Brad and Angelina: What Can We Learn from Serial Marriage?

Brad and Angelina: What Can We Learn from Serial Marriage?

The recent separation of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie gives us some insights into the importance of self-discovery and learning lessons before moving into the next relationship.

Ask Pam: Advice on a Recent Break Up

I recently received an inquiry on my Facebook page from a woman who had a question about her response to a recent break up. Below is her question and my advice.

"I had been dating this guy for the past six months and he decided to drop the bomb in the middle of a dinner date at a fine dining restaurant. I really felt blind-sided and was so upset he didn't deliver the news in a more thoughtful, intimate and sensitive manner. My emotions got the best of me and I landed a stinging slap across his face and walked out. It was in the city so I took a cab home. While I'ms till resentful of how he handled it, I feel like I should do the mature and responsible thing and apologize for the slap. I don't really feel like calling him so would an apology note via email or regular mail be appropriate?" ~Erika P.

Hi Erika,

Here is my advice: Closure is always good, so sending an email (not a text), is a good idea. With that said, your immediate reaction was understandable, particularly when the news was unexpected and delivered in a public venue and in a very impersonal way. Interestingly enough, guys often think the way to let someone down is over dinner. Perhaps, that seems easiest and best for them, but it's a horrible experience for the receiver. It is, quite frankly, in poor taste. So, I think it is fine for you to write a nice email, explaining that you are truly sorry for your physical reaction to the way in which he chose to announce he was ending your relationship, but that had he been in your situation, he might have acted similarly. Thank him for the good times you have shared over the past six months, wish him well and educate him that for future, when he is wanting to exit a relationship to give the other party the courtesy and respect of doing it in a private place where there can be civil conversation and both persons can part with a better understanding of all of the pros and cons about the relationship, so your next relationships will be better for each of you.

Forgive and move on with three things in mind:

1) Be prepared to go into the next relationship when you feel strong and happy with yourself

2) Watch for red flags early when dating, so they can be addressed.

3) Vet your partner thoroughly for lifestyle similarities, interests, passions and pay close attention to how they treat you and others with whom they come across as your relationship is progressing.

Do you have a question about your relationship? Need some advice?

I would be more than happy to offer guidance. Feel free to email me or post a private message on my Facebook Page

The Four Horsemen of the (Relationship) Apocalypse

The Four Horsemen of the (Relationship) Apocalypse

Throughout his 40 years of relationship research, John Gottman has identified what he calls “the four horsemen of the apocalypse”, four behaviors that are key indicators of a relationship’s demise. This blog outlines these behaviors as well as how to avoid them. 

Arguments versus the Finality of Breaking Up

Arguments versus the Finality of Breaking Up

Every relationship has its ups and downs. Every couple argues. For many of us, it’s clear when a relationship has run its course.  But there seem to be many couples who view every argument as a reason to end their relationship--although they manage to get back together once they’ve cooled off.

"The Greatest of All Time" gives us something to think about

When Muhammad Ali passed away last week, I discovered this video clip of him answering a question that was asked by a little boy many years ago.  The question was, “What will you do when you retire from boxing?”  The Greatest of All Time’s answer was undoubtedly unexpected and stunned the crowd.  Watch this video and listen closely to this interview for just a few minutes.

Recognize These Negative Relationship Behaviors? Here's How to Overcome Them!

Recognize These Negative Relationship Behaviors?  Here's How to Overcome Them!

Relationships are hard work. Often, we and/or our partner fall into behavior patterns that cause resentment and mistrust, ultimately eroding the foundation upon which the relationship is built. Here are 7 negative behavioral traits to be aware of and how to overcome them.

TV's Real Housewives Can Break the Multiple Marrier Cycle

TV's Real Housewives Can Break the Multiple Marrier Cycle

The Real Housewives are real human beings with feelings and emotions, regardless of the fact that they may seem totally harsh and callous on television.  We shouldn't label and pigeonhole these women based solely on their pasts, but look at who they have become today.  Why focus on the stigma of their being multiple marriers? Instead, focus on what they need to do to break that unhealthy relationship cycle. 

What Can We Learn From a Celebrity’s Tumultuous Relationship Journey?

What Can We Learn From a Celebrity’s Tumultuous Relationship Journey?

One of the three key steps I outline in my book, Ring EXchange - Lessons from a Multiple Marrier, is the importance of looking back before going forward. Is there something we can all learn from observing the behaviors and actions of celebrities and how they navigate relationships? For example, let’s consider Drew Barrymore. 

Relationship Quiz

Answer “yes” or “no” by each of the questions below to determine if you are at risk of finding yourself in a Sequential Relationship Pattern.

  1. I am a hopeless romantic and have always dreamed of being swept away by my true love. 
  2. I’m a quick thinker, follow my gut and often make rapid decisions.
  3. I can’t stand being alone, much less living alone.
  4. I love to take care of others and make things better for those around me while often ignoring  my own needs.
  5. I often avoid making waves or having difficult discussions with my partner because I don’t like conflict and I’d rather be having fun.
  6. If a date doesn’t have immediate physical appeal or chemistry, I’m not interested in exploring a relationship.
  7. I find it easier if my partner makes the big decisions in our relationship.
  8. I don’t always tell my partner what’s really on my mind, because it is more important to have a harmonious relationship.
  9. I have often ignored my partner’s negative behaviors and actions toward me because I thought I must have done something to cause them.  Also, I often brushed them off as “no big deal.”
  10. After ending a relationship, have you ever said, “I just didn’t get it right.  I picked the wrong partner again.  Next time, I’ll do a better job of choosing Mr. or Ms. Right.  And maybe I’ll have good luck.”
  11. I see myself in the role of someone who needs to be rescued from a bad situation.
  12. If my partner says I'm wrong or selfish or greedy, I think there must be a kernel of truth to it.
  13. Bonus question:  Have you ever said, “I ___need*___ to find a partner because…."

*Try substituting “I desire to find a partner who can add joy to my already happy and fulfilling life.”
 
Scale:  If you answered yes to the following:
High Risk:  8-13 questions
Medium Risk:  4-7 questions
Low Risk: 0-3 questions

Are you Looking for a Life or a Lifestyle?

So often, individuals who are seeking partners develop a list of criteria that includes such non-negotiables as:

* must earn a certain level of income

* must love international travel

* must enjoy fine dining experiences

* etc., etc., etc.

While it is understandable that you are on the lookout for that special someone who can meet your expectations, and who possesses certain qualities you deem important, it is just as critical to be clear and honest with yourself about your true aspirations. Are you on the hunt for a partner who can provide you with that certain grand lifestyle you have longed for, or believe you deserve? Or are you truly seeking a partner with whom you can share your already contented and active life? If you answer yes to the second question, you’ll want use a telescope with magic powers to zero in on that person with whom you share mutual core values, and a few interests and passions in common.

I’ve observed too many situations, including experiencing one myself, where the allure of a particular lifestyle became the deciding factor when it came to choosing a long-term mate. I was in the early stages of adulthood, somewhat like a” floating cloud in the sky,” with no set direction and no strategy to get to any destination. I believed the status my potential partner offered at the time, along with the material assets that came with the whole package, would decide my life course and bring me happiness. Eventually, that decision turned out to be a big, unwelcome trade-off. I traded his decision about what lifestyle we would lead for the freedom to be ME -- to create, choose and have personal control over my own destiny.

So the next time someone says to you, “Wow! Looks like you’ve found a great catch,” ask yourself, Is that person a great catch because he/she or their family will provide me with a lifestyle of their choosing that I will have to go along with, without comment or complaint, or is he/she a great catch because they are willing to dance alongside me as I traverse life’s sometimes unexpectedly rocky road?

The World Is Your Oyster - Now Go Find That Pearl

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Thanks to Karynne Summars for posting this article! Karynne is a former international corporate finance professional turned author/screenwriter. Her thriller drama romance novels Desperate Pursuit in Venice and Desperate Pursuit in Rio de Janeiro were published in 2013 and 2015.

I often consult with Millennial Men who are seeking gentle advice and practical solutions to their dating and relationship issues.  My initial approach during a 1-on-1 or small group session is to practice active and compassionate listening skills, so I can truly hear and understand their male perspectives . I then relate their experiences to my own relationship encounters, allowing me to openly and honestly share the pros and cons of my past behaviors, actions and decisions.  By my being bold, courageous and authentic in sharing my vulnerabilities and lessons learned, I am better able to guide my clients to a place of self-awareness. And, voila! Before we know it, they are answering their own questions and resolving their own issues. When this happens, I call myself the “Relationship Whisperer”!

I remind my male subjects, “The world is your oyster. Now, go find that pearl!” But first, I recommend that each guy follow a three-step process that will jumpstart his journey and, ultimately, lead him to his destination…that is, if his goal is to find a long-term partner. I advise, “If you are going to commit, do so by practicing preparedness, patience and prevention!  Be wise!”

Three-Step Process to Finding a Genuine Pearl!

Step 1:  Are you prepared to seek that Pearl?

Have you taken the time to look back before believing you're really ready to go ahead?

Have you acknowledged the pros and cons of your past relationship?

Do you fully understand your needs and requirements going forward?

Are you willing to change or erase negative behaviors and patterns that may have impacted your past relationship(s)?

Do you have a life strategy, and can you envision how a partner would fit into that future?

Step 2:  Do you have the patience to find the Pearl?

Are you committed to enjoy life to the fullest and be happy every day until you find the right partner?

Do you have what it takes to persevere in order to find the right person, rather than quickly settling on someone who is “good enough”?

Are you willing to take the time to do the necessary discovery to deeply know yourself and another person?

Are you willing to work with a potential relationship partner to develop trust?

Step 3:  Are you willing to practice prevention methods to avoid choosing the wrong Pearl?

Are you willing to be strong enough to immediately release unhealthy push/pull relationships?

Are you willing to watch for red flags that appear early on, and address them right away?

Are you willing to speak your truth and set boundaries?

Are you willing to say “Next” if the potential partner’s core values, passions and common interests don’t match up with yours?

Finally, you know you are ready to find that Pearl when:

You can be authentic and honest about the person who is truly right for you.

You can take the initiative in describing the kind of life you want to live together.

You know how to balance your head and your heart, and can recognize the difference between “love” and “lust” when making relationship decisions.

Are You Attempting to Escape From Yourself?

Staying active and seeking pleasure-filling outlets for one’s routine lifestyle can often generate excitement and joy…temporarily, at least. Seeking out that Sunday matinee, attending your favorite outdoor jazz festival, heading up to the ski slopes and, yes, even a mall-shopping excursion can provide badly needed fun in your stressful everyday life. But...be honest...are you using those diversions merely as an attempt to escape from the problems that are threatening to engulf you?

Pause for a moment and ask yourself, Am I the type of person who must stay on the run 24/7, including nights and weekends, in order to find some sort of fleeting, superficial happiness? Am I filling my social and work calendars to the max in order to avoid facing the annoying issues that keep cropping up in my life? Do I have urgent job, relationship, family, financial or health matters that need my attention? Is my desire to flee from the realities of my own existence on a regular basis simply a temporary solution to solving more pressing problems that really need to be addressed sooner rather than later?

Do yourself a favor! Assess whether you are navigating your life in the realm of reality or the fantasyland of denial. If, for instance, you feel as though you have to entertain yourself or be entertained on a fairly consistent basis, you may be trying to escaping from yourself. Everyone needs quiet time in order to contemplate, meditate and create. Are you allowing yourself time to just be with YOU – with no distractions, diversions, or outside stimulation?

Whether you are in a relationship with a partner or live by yourself, assess where you are and attempt to get to the bottom of what may be seeming to keep you running a nonstop marathon. Then throw in a dash of self-love and awareness, which might actually return you to a place of true joy and gratitude. And don’t forget to find precious time for that much-needed mental, emotional and physical rest necessary to support a truly healthy and happy lifestyle.

Seeking a Safe Harbor

Have you ever found yourself to be the sudden casualty of a broken relationship where you are placed in a desperate situation, needing to quickly find the next safe harbor? Have you hoped, and perhaps prayed, that there would be a magical person somewhere out there who could mend your broken heart, provide security and wipe all your troubles away – even those not directly connected to the previous match?

Maybe you've lost faith when you discovered that finding that proverbial “needle in a haystack” might be a lengthy and emotionally difficult process that seemed as though it would never end. Maybe you've asked yourself, will I ever find that safe haven? Will I ever be happy again?

Rather than convincing yourself that the next safe harbor will be found in the arms of that so-far-unmet perfect partner, try spending time identifying ways to find self-assurance, confidence and peace every day…even though you may be living by yourself.

You are the captain of your ship, and you have the responsibility for finding your own happiness. And guess what...the safe harbor you are seeking is right there, inside you.

So, when waves of anxiety, fear and negativity come crashing in on your shore, practice self-love and start believing in yourself. Listen to that little voice that whispers in your ear, “I don’t have to wait until I find the next best partner to enjoy life. I can do it right here, right now.”

Then promise yourself that before you embark on a new discovery voyage to seek the next great love of your life, you won’t leave port until you've fixed that torn sail, broken rudder or leaky hold. Address and jettison your past issues; you'll have a much better chance of identifying a partner well-suited for you.

Here’s to smooth sailing, everyone!

Celebrate St. Valentine’s Day in a New Style!

As St. Valentine’s Day approaches each year, I can’t help but question why, in many cases, the burden tends to fall on the guy to surprise his sweetheart with a piece of fine jewelry, a designer bag she has hinted about, a five-star fine dining experience or that Ecuadorian bouquet of red roses. What if the tables were turned and the burden fell on her to, say, book and pay for a surprise weekend at a lavish resort, purchase brand-new snowboarding equipment for her love or break her piggy bank open to afford the latest technology gadget he’s been talking about. Either way, the pressure to celebrate with lavish gifts and surprises can get a bit out of hand.

Rather, shouldn’t this be a time for both parties to honor the couple’s relationship, whether it's still in that sizzling-hot, brand-new discovery phase or has been road-tested for some time, and simply needs a jumpstart to get it back on the fast track?

Instead of stressing about whose responsibility it is to do what for whom on Valentine’s Day, both the guy and the gal in the couple could have fun deciding on ways to enjoy that special day without breaking the bank.

Here are five tips for celebrating Valentine’s Day that won’t blow your budget!

1. Meet for a sushi lunch in the middle of the workday. Each person brings a red rose, and a romantic note that lists 10 things they appreciate about their special someone.

2. Leave work early and meet at your favorite wine bar. Clink your glasses, enjoy a couple of appetizers and head home for a cozy Netflix evening.

3. Plan an Ugly Valentine’s Day Sweater pizza party with friends. Give your love First Prize in the contest, but don’t tell him or her what that “after-hours surprise” will be. Wink, wink!

4. Plan to do an activity on Valentine’s Day evening that you’ve never tried before, i.e., a cooking class, indoor rock-climbing, bowling, go-karting or ice-skating. Finish the evening with a champagne toast to being adventurous and in love.

5. Prepare a picnic and drive to your favorite lookout point. Enjoy your romantic experience outside the car on a picnic blanket in a warm climate, or inside the car if it's cold. Who knows what could develop later in the evening?

So, instead of dropping hints to your lover in hopes of receiving a lavish gift you’ve been wanting, remind yourself that Valentine's Day is not just about you! It’s about both of you!

Break that pattern. Collaborate with your sweetheart on how best to spend Valentine’s Day to honor your relationship. Whatever you choose, do it with sincerity, authenticity and most of all, with love.