car-selfie was created, boys and girls.

 

Hope that helps shed some light on the female way.