Posts Tagged ‘dating’

Love is a VERB

July 19, 2010

        We often use the phrase “I love you,” to express our feelings for someone we truly care about. Sometimes it is really heart-felt, sometimes it is to get out of trouble, and sometimes it is simply said as a formality. While it is always nice to hear that you are loved, we need to remember that saying “I love you” is not all it takes. Love is a verb, and action is required to fulfill the true meaning of the word.

         I recently attended the 2010: Let’s Get Real: Healthy Teens, Healthy Families and Responsible Fatherhood Regional Summit, where I was reminded of this very thing. In order to maintain a healthy relationship, each partner has to be committed to “actively loving” one another. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend a lot of money on fancy gifts or over-the-top vacations. Instead, focus on the little things that make your partner happy and show him/her how much you care.

        The summer is an excellent time to start “actively loving” your partner. Here are a few easy, inexpensive ideas to get you started:

  • PLAN A DATE NIGHT! Whether you  have been together 5 months or 25 years, date night is always a great way to connect with your partner and strengthen your relationship. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive.  It can be as simple as spending an hour together on the couch with no kids, work, or interruptions.
  • Randomly send your partner a text or email just to say you are thinking about them
  • Leave little notes on post-its around the house for him/her to find
  • Instead of planning an activity that you will love, plan something you know your partner will love
  • Have a picnic. Take advantage of the summer and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Go camping. If you can’t afford a hotel get away, find a nearby campground and pitch a tent. Not only is it cheaper, but nature will provide an intimate and private setting for you and your partner to really connect.
  • Research your city or town. Google the name of your town and most often there will be a way to see upcoming events in and around the community. Often these activities are free to the public and offer a fun, inexpensive alternative to your daily routine.

        There are a million things you can do to show your partner how you love them. For more examples and tips, check out these websites:

http://www.alabamamarriage.org

www.healthymarriageinfo.org

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/196660/marriage_dating_your_spouse_helps_keep.html

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/romantic-date-ideas-for-married-couples.html

 by Kate Taylor Harcourt

Do I NEED This???

January 15, 2010

Let’s take it back. Way back…. to about 3 weeks ago. It was the beginning of my Christmas vacation and I could not WAIT to see my family. After my plane landed in Houston (TX), I reveled in the company of my sisters, brothers-in-law, aunt, uncle, cousins, nieces, and nephew. I mean, my mother was here and she lives on another continent! What’s not to love?!

Fast forward to two weeks later. To me stalking into my sister’s guest bedroom for some peace and to maintain my precarious grasp on my sanity. As a loner by birth, it doesn’t take much for me to take a break from human contact, but I found myself seriously wondering if I really needed to be here and if I really needed to have a relationship with these people. I was overreacting (I do that), but it got me thinking: How important is it to have relationships?

As you may have guessed from my last post, I like research findings that are useful to Joe/Jane Six-Pack. Turns out that close relationships are vital to our well-being. We can’t help it. It’s in our DNA. As children, we gravitate toward our caregivers (for most, it’s a parent or two). We look to them for love, support, and protection. While growing up, we start to form friendships… we even invent imaginary friends. Then the teen years arrive, our hormones start acting up, and we look to forming intimate relationships. Around this time, it’s basically up to us to seek out healthy, long-lasting relationships. Relationships, according to research, help us realize who we are, how to treat others and how we want to be treated, and lend to our overall happiness. Having healthy relationships can also help manage stress! I’m all about that.

Forming and maintaining healthy relationships has a lot of benefits and that’s one of the many reasons I enjoy being a part of Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative or ACHMI (www.alabamamarriage.org). ACHMI strives to educate youth and adults on the ins and outs of healthy relationships. It’s the best type of education – the one where no cramming is involved, you can learn things, and you can use those things for the rest of your life. It’s great being a part of something that has changed the trajectory of so many people’s lives by teaching the importance of healthy relationships and helping make current relationships even better.

I guess all this means I’m stuck with my crazy, loud, nosy, caring, protective, loving family. Darn. 😉

Happy 2010!

Christiana Datubo-Brown

PS – Are we saying “two thousand ten” or “twenty ten”??

Single and Loving It (From Me to We): The Transition – Part 3 of 3

November 25, 2009

Here we are once again. Welcome back for part three of this journey that we have been taking. Previously, we have discussed recognizing personal and societal pressures to be in a relationship along with developing our “best selves” while we are single to assure that we are ready for “The Transition.” In the final part of this trilogy, we will discuss going from “me” to “we” as singles recognize potential relationship opportunities. In starting every relationship, it is important that careful and intentional steps are taken to make sure you have gotten to know the other person and to avoid the risk of sliding into a potentially unhealthy situation. During this process, many people may often be blinded by infatuation and fail to see warning signs that may present themselves. Take the time to learn more about the past relationships of your potential mate, their family history, and there present and future intentions. This will present a great opportunity for you to compare your morals, values, and beliefs. Once you feel that you are ready to move forward, it is time to define the relationship. I recently read an article describing the steps of defining relationships that listed the following tips:

1. Ask yourself if the timing is right.
2. Have the right mindset.
3. Pick the right location.
4. Be direct.
5. Be open and receptive of all perspectives.
6. Don’t give false hope.
7. Say “No” to ultimatums.
8. Offer an opportunity to think things over.

These things are essential to making sure that there is shared understanding between everyone that is involved. I encourage you to follow the above link to read the article. Please comment to share your thoughts. Thank you for traveling with me on “The Single and Loving It” adventure. We have come to the end, but I look forward to you reading my future posts. I am not saying that the journey of singleness is over for me, but I am not saying it isn’t either. You have to stay turned to find out.

Overcoming a Long Distance Relationship With a Plan!

October 19, 2009

Out of sight out of mind? Or does absence make the heart grow fonder?

With increases in technology more and more individuals are working to sustain relationships with others who are miles, time zones and sometimes even oceans away. Most often when we hear the term long distance relationship we immediately think romantic dating relationships; however, marriage relationships and non-romantic relationships with family members or friends also fall under this category.

Moving to Auburn this past August, all of my relationships instantly became long distance – My friends from college moved all over the country, my family remained in Florida and my boyfriend started graduate school in New York City. I was immediately faced with figuring out how to manage multiple relationships with miles between me and the ones I loved.

One way to manage such relationships is through making a plan for the next time you will be together. Research suggests spending time together, via phone or e-mail, planning for the next visit, helps to produce feelings of stability and certainty – which can be hard to cultivate with few face-to-face interactions.

For my boyfriend and me, planning unique activities, such as going to the Bronx Zoo to ride a camel, or simply discussing what we are looking forward to during the next visit, perhaps sharing some chocolate doughnuts together, helps us get through the months apart. While it is important to plan, it is also important to leave room for spontaneous or even everyday activities. Despite all the bike riding and hiking adventures we shared together during his visit to Auburn several months ago, we both agreed our favorite time together was simply cooking dinner. The key is to find stability through making plans while remaining flexible to what each visit has to offer!

Does and Don’ts of Long Distance Relationship Planning

DO spend time apart discussing plans for your future time together

DON’T over plan or try to fit weeks worth of activities into one weekend

DO allow room for spontaneity

DO enjoy the mundane activities – Just because you do not see each other often does not mean every activity needs to be “special”

DON’T get frustrated if you do not accomplish all of the plans you made prior to being together

DON’T feel pressure to be overly sexually active during the visit with a romantic partner. This can quickly sap up any spontaneity.

Spend some time today with a long distance romantic partner, family member or friend making a PLAN for your future time together! What exciting PLANS are you making?

For further reading on making a romantic long distance relationship work check out this Health Discovery Blog!

Larissa Ferretti

Graduate Research Assistant

Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative

Does Age Really Matter???…. You Decide

October 6, 2009

Being a graduate student in the human development field and working in a “marriage lab”, conversations about marriage and relationships are bound to come up at least a time or two (hey it’s who we are). Most recently the spotlight was on me and my boyfriend of the past two years.  I was sharing that it has been my experience that when you’ve been with the same person for two years people start to question where your relationship is going and if they should “save the date”. While I love my boyfriend and as of right now am pretty confident that he’s the guy I’m gonna spend my life with, I’m not ready to take that walk down the aisle just yet. I’m a 21 year old new graduate student and just don’t feel that marriage would be the  right fit for me at this stage of my life. In fact based upon some recent self-reflection I don’t think I believe in marriage before 25.

Now I know that some of you may be disagreeing with me at this point, but just hear me out. I’m NOT saying that there is anything wrong with being married before 25. I know tons of people who have been happily married for years that got married before they were 25, however  it just does not fit with the direction I want my life to go. In fact there is research that says our brains are not fully developed until we’re 25 and I definitely need to be working with a full deck before I’m equipped to be someone’s wife.

No matter what age you get married whether it be 23, 35, 0r 40 just make sure you do what’s right for you.

Jaleesa Albadani

Graduate Research Assistant, Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative

You Complete… You

May 7, 2009

Who can forget Tom Cruise’s famous line from Jerry Maguire: “You complete me.” It’s the kind of line that undoubtedly stirs many to fantasize about a love so intense and consuming that you can’t imagine how you ever lived without it… That something you’d been missing your entire life suddenly has made you whole…  Ah, love.

Or is it?

Although it sounds romantic and makes for great chick-flick material, the idea that being in a relationship will complete you is not a realistic or healthy way of thinking. It’s more likely to be based on infatuation or loneliness rather than actual love. The best relationships happen between two people who have taken the time to form their own identity, and are happy people already. They aren’t looking for someone else to complete them. These tend to be the people that in real life, others are most attracted to.

If you find yourself single and longing for a relationship, you might examine the reasons why. Is it because you’re lonely, spending night after night at home with microwave dinners and slippers? If so, you might consider simply getting out more— try being the one to organize going out with friends, or take up a hobby or class that will get you out socializing. Is it because nearly everyone else you know has a significant other and you’re constantly in the role of third wheel? Consider the friend date—taking one of your single opposite-gender friends to accompany you the next time your best friend and her boyfriend extend that dinner invitation. You could also push for regularly scheduled girls’ nights/ guys’ nights with your attached friends—they’ll almost certainly appreciate them, but might not be as likely to initiate them.

As you develop your own interests and gain confidence in yourself, you will become a more attractive catch to potential love interests. You invite others to take an interest in you, because well, you’re an interesting person! You’ll also be more likely to experience a healthy and happy relationship when it does happen. It might not be as romantic a thought, but rather than saying, “You complete me”; it’s better to be able to say, “I was complete without you—but I’m really happy you came into my life!”

Recommended reading: “The Missing Piece” and “The Missing Piece Meets the Big O” by Shel Silverstein.

Kristy Malone, Master’s student in Marriage and Family Therapy and Graduate Research Assistant for the Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative

Dating and the Single Dad

April 9, 2009

I recently received a friend request on Facebook from someone that I knew back in elementary school. Hearing from someone that I had not seen in over two decades made me wonder who else was out there that I had lost contact with. I began putting in random names from high school, college, previous jobs, and finally some family members. I eventually found a cousin that I hadn’t spoken to since we lived in the Northeast, over 15 years ago. We began to catch up and I asked about the two darling little girls that were in all of his photos on his profile. It seems that he is currently a single dad who is raising an 18 month old and a 5 year old without the help of their mother who walked away from the family when their youngest child was born. I have to admit that I was in total shock at hearing his story because it usually isn’t the mother who walks away from the responsibility of raising a child. (I guess I had seen one too many episodes of “Maury” where women were hauling men onto national television to find out the results of the DNA tests to convince these men to take responsibility for the children they had created.) After exchanging pleasantries, we started discussing our personal lives and he was very excited to hear about my pending nuptials. I asked him if there was a special lady (aside from the two little ones on his profile) in his life and that was when he began telling me the woes of dating as a single dad. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would hear such tales of heartbreak, sadness, and disappointment. In the movies men usually use babies and puppies as “chick magnets.” Why didn’t that work in real life? (Note to self—you watch WAY too much television!) Apparently, dating for single dads is no easy feat and may leave many wondering if they’ll ever find that special someone again. I asked my cousin if he had any words of advice for other single dads out there and he says he has come up with five easy rules to follow:

1. Avoid the “baby momma drama.” Whatever you do, DON’T TALK ABOUT THE OTHER WOMEN IN YOUR LIFE! At least not in the beginning of a relationship. Your dates and prospective girlfriends have a right to know if you are widowed or divorced; however, they will feel intimidated if you talk about them incessantly. Definitely avoid talking about how well you and your ex get along as this may cause your new girlfriend to think there is a possibility you are getting back together with them. You also don’t want to badmouth her either as this sets the stage for ill feelings towards someone your ex has never met.

2. Me, myself, and I. Take some “me time.” The better you feel, the better you’ll be able to take care of your child(ren). Get plenty of exercise, engage in hobbies, and spend time with your friends and family. These are great ways to stay physically, emotionally, and psychologically fit!

3. The truth shall set you free! First, tell the woman you are seeing that you have children. It doesn’t make sense to try and date someone who is adamant about not liking/wanting children. Second, be honest with whomever you are dating about your financial situation. Women were so used to dating men who paid for everything that it was difficult for them to understand that sole responsibility for two children was definitely taking its toll on my cousin’s finances. R.J. says that this was the hardest thing for him do since he had always prided himself on being able to “wine and dine” the ladies….

4. Variety is the spice of life. The last thing you want to do is enter a long-term relationship with the first woman you go out with. You may feel loved and needed-perhaps for the first time in a long time but chances are you may not be ready for a long term commitment immediately after becoming widowed or divorced. Try dating a few people first.

5. Hi, my name is….When you introduce your children to your girlfriend for the first time, don’t set your expectations too high. No matter how much you want it to happen, your new girlfriend and your kids probably aren’t going to be instant best friends. Relationships take time to develop. (So what if R.J’s oldest daughter Leah wouldn’t let his current girlfriend touch her, or talk to her or even look at her when they first met? They have taken the time to get to know each other and Leah now runs to give her a hug goodnight!)

Eugenia Parrett, Graduate Research Assistant

Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative

Meet the Parents…Here I Come

November 17, 2008

Oh how I LOVE the holidays! Seriously, love them. My family does the holiday season with as much enthusiasm as we do birthdays (if you don’t remember, see my last blog)!

Don’t judge me, but I may already have my Christmas tree up with lights and all! To each his or HER own, right?

Some may think this is a bit much, but that is often me…a bit much. I tend to do things in BIG ways. I want to soak up all that life has to offer. I want to go and see. I want to do the things I love and be with the people who are special to me. Some call it passion. Some call it annoying.

Sure, this attitude has earned me the (loving) title of “The General” with my friends, and you can bet I have stuck my foot in my mouth more than once when I get worked up over someone or something important to me. I get it. I can admit it. I can be overwhelming.

This “passion” often serves me well to meet all my responsibilities in a given day as a therapist, full time student, research assistant, novice author, sister, daughter, and now….girlfriend.

BUT how will it serve me as I meet the folks? To tone it down or to be myself? That is the question, right? NOPE! This sweet guy knew what he was getting himself into when he invited me to his hometown for Thanksgiving. The real question is: How soon until we get there?!?!

“The General” side of me recently had a big epiphany, “Mallory, this is NOT about you!” (Maybe some of you other Generals have had this epiphany too!?). This trip is about seeing where he grew up, meeting the people he loves, and being immersed in the holidays (even if they celebrate in some way that is foreign to me).

Of course, I still have my fingers crossed that they appreciate my “passion,” but I am more excited to be part of something intimate and loving as a Thanksgiving dinner.

So, ready or not…here I come : )

Mallory Lucier, M.S., Graduate Research Assistant

Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative

The Boy Next Door

November 13, 2008

 

In my last blog I mentioned how I was venturing out into the unchartered territory of dating.  I had not dated for about five years—I was so busy with school that I put dating on the backburner.  Well, it appears that I have been very successful in connecting with a very special guy, but who would have ever thought that he would be one of my best friends for seven years!  In the back of my mind, I always thought that he would be a wonderful partner for someone, but I tried to force my mind and heart not to think of myself as that someoneJ.  To be sincere, it was fear of the unknown and fearing that our friendship may be negatively altered, which kept me from thinking of us as a couple.  I believe that intimate relationships require a degree of vulnerability and fearlessness.  So, I am putting fear behind me and walking in the joy of allowing our relationship to naturally develop.  What makes me feel very encouraged about our relationship together is the fact that it started with friendship.  

Being immersed in the study of relationships, marriages, and families, I know firsthand of the importance of having a strong friendship with your significant other.  I was reading for class the other day, and one of the articles indicated that a friendship is a collaborative relationship where each person is concerned about the satisfaction and success of the other (http://books.google.com/books?id=UljSHtTxTXEC&pg=PA295&lpg=PA295&dq=%22Newcomb%22+%22developmental+significance+*+children%22&source=bl&ots=N6TVTvd0_O&sig=ZjymrasSureKX2tGVV7mpr3yH-Y&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result#PPA291,M1).  I truly believe that this defining feature of friendship should be a part of all relationships, and it is most essential for the success of romantic relationships.  I truly want to see my significant other achieve greatness in his life and be happy in the process, not just because he is my significant other, but because he is also my best friend.  Who would have ever thought that my special someone would be right under my noseJ! 

Cassandra Kirkland

The Passion that Binds

October 2, 2008

We’ve all been there: longing for that person who makes your “ liver quiver” but at the end of the day, he/she does not return those same feelings for you. I know, I know. It really hurts but what can you do. I can recall a situation similar to this in my personal life. He was popular, ambitious, intelligent, and did I mention gorgeous? I was crazy about this guy, but the sad part is that there was nothing that I could do that could make him return the strong feelings that I had for him. I found myself doing what those “desperate” girls do. I would cook meals and invite him over, “spontaneously” end up at events that I knew he was attending, and continuously call or text him just to let him know that I was thinking about him. The list goes on and on. Then, one day, I realized that there was nothing in my power that could make him return the feelings that I had for him. That realization was profound!

Well, a few months later, I met someone else who is absolutely amazing. He’s generous, funny, he enjoys cooking for me, and he treats me like a queen! He also made it very clear that he really liked me and he freely expressed this to me. Who wouldn’t want to be with a person like that? Yep. You guessed it. Me. I am the moron who does not like this guy, despite all of his great qualities. I recently hung out with him because I was thinking to myself, “Ashley, you are crazy for not liking this great man!” As this thought continued to cross my mind, I resolved to hang out with him enough so that he could “grow on me” as my friends said he would after spending enough time with him. So, as I was getting ready to go to his apartment I got so excited because I was ready for this guy to steal my heart . That is after he grew on me. As we were sitting at his apartment though, all I could think about how annoying his laugh was or how much it bugged me when he would talk about almost any subject. So as I left from his place that night I had a really insightful realization. I cannot make myself like this guy! No matter what he does nor how hard he tries. It’s almost like trying to fit a square puzzle piece into a place meant for a circle: No matter how hard I could try to make it fit, it’s just not gonna work.

There is one similarity between these two relationships: one person involved lacked the passion that would make the relationship worthwhile. Research indicates that the most satisfying romantic relationships are the ones in which each person is passionate about the other. While the levels of passion that each person has will indeed fluctuate over the years, it is important that there is passion. Whether it’s at the beginning stages of a relationship or later after the relationship has developed, this passionate component is one part of the glue that holds relationships together. Although neither of the above mentioned relationships worked out, I rest assured that one day someone will come along for whom I will have really strong feelings and he will return those same strong feelings for me.

Ashley Anders, Graduate Research Assistant

Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative

Ashley Anders, M.S.