You get ghosted. You are told it’s over. You have another one-sided text conversation on your phone, going nowhere. You’re emotionally bruised from a betrayal.
How do you come back to love when it has shut you out, tied your brain in knots, and body slammed your tender heart until it you raised the white flag in surrender, praying for relief?
I’ve heard so many people ask: “What can I do to feel hopeful again? How do I stop feeling burnt out by love?”
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Matt and I did a podcast this week decoding your most confusing texts (from our Facebook and Instagram followers).
And one of the crazy plot twists was: some of the most popular ones weren’t all that confusing.
Sure, there were some classics we did take time to decode, like:
(Go and listen to the full episode on iTunes or Spotify if you want to hear us analyse this text and much more!)
Or there were the kind of texts that sound like a cheesy line from a movie, or as I now dub them, “failed screenplay texts”:
Yep, those are kind of confusing.
But then there were texts that were just honest. Weirdly, boldly, stupidly honest:
Is this a weird text? Yes.
Is it fastidiously rational to the point where you might wonder if he thinks you’re some kind of pre-programmed sex robot that he can schedule in a Google calendar along with his other meticulously psychopathic weekly plans? Yes.
But is it CONFUSING? Actually, no.
Same as this one:
This one is simple as can be. It just means: I have priorities that come before you.
It’s someone telling you exactly where you stand to them early on. It’s someone telling you to keep the bar set low, and never expect anything more. It’s someone telling you exactly who they are.
In a weird way, we should be grateful when someone lays it out so clearly that we shouldn’t waste our time in such an efficient text!
Take this other mind-melting message for example:
Yep, I know. Sorry you had to read that one.
Is it insane someone sent this text and thought it would be ok (without some lengthy unorthodox prior arrangement)? Errr, yes.
Does it make you want to slap your hand across your forehead, and consider melting your phone in a vat of hot acid in order to scrub dating apps (and texting entirely) from your life in the most dramatic fashion possible? Sure
But is it CONFUSING? Actually, no.
There’s nothing to decipher here. The actual reasons behind the matter…don’t matter.
It’s just someone telling you how shitty they are (and people will do that, if we only listen). Ok. Thanks for the information. Goodbye.
It’s not the WHY that matters. It’s what YOU’RE going to do about it.
People think they want a relationship with a successful millionaire entrepreneur. Or a celebrity. Or an artistic genius. Or a health freak. Or someone who looks like an Instagram model.
But they never ask: What is the cost?
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Every Sunday I wake up and know what I want to do. Sit in my pyjamas, eat a bacon sandwich, play on my Oculus Quest, watch a cooking show with my family and read the newspapers. And drink at least 4-5 cups of tea (the English Sabbath ritual).
But then I get the twinge.
I should probably go for a run first.
I plod upstairs. I find my sweats and a hoodie.
Ok, I’ll just put these on and walk around in them for a bit, see how I feel.
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Every society, in every age, is living under a set of “invisible truths”.
In Victorian England, it would have been: “Gentlemen must wear a top hat”.
In ancient Egypt, it would have been, “You need to be buried in a tomb chock full of trinkets and treasures when you die”.
In 2020, we still have the invisible truth, “mature people should be in a relationship”.
I’ve written about my own problems with this narrative before. I don’t think either being single or being in a relationship is a superior state of affairs. They are choices. Choices that both mature and immature people make for all different kinds of reasons.
So if it is not always good to be in a relationship, when should you choose to be on your own?
The short answer is: whenever you want.[click here to continue…]
You probably already know this, but there’s a LOT of judgment on Instagram about people’s looks.
Arms too skinny. Don’t skip leg day. Nice cellulite. You look pale. Get your teeth fixed. You have bags under your eyes.
Wow. Thanks Brad Pitt.
Oh wait, it wasn’t from Brad Pitt. It was a comment from some Internet-porn-addicted basement-dweller who hasn’t left his house in a year (even before the global pandemic) and has an anonymous profile with no photo. Funny how that works.
And the worst part is: people are actually affected (infected?) by this person’s opinion.
People allow these comments to make them upset, to ruin their day, to make them afraid of putting themselves out there. They feel insecure that they’ll never be attractive enough because some keyboard bully wrote a tasteless comment about their body.
This is a very strange phenomenon online: people feel more insecure than ever, and yet are happy to attack anyone who is less-than-perfect for completely superficial reasons.
It’s like we are holding everyone up to a fake, impossible, ludicrous standard – comparing them to a lifestyle we all know deep down is an illusion anyway.
Make no mistake: this can screw you up.
I’ve seen even enviably attractive people suffer a crash in self-esteem because they feel constantly in competition with other people. And don’t forget the universal insecurity about getting even the slightest bit older thanks to our strange obsession with youth.
Oh no! How will I find a mate if I’m not a perfect 10? Or even a 9? What if there is someone cuter, richer, smarter, and with more Instagram followers than I have? How will I ever keep a prospective lover’s attention knowing that such superior people exist?
This is insane.
It’s not natural. It’s a funhouse mirror version of real life. And it’s a totally unnecessary cause of deep unhappiness.
What a disturbing scenario we have created for ourselves. And how cringey that people perpetuate and feed into this with memes and posts that imply hotness and money and private jets and living like you’re in the TV show Entourage is the objective vision of a “good life”.
And that’s why more than ever you have to resist. You have to cultivate an UNSHAKEABLE, ROCK-SOLID, DEEPLY CONFIDENT core that can’t be rocked by the frivolous nonsense that pollutes the public square these days.
Before I get accused of being salty: I actually like social media. I love modern technology. I defend it. I find it a great tool to meet like-minded people and have truly enjoyed using it to share ideas and connect for over a decade now.
But I also know that having a shield and your own personal weapons to deal with this onslaught and stop it from driving you nuts is the key to thriving in these times of endless social pressure.
So if you want to find love and NOT fall into despair along the way, here are some helpful steps:
1. Have a HUGE world
When I worry about being “perfect”, or beat myself up, it’s usually because I’ve gotten way too deep into one track: achievement, money, looks, popularity, sexual validation – and these things then take on an outsized importance such that my self-esteem becomes unhealthily linked to them.
One way of combating this: have a HUGE mental world.
Have lots of friends who live different kinds of lives. See different places and ways of living and couples of all backgrounds and types. Read about people who pursue very different things than you do. Seek out knowledge and skills and art that fires you up.
When I do this, I see that the world is much richer than the petty concerns I have about my own unquenchable desires. I learn that comparison is dumb because the world is indifferent to these status games we play. Because there’s so much more to be excited about than competing for who can look the coolest on Instagram.
Ultimately, getting a big world gives you huge perspective and stops you getting obsessed with some zero-sum game thinking that dominates a lot of social media (which seems obsessed with winners and losers).
2. Change your role models
When I hang around people driven only by money, I think about money more.
That can be useful if you need a shot of ambition, but disastrous if it’s your only crowd. The same is true for what you read and watch on TV. The best way to combat this is to look for role models in different traits that matter to you.
You could find role models for:
- Thoughtfulness and generosity
- Family and friendship
- Art and creativity
If you look for different role models, you realise how many different parts of yourself there are to cultivate and you’ll start to learn what you truly value.
I always find this when I watch an Anthony Bourdain travel show. When he meets someone who devotes their life to slicing tuna for sushi, or living in the wilderness, or surrounded by a big family cooking for ten siblings – you realise that the key is choosing the life that serves you best, not what serves everyone else.
That’s a key to love as well: seeking out YOUR tribe. People who want the same things you do.
3. Get a life that renews your inner confidence every day, not one that drains it
We worry about what everyone else thinks when we don’t have a stable core.
And you have to fix this before anything else. You desperately owe it to yourself.
I know that when people talk about doing “deep inner work” on yourself, it sounds weird and woo-woo. But this is basically what they mean: you need to feel at the bottom of your soul that you are entitled to demand your worth. And that worth is something no-one else can take away.
We can’t expect to fix ourselves with looks and lifestyle. Those things will definitely make the journey easier (there are reasons to get a fit body and have fulfilling work, after all).
But anyone who has these things knows their confidence can still be shaken. They experience bouts of crippling self-doubt and jealousy, imposter syndrome, and feel unworthy in relationships – because just having those markers of success is not enough.
You can have the right education, the right income, the right body, and STILL live in fear of being replaced by your lover. You can feel a constant fear that your partner might one day fall out of love and leave. You can still have a terrible sense of abandonment when you’re forced to be alone in your own company for a day.
This is why deep core confidence is the ONLY thing that truly makes you feel whole.
When the chips are down (and this will happen no matter what kind of charmed life you lead), you need a voice that still tells you everything you’re worth. That picks you up and gets you back on your path. That allows you to endure those times and get through the onslaught of disappointment or failure or grief that you might need to go through. You have to amplify voice that can stand up for yourself and be the leader you need. You need to be able to take that and know that you’re worthy of a place at the table in life (WHETHER OR NOT YOU LIVE UP TO SOMEONE ELSE’S IDEA OF PERFECTION).
And the way you do this: change the way you talk to yourself forever.
This means a life where you are your greatest ally. A teammate. Not a critic. A fellow traveller, not a nagging parent. A helping hand, not a pointing finger.
If this is something you are really serious about, now is the year.
Some people have already set their sights low for 2021. But what if you stepped it up now and decide to play BIG?
Coming up next month we have our Virtual Retreat program. It’s going to be 3 days of truly transforming your personal goals and relationships, , taking control of your emotions, and living at your peak of your values, so that you make a life you actually wake up loving every day.
When you do this, you’ll never have to endure that insecurity of just waiting to be chosen again. Or that feeling of fear that you’re not enough for someone who isn’t giving you the love you deserve.
You’ll realise that you have everything you need – and you’ll know how to use it.
If you’re ready to play your own game, love the journey, and get the unshakeable confidence you deserve, come and join us for 3 life-changing days at MHVirtualRetreat.com
“I know it’s over” one of you says, “but we can still talk, right?”
That’s how it begins.
You’ve broken up. But you haven’t moved on.
You still text him. You share book recommendations, joke about TV shows, and send the odd photo of you at that brunch place you would always go together on Sundays.
This is…bad? Yes. But it won’t feel like it. Not at first.
It will feel like you’ve jumped back into that warm bath. Are your wounds healing? Nope. But at least the pain is gone, for now.
And that’s the real problem.
When you decide to stay friends, you can trick yourself into thinking you’ve dealt with the break up. All you’ve really done though is choose an “empty calorie” version of a relationship.
It’s like eating a load of junk of food – salty potato chips, a chocolate bar, a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts – instead of a nutritious meal. It’s not good for you, but it satisfies your immediate hunger.
This is the danger of deciding to stay friends: you get some of the benefits of a relationship, without getting the actual substance.
This means you:
- Don’t give yourself time to truly get used to life without your ex
- Feel a sense of closeness, chemistry and connection…but without any of the actual commitment and love that comes with a full relationship
- Don’t make space for a great relationship to come along (because you’re still spending time with your ex)
And there’s that secret part of you, deep down, that thinks: maybe if we just stay friends, we’ll figure it out and get back together.
If that’s your plan, then cut it off. Now.
The rule is always: you can stay friends, if, and only if, both of you have truly, honestly, no-bullshit, 100% moved on and no longer harbour any secret desire to be together.
That’s a big ask. And it’s for that reason that most couples can never really stay friends after a break up. Certainly not right away. Unless you want to feel a pang of agony and longing every time they enter the room. Yuck.
Is there a chance you’ll get back together? Who knows. It happens, certainly. But if that’s even going to be a possibility, it has to begin with time apart to figure out what went wrong, try life without one another, and assess with a more sober head if you actually are better off apart.
Otherwise, you’ll live in the halfway house: not really together, not really fully broken up.
And some people stay there for months, years, decades.
Take your self-care seriously. Treat your time like the precious jewel it is. You need room for a love to enter your life that serves you. Someone who really knows they want to be with you, and wouldn’t hesitate for a second to fight to keep you in their life.
And that person can never get in the door if someone else is still standing in the way.
Are butterflies just “Disney-movie” feelings or should they be an expectation I have for Mr. Right?
This was a question someone asked this week in our VIP members area, and I wanted to share some thoughts, because the idea of “instant attraction” (or even instant love) is a common societal belief.
So here’s where I stand on it…
If by butterflies you mean, some kind of animalistic feeling of chemistry, then yes. It’s very hard to stoke a flame if there isn’t a spark already.
If by butterflies you mean after a first date your heart is inflated like a balloon, your brain clicks into a feeling of absolute certainty, and you “just know” this is The One, then no.
To be fair, I have heard from people who said they “knew” their partner was The One by the first date. But remember, (a) this is often easier to say in hindsight, (b) it doesn’t mean it’s the case for everyone.
Many people have also told me how they fell for their partner over a matter of weeks, or even months (maybe even someone they knew as a friend for years). For many people it takes time and connection before they realise they have something they want to invest much deeper in. Hell, many guys can start dating their future wife without even being sure if they want a relationship right now – it’s only after a few months of dating do they realise they have someone they don’t want to let go of.
If we know that it can take longer than a first date to be certain about someone, it pays to be open-minded.
If we’re too dismissive, too quick to throw someone on the “no” pile, or never give anyone a chance because we don’t feel “Disney-movie” feelings at the very first moment, we can end up lost, looking for a unicorn that doesn’t exist.
Chemistry? yes. Crucial. Important. You need something that makes you want to be near this person, that leaves you thinking (or even fantasizing) about being more intimate.
But that’s just the first seed.
Before it can grow into a big relationship tree, you need the right soil, nutrients, solid foundations, water, sunshine – this is all the stuff that represents actual investment and compatibility, both of which are discovered by sharing meaningful time with someone, seeing how they live, what they spend their time on, and having honest conversations.
The Disney stuff is fun. But guess what? Even Disney stopped believing in their propaganda. The beginning act of Frozen is a parody of old Disney tropes, with Ana falling in love at a party with a Prince whom she instantly decides to marry, and who later turns out to be a self-serving villain.
So, yes, feelings matter in the beginning. Just don’t overrate them.
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Stephen Hussey“I need someone who can take my banter”
This is the sort of line on a dating profile that makes me cringe. It’s often code for something like, “I like to make a lot of sarcastic comments that cut people down. Hope you’re game for it!”
Perhaps I’m over-sensitive, but I never enjoy dates where the principle form of conversation is poking fun, making constant jabs, and trying to puncture someone else’s ego. It’s boring and a turn-off.
It can also lose you a second date without you ever realising why.
Yes, the person next to you may grit their teeth and laugh it off when you make jokes at the expense of their career, or tease them about their hobbies and interests (“you’re such a dork!”), or scoff at their future plans. But they probably choose to invest in those things for a reason.
By being overly critical, jokingly or otherwise, about someone’s passions, you’re basically sub-communicating “I don’t respect how you spend your time”, or “I’ve got it figured out more than you do”.
I know, it sounds over-dramatic. I can hear the responses already:
Oh grow a pair! Give as good as you get! Stop taking yourself so seriously!
But note, I’m not talking about the benign form of teasing, where you might joke about who has better taste in superhero movies, giggle when they struggle with spicy food, or say something in a clearly ridiculous way, e.g. ‘oh wow, you’re a red velvet cupcake guy/girl? I’m not sure this is going to work…’
I’m talking about the kind of ego-damaging dismissal of something close to your date’s heart. Their job. Their family and friends. Their passions. The art they spend their free time working on.
A good rule of thumb is: wait to see if they are ok joking about it first. If they mock themselves, it’s much easier to know what parts of themselves they don’t mind being made fun of.
This is where social awareness comes in.
The Words That Matter In Attraction
Another key with flirting is tone, even when joking about trivial topics.
E.g. Bad response: “Oh my god, you’ve never seen (insert film)? That’s so lame. How?”
Better answer: “Whoa. You’ve never seen (insert film)? Ok, it is gonna Change. Your. World. We’re watching it.”
These changes seem minor, but dating is always about how someone feels, and that can change enormously depending on language.
I don’t want to promote excessive ego-stroking as a form of courtship, but it’s important to remember that people do want validation.
Think about it.
If someone is sharing their latest entrepreneurial venture, their love of science fiction, their passion for playing bridge or chequers, their enjoyment of abstract photography, on some level they want to be told, “that’s interesting, tell me more.”
People make a lot of their choices subconsciously to impress the opposite sex. Hell, there are even jokes about how most of heterosexual male ambition is entirely motivated by covering oneself in glory to attract the attention of women.
So it pays to give someone at least some level of validation for what they spend their time doing. To show curiosity, instead of judgment. To let them take a moment to get excited and revel in what they love. If nothing else, it makes them feel, “here is someone I feel free to actually be myself around”. That’s a powerful feeling.
Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time to make fun of each other down the line, once you’ve built comfort.
Just make sure that in the name of “banter”, your rapier-like wit doesn’t swipe so hard it kills the attraction stone dead before it’s even gotten on its feet.