Category Archives: For Singles

Love Like a Super Attacher (Someone with a secure attachment style)

Black Couple SleepingDespite what romantic movies, TV shows, and books tell you, love isn’t something that simply happens. It is a work of art created by you. Really. Finding love is less about meeting the right person and more about acquiring the habits of what I call a super-attacher. People with good relationship skills and healthy attachment behavior, who believe they are lovable, are the ones suddenly finding love, as singles often perceive it.

So how can you begin to learn healthy attachment behaviors and find the relationship you want and deserve? It all starts with understanding what attachment style is and how it affects relationships.

Each of us comes into the world with a biological predisposition to attach to people in a certain way ? some babies require more closeness and care than others. During the crucial first year of life, when our brains triple in size, we start to form a hardwired blue print for love based on how our caregivers respond to our needs. Then, in our adult romantic life, we attempt to replicate that version of love, even if, believe it or not, it was filled with feelings of loss or pain. Trying to replicate that love is what causes millions of singles to seek out help from coupled up friends, speed dating events, dating advice articles, and reviews of dating sites from places like DatingAdvice.com. Once we find our preferred venue for replicating that love, attachment style is the invisible force that prompts us to swipe right on someone we like or say hello to a stranger we find attractive. Attachment style is also the invisible force that determines whether or not we get into roller-coaster relationships with extreme highs and lows or not.

At the top of the mating heap are super-attachers. These people have whats known as a secure attachment style. Secure people tend to have high self-esteem. They are comfortable sharing feelings with friends and lovers. When they are suffering, they seek out social support. They take responsibility for their actions and are known for having a lot of empathy. Best of all, they have trusting, lasting relationships.

If you dont exactly fit the profile of a super-attacher, there are three simple things you can do that should help transform your dating life:

  1. Give Care Without Having Strings Attached

Yes, be an authentic nice guy or nice gal, not one whose kindness comes from fear that someone will bolt or who uses a manipulative tactic to get someone to like them. Instead, be kind, expecting nothing in return except your own sense of high self-esteem. Enjoy the ego boost. Love just for the sake of loving and youll like yourself better.

  1. Receive Care Happily

The next time you are feeling under the weather or under a lot of stress, call in for backup. Reach out to friends and family members. I know this can be very hard for some people, but learning to have interdependent social support is great practice for one-on-one love. Let the people in your life know what you need and allow them to take care of you.

  1. Dont Take Anything Personally

If you often get emotionally hijacked by sudden feelings of abandonment or rejection, I have four words for you:?Its never about you.?There is always another side to every story, and trust me, people are more concerned with their own stuff than yours. So take a deep breath, and use every feeling of rejection as an opportunity to practice self-consoling. Remember, its never personal.

Learning to have healthy attachments is the key to having a long and happy relationship ? and life in general. Because when you love better, you live better. By the way, if you are curious about what kind of attachment style you have, you can?take the quiz here.

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Anatomy of a Broken Heart

heart with plaster on green

(Originally written for Darling Magazine)

The pain of loss. That sinking feeling of blackness. Lethargy. Tears triggered by engagement ring ads, a reminder of a future interrupted. The cell phone, once a source of a smile and a quiver over the ping of a lovers text, now lies lifeless in hand.

All these symptoms plus a body that responds to an invisible invader. Some people, when suffering from a broken heart, actually experience a temporary disruption of heart function, perhaps a reaction to stress hormones that produce abnormal pumping and pain that mimics a heart attack. But the center of heartbreak syndrome is often the stomach?a hornets nest of thoughts and feelings?it churns around chemical messengers that signal sadness and terror. Its no wonder that psychologists call the stomach a second brain. Its as if our lover has cut an emotional umbilical cord and we are sailing away from Mother, vulnerable, unmoored. Nauseous. We are dying a tiny death.

For most of us, heartbreak is a necessary loss.

Carly Simon once sang that theres more room in a broken heart, and she may well have been singing about the strange empathy that comes with vulnerability. Its not that one needs a serious abandonment episode to become a kinder person. Its just that a fall from the high horse of love drunkenness lands us down to earth, and from here we can have a much clearer view of what drew us to that racehorse in the first place. Simply put, if used correctly, a broken heart can help us know ourselves better. A broken heart can empower us. Heartbreak can shine a light on our unique attachment style. Parts biological and parts psychological?each person has a unique manner of bonding. Some cling. Some avoid. Some can give care but not receive it while others prefer to only take.

Heartbreak is an opportunity for a prickly reality check.

In our sea of tears, free from the fantasy of what was, we can look clearly at how we swam into the deep waters of a love relationship with a partner who was no longer swimming beside us. We can use the sadness to prevent future heartbreak.

Did we move too fast? When the words I love you gush out, between breaths under a duvet, they are not to be believed. This is not the declaration of loyal dedication, nor the workhorse of sacrifice that secure attachments require. This is a rush for definition?an anxious attachment style that clings fast to fantasy.

Perhaps we ignored some important signs. Maybe we moved at a sensible pace but wore carefully adjusted blinders to selectively ignore some signals that our paramour was less than en par. If we tend to become attracted to dodgy lovers who feel like they are always slipping through our fingers and then artfully reel them in for moments of bliss, we are addicted to something that is more challenge than comfort.

Maybe we pushed love away. And what of those of us who coiled away from too much closeness? The feeling of loss is as confusing as it is painful after we worked so hard to not let our lovers cut close to the bone, only to discover they have sliced us through the heart with their final disappearance.

We let our love die. Perhaps, a good solid love was planted and grew strong but we forgot to tend our garden. The years dragged on until one partner simply crumbled under the boredom.

Its time to stop repeating the past.

Our unique blueprint for love is shaped early in life. It is our individual schema or model in our mind. As adults, we seek out partners to play the familiar roles we need to feel again?to match a secure mothers love or to create a conflict that we aim to right this time around. Early attachment theorists believed that we all come into the world with an attachment style that can blossom or die, depending on how it is pricked or prodded by our environment. And our most influential environment is our primary caregiver.

Some babies are born simply needing more care, attention and contact. Indeed, some children stay drunk on separation anxiety, weaving against mother or daddys trousers long after others have bounded off in search of frogs or flowers. And how parents react to their needy baby is crucial. Patience and kindness can program even the most anxious to trust love and later seek out gentle lovers. But a too-early push or a failure to console when a bumpy playground fall sends a child running for arms can be a prescription for excruciating longing. For these people, love becomes a journey of rebounding between familiar losses.

But what about those other babies, the ones who are born happily sailing from womb to toddler bed with barely a whimper? All goes well if the rocking arms respect the need to wiggle free. But if Mommy or Daddy have unmet needs of their own?needs to over bundle, stroke intrusively, force a bottle on an already full tummy?then baby might learn that love is smothering and engulfing and must be avoided at all costs. These are the girls who hook up and run from beds, the boys who hide behind the safety of texts. For the avoidant, love demands that one must stand sentry against an invasion and defend or vanish when love gets too close.

Finally, what of the baby of any biological ilk who faces a damaged parent, one with wild emotions (chemically induced or not) who treats a child like a punching bag or a pet or a giant burden to ignore? What of that child? What of that version of love? Sadly, this too becomes a blueprint for attachment issues.

The bad news: We seek out our familiar childhood conflict in adult lovers, some hoping to right a wrong, others playing a painful game of repetition compulsion.

The good news: Attachment injuries can be healed!

As conscious, aware, thinking adults, we can do the emotional work of changing our patterns of love and loss. We can deliberately and thoughtfully date a different kind of lover, one who doesnt give us the familiar thrill of a rocky roller coaster ride. We can find an understanding therapist to walk with us through the uncharted territory of safety, gentleness, care.

But when you are in the depths of despair, when the future looks bleak, it is important to recognize this as a gift. It is an awakening. Heartbreaks are a special opportunity to meet your complicated inner world, to make peace with old paths, and forge a new journey. The most important relationship you will ever have is one with yourself. This may well be the year that you learn to be a tender mother to your own psyche, offering forgiveness, consoling and new awareness.

FOR SINGLES: Who Gets Laid on a First Date?

man-drinking-beer-picLet me start with a question, if 100 young men, aged 18-25, go out on a first date tonight, how many do you think will get laid? How many will have sex? How many do you actually think will get to hook up? Think about it. Im waiting, you thinking?

Usually when I give this talk to kids at colleges or my salon parties, where I talk about sex and relationships, Im surprised to hear people say numbers like 70 percent, 80 percent! What this shows is that your brain has been manipulated by the media myth of the hook up culture. The truth is this: one study showed that about 99 percent of college students believed that the typical college students hooks up (having sex without commitment) about twice a year. When in fact, this study showed that only 35 percent of students had only one hook up in the past year. So, how many men, aged 18-25, out of 100 are going to get laid on a first date? 20 percent. That means that 80 percent of the women out there are smart enough not to expose their eggs and their blood stream to a stranger, who they wouldnt even give the keys to their apartment to water their plants while they are out of town!

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Think about it. Sex on the first date is loaded with disaster. In fact, with sex within the first 30 days of meeting someone youve got about a 90 percent chance of breaking up within a year. But the real danger here is that the talk of the hook up culture, this mythology, is dangerous to women because it puts pressure on them to adopt a male model of sexuality. In other words, take any sex, all sex, at any costs. By the way, plenty of guys arent happy with that model either.

Did you know that 25 percent of college students are actually virgins? Yeah! And the third reason they site for abstaining is religion. Number one and two are I dont want a pregnancy or relationship to deter my plans for education and a career. Thats the truth! How many get laid on a first date? Well, young men, 2 out of 10. Those are the A gamers, players, who are out to extract sex from a woman and not necessarily build a healthy relationship.

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DNA Dating. Does it work?

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 11.04.58 AMCan your nose select a partner better than your heart? According to science, yes! The latest trend in dating is DNA Dating. Using a simple cheek swap siliva test, you can actually predict if you will have great sex and a long term, compatible relationship. The test is the brain child of a group of neuroscientists and geneticists in Toronto who are set to change the game of love. Their simple DNA test can help predict is a dating couple with have mad hot sex, a long relationship, better fertility and even healthier children. And it can help established couples understand their relationship better.

The test works like this: The magic genes identified by the Instant Chemistry test are the same ones that power our immune systems, and under normal dating conditions, women’s bodies are uniquely designed to pick up the scent and taste of a man who may be a good genetic match. They do this through close contact and kissing. It’s no wonder that women like to kiss more than men and couples who kiss a lot — presumingly because it is pleasurable — are linked to longer, more secure relationships.

Secondly, Instant Chemistry looks at the genes that surround serotonin up take in the brain, which indicate whether a person has wide or narrow mood swings. If two hot heads get together, relationships tend to be more rocky and can lead to break ups and divorce.

But today’s dating world is far from a “normal condition.” First of all, most women are on the birth control pill, creating hormonal changes that can gum up the ability to detect compatible immune systems in men. Secondly, since we modern humans practice such amazing hygiene and mask our smells with products, important pheromones are hidden. Finally, since we are exposed to a wide range of potential partners in crowded groups, it makes it harder to distinguish fit mates from not-so-great mates.

So today’s DNA Dating is a trend designed to reduce high divorce rates. Using solid mating science partners are choosing better, happier relationships. Would you like a DNA test with your partner? Go to InstantChemistry.com to find out more.

How to Think Yourself Happy

thinking christmas giftsI’m a weird hybrid of mindfulness and geeky science. I’m obsessed with human bonding but I wouldn’t dare “treat” a patience who has come down with a case of delusional love — the feelings are just too positive. Being mindful means learning to stop over thinking and trust the deeper human connection.

But…. I’m also practical. Sometimes you can think yourself happy. I do believe that using one’s intellectual mind when it comes to matters of the heart — especially the painful side of love — can be a great tool. As Sigmund Freud once said, “We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love, never so forlornly unhappy as when we have lost our love object or its love.” And it is when we are dealing with unrequited love that a good brain can come in really handy. When it comes to emotional problems, I believe there are three ways that a good analytic mind can bring some relief.

1. Reframing – When all seems lost, a dose of logic can refocus the problem. Instead of pining after a lost love, our rational mind can remind us that the relationship wasn’t so great after all. Or, it can bring us hope that our next partner is the real love we’ve been waiting for. Reframing our problems in the work of the pre-frontal cortex, not the emotional brain.

2. Understanding the Sociology – Whether you are looking to find love or wondering whether divorce is on the horizon, understanding your own mate status in a given mating market is an intellectual exercise that can help you make good choices. For instance, a bumpy patch in your relationship, when you are young and living in a big city with plenty of available mates can more easily lead to a break up, than a boring patch in a longterm marriage in a mating market where most people are coupled up. Or, if you are a female college student (a place where there is currently an over supply of successful females) you might choose a loyal boyfriend over an exciting player because you can feel the partner crunch.

3. Recognizing Patterns – Break ups are great because they often provide us 20/20 vision of our past. It’s also a painful opportunity to assess what our role in the relationship conflict. When we start to look at our love life through the lens of a scientist, looking for patterns, we can see how we attract some familiar schema that somehow resemble our childhood. This is a great opportunity to do some personal work and get into better relationSHAPE for the future.

In my online workshop, The Psychology of Human Mating, I reveal the whole mating game board. Other relationship coaches may tell you how to make your next move, but it means nothing if you don’t understand the game. This is your chance to become empowered to find or keep the love you deserve.

DR. WENDY WALSH IS AVAILABLE FOR TELEPHONE RELATIONSHIP COACHING. TO SCHEDULE, PLEASE CLICK HERE AND COMPLETE THE BOX ON THE LEFT. SHE’LL PERSONALLY RESPOND.

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