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February 5, 2015

Interview With Dr. Stephanie Smith

1. A number of our women subscribers find difficulty in attracting the right man especially women in their 40s and above. The common complaint we hear from women is that men in their age group seem to be more interested in younger women and the men that seem to be interested in them aren’t interesting to these women. What advice do you have for women who are frustrated with their dating experience and have become skeptical of finding Mr. Right?

I can understand women becoming frustrated and even angry and sad when it feels like their dating life isn’t what they wish it were – particularly if they feel as if they are competing against younger women for an increasingly smaller pool of interesting and eligible men. What might be important to keep in mind, however, is what older women lack in some areas, they more than make up for in maturity, life experience, professional and personal accomplishment – among many other things. Focusing on all the things you bring to the dating table – and maybe even improve them – can be one strategy for managing the frustrations of not finding Mr. Right.

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?

That’s a great question! We all have baggage, whether it be from past romantic relationships, our childhoods, or old friendships. In order to “move on” or “release” oneself from this “emotional baggage,” it can be helpful to organize one’s thoughts about what happened and write it down or talk to a friend about it. Once you have written – or said – all there is to say, let it go. Maybe that means ceasing talking about it with others, or making other changes in one’s life. Talking to a psychologist – even if just for a few sessions – can also be useful for gaining a different perspective and learning further strategies for changing past patterns of thinking and behavior.

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?

Another great question! This is a tricky one because we all know that we shouldn’t hold our feelings in all the time, but it also isn’t so great to tell people everything we are feeling all the time! So it becomes a balancing act. In terms of the situation you mentioned above, perhaps she could say something like “I was looking forward to your call” or “I expected your call a few days ago, I’m so happy to hear from you now” would be statements that accurately reflect her feelings without being “naggy” or accusatory. If the situation happens again, a more direct response might be called for: “It hurts my feelings when you don’t call” or “I feel angry (or worried, or doubtful, etc) when you don’t call when you say you’re going to”

4. 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?

I think that “chemistry” can absolutely grow over time. Both with better knowledge and understanding of a person, and also with a little guidance, i.e. “I really like it when you…”

5. 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?

Some of our subscribers have been too honest and in the process lost out on many men because it freaked them out. Can you share your thoughts on how women can balance the fine line between honesty and giving themselves the chance to date men and pursue a long term committed relationship?

While it’s important to be honest about some things up front (your name, where you live, etc) – revealing everything about your life can be overwhelming, both for you and your date. There’s a big difference between being honest and over-sharing.

As I mentioned above, being honest doesn’t mean you have to say everything about yourself. Letting the gettin-to-know-you process evolve naturally and at a manageable pace will allow you to share bits about yourself over time – not all at once.

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?

Being honest with yourself can mean challenging your own thoughts sometimes. “Did he really do or say XYZ, or is that just something I wished he would do?”

7. 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?

That is a super personal and individual decision – one that needs to be thought a lot about, before the opportunity presents itself.

8. What are some best practices when it comes to clearly communicating your deal breakers and boundaries and when should you be having these conversations? I have heard from quite a number of my women subscribers who initially set the bar low and then find it incredibly difficult to raise the bar in the relationship because their partner has been conditioned to the earlier low standard. Many women find it quite difficult to have these conversations because they fear coming across as someone too uptight and rigid and worry about driving men away.

I’m not sure that communicating deal breakers and boundaries is as important as knowing what they are yourself. If you are dating someone who doesn’t live up to your standards, it’s up to you to end things – trying to change him will likely just end in disappointment.

9. 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?

Move on.

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. Know who you are and what you want

2. Work on being someone that other people would want (kind, thoughtful, etc)

3. Don’t put up with, or expect, more than you are comfortable with.

About Dr. Stephanie Smith

Dr. Stephanie Smith

Dr. Stephanie Smith is a licensed clinical psychologist in Erie, Colorado. She earned her bachelors degree in psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She did her graduate work – earning both my masters and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology – at the University of Denver. She has experience working in hospital, community mental health, long term care, school, and private practice settings.

To know more about Dr. Stephanie, visit her website www.drstephaniesmith.com.

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