How to Avoid Online Relationship Drama

How to Avoid Online Relationship DramaHave you had the uncomfortable experience of watching a social media train wreck?

I’ve seen more than a few, myself. In fact, just recently I came across an entire article about one.[i]

The girl was cheated on, so she told everyone what a two-timing jerk her guy was – on Facebook. She even tagged him in the post!

He replied, of course, and before long they were in an all-out post-breakup war right there on the internet. Classy, right?

Social media, like Facebook, has become a big part of our lives. It’s a shared conversation that never stops. For the most part, it’s a good thing that helps people stay connected.

And your relationship status is baked right into social media. It’s part of your default profile information. Which begs the question, how do you handle your relationship status, good or bad, online?

Answer: In ways that enrich, enable, and encourage your relationships.

Note that I said relationships, plural. Everyone in your social circle gets to see how you deal with romantic ups and downs online. Anyone who sees you acting like the star of your own reality TV show will think twice the next time they talk to you.

Whether you’re debating about changing your status from “single” to “in a relationship,” or wanting to let everyone know about a breakup, what you share on social media matters.

The following guidelines will help you avoid common social media pitfalls that tear relationships apart.

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Does Your Relationship Get Enough Playtime

Does Your Relationship Get Enough PlaytimeDo you want a relationship that’s off-the-charts satisfying? Then you need to make sure you and your guy get enough playtime.

Take a moment to think about your average day.

Imagine it from the beginning to the end, like a video playing on fast-forward in your mind. You’ve got work, obligations to friends and family, and possibly more like working out or volunteering.

It’s a lot.

So here’s the question. When you get to spend time with your guy in the midst of all that chaos, do you want to feel like you’re just ticking off one more item on your to-do list? Or do you want to PLAY?!

Play happens when you do what you want to do, free of a sense of obligation.[i] It’s the fun, engaging, passionate part of life. It never feels like a chore because it never is.

When you and your guy play together, that’s when your relationship comes alive. Playtime is the time to build connection, get to know each other better, and to strengthen the bond that makes you a couple. It’s the heart of your romance.

It’s fairly easy to see how to make date nights playful. That’s as easy as doing something you both enjoy. But the real secret to unlocking the power of play is making even serious discussions playful.

How do you do THAT?

I have two suggestions. Used together, these two tips will turn even the most pragmatic conversation into an opportunity to make your relationship stronger.

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Turn Toward Your Partner to Stay Connected

You’re not sure what to do. You’ve had a fight, and you haven’t spoken since. Which isn’t great, considering that you live together. You’ve managed to share the same space without making eye contact once. As you’re walking past the living room, he says, “Come and take a look at this.” He’s sitting on the sofa, focused on the iPad on his lap. You walk over. It’s something banal, some picture of something vaguely interesting. You make the expected noises. “Uh huh, cool.” You’re not sure why he called you all the way over here to look at it. Then he looks up at you. You make eye contact for the first time in days. You smile spontaneously. And you get it: This was his way of making it okay again. There’s actually a technical term for what just happened. It was a bid for connection. Bids for connection happen when one partner tries to engage the other, hoping for some positive attention. They’re rarely as obvious as, “Hey, do you have a minute to talk?” or, “I’m feeling disconnected from you, and I want to feel connected again.” Instead, most bids for connection happen under the radar. You sigh, hoping he’ll ask you what’s wrong. He shows you a funny clip on his phone, hoping you’ll laugh. You start talking about this crazy thing that happened to you today, hoping he’ll listen with interest. He pulls you next to him on the sofa, hoping it will lead to snuggling. Bids for connection always have an ulterior motive: You’re seeking to feel connected. Which should always be a good thing, right? Try out this scenario. You’re cooking dinner. Every burner on the stove is full of pans bubbling and hissing. You’re chopping salad, toasting bread, stirring the sauce, trying to get everything done at the same time. “Hey, honey, come and look at this,” he says. Do you think: “That’s a bid for connection, so I should respond positively”? Or do you think: “What a jerk! Does he think dinner cooks itself?”? [BREAK POINT] Bids for connection can come at precisely the wrong time. When you’re busy, stressed, irritated, and frankly not in the mood. You’re not a bad person if you don’t respond. But you might want to pay attention to how often you turn away from his bids and how you do it. How you respond to his bids for connection—and how he responds to yours—has a measurable influence on whether your relationship will last. If you ignore each other’s bids for connection two thirds of the time, then you’re in the danger zone. There’s a very good chance you’ll split unless you change this pattern. On the other hand, if you make the effort nine times out of ten, then you’re in the golden zone. Your relationship is on solid ground. Those figures come from Dr. John Gottman, a psychologist and leader in the field of marital stability. He studies couples in crisis with the goal of being able to predict who will split and who will stay. Gottman found that there were two possible responses to bids for connection: turning toward or turning away. You can turn toward a bid for connection without having to drop what you’re doing. “I’d love to see that!” you shout over your shoulder. “Show me after dinner’s ready.” What you want to avoid doing is turning away. For example: “I’m cooking at the moment, can’t you see?” Or “What is it, another one of those dumb jokes?” Or completely ignoring him, knowing he’ll have forgotten it in a minute anyway. Even the strongest couples turn away from bids once in a while. Sometimes, it’s by accident. They don’t even notice that the other person has made a bid for connection until it’s too late. You’re sitting at the kitchen table writing out a to-do list for tomorrow when he walks in. “Hi, honey!” you say. “Gosh, it’s cold out,” he responds, unwinding his scarf from around his neck. “I wonder what the best way to get warmed up would be.” You’re so busy thinking that you don’t even really hear him, let alone catch that mischievous glance he just gave you. We all miss bids sometimes. In strong relationships, the other person will repeat the bid until we finally hear it. But in rocky relationships, a missed bid feels like rejection. So, do your best to pay attention to those opportunities for connection. Watching that silly YouTube clip he wants to show you may not feel much like relationship building, but it is. Connection is made in those little moments.You’re not sure what to do.

You’ve had a fight, and you haven’t spoken since. Which isn’t great, considering that you live together. You’ve managed to share the same space without making eye contact once.

As you’re walking past the living room, he says, “Come and take a look at this.” He’s sitting on the sofa, focused on the iPad on his lap. You walk over.

It’s something banal, some picture of something vaguely interesting. You make the expected noises. “Uh huh, cool.” You’re not sure why he called you all the way over here to look at it.

Then he looks up at you. You make eye contact for the first time in days. You smile spontaneously.

And you get it:

This was his way of making it okay again.

There’s actually a technical term for what just happened.

It was a bid for connection.

Bids for connection happen when one partner tries to engage the other, hoping for some positive attention.

They’re rarely as obvious as, “Hey, do you have a minute to talk?” or, “I’m feeling disconnected from you, and I want to feel connected again.”

Instead, most bids for connection happen under the radar.

You sigh, hoping he’ll ask you what’s wrong. He shows you a funny clip on his phone, hoping you’ll laugh. You start talking about this crazy thing that happened to you today, hoping he’ll listen with interest. He pulls you next to him on the sofa, hoping it will lead to snuggling.

Bids for connection always have an ulterior motive:

You’re seeking to feel connected.

Which should always be a good thing, right?

Try out this scenario.

You’re cooking dinner. Every burner on the stove is full of pans bubbling and hissing. You’re chopping salad, toasting bread, stirring the sauce, trying to get everything done at the same time.

“Hey, honey, come and look at this,” he says.

Do you think: “That’s a bid for connection, so I should respond positively”?

Or do you think: “What a jerk! Does he think dinner cooks itself?”?
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Use Moments of Awkward Silence for a Surprising Advantage with Men

Use Moments of Awkward Silence for a Surprising Advantage with MenWhat feels like an awkward silence to you might not feel that way to a guy.

Let me show you why.

Let’s look at a sample conversation where two people are trying to make a connection.

MAN: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a neon pink-orange drink before.

WOMAN: I know, right? It’s like radioactive Kool-Aid. But it tastes amazing!

MAN: (laughs) It is like radioactive Kool-Aid. I feel like the Kool-Aid Man is gonna burst through the wall any second.

WOMAN: (laughs) Right? Me, too.

Both laugh. Pause.

WOMAN: I’m Julie.

MAN: Oh, right. Ken.

WOMAN: Nice to meet you.

Pause.

WOMAN: And what are you drinking?

MAN: Water, unfortunately. My friends picked me as the designated driver.

WOMAN: Good for you. Better for them, but good for you.

Man laughs. Pause.

WOMAN: So what do you like to do when you’re not asking women about their drinks?

Pause.

WOMAN: You know, for fun. Or work. Or, just, whatever.

Pause.

WOMAN: Like, for example, I’m failing horribly at learning to play the guitar. How do people do it? They make it look easy, but let me tell you it is not…

This isn’t an awful conversation. There’s some banter. Maybe some chemistry.

Ken has no problem getting Julie talking. And she always seems quick with a reply.

But Julie does have some trouble there at the end.

Those pauses! Were they bothering you? Because they’re clearly killing Julie.

Whenever there’s dead air, she has to jump in. By the end, it seems like she’s taken it upon herself to keep the conversation going.

That’s a good thing, right? Not necessarily.

If you follow my blog, you already know you want to get the other person talking. This is true even if there are lulls in the conversation.

I’m going to explain why those lulls can actually be a good thing. But first, let’s understand why they happen.

There are the obvious reasons, of course. People don’t know what to say. They get intimidated. They get stuck in their head.

But science says there’s another reason for lulls when men and women talk: On average, women’s brains work faster than men’s.

It has to do with how our brains are set up. Which parts we use in conversation.

It’s not important to know the exact details. But you should know that these differences mean men can be slower to respond in conversations.

So those seemingly interminable pauses? It might just take his brain longer to think of a response.

Which brings me to why lulls can be good.

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