Interview with Teresa Petersen Mendoza - How To Win a Man's Heart

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November 25, 2014

Interview with Teresa Petersen Mendoza

1. 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?

So many women rush into the long-term committed stage of the relationship without learning about the men they are dating. It’s like trying to skip to the middle of a new book. You lose context. The beginning of a relationship is about getting to know the person you are with. Are they trustworthy? Will they still be around in a few months? Chemistry is great – fantastic – what about your personal values, life goals and desire for family? Just the same as character development in a story, i you skip to the middle of the book, you don’t really know who the person is.

Taking time to carefully peel back the layers and discover each other is the beauty of the beginning of a relationship. Why skip over that? After you’re together for a few years, there are fewer surprises. Embrace the excitement of the beginning. Be thoughtful about what you divulge. For example, being honest with, “I’ve just ended a long term relationship.” – Fine. Adding, “He broke it off because I wanted to get married and have children right away because I’m worried that I’m getting older and the clock is ticking.” – Too much, too soon.

It’s not about being dishonest in a relationship, it’s about being careful about what you divulge. As a relationship moves forward, I notice sometimes people play off being mean or dumping their feelings onto a partner as “Just being honest.” Telling your partner that you don’t like something about them, is mean. Talking about what you would like from a relationship and hoping they meet you in those goals, honest. If your goal is to get something off your chest and not to make the relationship better, then rethink the information. Is it about honesty or is it about dumping feelings so YOU can feel better, at the expense of your partner’s feelings?

2. You briefly talked about chemistry. How important is chemistry for a relationship to succeed long term? Some of our subscribers tend to place too much importance on chemistry and when they are attracted to a man they really like, they tend to rush through the relationship. Unfortunately these relationships don’t work and often end up disastrously.

On the other hand, women also go out on dates with men with whom they don’t feel the same kind of attraction or chemistry. While these men may be really into them, the women don’t feel the same way.

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?

That’s a great question. I think that the basic answer is… it depends.

Amazing chemistry, feeling drawn toward someone, feels great. But to only look at that rush and overlook larger relationship compatibility is a problem. So, does the chemistry cover up bigger problems? If one of my clients is concerned that the chemistry in her relationship is overwhelming her ability to be objective, I recommend she get a double check from trusted others. What do your close friends and family have to say about it? Rather than just writing off the feedback, pay attention to it. If your trusted others bring up red-flags, then it’s probably because they love you.

As for the relationships without overwhelming chemistry, attraction can build over time. But if you are not at all attracted to your partner, it is rarely created from scratch. Take your time, do fun things together, and if it turns out it isn’t more than a really good friendship then appreciate what you have learned and be kind to him when you decide to move on.

3. A common problem that we hear often from our subscribers is a feeling of being inadequate and unworthy especially as they age. Women feel anxious and stressed as they compare their bodies and looks to the younger women and unfortunately believe they aren’t able to attract men into their lives because they aren’t physically attractive. Some of our subscribers confess that they hate their bodies and feel undesirable and unattractive whenever they look in the mirror.

Can you share your advice on what women can do to shift their negative self-talk and how they can be more self-accepting and start loving their bodies?

Many times, women look externally to obtain personal value. That is actually the part of them that is unattractive to men. Rather than trying to focus on accepting their bodies, which is difficult for most women, women should focus on accepting the things about themselves that they most admire. For men, the physical comes second when they are attracted to the person. Men may not lead with it, but it is truly how they react. Be fascinating. Enjoy yourself. If you have passion in life and things you really enjoy… men will be inexplicably drawn to you. If you really like who you are, in whole, then those worth knowing will, too.

4. Another common problem we hear from our subscribers is the fear of being alone and never finding the right man. This is especially common as women enter into their thirties. They see their friends getting married and even having kids, they are asked by friends and family when they are going to get married and they feel the pressure of a ticking biological clock. In the process, they approach their relationships from a place of fear. worry and anxiety.

Instead of enjoying their dates and conversing with men, they tend to interrogate them so that they can stop wasting their time and weed off the wrong men. They tend to fall too hard and too fast in love when they find a man they like but often that scares men away.

What advice do you have for women who approach relationships from a place of worry and how can they shift from a clingy, desperate vibe to an empowered, joyful zone?

Being single when others in your friends group are married is called being “Off Time” in lifespan development. It can feel uncomfortable when you and your social group doesn’t match in marital and family status. But fast forwarding through dates and treating them more as interviews to conduct won’t help you land the man. It will leave you lonely and bitter. Trust me, I felt the pressure, too. Here are some tips that have worked for me and for my clients…

1. Know what you want in a relationship. Spending time in a relationship hoping someone will eventually want marriage doesn’t work, it just wastes time. Assume they are telling the truth at the outset.

2. If you aren’t enjoying dating, take a break. It’s not a job – relationships are hard work, but they are supposed to be fun at first. If you’re not having fun, give yourself a few months to just enjoy life without the pressure. Focus on yourself again.

3. Ask open ended questions and have a real conversation on a date. He’s not being interviewed for a life-partner position. He’s a complex and interesting person you get to learn about. Focus on being interested. Also, don’t memorize his online profile before the date so you can ask him about it. It’s creepy. Just let it flow. If you don’t have a comfortable conversation at first, most men won’t want to have another date.

4. Live your life, NOW! Nothing is more attractive to a man than someone who has their stuff together. They know who they are and what they want. It’s too much responsibility to “save” a woman from her miserable singlehood. That’s a lot of pressure! If you have a life you enjoy and fit the right guy in when he comes, then he’s going to adapt to you as well. And he’s going to want to get to know you.

5. 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?

When to have sex is such a personal decision. If you know that it is sacred to you and you want to share it with only the right men, then wait. You can’t undo initiation of sex in a relationship. If you’re sexually active and don’t mind that being a part of your relationship, then go with it. Being yourself and enjoying sex is one of the best things about an intimate relationship. But remember, you can’t rewind time. And fair or not, most men will judge a woman for having had sex early on in the relationship. Sex on a first date doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed, but it does mean the guy may wonder if you’re a long-term girl. Also, just because it’s the third date doesn’t mean you have to give it up. I like to recommend to people to wait until there is a commitment to monogamy before jumping into sex. You probably don’t want to be one of many partners he’s currently sleeping with.

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?

Red flags can be hard to see when you are excited about a relationship. This is why your subscribers need to focus on having a few trusted resources to provide honest feedback. It is also why giving a relationship time before jumping in with both feet is so important. Give yourself time to let the relationship unfold. Also, keep in mind, who he is now is who he will probably be in the future. Many women ignore what men actually say and date what they hope the man will become. Pay attention to now. If it’s going well, great! If you’re frequently frustrated, hurt or unhappy, red flag!

7. Some of our subscribers hesitate to share their honest feelings especially as they are getting to know a man and want to grow the relationship. This hesitation comes from the fear that they may come across as someone too emotional and needy and feel that it may push the many away. So they don’t raise the issues and avoid tough conversations because they want to be the “cool” girl. Here are some examples: she goes out on a date and he says he will call her but he doesn’t. She is disappointed when he doesn’t and doesn’t discuss this when she hears back from him. Other examples are not calling ahead of time when he is running late or not making plans for a date etc.

What advice do you have for women who have issues that they want to discuss with their man but have troubles expressing them because of the fear of coming across as a nag or needy or demanding?

If problems went away by sweeping them under the rug, I wouldn’t have a job… And I’m very busy! Instead of approaching concerns from a place of fear and letting them build until they get so big that they feel overwhelming, address issues as they come up.

Consider one approach, “Honey, I would like to hang out with you more frequently. Do you think we could meet up on Wednesday? I miss you.” That approach speaks from the “I” perspective and makes a specific request. Now the harsher approach after issues have built up may look more like this, “Why are you avoiding me all week? I wait for you to call me and you don’t! Don’t you want to be with me?”

Choose to be more proactive, speak from how you feel and what your experience is and make a specific request regarding changes. If he doesn’t respond well, perhaps you need to soften your approach or perhaps he’s not a good fit for you.

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?

If your partner is pulling away, let him have some space. Men have a tendency to withdraw when they need to consider moving forward. Alternatively, sometimes it has nothing to do with the relationship. By chasing him, you put yourself in a very uncomfortable position. Keep turned toward your partner, but remain where you are and stay open to him returning to discuss things. Ask and listen before you jump in and talk. Hopefully, things come to a pleasant result! If not, chasing him or cutting him off wouldn’t have changed that anyway. The key is for you to keep moving forward with your life, work, friends and activities. Your life shouldn’t revolve around him. The best relationships are where both partners choose the relationship. You can’t force him to choose you, but you don’t have to sit around waiting for him to come around in order to be happy. Keep going and let him catch up if he’s ready.

9. As a therapist, you have worked with both men and women. In your experience, what are men generally looking for in a relationship and specifically can you also talk about the attributes that they are generally looking for in a woman that they consider “wife material”?

Most men are looking for a best friend. They want someone they enjoy being around and can relax with and have a good time. Shared activities or interests can help them feel like they are bonded with their girlfriends.

They also just want someone who is nice to them. So many women insert little criticisms in the relationship that it makes men second guess the relationship.

In this age of online dating, men can sometimes become catalog daters who are looking for “better” and “better.” Rather than getting caught up in this, know who you are, be confident and know what you want in life and in a partner. Wishy, washy isn’t hot. Confidence and direction is hot. Enjoy yourself and your life and so will he.

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

Date yourself first. If you like yourself and have passions in life, others will want to be around you.

Know what you want in life. Don’t wait for the “right man” to create your life. The right guy will want to fit in with you.

Keep dating for life. Found the right one? Great! Now remember to keep him a priority. Stay interesting by making time for your own interests so you have something to talk about. Have bi-weekly dates, even if it’s just a picnic on the family room floor after the kids go to bed.

About Teresa Petersen Mendoza

A former childcare provider, Licensed in Marriage and Family Therapy with a background in Human Development, Teresa Petersen Mendoza has worked with families for more than 20 years. Her goal is to help families find strategic approaches to relational issues.

To know more about Teresa, visit her website