Interview With Judy Fujimura - How To Win a Man's Heart

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August 18, 2014

Interview With Judy Fujimura

1. What is the number one reason your clients come to you for therapy?

The number one reason clients come to me for therapy is “problems in my marriage” or “problems in my relationship with my boyfriend/girlfriend/parent/child. In reality, my clients have a wide diversity of problems, dilemmas, and hurts. But people who are hurting and troubled aren’t able to communicate what’s wrong. They just know that their problems are bigger than they can handle on their own, so they seek outside help. What seems to raise their issues from manageable to unmanageable is when the situation seriously threatens their primary relationships.

Couples seek therapy when their conflicts and problems reach the point where they consider breaking up as a viable option. Parents usually don’t contact me for Parent Coaching unless their child is in the hospital or in trouble with the legal system. Their child’s future is on the line, and parents come to me to learn what they can do as a parent to give their child a better future, or potentially save their child’s life.

Once the therapy gets started, we work out the client’s goals for therapy, and I go through a process of diagnosing the client, even if it turns out they have no diagnosis. I want to make sure that my clients receive the care they deserve, whether they are just stressed out, or if they have a diagnosis that might require medical attention, such as anxiety or depression.

2. You touched upon a problem – “trouble communicating what’s wrong”, a lot of our women subscribers face the opposite problem- “trouble finding out what’s wrong.” An example could be a women going out for a great date and not getting a call back, or women going out for several great dates and then men disappearing or their partners pulling away from them when they bring up marriage. What would you advise women who seem to have problems figuring out what’s bothering their partners because they seem to be caught between ‘Should I make him talk and risk the danger of pulling him away’ or ‘Should I just not talk about it assuming with time, things will become better?’

When it seems like there’s something bothering him, it sets off all kinds of internal alarms for the woman. She can get so worried about what’s bugging him, that a normally confident, communicative woman can miss the social cues that the man is giving her. She can begin to feel like a character in Pop Art, with a thought bubble over her head, thinking, “I wonder why Jeff hasn’t called?”. These women are spending too much time in the thought bubble. They need to find healthy ways to be calm during the dates, so they can focus on the other person’s cues.

Rather than passively assume things will work out on their own, it’s important to be proactive in making things better. Calmly listen to the content of the man’s actual words, and the emotion behind the words, and respond to both. If he is not talking, then the woman can go ahead and talk, giving the man the opportunity to respond to her words and emotion. Talk about your deeply held personal values in a relatable way, such as talking about your favorite people, hobbies or favorite organizations. Offer eye contact. Allow some silences, because two people who are trying to get to know each other don’t always know what to talk about next. She doesn’t need to avoid what’s bugging him, or pursue the subject either. If something’s bugging him, he will eventually say what that is. But he might be fine with everything, just not knowing what to say next.

For example, if he pulled away when she mentioned marriage, she probably mentioned it too early or at a bad moment. She needed to look for cues from him that would let her know that he wanted to talk about marriage. It might be better to talk about a couple whom she admires, and why she admires their marriage. She’s sharing her deeply held personal values, and allowing him to respond to her on a heart level.

3. Some of our women subscribers write to us that they enter into relationships searching for happiness and what I mean by searching for happiness is that they are genuinely not so happy in life and expect to find happiness from their new partner or boyfriend. Their line of thought is- ‘When I get the right guy, I will be happy.’ How does this mindset affect relationships and do women with this mindset come across as someone needy and desperate?

Too many single young people labor under the false notion that healthy adults should be completely self-sufficient, both emotionally and physically. It follows from this very unfortunate assumption that we are not fit for a serious relationship until we have shown that we don’t need to be loved to be happy. What a crock!

But we all believe it at times. Study after study has shown the benefits of secure, long-term relationships. Human beings are social creatures! It’s quite normal to long for a partner, and to be lonely without one. Loneliness is not a character flaw! It is a sign that a person needs more love and connection in their life. A lot of men are lonely too, but they don’t realize it. They may verbalize being restless when alone in their apartment, but not connect why they are restless to being lonely.

A mistake that lonely people make, men and women, is to hope that someone new they are dating can be their “all in all”, before they have had time to develop a heart-to-heart relationship. They need to learn how to read each other’s emotional cues, acknowledge each other’s emotions and deeply held personal values, over the first few weeks, up to about six months. Then what began as an attraction can reach that deep oneness the lonely person is seeking.

I think the elephant in the room here may be that yes, women are in more of a hurry to establish their marriage, because of their biological clock, and because our culture sees women as less attractive as they age. Most of the men they are attracted to, and who are attracted to them in return, don’t feel ready to settle down. There is a risk of being alone long-term, and desperation comes when the person feels they don’t have the tools they need to find someone they are attracted to, who is ready settle down. A marriage and family therapist can equip the person to date more effectively. Friends and family need to affirm and acknowledge the whole person, and not just couples or people who are married or in a long-term relationship.

4. Yes, we do have a fair share of women who are worried about being single and alone all their lives and seem to be in a hurry because of their biological clock. And I guess even without them realizing they come across as women who are desperate and needy.

Another common problem that we hear from our women subscribers is that they end up attracting the same kind of guys- bad guys, cheaters, needy men, commitment phoebes etc. Why does this happen and how can women overcome this problem?

Again, it’s normal to be lonely, and to date with a view to finding a long-term partner. But rather than try to conceal our loneliness, it’s good to get resourced to become more effective at dating, so that we can remain hopeful and not desperate.

Women are naturally very picky about their choice of a mate. But in order to appear nice, many women block out their selectiveness, and invest too much time and energy into a person who has faults she dislikes, hoping that the baddie/mama’s pet/narcissist, etc. will change. Women do this in their same-sex friendships and romances too. Other women, in order to appear perfect, or to avoid a painful rejection or abuse, become over-picky, and reject man after man before a man has the opportunity to hurt her. The best strategy is to know what she wants, and look for it in any man she considers dating, before she invests her time, energy, and emotions.

A relationship therapist, especially an LMFT, can talk through these dating strategies with the single person, and explore their roots. We don’t always have to appear nice, or perfect, in order to have love. Then the LMFT can help the person articulate what they are looking for in a life partner, so that she can recognize a good match for her. The next layer of effective dating is listening to, and responding to, the man’s values and emotions, and allowing him to do the same thing for her.

If she uses these strategies effectively, she will recognize a good match or a mismatch early on, hopefully before the first date, or within the first few dates. Good dating skills give someone the confidence to let some opportunities pass, knowing that she can find and sustain a good match.

5. How important is chemistry for a long term committed relationship? Our women subscribers have written to us that they have some really great guy friends with whom they share a great relationship but have never considered them as potential partners because they felt the chemistry was missing. On the other hand, they have found that relationships that started off with great chemistry faded away or didn’t work out the way they thought it would. Can you share your thoughts on chemistry in a relationship?

Your question brings to mind the Gottman / Silver research that indicated that sexual attraction is an essential part of long-term marriage. My practice experience would seem to support their claim. Chemistry is essential. It isn’t always noticeable from Day One, but if it’s there, it should be noticeable within the first few weeks of dating. On the other hand, my excitement around the first few dates, and my joy at being in a relationship, can make it look like we have chemistry when we don’t. Chemistry is two-way, first and foremost.

Sexual touch is pleasurable for both, and the other person seems to be a “great kisser”. They like each other’s smell, don’t mind each other’s breath, and like the smell of each other’s home, or their pillow. They enjoy being together alone in the dark, such as at a movie or taking a moonlit walk. They like to see each other eat. Non-sexual touch feels good and welcome, and the other person’s touch calms me. When a couple figures out that they have Chemistry, then they should do things that allow the chemistry to thrive, such as holding hands when the other person seems to welcome it. Couples also need to avoid things that destroy chemistry, such as withholding affection, or not treating health problems.

When chemistry doesn’t seem to be there with that long-time friend, it might be helpful to go on a few dates, and spend some undistracted time together, doing things like holding hands, going to a movie, and sharing a nice meal, to see if chemistry thrives between you. It might have been suppressed by one or both people because they were dating other people, or because they didn’t want to ruin the friendship if it was just going to be a friendship. If the chemistry is still not noticeable after a few dates, it’s just not there, and they are better off as friends.

About Judith Fujimura

Judith Fujimura

Judith B. Fujimura, M.A., received her B.A. with a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology from Bucknell University in 1983. She received her M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy and Human Development from the University of Connecticut in 1985. Judy has her office in Princeton, NJ 08540.

To know more about Judy, visit her website,