When Prince Charming Becomes the Toad

Your prince charming can very likely become the toad if you don't watch yourself.

I don’t know a woman who can separate sex from love - IF SHE IS IN TO HIM. Lots of women will claim they can, but it’s mostly bullsh*t. Maybe some women can. But I don't know them. Yes, I know it’s POSSIBLE to have sex with someone you’re not that into, and not get attached. But that poor guy is just going to be dissed for the other guy who triggers every oxytocin hormone in your blood, and then it’s history.

Boys, guys, men - most CAN separate love and sex. They can have sex with you, enjoy their sexy time with you, but stay unattached. It’s a biological fact. Do men ever get attached? Of course they do. They need and crave love as much as you do. But they can sleep with you and not be tricked into thinking there’s more to it. It can be just sex.

I was able to separate love and sex once. In my 20s. He was one of the sweetest boys I had ever met, and he was crazy about me. I just wasn't crazy about him. NOT because he was sweet, but because there wasn't much more to him than sweet. I had fun with him, but I was just never going to fall in love. I was able to occasionally be intimate with him and not become emotionally involved. Admittedly, it was kinda cool to feel like the “guy” because naively I thought that gave me power. It may have given me control, but there's nothing powerful about a heart that craves deep emotional connection that settles for “nice” hook ups. Besides, what I really needed was to feel inspired to relinquish control. It really just comes down to that, doesn't it?

I ended things with sweet boy for someone really, really toxic. He was older - by almost 10 years. He looked very mature… manly. He also was very smart and charming. He made me feel amazing - in the beginning. He soon became mean as hell. I entered that relationship thinking I was a confident, strong young woman, but it turned out that although that woman was gestating, I definitely wasn’t close to giving birth to her yet. Instead, I was a girl who wanted love as much as anyone else, who believed in marriage and thought she was ready for it. But I barely had a sense of my worth, as I had very little idea of what was deeply important to me. I thought I had a high standard, but as it turned out, it was very, very low. I abandoned every part of myself in that relationship, and what I consequently experienced was soul-deep pain. I eventually had to come to terms with the fact that I allowed such ugly behavior, and that frankly, I still was in many ways a little girl afraid of her own shadow. I have no regrets though - I got the real ‘son-of-a-bitch phase’ out of my system, and I knew I would never visit the dark side like that again. And I didn’t. I successfully raised my standard a few notches.

When I was much younger - a junior in college, I started sleeping with this very cool senior from Greece named “A”. A was smart, athletic and nice enough. We had fantastic chemistry, and my heart and mind would race with anticipation at the prospect of seeing him Thursday nights at the local bar. But A and I had pretty much nothing in common. He was an avid snow boarder, and I kinda hated snow. I loved (and still do) deep, soulful conversations, and yet we had none of that. Just sex. He didn't try to be my boyfriend, even though he was very attentive when we were together. And as much as I tried to convince myself that I didn't need more - I didn't want more, I was in a weird, manic cycle: 

1. looking forward to seeing him (no texting in those days!!) eagerly hoping we would hook up.2

2. going home with him and being elated to be with him and get attention.

3. waking up the next morning high as a kite from the surges of hormones and neurotransmitters from being with him.

4. deflating in the afternoon. I would feel distinctly unfulfilled, empty and bored with everything around me… Classic come down.

I was attached. (mildly addicted?) Hooked to the idea of him, to the idea of being in a relationship with him. I was attached to being the object of his affection. Why?? Simply because I was VERY attracted to him and I was sleeping with him. He was a lovely enough human being, but he sure wasn't falling in love with me, and nor I with him. That’s lust for you.

No biggie - it was fun. I was young.

Fast forward many years: There was this gorgeous and insanely charming actor who used to frequent my yoga classes. I had watched him in an HBO series years prior, and had a huge crush on his character. Then there he was, flashing his wide smile at me every time he came to class. I kept it verrrrryy cool with him, but he pursued me hard for months. How could I NOT finally go out with him??? So I did. He was smart and nice and we actually connected. But the problem with ‘insanely gorgeous charming actor who’s HBO character I fell in love with + young me who hadn't fully grown into her own yet’ is this: My desire for his attention was disproportionately higher than my confidence in myself. Here and there I would sprinkle in the body language of someone too cool to give a fuck. I would share things about myself that were more about who I wished to be, rather than who I actually was. I don't want to misrepresent myself - I wasn't a total fraud, at all. I was me, just with a big slab of ego on the side. 

We dated a few more times, but if it weren’t for the fact that I was taken by the idea of him more than him, I probably would have ended it after date two. But I let it go on, unwilling to listen to the ever so brilliant yet often ignored voice of my gut that said, “he ain’t for you, Jillian.” *For those of you who date actors: remember, the characters they play on TV are not them.*

There’s more stories - like the guy I dated causally even though I wanted something more and was too afraid to say it. Then I said it, and it ended, and I actually regretted saying it!?? (wtf), Or the guy who I had amazing conversation with but felt very misaligned with sexually and yet I still wanted him to call me. (again, wtf?) To the amount of times I waited for a call or text from someone who I didn't even know well enough to warrant ANY of my anxious anticipation.

To be fair and honest, these tales are not the only ones of my rendezvous past. I have had lovely relationships as well, ones filled with authenticity and respect, even if they all had their expiration dates. I, and maybe you identify, so let me say we, can trace our relationship histories and find various forms of it: The healthy ones that devolved into more of friendship status, the toxic ones, the sweet ones that did nothing for us, and the ones we wish we never wasted our time on. Some were pleasant, some intense, and some were short lived ‘could-have-been-something-but-never-developed-into-anything' cycles of flirt and lust.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting someone you desire to desire you back. When I go back in time and scrutinize my attempts to find love, part of me thinks it was cute. They were all inevitable tales of my journey, and after all, the road to self discovery is lifelong. It takes maturity to identify our ambivalence towards ourselves and to finally accept whatever irresoluteness remains. Doing silly shit in relationships is part of growing up. But the challenge we all face is to use our discoveries to live in the light, and to embrace the perseverance that will be required of us to do so.

So, what about now? Are you over the age of 30, single, and trying to reconcile with your singleness? If you are, navigating dating, sex and love can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. If you relate to anything I’ve written thus far, then you understand when I say that your navigation has to be different from how you operated in the past. You have to walk away from ever trying to make the guy you’re lusting for the “one”.  You must erase your secret wishes of being the one who he changes for, or of becoming the one who inspires his broken heart to love again. You have to discard the belief that he’s the only one.

So, what can - or better asked, how do we do it differently?

Know thyself:

As women, we are different than men when it comes to love, and I don't want you to ever feel like you have to toughen up and declare your independence from ever needing a man. I don't want you to ever feel ashamed of wanting a relationship, or for those moments when you feel acutely deprived of attention, praise, and touch. Part of feminine energy is to be a lover of love. We crave our own surrender, of letting go until we feel our softness again, until all the hard places in our bodies that’ve held our hurts finally decalcify, becoming wide open spaces ready to receive. It’s ok to long for your vulnerability. It is our greatest power, even though it’s foolishly devalued in our culture.

It really is OK. 

But what you must reject is: 

Pretending that it’s not ok. Convincing yourself that you don't need or desire to be moved - emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually in this way. Going on dates and acting as if you don't want what you want by playing it cool because you think he won’t want you because you want what you want.

Which begs the question: why would you want him if he doesn't want what you want? Yes, your ego will be partially satiated (I say partially because the ego’s cup is never full - that is the nature of ego) if he shows interest. If you feel desired by him. But to be desired is NOT to be valued. If you lead with just your sexuality and ego when what you really want is true connection, you will suffer. You MAY get a “relationship”, but I assure you, it won’t have even close to the depth of what you need.

You do not need a man to be happy. 

But a good man, a man who you trust, who you laugh with, have fun with, share with, feel good around, will ENHANCE your life. Just as you will enhance his. He will elevate your emotions and feelings, as you will his. I can’t bullshit you anymore than I can bullshit myself: we as humans are better together, not apart. But: Your life can still be extremely fulfilling without a man. You can enjoy doing what you want to do when you want to do it as much as any single man does. You can acknowledge all the love that already exists around you and within you, and give it freely to your friends, family and community. You are not less than because you are single. There are many parts to you, and ‘the single and looking for love’ you is only ONE part of You. If you’ve been stuck in “single looking for love” you, give her a little breathing room. Take some time to explore and nurture your other parts and let the world, and the men you date see your other parts too.

BE AWARE OF:

“Rescuer syndrome”

I think every girl and woman has been somewhere on this spectrum at some point in her life. (Ps - Men DEFINITELY have this tendency as well - more on that in another post) Please don’t worry - almost none of us are immune, and it can be overcome. 

What are the symptoms of Rescuer Syndrome? note: even if you have merely experienced one of these symptoms, once in your life, it’s still something to acknowledge, investigate, and perhaps have a chuckle at.

 

  • You choose men who have A LOT of “work” to do on themselves. This could range anywhere from over-coming addiction and toxic relationships, to simply being “curious” about growth, without ever having done any real emotional or spiritual personal development.
  • You’re drawn to his “potential”: Even though he’s stuck in life and unmotivated to change, you stick around because you see so much in him.
  • You try, sometimes tirelessly, to nudge him forward towards this potential of his. 
  • You choose men who are going through a particularly dark time in their lives - such as a divorce or a death of a loved one. But you’re able to justify it, and believe he is ready for you.
  • You’re anxious in the relationship. You often try to manage the relationship and his life in an effort to control that which feels out of control: such as his moods, unpredictable behavior, or his general indecisiveness or non committal attitude in life. You start to feel like his mom, or his teacher or even the relationship’s manager.
  • He has a disturbing track record in relationships (cheating, lying, unable to open up, never had a relationship in his life that went past a few months) and yet, you find yourself justifying his behavior; after all, that was his past, and it will be different with YOU. 
  • You feel special and important that he wants YOU - especially because he doesn't open his heart very easily
  • You secretly believe that you will be the the one who inspires him to be a better man and fully commit.
  • You play the role of a spiritual teacher in your relationship: You want to help him, so you expose him as much as possible to all your practices such as yoga, meditation, eating well. You are the grounded force in his life, and give him advice. A LOT.
  • You’re constantly fearful that he will leave you. You often don’t feel secure, and don't entirely trust his ability to be in the relationship.
  • You’re extremely intuitive. You can actually feel other people’s potential, and it kills you to see them not reach it. You’re loving and nurturing and believe people should be given a chance. You also have an inner knowing when something is not right in your relationship, but have a very difficult time coming to terms with it. You just want it to be ok.

I really don't love the word “co-dependent”.  I think its overuse has blurred our understanding of it and let’s face it, to be associated with it is considered more than unfavorable. Despite it’s unsavoriness, however, some of it’s implications are intimately connected to rescuer syndrome, and I want to note - we all have been there, women and men alike, and it’s ok. NO shame. It does not mean one categorically lacks independence. For instance, and maybe you can relate - I’ve always been a very sensitive person - a sensitivity that made it difficult not to feel others pain - too acutely at times. Consequently, I frequently felt responsible for the (negative) emotional state of others, and so my energy was spent managing their states  - not out of compassion, but out of a desperate need to lift the burden I carried. This habit would show up rather amorphously over the years in some of my romantic relationships, manifesting in some form or the other of “rescuing”. 

Empathy is the willingness to give up our need to be right and instead place our minds in another’s heart. To voluntarily see the world through the filter of their beliefs and understandings is the biggest gift we can give to an intimate partner especially, because we will feel deeply challenged by their behavior at times. Empathy, therefore, is love.

It becomes our work then, to understand the huge difference between sharing someone’s pain and bearing it. It may be the most important work you do. And when you know this about yourself, it can, and should, inform how you choose partners. It does make a difference.

Sensitivity aside, I’ve also found that many women have core beliefs about men and love that are grossly limiting their potential. Beliefs that make them grasp anxiously to the wrong men -  FOR THEM. All of these beliefs share the same origin: SCARCITY. This deficiency perspective  always leads to poor decisions, since it is our nature to react to famine with fear. Yet it’s not entirely our fault, as we women have been partly conditioned by the cultural mentality to have these three limiting beliefs:

1. a good man is a rare and exotic breed of human. Especially in places like NYC and LA, where there are far more women than there are men. 

2. A strong connection with someone is also a rarity, and therefore, if we do have this connection, it means we’re supposed to be in relationship with this person.

3. A man’s heart is something to win - and that all other women are our competitors.

The great paradox is that evolution tells a different story than our conditioning. Our DNA is designed to make us selective. To choose the “fittest” who will be able to impregnate us, hunt well, and feed us. Although the modern woman may not want any of the above, we are in fact being selective all the time - with the guy who smiles at us on the street who we look away from, to our ignoring of a colleague’s flirtation. Guaranteed there is a man in your life that if given the opportunity, would love to love you. But THAT man you’re not attracted to, so you flex all your selective muscles with him, only to atrophy those same tissues when it comes to someone who turns you on. When you meet a guy who triggers you hormonally - when your oxytocin, estrogen and progesterone peak just at the thought of him, you must know that you’re in a potentially precarious situation. One where you’re at high risk of mistaking your lust for something deeper and more meaningful. This is why I ALWAYS tell my clients that if you’re really attracted, wait to sleep with him. Period. This isn't about him nor about playing games. This is about YOU. There are things we all must know about ourselves first, and fears we need to settle before we go there with a person.

This is some of the coaching advice I give to my single gals looking for love:

You need to know what you want.

If you want a relationship, which I’m assuming you do, you need to be able to say to yourself, and anyone else for that matter, that what you want is a meaningful, loving relationship. Put an end to your denial that maybe you don't want it, etc. If you DON’T want a relationship - I get that 100 percent, but I’m simply asking that you be honest with yourself and with those you date. Even if you genuinely aren’t looking for love, once you start sleeping causally with someone who you’re REALLY attracted to, that might confuse you. It might actually make you realize that what you really want is more. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Know who you want.

Too many people know who they want superficially - brown hair, medium build, nice, smart, funny, etc, but are afraid to really define what they want. They keep it “open”  and claim that all they want is someone kind and sexy and who listens to them… who understands them. This is all good. I want that too. But if what you want is lasting love, you have to get more comprehensive.

If you needed to hire a CEO for your company, are you gonna just keep it “open”? I doubt it. You would want to know A LOT about who this person is. What they stand for. Their psychology, attitude, values, communication style, beliefs, values - you name it. Their resume is only a part of the equation - you need to know if their nature  is in alignment with your company’s ethos. As adults, this is what we need to know about someone before we lose our minds over them and start a relationship.

Recently I took a walk with a friend who’ve I known for many years. This woman is a force - a few years ago, she decided to leave her job and pursue a dream - to create a product that would change the way people relate to their health, and feel in their bodies. As someone who had completely changed her lifestyle to support her personal wellbeing, she felt compelled to help others do the same. She had a vision. She was clear about what her product would be, and what it definitely would not be. And so, like a lioness chasing her kill, she didn't stop until she got it. Until her vision became a reality. During our walk, she was noticeably frustrated by the current state of her love life: “How could I have manifested so much in my career and I can't in my love life? I must be blocked.”

To which I responded very plainly: “Ya, you’re blocked - but not how you think. You’re too afraid to define what you want. Once you know, you’ll go for it - all you have to do is apply the same strategy you used in your career to your love life.”

My friend falls in the “I just want to be open” camp. Which, by the way, is a marked improvement from her decades long pattern of only dating one very specific archetype and refusing to explore more range. But she’s missing the clarity, the vision, the “I know what I want and no fear will stop me” drive she has in her career. She’s scared to zoom her perspective, to “limit” her options. But it is precisely this fear - the fear of defining what she both wants and needs that is “blocking” her. 

Clarity is a super power. You must be courageous enough to say: I know what I want and I know what I absolutely won’t tolerate; and to be equivalently brave enough to acknowledge how you need to grow in order to contribute to the kind of relationship you want. A huge part of gaining this lucidity is through these steps.

Know what is profoundly important to you: Know your nature - do you understand your psychology?

In order to know if a man is right for you, you must first know who it is he is right for. If you were the one being interviewed for a CEO position, would you know how to describe your nature? What is important to you - what aspects of the job you will thrive in, and what aspects of it you just are not suited for?

Yes, I am talking about your values, but go further in your exploration by asking yourself questions: What is important to me in life? How would I like to lead it moving forward? How important is my physical and mental health? Do I love adventure and what kind of adventure? How important is security to me? Is giving back to others critical? What about food, intellectualism, growth, travel and family?.. where do these fall on the importance scale for me? What do I ultimately want out of life? 

If you were to describe what life is about in one word, what would it be? What beliefs do you have that are part of your identity, and which ones could use an upgrade? When you investigate this, you will start to have more insight into your core values. And knowing this is very important when it comes to choosing a man to love. Because his values and his nature must be aligned with yours -  if you’re going to make it for the long term. That is not the same as being identical, (as comforting as it might sound to date YOU, I promise it would dampen passion) it just means you have to be well calibrated for each other.

Know what you need.

There comes a time in our adult life where we must admit that we need certain things in order to feel comfortable and safe in a relationship. Even if it isn't glamorous. Even if we wished we didn't need it. For example, I never thought patience would be way up high on my list of character traits. But it is. I understand without a shadow of a doubt, that I need a man who is patient, specifically in our relationship. I’m not willing to budge on that because I know being with an impatient man - even if he's wonderful, will ultimately bring me a lot of pain. It’s a nonnegotiable for me. I recommend that you take some self - reflective time to figure this out. Get quiet when you do this, so you approach this question from a non judgmental space. Ask yourself what you really needed from your past partners that you didn't get - that if you had received it, you would have felt more safe and fulfilled. Focus on character traits, rather than behavior - such as: Instead of “I need a man who doesn't lie” write, “I need a man who values honesty as high as I do”. or, “I need a grounded man, because I get anxious.” 

Remember, this isn't just about what you want - this is about what you really need in order to be fulfilled emotionally, for the long term. 

Define your absolute non-negotiables.

Life often happens very differently than we expect it to. That goes the same about people. The man you eventually fall in love with may be quite different than what you imagined. He may be from another country, or have children (or not) or look entirely different than what you expected, or he may be an artist if you expected a lawyer - or vice versa. But his character, and equally paramount, what he stands for, is where I’m asking you to put your focus. That is why you must know what you absolutely must have, and what you absolutely will not tolerate - no matter what. Don't make these two lists long. Choose 2- 5 things.

For example:

Your non - negotiables for what you will not accept may be:

smoker

heavy drinker

doesn't want kids

Your non - negotiables for what he must embody may be:

Warm

funny

values his physical health

These are just examples. Decide what your non- negotiables are. This means that even if you meet a great guy, if he has even just 1 of your non negotiables from your no list, you stop seeing him. NO excuses. NO justifications. It will bring you pain and suffering. That’s why this list can’t just be about preference. It has to be so important to you that you know with certainty that it can’t be any other way, because it will eventually and inevitably cause you pain. Remember, keep it to 2-5 things.

Know what you will tolerate

Don’t let the specificity of these steps fool you - They are NOT meant to block or restrict you - instead, they’re designed to make things easier for you. By elevating your standards, you won’t waste your physical and emotional energy on men who aren’t right for you. By raising your standards, you will be much, much closer to building the healthy, loving, and fulfilling relationship that you want and quite frankly you deserve.

What will contract you is if perfection is your standard. Perfection is the lowest standard anyone can have for themselves and others because it doesn't exist. When we focus on it, we block connection, for intimacy’s commerce relies on our being able to receive love as well as give it.We are all flawed. The question is, what flaws are you willing to see as beautiful in your man?

Know your vision for your relationship.

Gaining clarity can’t just be isolated to the partner you need and want, it has to also center around the relationship you want to build with this person. In other words, connect to the vision you hold for what this bond will mean to you, and to him. Will you build a family? If so, how many children? Where will you live, and where will you travel? How would you like to grow old with this person? Are there experiences you dream about sharing with someone? Will you work together? Do you value an interdependent relationship - meaning you rely on one another, but also value time apart to do separate activities of interest?

Know how you need to grow.

When you gain certainty about the kind of man you need, and the kind of relationship you want to co-create with him, then it’s imperative you’re aware of who you need to be in order to have what it is that you want.

For example, If you value good communication, then it’s important that you objectively evaluate your own communication skills, and work on strengthening them. If you want a positive, and  healthy man to come into your life, you must evaluate your own level of emotional fitness, and if need be, adopt practices to help you elevate your own health and positive outlook on life. If you’re aching for a “real man” - which many define as mature, confident, present, and strong, then you must consider what it means to you to be a “real woman”. It’s crucial that you don’t go down a self deprecating rabbit hole here. You are worthy of love, just as you are. So is “he”. But we all - and I mean -  every single one of us have room for betterment. And just as you need to steer clear of any tendency you have to want to rescue someone, you too must recognize that no one can save you. And as long as you focus on your own progress and persistently commit to your growth no matter what - you won’t need saving. You won’t need love for the sake of love. You will choose it. Choose to give it, and choose to receive it. 

At the end of the day, even if you are crystal clear about what you hold sacred in life, even if you’re certain of what you need, of what you will not tolerate no matter what, and what you must have no matter what, even if every day you devoted yourself to upholding a high standard for your growth and emotional fitness, none of it matters if what he wants is not what you want. In other words, you might meet a man who’ll appear to be beautifully matched with you, but if he doesn't want a relationship - which he makes known through his admission or through another subtler form of message, YOU MUST RUN FAR, FAR AWAY. It doesn't matter if you are the most incredible creature of a woman on Planet Earth - ultimately that won’t matter. Don’t, for the love of everything, EVER try to convince him that he may change his mind, or fool yourself into believing that you can change it. It is an inefficient use of your energy at best, and a drawn out sequence of the push/pull game of stress and rejection at worst.

We have to stop being so afraid. 

And I must note: This is not about having to choose between sexual chemistry vs safety in a relationship. It’s about changing your paradigm of what you find sexy and cool and interesting. It’s maturing ourselves to the point of saying, “no thank you” to someone who doesn't meet our standard DESPITE being attracted to him. Don't be hard on yourself for finding the wrong man hot as hell, just know what you’re dealing with, and decide what to do based on what you KNOW you need and want in your life. That is true accountability, in a really empowering way.

Remember the scarcity mindset? It’s insidious - it can make any respectable, self assured, wonderful woman, such as you, violate her own values just to make the guy she’s in lust with into the Prince she thinks he could be. Our need for romance is that strong. But by violating your values in order to rationalize why you should continue seeing him will eventually hurt. Because, you’ll spend an enormous amount of time worrying about whether he’ll abandon you when the real risk you face is abandoning yourself. And that is a more painful reality to reconcile than his broken promises could ever inflict. 

Does that mean you should barf your needs all over him on date 1? Hell no. My message is not move faster. It’s take your time. Besides, nervously unloading every story in your book is not true vulnerability - its just shows a lack of confidence in both yourself, and in the process of getting to know someone. Vulnerability is being true to you even if - especially if, you may be rejected for it. To be brave enough to stand up for what it is you want. And if he's not interested, capable or ready, to take the risk of saying goodbye even if your vagina says yes.

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Sex, Passion, and Making it last. Part 2

Suffering is the addiction to comfort and stability. 

To be safe is our most primordial instinct, and to deny our need for it is completely inefficient, at best. It is the most valuable offering from a parent to child, from a man to his lover, and a woman to hers. To say, often without words, “you are safe, my love is safe, now please go fly”. What a gift that is to give to another human being. 

But some, even with this permission, are too afraid to fly. “I am stuck..” they say, even though there is nothing tangible that tethers them to their nest. In their self inflicted paralysis they stay bound to the familiar, comforted by their routines as well as their problems. Every so often they look up, and see a world beyond their vesicle - a cosmos which holds layers and layers of experiences, smells, flavors, and colors. But the shackles of their doubts are too strong.

This is the great debate that lives in all of us, in some way or another.

If we want to feel more of life coarse through our veins, unfortunately /fortunately we have to, despite our upbringing, despite our past, despite our shortcomings both physically and mentally, commit ourselves to the expressions of our creativity. To identify what makes us come alive, and to say yes more often to new experiences. To fresher parts of ourselves. To not rot when we can be ripe. We have to consistently ask ourselves,  “HOW DO I TURN MYSELF ON?”

This is the process of emotional fitness. It doesn't happen with one work out. It needs hundreds and thousands, consistently.

This is how we keep the passion alive in a relationship, for the long term.

In Part 1 of this blog I addressed the utter importance of certainty, stability, and comfort in an intimate relationship. Certainty is what fertilizes the soil of a relationship, giving it a place to grow it’s roots.

But passion lives in the realm of the unknown. It’s the world of interdependence and creativity  - a space where we both commit to connection and to our freedom. A habitat we design not just for survival, but where we aim to thrive. What we, as humans often forget is that this “realm” is very rarely “out there”. It’s instead self generated through a feeling, a glance, a new habit, a refusal of an old habit, a change in our breath, and most certainly, an intentionality behind our attention and focus.

For the fire to exist and persist between you and your current (or future) partner, two things must take place: 

  1. You must break up with comfort.  - you can get back to together with it later  - it’ll be more than happy to take you back. ;)
  2. You must divorce the belief that passion should “just happen.” It didn't even “just happen” in the beginning - you actually created the conditions for it to happen, you just didn't realize it. Now I’m asking you to realize it, and consciously implement. It’s in your control - I promise you. 

YOU MUST HAVE THE WILLINGNESS TO PRIORITIZE PASSION IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP BY CREATING THE CONDITIONS FOR IT TO GROW AND SUSTAIN. THIS IS INTENTIONALITY IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP: IT SAYS, I AM PRIORITIZING YOU AND OUR EROTIC CONNECTION TOGETHER.

So what does it mean to create the conditions?

TURN YOURSELF ON:

I’m not talking about sex here. Our relationship with the erotic has so little to do with the act of sex itself. It is the sex before the sex - in fact, its the sex before the foreplay. It’s the uncertain and playful dance we must have with ourselves as much as we share with our lover.

Energy = curiosity for your life.

Our relationship with our erotic selves is the relationship we have with our potential. I’m talking about the quality and the level of your energy. A curiosity about your own life, a willingness to explore new things, and to rediscover the lost parts of yourselves in the process.

One of the biggest limiting beliefs many, (including myself at one point), have is the belief that adventure exists only in extreme conditions - such as traveling the world by yourself with nothing but a back pack and a compass. That IS adventurous, but so is anything that puts you in a situation that inspires YOU. That feeds your soul, that lights you up, that grabs your intellect, that gives you butterflies. It doesn't matter what it looks like -the point is that it triggers your energy in a different way than the same ole.

It might mean you need to slow down, and explore your femininity through connecting with yourself and others. 

It could mean your stress has lowered your testosterone (not a good thing in men - the idea that high testosterone leads to anger and rage is a myth - it actually is the opposite) and you might need some alone time to restore.

It could mean taking greater risks in your career. 

it could mean traveling, dancing, running, seeing, doing, being, not doing.

WHEN YOU ENGAGE WITH YOUR LIFE, WHEN YOU EXPLORE AND SATURATE YOURSELF WITH EXPERIENCES AND ACTIVITIES THAT LIGHT YOU UP, YOU NOT ONLY AWAKEN A CORE PART OF YOUR EROTIC BEING, BUT YOU BECOME A MAGNET WHO ATTRACTS YOUR PARTNER’S DESIRE. 

why??

Because when you’re engaged, you’re in your body - and your body IS your element. It doesn't matter how you get there - it could be from an epic bath, or from achieving epically at work. The pathway is personal, the result is always more you. We are drawn to our lovers in those moments when they’re in their element  - when they’re in flow, because we see them as independent, self sufficient, impressive beings who don't NEED us, but choose to love us. This sparks desire.

CURIOSITY FOR YOUR PARTNER BREEDS DESIRE.

When couples stop being curious about one another, they create a breeding ground for blame, judgement, apathy, stonewalling, and LOW energy to fester. Therefore, when we’re curious about them, it means we have an appetite for them.- their psychology and their bodies. For what turns them on spiritually, psychically and sexually. To watch them evolve and change as the months and years go on, and to want to know what those changes are, and how they are manifesting for THEM.

The great paradox of curiosity, however, is that we must feel safe with our person in order TO BE curious. We can’t be anxious about whether or not they love us and be curious. We can’t be uncertain about their love. period. And be curious. But you must not allow the certainty of your intimacy to convince you that you know all that you need to know. There is always more terrain to seek - both within yourself and him or her.

MARKETING AND INNOVATION:

In the beginning of your relationship, you were an incredible marketer and innovator. In business, marketing is about getting people to want to do business with you. Innovation is when businesses use imagination and creativity to keep evolving, so they can be relevant as time and technology progresses. Innovative marketers, particularly in today’s world, are always seeking, experimenting, and exploring new ways to attract and serve their customers. They don’t ever stop, because they understand that if they do, their business goes down hill, quick.

In the beginning of a relationship, we are incredibly innovative marketers. THAT’S WHY IT IS SO MAGICAL OFTEN IN THE BEGINNING. The colloquial joke is that everyone is on their best behavior in the “beginning”, which is why it’s so good. But there's more to it. The prospect of love is so exciting that we actually generate more energy when we’re around this person. We show up to liaisons  ALIVE, inhabited, embodied. We’re more present, thoughtful, and playful. We make the other person feel like they are the only person in the room when in a crowd. We make them feel special, and our openness attracts their attention and desire. 

People say that marriage ruins a relationship. Or if not marriage, long term partnership, or even living together. NO. Marriage doesn't kill relationships, who we become inside of the partnership is what damages the relationship. We (I say we because no one is innocent here) often become so comfortable with our partner that we bring home our energy leftovers - after we happily were energetic, fun and present with friends or co-workers. We leave our edge elsewhere -  with other people, or even other places on the map. If we just brought our EDGE HOME, if we brought home our creative, present, open, intentional selves more, we would have more of what we had in the beginning of the relationship, now.

Yes, you’re allowed to be in a shitty mood once and while. Yes, you’re allowed to bring it home once and a while with the expectation that we will be loved and accepted anyway. But for god sake, every one must stop doing it as much as we do, or did. Only you know the truth of how much leftovers you’re bringing home to your spouse or lover. If we only did 5% of the innovative marketing we did in the beginning, we’d see our relationships thrive.

When I tell people this, I usually get bombarded with a bunch of excuses. I don’t belittle nor doubt anyone's struggles. But the bottom line is that they have not yet reached the point where they’re ready to take accountability for how they are engaging in their life and marriage. They have not yet reached the point where they’re willing to prioritize the erotic life of their relationship. And until they do, until any one of us are willing to be accountable for the quality of our relationship, nothing can be done. No one can give you a pill and make it better. 

To make a difference in your life, to have the love and relationship you want, it boils down to this core belief: To be accountable is a privilege. Your ability to make a difference in your relationship is widely bigger than you think. Your relationship to anyone and anything is in your control.

A couple’s erotic life is a playground where they must bring fun, mischief, and imagination. Erotic is a different language, and is a different aspect of the relationship all together.

How to build the fun, mischief, and imagination:

 

  • Go on dates. Even if it’s 1x monthly - but it can’t be about the same ole same ole. An adventure date is about doing something outside of your habitual pattern and comfort. A restaurant you’ve never been to. Dancing. Anything. 
  • Surprise your partner with dates. Sometimes it can be planned together, sometimes you must surprise them with doing what THEY would want to do.
  • BREAK SOME RULES: Even if you have kids, and can only do this every 3 months: make sure every so often you don’t have a curfew. Don’t come home early to relieve the baby sitter. Stay out til 4am. You don’t even have to drink  - just get the hell out and rage and don’t give a shit about the next day. Again - plan this according to your resources.
  • Ditch your phone. If you always have your phone next to you while having some quiet time together on the couch, at meals -wherever, put it away once and while. Remove anything that will distract you from being present.
  • Have conversations that are not about “marriage inc”. Erotic is a different relationship - it’s a different language than the language of Partnership LLC. Have secret emails or numbers for each other where your children or office can’t reach you. PRESERVE THE SACREDNESS OF YOUR BOND BY HAVING PARTS OF IT SEPARATE FROM OTHER MEMBERS OF YOUR ORBIT.
  • Schedule Marriage/relationship Inc. -to prevent the business of your family life from becoming the prevailing force of your relationship, schedule weekly meetings to go over everything in the “business”. In that meeting, come prepared to go over everything, from scheduling, grievances, etc. Don’t discuss it outside of the meetings as much as you can.
  • Stop talking. Start experiencing. Too much talk about the relationship is a total passion killer. Do the above steps.
  • change up the your sex routine. If you usually have sex naked in bed, have it clothed on the couch. Or in the shower. or in the car. Whatever. 

***What’s familiar is not allowed in the play ground. The playground is where you go to create novelty. Surprise. Adventure. Curiosity. Uncertainty. The playground is your most important foreplay.

SEX:

Sexual arousal is an interesting thing. You could be totally attracted to your partner, but at times not be aroused by their sexual advances towards you. People feel mind fucked by this, understandably. I think we’ve all felt this before, and I could definitely go many different directions with this topic, but I will stick with one - one that I know personally, and have seen manifest the most working with couples.

It can be extremely stressful to not feel turned on by the person you deeply love, or to feel stuck in your ability to inspire them sexually. This is often when couples feel helpless. But believe it or not, it rarely has to do with a sexual incompatibility, and much more often has to do with two people not being attuned to each other’s sexual needs.

First and foremost, I must reiterate the importance of the erotic playground, which is the ultimate foreplay. We need to embrace uncertainty to feel more sexual - more passionate desire. But there’s even more to the story. There’s insight you can develop into yourself that once understood, can and should be shared with your partner to create more sexual longing for one another: a chemistry that feels more deeply in alignment with what it is you both crave. 

Some questions to consider:

Do you prefer to feel your lover’s energy (sometimes for a long time) such as in the form of their eye contact, their breath, or their presence, before you experience their touch?

When you’re engaging sexually, do you prefer to be teased for some time, barely being touched? Do you enjoy (safe) distance between you both before going full force?

Do you prefer to create a pleasant environment before having sex? Such as the right music, smells, sheets, etc? Do you prefer to be completely relaxed before you begin?

Is timing everything to you when it comes to sex?

Do you enjoy going full force immediately - loving the intense charge of your sex from start to finish?

Do you prefer to experiment more with role playing, toys, “dirty talk”, hair pulling, smacking, etc?

Do you relate to all the above? Meaning, do you think to yourself, “I don’t prefer any of it over the other I just roll with what my lover needs and I’m happy.”

We are never just one way when it comes to matters of sexual arousal. We may have been one way with one person, and yet explored a different way with another. Things may have changed for you over time, as well. But consider where you are now. With you current relationship, or if you’re single, with your last steady lover or relationship. Think about the times when your partner wanted to have sex with you, and although you’re attracted, you just did not want it. Or the reverse - when you couldn’t understand why your man or woman didn't respond to your energy that way. Maybe you were overwhelmed with your familial, or parental duties and therefore were not in the right head space, or maybe it was stress from work. These are very real, and common examples of not feeling “in the mood.” But I’m referring to something else, I’m referring to deeper needs that you may have.

It’s a myth that all men just want to go full force, and women do not. Myth. Maybe if you’re a straight teenage girl dealing with horny teenage boys, yes. Of course. But not now. Men need some of the above as much as women do.

Will it be challenging to have sexual alignment with someone who only wants to be kinky, and you truly are uncomfortable with that? Yes. But there are ways to work with this, ways too complex to explain here. If that's the case, I strongly advise seeing a coach or a therapist to work through that.

But: 

It’s way more possible that you simply feel overwhelmed, and what you want is to be teased, yet your partner goes full force with touch too quickly.

That your lover needs more beauty around them in the from of music, or candles, or a clean, pretty environment.

That you crave intense touch and your partner is treading too lightly.

That you need some alone time to regroup before you engage with your lover.

That he or she craves more playfulness in the bedroom once and a while.

Have this conversation. Then aim to explore, and to please each other. Become attuned to what their needs are in terms of touch - when it’s too soon, or not soon enough. Play with teasing each other by teasing it out. Use your eyes, use your breathing, use the incredible instrument that IS your body, and communicate through its own language. The dialogue that may not have words, or may have the unique words that you know your partner craves to hear…

Be light, and be dark.

You have a light side to you. A side that loves to make love - sweetly. Tenderly. Softly.

You also have a dark side. A side that wishes to f*ck. To be dominant when you normally prefer to be dominated, and vice versa. To be wild, not sweet.

Make room for both. Both ups the novelty. It’s healthy for you, and for your relationship.

Allow for lovely maintenance sex:

When you’re in it for the long term, having sex does not have to be this epic liaison every single time. What an exhausting expectation! Say yes more to sex even when the conditions are not quite right. See where it takes you. Let go and allow for a lovely experience  - one that will strengthen your love.

Presence:

Your sexual experience as a couple will go to the next level if you stay with one another during your love making. I mean, really stay. In the moment, but also “in” your lover.

The moment we feel our partner disengage, even if barely, is the moment we will feel their tension. It’s almost impossible to not respond to their tension with our own. It becomes too easy to close if we don’t feel their undivided presence. We will then feel less than … painfully self conscious and insecure. Achingly unfulfilled.

Being fixated on climax is paradoxically out-of-body. If we just have that goal, we go into our heads, and leave the moment, we leave the person. Experiment with NOT focusing on that at all.

There is nothing more fulfilling than to feel our lover’s presence. To feel that he is totally with you. To feel her openness.

Get lost, but not in your head. Not only in your bodily sensations. Get lost WITH your lover. Breathe together. Steal glances, smiles. Melt away whatever residual tension they're holding with your presence.

To desire.

All my love,

Jillian

If after reading this, you decide that what you need is more help and guidance, please email me at info@jillianturecki.com, and I will be happy to share resources with you so that you can get the help you need. All correspondence is confidential.

 

 

 

Sex and Passion. How to sustain it, long term. Part 1.

I decided to split this post into 2 parts because it’s long, and both can stand on their own giving  you a lot to chew on. Keep an open mind while reading it because although the concepts are explored through the context of relationships, they can be applied to your life generally. My intention, as always, is to stimulate truer personal fulfillment through our relationships. To untangle the complexity of our patterns and worry so that we can activate a liveliness that’s deeper within. A charge that is, no doubt, more meaningful than our fears. 

I hope it stimulates thought, and inspires action. 

How do we keep the passion alive in our long term relationship? Why do we sometimes feel disconnected during sex? How is it that we can love someone very deeply, but not feel excited about them? 

“I’m generally satisfied, but something is missing.” 

“He doesn’t initiate like he used to”. 

“She doesn't want me anymore”. 

“I don’t get turned on like I used to - I think there’s something wrong with me.”

Sex, passion, and lust. A giant topic that runs deep. In a relationship that has passion, it’s a non issue and therefore it isn't complex - it just is. But when we struggle to express ourselves sexually with our partner, and if we don't feel that passionate connection with them, it becomes a really big deal. 

After years of studying, researching, interviewing, and experiencing the intricate dynamics of intimate relationships, what I’ve found is this: A committed relationship or marriage can indeed last a lifetime on emotional connection alone. Deep emotional intimacy - that is, mutual love, respect, and understanding is like glue for the human psyche. It’ll bind us tight to anyone we experience this with, and will, for the most part, contribute to our “happiness”. Furthermore, there ARE couples who value friendship in their relationship WAAAAY above sexuality and are genuinely content in their partnership even if mostly sexless. This is real. But unlike these couples, there are countless more who spend a solid amount of energy denying their longing for more. A yearning for more excitement. For the unknown. For that inexplicable force that pulls them to this person. It’s the nagging ache of desire unfulfilled, a pang they feel pulse throughout their entire bodies.

A committed relationship cannot last a lifetime on sexual chemistry alone. The need to feel safe and understood is cemented into our DNA, so if we don't have that with someone, sex alone ain’t going to cut it, long term. 

Therefore: A relationship needs both emotional intimacy and passion to THRIVE. To be at a level 3, not a 2.

There’s good news: The dwindling fire between a couple CAN be re-lit, especially if they once had it. Even if they’ve been together for ages, have kids, work, and lame in laws. There’s just some things that need to be addressed:

There are many variables that contribute to a fulfilling, or non fulfilling sex life and healthy or otherwise relationship with your own sexuality. Factors such as culture, generation, societal beliefs, as well as trauma. One can’t deny how all of it, especially trauma, adds a rich complexity to this topic. A complexity that I’m not qualified to write about in detail. So, I won’t. That said, I think we've been hypnotized by culture to believe two core principles of intimate relationship: one, that passion cannot withstand the test of time, and that two, if you’re having trouble connecting sexually with your partner, then you’re just simply incompatible in that department. I want to challenge these two beliefs and tell you how I see it. Hope it helps.

When you first start dating someone you like, sexual chemistry is at a peak because of this simple equation. High Risk + Low Fear = Turn On. 

Let me explain:

Fear (I’m excluding the rare and legitimate fear of clear and present danger) and excitement have almost an identical physiological profile. Both are governed by our emotional response to the unknown, differentiated by only one small, yet wildly impactful element: Our focus. If we focus on pain, or the anticipation of it in any way, we will become fearful. Likewise if our focus is on pleasure or the anticipation of it, we’ll feel excited. In both cases, our hypothalamus which governs our stress response, instructs our bodies to increase it’s breath, heart rate and blood flow. These increases raise our body temperature and encourages sweating. Our psychology is also impacted - in both cases we become more alert. The only difference between the two is marked by a message sent to our reward system when we are in fact, excited, not afraid. Then, it’s all fun and games.

Uncertainty is a basic human need. We need the unknown to break up the monotony of all our comfortable, safe, and controlled habits. Unquestionably some people are much more attached to the comfort of knowing what comes next; however, even the most rigid, certainty driven person needs a little “I have no idea what’s around the corner” fun. The kinda fun we have when we first start seeing someone super fun, and all we have is fun, and nothing is certain and yet we don't care cause it’s so fun. Again: Nothing Certain + Who Cares This Is So Fun = Sexual Chemistry.

As I’m sure you’ve experienced, things slowly change when our emotions become invested. The equation slowly morphs into: High Risk + Growing Fear = Living In Our Heads. The turn on is still there, and so is some of the fun. But we care a whole lot more about the “nothing is certain” part. Then our fear of not being enough and losing this person mounts, and our internal fireworks gradually lose some of their marvelous, sparkly, neon momentum.

This is partly appropriate. Losing love is the most painful inevitability of the human experience. It’s simply impossible not to recoil somewhat when we fall for someone - when all the roadkill of our rendezvous and relationship past rise from the dead to once again haunt our present, often stiffening our bodies with worry. Because as our emotion deepens, as our lives intertwine with another’s, as we share more of who we are and the events that have led us to where we are, another basic human need - the need for certainty; that is, to feel secure and safe, grows. Emotional intimacy demands certainty, for it simply cannot grow in uncertain soil. 

Our fear is not the problem. Nor is our need for certainty. It’s how we reconcile with this need  to be comfortable and habituated. It’s how we cope with our fear of losing love or even of losing ourselves in the name of love. This reconciliation is what shapes the quality of our relationship.

THE LIGHT AND DARK OF CERTAINTY AND UNCERTAINTY:

If we enter the High Risk + High Fear zone, we’ll activate all our relational patterns triggered by our fear. We become more controlled. Our rules of how this person is ‘supposed’ to behave will rear their (sometimes) tyrannical heads, and we’ll at times second guess ourselves and our partner. Depending on our trigger ‘go to’s’, we’ll either shut down, control our surroundings, withhold, criticize, people please, abandon our own needs, or deny their needs.. and the list goes on. It’s absolutely essential that we own our patterns in this department. It doesn't make us bad. It makes us human. But our birthright - our privilege, is to take responsibility for this truth as it will undoubtedly set us free.

If you’ve been in a relationship or marriage for years, even decades - when you’re long past the courting, the falling in love, and the establishing your relationship stages, you might think that your issues are different, but I assure you, our needs for both certainty and uncertainty never, ever go away no matter how adept we become at denying them.

DARK (negative) CERTAINTY:

The beauty of certainty in a relationship is friendship. It looks like Saturday night in sweats lying on the couch eating delivery and binge watching Netflix. A shared activity which is, in my world, essential. But certainty also takes on the energy of each or both people involved. An energy that becomes tirelessly routinized in the effort to keep things under control: the household, our health, and our stress levels. But controlled is not grounded. Controlled is our reaction to life in an effort to become more grounded. Controlled suffocates excitement and fun, ultimately depriving our souls of the oxygen it needs to feel truly alive. 

Certainty is void of spontaneity and freedom.

Certainty is knowing your lover’s body so well that you think there isn't more terrain to explore.

Certainty is sex the same way every time because you know it’ll lead to climax.

Certainty is believing there isn't more of your partner's psychology to understand.

Certainty is safe. And safe is risky in the world of pleasure.

LIGHT (positive) CERTAINTY:

Our comfort in relationship may indeed take on the form of Saturday nights on the couch and Netflix, but it’s so much more. For a relationship to fill us up, we need to know that our love is sacred to our person. That it won’t be ignored or taken for granted. We need to know that even in the midst of a fight, that love won’t be taken away from us. That the ground below the relationship is sturdy in it’s foundation, and that when life throws rocks at it, the bond proves unshakeable. Our relationship must be steadfast and resilient in it’s ability to bend, not break. Positive Certainty takes on a different kind of energy than controlled. It’s a mindset. It’s decisive, and clear. Decisive and clear is safe, but it’s also firm and grounded. It can also enhance sexuality.

Certainty is feeling safe enough to let go. To allow someone to explore our bodies, fully.

Certainty is knowing we can screw up and still be supported.

Certainty is feeling accepted for who we are.

Certainty is valuing your love more than being right.

Certainty is presence. And presence is sexy as hell.

DARK UNCERTAINTY:Some couples after they break-up, devolve their relationship to f*ck buddy status. Have you ever been there? It’s an interesting phenomena where basically overnight someone goes from certain and boring to unattainable and hot as hell. It may last one night, it may last several weeks, but one thing is certain - it doesn't last. It can’t last, because we now know that Sex - Intimate Fulfillment = No Chance. Relationships that lack trust and security clearly have a lot of uncertainty, but it’s the kind that’s rooted in fear. So while that high risk may at times be a turn on, all those unknown roads lead to to the land where anxiety, depression, and aloneness prevail. It’s experiencing our lover’s hesitancy, of having to contend with just their one foot, not both and some. It’s the treating love as a trade - where you give only as much as you get. It’s when someone threatens leaving when they’re mad. It’s the withholding, distracted, turning inward, shutting down and dark omnipresent force that chips away at our love and trust. This uncertainty is hell.

Uncertainty is not knowing if you’re loved.

Uncertainty is fearing they’ll leave.

Uncertainty is playing games.

Uncertainty is feeling misunderstood.

Uncertainty is a cold dark place. No one feels sexy in cold dark places.

LIGHT UNCERTAINTY:

When certainty is not met with a healthy dose of the unknown, sexual energy - and all the passion and desire that drives it, contracts. One of the largest generators of energy is surprise. Of course we don't want the kind of surprise that threatens our livelihood, but we NEED to feel distance, longing and risk in our relationships. As previously noted, that risk is super sexy. In fact, it’s downright addictive to those who struggle to maintain long term relationships. Which is why I’m emphasizing having a sense of excitatory risk -  not fearful risk, in the midst of the trust and security of deep intimacy. THIS is what people struggle with, THIS is what most believe isn’t truly possible. Consider this equation: Growth + Curiosity = Desire. In the beginning of a relationship, we’re masterful innovators. We show up invested in our own lives (growth) and motivated to learn about theirs (curiosity), which both contribute handsomely to raising attraction (desire). Growth is subjective and looks differently for everyone based on the area of life that needs evolution. But one thing for sure growth is NOT, is being just one way. We may have a core identity that (hopefully) aligns with our core values, but we also have many archetypes within us. You are not just a parent. Or a business owner, or a yogi. There’s get down to business you, there’s fun you, there’s feminine you, there's masculine you. There’s light and airy you, and there's mysterious and complicated you. There's the person who is addicted to safety, but there's also the person who is vibrant and electric. Paying attention to the parts that showed up in the beginning of your relationship, and then giving them regular air time, will have massive impact on the levity of your relationship. 

Uncertainty is continuously exploring the different parts of yourself, and bringing that energy to your relationship 

Uncertainty is not doing what just “works.”

Uncertainty is curiosity. It’s the surprise we feel when we uncover another layer of a person's psyche and being.

Uncertainty is safe distance. It’s the space we create to hold our longing.

Uncertainty is being held accountable. It’s knowing we can’t get away with being a shit.

Uncertainty is the unknown. And not knowing keeps us on our toes, wanting to know more.

Light uncertainty is where you MUST put your focus if you want to bring back, or elevate the passion in your relationship. But please take note: too much certainty OR too much uncertainty will break down your relationship. It may be a slow chip that takes decades to wear it down, or it could be a fast and furious burn out. But it is what causes people to split, even if they manage to stay together. 

I want to give you tips on how to raise the dosage of HEALTHY UNCERTAINTY in your relationship. Here’s a couple of action steps to take asap:

1. Meet your lover’s specific need for fun uncertainty: have a heart to heart and ask him/her what is exciting TO THEM. Because I guarantee what you consider to be fun uncertainty is not always what they consider it to be. Then share what excites you. **In order to increase the sexy unknown, don't wait for them to meet your need first and keep tabs (note: that’s very UNSEXY) just do it for them and see what happens. When we feel honored by our partner, it raises attraction.

2. Every week tip the Play vs Domesticity scale towards the play side. How much depends on just how imbalanced the scale is currently for your relationship. Remember, you gotta know what play is for them.

3. Practice adventure dating. This doesn't mean you have to go bungee jumping. An adventure date is anything that is outside of your routine. You decide just how risqué you want it to be. Adventure is subjective, and dwells in the eyes of the beholders. But once in a while, be bold.

4. Change your state often. Low state, low creativity. Peak state, peaked creativity.  It always will begin with you and you. (more on this next week).

The Certainty vs Uncertainty scale presents itself in all areas of your life, and how you manage it will largely determine the quality of your life experiences. There are times when the pendulum must swing disproportionately to one side. This is to be expected and it’s OK. Contrary to popular belief, balance does not always reside in the center. But pay attention to this scale, because how you tip it will either yield more peace, or stifle your expansion. It’s all a balancing act. 

Here's to risk.

 

Break-up Principle #3: REJECTION BREEDS OBSESSION.

Rejection breeds obsession. This is why when you’re lover breaks up with you, you will spend an enormous amount of time thinking about this person, talking about him, wondering where she is, psycho-analyzing his behavior, diagnosing her character, and stalking him on social media. And if you’re not actually thinking or speaking of this person, a significant amount of your energy is spent on trying to distract yourself from obsessing about the relationship and what went wrong and how you could have done better.

When a rejection cuts deep, you’ll most likely hire a therapist or finally make use of the one you already have. You’ll buy self-help books ranging in topics such as  narcissistic personality disorder, alcoholism, sexual trauma, attachment theories, and more. All in an effort to understand HIM, or HER.

The last thought you‘ll have before you fall asleep at night will be of your ex. Your dreams will often be hijacked by memories of him, or surreal encounters with her. And when you wake up in the morning plagued by the raw pit in your gut, the first thoughts you’ll have will be about how it’s over and you can’t believe it. Then most of your morning will be spent coming to terms with your new reality - once again. 

Rejection breeds obsession. But the truth is that rejection is protection. 

No one likes rejection. Most hate it, despising it so much that in phobic fear, they'll do anything, often to no avail, to protect themselves from it. That's because we think rejection means we are not good enough. Not good enough to win their heart and keep it. We never consider until weeks, months or years later, when our sight becomes clearer, that the whole time there was a plan. A new direction. A new beginning. A cleaner understanding of who we are and what we need. Only then can we possibly say to ourselves, “ah, yes. Now I see.”

I’m suggesting that you say it now. Even if you’re in the chaotic center of heartbreak, say it to yourself over and over again, “rejection is protection”. Say it quietly, say it loudly. Keep reminding yourself, until you’re hypnotized by it’s truth. - a truth you know to be real, even if in your sadness you’ve decided to not believe it anymore. You will again. I promise. You already learned this. Because if someone doesn't want to walk the long walk with you anymore, they’re not your person. And in time, you will look back and know the truth so hard that you’ll likely thank the universe or god or whatever you believe for ending something that needed to end in order for you to be free.

Don’t deny your hurt. In fact, acknowledge it and then appreciate it with all your might. Take your time. Appreciate that your pain, anger, and disappointment all have messages for you - messages that only you can discern. But when you find yourself lost within the darker crevices of your mind, ruminating about what happened, obsessing about what could have been, trying to figure it out and problem solve….take a very deep breath. Splash some water on your face, stretch your arms above your head, and remind yourself of the truth. A gospel that’s waiting for that inevitable day when you’ll wake up and embrace it. 

 

9 Very Surprising and Legit Things I've Learned From Finally Meditating

I’m finally, after years of dabbling, committed to meditating. It’s now a non-negotiable. I’ll negotiate on pretty much all my other practices I use to change my physiology such as yoga (I’m beyond devoted to this, but doesn't have to be daily) dancing, and other forms of exercise. 

If you don't meditate regularly or at all, I get it 1000 percent. I was you, up until December. Over the years I’ve had so many excuses such as “moving my body is my meditation” (which it is, but I promise is not the same which I’ll explain) “It doesn't work”, “I don’t have time” “I’ll do it later”. I’ve given myself meditation “challenges” where I’d meditate for 30 days straight, but then didn't continue with it. I’ve spent money to study with a meditation master and even received my own mantra to work with. Again, that helped give me a framework, but still I never got truly hooked. So what changed?

Well. Two reasons. The second one was more important, but it needed reason #1’s support.

Reason #1: The scientific data that proves it’s efficacy is overwhelming. Meditation bio-chemically changes our entire nervous and endocrine systems, making us calmer in the face of adversity, more focused hence leading to higher performance, better sleepers, and simply put: happier. The stereotype of a frolicking hippy roaming California poppy fields eating plants and slamming down kombucha and bong hits is outdated. So is the yoga teacher adorned with mala beads and patchouli exploring the depths of India. They MAY be meditators, but you’d be surprised how many are not. The modern meditator is you. And me. It’s the 58 year old CEO of a billion dollar company, it’s the sales rep at Verizon. Simply put, the data is on fire and it’s spreading fast. 

Reason #2: We get so used to stress that we sometimes don't feel it surfacely. That was me. I was focusing on a lot of ‘what if’s’ and it was wearing me down. Then I got sick and felt disproportionately exhausted to the mild cold I had. I was getting headaches and felt disconnected and unfocused. I was overwhelmed, and it had zero to do with circumstances. Then something legitimately circumstantial occurred, and I thought to myself: “I’ve got to do something or I’ll crack”. Then it was the holidays. I took some time off and seized the moment.

So here I am 3 months later, and I’ve learned some things I honestly never expected to learn from meditating every day. Here they are:

1. You must know your WHY.  It’s not enough to know the data, and it’s never going to work if you keep telling yourself that you “should” meditate. Of course you should. Everyone should. But that means not a whole lot. For you to commit to ANYTHING in life, you have to have a why that is compelling enough to motivate you to start, and inspire you to continue. My why is my health and my performance as a human being. Things unravel slowly and insidiously if I don’t.

2. The noise in your head will often get louder when you meditate - especially in the beginning. I must debunk the myth that meditation is not meditation if you’re thinking. Even if A LOT. It does NOT mean it’s not working. It means that there are some stressors in your life that are rising to the surface, ready to be released. Let them rise and burn off, then rise and burn off again. EXPECT your head to get louder in the beginning. Believe it or not, your parasympathetic nervous system is still responding even with your thoughts. You will still reap the benefits.

3. Exercise before you meditate. This is the best hack for the “noisy head” meditations. For a new habit to take hold, we need to know that our actions matter. Which is why so many people give up when they think their thinking ruins meditation. Exercising first will give you the results you need, faster. This could mean 10 jumping jacks. It doesn't have to be an entire yoga class or a trip the the gym. Or it could. Moving your body primes your nervous system to be still and more ‘head - quiet’. 

4. Congruence with identity and values. Yoga is very much the study of the mind, and we use the body as a vehicle through which to understand it, master it, and transcend it. As a yoga teacher, I value this. I stand for it, it is part of my identity. Adding meditation to my life makes me feel more in alignment with what I stand for, what I project to others, and what I value. As a coach, I’m keenly aware of this truth: living in alignment with your values is a critical component of experiencing a more fulfilling life. If you value peace, or joy, or patience, or focus, or performance, or productivity in any way, meditating will align you with those values and in turn, you will feel better about you.

5. Meditation builds self-esteem. Precisely for the reasons stated above. When you live congruently with what truly matters to you; ie, with the identity you wish to project, protect and build, your self worth will increase. A lot.

6. Meditation connects me to my body and refines my instincts. Stress is a dissociative state. In deep stress, we go into reptilian response where fight, flight or freeze takes over. This can go on for months, at which point the cord between our head and body severs, leaving us trapped in our heads, and divorced from our wiser hearts. No good decision can made under stress, because we need our brains, hearts, and instincts to be working in concert with one another. (I’m not talking about the healthier stress of a time constraint which can be very beneficial at times for decision-making). Meditation rebuilds the connective tissue between your head and your intuition. This is critical as your body never lies. 

7. Meditation gave me control. Even if you're the most go-with-the-flow person on the planet, you still need to feel that you have control of your inner universe. A lot of crap came to a head before I threw in the towel and decided I was going to meditate forever. Of course I hoped it would help, but I had no idea just how much it would. I didn't go to a doctor, or a healer. I didn't take a pill or some herbs. I didn't go on vacation. I did it all on my own by being still for at least 30 minutes a day. This led to a belief that my actions DO matter, and that I can impact MYSELF through right ACTION. Now that feels good.

8. It reinvigorated my desire to give back and contribute. We have to be able to let go of the things that no longer work in order to return to what we hold sacred. Meditation helped me return to WHY I do what I do for a living. It re- pumped blood back into my contribution muscle and has in turn, made waking up in the morning so much better.

9. Sitting to meditate is not the same as moving your body to gain a meditative state. Ok this was an important revelation. I’ve been an avid yoga practitioner for 18 years and before that I was a dance-clubber, before that a gym rat, and before that a swimmer. Moving my body is my religion. I’ve experienced deep meditative states from all of it. And movement does indeed burn off stress, in fact I literally prescribe it to clients. HOWEVER: It’s the not doing of meditation that restores our systems from stresses that’ve been dwelling in our bodies for years and decades. This is key. Don't stop moving, but I promise there are deeper, darker and muddier soils within you that yearn to come up for air. To dry up in the light, then turn to dust so it can be carried off into ether with a breeze.

Here’s to de-stressing.

 

Break-up Principle #2: REMEMBER THE TRUTH.

Selective memory is a rampant phenomenon that occurs after break-ups, particularly when someone has left you broken hearted. It’s when all of a sudden you believe that the person who left you is your one true soul mate and that your relationship with them was fulfilling and meaningful. It’s when all the memories of the good times together flood your mind and body for days, weeks, and sometimes months after they’ve gone. It’s when you’ve convinced yourself that your life is barren without this person, your heart now deprived of acceptance and love, and your future dull and empty. Selective memory is a symptom of a much graver condition, however, which is amnesia. Some break-ups such as, (but not limited to) divorce, are so intense that they fall within the spectrum of deep psychological trauma, so the amnesia which occurs is to be expected. But: this deficit in your memory is keeping you from the truth. From remembering how bad things really were. How totally miserable you were. Of course you weren’t miserable all the time. Of course there were good times, even incredible times. Days, months, or even years when you felt accepted and loved, sexy and desired. There were times, perhaps many, when you felt so utterly connected to this person, as if your soul knew their soul in a way that can’t be described but only experienced by you, and witnessed by others. They were your best friend. Your confidante. Your most trusted advisor. They were home.

But they haven't been that to you recently.

And those meaningful times haven't happened in a long while.

You haven't felt special, appreciated, or sexy.

You’ve been feeling malnourished, deprived of all the little things they used to do for you, notice about you, share with you.

You’ve felt disconnected during sex, living in your head, overwhelmed with insecurity.

You haven't wanted sex at all.

They haven't wanted it.

You’ve been mistreated. You’ve been ignored, shut out, yelled at.

You’ve been walking on egg shells, wondering what mood they would come home with, or wake up to.

There's been endless, circular “talks” about your relationship.

They feel oddly like your room mate, or even like your brother or sister.

They don't want to dream with you about the future, or even just plan fun shit to do together.

You haven't slept, and have had countless stress dreams.

You’ve been tired. Hopeless, bored, numb, sad, anxious.

Your body has been tight, you jaw locked, your gut off.

You’ve been unhappy. You wanted this to end too. I promise you, you have. I know it doesn't feel that way, but it’s true. You just haven't been able to get there yet.. not in your mind nor your heart. You haven't wanted to end things, because that would mean starting over. And starting over is a vast desolate trail to nowhere. 

You aren’t mourning your soul mate as much as you’re grieving the loss of what this soul once was to you. Of what your union could have been…. should have been.

You have a blueprint of what your life is supposed to look like. That blueprint involves a lover. Maybe it involves a spouse. It has family and love and success and “beautiful future with your soul mate” stamped all over it. Your blueprint doesn't have this ending, this break-up, this divorce. This wasn't part of the plan, of the grand design of your happiness. You weren’t supposed to be alone at this age, at this time in your life. This blueprint certainly does not have the scary trail to nowhere.

It’s time to fold up this print and put it away. You’ll burn it when you’re ready. It’s time to start designing a new one. One that is about a life free of relationship misery, and filled with love. Friend love, family love, community love, neighborhood love, self love, and eventually your new love. Rest assured, another soul is in the shadows trying to find your light.

Jog your memory. Exercise it every day so that you can remember the truth.

 

Break-up Principle #1: LET THEM LEAVE.

“You’ve got to know when people’s part in your story is over so you don't keep on trying to raise the dead.” - JD Bishop

You cannot convince someone to love you. That is the law of the land and it has to be obeyed no matter what. There is no plan B, what if, but maybe, or let’s see.

When people can walk away from you, let them walk. Stop begging people to stay. Stop pretending to be someone you’re not to get their love back. Let them leave.

When someone you love no longer wants to love you, you have to let them exit the relationship. Whether it’s your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your spouse, the father or mother of your child, or just your fuck buddy, you’ve got to let them go. Period. End of story because there IS no other story when someone no longer wants to be in a relationship with you. 

I know how fucking hard it is. How gut wrenchingly horrible and frighteningly disorienting it is. When they say, “it’s over”, when they say, “I’m leaving” either directly to your face or indirectly with their behavior, you’ve got to ignore your impulse to try and keep them. You've got to ignore your adrenaline whose only job is to tell you to grab tighter, hold longer, to hang on and fight for what you think is yours. 

If someone can walk away from you, it means their part in your story is over and you have to accept it as over even as you grieve and weep. Do grieve. 

But don't try to convince them they don’t know what they’re doing. Don’t negotiate, manipulate, convince, or guilt trip. Don't try to talk them into loving you, paying more attention to you, texting you, calling you. It won’t work. It never does, in fact it will work against you in every way. And even if it worked it would be temporary.

Even if you somehow managed to convince them to stay, it won’t last. It’ll be fake and you’ll feel insecure and unloved and it will suck more than it does now.

I know your love is big. I know you’re a loyal fighter and are committed. 

But it doesn't matter how much you love them, how attracted you are to them, how many times they made you cum, how good they are to your children. It doesn't matter if every single life dream you have includes them beside you. 

The truth is that if someone wants out, things were not good. And you know this - you know this beneath your panic, beyond your mind, and even past your heart. You know it underneath your belly - in the gut of your gut so deep it doesn't have an anatomical name. 

Stop scheduling more talks. Just stop talking about it. Stop breaking up over and over again.

It doesn’t mean they’re bad. It doesn't mean they weren’t a soul mate. It just means they were meant to walk with you for a specific amount of time, not more.

Life is hard enough, don't make it harder by holding on to someone who doesn't love you. You’ll be ok without them. You’ll see.

Begin today building up your self worth. Begin practicing the gift of goodbye. Let them leave. It’s what’s right, I promise. 

Flip the page and start a new chapter. Someone who wants to stay is looking to fill up the rest of your pages.

 

If you're grieving.

Don’t wish your grief away, it is your human right to experience it. Don’t try to understand why it feels stronger today than it did yesterday, or why it may feel oddly absent. There are no should’s in this process, so please rest easy in whatever it is you feel. Slow down, be kind to yourself, and know that you may feel alone, but indeed you are not. On the good days, rejoice in the pleasantries of your day, as it is also your human right to experience joy. You needn’t feel guilty for feeling good, as I promise you it is the wish of your loved one that you feel good all the time. You needn’t feel guilty for feeling sad, for your tears bathe your soul. But even in your darkest moments of sorrow, please remember that love does not die with death, and your relationship does not die with death. It lives on, stronger than before. Because now more than ever, this being is your closest confidante, residing deep within your heart and mind. Your eternal companion, listening to your concerns, celebrating your victories, and gently tickling your intuition in moments of doubt. Take a deep breath, drink a glass of water, and let yourself be.

Marriage. How to save the first year, or any year.

The first year of marriage can be hard. Really hard. Not always of course, but it’s common enough that you could find dozens of articles about it with a google search. I could describe a litany of issues that contribute to the first year blues, but instead I’ll offer what I believe to be the most influential that perhaps you haven’t considered.  What I share below isn’t meant to scare you; instead, it’s meant to prepare you, strengthen you, and inspire you. It doesn't have to be hard. In fact, it can be beautiful and bonding. If you read closely, all the steps I outline have something in common: We are 100 percent accountable and in control of the level of energy, focus, and love we bring to our relationship. If you stay on top of these 4 potential issues and follow the steps to maximize your potential for a loving first year, you WILL experience joy and intimacy. But what is required of you is this: you must value the love you share more than anything else. Literally. It won’t always be easy, and no doubt you’ll be challenged at times to show up. But remember this: beginning a marriage, or any committed relationship is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to grow in ways you never thought imaginable. To step outside of your own head - your fears, your wounds, your outdated beliefs and stories, and into the heart of this person you love. Blame will get you nowhere. Criticism will kill love. Expectations and rules will limit you and your relationship. So, have more conversations where you share your dreams, and ask to hear their's. Practice more fun and appreciation every single day. Instead of keeping tabs of what you're getting or not getting, give more love. Help each other grow. 

There are 4 major reasons why the first year of marriage is difficult, and what to do about it.

Reason #1:

You didn’t know your spouse for very long before you got married. ”very long” is relative, so before you go on a head trip, let’s just say under a year or so. And don’t worry, rest assured you can still have a beautiful life together. But, it DOES mean that there are most likely things you don’t know about your new spouse. For example, if you haven't experienced your lover under extreme stress and pain, chances are you’ll witness this within the first year or two of marriage, simply because life happens. The longer you’re together, the more you’ll bear witness to all the parts of this person, and what you see might surprise or even down right scare you. I promise though that you’ll be scary to your spouse at times too. It is a masterful skill to be able to manage stress well, but let’s face it, not all stress is created equal, and what YOU find stressful might not be so for your hubby or wife, and vice versa. 

What to do: * note this applies to everyone, even if you’ve been married 20 years.

1. Stay focused on your own level of emotional resiliency. In other words, life will be painful at times, in small and big ways and the best thing you can do is take massive action towards changing your own habitual reactions to stress, and commit to daily practices that keeps it in perspective. **These practices are different for everyone. Connecting with friends can lower stress and cortisol levels, but for others, taking space and alone time is imperative.

2. Always transform your criticism into curiosity. AKA, you must accept your partner of who he or she is, and never, ever, EVER try to change them. Over time, you are going to learn A LOT about this other person. But I promise you this: what you think you know is not all that you know. Read that again. What do I mean? You are complex. We all are. And, we are NOT our behaviors, we’re so much more than that. So before you judge a part of your man or woman that you don't like, get curious about what really is going on for him/her at that moment. Seek to understand him. Commit to listening to her.  Ask questions. And while you’re at it, do this for yourself as well.

Reason #2:

The law of familiarity. It’s a truism: when we get used to something, someplace, or someone, we’ll take it for granted. Marriage, or even just co-habiting is by nature filled with daily monotonous routine. Routines are necessary and I even recommend them, but they have to be balanced by rituals, or practices that keep the aliveness of your relationship. Below are 3 specific ones to begin now.

What to do: 

1. break up the routine. This could mean every week you have date night - but take it a step further: SURPRISE your spouse with a date once and a while. Do something that is fun for him or her. If your lives are extremely busy, then schedule it. But do it.

2. Appreciate your spouse. Appreciate him/her in your mind and heart as much as you can daily, but be sure to actually share some of those sentiments.

3. Come alive again. Sometimes we forget who we were in the beginning of a relationship. Were you more carefree? or more independent? more loving? Sexual? Bring that person back more than you think. This will make YOU feel more alive, and your aliveness will bring excitement and passion back to your relationship.

Reason #3

Expectations. Expectation is poison to your relationship because of two reasons. 1. You lose appreciation and acceptance for what is, and therefore you drastically limit your joy and your partner's. 2. Most of our expectations are born out of conditioning, not out of what is currently true to you. For example, you have beliefs about what your marriage is supposed to be like and what it’s not supposed to be like. So does your spouse. And guess what? They may not be in alignment. I’ve found that this topic is rarely discussed before people get married and yet, it’s probably the most important topic to discuss. But this may surprise you: You must have this conversation with YOU first. And no, it’s not too late.

What to do:

1. Challenge old beliefs. Ask yourself how much is your belief about what marriage is supposed to be or not be actually your own? Or, is it more a societal belief? Or maybe one you were raised to have based on your parents, or what their beliefs were?? At this very moment, step outside of your younger self and into the person you are today. Even better, into the person you want to grow into. From this place, ask yourself, “what kind of marriage do I want?” Challenge yourself not to be influenced by your conditioning. Then ask, “what is the marriage I would like to build long term? Why?”

2. Communicate. Share this, lovingly with your spouse and ask what his or her beliefs are. See if the two of you can dispel any old beliefs that no longer represent your deepest principles and desires NOW, and co-create something new and current. Listen to him. Hear her. Yes, it’s ideal to have this conversation before marriage BUT the truth is these convos can’t stop just because you’re married. *One of the key habits of a strong, life lasting marriage is the habit of having these types of conversations more often than you think. Keep checking in with each other. This leads me nicely into reason 4.  (*to read my 4 Keys to Genius Communication, sign up now for my newsletter to receive that plus other game changing strategies I gift to my incredible community of subscribers) 

Reason #4

Loss of vision. Usually the time before marriage is an exciting one. No matter how long you’ve been together before tying the knot, there’s nothing like the engagement period. It breaths life into relationships, and super charges each person into new heights of energy. Not to mention, there is a lot of excitement (good and bad) planning a wedding. Even if it’s stressful planning or you’re headed to City Hall, it’s still a distraction, and it’s a day to look forward to. Once married, planning for the future often becomes too logistical or simply just ignored and forgotten. People lose site of what they really want for their marriage long term, and this is actually very damaging to intimacy and closeness. Why? Because having a shared vision or purpose for what your life is going to be together is a crucial element to a fulfilling marriage. Growth is a fundamental need every human being must experience in order to feel fully alive and fulfilled. As long as you’re progressing towards something, you’ll feel like you’re growing, and your life will have meaning. It will have purpose. Think of your marriage as a life. You want to make that life meaningful and purposeful, just as you strive to make your own life meaningful. You must co-create the life and future you want your marriage to have. And yes, the path may change over time. It always does, so leave room for flexibility. 

What to do: 

1. Co-create your future. Communicate your dreams and values with one another. Try answering these questions and see what evolves, and be sure to make it fun and loving. Ask yourself and each other questions such as: 

1. If our marriage stood for something, what would it be? For example, what is a powerful metaphor for our bond?

2. What parts of our individual principles, values and purpose are shared? Do we both share a desire to help others, or animals? Is it building a certain career or company?

3. If giving back is a shared principle, what might that look like?

4. Is there a lifestyle goal we both want? What does that look like, and what are the steps we both can take every day to reach our goal?

The quality of your relationship is in direct proportion to how willing you are to grow yourself emotionally. When this happens, you will both magnetize each other closer, not push each other away with control and judgement. YOU are the shepherd of your marriage. As is he, or she. As long as you stay focused on how well you can love - aka grow, listen, and learn on a DAILY BASIS, you will be prepared for life’s challenges; first year, or any year of marriage.

The 7 Steps to Survive a Heartbreak

By Jillian Turecki

Note: For a free audio training on how to survive a heartbreak, click here

Can you remember the last time your heart was broken? Maybe it was from a major breakup with a lover, or from a different trauma entirely. Below are my 7 Steps to Survive Heartbreak - inspired by my most recent break-up, my divorce 3 years ago. But listen, that break-up wasn’t the only heartbreak I experienced at that time, so these steps can help you move forward no matter what the circumstance. So whether you’re in the midst of splitting with your significant other, happily coupled, OR single - read on. You never know who it might help, including you.

Before I delve into the steps, I want to tell you this: nothing I share with you is going to take away the pain, especially if you’re in the thick of it right now. BUT, there is a way to reduce the suffering. You see, pain and suffering are different. Pain is an inevitable part of life and is therefore a very natural and organic part of the human experience. You will experience physical pain, and the emotional scratches, burns and bruises cut even deeper. This is why all spiritual leaders, books, metaphors and masters describe pain as something to accept, something to surrender to, as it will all pass. But suffering is different. Suffering is when you have deep pain AND you feel like you have no control. The moment you feel powerless to change your circumstance is the moment you suffer.

But here’s the truth: there is so much we can’t control – especially in a break-up. But, there is a lot we CAN control. So, although pain is a fact of life, suffering is optional. Right now I want to talk about ending and preventing all unnecessary despair. There are steps, actions and shifts to your thinking that can be taken to ease your transition into this (often) abrupt new life.

The Steps:

  1. How you grieve is your business. I will warn you that avoiding your feelings all day long will only delay and amplify your pain. However, I think distracting yourself at times during the week is necessary. A lot of people are of two camps: distract or feel everything. I say both. Do NOT avoid your feelings, but don’t think you have to be wallowing in pain all day long. Distract yourself with: being with friends, trying new activities, watching a movie, reading, writing. If this heartbreak is fresh, go into a cave and lick your wounds if you need to, but come out for air periodically. If you need to talk about it obsessively, find a friend who will listen and then take moments of silence. Feel your feelings AND MAKE ROOM FOR OTHER FEELINGS TOO. Joy is always available to you – even if it’s fleeting. And so is RELIEF. Seriously, it’s ok to feel relief.
  2. Get help. There are people in your life who love you and want to be there for you even if they don’t know how. (Forgive them for that). So round the troops. Call your tribe. Even if it’s just one person. We really can’t do the vicissitudes of life on our own.
  3. Move your f*cking body. 3 years ago I lost my marriage and my mom was on her deathbed. I could barely lift a finger - I was so fucking wiped all the time for an entire year. But thankfully I have a dog that needs to be walked. So, I walked. A lot. I breathed deeply when I remembered to. If you’re tired, walk and breathe. If you’re the opposite with pent up anxious energy, get your ass to the gym, go to a yoga class, or jump rope and dance in you apartment. Do something. Breathe, lift your chest and raise your head on top of your shoulders.
  4. Change the meaning.  If you’re in the throes of heartbreak, I bet you’re focusing A LOT on the other person and playing a movie, narrative and story in your head on repeat. But here’s what you may not know: you actually have a choice as to what this loss is going to mean. Yup, re-read that sentence again. Trust me. For example: This experience could mean that you’re unworthy, unlucky in love and life, fucked up, a failure, stupid, mean, bad. All of which are extremely limiting thoughts that are bullshit even though you believe them. OR, this breakup/loss can mean you are being pulled to GROW PAST YOUR COMFORT ZONE. It could mean you’re meant to take a different direction in life that will be more fulfilling and meaningful to you. It could mean you’re meant to see, feel and know your strength. You see, if you give this event an empowering meaning, one that is meant to grow you, then growth is what you’ll focus on. And when we focus on our own growth and progress, fulfillment follows.
  5. Date yourself. Now’s the time to get in touch with YOU. Your values, your principles, your beliefs. And not the ones you have been conditioned to have and believe based on your environment, but the ones you want to cultivate right now. What is truly important to you? What old wounds or stories of your past are still controlling you and what you believe? What do you value at the highest at THIS time in your life –meaning not last year or last week? Write them down. Make a list. Add to or delete from it every day for a year, then monthly after that. When you shift your focus AWAY from the other person/relationship, away from shitty meanings that support self-loathing or inadequacy, then you will grow. Remember this: Growth = progress = fulfillment. You can grow and still grieve. You can be sad and lonely, but if you know you are evolving you will feel fulfilled in spite of your pain.
  6. Create a future to look forward to. I believe we all need something to look forward to, and when we can’t imagine a brighter future, this leads to suffering and despair. It’s unfortunate that we’ve been conditioned to believe that our future just happens to us. NO. We have to create the future we want. Will there be delays and detours? Yes. But there will be nothing worth mentioning if you don’t create. As out of control and confused you may feel, move towards something. Maybe it’s a career change you’ve been dreaming about one day making, or an epic travel experience, or continuing education, or joining a club or a group of some sort. Or perhaps there is a person or organization you’ve been wanting to serve in some way? Whenever we give back, we get out of our heads. And getting out of our head is the ticket to healing.
  7. Recognize moments of Grace.  I think of grace as moments when life feels like it’s giving me a gift. But often these gifts go unrecognized because they appear seemingly small, and we’re too in our heads to notice. But no matter what your belief system is about the universe I promise you this: You are being gifted all the time, and the more you wake up to them, the more love you will feel. For example: On the day after my husband unexpectedly called it quits I was sitting on a bench outside my apartment building in complete shock and intense despair. My neighbor, who happened to be a coach, found me, sat down, and we started talking. I won’t burden you with all the details here, but that evening marked the first day of my new life.  To listen to the story, you can subscribe here: (link to anna’s podcast) That’s a big example, but there are others - such as when you run into someone loving you know on the street, or you get that call or email at just the right time, or someone shows up at work with your favorite juice or coffee. Etc.

I know what you’re going through, (or what you went through) so when I tell you this, know that it comes from the deepest part of my heart and compassion: You need to be courageous now, and even though you might think that’s impossible, I’m here to tell you it’s not. It’s not a linear road to feeling better. It’s rocky then smooth, then rocky, then smooth and so on. But, if you really follow these steps, things will begin to improve, and eventually you WILL get out on the other side so much better. Stronger, for sure, but better. Happier. Wiser. Certain. Give yourself time. Don’t rush, take it day-by-day. This, I promise you, is a process and there are people and opportunities waiting to help move you forward and up. You are loved.

Here’s to moving onward.

Note: For a free audio training on how to survive a heartbreak, click here

Reigniting the Spark in Your (Very) Comfortable Relationship

By Jillian Turecki

It’s Sunday night. You’ve had a lazy day catching up on your email, and perhaps you went to the gym or a yoga class. It’s time for you and your lover to get into pjs, order in take out, and put on the latest and greatest HBO series. Everything is perfect. You’re cozy, with your best friend who you are in love with, and nothing could be more comfortable. Life is good. Sound familiar? 

This story describes the comfort of certainty, and there’s nothing wrong with it at all. However, if this is how you and your partner spend the majority of your time together, most likely your relationship is lacking passion. This is problematic. Passion, electricity, sexuality, and romance are half the relationship - without it, you have a friendship. Without it, you may have a safe and even good relationship. But, you definitely do not have an amazing one.

Certainty in an intimate relationship is absolutely crucial. If you want to be in it for the long haul, you MUST feel safe emotionally. For example, not knowing if your partner has your back and supports you is a horrible feeling that makes it very difficult to relax into the flow of the relationship. On the flip side, when we feel certainty with our partner – total confidence that this person will support and be there for us no matter what, we are able to drop more freely into the flow, and relax.  Being able to enjoy comforts with your lover creates a bond and a feeling of comradeship. So please, have your cozy Sundays on the couch watching Netflix and eating ice cream. But if you want a truly fulfilling and exceptional relationship, you have to balance security and comfort with the thrill of uncertainty.

Passion lives in the realm of uncertainty. We simply cannot experience excitement without the risk of stepping into the unknown. 

If you want to bring passion back into your relationship you have to bring back the part of you that co-created that passion to begin with.

When we get stuck in a relationship rut, we are often overwhelmed with the feeling that the passion has died having convinced ourselves that we’re powerless over the circumstance. As you may relate, this brings the energy way down in a relationship. The good news is if you once had passion, it can be recharged. It is not gone, lost forever. You nor your partner are not all of a sudden passionless people, or incapable of being in a relationship long term. It just means you are stuck in a pattern, and it has to be broken by reclaiming the part of your self who co-created the fire to begin with.

You see, in the beginning of a relationship, everyone has a HIGH energy – at least the majority of the time. We smile more, we focus on making the other person happy, we think of exciting things to do together, we take risks sexually and emotionally, and the charge of falling in love often inspires us to take risks in other areas of our life. We are our highest, sexiest, most interested and interesting selves. In other words, we have generated a beautiful emotional STATE. 

No matter how stunning or hot your partner thinks you are, your VIBE is what turns him or her on more. How you make that person FEEL when they are in your presence is everything.

If you are in a relationship that was once exciting but is currently not, it’s because of two reasons: You have repressed (at least around your partner) the high vibe part of yourself AND you’ve BOTH neglected each other’s needs for variety, surprise, fun – all code words for (healthy) uncertainty. 

Don’t wait for your partner to make changes. Take ownership of your influence and do the things that you did in the beginning of the relationship, now. 

Here is what you can do right away to break the patterns that are killing the passion in your relationship.
 

What to DO:

Take a quiet moment to yourself, and if possible, take a seat with your chest elevated, and breathe. If it helps to place a hand on your heart and feel it’s beat, then try it. Now, go back in time to the first few to several months of your relationship. Think of how you felt - what was the dominant emotion? Try not to intellectualize this. FEEL that emotion. What must you focus on to resurrect that feeling? Where do you feel it in your body? Maybe it’s as subtle as feeling your shoulders relax, or your stomach loosen. Maybe you feel a charge of energy and excitement, almost like an internal pressure cooker, but in a good way.

Now, think about how you dressed back then –is it different than how you dress now? What are some of the things you would say to your lover? Did you compliment him/her? How did you flirt? Did you playfully tease? How did you use your voice to seduce or inspire him? Was there a recognizable pattern to the way you would say certain things that inspired more intimacy between the two of you?

Now think about some of the things you did together. What did you do that was exciting, fun, entertaining?

As you can see, we are getting quite specific here. The more you can feel the EMOTION of that time, the more you will understand what is required of you to reclaim your relationship fully.

Consider details about how your partner responds to a variety of gestures:

For example: Is your partner sensitive to sound? If so, bring back the voice, cadence, and melody with which you spoke to him/her. Is your partner a visual person? Wear something that you know makes her/his heart pound. Does your partner love to be surprised? Does he or she love not knowing what is coming next? Then plan a surprise! Perhaps he’s kinetic and feels love when he is touched. Then you simply just have to make the effort to touch him more, and you must touch him the way he likes to be touched – not how you like it. This exercise is about giving, not about you.
 

What NOT to do, no matter what:

Play games. This is always a form of withdrawal, or withholding – and it will DESTROY your love. For example, some people all of a sudden act uninterested, cold, or behave in ways that make them seem uninterested, like they just can’t be bothered. These are the bullshit games people play in relationships and they NEVER work because no one is acting authentically – and it just creates confusion and pain for both people. Whenever you withhold love, you kill your capacity to experience it.  Never, ever do it no matter how frightened you may be.
 

DO NOT BLAME your loved one: 

It really does take two. If you get stuck in the blame game, you not only lose all your power to create positive change, but you also miss the point. When you blame your partner for the lack of physical passion in your relationship, you create a pattern that will paradoxically become largely responsible for the fire burning out. It’s the attack and defend pattern, and it is NOT sexy, or safe for that matter. No one feels sexy or sexual when they are defending themselves. Don’t “blame” yourself either. You can take ownership of your part with the sole purpose of taking action. Once you go into a self-deprecating mode, you are definitely NOT generating a good state. Remember, you must bring back the part of yourself that co-created the passion, and the passion will follow. If you hate on yourself you’re just throwing water onto that sexy fire.

I’m not claiming that this is easy. It IS very simple, but not necessarily easy. It will require for many to step outside of their heads and into the unknown. It will require courage, especially if you are in a situation where your self-esteem may have lowered, and you are questioning your relationship. But every single one of us has the capacity to take our relationship to a new level, even you. We must all remember that the reason we get into relationship is to magnify emotion – to give more life to the feeling of love within ourselves, and to our ability to give it to another. But what we may not know consciously is that we also get into relationship to better understand ourselves, and to evolve our relationship to ourselves to the next level. Your STATE is the most valuable tool you can use to transform any part of your life, particularly your relationship. Every moment is an opportunity to make a decision. Decide to invoke that part of yourself that fell in love to begin with, and have fun in the process.

The Power of Pain

Deep emotional pain is the ultimate uncomfortable feeling humans can experience. It is a fact of life, and most will do anything not to have it. It’s my belief that pain, or rather the avoidance of it, is the strongest driving force in the human psyche. When things get rough enough, we literally will do anything not to live there. 

One could kill the pain with drugs and denial. This will temporarily numb, but ultimately it will lead to more pain. Burying emotions is like feeding a monster that WILL find it’s way out of the deep abyss of one’s denial. It’s the low road, and we have all done it to varying degrees. The highroad, however, is far more interesting because it involves what we thrive on: Action. Herein lies the opportunity for growth.

When you are suffering emotional pain, follow these steps to feel more empowered and make a change.

Tell yourself the truth

Don’t deceive or manipulate yourself in any way. This is the time to get disturbed by your current state. Don’t ignore or make light of your pain. Getting disturbed is what is going to drive you into action.

Ask yourself, “what else could this mean”?  

The reason why certain events cause us pain is because of the meaning we give to these events. Repeat that to yourself several times until it starts to resonate. Meanings such as, ‘my life feels over without this person’, or ‘no one will hire me now’ are just meanings that we have given the loss. Instead, if you can get really curious about your situation, and investigate another message the pain is trying to show you, then you’ll begin to catch glimpses of an empowering meaning. It won’t take all the pain away, but it will dissolve the suffering and give you back some control.

Make a decision

Once you identify the empowering meaning, then it’s time to make a decision. You may not be able to change the events, but you can change you and your life. Make a decision to move in another direction. One of purpose.

Make a plan

Immediately following a decision you must start to plan. Ever notice how you feel after making a decision? You feel strong and powerful. Which means you are in a powerful state. Use that state to create momentum. The greatest remedy to pain is ACTION. Why? Because action means we are in control again, and the main ingredient to suffering is the feeling that we have lost control. Think carefully about your goals in all the major zones of your life. Write them down. Be specific. Assign reasonable and measurable deadlines to them.

Keep up the momentum

Don’t stop. Not for a second. Seriously, whatever goal you set for yourself, think about it, strategize around it and do at least 1 thing – even if it’s small each day to achieve it. 

Round up the troops

The friends and family who love you are going to be psyched about your interest in something outside of your pain. When you allow people to support you, you will feel a greater sense of connection and love.

Change your beliefs

Along the way, you will lose confidence, and fear and pain will set in. This is when the real work begins. You must recognize the beliefs you have about yourself and the world that are in direct conflict with where you want to be. Identify the internal conflict. Begin to notice all the insidious ways you have become adept at negative self-talk, and change your language to reflect acceptance and patience. Recognize all the rules you have about how things should be, and then consider breaking your rules. 

Have faith

We have to trust that something greater than ourselves has our back in some way. If you think, ‘faith is for the religious, and I’m an atheist’, I say bull. Faith is something we are born with. We get into cars, trains and planes because somehow we have faith that we are going to get from A to B. NO one can be certain that they will make it to their destination. But we trust, or have faith that we will make it. That’s the kind of faith I’m talking about. Trust.

Cultivate your spiritual life

Ultimately, this is about strengthening your connection to yourself.  It’s understanding that seeking the empowering meaning is what gets us out of bed in the morning during painful times. It’s about connecting to your intuition - that knowing part of you where faith and truth reside. There are a myriad of ways to do this. Rituals are a fantastic way to deepen your spiritual life. Rituals such as daily exercise, yoga, meditation, volunteering, going to 12 step meetings, taking time to express yourself creatively, all give us a sense of connecting deeply with ourselves and with others.

Pain is an unavoidable reality of life. However, there is a difference between pain and suffering. Suffering is when we perceive we have no control, and that we will live in pain for an endless amount of time. My suggestion is that we do have control – not necessarily over the events, but to the meaning we give those events. Don’t succumb to the belief that you just have bad karma or that the world is out to get you. Instead, get brutally honest with yourself and get curious about what else it could all mean. The world is beckoning you.

What is your primary question?

Take a moment to pause and reflect on the one question you have been repeatedly asking yourself for years. It may take a little time as you inventory yourself, but if you pay attention, it will surface. Examples of these questions are “what if?” “will it be ok” “is it safe” “should I?” “will I have fun?”, “is it good enough?”,  “is it bad?”  “why does this always happen?” etc.

Once you have identified your primary question, notice the profound impact it has on how you navigate the world. These impacts have been both positive and negative. Take in all of it, and decide if a new primary question is in order. Experiment. Notice how your question makes you feel. Are you empowered by your question, or are you sad, angry, or fearful? Observe what unfolds when you consciously decide to ask a different question, one that will give you a better answer.

 

 
Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.
— Tony Robbins