THE ROYAL WEDDING: A MATCHMAKER'S PERSPECTIVE

Like any matchmaker, I’m enthralled by a good love story. The story of the courtship and the May 19th wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle did not disappoint. By now, you may be completely saturated with news of this historic union, so I’ll only make a couple of points to highlight what I see is working in this relationship.

Number One:  They celebrate the differences. As Ellen Barry wrote in the NYT, “The most extraordinary thing he (Prince Harry) has done is to marry Ms. Markle, an American actress who is three years his senior, biracial, divorced and vocal about her (feminist) views.” In addition, Harry married her despite loads of “family drama.” On her part, Meghan Markle chose a man who is three years younger than she, who speaks with a different accent and has a score of well publicized previous romantic relationships. Harry never had to work and has a very different set of life experiences. Whew! It is amazing they ever got to a first date!

To those who are looking for love; are you open to such differences? Will you date a Democrat? A Republican? A person who is shorter or taller or fatter or skinnier than you? Will you date someone who has some “baggage” (aka “life experience”)? Will you date someone who practices a different religion or whose educational background or income is different than yours? OR do you only date people who meet your aesthetic standard, who think like you do, eat like you do, enjoy all the same things that you do? If so, you not only limit your dating choices, you limit yourself.  When you celebrate the differences, you open yourself up to wholly new life experiences and you enrich yourself, your partner and the world.

Number Two:  Harry and Meghan don’t expect their lives to stay the same after marriage. In an interview, Ms. Markle proudly reported that her television series had over 100 episodes. Clearly, she’s an established actress who had a promising career. Likewise, Prince Harry had been the world’s most eligible bachelor since his big brother married in 2011. With their marriage, those things are going to change. Meghan gave up a promising acting career and left her home country and her family behind. Harry is no longer number one on the eligible bachelors list (perhaps a dubious distinction) and he’ll need to accommodate his life to include his new beautiful bride.

What is the point? If you are looking for a long-term relationship, expect your life to change. As a matchmaker, I’ve heard many people express the desire to find a perfect mate who will come into their life and neatly fit into the established boundaries. This is a fantasy! If you do find a significant other, it is 100% guaranteed that you won’t have the same daily routines, the same traditions, the same friends, the same family. These things will grow and change. Are you open to welcoming new people into your circle? Are you willing to move or change jobs to accommodate your new relationship? Are you open to changing your patterns for the sake of love?

So far, Harry and Meghan seem to be completely smitten and in love, willing to accept their differences, their crazy families and the major life changes that marriage brings. We wish them well in their journey of love!!

-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox

Are You Ready for Love?

Are You Ready for Love?

5/8/2018

Divorce is a Process

Don’t expect yourself to be ready to start a new relationship within weeks or months of your divorce. It is a process that can takes years. In their book, Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends, Bruce Fisher and Robert Alberti identify fully 19 (!) stages in the process of rebuilding after a divorce. They know through their many years of research that it really does take time and conscious effort to be able to form healthy romantic relationships again.

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By now, we are all familiar with this handy pain scale. Used to assess physical pain levels, this tool can also be used to gauge emotional pain. The emotional pain of the divorce can take many forms: grief, anger, shame, regret, loneliness and jealousy to name a few. What is your emotional pain number? Be honest with yourself. You should not be dating if the average of your perceived emotional pain number is over a 4. If you are crying or talking incessantly about your Ex on a first date, you are in the wrong place!  It is time to take care of yourself first and to get your emotional ship in shape before attempting to forge new romantic relationships.

What is Your Relationship Story? What is Your Divorce Story?

Can you:

  • tell your divorce story without your emotional pain scale skyrocketing to 10?

  • remember the good times with your Ex without sinking into a puddle of tears?

  • identify anything good that has come out of being in the marriage?

  • name anything positive you have learned about yourself or about life because of the divorce?

  • see the part you played in the unraveling of your relationship and forgive yourself for that?

  • even imagine ever forgiving your former partner?

  • imagine a happy life as a single person?

  • imagine happiness with a new partner?

When you are in the beginning stages of divorce, these may be lofty goals. Still, it is important to move in the direction of forgiveness and in the direction of new possibilities if you want to get on with your life, whether you choose to stay single or get re-partnered.

Caring For Yourself

Whether you know you are NOT ready for a new relationship or you believe that you are, you will need to take care of yourself. What does that look like for you? It is different for everyone. What do you enjoy doing?  Do more of that! Decrease that which brings you down and create a forcefield of positivity around you so the challenges you are facing don’t wreak emotional havoc. Eat healthfully, exercise and reach out to others! 

Getting Into a New Relationship

In the Rebuilding book, the authors emphasize avoiding rebound romantic relationships. Friends can really help your emotional growth. In contrast, a new romantic relationship – if entered into before doing the work on yourself – can divert you from the path of self-reliance and growth. It may be super tempting because of the fun and excitement of new love, but ultimately you will both end up hurt if you are not ready.

If you are ready to date again, there are TONS of resources out there. You can try online dating resources and apps. You can meet people through Meet-up groups and by venturing out on your own to enjoy a movie, meal or show. You can employ a matchmaker or date coach to help you. These folks are expert at helping you figure out if you are ready to get back into the dating scene and they will help you navigate the tricky waters of dating. 

Don’t go it alone.

If you are in extreme emotional pain and there doesn’t seem to be any let-up, get professional counselling! There is no shame in getting help to get well. The shame would be in wasting any more time feeling terrible. 

There is life after divorce. There is the possibility of loving again. You will survive this difficult time in your life. You are doing yourself a great service by choosing high quality legal services. Let your attorney stand up for you when you need it. Get the help you need to deal with difficult emotions. Work on feeling a little bit better each day and you will see the light!

Wishing you all the best on your journey!

-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox

Love Songs

Love Songs

4/3/2018

This month our own Stacey Hardy, Outreach Kahuna and Matchmaking Apprentice, shares her thoughts on rock and roll and relationships. Have fun reading!

 

Everybody loves a good love song, right? Like those songs that seems to perfectly express every relatable emotion of the heart. You know... those songs that make us swoon and yearn and set up our fledgling framework for the kind of relationship we all aspire to. Yet, if you really think about it, there is often an underbelly to those catchy little tunes. Those heartbreaking ballads and tales of desperate desires can set us up for unhealthy and unrealistic expectations. Virtually every genre of music is littered with good examples of bad relationships. Let’s turn the radio on and see what we can find.

 

Back in 1970, Eric Clapton wrote the song, Layla, as he pined for Pattie Boyd, George Harrison’s wife. The song was inspired by a 12th century Persian poem about a desperate, unreciprocated love. Boyd might have faired better had she not mistaken unhealthy obsession for romantic desire.

“ Let’s make the best of the situation

Before I finally go insane.

Please don’t say we’ll never find a way

And tell me all my love’s in vain.

 

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.

Layla, I’m begging, darling please

Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.”

Their eventual marriage was fraught with unhappiness, infidelity and addiction, which is often the case when built on a base of dysfunction. They later divorced.

 

The best-selling single in 1983 in the U.S. was the Police’s, Every Breath You Take. The song won numerous Grammys and MTV awards. Yet, if you listen to the lyrics, the song is about control and stalking...hardly a love song.

“Every breath you take

Every move you make

Every bond you break

Every step you take

I’ll be watching you”

Perhaps the darkness reflected here was due to Sting’s pending divorce. Scratch this one from the wedding playlists!

 

Rihanna’s relationships have certainly been tabloid fodder over the years, and who can be surprised with lyrics like:

“Just gonna stand there and watch me burn

But that’s alright because I like the way it hurts

Just gonna stand there and hear me cry

But that’s alright because I love the way you lie”.

A relationship whose foundation is built on mistrust and abuse, isn’t just unhealthy, it’s downright dangerous. There’s nothing sexy or romantic about an emotionally or physically abusive relationship.

 

Joan Jett has maintained her tough chick status in rock n’ roll for 4 decades, but even she’s not above falling for the wrong person:

“I think of you every night and day

You took my heart, then you took my pride away

I hate myself for loving you

Can’t break free from the things that you do

I want to walk but I run back to you

I hate myself for loving you.”

Yet another relationship about desperation and obsession. If you’re not being valued or respected in a relationship, its time to hit the road. Let’s hope Joan jumped on her motorcycle and left this relationship in the dust.

 

What does a happy, healthy relationship sound like in a song? Look no further than this little ditty written by George Harrison, for his then wife, Pattie Boyd. That’s right Pattie had not one, but two famous love songs written for her! Something was hailed as one of the greatest love songs of the era by Ole Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra...

“Somewhere in her smile she knows

That I don’t need no other lover

Something in her style that shows me

I don’t want to leave her now

You know I believe and how”

Boyd would have been better served to have headed these lyrics, instead of being swayed by Clapton’s desperate pleas thru verse.

 

Unfortunately, many unhealthy lyrics have woven their way through our pop culture psyche. Though these songs may be catchy, they are also cautionary tales. Love should never inspire suffering. Here’s to embracing both the songs and relationships that inspire our best and healthiest selves, and healthy, lasting love. And remember, if your new love presents you with a playlist of desperate love songs, you can always follow the advice of Paul Simon:

“There must be fifty ways to leave your lover, fifty ways to leave your lover.

Just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan.

Don't need to be coy, Roy, just listen to me.

Hop on the bus, Gus, don't need to discuss much.

Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free.”

 

Signing off with fondness and affection on that musical note,

-Stacey

 

 

 

You're Not Shopping for a Car

You're Not Shopping for a Car

3/3/2018

“Back in the day” shopping for a car meant choosing exactly what make and model just like today, but a consumer could also choose the interior and exterior colors as well as what “hi-fi” package. If you were really advanced and a cautious person, you might even choose to include seat belts. Nothing was standard and you could completely customize your car.

After a New Year’s water leak in our home left my family needing to make many repairs, I found shopping for bathroom fixtures equally customizable. How many sinks in your vanity? How tall? How wide? How deep? What color? Center mount faucets? What material? What manufacturer? What style? All my purchases could be sorted through myriad filters until I arrived at the perfect product at the perfect price point.  Whew!

I wonder if we aren’t using the same framework in choosing a mate these days. Dating is no longer a fun discovery of other human beings, but a sifting of potential mates through a series of ever-refined filters until we achieve the perfect constellation of factors that we believe will produce a happy relationship. Online dating sites really thrive on matching along these dimensions and even matchmakers (myself included), spend a lot of time discussing what characteristics our clients are looking for in another. Just like my new bathroom vanity (which is gorgeous, BTW), prospective dates pass through endless filters.

Specific evidence of this filtering process was detailed in a statistic from Bottom Line, based on Match.com research. “iPhone users are 21 times more likely to judge Android-phone owners negatively… while Android owners are 15 times more likely to think poorly of iPhone users.” I mentioned this to one colleague who had recently been in the dating scene and he said that a lot of people are going to need to change their cell phones. Two other friends suggested that there really are differences between people who use Android phones and those that use Apple phones and that this is a legitimate way to narrow down the pool of suitors. I thought I had entered the Twilight Zone!

There are, indeed, many prospective mates in the world and it may seem like narrowing the field is critical to success. Still, it is important to be thoughtful about what criteria we are using to narrow the field. Is a mate’s choice of cell phone really going to matter in a long term relationship? Or is it those factors that cannot easily be quantified that will make all the difference? Factors like, honesty, integrity, a sense of humor about life and about themselves, compassion, adventure? These are just some of the non-tangibles that are the foundation of a great relationship.

So, watch out for “shopper’s mind” and start enjoying the possibilities when you look to get to know another person in a deeper way.

With love,

-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox

Love Me? Love You!

Love Me? Love You!

2/5/2018

Happy Valentine’s Day! As a matchmaker and human, I love this celebration of love. Wouldn’t it be even more wonderful if we expressed our loving sentiments EVERY day? For now, let’s break out those cards and flowers and personal expressions of love for one another in honor of February 14th.

This month’s focus is “Loving Oneself.” It is said that we can’t fully love others if we don’t love ourselves. As a person who struggles with loving myself, I’ve often found this phrase annoying or condemnatory, as if my own self-doubts somehow cast a shadow over my most significant relationships. Maybe I don’t really love my son because I’m not in love with everything I do as a parent? Maybe I’m a crappy wife because I don’t take fantastic care of myself? Perhaps the only alternative is to go to a cave and get myself straight before I subject others to my company!

Well, I’m not planning to go to a cave and I really don’t think that “working on oneself” in solitude is the answer AT ALL. We grow through our relationships with others. We learn through our interactions as well as by our own introspective process. So, don’t run from people so that you can work everything out to be ready to be in relationship. Know that relationships are imperfect and that the players are imperfect and that it is worth it anyway. Remember too, that relationships skills can always grow. Love is always fluid, always an action, never a static state. I don’t have to constantly experience love for myself in order to love you. I do need to treat myself in loving ways in order to treat you in a healthy loving way. I can’t eat horrible food, get no exercise and fill my head with negative self-talk and expect to show up for you in a positive, loving way.  

So, how do we love ourselves before we’ve reached enlightenment??

Try this exercise:

Imagine that you are the sole caretaker for a beautiful child. What would you do to nurture that child’s body, mind and spirit? Would you:

  • Have the child smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or consume my personal favorite vice, Diet Pepsi?

  • Make the child stay awake even when exhausted?

  • Binge-watch TV together?

  • Hang around negative people who tell the child how horrible the world is or, worse yet, how unworthy he or she is?

Or would you:

  • Feed your child super healthy foods.

  • Get out in nature every day.

  • Be with positive people who brighten the day.

  • Take naps when tired.

  • Run, Play, Ride Bikes, Dance.

  • Go to a museum.

  • Dress up.

  • Make music, paint a picture, read a poem.

  • Whisper words of encouragement and love to the child.

IMAGINE: You are the child. You are the caregiver. You can love yourself the way you would care for a precious child. This child doesn’t have to earn love and care. This child gets to learn love and care.

So, dear readers, my invitation to you this Valentine’s day is to treat yourself to a healthy life. As you love yourself this way, you will be better able to love others. It is true, if you want to love others, you need to be loving toward yourself! If you don’t already have a practice of being loving to yourself, start right now!! Want help? Call me!

Valentine Hugs.

-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox

Want Results in 2018? Get a Coach!

Want Results in 2018? Get a Coach!

1/4/2018

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. It seems like we shouldn’t wait until the new year to make multiple changes in our lives. Still, there is nothing like another year rolling past to make us reflective, possibly leading to identifying things that need to be made better in the days to come.  In this month’s musing, I’d like to spend some time talking about the value of coaching in reaching your personal, professional and relationship goals whether or not you call them “New Year’s Resolutions.”

Even Michael Jordan had a coach, so why shouldn’t you?

In the matchmaking/date coaching business I’m mostly met with enthused curiosity when I talk to people about my services. Sometimes, however, the welcome is not so warm. Some people quickly walk away from me as if I had a highly contagious disease. I was bewildered by this response from adults at singles events who were presumably looking for a romantic relationship.  Why wouldn’t they want what I had to offer? So, rather than sit around wondering, I asked. The response I got was typically some variation of, “I can do this on my own” or “you want me to pay MONEY for THAT??” I get it. Matchmaking and date coaching are things that many of us are not familiar with. Still, most of us have had some experience with being on a team of some sort. Perhaps we’ve played a team sport, been part of a business team, participated in theatrical productions or played in a musical group. If so, we’ve all been coached to learn new things or to improve on our existing skills. Why should one’s dating life be any different? I know I never took a dating class nor got any coaching whatsoever to improve my dating skills other than perhaps 8th grade dance class or Seventeen magazine. Maybe it is time for that to change. Maybe it is time to treat our dating and relationship lives as conscientiously as we approach preparing for a job interview or a big test.

So what is the value of coaching?

  1. We do not know what we do not know! A coach is an expert in their field. He or she likely knows something you do not know about whatever you are endeavoring to do. The coach also has a different set of eyes and different mental filters and can shine a mirror up to you so you can see yourself in a new light. Just like there is a vast store of things that you know about yourself that others do not know, there Is a great deal that others know about you that you do not know about yourself. It is a coach’s job to shine a light both on the aspects of yourself that work and those that don’t.

  2. Feedback. I received a Fitbit for Christmas (Thanks, Bro!). It is a simple feedback form to let me know if I have walked my 10,000 steps each day. I can’t fake out the Fitbit. I do argue that it doesn’t always give me “credit,” 😊 but the numbers are there at the end of the day without judgment – just simple facts. In a similar way, you and your coach will set measurable goals and track your progress towards them. You may not be able to see your own progress and a coach can point out when you are getting closer to your goal or how you might make small adjustments to get even better results.

  3. Motivation. Let’s face it, making big changes in our lives is not easy! A coach can spur you on when you are faltering. Way back in my college years I had a running buddy named Susan. Neither of us were “runners” but together we would run 10 miles on a pleasant Saturday or Sunday afternoon. What I remember most was that as my energy was failing and I wanted to quit, Susan would shout words of encouragement and I could keep running. Miles later when she was getting fatigued, I would do the same for her. A coach can be that person shouting, whispering or chanting words of encouragement, helping you to remember why you started on this path in the first place and keeping your eye on the goal when you’ve lost sight of it.

Shameless Advertising!

We at Authentic Connections see that value of coaching in helping our clients reach their relationship goals and we’ve created two coaching packages:

The “Keep Me Honest” package is the simplest and most affordable. Authentic Connections will serve as your weekly “accountability partner” with a 30 minute weekly check-in to help you stay true to the goals you set for yourself.

The “Relationship Ready” package provides weekly hour-long coaching to address anything that may be getting in the way of finding true love. This package includes practice dates to get the feedback that you’ve never gotten before on your real-time dating skills. You might also take an in vivo flirting class or be accompanied to your favorite singles spot by a trusty wing man or woman.

As always, there is a la carte coaching available to all Authentic Connections clients and these sporadic sessions can help you keep your head above water as you wade through the sometime turbulent waters of dating.

Parting Words:

If you are up to big things in life, there is nothing like a trusty partner to encourage you along the way. If the coaches at Authentic Connections aren’t a good fit for you, we have many associates who might be just perfect and we are happy to refer you to one.

With gratitude for who you have been in the life of Authentic Connections and with hope and great expectations for 2018, I wish you a very happy new year!

Hugs!

-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox

How to Handle the holidays as a Single, Thoughtful, Caring, Adult Human Beings

How to Handle the holidays as a Single, Thoughtful, Caring, Adult Human Being

12/5/2017

In researching the topic of being single during the holidays, I saw a recurring refrain of complaint. Singles are, almost without exception, tired of being asked, “Are you still single?” The advice given in many articles and blogs is to dodge the question or avoid the person who inevitably asks it at family gatherings.

I’d like to offer here some loving alternatives to avoiding Aunt Tillie and Uncle Bruce and their intrusive questions. And I want to offer us all some ways to express love and concern for our relatives – be they single or not.

So how can we communicate with each other to build connection instead of discomfort and alienation?

  1. Give the Benefit of the Doubt. Assume your friends and family have a sincere interest in your life, even if they have an insensitive, if not downright rude, way of asking about it. If that is the case, maybe what they really want to know is how you are. Go with that. What if, instead of trying to escape your relatives’ insensitive attempts to learn about your life, you just tell them about it all – work, play, love life, vacation plans or a great book you are reading. You get the idea. Ask them about their lives too. They will be grateful and surprised that you took the time to really listen to them instead of making a bee-line to the appetizers.

  2. Share Your Action Plan. You can also answer with the popular, “I’m just waiting on the right one.” The only trouble with this response is that it suggests a level of passivity that may not be true. If you think it is any of their business, you can let interested relatives know that you are actively seeking a great partner. You are working on your self to be a great catch and you are getting help from a date coach and matchmaker who is also on the lookout for a great partner for you. Maybe your relatives have some good ideas or connections to help you along. The possibilities are endless!!

  3. Ask Open Ended Questions. This is Communications 101! Don’t ask a question that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.” Instead of, “Are you still single?”, maybe what you really meant to say was, “Hey Jack, I haven’t seen you since last year and I’ve been thinking about you and wondering how things are going. If you have a moment, I love to catch up with you. What’s happening?”

  4. Resist the Urge! As a single, thoughtful, caring, adult human being, please resist any urges you may have to counter the, “Are you still single?” with similar insensitive questions like, “Have you thought about cosmetic surgery?” or “When are you and Aunt Agnes going to stop having that same argument?”

  5. Embrace Your Single Status! When asked the tired old question, answer with joyful enthusiasm, “Heck Yeah!!”

I was once accused of Aunt Tillie-ism and had a great lesson in life. Seventeen years ago I got married and there were some changes in my friendships. I kept up a pretty good phone relationship with my best friend in DC. In my single days, I had time to run 5 hours up the road for a weekend visit but, with my new married life and then the birth of my son, casual weekend visits were almost impossible. In our phone conversations I would often ask my BFF about her dating life as it had been a big topic of conversation when we were both single. I still remember one call when she got really quiet and serious. With great kindness and inter-personal generosity, she let me know that she experienced my interest in her dating life as an affront to her single status; as if being single was somehow a “problem” that needed a “solution.” At the time of this conversation, I felt ashamed. Was she right? Did I think of her single status as a “problem?” Was there a part of me that enjoyed hearing about all the new and interesting people she was meeting because my own life had so quickly gone domestic? Was she being over-sensitive? Maybe it was all of the above. Since then, I don’t bring up the topic of dating and she and I have found scads of other things to talk about. If she wants to talk about her dating life, she can initiate that conversation. Our friendship withstood the test of time and our differences in marital status. I’m so thankful to my friend for speaking from her heart and setting me straight so our friendship could last all these 34 years!

So, dear friends, my invitation to you this holiday season is to remember that we are all connected by an “invisible thread.” With acknowledgement to The Rev. Dr. Nancy Petty, this thread is our understanding of how inextricably intertwined our lives are. When we understand this, we would always seek to create love, joy, comfort and understanding for and with each other. So buckle up and start relating on a deep level with those you love and those you may one day come to love!

 

Happy Holidays!!

-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox

Don't Kill Thanksgiving With Comparison!

Don't Kill Thanksgiving With Comparison!

11/3/2017

In this season we all want to joyfully connect to our loved ones and to be grateful for the many blessings in our lives. Still, it seems that our age-old nemesis, comparing, can get in the way of loving each other fully and of being truly aware of all that is great in our lives.

Comparing is one of the “Five Metastasizing Emotional Cancers,” according to Stephen Covey in The Eighth Habit. (The other four are criticizing, complaining, competing and contending – but that discussion is for another day!) From a very early age, we are fed on the comparison dynamic. I remember a jingle from my childhood: “My dog’s better than your dog. My dog’s better than yours. My dog’s better ‘cause he gets Ken-L-Ration. My dog’s better than yours.”  More recent versions of blatant comparison include the “Who Wore It Best?” comparisons in magazines. Lately, when a public figure is caught doing something immoral or illegal, she/he compares their actions to worse sins by some other public figure. It’s a poor defense as observers think the individual is not only immoral or guilty, but also immature and dishonest.

In everyday life we compare ourselves to others constantly. The problem is not the comparison itself, it is the judgment we make about those differences. For example, it is one thing to notice that I have grey hair and yours is brown. It is another to say, mine is grey and therefore I am somehow less worthy or, conversely, I must be wiser because of all the grey hairs I’ve earned. As for me, I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life, so every person I meet is sized up as bigger or smaller than I am. It is an automatic reaction and there remains the small voice gauging my value based on an ideal that never applied to my big Latvian bones and healthy appetite. If we are honest, each one of us feels “less than” about some aspect of ourselves, even if the judge-y voice is quieter than it once was. Some of us got the idea somewhere along the way that we weren’t beautiful or smart or sexy or worthy or wealthy or that our family was too weird or that we were too weird and so on and so forth.

This comparison mode is crippling in relationships. Terrence Real describes the phenomenon in his book, The New Rules of Marriage. Whether you are married or not, the book offers great insights into all relationships. When it comes to comparing, Real talks about a continuum where one end is seeing one’s self as better than others (“Grandiosity”) and the other end is seeing one’s self as inferior to others (“Shame”). It is only in the middle of this continuum where we see each other as equals that we can experience healthy relationships. This midpoint is characterized by meeting each other eye-to-eye where I experience myself as neither better than you nor less than you. Clearly, we all have different skill levels and some of us are better at certain activities than others. The point is that we are not attaching a judgment or value to those differences. The question of who is “better” is off the table because it simply has no value if we are intent on having healthy relationships. In contrast, if we are busy proving our point, putting someone down, or confirming our secret judgments of others at the Thanksgiving gathering, those relationships will stay stuck in the muck.

Comparing is rampant in dating. If we are walking around in a state of “Shame” or “Grandiosity”, we can’t hope to have a great date. Some folks get so nervous before and during a date that the predominant feeling at the end of the date is R-E-L-I-E-F that it is over! Other folks are so sure that no one else can measure up to their high standards that they diminish the person sitting in front of them and never dig in to learn about them. They become completely right in their belief that no one else is good enough for them and, you guessed it, they often stay single and alone. They might also find someone to partner up with who feels "less-than" and have a relationship where neither partner grows or feels that they truly belong.

Another big love-kill is comparing a new person to the "Ex."  Perhaps the prospective partner has the same hair color as the "Ex."  Perhaps they drive the same car as the "Ex." Perhaps they have the same profession. The assumption is that if these external factors are similar, the person is similar. Folks sometimes even refuse a first date because of these false comparisons to an "Ex."  

HELP!!  What can we do about all this comparing? Some suggestions:

  • If you find yourself constantly one-upping or putting yourself down, get some help! These are patterns that are often unconscious and not easily broken. It may require the help of a professional. Don't expect your significant other to be your therapist.

  • Work on loving yourself! Develop a healthy appreciation of all that is great about you.

  • Be the best YOU. There is only one. No one can be a better you. Work on the parts that can improve and, if you must measure against a standard, let it be your own standard. My son started swimming with his high school team last year. He was beaten in a race by more than a few competitors. Still, he got out of the pool beaming because he swam much faster than ever before. Be that guy or gal! Loving life, doing your best and having that be good enough.

  • Around the holidays we are often in “trying interpersonal situations.” 😊 If you can't eliminate contact with those who put you down, set clear and appropriate boundaries with them. Surround yourself with others who think you are fabulous.

At this reflective time of the year, I think of the joy of having met all of you these past few years as we’ve watched Authentic Connections grow. I also think of the joy that my friends and family bring to me every day. I am so grateful for all of you!

Have a wonderful, connected, compassionate Thanksgiving!      

Much love,

-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox

The Paradox of Choice

The Paradox of Choice

10/1/2017

This month I want to thank Dr. Sara Rosenquist for directing me to a great Ted Talk, “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz. While we humans generally love to have many choices, the paradox is that such a vast array of choices can lead to unhappiness with whatever we ultimately choose. Schwartz says, “Choice has made us not freer, but more paralyzed. Not happier, but more dissatisfied.”

I know for myself, there are SO many choices of things to do! It is mind boggling! I’m often lamenting that I missed out on this music festival or that craft fair or that I haven’t hiked that trail yet or seen the new movie or the holidays are coming and I haven’t started making homemade gifts, or there is a 5K next weekend, or I haven’t talked to my college roommate in months, or what about learning French, and you know I never took a Physics class, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. It can be overwhelming and I used to regret all the things I did not get to do because I was occupied with something else. I’ve gotten better at letting go of those missed opportunities. For example, it occurred to me that I will NEVER win a Heisman trophy or a Nobel Prize or go to Antarctica. I’m now at peace with this realization! BTW, my husband, knowing me as he does, asked if I knew what a Heisman trophy was 😊!!!     

The problem is “opportunity cost” which is the benefit that a person could have received, but gave up, to take another course of action. So, when I choose butter pecan ice cream, I’m not choosing chocolate or strawberry.  When I choose one pair of pants, there is a vast array of others I did not choose and which might have, at least In my mind, produced even greater happiness.

The reader is saying, “So What? Who cares if you choose butter pecan or boot cut jeans?” And, sure enough, most of us don’t lament these little everyday choices.  But what about choosing a career or a mate? Those choices have long-range repercussions, don’t they? Maybe yes, and maybe no.

Another body of research was presented by Dan Gilbert in which he asked the question, “a year after the fact, who is happier, the individual who won the lottery or the person who lost the use of his or her legs?” Of course, we all predict that the lottery winner would be much happier. In fact, on average, the lottery winners and paraplegics are equally happy a year later.  Gilbert says we “synthesize” our happiness. Happiness has very little to do with our outward circumstances. I’ve heard this for many years and still find it fascinating!

How does all this research relate to dating and relationships?

  • We make our own happiness. Period. We make our own unhappiness too. Trust me, I know.

  • We can be happy in multiple different circumstances. There is no Mr. or Ms. Perfect for whom you need to waste your life searching. Your partner doesn’t have to check all your boxes for you to be content with your relationship.

  • We need to be “present” in life. Yes, life is full of choices, and we can’t have EVERY experience or date EVERY person on the planet. Nonetheless, we can make choices and participate fully in life. We can stop ruminating about the “road not taken.” Only then can we really learn about ourselves and about others and grow.

For folks who want a “deep dive” into being fully present, I encourage you to read Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now. It is very thought provoking. I can’t do it justice in writing about it here except to say that it has been profoundly helpful to me in my own life as I strive to be aware, alive and compassionate.  

 

Until next month!!

Peace, Love and Joy.

-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox

 

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Total Eclipse of the Heart

8/30/2017

Are You Having a Total Eclipse of the Heart?

 

I know I promised to write about “The Paradox of Choice” this month, but I couldn’t

resist the timeliness of the recent total solar eclipse and a lesson that may relate to my

life and yours.

 

My eclipse experience started on Sunday, August 20th when I rose early to catch a ride

with family to Hendersonville, NC. We scoped out potential viewing sites and chose

Gorges State Park, which is located in the “Zone of Totality.” We were instructed to

arrive around 5am the next day so that we would be assured of a place to park. So, the

day of the eclipse started at 2:45am with arrival at Gorges at 4:45am. We did our best to

pick a good spot in the dark and then hunkered down to start the big wait for the big

Event.

 

Gorges State Park did an absolutely AWESOME job managing the steady flow of

people. The cars arrived for a solid five hours before reaching maximum capacity. It was

amazing how the rangers answered everyone’s questions with freshness and joy as if

they hadn’t heard that very same question a thousand times already that day.

 

The crowd was also in a joyful mood. People chose Gorges State Park to view the

eclipse having researched extensively and travelling from all over the eastern states.

There were huge telescopes with fancy filters and cameras on tripods placed

everywhere the eye could see. There was music and laughter and sharing.

 

Around 1pm the eclipse began. Everyone in sight donned their special eclipse viewing

glasses or gazed through their specially equipped cameras and binoculars or brought

out their crafty viewing boxes. We got to see the classic crescent shape of the sun as

the moon passed in front of it.

 

And then….. and then……and then…... ? A huge rain cloud passed in front of the

sun/moon! It totally obscured what everyone there had come many miles and many

hours to see. To add insult to injury, the cloud dumped a hefty dose of rain on us – the

patient questors of celestial grandeur. What the %^&*%!!

 

At the time of “totality” there was no hope of that cloud moving out of the way. There

would be no witnessing the sun’s corona, the coronal streamers, the coronal loops and

prominence. (I got these out of National Geographic, so don’t quiz me!) We got plenty

of soggy “umbra,” but no brilliance.

 

Then a strange thing happened. At 2:36, the predicted time of complete eclipse, the

crowd began to cheer loudly. It echoed through the trees. It was the sound of complete

joy. It was the Who-s down in Whoville singing even after the Grinch attempted to steal

Christmas. It was people turning disappointment on its head and rejoicing at the wonder

of these forces of nature -whether we could see them or not.

 

I wonder about myself and about you, too. Am I living my life rejoicing even when a

cloud gets in the way of my well-laid plans? Or am I kicking myself for spending time

and money on something so chancy? Are we enjoying the heck out of this journey of

life? Or are we constantly moaning and groaning, complaining that life hasn’t turned out

how we’d like? Do we go to singles gatherings, Meet-ups and networking events happy

about the people we are with or are we being judgmental and critical saying that there is

“no one interesting here.”

 

Maybe we do a little bit of both. Rejoicing and complaining. Trusting and shrinking in

fear. Loving and disconnecting. What is so incredible is that we can 100% choose how

we respond. It may not be our natural “go to” to trust, to open our hearts, to be the one

reaching out to another person, but we can try and stumble and learn and grow and try

some more. Every one of us can.

 

Let this be the day/month/year where your heart doesn’t eclipse like the 1983 lyrics of

the Bonnie Tyler song. Instead let your heart celebrate life’s moments, much like the

whooping and hollering of pure joy when something magnificent is happening. That

magnificent happening is you!

 

Fondly!

 

-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox

 

Let's Talk About Sex!

Let's Talk About Sex!

7/31/2017

At a recent reunion for the psychology department at the University of Kentucky, I met a wonderful psychologist who works right here in Cary, NC. Dr. Sara Rosenquist is a sexual and reproductive health psychologist. We started talking and began what I hope is a long, ongoing conversation about love & relationships and everything related. Dr. Rosenquist is a master at taking what’s new in the field of psychology and applying it to our everyday lives.

In relation to our sex lives, Dr. Rosenquist says that in order to have a healthy sex life, three parts of us (the brain, the heart, the body) all have to be in sync. Too often we pay attention to only one or two of these aspects and the results can be unsatisfying, unhealthy or even hurtful to self and others.   

In his book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Steve Harvey talks about following a 90-day rule before having sexually intimate relations with a new love interest.  As much as his book is overflowing with sexual stereotypes and cringe-worthy comments for this feminist, I must say I agree with Mr. Harvey.  Ninety days of getting to know each other gives both people enough time to determine if taking the relationship to the next level is a good idea. Remember, Dr. Sara’s advice? The head (your logical self) has to be in alignment as well as your heart and body. If what you are after is a long-term committed relationship, use your brain; sex can wait. If your body is screaming for attention, take care of yourself! Science has proven you will not go blind or grow hair on your palms.  

-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox

Dating Tips for Men

Dating Tips for Men

6/29/2017

  • Arrive on time; this means 5-10 minutes early. If you are on time, consider yourself late. Why not a little earlier? Because she’s still getting ready… Life happens and if you are going to be late, let her know immediately and tell her why. And it better be good.

 

  • Attire: Dress for the setting, but dress up just a notch, and be careful about over doing it. You don’t want to out-dress her, woman tend to frown upon that. If you’re doing lunch or coffee, stay away from anything that you would wear at the gym or food shopping. It is casual, but remember: this is a date. Lean towards a shirt with a collar, and wear clean shoes. They pay attention to their shoes and might notice your dingy gym shoes. If you’re headed to dinner, wear a jacket. If you don’t have one, buy one. It’s amazing how much more dialed in you will look even if you’re wearing jeans and a t-shirt. First impressions count.

 

  • Cologne: one or two sprays. She should only smell it if she gets close to you, not from across the table.

 

  • Grooming: Manage that hair, and that doesn’t just mean the kind on your head. Get rid of the ewok coming out of your ears and nose. And clean up the eyebrows. Again, women spend a lot of time on their small details so they will notice if you have made a similar effort. The details matter. Fingernails: clean and trimmed.

 

  • The setting: Find a place that is agreeable. Going to an Indian restaurant; does she even like Indian? Get a reservation, it shows you’re on top of things and have made an effort. Will you be able to hear one another? Bars are great for hanging out with the guys, but not for hearing what she has to say. That leads me to my next point.

 

  • Conversation: No woman has ever had a date and gone back to her girlfriends and said, “It was horrible, all I did was talk about myself.” Seriously, at least 60% of the conversation should be about her. Most women tend to communicate more than we do so let them. Keep it positive. The goal of a date is to get to know each other and to have a good time. If you start complaining about your job, congratulations, you have just exited the fun zone. Good luck getting a 1second date. Keep the conversation light. There’s no need to dig deep with the details. Just see if you guys get along and if there is a mutual attraction.

 

  • Picking her up: If you are, go to the door. Dropping her off, walk her to the door. Don’t be scared, be a man.

 

  • The kiss: Unless it is super obvious that this is going to happen (we’re talking about the first date) save it for another time. Wrap it up with a hug. If she really wanted one, you just had a great date and left her “wanting” a kiss from “you.” That is a good thing, not a mistake. And for the date when it is right, don’t wait until the end of the night when you drop her off. It’s too much pressure for both of you. Wait for a right time, like after the meal and you’re opening up a car door for her (do that as well gentlemen), or if you’re walking back to the car. She won’t expect it: score one for the spontaneous guy (that’s you Einstein).

 

  • Who pays?: You. If she objects, then gracefully stand down and allow her to do so (this is not the 1950’s, it’s okay). She likely has a reason, but don’t push for an explanation. Smile and say thank you.

 

  • How to handle silence: A moment of silence is fine, but of course can lead to discomfort. So, resort to your bank of talking point and questions. Oh, you don’t have one. Make one, preparation reduces anxiety.

 

  • Your phone: Leave it in your pocket or better yet, your car. By no means should it touch that table and don’t “check it.” If you’re waiting for an organ donor, you shouldn’t be on this date. She should be getting all of your attention, not 90% of it.

 

  • When to contact her again: Rules of dating say 2-3 days so you don’t look desperate. Screw the rules, show her that you’re interested, and since you broke the rules, she’ll notice… Wait a day, but don’t go overboard. Let her know you had a great time, then feel out the conversation and go from there. Don’t push for the next date… Be cool.

 

  • When the date goes bad: Don’t wait forever to wrap things up, but don’t be too abrupt. Most important, BE NICE. So what if this isn’t your soulmate, show her some respect and that karma thing will come back around.

 

  • Most important: Have fun and be nice!

                   -Ken Miller

Seasons of Love

Seasons of Love

6/13/2017

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes

Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes

How do you measure, measure a year?

 

In daylights, in sunsets

In midnights, in cups of coffee

In inches, in miles

In laughter, in strife

 

In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes

How do you measure a year in the life

 

How about love?

How about love?

How about love?

Measure in love

Seasons of love

Seasons of love

 

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes

Five hundred twenty-five thousand

Journeys to plan

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes

How do you measure the life

Of a woman or a man?

 

In truths that she learned

Or in times that he cried

In bridges he burned

Or the way that she died

 

It's time now to sing out

Tho' the story never ends

Let's celebrate

Remember a year in the life of friends

 

Remember the love

Remember the love

Remember the love

Measure in love

Measure, measure your life in love

 

Seasons of love

Seasons of love

 

Written by Jonathan D. Larson • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

 

I thank Mark C. for reminding me of the words to this great song from the musical, Rent. So, how do these "seasons" play out in our lives? Am I stressed and rushing and too in my own head to be kind, to offer a smile, to take the time to understand another? Or am I savoring the full moon, the green of early summer, the beauty of old friends and the joy of making new friends. It is easy to feel disconnected but - dare I say - equally easy to connect. Reach out!  Everybody wants to be seen and appreciated by another. Authentic Connections is all about Love - in all its forms. So, whether you are blissfully wrapped up in an idyllic romantic relationship or you are helping your neighbor fix a bike, that is love. Savor it! Share it!

With a tight hug!

 

-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox

Restaurant Pet Peeves

Restaurant Pet Peeves

5/19/2017

Authentic Connections is constantly working to meet new people throughout the NC Triangle in order to increase our pool of wonderful singles.  Recently, I (Kate) met a fellow named George who has been a restaurant manager for over 25 years here in our lovely state. George and I talked about restaurants that might be good for Mother’s Day and his advice was to treat my mother to a home-cooked meal!!  Because of the multiple college graduations going on simultaneously, there are few seats available at our local eateries. George also complained about Mother’s Day bringing out all the “amateurs” to his restaurant. I was VERY curious about this and asked him to tell me about signs of being an unsophisticated diner:  He came up with the following top ten list that you might find interesting. Ever the psychologist and Wanna-Be-Eternal-Optimist, I have followed each item in italics with a George-Approved solution so you don’t fall into the “inexperienced diner” category anymore.

Top 10 Restaurant Pet Peeves Your Server Won’t Tell You

George:  #1 Faking Food Allergies: Please do not claim to be “deathly allergic” to certain ingredients if you simply prefer to avoid certain foods. Implying that the server and kitchen staff is responsible for your survival, when in fact, you simply “Don’t like onions”, is completely unacceptable!

Kate:  Our dear friend, Ruth, has extreme food sensitivities and she simply brings her own food to events.  If you are going to meet a group at a restaurant, buy what you can eat off the menu or ask for reasonable accommodations.  If you eat ahead of time and don’t eat the restaurant food, you should still tip your server as you would have if you had eaten a meal.

 

George:  #2 Ready, Set, Stop!!: Please don’t frantically flag down your server and say you are “ready to order” if you aren’t.  It is OK to ask questions about the menu, but you need to place your order without staring into the menu for another 5 minutes as the server stands idly by.  This wastes the server’s time and affects other diners. Super pet peeve: Don’t try to order while on your phone. Most servers are trained to walk away if you are on your phone.

Kate:  If you are an inexperienced diner like me, you might want to review the menu on-line before you get to a restaurant, especially if you are on a first date.  If you do your homework, you’ll reduce at least one form of stress on that first date.

 

George:  #3 Whine about Wine:  If you are not a wine drinker, DO NOT order wine! Busy restaurants suffer severely due to servers scrambling to provide inexperienced wine drinkers with multiple samples of wine that will eventually be rejected by guests at the cost of the restaurant.

Kate: My solution:  get a glass of wine, just don’t expect it to change your life.  It is a learning experience! If you make a bad choice out of ignorance, don’t make that someone else’s problem.  Just learn and move on. To really improve your skills, take a wine tasting class where the whole purpose is to give you a chance to sip lots of varieties of wines so you know what you like.  Authentic Connections is hoping to offer such a class in the next few months. Stay posted!

 

George:  #4 Food Poisoning: Unless you have specifically been diagnosed by a licensed physician with this condition, and you have undeniable evidence that a particular dining establishment is to blame, do not call with your complaints or spread rumors that restaurant XYZ caused your GI distress! Stomach bugs are rampant all year round and affect everyone! Wash your hands!

Kate:  I do remember that correlation does not equal causation. Germs are truly everywhere.  Obviously, cooked foods are less likely to cause you a problem than uncooked.

 

George:  #5 Read Your Menu: Pay attention to menu descriptions and ingredients. It costs restaurants thousands of dollars per year when patrons send back $30 entrées in exchange for another because they simply want “something else” or they didn’t pay attention to the ingredients listed on the menu.

Kate: For most of us over 40, bring your readers.  Many menus have small print and restaurants often have low lighting.  Know what you are getting!

 

George:  #6 Restrooms: Seriously? What the hell is going on in there?

Men: Are you freakin’ blind?   Women: I’m simply speechless.

Kate:  George would not elaborate (thank goodness!), but we’ve all seen horrors with our own eyes.  If you clog the toilet, do not allow your personal embarrassment to prevent you from doing the right thing.  Let the management know so they can do something about it. Better yet, fix the problem yourself if you can.

 

George:  #7 We’ve got a stake in your steak:  Let’s make sure we are all singing out of the same hymnbook. This is the International code of red meat preparation:

Rare: Cool red center

Medium Rare: Warm red center

Medium: Hot Pink center

Medium Well: Thin pink center

Well Done: No Color. Fully Grey!

 If you ask for something like “rare to medium rare”, you will get rare.

Kate:  Learn how you like your meat cooked so you can ask for that with confidence.  Practice at home.

 

George:  #8 The “Bad Day” Syndrome: If you’ve had a bad day, or, if your life just sucks in general, please leave that at the front door. We are not licensed psychologists, nor can we administer lethal doses of poison at your request.

Kate:  If you are truly out of sorts, it might be a good day to get take-out, have a pizza delivered, or eat ice cream right out of the carton! If a nice meal might improve your outlook, go out and allow yourself to be cheered by nice people who really want you to have a great experience.

 

George:  #9 Take Out Orders: Calling in for a 10 item pick up order at 12:15 p.m. during Mother’s Day Brunch?  If you think your order will magically leapfrog the two-hour wait at the front door, you clearly need some schooling.

Kate:  ‘Nuff said.

 

George:  #10 Mass Media: The posting of unreasonably exaggerated complaints and unsubstantiated poor reviews on Yelp, Yahoo, City Search, etc. is truly the most unacceptable empowerment of the dining community. 70% of Americans are classified as “inexperienced diners,” yet many voice uninformed opinions which can really hurt businesses.  

Kate:  Perhaps there are better ways to channel our BFOs (Big Fat Opinions) than blasting an eating establishment on the internet.  If we are all following the Golden Rule (as 90% of people believe they are), we should privately let the management know of any problems encountered at their restaurant.  This gives them a chance to make corrections and allows them to stay in business – which benefits us all.

 

George: Thanks for your time. I hope y’all learned a little something’.

Kate:  Thanks for the great advice, George!

 

I hope this information was helpful to our readers whether you are single or “attached.”  Almost all first dates happen in restaurants, so you might as well get schooled in the proper way to handle yourself while you are there so you make a good impression!

-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox