The Negativity Bias That Brings Down Relationships

Why Relationships Go BadHe says you look beautiful tonight…

But all you can remember is the last time you wore this outfit and the rude comment he made.

He says he’s never loved you more than he does right now…

But all you can remember is that time you argued and he said he regretted ever meeting you.

It’s hard to forget hurtful words.

You start to wonder what’s really true. Was he telling the truth when he said you looked beautiful … or when he made that awful comment? Was he telling the truth when he said he loved you … or when he said he regretted ever meeting you?

Does he ever tell you the truth, you wonder, or does he just say what you want to hear?

That line of thinking can drive you crazy.

But it’s not just you. We ALL do it.

Human brains latch onto negative experiences. Our brains assign much greater importance to one cruel comment than a dozen compliments. This “negativity bias” is part of our programming.

And it can sabotage relationships unless you’re onto it.

In a minute, I’m going to show you a technique that will help you break free, but first try this exercise to see whether the negativity bias is at work in your love life.

Take a moment to select a relationship from your past. Now, try to think of as many special, beautiful moments from that relationship as you can.

Next, try to recall a few awful, terrible moments from that relationship.

Which did you find easier:

Coming up with good memories or bad memories?

If you’re like most people, the bad memories were easier to remember by far.

There’s a reason for that, and it dates back to the dawn of human history.

Our ancestors needed to remember which tribes were hostile, which regions were dangerous, and which plants made them sick. It was more important not to get killed than to have a good time. Those who kept their attention firmly focused on avoiding bad things were rewarded with survival.

That strategy works. You use it all the time without realizing it.

Maybe you keep your purse close to your body because you once had it stolen. Maybe you obsessively check the fluid levels in your car because you once wrecked your engine. And of course you refuse to date anyone who reminds you of THAT ex-boyfriend.

Your negativity bias helps keep you safe.

But it isn’t really your friend. It’s more like a buggy software program.

Sometimes it works to protect you from harm, which is great.

But other times it malfunctions. It tells you to remember every rude comment or small disappointment. It tells you that even one rejection is too many; you should just give up dating and spare yourself the pain.

Soon, your life becomes a series of one hurtful experience after another. There’s always something to be upset about. Someone is always cutting you down. You don’t notice the good stuff, because you’re paying so much attention to the bad stuff.

Who wants to live that way?

You can’t turn off the negativity bias, but you can outsmart it.  Continue reading

When You’re Tired of Waiting on His Promises

When You’re Tired of Waiting on His PromisesHas this ever happened to you?

He swears he’s in love with you. He wants you to have a future together. He makes a promise to you.

But…

He’ll delays telling his friends you’re his girlfriend, promising to do so when the timing is better.

He’ll find a place for the two of you to live together as soon as his lease runs out. He’ll propose as soon as he has the money for a ring.

So many promises. So much hope.

Weeks pass. You mention his promises. He swears to you that he’s onto it. You just have to be patient.

Months pass. You mention his promises. He tells you to stop nagging him. You need to trust him.

A year passes. You stop mentioning his promises. Somewhere deep inside, you know the truth. He never intended to live up to his word.

When you’re in that situation, it’s hard to know what to do. You want to believe him so much. This is the man you want a future with, after all.

But you can’t deny the evidence. You can see that he’s done nothing.

Living in limbo is painful. You want to move forward, but he’s holding back. You don’t know why, and you’re not sure if you want to know why. You may learn something you wish you’d never learned.

When a man’s words don’t match his actions, you have a few options:

  1. You can give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he’s being honest with you about the timing not being right, or not having the money. You can be the better person. You can be patient.
  2. You can push a little harder. Maybe he’s procrastinating. Maybe he’s forgotten about the promise he made. Surely he’ll appreciate a little reminder. Or two. Or three.
  3. You can apply a little leverage. You can give him some space and see if that lights a fire under him. Or you can issue an ultimatum: either he lives up to his promises or he loses you.
  4. You can put the truth on the line. You don’t know why he’s not taking action on what he promised you. So ask him. Tell him your fears. Tell him you’re worried that he made that promise just to make you happy. Watch his face closely. Ask your gut what it thinks.

Here’s what I think of each of those options. I’ll finish by telling you what I’d recommend, and why it will bring you closer than ever.

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Should You Settle?

how to know if you are settling for less“Should I hold out for something better?

Or should I settle for what I’ve got?”

I’ve heard that question so many times. Mostly from women who are just starting relationships, but sometimes I hear it from women who are about to walk down the aisle.

For those women, asking that question takes great courage. It opens up the possibility of disrupting their entire life. And yet they can’t live without knowing:

Is this guy the best I’m going to get? Or is there someone else out there for me?

It’s an honest question. You want to know you got the best deal possible, so to speak.

Maybe this guy isn’t your soulmate. Maybe, if you’d just waited another year or tried online dating one more time, you’d have found your real soulmate. The one who’s exactly like you in all the ways that matter. The one who doesn’t pick his nose or ignore you when the game is on. The one who sweeps you off your feet.

Other women have boyfriends like that. You can tell by their smile, like a cat that’s got the cream. You just know they get treated like a queen.

Why doesn’t your guy treat you like that?

Is it time to trade up?

Let’s find out. Here are the 4 questions I would ask.

  1. How committed is your relationship?

If you start to have second thoughts when you’re dating someone, then pay attention to what your intuition is telling you. When doubts are there from the beginning, they’re a sign that something isn’t quite right.

However, if you’re married or in a long-term committed relationship, then those second thoughts aren’t anything to be scared of. They’re bringing you a message. Your relationship needs more tender loving care.

It’s challenging to live with one person for the rest of your life. You see all his flaws and imperfections, and he sees yours. Of course you’re going to wonder if some mythical Prince Charming exists. It’s appealing to imagine a life where you waltz through every day in perfect harmony with the love of your life.

In real life, we’re flawed and imperfect. We hurt each other accidentally. We’re not always as careful with one another’s feelings as we could be.

Instead of fantasizing about Prince Charming, deal with those difficult feelings. Wade through the mud with him. What’s missing from your relationship? What aren’t you telling one another? What aren’t you admitting to yourself? How can you support each other better?

how to know if you are settling for lessIt’s better to have an imperfect relationship where you can talk, than a seemingly perfect relationship where you’re not allowed to mention the tough stuff.  

Here’s the next question you should be asking…

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The Power of Presence to Banish Nervous Habits

how to overcome nervous habitsUncontrollable giggling.

Babbling.

Nervous gestures.

You never do anything like that …. do you? 😉

Every one of us acts in a very specific way when we get nervous.

People who know us can tell. No matter how hard we try to come across as calm, cool, and collected, our unconscious habits give us away.

Maybe we talk too loud. Or too fast.

Maybe we pace. Tap one foot. Can’t stand still.

Or maybe we sweat. Not just a fresh sheen of perspiration, either. We’re talking visible drops of sweat.  

It would be nice if we could turn off our nervous habits at will. “Oops, I’m sweating! Okay, armpits, turn off the tap.”

But we can’t. Nervous habits don’t listen.

And we live in fear that someone will notice.

What if it happens with someone you really like? What if it happens on a date? What if it happens with the person you want most to impress in the entire world?

You can imagine the frown. The revulsion. The quick end to the conversation. The horrible feeling of let-down.

But that doesn’t have to happen.

You actually DO have control over your nervous responses.

Your heart doesn’t have to start racing. You don’t have to panic. You can stay relaxed and be yourself in any encounter, no matter how gorgeous he is.

The key is what experts call presence.

Presence is one of the foundations of charisma. It’s what makes a person stand out in a crowd.

how to overcome nervous habitsWhile everyone else is focusing on their phone or hurrying to get where they need to go, the present person strolls in complete confidence, taking in every nuance of his or her surroundings, open to synchronistic encounters.

When you’re present, you’re in the now. You’re not lost in your thoughts or your fears or your worries. You’re in your body. You’re grounded.

That’s important, because one of the things that happens when you get nervous is that your mind takes over. It goes into protection mode, blocking out everything but the urgent situation at hand.

Your sympathetic nervous system kicks in, preparing you to fight or flee. You become oblivious to everything but your performance … a performance that now feels like a disaster.

Here’s how to stop the cycle.

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