Interview With Lyndsey Fraser: Sharing Her Thoughts on Discussing Relationship Expectations, Dealing With a Ticking Biological Clock and Much More
1. They say, “Opposites extract”, in the dating world and relationships do opposites really attract and when they do how successful usually are those relationships?
It is true that opposites attract but from my experience no more so than couples with similar personalities.
In opposite couples, the individuals complement each other. Our perceived weaknesses are often are opposite’s strengths. We are attracted to this as it completes the areas of ourselves that we find lacking. These relationships can be difficult to maintain unless there is open communication about needs and desires in the relationship.
As opposites your framework of the world may be different and difficult to comprehend which can lead to conflict.
I tell my clients that it is important to avoid making assumptions of what our partner is thinking or what behavior may mean. To assist in the success of this type of a relationship, it is important to check in on assumptions and assure that each of you in the relationship are in agreement of what the relationship should look like.
2. How important is chemistry for a relationship to succeed long term. One of the problems our women subscribers face is that men with whom they share great chemistry seem to be either players, jerks or commitment phoebes while there is hardly any chemistry with nice guys who treat them with respect, love and kindness.
So when they are with the former, there is a lot of drama and unpredictability which makes the relationship exciting and fun but they never last long whereas with the latter they feel the relationship is too predictable and boring.
Chemistry is an important aspect of a long term relationship as it makes the relationship lasting.
But I would not agree that drama and unpredictability is a product of good chemistry. Chemistry is the initial “spark” we feel in the beginning of the relationship that can result in a lasting connection.
A relationship with a lot of drama or unpredictability could create an insecure attachment which can be perceived as chemistry, but in reality is not.
What actually may be occurring in these types of relationships is that we are repeating relationship patterns that you have seen played out in your immediate family or extended family members relationships, possibly your own relationship with your parent.
We can unknowingly repeat these patterns and be “attracted” to partners that play out this insecure attachment.
What I would encourage you to do is to look at your family of origin relational patterns to see if you might be repeating them. Sometimes once you are aware of this pattern you might be more attracted to a partner who is stable and secure. If you find that you have difficulty changing this pattern or attraction I would encourage you to seek out a therapist to assist. Relational patterns can be difficult to shift!
3. Some of our women subscribers tell us that they are not happy with the way they look and feel they have to constantly compete with younger, slimmer and fitter women all the time. The feeling of not being enough- not beautiful enough, not confident enough and not worthy enough seems to be reinforced again and again in their mind. Some of them are almost resigned to the fact that they simply can’t get any decent men unless you are young and beautiful.
Do you have any suggestions regarding how they can shift their limiting and flawed beliefs especially when some of these beliefs may be rooted back to childhood?
Most people are their own worst critic.
An example of this attitude can be seen in the Dove experiment as part of their beauty campaign (http://mashable.com/2013/04/15/dove-ad-beauty-sketches/). In this experiment women are asked to describe themselves to an artist. The artist cannot physically see the women and draws their pictures based on their descriptions.
Then other individuals who met these women in the waiting room were asked to describe them for the artist.
All of the women described themselves as less attractive than the strangers. I find this attitude to be common amongst my clients as well.
I believe that being attractive can be based as much on confidence as it is on physical beauty.
Even the most beautiful woman in the room is not approachable if she lacks confidence. You can build confidence by recognizing your strengths and accentuating them. And remember that different men have different tastes. There is not a single definition of beauty!
4. It’s interesting when you point out how we can misconstrue chemistry. It seems what you are talking about is just because you are attracted towards a certain person or a certain personality doesn’t necessarily mean, it’s chemistry but it could be your self-sabotaging relationship patterns that are drawing towards a certain person or personality.
Say a woman has a history of attracting players, I guess she might be attracted to their cocky behavior and confidence. And I guess it’s possible to attribute this attraction as chemistry.
A common problem some of our women subscribers face is falling too quickly for the guy they like. How important is it to grow the relationship at the right pace and can you point out the dangers of developing feelings too quickly towards the other person?
Yes, this would be true. Often we attempt to repeat patterns of relationships we have observed and not all of these patterns are healthy.
Until we are aware of this pattern we often continue to repeat it, misconstruing it for chemistry.
We may have observed men in our past, as early as childhood, that were cocky and confident. This experience could shape our expectation as to what a man should be like in a relationship. This expectation can lead you to believe that you’re right for someone that you really are not compatible with.
It is important to grow the relationship at the right pace or you run the risk of developing a false sense of chemistry.
One exercise I give clients is to create a list of what an ideal relationship would look like. This list includes characteristics we would like to be part of our ideal mate. Some examples on lists include: amount of time together, career aspirations, emotional availability, hobbies/activities, physical affection, power dynamics, support, etc.
After this list is created, highlight things that are not negotiable.
If you find you are negotiating in areas where you said you would not, this might be an indicator that the pattern is being repeated. When we develop feelings too quickly and do not ask the appropriate questions the chemistry may be based on the repetitive cycle.
5. As you mentioned, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You mentioned confidence as an important trait of one’s personality. Do you have any simple exercise or activities that our readers and subscribers can practice everyday that can help improve their self-esteem and confidence?
One of the problems many of my subscribers face is dealing with the negative chatter that constantly makes them feel inadequate, insecure and unworthy.
One common technique, from Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, is to keep a journal of thoughts.
With these thoughts I encourage my client’s to challenge them. For instance, let’s take a thought such as “I should be thinner so that men will find me attractive.” With this thought I will have you make three other statements that are also true and argue against your initial thought.
Here is an example of one statement that I might say to this distorted thought: Some men like a more curvaceous body and if I were thinner I might miss out on this population.
If we write down three statements we can change the way we think and encourage more positive thoughts to form. When my clients do this on a consistent basis their self-esteem increases and they develop more confidence.
6. Some of my subscribers are very aware of a ticking biological clock and they have a limited window to get married and start a family. Often these women are under a lot of pressure due to time constraints and find it difficult to enjoy the dating process.
They seem to be almost always be on high guard, constantly evaluating and judging men and trying to figure out if he would be a good future husband.
It is interesting that you bring this up as this hits home for me. I am currently a woman in my mid-thirties who is not married and without children. The ticking biological clock is a societal pressure.
We know that woman can have children well into their 40s, I actually know a few woman who are expecting their first child after the age of 40. The question I ask is, “is it more important to find a man to have children with or a partner who is a good fit?”
I decided long ago that finding the right partner was more important than the family for me. I believe that if I don’t have the right partner the family will not be a good fit.
The most successful and happy families stem from partners who create and maintain a connection.
I encourage you to live in the moment and to not allow society to dictate when you should be married. After all, even if you meet your partner after your biological clock ends there are always alternative ways to have a family, such as adoption.
7. Another common problem that I hear from a lot of my subscribers is fear of commitment. While there is a section of men who genuinely fear commitment just as some women do, it seems the problem of commitment that I hear from my subscribers is when he is open to the idea of settling down and wanting to get married or when he says I love you but I am not ready or when he develops cold feet or becomes silent when the conversation comes up. Needless to say, getting married is a very big decision and one of the most important decisions.
How can women have a conversation that can figure out the fear or concerns they may have without coming across as someone pushy, persuasive or issuing ultimatums?
It is important to discuss your relationship expectations in the beginning of dating.
Many women are afraid to tell a man up front about their intentions in fear of pushing the man away. The difficulty is if you are not straight forward in the beginning you may find yourself in a relationship that is not ideal. There are just as many men as women who want to get married; as there are who prefer casual relationships.
If you are up front with your intentions you are more likely to find someone that is compatible with you. This may mean that a few dating relationships will not last after the first date, but isn’t that better than wasting time in a relationship that will eventually end?
You should not go into a relationship hoping that the man will change.
Women often notice qualities in a man they dislike and hope it will change when they are in a serious relationship with him. This is rarely the case. I gave the ideal relationship exercise above in question four. This exercise is a great format for asking questions about relationship expectations.
You can take aspects of your ideal relationship and ask your potential partner the essential questions, including the marriage question. This will result in getting a relationship that is a good fit as you will have laid out your expectations in the beginning.
If a partner wants the same things as you he will stick around and it will not feel persuasive or pushy.
I also want to note that many relationship patterns can be successful. I specialize in a therapy practice where many of my couples are not in a traditional marriage including dating, living together, same-sex, multiple partners, divorcing, and separating. I want to encourage all of you to strive for the relationship pattern that is right for you. Marriage may not be the right path and that is okay. But if you do want marriage don’t be afraid to ask.
8. Along those lines, how can women encourage men to be vulnerable? Men are taught to be competitive, tough and be manly which sometimes makes it difficult for them to truly express what they feel and be vulnerable. They have a hidden fear that by sharing their true feelings they would be considered weak and feeble. What are some ways to allow men to deeply connect with men emotionally?
I come across this often with men in therapy and I tell them that being competitive, tough, and manly is great in society but not great in relationships.
Maintaining these attitudes can be mentally straining on men and relationships are the one place you can break from the societal constraints. When men are vulnerable both partners feel closer and more connected.
One interesting aspect of most men is that their emotional needs are met through sexual intimacy and physical touch, whereas women are often the opposite.
Most women need emotional intimacy before they want physical intimacy. So I tell my men when you are more emotionally vulnerable your partner will want to be more physically intimate which results in more emotionally intimacy for him.
Note: Physical intimacy is not just sexual intercourse.
It is the physical touch and closeness that can also include sexual intercourse. Men feel closer through physical touch. This can include scratching the head, touching his back, rubbing his leg, and kissing his neck.
9. Relationship deal breakers usually vary for each woman. Are there any core values that you recommend women to focus on that can help them attract better quality men and helps them stay away from toxic men?
Women should focus on what they want in a relationship.
I don’t know if there is a list I can give to every woman because every individual will have different needs. One core value I believe needs to be present is trust and transparency.
If this is not present in a relationship it is very likely that the relationship will become toxic. One thing that is evident in successful relationship is the more vulnerable each individual is in the relationship the more connected and successful the relationship will become.
10. Do you have any books or programs or other resources that you would recommend to my subscribers that would help them create better and more fulfilling relationships?
Here are some books I would recommend:
This book has very good information on how to make relationships work and what to causes relationships to end. Even though it is directed towards married couples it has a lot of practical skills anyone can use.
This book provides practical tips on how to make love last.
I recommend this book because most couples do not know how to talk about sex. This book assists you in how to bring up the topic of sex and have a more satisfying sex life.
About Lyndsey Fraser
Lyndsey Fraser is a licensed marriage and family therapist who is experienced in helping people find healthy relationships. She emphasizes a collaborative approach in a transparent and interactive environment where each client’s experience is personalized and tailored to his or her own needs. She has experience with many relational issues for couples of all backgrounds including: dating, living together, engaged, married, separating, divorcing, and same-sex.
To learn more about Lyndsey Fraser, MA, LMFT you can go to her website at www.relationalconnections.com.