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June 16, 2015

Interview With Cindy Cartee

1. One question we get asked quite often from our subscribers especially from women in their late 30s and above is if there are enough eligible men looking for a serious long term relationship. There seems to be this belief that men around their age group are more interested in younger women. What advice do you have for women who have a deep rooted skepticism that they can’t find love because of their age and are almost at the point of giving up?

Attitude is half the battle and confidence is sexy. Patience is a virtue. You get the idea. Myths are widely held beliefs that are not true. Not all men are looking for a younger woman. Some might be, but that’s not a universal truth about men. Some men are looking for a confident, self assured, available woman and one who is mature and close in age.

It has been my experience that some men will find themselves single at 30 something and get back out in the dating game and see it as a game. As much as we call it a dating game, when the game is over and the serious business of finding a life partner is ensued, men want the same thing women want. We all want someone to love and love us. Of course some men and women will enter into relationships for superficial reasons, but for those who seek lifelong companionship with depth and mature conscious love, “younger” is not always better.

The divorce rate is HIGH and so is the prevalence of affairs. Many people find themselves single again and scared that they won’t find love. There is a difference in looking for a “hook up” and looking for love. Women, stop letting fears, insecurities, myths and pessimism stop you from opening yourself up to the love or next love of your life.

Many women stop looking or go into the dating scene with mythical thinking or faulty assumptions and miss out on the man who is open to a relationship. Do men look at beautiful women and often younger women, probably. They are more visual creatures. But ask the real men of this world, the ones you might actually consider a “partner for life”. They want the “love” of their life too.

As an Imago therapist, I must inform you that your “match” is not about your age or appearance or even the things you think you are looking for in a partner. It’s an unconscious process of recognizing what is familiar from your past and when the PEA (phenethylamine) goes off in your brain, that’s when the attraction occurs and connection begins. Age is not a determining factor. So ladies, no worries, you are either a match to his childhood or you’re not.

As for the idea of a limited number of men age 30 looking for a woman, according to the 2010 census, the population distribution of men vs. women was 49.2 and 50.8. It seems to me that women have as good a chance of men of finding love after 30.

For those who have never married and are seeking to have children, the age of a dating partner may be more of an issue. Yet, women are able to safely have children at a later age.

Never give up on love! Sometimes it comes when you least expect it.

2. Some of our subscribers feel stuck in their love lives because of their past emotional baggage. This affects them in a number of ways- they either tend to compare the next man they are dating with their ex or they have trust issues because they have been cheated on before or they just cannot seem to forget their ex and move on in life. What are some practical ways that can help women release their past emotional baggage so that they can start attracting healthy love into their lives?

Often women move from one relationship to another too quickly. It’s important to process out of a relationship before moving to the next. This would help avoid carrying “more baggage”. Grieving the loss of a relationship is a process, not an event. Starting a new relationship to numb or avoid pain does not allow one to process the loss. Being conscious in partner selection is basically impossible if you haven’t processed your previous relationship. Therefore, you will continue to attract familiar and similar partners, familiar to childhood wounds and familiar to past relationships. Only until you recognize your patterns and projections and learn your Imago will you attract healthier relationships.

Of course it will be difficult to trust the next relationship if your prior partner cheated. My question is, did you try to learn from the affair and do the work to heal the wound or did you end the relationship immediately? Sometimes the cheating partner will not do the work of recovery, even if you were willing. This is particularly difficult to heal from. It’s important to know that we tend to project our wounds onto the next partner and often create our own struggles to trust. Again, grief work, therapy to heal after an affair and time are all important in the process before you seek another love relationship.

Some people need closure before moving on and some are able to give themselves closure. Learn what you can from each relationship and know that not all relationships are supposed to be the “forever partner”. Ask yourself, “What did I learn about myself through this relationship?” And “how will I take this experience to help me in future relationships?”

Until you realize what you deserve and don’t deserve in relationship, you will probably sell yourself short. You must learn to be alone before you can learn to be in a healthy relationship. Date yourself, love yourself, forgive yourself, improve yourself and then know yourself and your Imago before you go looking for your next love.

3. One popular concern that our subscribers have is regarding sharing their feelings with the man they are dating. What we typically find is that when women like the man they are seeing, they tend to avoid bringing up difficult issues and tough conversations because they fear they might lose him. So what they generally tend to do is that they keep it to themselves and give the impression that things are just fine. For example, they have a fantastic date with a man and he says he will call after a few days. They wait, wait and wait to be disappointed that he didn’t follow up as he said he would. But they are happy when they eventually hear back from him and don’t share how they really felt during the no contact period.

What would your advice be for women who have the fear that sharing feelings and emotions will drive a man away and make them come across as someone clingy and needy?

Timing really is everything. If you begin to question him after the first couple of dates then you will appear too “eager” or “clingy”. Relax and allow the relationship to develop. If he doesn’t follow through with his words then be curious. Maybe he has been busy or maybe he is telling you something about his dependability. Don’t decide after the first couple of dates because you don’t know him. Maybe it’s your fear being projected. Maybe he is just taking his time. That’s a lost art.

There are people who pursue and some who distance. It’s like a dance. If you come on too strong, he will probably pull away. Maybe you are being clingy and needy. A man wants to feel needed and wanted, but he doesn’t typically want to feel the “ball and chain”. Men are also attracted to confidence. Ask yourself if you like him, not does he like you. That will surely get the phone ringing.

The chemical PEA, phenethylamine, is released when we are attracted to someone or fall in love. If the chemistry is there he will call. If he doesn’t call then be grateful he didn’t lead you on.

Honesty is important and you need to share your concerns and feelings, but sharing does not mean accusing. Learn to effectively communicate your feelings and learn to listen. Too often women want so desperately to be in relationship that they will ignore the signs that he may not be that into you (as the book explains) or he may not be your Imago match. It’s not about you! It’s about him. Yes you can trigger him and scare him off or you can learn about him and make it safe for him to show you who he really is.

Don’t be afraid to share your feelings and thoughts, just know how and when to do it. Remember, not all men are alike. Your guy may want to hear your concerns about his not calling and feel more drawn to you for sharing. Another guy may interpret you as moving too fast. Being true to yourself is key and that means sharing if you need to. Just know containment might serve you better. Containment does not mean for you to withhold, it means knowing when and how to share. Relationships develop, they don’t just happen. Relax, be yourself, share if you want to and see where it goes.

4. Can too much honesty negatively affect a relationship especially when you have just started seeing the other person? How much of the past and even the present should you reveal to the man you are dating? Should you share details like cheating in the previous relationship, the fact you are currently seeing a therapist or you are a recovering alcoholic etc.?

Honesty is the best policy, but timing is everything. Sexual details of one’s history is the boundary, it’s not necessary and can create more problems than it will ever heal. Dating is a process and getting to know someone and developing trust is a process. As you get to know the person you will know what and when it is safe to disclose.

If you are a recovering addict/alcoholic, yes you need to share this fact. To protect your recovery you need your dating partner to know so that he/she will respect your sobriety. If your date can’t handle your sober life, you need to know sooner than later. If you are seeing a therapist, be proud, it means you are working on yourself and your issues. You don’t have to tell the details of your appointments.

Again, timing is everything. If in the dating process you discover your date is closed minded, judgmental etc. then you may decide to hold off on your disclosures until you feel safe. As you feel safe and get to know your date, then you can decide what you want to share and how much. It’s not an all or nothing process.

Secrets make us sick and if others know you cheated in the past, your date will probably find out at some point. Talking about infidelity is important. If you have cheated in the past, then you need to be in therapy to make sure you understand yourself and how or why this happened, and how to prevent in the future. Do you need to share this in the first few dates? – No.

5. From our subscribers, we often hear “lack of chemistry” as a leading reason why they aren’t willing to persist with a man even though he seemed to be a decent guy, treated them with respect and made them feel comfortable. Can you share your thoughts on chemistry and can attraction grow over time? Is it worth persisting with a man with whom a woman feels comfortable but doesn’t quite share the chemistry?

PEA, phenyl ethylamine, is the primary chemical responsible for attraction. I refer to it as “God’s Glue” to get you connected with someone who can be healing to you through the relationship. It may not be an immediate release and “high”, but you will know if there chemistry is there. What you have to remember is that when the chemistry goes off with someone, they will eventually frustrate you and offer you the opportunity to heal your past patterns. Yes, conflict is growth trying to happen. Imago therapy can help you understand your attractions as well as your conflicts and how to heal through relationship.

Life is short and you can give someone a chance, but don’t waste your time hanging in there if there is no attraction. You need to like who sits across the table from you for the rest of your life. There are some amazing men and women in the world, just because you are not attracted to them doesn’t mean something is wrong with them or with you. It means you don’t match their Imago.

Chemistry is not necessarily a “high” experience, but it is a connection and attraction. Yes, sometimes people become more and more attractive as you get to know them. The foundation of some attraction needs to be present to develop it more deeply. “You’ve got to know when to hold them and when to fold them, when to walk away and when to run”. The best way to know this, is to know yourself, your tendencies in relationship and your Imago.

Don’t always expect the “high” and “lust”, but be willing to be curious and interested to know more about this person. If you do feel “high” and giddy, then know he/she is an Imago match and part of your chemistry.

6. Some of our subscribers have the tendency to ignore and overlook the red flags especially when they really like a man. In the process, they create an idealized version of the man and overestimate the feelings he has for them. For women who have a history of fantasizing and idealizing a partner, what can they do to evaluate the man and their relationship for what it is truly worth rather than what they ideally like it to be?

Everyone should read Getting the Love You Want or Keeping the Love You Find by Harville Hendrix. That’s my best advice to anyone who wants to understand themselves in relationships and attractions. In fact, my best advice is to seek an Imago therapist so you can understand yourself, your attractions and behaviors in relationships.

Being conscious is the key to partner selection. Your idealizing is really what we call positive projection and brain chemistry of PEA. People select partners unconsciously and don’t realize it, unless they are familiar with Imago. Taking time to “get to know someone” and being honest with yourself is necessary, but consciousness and understanding your attractions is key.

Often men and women will ignore red flags because they are under the influence of PEA. It is exactly as it sounds, under the influence. Know your deal breakers, know your wounds so that you can know your tendencies of attraction. For example, if you grew up with a critical parent and you tried to please your parent, guess who you will attract…you got it, someone who will trigger your feeling of “not good enough” and guess what you will do…yep, you will try to please your partner. This is where the work begins. Will this person be willing to do the conscious work of relationship when the chemistry illusion has ended?

Pay attention to red flags and love yourself enough to end the dating process if this person is not willing to do the work of healthy conscious relationship. Remember, if your chemistry is going off, then you are projecting, which means you don’t really know much about this person at all. Go slow… don’t waste time and don’t miss the opportunity of Real Love looking for the “perfect” person. We all have issues, but not everyone is willing to work on them.

7. Another difficulty our subscribers face is trying to cultivate habits that stick for the long term. One of our subscribers recently commented on how she feels good and positive when she listens to a motivating speech or when she reads a self-help book but it doesn’t take long for her to get bombarded with negative thoughts. The daily grind and routine of life seems to quickly negate any positive progress she makes. In her words, when I take one step forward, within no time I am pushed three steps back.

Can you share any practical strategies that can help women to not just feel good in the moment but work towards a positive change that lasts?

Consciousness and being mindful is an intentional act. It takes effort to reframe negative thoughts and not just allow them to continue. Living life one day at a time, one minute at a time sounds like a bumper sticker, but it is a mental and spiritual practice. No book or positive presentation will change your brain, but you can change it.

Most people want the quick fix, the easy way, but real change is work. For example, a path in the woods doesn’t just happen with one walk. The path won’t disappear quickly either. It’s easy to take the path you know, but to fight through the brush and thorns takes time. Our brain is similar, old wiring or negative patterns of thinking must be corrected with conscious daily living and in time, change will occur.

For every negative thought you have, one positive will not balance the scale, in fact, it’s 5 to one. So when you have a negative thought replace it with 5 positives.

8. Our subscribers also run into a situation where things are going great and just when they think the relationship has great potential or feel he is the one, the man starts developing cold feet. He pulls away, doesn’t respond to phone calls or text messages and in some cases disappears for a while. What advice do you have for women who deal with men that suddenly pull away and act inconsistent?

In Imago we talk about Minimizers and Maximizers, Turtles or Tigers. When triggered Turtles retreat and Tigers move toward you more. Similar to pursuer and distance, it’s like a dance. If someone is pulling away from you, consider the fact that he needs some process time or space and that it doesn’t mean he is leaving you, but instead needing time for himself. He may have been triggered and that is his way to protect himself. Tigers must learn to give space and communicate consciously as to not overwhelm the Turtle. Turtles must learn to show up and not disappear and communicate consciously.
If you continue to persist when he has asked for space you will probably trigger him and he will pull further into his shell. You’ve heard of fight or flight, this is what happens with the Tiger and Turtle.

Sometimes it’s more about extroverted and introverted (different from Tiger and Turtle). For example, like plugging your phone in to charge, introverts charge by being alone and extroverts need socialization. Allow for his “otherness” and don’t panic. If you panic and go into pursue mode you are hurting yourself and him. Soothe yourself and give him a little space or ask him what he needs from you.

Lastly, I will add, he may not be that into you and may be dating others. If he needs to go date others then decide if you can allow him the time and space to do that. If he needs to see what else is out there then you know that he was not meant for you to begin with.

Don’t play games by pursuing or distancing, learn more about how to dance in a conscious way. Please go learn about Imago, it helps understand all these issues we are discussing. Do more than read a book. See an Imago therapist. It’s deep stuff and will change your life and love relationships for the better.

9. Some experts recommend women wait till they get to know the man they are dating and not have sex until you both are committed to exclusivity. Some experts believe you should go with the flow and be spontaneous and not have any rules regarding when you want to sleep with a man. Can you share your thoughts on the right time to have sex?

To each their own, but I will tell you that the earlier you begin having sex in a relationship the quicker you will find yourself triggering one another and conflicts occurring. Taking your time to get to know your dating partner is important. Once you have sex, you may slow down other aspects of getting to know one another.

It’s difficult to abstain when the chemistry is off the charts and your hormones are surging, but there are benefits to keeping it slow, if you hope for a long term committed relationship. But on the other hand many people enjoy a great relationship even though they were sexual early on in the relationship. Things are not so black and white. Know yourself, protect yourself, and be ok with yourself in the morning is my best advice.

Exclusivity is important in my opinion to protect you from STD and from heart- break, but maybe you want to just have fun and great SAFE sex. It depends on what you are seeking in your life and relationship.

Even though orgasms do create a chemical release that creates connection, if you’re having orgasms with someone that you are ignoring the red flags and not that into, then you are wiring your brain more for him than creating a true connection for you.

10. What are your top 3 relationship tips that you would offer women who are single and looking for a long term committed relationship?

1 Be aware of your needs and desires, your tendencies and patterns in relationship, your deal breakers and red flags, your goals and visions, your morals and values, and your hopes and dreams, and your IMAGO.

2. Want the relationship instead of needing it. If you love yourself first then you are more likely to have a healthier long- term relationship. If you don’t love yourself then you are more likely to “settle” for what you think you do or don’t deserve.

3. Be willing to do the work in relationship and not expect it to ‘”just happen”. Conflicts are inevitable and the divorce rate is high in part because people expect it to be easier and when it gets tough they exit. Don’t settle for someone unwilling to work on his or herself and the relationship. It take both partners giving 110%.

About Cindy Cartee

Cindy Cartee has over 20 years of experience in the field of Counseling and Psychotherapy. Providing private practice for over 15 years, she specializes in helping individuals and couples enhance their lives and relationships. She is a South Carolina Licensed Professional Counselor, Sex Therapist, Certified Imago Relationship Therapist, Nationally Board Certified Counselor, South Carolina Clinical Addictions Counselor. Cindy Cartee Counseling Spartanburg, SC and a Certified Getting The Love You Want Couples Workshop Presenter.

To know more about Cindy, visit her website www.ccarteecounseling.com.




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