Interview With Ruth Gordon - How To Win a Man's Heart

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August 18, 2014

Interview With Ruth Gordon

1. In one of the columns that you participated you mentioned that you have met beautiful women who are obsessed with their imperfections and are genuinely scared at the prospect of losing their beauty as they age. A common question that our subscribers ask is how important are looks and physical appearance in attracting men and what can I do to increase my chances of attracting quality men when I am a woman of average looks? What would your advice be for these women?

You must remember that beauty is quite a subjective thing. So, the first thing I would advise is be healthy, take good care of yourself. The reason I say this is that it is when you obviously practice self-care you are giving a message to the world that you expect others to treat you well.

Looks may help you attract a man, but, unless he is completely mindless, (why would you desire such a person?), looks are not enough to develop a loving committed relationship. Men like to spend time with women they feel good with. Show a genuine interest. See if your sense of humor and his compliment each other. Display who you really are. By all means, don’t downplay your achievements (or brag about them). Be proud of yourself. Nothing is more attractive than genuine self-confidence.

Do you really think that “quality” men are only looking for a particular appearance in a woman? That would not be my definition of quality. Are you doing exactly what you believe the men are doing — judging by looks?

See if you like the man who has interested you. If the two of you “click” you will each become more attracted to the other. As the “pink cloud” envelops you, you will become more and more beguiling to each other.

Your best bet is to focus on what kind of heart does this man have? Is he kind? Does he view the world through a positive lens? What does he think of his mother?(that’s a big one!). Looks are a piece, but only a piece of the whole.

2. For some women, worrying about their looks and physical appearance may date back to their childhood experiences where they may have been led to believe that their self worth is closely tied to how well they look from either their parents or their friends at school. For some, this issue may become more prominent as they reach their teens and later on as adults as they feel judged by people around them.

So we may be talking about years and years of false beliefs and negative reinforcement. We recently got a comment from one of our readers and she wrote, “Everytime I look at the mirror in my bathroom, I feel like a loser. I see my belly and the first thought that strikes my mind is “You are fat, you need to lose weight” followed by thoughts like “You wonder guys aren’t attracted to you. I have tried to shift away from the negative thinking and everytime I try telling myself “I am beautiful” or “I am worthy of love” I hear a loud snicker from the negative clatter in my mind. Every small wave of positive energy gets superseded by gigantic negative waves. And as much as I try not to compare myself with others, it’s extremely hard not to do so because every time I am with my friends, men are more interested and attracted to them because they are so much more beautiful than me. While I am not the jealous type, I feel these kind of experiences reinforce the negativity in me.”

How can women who are stuck with negative thoughts break the pattern and start making positive changes and more importantly how can they keep making progress and prevent the negative clatter from stopping any progress they may have made or trying to make?

Any woman who cannot shake a childhood indoctrination that proclaims that she must look a certain way in order to “catch” a desirable man should really think about going into therapy. There are so many counter arguments to this belief, and in the therapeutic process one can, hopefully, internalize a more up to date and relevant point of view.

At one time, a woman was only considered to be a coveted marital match if her father could pledge a certain number of sheep in return for her hand in marriage. We know that sheep are no longer predominant in the rate of exchange. Well, neither is beauty (whatever the definition of that may be).

When women were considered to be chattels of their husbands, yes, beauty was deemed an advantage, but, I believe, if the woman’s family had wealth, that would eclipse beauty. Girls who are taught by their families that they need to exercise manipulative wiles to nab a husband, were drilled in beliefs that have become outdated as women have gained independence and learned to value their talents and skills. To put it very simply, the way we look is only a part of who we are.

Adolescence is an awkward time for boys and girls. Differing rates of development, growth and the acquisition of pimples keep most teen agers off balance. The girl whose breasts have grown quickly suffers as much as the girl whose body blooms more slowly. The hard part of this is that each individual thinks she’s the only one who feels uncomfortable in her own body. Parents and groups can be helpful in allowing young women understand that they are all in this together.

Now, let’s discuss “fat”. There are, of course, many degrees of this. If you think that men are as obsessed with a woman’s fleshiness as women are, then you don’t know men.

Granted, in the world of those in the spotlight, a couple may choose each other because they look good together. This tells you more about each individual’s insecurities than about what he or she is truly attracted to. Spending time with a person who is obsessively concerned with his/her looks will be quite boring. The narcissism at work here prevents a real consideration of the wishes of the partner. Do you really think such a relationship would make you happy?

Men are far more drawn to your spirit; your approachability. If you keep your head down, expecting rejection, that is what you will get. If you take a real interest in getting to know a man, he is more likely to want to spend more time with you. Your attitude may be chasing potential suitors away, not your lack of so-called beauty. Do not feel so desperate, there are plenty of possible matches to go around!

3. That’s exactly what I tell my subscribers as well. I point out that they are more likely not being approached by men because of their negative energy and attitude rather than the way they look. In general, women with a positive attitude are easily able to attract men because they are self sufficient and fun to be with. 

What are some things that you would recommend women do that can help them become happier and self-sufficient regardless of whether they are single or in a relationship?

First, it is absolutely necessary to rethink the accepted “wisdom” that a woman is nothing without a man. Any idiot can be with a man. She may not be selective; she may be settling for a warm body; but, if any man will do, that’s not so hard.

I can’t imagine that feeling that desperate about pairing up would feel very good for very long — if ever. The dilemma will be heightened when you segue into some form of “If he likes me he can’t be much good”. Does that sound familiar?

I could talk all day about self-worth, but, frankly, if you are clinging to the belief that a man will complete you or your attachment will show the world that you are loveworthy, how do I convince you that you’re wrong, Wrong, WRONG!?

Look, I have been there. When my ex-husband re-married a million years ago, I felt like I had a great big “L” for loser branded onto my forehead. I even broke a tooth biting down on an un-popped kernel of corn I was so aggravated. We didn’t even live in the same city at the time.

Happily, I waited until the right man came along, and I have been joyfully married for 18 years now. Did I hate the time it took to find him? Yes. Was I discouraged? Yes.

In fact, when we met, at an auction, I had on crummy clothes, little make-up & wild hair. So much for looking good — it could only get better from there.

If you can’t give up your conviction that being in a relationship defines you, I hope you have some friends with a different mindset. You have a life to live, and if you do things that you enjoy, it can be first-rate. If your entire focus is on meeting “the” man, it will be hard, if not impossible, to recognize the right one when he comes along.

4. You mentioned something very interesting when you talked about how women who may get into this thinking “if he likes me he can’t be much good.” Some of our women subscribers have the problem of attracting the wrong men over and over again. And on rare instances when they do attract the right man, they tend to engage in self sabotaging behaviors that tend to drive him away. Why does this happen? Is it because of the lack of belief that they will ever be able to attract a quality man, is it because they don’t set proper boundaries and don’t clearly communicate their expectations or is it because they don’t know their deal breakers and negotiables etc.?

Do you have any advice for women that can help them weed off the wrong men and stop engaging in self sabotaging behaviors that drive the good ones away?

The first thing a woman has to do is take some time to examine her failed relationships and find the common thread among them. Each man may dress differently, have different professions and come from different backgrounds, but, I guarantee you that there is a common theme going on here.

You may be repeatedly setting your sites on the ambivalent narcissist. He will pull you close, tell you you’re really special, and, then, when you begin to respond, he will pull back. Don’t hang around — this is his modus operandi — you can do better than that.

Sometimes, the gentleman with an addiction problem comes along. He’s probably sweet and sensitive and you feel needed. Sad as it is, resist your urge to rescue him. As long as he is enslaved to a substance or engaging in self-destructive behavior, you won’t even have his full attention. His obsession (which will not be you) has his devotion and you cannot compete with that. If he has some lengthy recovery under his belt, that is a different story.

If you’re a woman who, when she falls for what she perceives to be the perfect man, undermines the relationship, please take a close look at yourself. You probably have some fears of intimacy and abandonment. That’s, actually, ok as long as you can honestly lay your hesitancy out on the table and he is able and/or willing to work with your anxieties . The two of you may be able to handle this together, and that is probably an indication that there is a mutually satisfying relationship in your future.

The best suggestion I can make is that you show your true self. You will never be able to maintain a persona and you will feel like a fraud. Look, men aren’t strange indecipherable creatures. They have the same insecurities you do, although they may display them differently.

If there is some chemistry and you are warm and interested and have a sense of humor, you just might have found something good. Get over the idea that some people are better than others. Pay attention to character — yours and his — and you will be heading down the right path.

5. Some women write to us that they have the tendency to fall too quickly with a man they really like. In the process they end up doing too many things for him like calling him often, wanting to be with him all the time etc as a result of which they end up turning off the men they like. While I guess it is natural to have strong feelings and intense passion towards someone you are attracted to, is there a deeper problem behind falling in love too quickly? What are some ways women can better pace their relationship so that it grows slower over time?

I recognize that many of us can long for someone (especially a man) to cling to. Therefore, I implore you to recognize and differentiate between feelings of real attraction and the desire to attach to a member of the male species. Although men can be rather thick at times, a man can always sense when you are desperate and will either: 1. Use you (narcissistic personality disorder) or 2. Run the other way. If you put all your hopes and dreams on the first presentable man who seems to like you, you are probably heading for trouble.

By the same token, If a man who hardly knows you calls you 10 times a day and wants to fill up your calendar for the foreseeable future, be very careful. It is likely that he just wants a woman to fuse with and will drive you crazy as time goes on.

I believe that there are reasons that we fall in love. Some of it is unconscious – we’re trying to work out or recreate attachments from the past (see question 4). The conscious part, may not be for solid sustainable reasons. If it’s all about what he is showing to the world, that’s all well and good, but, to paraphrase Judge Judy, “Beauty fades, dumb is forever”.

Take the time to learn about his character. Is he habitually kind to others? Does he have enough self-confidence to applaud your achievements? Do you have similar notions about lifestyle, children, extended family, the way to handle money? You don’t have to match up on these things, there are always compromises. You cannot love someone you don’t even know..

If you take the time to get to know him, the pacing of the relationship will not be a problem. No one can reveal all sides of him/herself in two weeks.

Why is slowing things down a problem? Are you afraid he will change his mind? Do you feel like you need to “catch” him while he’s up for grabs? If it’s meant to last, it will survive the time it takes to learn who he is and who the two of you are when your together. Believe me, it’s worth the wait.

6. Is there a right time when you are dating that is ideal for having sex? I have read that it is better to wait and get to know the other person before jumping in the bed because once women have sex, their judgement is clouded and there is a sense of pseudo intimacy. Some of our subscribers have been/are involved in relationships with no strings attached and some have gone on to have feelings towards the man. However they find it difficult to transition from a purely sexual relationship to a committed one. What advice do you have for women who are caught in this situation?

I don’t believe that there are workable rules that exist concerning sex. The best guidelines I can think of have to do with you, your beliefs and level of comfort with physical intimacy.

Part of me wants to say, “If it’s going to work, it’s going to work”. If you can have sex that you feel good about, that’s the measuring stick to use. Certainly, if you feel coerced, there will be problems. A man doesn’t deserve to have access to your body just because he took you to dinner (or Paris) or because he’s a hot catch.

If you have had some experience sexually and the person you are with is so smokin’ that you just can’t keep your hand off him; if you are comfortable with sexual exploration and do not feel bad about yourself because of your sexual desire; if you are taking precautions against STD’s, go for it.

Should you enter into a “no strings attached” relationship, first, ask yourself why you have made this agreement. Hot sex, while it may prolong the amount of time you spend together, is not likely to convert a more “platonic” relationship into one of genuine love. If you sign up for “no strings”, do not delude yourself into thinking that you can seduce him into a lasting commitment — it just doesn’t work that way.

It might be a better idea to have a mutual understanding that feelings might change. If they do, you should be able to share them. There is no need for anger here, it’s simply that you have grown either more or less attached to your sexual playmate. Either of you should be able to say “let’s examine this”.

The man who is right for you is not going to avoid commitment simply because you have shared a bed. You really don’t want some judgmental jerk who holds that over your head as an excuse for avoid solidifying the liaison. He’s lucky you were willing to share your charms!

If it doesn’t feel right, abstain. If you have made friends with your own physicality, have a good time!

7. It is said that men in general struggle with feelings and emotions. Can you talk about ways women can connect with men on a deep emotional basis? This is one of the questions we get asked frequently from women and they would like to know what they can do on their part to create a safe, non-judgmental environment for men to open up and communicate openly and honestly.

Sometimes there is an instant rapport and the guy will open up. That’s a good sign, but not the end of the story. You may be hearing a “confession” that has been told many times before, or, he may pull back, believing he has shared too much. We don’t know enough about him yet.

Male and female brains are different. Women bond through talk; men tend to only talk when they feel comfortable. If you inundate your man with words, he will most likely tune out after about the second sentence.

Positioning and body language are really important. Sit close without crowding. If he senses your mind is wandering, he will pull back. On the other hand, if he keeps going on and on and seems oblivious to your reactions, he may be more interested in simply reciting his monologue than in sharing it with you.

Clearly, it makes a difference whether or not he is sober. If a mind-altering substance is involved, don’t be so certain that the two of you have become more intimate.

You do not have the leverage to create the right situation and mood. If your connection is established primarily through manipulation, you are walking on thin ice. Too often we believe that if we just “play it right” we can “get” him.

Some people (men and women) simply do not go that deep. They may be defended against digging into their own emotions. I, personally, would not push too hard on someone who doesn’t want to or can’t go there. It may be way too painful for him to share without resentment or regret.

The best “opening of the heart” occurs over time. If there is an authentic connection between the two of you and you become sensitive to his vulnerabilities, in time, he may want to establish a deeper intimacy with you because it feels good to him. Some people, however, never do open up and you’re foolish to try to orchestrate what happens.

One other thought. Some people who open up quickly are actually desperately lonely and are looking to be saved. Make sure you want to be the savior — that can become a tiresome role over time.

8. You mentioned that if women can become sensitive to a man’s vulnerabilities over time he may want to establish a deeper intimacy. Can you elaborate on what you mean by becoming “sensitive to his vulnerabilities” and maybe share some examples?

Being sensitive to a man’s (or anyone’s) vulnerabilities means paying attention. It means closing your mouth and opening your eyes and ears. But listen, if you’re not genuinely interested, if your man feels like you are being pushy, you are going in the wrong direction.

In my practice I am very careful about what I encourage a client to explore. It’s important to make sure that we are not exposing wounds that cannot be re-closed. In fact, if the exploration is motivated by a desire for power or control, as Archie Bunker would say, “Stifle yourself!”.

You may believe that you are the one to heal old wounds. If you have a deep, committed relationship, that may be true. If not, please do not inflict more pain. This is very serious stuff.

One example I can give you is, many years ago I was joking around with my husband, who survived a terribly painful childhood. He is so intelligent that I thought nothing of it when I called him “stupid”. One look at his face told me I had gone where I was not welcome. I did not try to justify what I had said. Instead, I apologized and have never said that to him again. I came from a family in which that would be a harmless tease, his background was very different and I learned (and continue to learn) what wounds and what is safe.

Sometimes, he will say something to me, that stings. Usually it reminds me of something harsh my mother, who has been dead for 26 years, would have said. If I say to him, “Hold on Sylvia”, he knows he has crossed a line.

I guess the point is that even after 20 years together, we can still step on each other’s toes. Just imagine how little you know about someone you’ve just met. Your best bet, as always, is to be genuine. A man will figure out when you are being manipulative. I would avoid that at all costs. Be straightforward and respond from your heart. If and when he feels safe, he may want to open up to you. If he’s closed off, proceed with great caution.

The best relationships are organic, not a result of “playing” it the right way.

9. Can you share your top 3 tips that can help women create better connection and commitment in their current relationships?

I am tempted to say “love yourself, love yourself, love yourself”, but, I don’t think that’s what you’re looking for.

1. Be your true self. If you have been pretending to love to work out when you’re really a couch potato; love watching football when you don’t, or care about cats when you’re allergic to them, it’s time to stop. In a long lasting relationship who we really are comes out. You needn’t expect yourself to be perfect, just genuine. Develop a sense of humor about what you perceive to be your deficits, they may well be endearing. My husband is very precise, I am not. He has learned to not ask me if a line is straight and I have learned to never expect a simple answer from him.

2. Keep in mind what you like about him. Maybe he leaves dishes all over, but, he might be the first one to pick your mother up at the airport. I trust that you are not attempting to have this relationship with someone you do not find to be at least agreeable. Tell him (a lot) about the things you like that he does or stands for — it will encourage more of the behavior that led you to him in the first place.

3. Develop your capacity to see things from his point of view. Drop the judgmental part of yourself and make sure you understand what he is really all about. My first birthday with my husband, I was sad and more than a little mad when he didn’t get home until 10pm. Then, I saw that he was carrying a hope chest that had belonged to his grandmother — his treasure and he wanted me to have it. I was glad I kept my mouth shut.

10. Do you have any books or resources that you would recommend for women that are looking to create long lasting fulfilling relationships?

Two of my favorite authors are Pat Love and Tara Brach. Pat’s book, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It is a real eye opener.

I would avoid all tomes that promise to tell you how to land a man, get married, get a commitment in “x” number of days. Life is not a formula. The cookie cutter approach doesn’t work. A book that instructs you on self-love is right on track. Look for books that teach you how to assess a person’s strengths and weaknesses.

Venus and Mars and Love Languages are fun, but, I doubt they will offer you what you are trying to find. Get to really know yourself, learn about him, pay attention to if you can relax and are having fun and you just might find Prince Charming.

About Ruth Gordon

Ruth Gordon

Ruth Gordon has more than 30 years’ experience working with a wide variety of psychological and psycho-social problems, as well as an assortment of disturbances caused by chemical imbalance, trauma, and addiction. She is available for telephone consultation to her clients and is willing to extend sessions as appropriate.

To know more about Ruth, visit her website www.foreverfabulousyou.com.




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