Interview With Dr. Jeanette Raymond: Sharing Her Thoughts on Overcoming Love Blocks, How To Stop Attracting the Wrong Men and Much More
1. One question we get asked quite often from our subscribers especially from women in their late 30s and above is if there are enough eligible men looking for a serious long term relationship. There seems to be this belief that men around their age group are more interested in younger women.
What advice do you have for women who have a deep rooted skepticism that they can’t find love because of their age and are almost at the point of giving up?
It all depends on the definition of eligible!
If some women are wanting a man with a specific set of criteria then they are limiting their range and choices. So that might make it seem as if the commodity is scarce.
If they just let themselves fall in love without being ruled by a narrow set of criteria they will find someone – a human with flaws, with whom they can forge a partnership that becomes what they strive for. It’s less about “finding a man” than it is about ‘allowing yourself to love someone.”
The advice for women who are skeptics is to examine the really deep blocks within themselves that prevent them from finding anyone.
When they create elaborate structures of criteria that is impossible to fulfill, they must at some level be afraid of connection and/or don’t want to get close in case they get abandoned. Their personal histories will provide the answer.
2. Some of our subscribers feel stuck in their love lives because of their past emotional baggage. This affects them in a number of ways- they either tend to compare the next man they are dating with their ex or they have trust issues because they have been cheated on before or they just cannot seem to forget their ex and move on in life.
What are some practical ways that can help women release their past emotional baggage so that they can start attracting healthy love into their lives?
Being present in the here and now rather than using the past as a barrier to connection is the first place to start.
Everybody has a past, including the men these women are going to meet. You can’t pretend you don’t have a past anymore than the man. So USE IT to connect. Talk and share your past experiences. Share your hurt and pain, because it’s the shared experience of relationship pain that connects people emotionally.
You can’t forget your ex anymore than you can forget you are a woman.
The goal is to use that experience to learn about yourself rather than obsess about your ex. Consider your strengths, your growth and your maturity gained through the relationship with your ex. What did it teach you? That’s a great way of maximizing the positives and minimizing the negatives.
Reframing the ideal type of man you are looking for is next.
Many women who feel stuck are wanting some ‘perfect man’ to walk into their lives and undo all the hurts and wrongs of the past. So going for a human rather than a paragon of virtue is the goal. He may lie from time to time and he may do things you don’t like, but that doesn’t mean you have to split that from all the good things he does and the kindnesses he shows. Think about all the times you lied or didn’t act in a ‘perfect way!’
3. One popular concern that our subscribers have is regarding sharing their feelings with the man they are dating. What we typically find is that when women like the man they are seeing, they tend to avoid bringing up difficult issues and tough conversations because they fear they might lose him. So what they generally tend to do is that they keep it to themselves and give the impression that things are just fine.
For example, they have a fantastic date with a man and he says he will call after a few days. They wait, wait and wait to be disappointed that he didn’t follow up as he said he would. But they are happy when they eventually hear back from him and don’t share how they really felt during the no contact period.
What would your advice be for women who have the fear that sharing feelings and emotions will drive a man away and make them come across as someone clingy and needy?
The one sure way to lose the man you like is to pretend.
Then you are not being yourself, or anything of substance. So why should he call an image? Be open and see how it goes. Do it slowly and get feedback about how it is received. Let him be open and you react – back and forth – in tiny amounts so as not to overwhelm. The aim is to develop an interest in you, not in some pretend person.
It’s the way you disclose information, not the doing of it. Be curious and interested in him and allow him to be curious and interested in you.
Never lie if you didn’t like the food or the venue of the date. Don’t do it just to be polite. It ends up being a charade that neither of you want to repeat. Be yourself and encourage him to do likewise.
Be your own person with your own set of views, tastes and preferences. That’s what will make you come across as grounded and okay in your own skin, while still wanting a connection. You are strong when you want to include someone in your life, but needy when you have no likes or dislikes just to bow down to the other – that’s what comes across as clingy.
4. You mentioned something very interesting- “When they create elaborate structures of criteria that is impossible to fulfill, they must at some level be afraid of connection and/or don’t want to get close in case they get abandoned.” One problem that we hear from our women subscribers is their tendency to fall for the same type of wrong men (players, jerks, addicts, cheaters etc) over and over again. I guess there is a connection between these two.
Most women probably don’t realize that they themselves are emotionally unavailable and it may even come as a shock to them. The common response we hear is “That doesn’t make any sense. I am emotionally available and I very much want to be in a healthy relationship. It’s just that the men I am attracted to turn out to be the wrong ones.” This may happen unconsciously that they may not even be aware of this.
What advice do you have for women who have a history of repeatedly attracting the wrong men and how can they break free from this pattern?
Yes, most women aren’t aware of their unconscious fear of emotional intimacy.
To them being available is being physically present and engaging in the gender specific roles that they ascribe to romantic relationships.
In addition they may be operating with certain rules of dating that work against connection in romantic relationships. Here are some of the videos I made on this topic.
Women pick the same kind of men who appear to be the wrong ones because they get a thrill out of controlling and changing the bad guy ( often like their exes or dads) into a good one. When the get the guy to be who they want that’s when they feel wanted, because they got the guy to do and be what they want.
Good guys are boring because they already treat the woman well, so there is nothing for the woman to do. There is no thrill, and so they don’t value it. They need that excitement and power.
Breaking free is tough because it means giving up excitement, power and control. But if the desire for equality with emotional closeness is greater than the above, then they can make the break and look realistically at the good guys and learn to treasure them as partners, learning to work through the boring aspect.
I have done some videos on this topic
5. Some experts recommend women wait till they get to know the man they are dating and not have sex until you both are committed to exclusivity. Some experts believe you should go with the flow and be spontaneous and not have any rules regarding when you want to sleep with a man.
Can you share your thoughts on the right time to have sex especially if the woman is interested in pursuing a long term committed relationship?
If a woman sleeps with a man in order to make him belong to her it’s not going to help the relationship.
If she sleeps with him because she thinks it’s the only way of hanging on, that she has nothing else he wants, then that too dooms the relationship.
If she sleeps with him to impress him with her love making skills, she won’t develop an emotional connection, because she is showing off.
If she sleeps with him because she is already feeling close and that there is the beginnings of a emotional intimacy it will be absolutely right and natural.
6. Our subscribers also run into a situation where things are going great and just when they think the relationship has great potential or feel he is the one, the man starts developing cold feet. He pull away, doesn’t respond to phone calls or text messages and in some cases disappears for a while.
What advice do you have for women who deal with men that suddenly pull away and act inconsistent?
If the relationship is going well and the man seems to pull away, it can’t have been going that well!
The woman may not be in tune with the man’s experience and imagines that everything is okay because he is performing according to her expectations and rules.
In a truly intimate relationship ( which is what ‘going well’ should mean), she would sense that something was off! So it’s important to keep checking in with her partner and tune into the subtle signs that he is not okay – he may be feeling suffocated or boxed into playing a role in her script.
Men don’t just disappear unless they had tried to give hints that they didn’t like the way things are going.
Perhaps the woman thinks he isn’t into commitment, but it’s more likely that they as a couple haven’t opened up and talked honestly about their views about the relationship and where they want it to go.
7. Can too much honesty negatively affect a relationship especially when you have just started seeing the other person? How much of the past and even the present should you reveal to the man you are dating? Should you share details like cheating in the previous relationship, the fact you are currently seeing a therapist or you are a recovering alcoholic etc? Some of our subscribers have been too honest and in the process lost out on many men because it freaked them out.
Can you share your thoughts on how women can balance the fine line between honesty and giving themselves the chance to date men and pursue a long term committed relationship?
It depends on your anxiety level.
If you are scared that revealing intimate details of the past will end the dating relationship then do it if you are set on sabotaging it and then revel in the relief of saying to yourself, “I knew it would it happen. All men are the same!” The danger is to avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy!
It’s best to take your cue from how comfortable you feel with the guy.
Sometimes you meet someone and it feels like you have known them all your life, so you tell them your personal life story in detail. It feels normal, right and validating. But if you meet someone who you don’t immediately feel simpatico with, take your time. Reveal what is natural as it comes up in conversation.
For example if you are seeing a movie together and there are scenes of infidelity then you can talk about your experience of it – it’s a natural follow on, and doesn’t seem awkward or out of place.
8. What are some best practices when it comes to clearly communicating your deal breakers and boundaries and when should you be having these conversations? I have heard from quite a number of my women subscribers who initially set the bar low and then find it incredibly difficult to raise the bar in the relationship because their partner has been conditioned to the earlier low standard.
Many women find it quite difficult to have these conversations because they fear coming across as someone too uptight and rigid and worry about driving men away.
Again setting limits and boundaries has to be an organic thing.
When you feel you need to set a boundary because you are uncomfortable or threatened in some way, do it. You can talk about it later to explain what gets triggered in you so that the man doesn’t feel like a heel.
If you do it out of context in a fake conversation it comes across as scolding!
You need to take care of yourself in equal quantities to being available for the relationship. It’s not about indulging the man to catch him, but showing him who you are as a person so that you create the possibility of building a solid relationship.
9. Another common problem our women subscribers face is their tendency to lose themselves during the course of the relationship. Usually at the start of the relationship, they are fun, lively and positive that make them attractive to men. But as the relationship progresses, they tend to overwhelm their man and in the process they come across as someone clingy and desperate.
How can women ensure they don’t lose themselves in a relationship?
Attempting to be mindful of yourself and your experience moment-to-moment is a good way to avoid yourself.
When you lose yourself it’s as if you have traveled to a fantasy place and then when you return to reality it’s messy and things fall apart. Practice mindfulness techniques and use them to stay in the present.
Do everyday routine things with your guy to get a flavor of what it would be like living with them when the romance has died down.
Don’t try to force your fairy tale to materialize in the real world. Stay in the present real world, and bring aspects of your fairy tale in for short bursts – like a romantic dinner or writing romantic letters now and again. But keep it separate and stay in the present moment.Being your authentic self will keep your feet on the ground.
Here is an article I have written on mindfulness.
10. What are your top 3 relationship tips that you would offer women who are single and looking for a long term committed relationship?
Be yourself. Don’t try to be what you think a man wants. Never pretend, lie or hide – to avoid causing hurt or to avoid disagreements.
Share your moment to moment experiences and feelings openly – be transparent so that your guy can be too.
Make sure you can accept who the guy is without making him into some prince who is going to rescue you from your misery and unjust childhood experiences, only to disappoint you later on. In addition don’t choose a guy who you think you can change into your idea of perfection.
About Dr. Jeanette Raymond
Dr. Raymond is a clinical psychologist and relationship expert with a private practice in Los Angeles. www.LosAngeleswestsidetherapy.com
She also specializes in anger and stress management due to relationship problems. Learn more at www.drjeanetteraymond.com.