In today's "Redo You: Relationships" sex and relationship therapist and author of the book "Loving Sex," Dr. Laura Berman gives us the tools we need to take our relationships to the next level.
1. Why do you think so many people struggle to find a lasting relationship and to achieve "happily ever after?"
The results of the second annual "Singles in America' study conducted by Match, the online dating website, have much to tell us about the current landscape of love and the attitudes of singles and couples. As our society changes and evolves, so do the rules of dating and our expectations of happily ever after. I want to help navigate those changes and show how to develop and sustain lasting relationships.
2. Let's start at the very beginning... you say that when looking for "Mr. Right" women need to toss out their checklist. Why?
Women are more likely than men to say they must have someone with a similar level of education, a successful career, a sense of humor, someone who belongs to the same religion and ethnic group, someone with a life of their own/sense of independence, someone with a close relationship with their natal family, and someone who is confident and self-assured. If your dream man comes with a checklist, toss it out. You could pass up the perfect man if you're focused on crossing off your must have's. Keep an open-mind and be flexible to someone different.
(Many women are perfectionists in all parts of their lives, and romance is no exception. They have perfect homes, perfect wardrobes, perfect organizational skills - and a perfectly empty bed. It's possible to idealize love and relationships to such a degree that no mortal man will live up to your standards. If you're too picky, the men you meet will always come up short. Of course, some fantasizing is good for you. You set the bar high for love and refuse to settle for just anyone - and that's great. However, it's possible for those standards to become completely unrealistic. If you find yourself dating, dating, and dating, but never feeling that "click," it may be time to turn that microscope around. What could you improve on your end? Are you giving these guys a chance? Are you all of the things you expect in a mate? Sometimes, too-high standards can signal a deeper problem. "He's just not good enough," can be a convenient excuse for avoiding real intimacy. (Drlauraberman.com 2012).
3. Once in a relationship, you tell women to embrace PDA's - Public Displays of Affection. Why do they matter so much?
Men are more likely to show their love and affection in public. 41% of men are very comfortable kissing in public, versus 31% of women. We're not suggesting you and your man put on a show at the local park, but if your man wants to wrap his arms around you or kisses you in front of others, take it as a huge compliment that he's willing to show off your relationship. Public displays of affection can be a natural extension of who you are as a couple, so don't shy away from PDAs! Find some creative ways to let your love show, and be open to receiving affection from your partner while out and about. PDA is not defined by what makes those around you uncomfortable. It doesn't have to be anything that would get you arrested! It can be simple, flirtatious gestures to show your partner that you love him and you don't care who knows!
4. You also recommend that women "Don't discourage chivalry." Why is that so important?
Despite what women might think - men want to be chivalrous on a date! In fact, over 90% of single men like doing chivalrous acts on a date. So don't be offended when they try to lend a hand, let them pull out your chair, or open your car door. They love it!
5. A lot of women are anxious to get their partner to commit and settle down with them. But you say that the key is to "Let him commit" instead of applying pressure to the situation. Does that really work?
Woman also might be surprised to learn that men will readily commit to partners they don't necessarily feel romantically or sexually attracted to. Over 25% of men will commit to women whom they don't feel romantically attracted to, provided she has everything else they are looking for in a partner. Why is this? Well, even though we often think of men as die-hard commitment-phobes, the truth is that they are just as susceptible to peer pressure as women are. If they see all of their buddies getting hitched and having kids, they will feel a desire to follow suit, especially if their partner is pressuring them down the aisle. However, just because a choice is easiest doesn't make it right, and many of these relationships don't end up working out. Cajoling a guy down the aisle isn't the way to a lifetime of happiness, and women should keep that in mind when they start eyeing engagement rings. Ultimately, a man will only get to that place of deep commitment and love when he is ready to and you can't ever force such feelings.
6. One of the biggest pieces of advice you give women is to "Seek companionship, not completion." What do you mean by that?
According to the Singles in America findings, singles are looking for a partner who can offer intimacy, companionship and personal fulfillment. In the past, people used to seek mates who would "complete" them, but today's singles are looking for something different. According to the study findings, singles are looking for a partner who can offer intimacy, companionship and personal fulfillment more so than financial stability. They are looking for someone who is independent and well-rounded, someone who will offer them companionship and fulfillment. This is partly because gender roles have expanded over the years. Women enjoy having their own careers and they no longer expect or desire financial stability from a mate. Men seem to enjoy this new set-up as well, and they like having a partner who has her own life and her own interests. Singles can apply this to their own lives by being hard to get, instead of playing hard to get. In other words, instead of pretending to have a fulfilling, well-rounded life in order to impress your prospective mates, why not just have one?