finding a relationshp

A Later Life Valentine

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February 12  |  finding a relationshp, finding love, Love & Relationships, Mature dating, Self-Help, self-reinvention, self-transformation, Women and love  |   Cynthia

 

Here’s a Valentine’s blog, written by Tricia Cusden, founder of Look Fabulous Forever cosmetics for mature women, to which I contributed advice:

It’s that time of year again when the shops are full to the brim with red or pink hearts, dark carmine coloured roses, champagne and chocolates. All the symbols that we use to signify deep and lasting love given and (hopefully) received from our significant other. But not for me! Because it’s a very long time since I had anything resembling a ‘significant other’.

I have been divorced since I was 42 years old, so that’s very nearly 30 years of (theoretically anyway) being open to the possibility of another relationship. I did have a couple of longer term liaisons up to the age of around 50, but neither of these became everlasting. However I was busy, happy and my life was interesting and satisfying on so many levels that I honestly didn’t mind being on my own. In very many ways I preferred it, but I was always open to the possibility of finding love again. That was until, at the age of 57, I met someone I will call Harry.

I met Harry through a friend. She knew him in a business context and suggested that she set us up on a sort of blind date. First impressions were ok, if not amazing, and we spent a pleasant evening having an early supper and then going on to the theatre. I can’t remember the second date but I began to think that a relationship might be possible. Harry proved to be an interesting and agreeable companion and was what I can only describe as ‘urbane.’ He’d lived in London all his life and knew it in a way that I didn’t. So we started to enjoy going to some really fascinating places, small and amazing restaurants and to exhibitions, plays and other gigs that expanded my horizons. He was amusing, good company and was always immaculately dressed. After a few short months we started talking about moving in to live together. Then I went to Cape Town for a two week holiday with my daughter and half way through my break, the texts we had been exchanging several times a day suddenly stopped. I tried calling him but he was evasive and I got a horrible feeling that he was lying to me.

To cut a long and painful story short, when I returned to the UK our relationship quickly unravelled. I discovered that I had been dealing with a Walter Mitty character, a recovering alcoholic who had spun me a whole load of truths, half truths and very many untruths. In short, I felt conned. He was not the person I thought he was, and all the time he had been two-timing me with (what he had claimed) was an ex-partner.

I was devastated and very angry with myself for being so trusting, gullible and blind. I immediately extricated myself from the relationship and despite several attempts on his part, I refused to see him again. Since this bruising episode which really knocked my confidence, I have closed myself off from the possibility of finding a man.

However I am fascinated to watch friends who have been able to find delightful, genuine and trustworthy men who have brought joy and companionship into their (later) lives. So this week I thought it might be interesting to explore successful ways to find love in later life with Cynthia Spillman who runs the International Dating Academy which she calls a ‘one-stop dating shop’ for people who wish to improve their dating skills. Cynthia has published a book called ‘From Dinner Date to Soulmate – A Guide to Mature Dating‘, targeted at women who have been single for years, or who are divorcees or widows.

Here are Cynthia’s Top Tips For Finding Your Valentine:

  1. It’s never too late to find love. It’s disheartening when you suffer from a bad experience like Tricia’s. There are many variants of the con man out there and it’s difficult not to become “relationship-jaded” and decide that it’s safer to remain on your own. Emotional distress can be accentuated at this time of year. Finding love has no sell-by date – even if you’ve been out of the dating “jungle” for a long time. I’ve witnessed countless family, friends and date coaching clients, find joy in later life. I married my third husband Peter when I was 48 and, 11 years later, we’re still in love. My mother-in-law remarried at 81. It’s possible – but you have to approach your mature love search with wisdom and tenacity. Do make sure that you’re in the right place in your life to find love – but also remember that finding love has no sell-by date on it.
  2. First love yourself. You have to learn to love yourself before you can love another. Self-care doesn’t equate to selfishness. When you feel truly good about yourself, you’re far likelier to attract the right person. Remember the oxygen mask principle on a plane – you’re advised to put on your mask first, before helping others.
  3. Be proactive. Proactive doesn’t mean desperate! It involves embracing all methods of meeting a potential partner. I advise my clients that finding love is a numbers’ game and that online dating is like eating your vegetables – nobody wants to do it, but it’s good for you. Yes – it can be irritating, but if you view it as a tool in a larger bag of re-emerging dating skills, it does truly have advantages. You can keep your dates short and sweet – which is a good starting point from which to reignite your dating mojo. You must always follow strict safety rules and if you smell a dating rat – get out immediately. You must also embrace every opportunity to meet somebody new. This means using your networks in a sensible way, telling friends you’re on the lookout for a great man and join man-friendly organisations. I used to own ‘Dinner Dates’ – we ran multiple events on a weekly basis, which afforded our clients the opportunity to meet in a safe environment, at hosted events. Mature dating needn’t be doom and gloom. You have so much more to offer a partner in terms of richness of life experience.
  4. Expand on The Sisterhood. Seek out women who raise your spirits, and never dump your close girlfriends when you’ve found a partner. In this circle, include some ladies who have what you’d like – a fulfilling relationship. You can learn from them and their example will propel you on when, inevitably, you get knocks along the way on your mature dating journey. Hanging out with the girls will also enable you to not to feel overwhelmed.
  5. Bury your baggage before entering a committed relationship.Don’t drag all your relationship yesterdays into today. Many women blow their chances during embryonic dating, by suffering from emotional and verbal incontinence and telling all to their date, way too soon. This gives totally the wrong impression about you, may scare the pants off your date and is also an indication that you probably aren’t yet ready for a new relationship. No man wants to hear how hideous your ex was – at least not in the early stages! Inevitably, we all drag our relationship “previous” into our next relationship, but too much too soon can spell sabotage. In my book, I suggest various methods for dealing with troublesome emotional baggage.
  6. Good communication is crucial. Practising mindful communication is the life blood of your relationship. Mindful dating and communication open up a whole new world of relating to others and yourself. They also enable you to manage your expectations of yourself and of your potential partner, so that you don’t end up reeling from disappointment. You learn to “mind the gap”, take it one step at a time, and not buy into either catastrophizing or reading too much into your relationship situation, way too soon. Your love life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Seize your courage – and go for it!

 

Mindful dating v internal elephants

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February 23  |  Dating, Dating Coach, finding a relationshp, finding love, Love & Relationships, Mindful communication, Mindfulness, relationships, Self-Help, Women and love  |   Cynthia

Nail biting

Anxiety is a perfectly normal emotion to experience, when you’re in the early stages of dating a new, prospective partner.  But it needn’t be a nail biting experience, if you take a few moments to pause, reflect and go about dating in a mindful way. Below are some quick tips on how to prevent the butterflies in your tummy, from morphing into a sabotaging date-wrecking herd of elephants, rampaging around in your innards.

Be prepared

Like the scouts, being prepared for all eventualities is key. This may not sound very sexy and spontaneous, but if you were applying for a new job, if you’ve got any sense, you’d be doing research on the company you hoped to be employed by. Why should it be any different with a prospective lover?  I don’t mean for you to start stalking his bestie, drive past his pad at midnight, staring longingly at his closed bedroom curtains, or make an absolute tit of yourself, in any other way.  But undertaking a little bit of pre-assignation investigation will help quell your nerves on The Date, and won’t necessarily turn you into a latter day female Inspector Clouseau of “Pink Panther” fame.

Brainstorm potential topics of conversation.  Find out what he’s interested in and read up on it. Be aware of current affairs but stay well clear of contentious topics such as sex, politics or religion –  the first few dates aren’t the time to regale him with your salacious intimacy “previous”.  These topics are potential date-busters!

Self-care

Pamper yourself so you feel at your very best.  Don’t wear anything that will make you feel self-conscious – ie a décolleté which is so extreme, that if you’re not careful, you’ll end up tripping over your own boobs. Nor should you wear a dress which is so frigging short, your prospect can see your tonsils.  There’s a time and place for everything and this isn’t it! If you’re unsure, ask a trusted friend for input.  Safe is one hell of a lot better than sorry.

BREATHE!

Give yourself plenty of time to get there. Plan the best route beforehand, leaving room for error, such as getting lost, tube strikes, people under a bus etc.  Sit quietly before you leave, and practise some very simple, mindfulness breathing.  I realise you may be so worked-up that your head resembles a washing machine in the spin cycle – but that’s only  reason to meditate more.

Practising mindfulness during the date

Listen to your prospect more than YOU speak!  Remember to practise deep, slow breathing during the date – not so fast that you hyperventilate and you need to engage in emergency breathing into a brown paper bag. This could be somewhat embarrassing! Simple and calmly is best. By so doing, you’ll avoid speaking at the speed of a machine gun engaged in active combat.  And speaking of guns – for God’s sake keep your powder dry. I repeat – don’t tell him your deepest, darkest and dirtiest secret. That’s first date suicide. And don’t drink too much either unless you’re not bothered about potentially presenting yourself as a neurotic, desperate lush!

Trust your instincts

If you do as I suggest, you’ll be far more in tune with the other person’s vibes. Trust yourself and your inborn instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t! If you’re super anxious, keep the first few dates short. Meet for coffee, a drink, lunch – then if all seems to be going swimmingly – you can take it to the next stage and meet for dinner. Remember – you’re not dating Prince Charming, just a regular guy who’s probably as nervous as you are.  Believe it or not – men suffer from dating nerves too.

Enjoy yourself!  That’s the whole point of the date – and remember, there are no true faux pas dating gaffes – just learning experiences. If it doesn’t go to plan, then keep breathing, don’t be hard on yourself, put it behind – and try again.

Have fun!

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“A” is for asshole!

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November 24  |  Dating, finding a relationshp, finding love, professional single women, relationships, Self-Help, single women  |   Cynthia

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We all know them. They present themselves to us in every shape, form, colour, creed and size, and in every walk of life. They’re the ones who pontificate, or impose their pathetic opinions onto you uninvited , or manipulate or control you then leave you hanging high and dry – the emotional detritus lingering around your persona like a rancid smell.

This sad fact is even more poignant in the area of personal and intimate relationships. They manifest themselves, as if by black magic, string you along, mess you up and then make it feel like it’s all your fault.  Some assholes have personality disorders, or unaddressed addictions. Or they could be serial philanderers. The potential to be an asshole is endless.

But – before you think I’m going to let you off the hook and fall into victim mode, I’m here to tell you that it’s YOUR responsibility to eliminate these turds before they get the smallest foothole in your love life.  I don’t care if they spin you the oldest line in the book, such as “my wife doesn’t understand me” (oh but she does folks – only too well), or “my daddy didn’t buy me a bow wow” (go get a rescue dog from Battersea) – trust me – somewhere, deep down, in the first few meetings with Mr Asshole – you instinctively KNEW this one was going to be yet another dud – a bozo looking for a temporary repository for his miserable presence, before sallying forth to the next poor wench.

I say this as someone who has entertained the dubious company of multiple assholes in my life – and I even married two of them before wisening up and realising that My Type wasn’t my type AT ALL, and was just a toxic legacy, left over from my partially miserable childhood.  Woe is me – not! I was responsible for putting myself in a position to be hurt – and so are you!  The lesson will be repeated until it’s learned!

Why do I assert this? Simples. We all have inherent instincts and we read information about everyone we meet. It may be subconscious and buried deep, deep down in our psyche – but I’m here to tell you that we KNOW when we meet somebody. The trouble is, we can be so needy that we override those early warning signals. We can delude ourselves that with us the asshole will be different, that this time the story will end happily and we’ll waltz off into the sunset, holding hands, living happily ever after.

Bollocks. Once an asshole – ALWAYS an asshole – unless and until said asshole becomes desperate enough to do the Inner Work on themselves – nothing will change.  There are plenty of women assholes too. Being an asshole isn’t in any way sexist.

Practising mindfulness and being much more mindful in your life, is the best way to learn to listen to and trust your instincts. They tell you everything you need to know – but you have to make time to sit, let go, and have the courage of your own convictions, to put into action what your innate good sense is telling you to do ie telling Mr Asshole to bog off pronto before you’re lulled into his web.

So my Five Rules for Asshole Management are so simple you could miss them:

  1.  Avoid
  2. Avoid
  3. Avoid
  4. Avoid
  5. Avoid

Please – do yourself a massive favour and undertake The Work on your inner self.  In so doing, you’ll find that your inherent, instinctive Asshole Alert will soon flourish and hold you in very good stead so that next time an asshole looms into your orbit, promising you the moon – you immediately press the “REJECT” button.

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Making time for love

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November 21  |  Blog, Dating, finding a relationshp, finding love, Planning for love, Self-Help  |   Cynthia

time-for-action

Ladies, as far as we know, we only get one kick of the ball. The present is a gift. I’m no sitting Buddha, but I do believe that we only have today. Finding good, healthy and nurturing love was at the very top of my agenda, after my 2 disastrous marriages. I’m not ashamed of this. After kissing way too many frogs and, regrettably, getting spliced with two of them, aged 43, there really was no time like the present, so I got on down to it, got out there and got my hands dirty!

If you’re going to succeed, you have to give your love search the absolute top priority it deserves. There can be no shilly-shallying nor approval-seeking from anyone else. This is YOUR life and YOUR emotional business. The only people worth consulting are those who already have what you want, i.e. a rounded life where a loving is a big part of the equation – though not all of it.

Only you can decide what your life versus love priorities are, but I guarantee that the more thought, planning and you put effort into this, the more spectacular will be your results.
If nobody cares for the carer (that’s you), then you’re giving to a relationship from a big, black, bottomless void – a place of incompleteness and nothingness. That doesn’t make you attractive to a potential partner, nor is it any good for you. Think about it – good vibes are infectious.

You owe it to yourself to put yourself at the very top of your caring list. This isn’t selfish. In actual fact, it’s exceedingly selfish not to do this, because if you run on empty, others, primarily you’re nearest and dearest, including friends and family, will suffer. If you look after yourself, you can give more of yourself. This attracts people to you like a magnet.

There could be multiple demands on your time – not least of all kids who may not relish the thought of Mum going out there looking for a hot date – who could rock the status quo. There are so many variables which can make it challenging. As we age, we can be subject to role reversal, caring for elderly parents. Perhaps you’re confined to a geographical location. You value your own space and time and may find it harder to change your ways.
At the end of the day, it’s back to questioning how strong is your motivation? You, and you alone have to balance the scales.

The crucial four letter words on the road to love – hope and work. Okay. So I have acknowledged that it’s tough. But there are ways in which to manage re-entry into Planet Dating. It’s my experience, and that of my coaching clients, that unless we plan our journey, we won’t know where we’re going, how to get there or how to achieve what we want. After all – this is YOUR life and YOUR happiness we’re talking about.

Time is precious – so let’s not mess about! You’ve achieved in your professional life and in other areas – now you must apply the same dedication and energy to finding love. The quest for love is truly worthy of your time and is certainly not trivial. Go for it!

Mature woman sitting on the floor and thinking

ONLY when there’s determination – will there be a loving way!

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November 7  |  Dating, Dating Coach, finding a relationshp, finding love, professional single women, relationships, Self-Help, single women, Women and love  |   Cynthia

DO you REALLY want a partner or are you just in love with the notion?  This question may make you do a double-take and question my sanity.  But stick with it, please and read on!

Are you ready, willing and emotionally able to undertake the massive commitment which is needed to firstly find a partner, transform that encounter into a relationship and then maintain it through thick and thin, until (hopefully), death doth you part? It’s all very well believing that once you’re spliced with a Significant Other – everything will be plain sailing and you’ll be able to drift off into the sunset, hand in hand, living forever happily after.

Not so!  You may feel that your relationship is as invincible as “The Titanic”, but the truth of the matter is that life chucks at us many unexpected, differently sized icebergs along the way, which I guarantee can cause your relationship to capsize pronto, hook, line and sinker, if you haven’t got the commitment, motivation and guts to work on yourself and on the relationship – which is as living an entity with its own separate dynamic, as is a “real” flesh and blood person.

Without exception, we all drag our “relationship previous”,  into our current one. Much of this is hidden in the murky depths of our subconscious, only to spew out all over the shop – and each other  – when certain emotional historic triggers are detonated. Our wounding goes totally “ape” and if warfare reaches a certain stage, then like Humpty Dumpty we can’t be put back together again.

I’m not saying this in order to scare you off. I just want you to have a real heart to heart with yourself, prior to embarking on the voyage of togetherness, and figure out what you truly want and need. Like the song, “love is a many splendored thing“. The right long term relationship with the right person can provide you with the security you may have always craved – and the rest –  but this notwithstanding, it’s going to be a real graft – emotionally, practically and sexually. What you put into the entity – your joint relationship – you’ll get back in spadefuls.  But as Ringo Starr sang, “It don’t come easy” – so please don’t delude yourself otherwise.

In my book, “From Dinner Date To Soulmate – Finding Love At Any Age“, I cover these points in depth. So for now, consider the following food for thought:

  • How strong is your motivation today, to find your life partner?
  • How much time, energy and money are you prepared to put into finding The One?
  • How willing are you to tolerate your partner’s “baggage”?
  • Are you up for a lifetime of compromise – seemingly good and bad?
  • Are you able to commit one hundred percent to resolving problems as they arise?
  • How will you feel when the shiny cherry-like novelty of a new relationship wears off, and you’re stuck with the inevitable relationship hum drum?

I’m not being a kill joy – just playing devil’s advocate so you can assess for yourself just how strong and realistic your desire to be ensconced in a long term relationship, is.

After all – motivation is everything! Where there’s a will there’s definitely a way.

 

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