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What do women really want ?

"Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing"

      -Helen Keller


A natural ability to teach runs in my family. In 1902, Grandma Nell taught in a one-room schoolhouse. As the new millennium approaches, I, her granddaughter, love it as much as she did. I am a therapist. I offer others the acquired relationship skills I learned through hard times and personal choice. My Germanic persistence and Scottish-Irish intuition guide me, but my clients make the choice to use these techniques. They are the brave ones.

The field of evolutionary psychology and social anxiety form the concrete basis of my work, but the application of my work is an entirely different matter. In my previous practice in Seattle with Microsoft millionaires and now in California with Silicon Valley engineers, a quote comes to mind: "Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a car to drive around while you look for it." Perhaps a hard drive would be preferable. You see, I specialize in dating anxiety, and work a great deal with smart, lonely engineers who often have never had long-lasting relationships. One man swore he would rather have his arm cut off than be rejected by another woman. Another highly placed VIP made love once in his life at forty. Only his priest and I know this. A woman wished for a physical scar so others could see her unhappiness and pay attention to her.

To understand the opposite sex is one thing, but to accept that your old ways are not working, to venture out of your shell, feel terrified, experience defeat, and get back out there on the field? Courage. My clients are amazingly brave people and I benefit greatly when they allow me to assist.

CHANGE: To give a completely different form to. To lay aside.

In the beginning we learn at our parents' knees, internalizing the strengths and weaknesses of mom and dad. Of their weaknesses we pronounce, I'll never let that happen to me." If we feel emotional or physical pain, we retreat through instinct, a natural ability. We withdraw by getting away or overcompensate by acting tough. Dad asks how you are after Mom spent the better part of an hour yelling, "Sure I'm fine!"

How does the saying go? We are born fine, and then the world DEFINES us.

If we happen to be born with great challenges, physical differences or parents who angrily give us their definition about our lives, we seek comfort. We isolate, eat too much, or hit someone, continuing to do whatever works until our chaotic early lives are under control. Over time repeated responses become ingrained habits. These survival strategies, combined with our innate physical and intellectual abilities form our adult personalities.

Then.., we notice this girl or boy sitting across from us in class and our romantic difficulties begin. Many of my clients needed new skills at this point, but didn't get them, With our bodies telling us to:
"Go for it!" Our parents teaching us what their parents taught them:
"Don't go for it! " And, sex education classes telling us "How To Avoid going for it, even though going for it is natural..." Is it any wonder that the going got rough?
Maybe we should log on and forget the whole mess.

As a relationship counselor, my initial research concerned women's dating habits. Later, I began to work with "dating challenged" men, an enormously under-served, hidden population. These men find their way to me through the underground grapevine, for men rarely tell their buddies they are having girl problems. Tell your friends in the male kingdom that you aren't uh- having success is like getting picked last for the baseball team (and that's putting it politely).

The somewhat sensational title of my book What the Hell Do Women Really Want? (2d. Ed.) echoes exactly what I hear when men complain about women. "Women say they want a sensitive guy, but then they choose a jerk." My observation as a clinician in this field is that women don't want men who push them around, but they do want men who can stand up to them. Balance is the key. Though women are initially drawn to a "sensitive" man, who listens well and is gentle and kind, as the dating progresses, his quietness begins to feel boring or worse, "dweeby." She leaves saying, "let's just be friends."

But, because he has the skill of persistence, this man continues to chase after her, often enduring mistreatment. He spends much time and money on her hoping she will change her mind if he just tries hard enough. Why are these men having trouble? As children, most of them worked hard to attain love. It wasn't OK to say no to Mom so they withdrew to their safe places: their guitar, their computer, their rope swing. It was not OK (and still isn't) for a boy to cry on the playground if he skinned his knee. Now, as an adult, his girlfriend asks him to feel? On top of this he often has, like other people, internalized the partial mind-set of a critical parent. So, he retreats when she wants connection, perceiving her needs as criticism.

Twenty-five years of passive- aggressive behavior, of nodding agreeably on the outside and being furious on the inside will not miraculously stop "when the right girl shows up," no matter what your Aunt Rita says. It might if the right skill set is learned, but until the age a crisis hits, men with low self-esteem will continue to chase women who don't appreciate them. Much worse, they often marry women they don't love rather than risk rejection.

The same problem insecurity from feeling under attack as a child is solved by other men who use offensive tactics. I don't see many "Mr. Cools" in my practice. I joke and say, "they've got women hanging all over them - why should they possibly think they need help?" In fact, they are much worse off than Mr. Nice Guy who can learn new habits more easily, due to his capacity for humility. Mr. Cool has such a strong defense that only a serious crisis might shake him up enough to seek help. He usually finds another woman first, and often ages bitter and alone, or alcoholic. Groucho: "I wouldn't want to join a club that would have me as a member of it."

The man who outwardly appears OK, but who has continuous relationship problems, uses the skill of acting OK, because society reinforces all that achievement. He channels all of his natural ability to achieve, his "physical, mental, financial and legal power," as the dictionary says, to gain attention. A functional relationship is not first on his list. But boy, does he look good! Which is why he wins the girl. What he loses is his soul. You don't hear about what comes after.. ."happily ever after." Interestingly enough, the dictionary definition of "natural ability" omits spiritual ability.

The female clients I work with choose mates who don't appreciate them. They often chose safety by marrying someone they don't love, just as some of my male clients do. Later in life (often after divorce) many women are bitter. They cannot accept responsibility for their own half of the story. Retreating into work or their children, these women may live alone for many years unless they choose to change.

Patterns Do Not Change Without Conscious Consistent Effort

Some patterns of "love challenged" men: He is criticized and grows to be a man who quests for the perfect girl. He dates hundreds of women, but none pass his test. For he focuses on the flaws he finds. (If he actually chose someone, he would have to work through the difficult talk of communicating!)

He sees the problem outside himself. If everyone would just cooperate, things would be fine. The people pleaser or "doormat" thinks if he tries hard enough he will hopefully get noticed. He hasn't dated in years, or has dated only three or four times and might be over thirty. (That is not as unusual as you might think!) Might be fixated on one woman years after the break-up. (Worse-he may never have dated her!) Has never experienced an ongoing relationship or a satisfying sexual life. Spends thousands of dollars on girls who have no intention of ever becoming intimate with him.

He works himself numb to avoid feeling, escapes by any means possible and sometimes, when the stress of being alone cuts too deep, pays for company. The oldest profession has plenty of clients. Did you know that most men who go to call girls are lonely, quiet guys? One of my clients, a bright computer engineer spent $17,000 "rescuing" a nineteen-year-old lap dancer.. .actually believing that she loved him!

What should these men do to change? In my book I cover techniques to dislodge old patterns. Below I offer you a different tool which promotes personal transformation, together with a small anecdote. Good luck!

About Spiritual Ability

Here is an interesting and very helpful perceptual self-growth tool. It can help you use events in the outside world to understand what is happening on the emotional and unconscious planes. It is a well-known defense in psychology called "projective identification." It works like a mirror by reflecting interior emotional blockages on your outside world. You believe your problem is in the other person, or your environment. What you are actually seeing is your emotional weakness projected outside yourself. Pay attention to what you don't like in others. This unique skill is called the "spiritual mirror."

Folks with physical disabilities get used to the fact that much of the other "abled" world feels uncomfortable around them. Our mothers told us not to stare, it wasn't nice. Well, I don't always follow Mom's advice (though I sure wish I had at other times) so one day I used the mirror technique to make contact. An acquaintance (who I initially thought was blind) was sitting quietly, not taking part in the conversation. He seemed uncomfortable. I wondered about his sight, struggling with the projection that society teaches us - don't look, don't ask. After sitting in discomfort but paying attention to my intuition, I decided that it was perfectly all right for me to ask about his sight. So, I did. Brightening, he briefly explained how his sight functioned, but didn't elaborate. I persisted, asking him exactly where his vision was and wasn't. Although one eye was blind, he could see a narrow field with the other. I bent my head down and looked where he indicated - "Can you see me now?" "...Yes! We were both excited." After that, I spent a lot of time putting my face at his "window" (as he now calls it) whenever we meet.

After discovering that people rarely asked about his sight, I was amazed. What was going on? All these folks with various challenges who are not being emotionally helped with communication! He could be getting two channels and because society tries to "be polite," he only gets one. This small incident was a mirror of how much narrower my field of vision would be had I restricted my reality to an old, acquired skill. See the mirror? Instead of avoiding my discomfort I went directly into the sensation of my own discomfort that his discomfort "mirrored." The natural ability we all have curiosity, communication, bonding, helping led me to discard my acquired socialized misperceptions.

The other day, I took it one step further. Noticing a woman in a wheelchair smiling at me, I went up and started pushing her. "Do you mind?" I asked. "No, it helps me get places a lot faster." And, all this time I was thinking that if someone in a wheelchair wanted help - they would ask. Ha! We had a good time. I ran her around in circles, and we zoomed across the floor. Again, my world expanded. Another concurrent exterior mirror was that, at the time, I was actively engaged in learning how to ask for help from others instead of going it alone.

When I choose to change old habits, I notice outside mirrors in many situations all around me. I use these messages to help me move through new phases of my emotional development. And, if I don't pay attention to these mirrors, sometimes change chooses me.

For example, punctual me began to arrive late-despite being on time my entire life. For about a week, it seemed to happen over and over again. As I was twenty minutes late to a VIP lecture, having strung myself out by rushing around all day, I said to heaven, "Oh no, don't tell me I have to learn it this way!" What was this external mirror of irresponsibility teaching me? Slow Down! Nothing matters that much! Accept your weaknesses. Stop worrying about what others think about you-or it will get worse! The message in this case was the outside chaos which mirrored my inside emotional turmoil.

Notice how your perception shifts when you see the lessons around you and the teacher is you. No need any longer to wait for help. The lessons are everywhere. The many circumstances that seem to randomly occur around you are reflections of inside unfinished business. Avoiding another's disability is a mirror of the emotional wounds we sweep under the rug. The fascination we have with tabloid tragedies reflects our residual childhood pain. We look outward and see chaos. We think to ourselves, "my life couldn't be as bad as all that."

Difficult life passages escalate if we don't pay attention to outside signs and some of us learn the hard way. Alcoholics may need to lose their entire family before wising up. Some are lucky enough to heed early psychosomatic warnings: ulcers, minor car accidents, people leaving your life over and over, multiple divorces. What is it we don't pay attention to?

My clients find me after having dating problems that have been going on for years! The early courtship is wonderful. The chemistry makes them feel alive and healthy. Convinced their new partner is much better than their old one, they think this new partner might be the one. And then, three months into the relationship, cluios comes calling.

Your new partner looks less promising than your old one. Too fat! Too clingy. Too messy. Too good to be true. Best behavior wears thin and old avoidance habits surface. Looking for blame, insecure about closeness, you feel smothered - new suspects with your old behaviors. Step right up, try to avoid the habits you despise and they have them. And so the merry-go-round begins. Same horse, new rider. No brass ring.. .unless you find another way. That is what happened to this person I know. She spent her childhood hiding from ridicule. She also spent most of her early years avoiding pain by pretending she was fine.

The secret came to her one day when she looked through a window and saw something disturbing. Looking back was a girl who was alone and frightened. The girl's face revealed desperation. Her surroundings reflected chaos. In a sudden rush of awareness, my friend realized it wasn't a window she was looking through. It was a mirror. The woman she saw reflected was herself. She was not looking outside and seeing what she disliked in others. She was in fact viewing her own internal discontent and placing blame on the world around her. It was then she saw how poorly she treated others, held grudges and hung on to old injuries to get even. The turmoil that had been chasing her everywhere, now became unmasked, as her own external reflection. She didn't like what she saw - negative thoughts and a lack of forgiveness towards others.

So she stopped, and she thought:
"If I don't stop this, I will make myself sick. I might even die from it!" (And she wanted to live.) Change is not easy, but my friend did it. She didn't let her past choices reign. Her change began with...
Paying attention to the ways she was not living her life, working herself raw to meet deadlines, be the best, please the folks, find the right relationship, look the prettiest...
Paying attention to the ways she would find fault, take offense at the simplest of human frailties. In particular she paid attention to recurring coincidences. The events which she normally viewed as rotten luck seemed awfully familiar. She paid attention to all those...
Repeating Patterns.. .There she was again, in the same work struggles, in the same family issues which played out again and again. At first she didn't...
Pay attention to the repeating patterns. One of those repeating patterns included seeing and knowing, but not doing anything to change these patterns. For example, how many times did she lose her keys, ignore her intuition or even her mother's very good advice about men? And, if she attributed difficult circumstances merely to someone else's pattern, merely to random circumstances or perhaps an unlucky string of circumstances thennnnnnnnnnn...

... continued in ABILITY Magazine click here to order a print copy or to subscribe Or get a Free Digi Issue and read the full magazine, and see all of the photos, just by clicking "Like" on our Facebook page.

 

More stories from Abraham Lincoln issue:

Abraham Lincoln and Depression

ABILITY House - Birmingham

What Do Women Really Want?


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