Category Archives: Women

relationship advice, dating advice

This Is Why Religion And Sex Don’t Get Along

Humans are sexual beings. This is a fact that no one can really argue… I mean, it’s what creates us.

Despite the importance of sex to our evolution, we have an interesting, and often dysfunctional relationship with it though, don’t we? It’s something a lot of us fear, especially within our embedded cultural and religious beliefs…which are often synonymous.

And fear is a dangerous motivator, because if not met with curiosity, the things we fear often become the things we shame.

I have been working with (and know) so many people who hold a lot of shame on the subject of sex and sexuality. They (we) were raised to believe that masturbation, heavy petting (the Catholic way of saying second base), sex before marriage, sexual curiosity, sexual desire, sexual orientation… All of it – will send you to hell. 

Have you ever taken a moment to consider the ramifications of such powerful and irrational messages about sexuality being sent to young (and old) minds; that they should fear their sexuality instead of seeking to understand it? It’s such a confusing message to receive as humans when the very thing that makes us is… SEX.  **If you’re not familiar with it, it’s when the penis goes in the vagina. And then out. And then in. Until one (or both…ideally) makes an “O” face… and biology does its job.**

Even this discussion, mentioning penises and vaginas, will trigger many people. The fact that I’m so openly talking about sex and penetration makes many uncomfortable. And to those people, when you get uncomfortable, I invite you to get curious. Because often, underneath that discomfort, is shame around the subject and fear of your own perceivably deviant desires to get a finger in your butt, get spanked, or some nipple clamps… even, God forbid, try doggystyle. (which are all normal curiosities btw…)

The irony to all of this is that sexual conversations are usually labeled as “crass” by the very people who later on in the evening log onto Craigslist seeking “Casual Encounters”, surf porn, or hire a dominatrix… But there’s a consequence to sexual repression that goes far beyond the internet, and it’s not only in deviant sexual behaviour, it’s that we have to abandon ourselves and our own hearts in order to adapt to cultures and belief systems that say sexuality, and being sexual, is the work of the devil.

Sex is human. Desire is human. Curiosity is human. Curiosity around sex/sexuality is human. To embrace any belief that shames any/all of these truths requires abandoning ourselves and our true essence.

Beliefs/cultures/religions are tricky though.. because we want to fit in. That drive to fit in will make us do crazy things. It has us adopting beliefs that aren’t congruent with our hearts and living lives that feel heavy… lives that require us to send an actor in everyday to to play a role that we wouldn’t wish upon anyone. *(Religion in its essence is beautiful… I’m talking about the extremes that don’t embrace education surrounding sexuality and curiosity)

As humans we hold our beliefs SO close to our hearts that any threat to those beliefs not being true, makes us go to war, hurt others, and even reject our own family members…. It’s incredible really what we’ll do to praise a God and to keep religious and cultural belief systems alive. We are so terrified to be who we are… isn’t that insane?! We’re terrified to express our sexuality and to maybe accept that we’re meant to want to hump, to caress breasts and to tickle balls (or be the receiver of those things).

When it comes to sexuality and beliefs we have two options:

  1. Abandon the belief system to hold our identity intact, OR;
  2. Abandon ourselves to hold the belief…so we can fit into our community/religion/culture/society.

Choice numero uno leads to freedom, understanding, acceptance, curiosity and responsibility with our sexual energy because we’re not being shamed for it. AND, it allows others to be free too.

Choice number two has mannnnnny costs. What are they?

Let’s use the best case study we can of the consequences of sexual repression:

Utah, which is the state that is centre stage for Mormons, who are generally quite sexually repressive and homophobic (I do love my mormon friends… no insult to you… this data is just too powerful to ignore), has one of the highest rates of subscription porn consumption. ALSO, Utah has the highest use of anti-depressants and pain-killers.

Okay, so we can argue the science and methodologies of the studies, OR, we can just accept what this data infers:

The price of abandoning ourselves is not just a sad life. It’s a painful life.

In contrast, in a 2013 Dutch study on BDSM (aka. Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, and Masochism) – These kinky sex practitioners, when compared to the general population, we’re less neurotic, more extroverted, more open to new experiences, more conscientious, less rejection sensitive, and had higher subjective well-being. Wow. Does seeking to understand and express our sexuality lead to happier and healthier humans? Hmmmm. Not a shock really, is it?

Let’s get back to the topic at hand though. Shame and repression have an enormous cost… We need anti-depressants to numb the pain of pretending to be someone else and not embracing our true selves. And because we aren’t free to explore sexually, we’ll just lock the door of our bedroom and watch other people get peed on… when we’re the ones who want to get peed on! Where’s the justice?!?

The truth is…everything in life demands to be felt. We can’t hide feelings and desires, they will always come out in some way. Unexpressed and repressed emotions live in the fabric of our being. If we hate our lives and who we’re pretending to be and we don’t actively change our lives, we will take drugs, form addictions, and either implode or explode.  The soul demands expression. The heart seeks to create peaceful connection. The human spirit doesn’t need to be indoctrinated with values and morality… we can sense on a cellular level if something feels right or wrong.

So, I want you to tap into you. I want you to ask yourself if your beliefs feel congruent with your heart. You don’t need to be a Christian or a Jew or a Hindu or a Muslim or a Buddhist to be a good person, you just need to be you. When you show yourself kindness, love and acceptance, you are inherently kind, loving and accepting of others.

You don’t need to subscribe to any form of relationship that doesn’t feel right to you. You don’t have to be heterosexual if you’re not. You don’t have to believe things that cause you to feel shame and hurt. Adopt beliefs that have you feeling free and loved for who you truly are.

If you have to abandon yourself to believe anything, you never believed it in the first place.


Are you looking to tap into you? If so, get your tickets to the Masters of the Universe Summit now! It’s annual conference I host in Vancouver, BC – The early bird tickets are on sale NOW.

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mark groves, createthelove, relationship advice, dating advice, nyc couples therapy, motivational speaker

Did Your Parents Make You Bad At Relationships?

I spent a lot of my life chasing women who would never let me catch them. And the ones who wanted to catch me? Wasn’t interested. There was no…. challenge.

As I woke up to the realities of my patterns I began to see the same stories playing out in all of the relationships around me. The same frustration that incessantly coursed through my veins was running rampant and infecting the masses.

Wait, was there a plague that caused the love of the unavailable?!

And who were these unavailable people? Why did they seem to never care as much as I did? Why did I feel like I was loving all out and they were just chilled out, not at all concerned about what was going on between us, drinking Mai Tais by the pool, never afraid to lose anyone? And, on top of that, why did I feel like I was taking crazy pills and they seemed liked they could give two shits?

Well, if you’re like I was, don’t worry, you’re not crazy, but your emotional brain is. The good news is I’m about to make all of your irrational behaviour make sense AND give you some actionable tips on how to actually choose relationships where we choose each other.

Wait… those exist?!

In relationships we generally take one of two roles… The Pursuer and The Runner. To put it more simply, we’ll either be the one always running after and chasing love (pursuer), or we’ll be the one always fleeing from it and feeling controlled and smothered by love (runner).

So you may be reading this thinking, “No way, I’ve been both”. And while you are likely right, you will be one more than the other the majority of the time… and I would put money on the fact that you became the other when you got really hurt. (I went from pursuer to runner… smooth move. This comes from the belief that love hurt us so we just won’t entertain love anymore).

“So what does this mean about me if I’m the pursuer?”

Here’s the deal, the pursuer is often someone who’s greatest fear is being left. Ironically, the very behaviours we choose when we’re a pursuer; being clingy, needy, jealous and feeling desperately fearful, are the very things that make our greatest fear (being left) realized. Add to that the fact that we tend to pick people who never really want to be caught, makes this painful reality a regular. We live in a state of fear, and we often see love and anxiety as being synonymous.

This is why when someone truly wants to love and choose us, we can often not feel excited. We mistake the safety of a secure partner with a lack of connection and there’s no spark. Know that we can change this though. Once we reduce the anxiety and live in a space of security, we begin to choose partners from a place of authentic connection, and not just because we’re repeating patterns.

Where does this behaviour begin? Why would anyone want to be in a relationship like this?! Welllll… let’s get in a time machine and go back to childhood.

Pursuers usually have a parent (caregiver) who wasn’t around. Maybe that person worked a lot. Maybe they left. Maybe they were an alcoholic. Maybe we never knew them. Maybe we had a great childhood, yet we just didn’t feel acknowledged. Maybe we were in a large family and didn’t feel noticed or heard. Maybe we felt like we weren’t told enough we were loved and shown general affection.

Having this experience as a child usually has us believing that we were never enough. That no matter how much we achieve or how much drama and trouble we cause, we will never be noticed and loved for who we truly are. Pursuers tend to act out and/or be high achievers. Pursuers are often in a constant state of anxiety because they’ve always been waiting to be chosen. They’ve been waiting to receive the love and affirmation they never got as a child. Stay tuned for the way out of this perceived insanity. (Hint: We’ll never fully choose someone who loves us for who we are till we do. We must model the love we seek.)

Runners:

Ohhhhhhh runners. Why can’t we just find someone we want to be with? Why does love scare us so much? Why does everyone get so crazy and smothering in relationships? People are so needy right?!

The runner is usually afraid of intimacy. It’s what love brings that scares the crap out of them. The runner usually has a parent (caregiver) who was controlling and all over them. They maybe grew up in a very religious and/or culturally restrictive environment. Maybe they were not rewarded for self-expression. Maybe their parents got divorced and they saw the devastation that relationship can bring. Maybe one parent abused the other (or both). Maybe they were abused by the people who were supposed to love them. Maybe they’ve had their heart broken by a romantic partner. Maybe they were bullied or picked on.

No matter the reason, runners are often afraid of what comes along with loving people and letting them in. Runners are afraid of being caught, because being caught means being loved, and their association with love is likely hurt, trauma, heartbreak, and even the loss of themselves and their own identity.

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Ok, so we’ve roughly broken down where these behaviours begin and how they often manifest, but now that we know that, how the eff do we change these patterns? How do we stop running after and running from love? Why the hell does our emotional brain do such crazy things?!? Gawwwwwd. Someone pass me a tequila shot.

I’m going to get real serious on you here. Our fear of being excluded from groups, tribes, communities, and most importantly, relationships, is so great that we become who we need to be to be loved. We become a identity which we create so that we get to maintain our inclusion in the group. In that moment when we begin to become an “actor” and wear a mask, we separate from ourselves…. Woahhhhh, right? That’s some deep sh*t right there. We’re not born this way though… we’re born with an open heart and a soul that longs to express who we are at our core.

So when do we begin this formation of a false identity?!

Well, the very people who welcome us into this world were taught that they had to become something else to be loved. So, just like we hand down our DNA which provides our hair and eye colour, we are also handed down the emotional wounds of our parents. So, our parents usually impart onto us the same cultural and religious expectations which were imparted onto them. They pass down the same emotional wounds their parents gave them.

It’s only fair right?!? “You need to change and become this perfect ideal like I had to, otherwise it makes my choices not make sense. You need to give up you and abandon your heart, because I had to. That’s just how life is.” (Don’t be mad at them, they were/are doing the best they can with what they have/know.)

This is why in arguments and relational experiences, we will only ever be able to go as deeply as our parents (caregivers) have gone. They can only teach us what they know. All of this is proven untrue if our parents have done the work and healed their pasts. If they’ve broken free of the mold and blazed a trail of truth.

The good thing is, even if our parents haven’t transformed themselves, we can. We can learn how to go deeper. We can learn why we do what we do and heal our childhood experience. We can look at the ways in which we’ve changed who we are, our self expression, and what parts we let the world see, and what parts we have hidden in order to be loved. We can learn.

The way out is simple, but it requires courage:

  1. Accept who you are currently being: If we can take ownership for how we’re currently showing up to love, we can make different choices, because we can’t change where we’re going if we don’t consciously know and accept where we are.
  2. Begin to lean into the uncomfortable. Patterns change by changing them. There is no escape from this truth. So, embrace your power to change your life and how you love. For pursuers it means giving love room to breath and asking for what we need from relationships. Feel unsafe and like the relationship isn’t secure? Ask for what is required in order to calm your anxiety. For runners it’s about slowing down. It’s about letting yourself get caught. It’s about communicating the fears you have and asking for the space you need to breath… and then returning once your partner gives you that space.
  3. Let love in. Decide to finally let love in, and by doing that we not only heal ourselves, we also invite those around us to heal as well. We go deeper. We see that love is meant to feel free.

Pursuer or runner, we’re both afraid of the same thing: receiving the love we so desperately crave.

The difference is we’re just going about protecting ourselves from being hurt in different ways. At the baseline of these relationship patterns is always fear. When we acknowledge and communicate these fears, we begin to dissolve them. The walls between us and other lower, and we slowly (or quickly) begin to form the belief that we are lovable and worthy of a great partnership. We change the stories we were taught. We finally get to see into our partner’s hearts and be seen in return.

So, I ask you to turn within. If you don’t do the work, no one will. And you will always hit the same emotional limit with every partner you choose. Different name, same patterns. If we’re willing to look, we’ll see that our partners are our path to healing our childhood, we just need to choose one who’s willing to heal with us.

Originally published on Thought Catalog

unworthy, mark groves, createthelove, relationship advice, not lovable, worthiness, positive psychology

If You’ve Ever Felt Like You’re Not Enough, Read This

I was born into a wonderful and loving family. I am the youngest of three children, with both an older brother and sister. When I was younger I often felt like my brother and sister related better to one another than I did to them. I sometimes felt left out on their jokes and their adventures.

For me, this was the first time I can consciously remember not feeling like I was enough. That who I was, wasn’t good enough to be included in all of the fun and the secrets that my brother and sister shared.

Next would be the time in grade eight when I was called a porker (pleasantly plump would’ve been a little nicer). Following that would be being cheated on by a girlfriend… and then by another one.

I share these experiences with you so that you can see that, time after time, we all have these moments of feeling excluded and not lovable.

Those are some of mine. What are yours?

Now the challenge with understanding our childhood experiences, such as mine, is that we look back with the eyes and mind of an adult. I can rationally process the way I felt was silly. With my siblings it was just a phase of our childhood. My brother and sister meant no harm and I have wonderful relationships with them today. My girlfriends were young and I made decisions and choices that led to their choices… we’ve since reconciled so everything is ok now, right?

What you can see from all of this, is that I can make my feelings make sense.

But here’s the issue that happens when we do this to our past stories, especially from our childhoods:

We dismiss our wounds and don’t acknowledge that when we were four, eight, or twelve years old (whatever the age), those were real and valid emotional experiences. By rationalizing these experiences, we invalidate our childhood feelings.

We often don’t think our past experiences influence our lives today because we understand them logically, but that doesn’t heal them and stop them from being the main program running in our subconscious and guiding our decisions. Our emotional brain still remembers the impact of not feeling like we’re lovable… And the pain of the fear of isolation for a human is far greater than any other psychological pain (or physical pain) we can experience. To protect ourselves and prevent this pain we often react defensively, we cling so tightly to the people we love, and, in some cases, it causes us to never let people in…because if we do, we believe they’ll just hurt us.. and often, in our pasts, we’ve been proven right.

Here’s the deal… 99.9% of us live with the underlying belief that we’re not enough. For some of us we may intellectualize it as a “fear of rejection” and/or a “fear of abandonment”. But even at the base of those fears is the underlying belief that we’re not lovable. Because of this underlying belief of unworthiness, most of us send our representatives out into the world to be the ones who are seen. The version of us who acts like everything is wonderful and then goes home and suffers from GI issues, weight issues, depression, drinks Jack Daniels for breakfast, and for some reason, has crippling anxiety and just can’t sleep.

The majority of the time, the underlying pathology is that being someone else is f*cking exhausting. Pretending like everything is ok, f*cking sucks. Acting like we believe we’re good enough by buying more shit and getting more affluence works for a bit… till it doesn’t. And then we just go into hyperdrive and pretend “everything is fine” so as to hide the scared child who lives underneath. And the truth is that we can never get enough surgeries, lip injections, botoxes  (is there a plural for this?), do enough drugs, eat enough food, become successful enough, take enough steroids, or buy enough sh*t to hide the fact that we’re afraid. The fact that we don’t believe we’re lovable.

Based on this definition most of us are frauds aren’t we?! Sh*tty deal right?! At least we’re all playing the same tricks. Really we’re just a bunch of actors and representatives running around pretending we love sh*t we don’t love and living lives composed of things we’re “supposed to” want… It’s insane isn’t it?! This is the greatest joke of awareness… that if none of us played the game, it wouldn’t exist. Welcome to the conundrum of humanity.

Freedom begins the moment we quit the game. When we begin to shed the bullsh*t stories we’ve been taught and actually decide we’re going to choose a life that reflects what we want, that we actually love ourselves, and we’re worthy of being loved for who we truly are. The trick is, we have to give it to ourselves first… and that means finally letting people see us. The real us.

How do you know if you’re kinda/sorta wearing a mask and pretending to be someone you’re not? It’s not that hard to diagnose… 

Let’s try it:

Does your partner know everything about your past? Are you both open to talking about the greatest fears and the times you felt rejected and didn’t feel like enough?

Do you persecute your partner for their pasts? Do you get hung up on how many sexual partners they’ve had and the mistakes they’ve made?

Do you hold back your real feelings and don’t tell your partner that you’re upset out of fear of being seen as “needy” and/or “too emotional”?

Do you have stories and situations that you’re holding onto in your relationship from years ago that you are afraid to talk about? (If so, it’s not in the past… it’s a giant elephant in the fucking room… it’s operating in your underlying behaviour and unconscious in every moment.)

Do you avoid telling your partner about things you’ve done because you don’t believe they can handle the truth and/or they’ll get upset?

If you’re single, do you choose people who treat you poorly? Do you keep breaking up and getting back together? Do you keep dating “a*sholes” or “b*tches”?

Do you suffer from GI disorders or skin outbreaks? Do you have pain in your body that is there despite all your efforts to understand it and treat it?

Do you subscribe to a religious/spiritual practice and hold others to a standard while you have secret indiscretions that don’t align with that practice? Do you operate with an actual set of beliefs that are different than the ones you say matter so much to you?

Do you harbour any racism and/or dislike any group that doesn’t believe what you believe?

Do you have issues with your weight, drugs, alcohol, gambling, debt, food, sex, partying… and just in general anything that seems to be an escape from the pain?

Are you currently living a life that feels out of control, and your soul is calling to you with every ounce of its power?

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If you answered yes to any of the above questions, there’s also an incredibly high chance you’re a human being.

Every single question above indicates that  we would rather be loved for who we pretend to be as it’s safer, than be loved for who we really are… because we’re afraid that no one will love the real us. The core belief at play here… guess?!? DING DING DING. We’re unlovable.

So what’s the way out?  Awareness. Truth (getting real with ourselves). And then a sh*t ton of courage.

I wish I could sugarcoat this sh*t, but if I ask you to pursue truth I need to give it to you straight. Look, it sucked that I had to admit I was chasing love through flings. It sucked when I saw that I used alcohol as an excuse to numb my values and integrity. It really sucked when I saw that I made protecting my feeling of unworthiness – a core part of my former identity – more important than my desire to love deeply. It monumentally blew (not the good kind) when I saw that I hadn’t actually let anyone love me… like, truly love me, in sixteen years.

But I had to face all of my sh*t to change my life. I had to admit that I didn’t have it all figured out and that I’d been hiding myself and my heart because I didn’t want to get hurt. I let go of a religion that caused more separation than unity. I let go of any beliefs that made it so I didn’t meet others with love and acceptance.

It sucked but it was also the most freeing and transformative moment in my life when I decided to stop changing myself to accommodate the world, and instead said…

“This is who I am Universe. What do you got for me?”

For the first time, I let the world adjust to me.

When we finally see that everyone is full of sh*t and no one actually knows what the hell they’re doing, we begin to understand that under everyone’s representative and “perfect” life is a child who desperately craves to be loved. A child that craves a voice, and the birth of an amazing life is through giving that child words and self-expression.

How do we even begin to do that? Grab a piece of paper and a pen and take an inventory of the things in your life that are out of alignment. What do I mean by that? Anything that feels forced, heavy, and not a celebration of who you are in your heart. What relationships (family and friends included) are weighing you down? Is your job what you really want to do? Do you live in a city/place that feels good? Geez… does your home feel good?! What are the habits in your life that hurt you more than they help you?

Start there. Start with an audit of your life… and then get ready to be courageous. Because all of this stuff is easy to understand with our brains… and a whole other story to face and change. Why? Changing parts of our identity, especially a core belief (that we’re unlovable), can be challenging because of the neural pathways we’ve built and the foundations of our life (jobs, religion & relationships) have been constructed upon our identity in order to reinforce it. We’ll even fight wars and kill others to preserve our beliefs.

So, if we want to feel like we’re enough we have to make choices that reflect that. In each moment where you’re feeling stuck and/or wondering what you should do, ask yourself:

“If I was enough, would I tolerate this situation? If I was enough, would this matter? If I was enough, what would I do in this moment?”

On a final note, I want you to truly understand, like to truly feel, to awaken to the truth… that the loneliness you fear, the paralyzing concern that if people met the real you, you won’t be loved… is happening right before you’re eyes. Because if you don’t share your deepest truths with the world, you’re sending the message to yourself that you’re not lovable. The thing you fear most you’re already living in… so it can’t get worse. It can only get better. And the people who are meant to love you for the real you, will. That’s a fact. But they can’t find you till you find you.

she left, breakup, divorce, relationship advice, mark groves vancouver relationship coach, positive psychology

Love Her Before She Leaves You

“I had no idea things were that bad. When she left it was such a shock.”

Was it really? Because I’m sure there were signs lonnnnnng before the bags were packed and a trail of smoke led out your front door. This is a common feeling for men; that we didn’t know she was going to go, till she did. We didn’t hear her all of those times when she cried and didn’t feel heard or understood. We didn’t understand just how unhappy she was, and now we clearly do as she’s no longer in our life.

Don’t shoot the messenger, the research supports what I’m saying; women initiate divorce far more than men do. It’s not like this is a shock right?! A lot of the clients I work with have male partners who aren’t interested in attending coaching with their partner. Women have a more attuned emotional barometer to the relationship. And men, although not happy that their partner is dissatisfied with the relationship, are okay with the relationship just continuing as it is.

I’m guilty of this naive ignorance. I remember when I was in my early twenties talking to my dad once and telling him about my frustrations with my then-girlfriend. She had expressed to me some things that she needed for me to do better and I responded with, “If it’s so bad, why don’t you leave? You have it so good.” Wow. What an arrogant and poor response. It hurts me to even type it because I’m sure, in that moment, I completely devastated her emotional safety and told her that her needs weren’t important. What a message to send.

When I told my dad this story and what I said, he was appalled (for good reason). He said sternly to me, “Wow Mark, she’s telling you how to love her.”

Eff. In that moment my heart descended into my stomach. I needed to be better. That wasn’t how I wanted to love. And that definitely wasn’t how I wanted my partner to feel in being loved by me. There are many moments in relationships where we are being invited to love our partner. We often think these are the big things like the anniversaries, the birthdays, and the holidays. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Our invitation to love others is always in the many moments in between the ones we think are important.

John Gottman, who’s a relationship guru that studies marriages, calls our invitations to connect with our partners “bids”. This could be something as mundane as one person reading the paper and declaring out loud, “Hmmmm. That’s interesting!” They’re not just making a remark. In that comment is a request to connect. In that moment we have a choice, to either “turn towards” or “turn away” as Gottman calls it.

Just how important is responding to these bids?

In the research these interactions have an incredibly powerful effect on how our relationships fair and whether or not they will last. Couples who only turned towards bids 33 percent of the time were divorced in a six year follow up. The couples who were still in magical bliss after that same six year period responded to 87% of bids.

Wow. This is profound. Gottman can predict, just by observing a couple’s interactions, whether a couple will divorce with over 94% accuracy. This is regardless of sexual orientation, whether they have children, or their socio-economic status. So, in essence, our words and how they’re delivered, literally do shape our world.

I don’t know about you, but as a man, and a human, knowing just how powerful my words and actions are and how much they can transform the world, I’m not okay with being mediocre. I want to take responsibility for my actions, the words I choose, and how I operate in all relationships, not just romantic. As men (and women), we need to be better. We need to be committed to learning how to communicate how we’re feeling so that we don’t demonstrate those unheard feelings with anger, withdrawing, frustration and words that scathe.

Of course the challenge is that we (men) have been generally cultured and socialized to not share our feelings and frustrations. We’ve been told to not use language to communicate our fears and feelings because only pussies and sissies do that. When we engage in emotional conversations, we don’t have a toolbox filled with as many words and as much emotional fluency that can articulate the range of things we’re feeling. But, the best thing about all of this is, we can learn how to.

It takes admitting that our relationship may not be so good and that we can, in fact, get much better at communicating and understanding how to have our partners feel heard. You know how women generally want to talk about the SAME thing over and over and over and over? That doesn’t happen when they feel loved, appreciated, heard and understood. And the truth is, if you love a woman like that, she will almost always give you that same love right back.

breakup, divorce, she left, positive psychology, relationship advice, dating advice, mark groves

Now, of course it would be simple if women always communicated effectively and told us what their ACTUAL needs and feelings were. So women, you’re not off the hook. You’re in a relationship with a man. And as Alison Armstrong says, “Men are not hairy women.” You need to learn how to speak his language. You need to learn that men are not broken humans who don’t have any emotional intelligence and aren’t capable of hearing you. We are different, and you also need to understand how the male brain works and that we process emotions differently (due to socialization). It’s actually on you to communicate your needs, fears and thoughts clearly. Your partner doesn’t have a google maps to your brain and heart, or even better yet, your vagina. (Although all of those things would be nice)

So, man or woman, straight, gay, whatever…We all need to begin to realize that behind every tantrum, frustration or complaint, is always an unmet emotional need. So, for example, it’s not about the fact that we left the toilet seat up AGAIN (it is funny when they fall in at 2am), it’s what leaving the toilet seat up means about them (the message they receive): they aren’t important, they’re not a priority, their needs don’t matter… etc. We need to learn how to understand what this need is and see that she (or he) is not just trying to play catch when she throws her shoe at you. She has a hurt, a wound, a fear, and what is happening is triggering that pain point. This is why communication is paramount to successful relationships.

I write this to men mainly because the emotional impact of a breakup/divorce is greater on us. This is clear in the research, as we see that men are generally more emotionally dependent on their partners. When men were asked who they would go to if they were feeling depressed, 71% of men selected their wife whereas only 39% of women selected their husband. When we lose our partners, in a lot of ways we lose our support system. Our happiness and the health benefits of relationships are also larger for us…so when we lose our relationship, often those emotions go out the door with her.

Of course hindsight is 20/20, but it doesn’t have to be.

We don’t see just how important she is, till she no longer is…with us. We don’t see how much love actually matters to us because we’re too busy watching the game. Our needs matter too, but we have to love her always, not just when we’re about to lose her. Not just till we get her back. Not just in the moments we think matter, because all moments matter.

Love and relationships require effort. We might not always understand her, but she just wants to know that we’re trying. She wants to know that our efforts match our words. She wants to know that her well being matters as much as our own. She wants to feel safe in our arms. She wants to feel loved always, not just when it’s convenient.

So love her before she leaves you. (and him too ladies).

love, dating advice, relationship advice, couples, feminism,

Maybe You Don’t Have A Man Because You Don’t Need One

“I don’t need a man.”

I have always found this statement rather disheartening. It’s a phrase that is often expelled from the lips of a spiteful woman.

Its roots are in the wake of a feminist movement that saw many women left abandoned. Wives and mothers who dedicated their lives to family, only to be left without a career, their own money, and their husbands often withholding child support in order to control and manipulate.

I get it, the “breadwinner” marriages of the mid-twentieth century had few winners. Patriarchal relationship structures communicated the role of women to be one of servitude. “Dedicate your life to your man and your family, and he’ll take care of you, meanwhile you’ll compromise everything, including your own identity.” Sounds like a crap deal to me.

So, here we are, in the wake of a necessary feminist movement, with messages that swung the pendulum in a totally different direction. Men and women, who experienced and/or observed the devastation from relationships of the past, communicate to their daughters messages of strength:

“Never depend on a man.”

“Be independent.”

“Never need a man.”

“Take care of yo’self”

It’s important to honour that these messages are absolutely necessary and important. However, when these messages are not clarified, they are left to be interpreted by the receiver… unfortunately that receiver is often a child who lacks the intellectual maturity to ask questions and look for more direction.

Left unexplained, what we often hear are messages like:

“Never open up to a man.”

“Never depend on anyone.”

“If you ever feel like you ‘need’ someone, you’re giving too much.”

And of course, with these messages comes the conundrum:

We are all human, so, inevitably, we fall in love.

And, in turn, we want to give ourselves to the relationship, but there is just something holding us back and we begin to feel the devastating consequence of a message of strength gone wrong.

We live our relationships from the place of:

“Never let your man feel like you need him.”

And that’s where we are today, in a space where often (not always) women are taught to not need a man and when they’re in relationships, they are incredibly scared to do or say anything that could communicate they are vulnerable and want to depend on their partner.

Although that fierce independence is brilliant and inspiring, taken to the extreme it has negative effects on an essential component for relationships:

If our partners don’t feel like we need them, why would they stay? Why would they want to feel vulnerable and give themselves to the relationship?

Men are creatures of purpose. We want to provide and have a role in a woman’s life. We want to be able to love our woman. And when that woman communicates either directly or indirectly that she doesn’t need us, it hurts.

What we hear is that we don’t fit. We have no purpose in her life.

In addition to that, a large percentage of women are out-earning their partners. The role of man’s purpose as a provider in the relationship has shifted. A man’s success and identity have been evolutionarily rooted in being the provider, and when that role is no longer available, men seek to find another role in the relationship and/or in other areas of life.

Let’s be clear, it does not rest on the shoulders of a woman to create purpose for a man. However, it is important that each person create the space for their partner to find and experience purpose, even if that is within the relationship. The challenge is that we need to develop the awareness to step past all of the messages and identities we’ve been taught of what it means to be a “man” and an “independent woman”. 

When we adopt these identities we often have an incredibly hard time gaining deep and connected long term relationships… because most men are still driven and rewarded based on archaic ideals, and most women have moved past old roles and into the role of the masculine… leaving no space for a man to love and appreciate his partner, because she’s now the provider, the parent, and she doesn’t need no man to take care of her.

There’s no space for a man, because women are being that man. 

breakup, relationship advice, dating advice, couple, love, inspiration, positive psychology, positive relationships

So what do we do? Women are the new men, and men have no clue what the hell to do. Where does that leave relationships?

This isn’t about just women. This is about what messages, identities and roles we’re creating and subscribing to as humans. It is our responsibility to take control of our own hearts, and together, regardless of the combination of gender, we need to create relationships that work for us.

We need to step outside of what society, culture and religion have taught us, and create relationships and identities that align with who we are as individuals, and how we want show up to the relationship.

We need to stop trying to be so tough and actually let people in. Men and women need to create space in their lives for each other. And although it is so empowering and beautiful to observe women so rooted in their purpose and taking over the world, women can do that and still be loving and maternal. Falling and being in love doesn’t give a woman’s power away, it actually makes women more powerful. 

We need to see our relationships in the same way we see businesses. Much like a corporate culture, we design our relationship environment, including how we want to feel and who we want to be within that partnership. Relationships today are partnerships, and partnerships require shared agreements and intentions. By discussing and coming up with these agreements and intentions together, we allow ourselves to create the relationship we want. We become the creators of our reality. 

And at the end of the day, if we want great love and great relationships, we have to let people love us. Again, we have to let people in. Till we do that we’ll always be loving with half our hearts. And I don’t know about you, but I’m too full of life and love to waste it settling for “safe” and “comfortable”. I want to be able to depend on my partner, and her feel needed as well.

Let’s get better, together. 

relationship advice, dating advice, positive psychology, marriage, wedding, vows, communication, divorce, breakup, relationships, love, dating

Why The Promise Of Forever Can Mean The Death Of Your Relationship

It’s really interesting that we go from relationships of varying quality and length in our teens and twenties and then leap into a “serious” relationship or marriage and expect it to last forever.

Often, we haven’t learned from our past relationships or taken the time to ask ourselves how we contributed to those relationship outcomes. When a relationship ends, it’s easy to blame the other person but sometimes we neglect to explore what our role was.

How do we learn how to “be” in a relationship? Are we ever really ready for marriage and lifelong monogamy?

Most of our relationship knowledge and skills come from our parents and various other mentors.

This can be a good thing. But it can also be an extremely bad thing.

Our parents might have left a path of destruction and then we wonder why we have blocks to love. Seldom is it true that they loved perfectly and are models of monogamistic bliss. They are human after all.

By the time we finally “commit”, most of us have not actively sought out what makes relationships work.  We haven’t done an inventory of the behaviours we have and don’t have, that influence how we merge hearts and how to build and maintain love.

On top of that, we might never have learned how to pick great partners or to explore and honour what connection truly is.

Relationships don’t generally last a lifetime. I’m not trying to be a negative dick. This is a fact. One that we usually choose to ignore.

People get fired up over divorce and breakups. As a society, we frown upon the divorced. Their story reflects one of our greatest fears; that our relationships might one day end too.

And that fear makes sense. Breakups are hard and it’s easy to get caught up in the dream of soulmates and having one lover for our lifetime. We all want to believe that life and love is always puppy dogs and ice cream. (I love both).

It’s not. Love can be hard. Love can hurt. Love sometimes feels as though it fails us. And ironically, love is often one of our greatest sources of pain.

And if love wasn’t already hard enough, let’s throw in the fact that sometimes we make bad choices and end up down a path that is no longer where we want to be. After all, this is real life. Not a fairy tale or perfect love story.

In this real life, relationships don’t “fail” per se. We tend to outgrow them, or don’t have the skills necessary to navigate them. We often don’t know or understand how to grow together. And at times, we exist in relationships where we were never really invested in the first place.

Relationship longevity is only ONE marker of relationship success.

Certainly not the only one.

But it is BY FAR the one we place the most emphasis on.

love, beach, relationships, relationship advice, dating advice, dating

This is ridiculous. If “staying together” is our gauge of success, then almost everyone on this planet is/will be, or has been a failure at some point in their life. And all of us have this human relationship game all wrong.

The truth is that anyone can make the worst relationship last forever. Because “staying together” tells us nothing about the juice of the relationship. It’s not a marker of the quality of the relationship.

I believe we should define relationship success in a way that holds us accountable.

Are you doing the best you can? Are you being the best possible partner you know you’re capable of being? Are you making the choices and living in a way that you expect from your partner?

Yes? Amazing.

No? Why not?

Do you love who you are and bring that back to the relationship?

If not, why? What’s holding you back?

Instead of being driven and focused by needing the relationship to last forever, set it as an intention that guides your behaviour in each moment.

Relationship success is about living in the now and showing up each day. It’s about being the best possible version of you in each moment. And choosing your partner – moment by moment.

We can only take responsibility for our side of the relationship. It’s up to us to set the benchmark for the type of relationship we want. Those that can’t keep up, won’t. But instead of holding onto someone and dating their potential, let them go and find someone who’s ready and wants to love like you do.

By living and loving this way, we reframe what the end of a relationship means for us. We do everything we can and if a relationship ends, we let it go because we’ve done our best. We’ve given it our all. 

You are accountable to your potential. How you choose to live and love is up to you! Don’t wait until shit hits the fan to figure out how to be a great partner.

Choose to be amazing today.

Strive to be and do the best you can. Embrace the adventure. Accept and appreciate your learnings. And always move forward. Even if it’s just a small step.

When we live and love like this, moments add up into days, the days into years, and maybe even the years into your forever.

sex, religion, culture, dating advice, relationship advice, positive psychology, human connection

Are We All Just Meant To Be Sluts?

Slut is an extremely powerful word, isn’t it? In four letters we have managed to encapsulate all of the shaming we, as humans, connect with female sexuality.

Of course the shaming of sexuality and sexual freedom is not reserved for just women. Society and culture have tried to control and dictate how we wish to love and our ability as men and women to choose what sort of sex we want.

Think of one of the main questions that guides our selection of partner and is a source of much conflict and insecurity. It has ended, and will continue to end relationships before they have even begun:

”How many people have you been with?”

As men and women, we can both feel the cringe if we’ve had a few “too many” sexual partners when this question pops up. It usually comes out of nowhere over a casual drink or during the post-coital cuddle… right when we thought everything was going soooooo great. Boom.

And we freeze. Why? Because this number carries a lot of weight and judgment.

The answer to this question is enough to say “No” to a wonderful and viable partner. A system taught someone – and those people taught us – that sexuality and our sexual freedom are reflective of our value systems and strength of character.

Amidst all this drama, do we ever really take the time to appreciate that falling for a beautiful heart is rare?!? And that no matter how that heart got in front of us, we should be appreciative?!? If there were a couple of questionable bangs on the way, is that enough to put the brakes on? We should acknowledge that just ONE tiny shift in their history and that person would not be sharing our gaze. 

Wow. Deep. Shit.

“Oh wait, you’ve slept with more than seven people?! OMG. You’re basically a parking lot. I can’t date you. I can’t love you.”

If sexuality and sexual freedom brings our character into question, then what do we think about the many wise and amazing human beings who found themselves and learned their lessons through sexual exploration and being open-minded about making mistakes? Do these folks lack character? Does experience really make us wiser? Or is wisdom only reserved for wholesome choices that are approved by religion and the culture police?

This fear of sexuality has very much framed how we look at relationships and the stories we’ve been told about what is “right” and “wrong”.

The very nature of everything, I, and everyone else on this planet, are taught about relationships and love is a stretched and manipulated version of truths.

A little white lie won’t hurt anyone… right?! How about a lot of white lies?

Let me give you some examples:

• Monogamy is the only way

• You need to be married by 30

• You must have kids by 35 (women especially)

• Female sexual freedom is a HUGE NO-NO

• Gay marriage is bad

• Polyamory is shameful

• Every relationship needs to last forever, if they don’t, we are failures

• Divorce is bad

• Being in a relationship is more important than being happy and single

• Sexuality is bad. Discovering your sexuality is worse. And sharing your body with more than one person is immoral. Especially if you’re a woman.

And fear of sexual freedom underpins each and everyone of these beliefs. From the moment of conception, these beliefs are indoctrinated into us through media, religion and culture – all the source of much guilt and shame.

Isn’t it crazy that sex, the very thing that brought us into this world, is the thing we deny most?

And on top of that, we are so afraid of female sexual freedom that we have built systems around controlling it.

But what is the fear of embracing sex? 

What is the fear of gay people falling in love and entering the union of marriage? 

Is marriage really that sacred? 

The divine heterosexuals who rule the institution of marriage are divorcing at a rate of 50% and even those who remain married are often addicted to pornography and are busy perusing the profiles of other married people on Ashley Maddison.

Now don’t get me wrong, marriage is a beautiful thing. There are plenty of people who are happily married, build amazing families, and have wonderful lives. Their lives and way of living are not the issue. I think a conscious partnership is amazing and I can’t wait to build a family with someone special. 

The real problem stems from the Ivory Tower of the heterosexual marriage union that seems to be threatened by sexual freedom. 

There’s a fear that families, religion, and society, will all come crumbling down around us should we embrace the sexuality born unto us as an innate human right.

It’s inevitable that systems will come crashing down which are built on the foundation of false truths.  

The craziest part of the obsession to preserve this pretend world is that we have all been cheating the system and going behind its back anyways. 

But it’s ok to cheat the system, isn’t it?! As long as no one is found out, right?

We’re told to hide our unmarried pregnant daughters from our so called “friends” and co-religionists because it will bring shame to the family. 

We can’t tell our parents or family about the woman or man we’ve fallen in love with because she/he’s from a different culture or religion. 

We reject our children because of their sexual orientation and we scoff at interracial marriage. 

We would rather see two people who do not love each other get married to satisfy a system that does not allow them to love on their own terms. 

We mutilate female genitalia and shame the feminine desire to explore THEIR bodies. THEIR BODIES! How ridiculous is that?!

All because of what?! To preserve a way of living that does not even embrace the very innate desire for sexual freedom and exploration? One that is not even built on love, kindness and acceptance.

This system seems doomed to fail, does it not?

bondage, slut, sex, relationship advice, dating advice, religion, sexuality

Our innate sexual desire is evident in our engagement of movies and media. The fanfare of “Fifty Shades of Grey” is not because we just like horrible writing and bad acting. It is because it represents our very deepest truth: EACH and EVERY ONE of us has a freak flag. And almost none of us let it fly. 

So we become addicted to the porn movies where the (bad) actors are doing everything we wish we were doing.

Is there not a potential danger to ignoring our needs and hiding from our desires?

Absolutely. And the proof is all around us.

What do we think sexual repression manifests as? I don’t need to be a scientist to come to the conclusion that rape, aggression, molestation of children, and fetishes that are hidden in the corridors of Craigslist, are in some way related to the inability for us to just be ourselves.

We are all so afraid to just be who we are. We have bought into a system that is held together by the threat of shame.

Imagine if we all lived by the ACTUAL truth:

There is no one way to do anything. And anyone who claims to have it all figured out is the very person to run from.

Imagine if it was ok for everyone to not know and to search for knowledge through experience. Imagine if we just did the best we could, each and every day.

Imagine if we were told to just play, see, and feel. 

To find out what works for US

Imagine if our mistakes were embraced, and better yet, encouraged!

Imagine if we were taught that by finding out what we do not want it will just further reinforce what we DO want.

Imagine a world where we got to choose and that our choices did not have to be the same as everyone else’s.

That all of our decisions just need to be guided by our human capacity and desire to be kind. If every decision we made were based on the answer to the question:

“What would love do?” 

I don’t know everything but I do know this:

You are the expert of you. You know you better than anyone. You know how you love. You know what feels good, and you know what your heart beats for. 

You know what you want to try and what you are curious about. 

You know what you seek. And the most beautiful thing of all, is that you are not committed to a life sentence because you made a decision when you did not know what you know today.

There is no “right way”. There is only your way. And no one knows your life better than you. 

Live YOUR truth.

Good man, evolved man, evolved, relationship advice, dating advice, emotional intelligence, communication skills

Are There Enough Good Men For Good Women?

The other day I was speaking to my friend about the realities of dating and relationships today. It only takes a glimpse into the interactions on any relationship article or Instagram love quote, to see there are far more women reading and striving to improve their relationships than men.

This isn’t just true in the realm of social media. Women are the consumers of far more articles and books regarding bettering themselves in love. Whereas, we as men, are more open and willing to read a book on how to be a better leader, how to pick up women or manipulate our way through life. Many of these books, I’m reluctant to admit, have had a comfortable life on my shelf.

The line between work and home and how we behave is vague at best. As men, do we not see that the way we behave in romantic relationships and family systems is a form of leadership and teamwork too? That the way we are at home can translate to how we show up at work, and vice versa?

In addition, women are often a much more accurate barometer of the emotional state of relationships. Just think about the percentage of times a man says, “I want to talk about us” or “Things just seem off, I was hoping we could have a chat about how we’re doing.”

Male-initiated emotional conversations are few and far between. And this is even further supported by the mere fact that about two thirds of divorces are set in motion by women.

If we were to survey most established romantic relationships, it wouldn’t take long before we would see that men can exist in a relationship that is not necessarily amazing, but not bad either. Kind of like a “good enough to stay and not bad enough to leave” situation. I don’t mean all men, but most men. And when a woman finally leaves that’s when he says, “Wait!? I didn’t even realize things were bad! You never even tried!”

Oh yes. She did. And we were not listening, and maybe she was not saying it the right way. Or maybe no one taught us how to maintain a great relationship.

In order for men to thrive in relationships, good men need to teach good men.

However, with women there is a belief that they have an inherent ability to thrive in relationships and there is a pervasive arrogance to the messages regarding their emotional intelligence and capacity for love. One needs to only survey a couple of women before you’ll hear the commonly uttered phrase, “There are no good men out there.”

It’s a provocative thought isn’t it? Are there enough good men for good women? 

To move forward there is a need to define the idea of what makes a “good man” and what makes a “good woman”?

We could argue that a good man is one who shows integrity, honesty, the qualities of good fatherhood, supportiveness, empathy, and is kind in his words and offers fidelity. This is going to be defined a little differently by each person, but for sake of argument we can/will assume this is what makes men inherently “good”.

What defines a good woman? It’s likely very similar to what makes for a good man, except for the ever important caveat of women having different genitalia.

What makes a good women seems controversial to even discuss, doesn’t it? Because we usually just assume that on average women are the “good ones”, don’t we?

It sounds insulting to state “There are no good women out there” as it indicates that women on average are not good.

Then why is it ok to suggest that men are not good?

From what I have observed and read in the relationship world, I see that men are under the microscope when it comes to love and relationships, and women are told they are perfect at love, and that men need to step it up.

Have we truly invited men to be emotional?

Brené Brown’s research supports the idea that when a man breaks down and shares emotions with a woman, he loses her trust. His vulnerability reduces the safety his lady feels. This in turn, causes her to become angry and in some ways resent him for displaying a softer side of masculinity.

I thought we wanted emotional men? Is emotional equilibrium what we truly seek?

Based on the vast majority of literature and conversations I indulge in, the mass consensus appears to be that men should be to be able to talk about how they feel.

So what do women really want?

good man, evolved, emotional intelligence, communication skills, relationship advice, dating advice

It’s no wonder men feel confused about what role they need to play in relationships. There is a disconnect between what is asked of them and what they are empowered and rewarded for being.

Now, truth be told, it’s not like men everywhere are shedding tears, opening their hearts, and losing their woman because of emotional transparency. Men do not tend to share their emotions, they do not tell the women in their lives that they are upset or don’t feel loved.

Men are lost, because no one taught them what being a man means, or what they are taught is patriarchal and “old fashioned”.

Brene’s research demonstrates men being their vulnerable selves may actually result in disconnection with their partner, which is the opposite result of the intention of sharing. So on each man goes, pretending that men don’t have emotions and are not good at talking about feelings.

Because if he is sensitive he is a “pussy”, certainly not emotionally intelligent and aware of his emotional state.

We can safely say that all those things which traditionally defined the masculine model for the last couple of centuries have been displaced, and women often find themselves making the money and decisions.

We are quick to point out where men can step it up, but we do not think or discuss the idea of where women can step up their game, do we?

Women do so many things well. They show up emotionally and they create community. Women, are inherently good. They are beautifully kind, empathetic, nurturing and supportive. They build amazing social programs and have rallied to create a female empowerment movement that is unbelievably inspiring, and unbelievably needed.

There is still much oppression of the feminine, and every country and culture has a lot of work to do to have women treated with equality, and empowered and supported by all men.

That’s why I think this conversation is important, because in order for women to thrive, men need to as well.

I think that we are all here for connection and to share our hearts, but we cannot do it alone.

It begs me to ask: Are we forgetting about men, in the effort to save women? Have we forgotten about all the good men out there through our desire not to disturb the feminine?

Celebration of men and the male model is uncommon. We tend not to talk about all the amazing fathers, and unbelievably stand up men who we can call at any hour and would do anything for all the people in their lives.

Because there are a lot of them. 

I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up with, and really have only enjoyed the company of great men. Men of integrity and consistency in how they show up for the women and men in their lives. But, I do not think that it is rare, and it is not only my friends and athletic teammates who are like this.

Everywhere I travel I meet incredible men.

I can see and find good men, because they are who I look for. Just like all the women I know are incredible, intelligent, kind and have some of the brightest souls on the planet.

The truth is, we get what we focus on.

There are a lot of women who focus on their inability to find good men.

I hear “There are no good men out there” from women who have emotional wounds. Women who have chosen men and ignored red flags. Women who cheat and lie to themselves and others. Women who have their own work to do.

I’m not saying men don’t have work to do. We do. And women have work to do too. It’s a human problem, not a gender problem. We, as men, need to build from within first and create conscious communities where men can learn to support and develop together.

We need to teach each other, and even more importantly, we need to teach our sons how to become a good men and what that means. We need to be GREAT fathers.

We need to embrace and embody the emotional skills required of us to be amazing leaders in every facet of our lives. 

We need to show up for the women(and men) in our lives and demonstrate kindness and empathy. 

 We need to remember and celebrate all of the men who are changing the world. 

We need to create a space for men to thrive, and instead of trying to destroy each other, we need to build each other up. 

I commend all the good men who push for change and equality. Who don’t see gender, and instead see hearts; hearts that crave connection and love.

I am so proud to be a man and to share this planet with such amazing and wonderful men. 

To answer the question, “Are There Enough Good Men For Good Women?”: YES, I believe that there are more than enough good men out there.  And if this is true, it begs the next question:

Are there enough good women who can hold the space for good men? 

relationship advice, dating advice, friends with benefits, men and women be just friends, relationships, dating, men, women, friends

Can Men And Women Be Just Friends?

Relationships often begin as friendships. And friendships often get lost in sex and the desire for “Friends With Benefits”.

But can men and women exist in the space of friendship alone?

I tackle this ever-long debate of whether Men & Woman can be just friends with reference to experience and some science that challenges my view.

What do you think about friendship between men & women? What has been your experience?

dating advice, relationship advice, love, relationships, dating

Why You Might Not Be Ready For The Evolved Man You Say You Want

I spend a lot of time in coffee shops. Maybe it’s an addiction thing. I don’t mean just to coffee. I mean to people. There’s no better place to watch the comings and goings of random strangers. To listen to consistently similar discussions despite the constant rotation of different asses in each seat. Different people, same subject.

Relationships. It’s why we’re here.

I was recently creeping on listening to a couple of girls talk about their love life and relationships. As most conversations about love and relationships do, it turned to a discussion about what their ideal partner would be like. He didn’t sound much different than what I normally hear from women. The seemingly ever elusive balance between the “nice guy” and the “asshole”.

Simply put, to me this is a man who is kind and compassionate but knows how to honour his boundaries. Who can communicate his emotions. An emotionally intelligent man who is driven in his purpose (has a career and doesn’t live with parents) and is compassionate, romantic, and kind. Let’s call him an Evolved Man.

Let me ask you though: Are you ready for him when he arrives? When you finally get him, will you be able to handle him?

Here are 6 ways an Evolved Man will show up differently than any other man you have met before:

1. You will have to share the driver’s seat. Doesn’t sound so bad does it? When you’re used to being the emotional captain it can be challenging to meet someone in the middle who can finally see things the way you do. There’s a comfort in knowing that the discussion won’t be beyond your scope of ability and understanding.  A comfort you didn’t know you enjoyed till you no longer get to enjoy it. But it can be challenging when that title is shared, and sometimes this man might even be better at it than you. Which leads to my next point.

2. They will see things in a way that you may never have. Their eyes are wide open. Their awareness allows them to share a male perspective in a way that you may never have been exposed to. They will offer opinions and ideas that are different than yours, and they will be the ones that bring up the “issues” first. This is an amazing quality in any beautiful relationship. However, when we’re not used to it because we’ve always been the ones steering the ship emotionally, it can be really intimidating.

3. They will challenge your shit. Remember comfort zones and living small? Remember that guy that pissed on your dreams and constantly asked,”Are you sure that’s a good idea? Have you thought that through?” You won’t anymore. An emotionally intelligent man is going to call you to your greatness. He will see your brilliance in moments where you can’t — That you are capable of achieving anything, and that he won’t settle for less than the best version of you. He will push you to dream. To live. And to grow.

4. You might not feel loved. This man will love you without fail. He will believe in doing the little things. Not to earn your love, but to demonstrate it. He believes love is a verb. He knows that he is worthy of you. He is already full. He doesn’t need you. He wants you. Don’t mistake love for what a weak man does. They can fawn too much and chase you in a way that will make you want to run even faster. You know that feeling where you can get anything you want? Boring. A weak man can use words as weapons and try to make you feel small. They purchase affection with gifts. Because the man you see in front of you doesn’t need to do that — don’t mistake it as a lack of affection. It is self worth and determination in action. He doesn’t need love. He is love.

5. You will love beyond what you’ve ever known. This man loves without abandon. He’s worked through his shit. He’s not looking for a mommy to take care of him. He’s whole now. Because of that he is ready to dive into vulnerability and meet you where you’ve never been. He will push you to love and grow with him and he will expect the same in return. He will invite you to explore his and your sexuality. He will recognize when you need a caveman to ravish you and when you need to be held and loved gently.

6. Communication will be his greatest strength. You will have conflicts. All great relationships do. He will not yell or swear at you. When he’s upset he will take the time to communicate his fears and frustrations. He recognizes that even the most difficult conversations can be communicated with kindness. He will be open to your feedback and look for cues for his own growth. He will have difficult conversations and take the time to make sure that he understands you and that you, in turn, feel understood. Being clear is his priority.

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Understand that this shit is scary. It’s rarely comfortable and always exciting.

These are not just the qualities of a great male partner, but more so a great human. I’ve always been a firm believer that whatever you want to find in a partner you need to exemplify those yourself. So in saying that, I invite you to explore who you’re being. How are you showing up to your relationships?

The greatest relationships take two whole people. Two people who don’t need each other. Better yet. They want each other.

Their love is born of choice, not of necessity.

They challenge each other to grow. To be better versions of even what they know themselves to be. To be reminded of how amazing they are when they might be losing hope or sight of their dreams. The best partners choose each other.

Choose to be with a man like this.



Models:

Jin N Tonic
Joshua Keith Mathews
©Robert Bejil Photography 2013