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Mind Games 101

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I’ve been re-reading my IM archives and trying to find a pattern among the petty relationship fights that some of my friends and acquaintances asked me to help them with. I realize that there are stuff that women and men say to each other that could mean one or 2 other things… I call these, loaded statements and questions.

Mind games are situations or issues that put someone in a defensive mindset. There’s usually no getting around these issues and no getting out of them when you let yourself be locked in. The key to avoiding (surviving) the uncomfortable second guessing that follows is to stay “safe”.

Here are some examples of “mind game” scenarios that men and women allow themselves to be sucked into, and my suggestions on how to handle them.

1. Do you think she’s pretty / Do you think he’s hot? – translated as “do you prefer her/him over me”. This question and how you answer it are commonly the sources of insecurity, which in turn is the underlying cause of all petty fights. A clueless answer to that would be “hell yeah!”, but the correct one would be “she’s/he’s okay”. Saying no would be a lie (as you’ve been openly ogling the girl/guy in question… duh.), and saying “oh you’re prettier/hotter” would come across as patronizing. The “just ok” reply will also be useful in fishing-type questions, such as “does this top make me look fat or ugly?”

2. You’ve been out with your friends again! Perhaps I’m becoming a barrier between you and your hundreds of social affairs! – Translated as “spend more time with me, and if possible, spend ALL of your extra time with me.” The key to getting around this would be sating your partner’s craving for your company by spending quality time with her/him. Then, gently explain why you consider spending 2 or 3 nights a week with your friends important to you. Strike up a deal, wherein he/she will tolerate your time with your friends if you spend an equal amount of quality time with her/him.

3. Don’t ever call/talk to me again – which brings the question “does he/she mean it?” to mind. First step, assess the situation. Is your transgression heavy enough to turn off a person, any person, even you? Usually, a person means the “don’t-ever” part during the phase of intense irritability. Give your partner space and time to forgive you in his/her mind, and DON’T CALL just yet. Missing you after some time will probably make the pride go away. Also, offer a humble, but by no means apologetic truce (read: don’t apologize if you know it’s not your fault). Just say “If you feel like talking already, I’m just here” then move away again, so that the ball is at your partner’s court. Note also that I said talking, not venting.

4. Are you having fun over there? – This is by far the most difficult mind game question to decipher because the no-strings-attached version and the loaded version sound exactly alike. Even if your partner isn’t the jealous type, be very careful in answering this question. When you’re out of town with other people (including members of the opposite sex) and your partner calls you to ask how you’re doing, just say “yeah the party’s fun, but it’d be more so if you were here.” That last bit will be the key to avoiding any further loaded questions, whether or not the first one was loaded.

There’s no guarantee that these recommendations will work, because in mind games, one never really knows what works or not. The statement “don’t play mind games with me” that we hear so often will not work, because the other party might not even realize that he/she is playing mind games with you.

 

My resources for giving out constructive advice on love, sex, dating and relationships:

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3 Mushy Wedding Proposal Ideas

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wedding, proposal,billboard

Weddings are always romantic, mushy events that start with the wedding proposal. Even if you’ve been lovers for a long time, a romantic wedding proposal will seal the “forever” deal.

So, how?

3 Ideas for a Mushy, Romantic Wedding Proposal

1. The Billboard Wedding Proposal

It’s as public as possible and everyone (stranger, friend or family) knows that you’re proposing. This is a benefit because of the impulse to shout out to the world how much you love each other when you’re truly, deeply in love. This proposal idea does just that.

Billboard can be replaced by a widescreen if you’re proposing during an even, e.g., a sports event.

2. Ring in the Cake

The element of surprise is in this proposal because your significant other won’t know until dessert time that this dinner is THE dinner that will change his/her life forever. The idea is to have the waiter bring the cake on your signal, just when things are heating up and your lover is glowing and suitably impressed by the romantic dinner.

3. Dramatic Scene

This proposal involves your whole family, your set of friends, and the crew of the restaurant/resort and a few actresses who can be hired to add the dramatic element. Set up a surprise proposal by acting out a plotline, be creative, or get ideas from movies. Just have a plan B when things don’t go as planned.

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Sweet Ways To Apologize When You Do Something Wrong

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You want to say sorry to your boyfriend for something you did, but you’re not sure of the best way to do it. Saying an apology is actually pretty easy when you know the things that will make your guy mushy for you again, or lovey-dovey.

Of course, a lot depends on what you?re apologizing for. If it’s a small thing that hurt his feelings, disappointed him or upset him, you can say sorry to your boyfriend simply with the line “I’m sorry”.

But sometimes, it’s not that simple. If you’re in a pinch, here are some sweet ways to say sorry.

Sweet Ways to Apologize to Your Boyfriend

1. Gifts

You know your boyfriend best. Give him something that can make him smile, preferably something related to his hobbies or interests. Examples include a heart-shaped pick if he plays the guitar, a CD collection of his favorite artist, or a trip to the spa with you if he’s stressed out from work.

2. Sweet Text Quotes

Try these sweet lines…

“I miss you not because we’re over, but because things aren’t the way they used to be”
“I miss your smile, your voice and your sweet look that tells me how much I am loved”
“I remember you every time I close my eyes”

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Why Rebound Relationships Rarely Work

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How many times have you seen one of your friends break up with a long-term partner only to find, the very next week, someone is absolutely wrong for them? It’s a break up phenomenon we call rebound dating.

The idea of rebound relationships is an instinct we develop because of the usual way we deal with getting hurt. We need comfort ASAP. It’s too painful so we need something that soothes us. It’s like we’re looking for a way to comfort ourselves after we’ve been hurt.

Three Reasons Why Rebound Dating Doesn’t work

It just seems natural to look for another romance right after a breakup. That’s emotional comfort food for you, but there are so many reasons why doing this is WRONG.

1. You’re in a Daze

Choosing a partner when your judgment is still cloudy usually does more harm than good. You can’t get over you ex fast enough so you want to find someone who reminds you of him, or who is nothing like him, so you can do this quickly and move on with your life. Obviously, your standards for choosing a new romance are questionable. They’re mostly centered around your ex, whether you admit it or not.

2. You End Up Using Someone

Because you’re in pain, you’d rather go for some other more “comfortable” emotion. Anything that lifts that burden from you will do, even if it’s someone who might be completely wrong for you. It’s not the other person who matters anymore, but what he or she can do to help you deal with the pain. Using someone as an analgesic seems fine, until you’re done using that person and guilt sets in.

A rebound relationship is not going to help much if you’re still a mess, or if you still have not dealt with your pain on your own.

What I’d do after a break up, or after I finally accept that there’s no hope for the relationship anymore, is to go to the parlor and get a makeover.

Or, I would simply cry it out.

I know it sounds pathetic but I still think it’s a lot better than using someone to ease the pain (even if that person is more than willing to provide the “service”). Be fair to yourself and the other person.

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What Does It Mean to Stop Being Judgmental in a Relationship

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Being judgmental is one of the things that may be keeping you from really connecting with your partner. I know because I’ve been judged and have also done my own share of judging in the past. Being judgmental can keep you from seeing the big picture, which includes spending the rest of your life with your love, and accepting him or her completely.

Here are some of the things we can do to stop this negative attitude.

Stop Putting Your Partner in a Labelled Box

Your partner has revealed everything that happened to him or her in the past, which makes it easy to put him or her in a neat little box with a label. These labels may include “jerk”, “playboy/playgirl”, “gambling problem”, “immoral” and other labels that change how you see your partner. Not everything is in black and white, and what applies to other people may not apply to your partner. The people you knew belonged to a certain category may also have been unrightfully judged, but you cannot do anything about that because that’s just the way you think.

However, make an exception for your partner and truly understand that he or she may have made some mistakes in the past to warrant that judgment, but past mistakes don’t define who he or she is.

After all, each of use has a unique way of dealing with our problems and have done many things that may seem rash and immoral to others.

Give your partner a chance to change.

Giving your partner the opportunity to change for the better is the “action” part of your goal to become less judgmental and more accepting of your partner’s personality. This is extremely difficult if you’ve already decided that you know what your partner is and what he or she is capable of doing. But your partner may prove you wrong, and you should open your mind to the possibility that he or she may act in a manner that is different from what you expect.

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Is Compatibility All That Matters?

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Most people think searching for the most compatible partner is the key to having a successful relationship. I had this mindset for a long time, which probably contributed a lot to my “player” attitude. I would base what you would call compatibility on a lot of factors like common interests, status, level of maturity etc.

While embracing this frame of mind isn’t bad at all (everyone has to have a baseline, a standard that they refer to when searching for “the one”)… I realize now that REAL, long-term compatibility needs more than a few similarities and great rapport initially. In fact, if we’re going to be technical about it, we can say that real, long-term compatibility might not even exit. At all.

The reason I think so is this… people grow.

We evolve and we develop, whether we’re inside the relationship or not. And the couples who can’t deal with these CHANGES in each other end up thinking they’re “incompatible”, or that they made the wrong choice. How many times have you thought “this isn’t the guy I fell in love with” or “you’re like a stranger to me” when thinking of your partner (during a fight, or while you’re feeling emotional)?

It’s easy to say that your partner might have kept his true self hidden all the while, which will result to your feeling betrayed whenever you see traits or characteristics that he hasn’t shown in the past. But, it could also be that those traits were developed, or may have even resulted from the kind of environment he has been exposed to during the time you were together and elsewhere (in his workplace etc.). Regardless of where these “strange” behavior came from, you have to adjust to whatever changes… and embrace your OWN changes.

So who’s going to compromise more? Should it ALWAYS be you? Nope. It should be a joint effort. As long as you both understand that real compatibility is all about dealing with changes in personality and lifestyle, you should be ok.

Think of it as “tandem swimming” (or swimming with your hands linked together)… you either keep each other afloat or moving forward by working together to be really COMPATIBLE, or you pull each other down with your REFUSAL to be compatible. That is, your refusal to accept that your partner (and you) can “change” at any point in your relationship.

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Bickering – a Sign of Communication Problems in a Relationship

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Most couples bicker all the time. Sometimes, not a day goes by that bickering does not happen. Does this mean bickering is healthy? Or could frequently engaging in this activity lead to a fight, which in turn could lead to a break up?

Is Bickering Healthy?

Whether bickering is healthy or not is up for debate, but from experience, I can say that bickering is normal.
Let’s face it, if you have been with a person for a long time and you’ve started to find romantic moments cheesy and scarcer than a blue moon, the rhythm of your conversations change.

Change in the way you talk to each other isn’t exactly a bad thing, though. It indicates that you’ve gone past the mushy, lovey-dovey stage and settled down to a “real relationship”. Now, you can talk about anything and everything, and snoring in your sleep isn’t supposed to turn the other person off anymore.

Bickering is good when it takes on a fun form… BANTER.

The dictionary meaning of banter is “lighthearted teasing or amusing remarks that are exchanged between people”. When you exchange banter with your partner, you’re confident that he or she won’t take offense because you really don’t mean any. It also demonstrates that you know your partner’s strong and weak points, and that you’re not touching any of the seriously sore spots.

But banter could turn bad (and evolve into a full-fledged BICKER) if…

… stress has been building all day for one or both partners (meaning, neither is in the mood for playful swordplay).

… your remarks are “loaded” (you try, unsuccessfully, to coat your serious complaints and verbal attacks in jokes thinking you can soften the blow).

The thing is, no exchange of playful banter will sound right if there’s something deeply wrong with the way you communicate with your partner. In this case, every exchange becomes a fight, and every remark is taken seriously. That’s when bickering turns bad, and becomes the wick to the bomb that could blow up your relationship.

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Waxing Poetic About Love