5 Things I Learned from Online Dating

Ah, the online dating world! I can tell you that I came into it rather reluctantly as I was pretty sure that I was going to meet someone the old fashioned way. Ha! Two blind dates and then a 6 month lull convinced me I needed to bridge the waters of cyber-space dating. Being fairly introverted by nature, I had to gear myself up; I read a book about what to expect and then headed to my best friend’s house where we set up my profile over a glass (or two) of wine. It was a fun way to ease my mind and I felt a bit more prepared ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are the lessons I learned about online dating:

  1. Paid dating sites do some of the vetting for you. You are much less likely to get requests for threesomes and hookups on the paid dating sites. And hey, I figured if I was paying to be a part of a dating site, so were they ๐Ÿ™‚
  2. Chat for no more than a week without suggesting to meet. I quickly figured out that you could chat with someone for 3 weeks only for them to cancel the date on the day of because they “weren’t ready.” There really is no point in communicating with someone who shows that level of non-commitment right from the start.
  3. Suggest coffee as a first date instead of dinner. First off, you are in a much better position if the date is not going well to wrap things up earlier than sitting through a lengthy dinner; if the date is going well, nothing stops you from chatting for a couple of hours. Secondly, there is always the issue of who pays for the first date; coffee just makes it easier all around.
  4. Use your instincts. Pay attention to the red flags; if their profile said non-smoker and you can smell smoke when you meet them, heed that warning. I quickly learned that I could often tell on a first date if the person seemed compatible and I didn’t feel obligated to a second date when they asked and I would politely decline.
  5. Don’t take things personally. This is a tough one as we are more vulnerable when dating. But the reality is that in your online dating life, you will get ghosted (all communication stops), people go back to someone else they were dating, people end up still having feelings for their exes, people are dating when they are not ready to. All of the above is not about you. The online dating world just makes it easier for people to walk away without considering good manners.

And guess what? Online dating is how I met my partner – a wonderful, compatible and stable man who happened to live 15 minutes away; I most likely may never have met him otherwise. Online dating can work; gear up your confidence so that you can navigate and process as you go along, take breaks when you need to and have an open mind that there are people “just like you” out there. ๐Ÿ™‚

Photo credit:ย http://Photo by Wiktor Karkocha on Unsplash

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Crossing the Line

I was surprised when my oldest daughter, college age at the time, said to me “Mom, this is the first boyfriend I’ve had that doesn’t ask to look through my phone.” I felt both dumbfounded – and ticked at myself – how did she not know this was not the norm in a healthy relationship? I also felt sad for her, that her past relationships had been ones in which she was dealing with behaviours that cross the line into destructive and potentially abusive dating patterns.

Here are some warning signs:

  • checking your cell phone or email without your permission
  • mood swings
  • telling you what to do
  • being possessive of you
  • constantly putting you down, criticism
  • extreme jealousy or insecurity
  • explosive temper
  • falsely accusing you of things
  • physically hurting you in any way (this includes being pushy, and “playing” rough)
  • isolating you from family and friends
  • behaviour that is manipulative in nature

Print out this list and give it to your teenager. Tape it on the fridge if you are single and actively dating. Know the warning signs and don’t tell yourself that with time things will change. Don’t excuse the behaviour (he had a terrible childhood) or think that you are going to make a difference (if I just love him enough…..). People show you who they are early on. Believe them.ย 

Information for this post and a wonderful resource: https://www.loveisrespect.org/

If you need help to escape an abusive relationship, here is the international directory of domestic violence agencies:ย http://www.hotpeachpages.net/canada/index.html

Photo credit:ย http://Photo by Jose Aragones on Unsplash

Friends Are Good for the Soul

I will say this until I am blue in the face – “Friends are the ultimate gift in self-care.”

This past weekend, I had my annual girls weekend with three of my high school friends.ย  Spanning 29 years of friendship and living in four different areas, we have, in connection, raised our children together. For us, this weekend away is about nourishing our comfort system. We eat good food, drink good wine, laugh until we cry, and create memories that are unique to that experience.

The setting was The Opinicon Resort in Chaffey’s Lock, Ontario for a ReTreat Yourself getaway. The 1950’s vibe to the place gave us a feeling of stepping back in time while the backdrop of nestled cabins tucked into rolling hills and the still calm of Opinicon Lake brought us the peaceful feeling we all need. We signed up for workshops, completed a little “amazing race” type challenge, sat outside our cute little cabin and soaked up the sun. The food was amazing, the dance was awesome, the surroundings were lovely. But most importantly, we caught up, we laughed, we connected.ย  Friends are the ultimate gift in self-care.ย 

Photo credit: Me!

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Habits for Kids that Lead to Growth

In an article entitled “Boundaries, Routines and Early Bedtimes: The 13 Powerful Habits That Raise Well-Adjusted Kids” by Lauren Tamm and featured on The Military Wife and Mom, Tamm writes about some essential practices that we can put into place to help our children become well adjusted. Although she spoke of the basics such as the importance of consistency through routine and making sure our little ones get enough sleep, I also appreciated some of the other featured habits including:

  • Being playful with our kids. “We donโ€™t reserve much room in our lives for fun and games anymore. Our days are filled with stress, obligations and hard work, and without realizing it, we are more disconnected from our kids than ever. Play is the work of the child and to connect with our kids, we must play with our kids.”
  • Reading to and with our kids. โ€œOne of the most important things parents can do, beyond keeping kids healthy and safe, is to read with them. That means starting when they are newborns and not even able to talk, and continuing well beyond the years that they can read by themselves. Study after study shows that early reading with children helps them learn to speak, interact, bond with parents and read early themselves, and reading with kids who already know how to read helps them feel close to caretakers, understand the world around them and be empathetic citizens of the world.โ€ ย Amy Joyce, parenting writer
  • Slow moving days. (I love this one!) โ€œI encourage parents to take some time to just watch their children, whether they are playing, doing homework, or eating a snack. Take a moment to drink them in. Remember and remind yourself how remarkable your children are. That pause alone, even if momentary, can drive a shift in the pace.โ€ John Duffy, clinical psychologist
  • Experiences not things. (Read that one again!) “The best life experiences cost little to nothing, like a picnic in the park, blowing bubbles in the backyard, making chalk drawings on the sidewalk, or tossing a football around, but they all have one thing in common: you do them together. What kids really want in life is quality time spent with their parents.โ€ โ€“ย Sally White, parenting writer

Some really good stuff here; what I like most about these four in particular is they are about the time we spend with our children and the experiences ventured. ๐Ÿ™‚

To read the full article (well worth the read):ย https://themilitarywifeandmom.com/raise-well-adjusted-kid/

Photo credit:ย http://Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

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It’s All About Connection

I just got back from a special vacation; Mexican sunrises, the warm heat of the sun, turquoise waters, and lovely ocean breezes. But what made it truly special were the people I was with. After having lost our mom this past November, my sister and I decided to try and co-ordinate our families for a week to enjoy some time together; not an easy task but we did it. Together we:

  • experienced new things together and made some amazing memories. Seeing my nephew’s wife jump into the ocean to go snorkeling when she is afraid of open water, warmed my heart. Having the chef at the Japanese restaurant throw rice balls into our mouths was nothing short of a little embarrassing, but hey – we all had to do it! Learning to do the Bachata in the main plaza with some of my family members, priceless fun!
  • relaxed and recharged. You never really know how much you need it until you are sitting on a beach under a palm tree. We got to take in some sun, spend lazy afternoons reading, explored little Mexican villages, lounge around in the pool, linger after dinner listening to music. Being with great company only added to the flavour.
  • had a much needed chance to connect. Put 13 people together for a week and you can’t help but walk away with awesome moments of connection. Being able to get lots of cuddles in with my nephew’s 6 month old, walks on the beach with loved ones, family dinners together, dancing at the disco (well, for the young ones….we let them have that one crazy night together, haha!), time spent chatting, laughing, sometimes a few tears. All good; all important.

Family time is important no matter how you get it; being able to connect allows greater feelings of safety and security, allowing vulnerability to bring about courage and faith in your support system. Mom would have been proud ๐Ÿ™‚

Photo credit: Me!

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The Value of Family Dinner

Growing up, our family of four ate dinner together every night; when I had my own family, I carried on the tradition. It was a good time to connect with each other, talk about our best and worst parts of our day, have a few laughs, and it served as a bookend for the beginning of our evening. But it is through my sister that I learned the true value of family dinner.

A few years ago, she decided to begin the tradition of having “Sunday supper;” a gathering at her house that she began as a way to gather her adult children on a regular basis. She cooks for all of us, every Sunday, and the group ranges anywhere from 10 to 15 people; a big deal when you think about it (and she is an excellent cook!)

What makes it so valuable is the importance she places on it; and as a result, it has also become a prominent part of our week. There has been much talked about at family supper, laughter, some tears, and the telling of stories.ย I have learned through Sunday supper that gathering to eat together is about attachment; stability, consistency, attunement. It nourishes our comfort system,ย strengthens the connections we have to each other and creates memories. Family dinner brings light to the kitchen.

Thank you, Karina ๐Ÿ™‚

Photo credit:ย http://Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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The Gift of Thoughtful Intention

To all of those celebrating Christmas today, I wish you the merriest of days. I wish you joy and laughter, the warmth of gathering and the comfort of sitting around a table in festivity. And if Christmas is a hard day for you, I wish you strength and courage. What I hope for you most of all is the gift of thoughtful intention; not only for today but for every day.

I hope that you can be both thoughtful in your intentions to others and receive that in return.ย  When we hold someone in our thoughts, we are considering them; we are protecting them with benevolent energy. When we make an intention towards someone, we have moved to action. That might be in the form of a prayer, a gift, an act of love, an emotional bid, a genuine hug or a warm smile.

Thoughtful intentions are both validating and liberating; they create peace and build grace. Sounds like a lovely way to spend the day ๐Ÿ™‚

Photo credit:ย  ย http://Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

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The Difference Between Love and Attachment

When it comes to attachment, we have learned that it is a innate process that is with us for a lifetime, and that we can form an attachment style based on the experiences we had with caregivers in our early childhood. But what is the difference between love and attachment? When a relationship is healthy, the answer is very little. Healthy relationships promote reciprocity, providing a secure, safe base to love with intention. It is when a relationship has moved to becoming unhealthy that we really see a difference between love and attachment.

There are times when a client is exploring the sustainability of a relationship and one of the questions I will ask is “Without using the words love or potential, what is it about the relationship that is pulling you to stay?” Very often, without those two words, they have little left to say.

We are a relationship species, dependent on connection. Our attachment system works in us for our lifetime; and very often it is that very system that pulls at us to hang on to a relationship, long after we know that the love is not the same. We think back to what it was like in the beginning and the potential for the relationship to right itself; our attachment system so desires a secure base from that person that we often afford them that capability when their actions tells us a different story.

It becomes important at this point to move towards the process of healthy detachment. A realization that for all its good intentions, the relationship is not working and it is time to let go. It is a painful process; healthy detachment is about grief and loss. It is, however, also a process with a beginning, a middle and an end. Based on personal experience, I am forever reminded and grateful for the Marianne Williamson quote “Every ending is a new beginning. Through the grace of God, we can always begin again.”ย 

Photo credit:ย http://Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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