Interview With Marilyn Belleghem: Sharing Her Thoughts on Attracting Love, Cultivating Intimacy and Much More
1. 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?
It is important for you to know what you want from a relationship.
Many women believe they need to please a man and expect that if they please him he will meet their wants and needs. This is especially severe for women who have been abandoned by a man who left them for another woman.
Feelings of insecurity, of not being good enough, can be overwhelming.
Thoughtless comments by friends and family can make it worse. The words; “If only I ….” can get stuck in their minds.
This loop in thinking can be stopped by making a list of all the words that complete that sentence. Take time to get a good list. It may include items about sexual activities, housekeeping, money management and family and friends.
Once you have at least ten items on your list go over the items one by one and ask yourself if the things he expected are things that matter to you.
Are his comments justified? Are any of them areas you want to improve? Some are likely to be about things you don’t want to do or don’t believe are part of who you want to be as a woman. Getting to know your Self is an important part of developing a well functioning relationship with a man.
Grieving a former relationship takes time. The longer the relationship lasted and the more intensely you were committed to it, the longer it will take to work through the process of letting go.
You need to let go of your attachment to the man but also to the woman you were in that relationship. It is time to reinvent your Self! You can become the woman you want to be. Who is she?
Well functioning relationships involve two adults who choose to share their lives.
Don’t aim to find a man to please. Don’t expect to find a man whose aim in life is to please you. That is because the one who is trying to please can be manipulated by the other by changing their expectations. No matter how hard the pleaser tries to please the other person will not let the pleaser be successful because it lessens their power.
Jumping into a new relationship can be part of your healing journey if you both understand that as you heal you may grow apart. Don’t expect the first relationship to be a forever relationship. Take your time to choose wisely.
Do you believe you can choose who you want to spend your time with? Often women believe they must wait to be chosen. Waiting to be chosen will never get you the man you really want.
Look realistically at the way you express your emotions.
Are you able to control what you say and do when you are in an emotional state? Getting feedback from a trusted friend on how honest you are with your emotions can be enlightening.
Being able to understand your emotional reactions and looking at how you use emotions can help you find an emotionally compatible man.
Women can ask themselves; Am I an emotional manipulator? Men tend to avoid women who try to control them with emotional manipulation.
Beware of the man who tries to manipulate you emotionally.
If he seems too good to be true, saying the things you love to hear, focusing on you while giving little information about himself, he probably is not good relationship material. Well functioning relationships allow both people to be their authentic selves with no hidden agendas and no lies. Lies kill love!
When looking for a new relationship it is wise to have a criteria list.
Make a list from the characteristics of men with whom you have had relationships in the past. This can include your father, brother, friends and former romantic relationships.
Make this list as detailed as possible and put the most important traits at the top of the list.
1. Non smoker
2. Financially responsible
3. Enjoys dogs
6. And lots more…
If you create this list on your computer you will find the process much easier as you can refine your list quickly. Save your list entitled My Ideal Man Master List or something that you can easily find. Then make a copies saving them with the name of the man you are dating, were married to, or have just met.
This will help you see how a former husband or boyfriend did or didn’t meet your wants and desires.
If he was a great dad but he was a cheater to you add the best of his qualities and turn the negatives into positives. Instead of cheater put trustworthy or faithful on your list of expectations for the new man.
Make a copy of the same list and save it with your own name.
How many of the qualities you want in a man are you able to say describe you? If you want a man who is financially responsible are you mature about your money? Why would a financially responsible man want an financially irresponsible woman? Believe me he wouldn’t. Having a realistic list of what you bring to your relationship is part of your Self confidence.
Well functioning relationships are created by people who have common goals, beliefs and values.
This doesn’t mean that you both have to love the same sports, entertainment activities or type of friends. Independent time with individual interests can enrich your relationship and help you hold onto the essence of you when you are with him.
If you want a man to cook you need to look your own cooking skills and have a realistic sense of what you expect. Do you expect him to do all the cooking? Some men would love this while others would refuse. Do you expect him to also do all the cleaning up? What chores are you prepared to do in exchange for a man meeting your expectations?
Anger comes when expectations aren’t met.
Having clear expectations of each other can result in making a deal of how the relationship will work. Well functioning relationships have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities each will accept. When the deal stops working because one of you doesn’t keep to their part of it, change the deal. Sometimes deals need to change as circumstances change so be open and flexible.
Taking a practical approach to looking for a new man helps diminish the emotional attachments to the past.
2. Another common problem women tend to face in relationships is receiving love. In general, women tend to be more comfortable giving love than receiving it. Can you help us understand why women find it difficult to receive love? Is it because deep inside they feel they feel guilty or not worthy or deserving of love?
Loving someone involves having an open mind and heart to the one you love.
The first stage of romantic love is about fantasy and fun. Once responsibilities are shared the romance lessens and a deeper sharing of your Self develops. Opening up to another adult involves risking criticism and rejection.
Being vulnerable can be frightening if your heart has been bruised by former relationships.
Letting a man onto your intimate mental and emotional space gives him power. The more he earns your trust the more you will feel safe opening to his love. He will earn your trust by not belittling your thoughts and feelings, remembering things you share and sharing his inner Self with you.
Longing to be loved means different things to each person.
Being loved isn’t about a man reading your mind, buying you gifts, or always agreeing with you. A loving relationship is about feeling safe, supported and secure with each other.
3. Healthy boundaries are a must in every relationship, but some women aren’t quite sure about how and when to discuss boundaries in a relationship. Some may have never had such conversations and they aren’t sure what to talk about. Should boundaries be discussed as and when a woman sees issues or red flags or should they be addressed upfront?
One concern women express is that they feel they may come across as someone uptight and controlling if they discuss boundaries upfront. Can you share your thoughts and insights?
Boundaries are the limits you put on a relationship to maintain your sense of Self.
From the very beginning of a relationship you must set your boundaries and maintain them and lessen them as you are ready. Some men will invade your space with questions that are too intimate, touching you too soon or demanding to know what you are doing and where you are going.
Be aware of your physical limits. Does he invade your space by standing too close, rubbing his leg against yours under a dinner table or grabbing your hand. Boundaries can be set verbally by saying what you want. For example; “Please don’t touch my hair.”
Don’t make excuses for a man who is aggressive physically. He will escalate unless you are firm.
Many women believe they have to answer questions if a man asks. Keeping your personal information private until you decide to share is vital to maintaining your sense of safety. Don’t answer financial questions, details about the people in your life or places you like to go until you have developed some trust with a new man.
You want to be in control of your Self.
He may say you are uptight. You can respond by telling him you are maintaining your individuality and right to live by your rules.
The more you are aware of your comfort zones the more you will be able to assert your limits. Respecting a man’s boundaries is part of developing a relationship you can both find safe.
4. Another common problem we hear from our subscribers is the fear of being alone and never finding the right man. This is especially common as women enter into their thirties. They see their friends getting married and even having kids, they are asked by friends and family when they are going to get married and they feel the pressure of a ticking biological clock. In the process, they approach their relationships from a place of fear, worry and anxiety.
Instead of enjoying their dates and conversing with men, they tend to interrogate them so that they can stop wasting their time and weed off the wrong men. They tend to fall too hard and too fast in love when they find a man they like but often that scares men away.
What advice do you have for women who approach relationships from a place of worry and how can they shift from a clingy, desperate vibe to an empowered, joyful zone?
Women who know they want to have children should add that to their list of criteria so that when they start to discover more about a man they meet they can be honest that children are a part of what they want in their future.
Being acutely aware of the man’s reaction to your information will help you decide if he is looking for a family or an exclusively adult relationship.
Approaching dating as a serious search for a life mate lessens the insecurity as you are being proactive, the one doing the choosing and that is a powerful place to be. Turning an interrogation into casual conversation is a skill well worth practicing. Tone of voice and body language are important. Throwing in some flirtation will help too!
5. From our subscribers, we often hear “lack of chemistry” as a leading reason why they aren’t willing to persist with a man even though he seemed to be a decent guy, treated them with respect and made them feel comfortable.
Can you share your thoughts on chemistry and can attraction grow over time? Is it worth persisting with a man with whom a woman feels comfortable but doesn’t quite share the chemistry?
Chemistry can often be confused with lust.
Responsible adults often withhold their emotional reactions until the intellectual areas of a relationship are clarified. It is easy to lust after someone but that doesn’t mean they are good husband material. Chemistry can be created with trust and having fun together.
Being playful can open up emotional responses that can lead to intense attraction.
It is easy to fall in love with the same man over and over in a functioning relationship. You fall in love with the man then the more you know him you fall in love again. Many women find seeing their husband with their baby is a time of intense love.
When responsibility walks in the door romance flies out the window. To keep the romance alive have time when responsibilities are covered and you are free to be loving and playful.
6. Some of our subscribers have the tendency to ignore and overlook the red flags especially when they really like a man. In the process, they create an idealized version of the man and overestimate the feelings he has for them.
For women who have a history of fantasizing and idealizing a partner, what can they do to evaluate the man and their relationship for what it is truly worth rather than what they ideally like it to be?
Women who overlook the reality of a man ignoring the red flags is often one who wants to get married not be married.
There is a major difference between getting married and being married.
One lasts for a few hours while the other takes a lifetime to develop. Using the criteria list can help keep you on track to find out if this is a man who will be a good life mate rather than just a fun sexy guy for awhile.
Meeting a man’s parents and seeing how his dad, his role model for a husband, behaves will help see what has influenced his life. This works if he has brothers. What kind of husbands are they?
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?
Lasting well functioning relationships are based on trust. Just because two people are married a long time doesn’t mean the relationship is well functioning.
A well functioning relationship allows both parties to grow and change with the support and encouragement of the other. As you discover more about a new man, asking about the issues that are important to you, you can measure his responses and reactions to decide if this is a man with whom you can trust more information.
Don’t disclose too much too fast or you can overwhelm him.
If he is critical rather than curious, horrified rather than understanding or demeaning rather than supportive of your challenges STOP telling him anything more about your life. This is not your man!
In some circumstances he may back off after a big disclosure.
Give him time to digest your story and decide if this is something he can handle. Don’t lie about big issues like being sterile, having a child, having been married or if you have a serious medical issue. He will then see you as a liar. Being a liar may be worse than the truth.
8. 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?
Trying to hold a man by having sex is wrong because it is coming from a motive other than the physical enjoyment of each other. Being sexual before you ask some hard questions puts you in danger of physical problems as well as emotional hurts.
You want to ask the following questions:
1. Are you presently sexual with anyone else? ( Don’t ask if there is another woman because he could be having sexual relations with a man. Too many really nice men hide their homosexual behavior. This is devastating when his wife discovers the truth.)
2. Do you have or have you ever had a sexually transmitted disease?
3. What form of birth control do you prefer to use? (Smart men use condoms even if the woman says she is taking care of birth control. This way he can’t be surprised with a pregnancy he doesn’t want if she is dishonest.)
4. How often would you expect to be sexual if we take our relationship to that stage? Be sure you are sexually compatible by having similar expectations of the part sex will play in your relationship.
You can tell a lot about a man by being sexual.
Is he thoughtful, considerate, selfish, clean, understanding and much more. You can learn a lot about your Self by the way you approach sex. Are you a pleaser even though you don’t like something? Do you respect your Self? You can tell this by the expectations you have of a man. If you have sex before you know if this man meets some of your other criteria you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
If you want to develop an open honest relationship then promising not to be sexual other than with each other is important.
A marriage is a union physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. Marriage can also be a spiritual union, often described as being soul mates.
9. 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 pulls 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?
Some men will suddenly disappear when they think the woman is getting too serious too fast. He may want time to think things over or he may have done this repeatedly with former relationships in his life.
In the early stages of a relationship setting ground rules can help prevent this from happening.
To see if a man can make a deal and keep it, an important skill in a relationship, agree to not stop calling for no reason.
Ask; “Can we agree to tell each other if we want to take a break from our relationship or if we want to end it? Will you be honest with me? Will you give me some reasons why? I will do the same to you. This might not save what we are building but at least it doesn’t leave either one of us hanging.”
10. What are your top 4 relationship tips that you would offer women who are single and looking for a long term committed relationship?
1. Falling in love involves falling in love with who you can be when you are with him. Be aware of how you feel when you are together. If you feel better about the relationship when you are apart than when you are together you are living in a fantasy.
2. Take your time to become the kind of woman who the man you want in your life would choose. Be fun, flirtatious as well as serious. If you are healing from heartache you are more likely to find a rescuer who won’t want you to heal and become the best of your Self.
3. Be aware of the abilities you are offering so you can promote your best qualities to the man of your choice.
4. Be your own best friend. Give your Self encouragement, praise and realistic appraisals of who you are and what you want. It can be much lonelier being in the wrong relationship than being on your own. Find ways to relish solitude as you are the only person who will be in your life from cradle to grave.
About Marilyn Belleghem
Marilyn Belleghem M.Ed. has been a relationship consultant since 1981. Marilyn holds a Master’s Degree in Adult Education and Applied Psychology. She is the author of self-help memoirs that tell her story and include life skills that can be applied to real life situations. Read free chapters at Quest Publishing - www.questpublishing.ca.
To know more about Marilyn, visit her website www.mbcinc.ca.