Interview With Sally LeBoy: Sharing Her Thoughts on Dealing with a Ticking Biological Clock, Having Standards and Much More
1. A 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?
I have empathy for women who enter their 30’s without a relationship. While you could find a partner at any stage of your life, there is reality to the biological clock.
To miss out on the chance to have children would be a tremendous loss for many women. That being said, it’s also true that coming at relationships from a place of desperation probably doesn’t bode well for the relationship outcome. It’s not just that men are scared off, it’s also that you are not at your best.
High anxiety impedes your judgment, your creativity and your ability to get to know another person.
If you approach with the fear that you won’t find love, you are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think that most people don’t want to be alone, but it’s really imperative to be able to be alone. Your best defense against desperation is liking your own company, finding activities that you are passionate about and creating meaningful friendships. When you feel good and confident about yourself, you won’t settle for an inadequate partner.
Being on your own beats the unhappiness that inevitably accompanies a troubled marriage.
And women have children without men. It’s not easy, but then having children is never easy. Having children with the right partner is wonderful, but having children with the wrong partner sets you and your kids up for a lifetime of problems.
2. From our subscribers, we often hear “lack of chemistry” as a leading reason why they aren’t willing to go out on a second date with a man even though he seemed to be a decent guy and they were comfortable and treated with respect during the first date.
Can you share your thoughts on chemistry- how important is it for a relationship to succeed long term and can chemistry grow over time? Is it worth persisting with a man with whom a woman feels comfortable but doesn’t quite share the chemistry?
Relationships need chemistry.
While chemistry may wane or change over the lifetime of a relationship, that rush of chemical excitement is what propels us to want to get to know someone better and explore the possibility for a relationship.
What creates good chemistry?
I don’t think anyone really knows. I think some of it has to do with the parent who was our first love object in our families of origin.
For women this love object was probably their father. I have always been attracted to dark-haired men. While I can recognize that a blond man is good looking, I seldom feel a chemical attraction to him. My father is dark and my husband is dark. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
We probably enter the world of dating somewhat hard-wired to a certain type of man.
Some of that attraction is physical, but it can also be related to less obvious characteristics. Meeting a man who compliments your role in your family of origin can be very attractive. You know how to relate to this type of man. He makes you feel appreciated and competent. That comfort could translate into chemistry.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you grew up in a fairly healthy family this man will probably work well for you.
However, most of us have probably experienced a “fatal” attraction to the wrong kind of guy. Your head tells you “no”, but your heart says ”yes”. While this probably also has to do with family of origin dynamics, it really doesn’t matter.
Your head is a much better judge of who will make a good mate than your heart.
Listen to the head! Because the heart is so fickle, I do think it’s worthwhile to try to get to know a man who may not make your stomach do flips but does fit the criteria for a good mate. If chemistry never develops, you may need to move on.
But it’s possible that intelligence, a good sense of humor, and shared interests and values could ignite that extra little spark you need to say, “This is the one”.
So I’m in favor of the second date and maybe even the third. You don’t really have anything to lose, and possibly a lot to gain.
3. Some of our subscribers hesitate to share their honest feelings especially as they are getting to know a man and want to grow the relationship. This hesitation comes from the fear that they may come across as someone too emotional and needy and feel that it may push the many away. So they don’t raise the issues and avoid tough conversations because they want to be the “cool” girl.
Here are some examples: she goes out on a date and he says he will call her but he doesn’t. She is disappointed when he doesn’t and doesn’t discuss this when she hears back from him. Other examples are not calling ahead of time when he is running late or not making plans for a date etc.
What advice do you have for women who have issues that they want to discuss with their man but have troubles expressing them because of the fear of coming across as a nag or needy or demanding?
How sad that behaving like a doormat could be deemed “cool”. This ridiculous definition has to be perpetrated by men and shame on women who buy into it!
What is cool about accepting disrespectful behavior?
And perhaps more importantly, who would want to be in a relationship with a disrespectful man? You will get treated exactly in accordance with your own standards. If you don’t think you deserve to be called when someone is running late; if you accept being stood up; if it’s okay with you to drop you life for a last minute “date”, then that’s what you’ll get.
There are plenty of men out there who know how to treat a woman.
They define themselves as respectful and courteous in their relationships with people, both women and men. These are the men that you want to meet and cultivate both as friends and as potential partners.
What is there to be afraid of when talking about your standards?
That you’ll push some guy away who is hoping to meet a woman with whom he doesn’t have to behave? Why would you lower your standards to become acceptable to this type of person?
Having standards is not “emotional or needy”.
Standards indicate self-respect. This is exactly what you want to convey because how you define yourself is directly correlated with whom you will attract.
Personally, I wouldn’t even have a conversation with someone who ever treated me with disrespect. There is no excuse for bad behavior and you expressing your feelings about it won’t change a thing. Most people show you who they are right from the get go. Making excuses because you hope it will get better is just a waste of your precious time.
4. 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?
Our histories, all of our personal information, exist on a continuum from need to know to none of your business.
It seems to me that timing plays an important role in what we share. In the beginning we are usually looking at issues of attraction and shared interests. It’s important to be honest about this or you’ll end up involved in a life-style that really doesn’t suit you.
Until you’re pretty certain that the relationship could be going somewhere, and that your partner is worthy of your trust, it’s probably premature to share a lot of personal information. However, if the relationship is getting sexual, which could be as early as the first date, health information does need to get addressed right away.
Sometimes people share personal information prematurely to create an illusion of intimacy.
Likewise partners demand information in order to feel a sense of safety or control. Neither of those tactics work. Sharing personal information is an evolving part of a process based on trust. Building trust takes time; it can’t be rushed.
The intimacy in your relationship will be formed in large part as a result of what you each choose to share and how that information is treated.
Overall, I think the decision to share is up to each partner. As with all decisions, it should be thoughtful, not emotional, a choice rather than an obligation.
5. A common problem that we hear often from our subscribers is a feeling of being inadequate and unworthy especially as they age. Women feel anxious and stressed as they compare their bodies and looks to the younger women and unfortunately believe they aren’t able to attract men into their lives because they aren’t physically attractive. Some of our subscribers confess that they hate their bodies and feel undesirable and unattractive whenever they look in the mirror.
Can you share your advice on what women can do to shift their negative self-talk and how they can be more self-accepting and start loving their bodies?
If physical beauty were the only criteria for being in a relationship, there would be a lot of single people.
But it isn’t. I admit being pretty can give you a leg up. At the bar, the prettiest girl will probably get more attention. But that’s because it’s the only attribute that’s visible.
We are far more than our looks.
We don’t even choose how we look. Beauty is a gift much like any talent we are fortunate enough to be born with. Our beauty doesn’t really reflect on our character. Character is something that we grow ourselves. We are responsible for our character, and as such we can take credit for it.
Focusing on your own efforts to grow should lead to self-confidence.
Confidence is hugely attractive. People are drawn to confident people. If you believe that you are valuable, others will value you too.
Our most important qualities are actually concealed by the face. No matter how attractive, if there isn’t much interesting going on inside, attraction begins to wane. Only the most superficial of men will settle for beauty over substance. It’s just too boring! Men that superficial are not who you’re looking for anyway. Interesting men are attracted women who share their interests, passions and ideals.
When you think of how long you are likely to live, would you want to spend your life with a pretty face but an empty head? Oh and by the way, we’re all going to get old. Botox will only take you so far. Beauty is fleeting; brains and heart last a lifetime.
6. 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?
I am assuming that all of our readers are 18 years or older, so even if I told you when to have sex, you probably wouldn’t pay any attention to me. That’s probably a good thing because adults should do what they want minus any harm being done.
I think making the decision to have sex has some consequences, and both partners should consider those consequences. When you’ve considered the consequences, you can make your own decision.
Maybe that’s a good starting place: “Your own decision”.
Having sex should be because you want to, not because you feel pressured by your partner. You don’t have sex to please anyone but yourself. You don’t have sex to be popular, or to get the guy. If you’re being pressured into sex, you are with the wrong guy!
Sex means different things to different people.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with casual sex, in engaging in it you may be giving up the ability to connect sex to love. This may or may not matter to you, but if it does, you may want to consider developing an emotional connection to your partner(s) before having sex.
I still think there is a difference between how men and women experience sex. I don’t think that’s the way it should be, but I think in general that’s the way it is.
Women tend to feel more emotionally attached to people they have sex with.
Some men feel this too, but many are able to engage in casual sex with no emotional repercussions. I think this difference is hard-wired and has to do with ancient biological roles. While gender roles have evolved in today’s modern world, it’s hard to completely override instincts that are millions of years old.
Sex has meaning, and figuring out what it means to you is an important part of your self-definition. Never let anyone else define you and that includes your sex life.
7. 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?
Unless you are the “Bubble Boy” you will have baggage. Even he must have baggage (isolation issues, etc.). Everyone has baggage, and the longer you live the more you accumulate.
Baggage has a bad reputation.
It implies that you are so stuck in the past that you can’t move forward. Although that can happen, it’s likelier that your history has taught you valuable life lessons and equipped you to make better choices going forward.
Remembering the past is linked to our survival as a species. If we didn’t remember, it would be a kind of “Groundhog Day”, endlessly repeating the same scenarios.
Most importantly we wouldn’t learn from our mistakes. That ranges from sad to fatal. The important piece is to let our mistakes teach us, not define us.
I have noticed that as people get older they don’t take as much time to enter into relationships. I think people come to know themselves better and can spot trouble faster. They also know what works for them and what doesn’t. Think of the crushes you had in high school. I’ll bet 95% of us are very glad we didn’t end up with that handsome, but shallow guy. All of this learning is a result of your baggage.
Instead of pretending that you don’t have baggage, embrace it.
Let yourself look back and understand what happened. Figure out what needs to be different in order to not repeat the same mistakes. You can do this on your own or with a professional. Therapists are good at recognizing your blind spots. They can help you see where and why you might get tripped up.
Remember that if you didn’t have baggage, you wouldn’t really be living. Making mistakes means you are taking important risks. Mistakes are inevitable and a crucial part of the growth process.
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.
Communication is one of the important ways we let people know who we are.
There is never a reason to fudge on this information. Setting out your expectations and limits from the get-go is insurance that you won’t waste of lot of time and energy on the wrong person.
If someone is scared off by knowing who you are, they are the wrong person for you.
People who are serious about a relationship want to know what you’re about. That way they too can know if you are a good match.
Communication doesn’t change anything.
It just gets it out there. I realize that you won’t communicate your deepest feelings on your first date. That date is probably about seeing if there’s any chemistry or any type of attraction between you.
It’s usually when a woman feels the chemistry that she gets scared that if she’s honest she’ll lose him. I can’t stress enough how much heartache and aggravation results from pretending you’re ok with things that you’re not.
Never put up with bad behavior.
Rudeness, inconsiderateness, selfishness, put-downs (the list goes on) should not be tolerated ever. Don’t make excuses, because there are no excuses for bad behavior. If he behaves badly at the beginning, it will only get worse. And the longer you wait to draws a line, the more involved you might be, making it harder for you to get out.
What are deal breakers? Monogamy, marriage, children, religion are a few.
Everyone’s deal breakers are different. Again, you’re not going to talk much about the future on your first date. But if you are looking for a Christian and he’s a Buddhist, it’s probably not going to work.
People who want to be in a relationship will really stretch their limits trying to find a way to make it work.
My experience is that letting down your standards or minimizing your needs just prolongs the inevitable. You may get married, but you won’t be happy. Have the courage of your convictions! There is probably somebody out there for you, and on the slim chance that there isn’t, you will be a lot happier alone than spending your life with the wrong person.
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?
There can be so many reasons why a person might cool towards a relationship. However, there are a couple of real red flags in this scenario.
The first red flag is how quickly the man seems to attach to you.
Let’s face it. It takes a long time to really get to know somebody. While an attraction can be strong, if he is quickly “that much into you”, you might consider that he loves the chase and loves the whirlwind romance, but realistically he can’t possibly yet love you. This focus on the chase and the romance is a sign of emotional immaturity.
It’s also a sign of narcissism. This man isn’t considering the impact of his actions on you. He’s only concerned about enjoying himself. Once the fun fades or you begin to appropriately ask for more commitment, he cools off, withdraws and probably exits the relationship all together.
The second red flag is the abrupt withdrawal.
If there is a relationship problem he should be talking to you about it. He should be showing some signs that he’s unhappy about something so that you also can address it. Big problems don’t generally come out of nowhere. His lack of communication again indicates immaturity and narcissism.
This man is bad news and there is nothing you can do about it. It’s flattering to feel so wanted, and romance is always hard to resist. Try to calm your emotions and listen to the logic provided by your big, wonderful frontal cortex. You know that true intimacy is a process that takes time. All of the flowers, gifts, dinners and even hot sex will not create a lasting bond. Unless you’re just out for a good time, steer clear.
10. What are your top 4 relationship tips that you would offer women who are single and looking for a long term committed relationship?
I have thought long and hard about what would be the four most important tips for women wanting a long-term committed relationship.
While there is so much information to consider, I will try to give my top four. Here goes:
1. Work on yourself
No amount of window dressing will conceal for long a person with a shaky sense of self. Your solid sense of self is the foundation for everything you do in life, including choosing a mate. Building a solid sense of self is a life-long process of self-observation and self-awareness.
It’s a commitment to taking personal responsibility for your choices and managing your own emotional reactivity. This is how you prepare yourself for both choosing and being a healthy partner, and for creating a healthy relationship.
2. Don’t look to others for validation:
Because we grow up dependent on our parents for validation, some of us have difficulty looking inside ourselves for answers. We turn to others just as we did as children and we fail to become independent, self-sufficient adults. Being dependent on external validation leaves you completely vulnerable to the feelings, needs and opinions of other people. This is a terrible way to live.
If you feel uncertain about who you are, what you think and what you want, it’s difficult to chart a satisfying course through life. You will also be vulnerable to controlling men. In the absence of a strong sense of self, there will always be someone more than happy to tell you what to think and what to do.
Don’t be afraid to make your own mistakes. It’s a normal and important part of becoming a thoughtful, independent, human being; it’s how you learn. Knowing yourself and being able to define yourself will help you to choose the right mate.
3. Be able to be alone:
I think most human beings are drawn to finding a mate. It’s a biological imperative, even if we don’t decide to have children. In prehistoric times, a person on his/her own would not have survived for long.
Although today people can survive perfectly well on their own, most of us would rather share our lives with someone. We can get really lonely; we want to be with someone to share life’s experiences as well as its burdens. That being said, if you can’t be alone, you will settle.
Settling for the wrong person sets you up for a lifetime of unhappiness.
I think being with the wrong person is actually lonelier than being alone! Learn to cultivate good friends, find interests and passions; find valuable work. If you create a full life for yourself, you will not want to sacrifice it to be with a man. You will be able to evaluate potential partners from the standpoint of personal satisfaction rather than desperate need.
It can be difficult to learn, but being alone is the best insurance that you won’t end up with the wrong guy.
#4: Learn How to Communicate
95% of what people say is subjective. This means that neither partner has a lock on the truth. Communication is for gathering information about each other so that you can find common ground and solutions. It isn’t about winning or being right. Of course, there are some exceptions.
Murder is wrong. Lying, stealing, and manipulating are wrong. Having divergent opinions isn’t wrong; it just means that you have differences, which is pretty normal. What are the odds that you will find someone who is in total agreement with all of your opinions? Would you even want that person? Could be pretty boring.
Because the information you receive from your partner is subjective, there is no need to get defensive. It’s for you to decide if the information is useful to you. Partners have a unique understanding of each other, so I think it’s important to listen. Even if you don’t agree, you are learning about how your partner sees things. Try to stay open and remember that it’s not about winning. It’s about gaining the understanding that can lead to finding solutions and ultimately creating greater intimacy.
About Sally LeBoy
Sally LeBoy is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist, practicing in San Diego County for over 30 years. During this time, she has developed a particular expertise and reputation for working with relationship issues.
In addition to relationship issues, she works with individuals and groups with problems of anxiety, depression, stress, and life transitions.
To know more about Sally LeBoy, visit her website www.sallyleboymft.com.