Interview With Vanessa Rosage - How To Win a Man's Heart

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December 1, 2014

Interview With Vanessa Rosage

1. One of the toughest challenges my female subscribers face is trying to break through old patterns and create new habits that can help them attract healthy love. For example, some women tend to attract the same kind of men over and over again, some women tend to engage in repeated self-sabotaging behaviors that destroy their relationships etc.

Can you share your advice on what women can do to stop old destructive patterns and create and sustain new healthy habits?

Humans tend to get into the same destructive relationships due to a need to repeat and heal a past traumatic relationship. This is often why women or men choose the same destructive partners. If a woman, for example, were abused by her father (emotionally, physically, sexually, neglected or abandoned) that would be traumatic. There are even smaller trauma’s or wounds in our relationships with others such as feeling hurt, neglected or abandoned by past romantic relationships or even siblings. In an effort to heal the trauma, the subconscious will lead the individual into a relationship with the same type of person. The greater the trauma or the perception of the trauma the stronger the likelihood that the person will continue choosing destructive people as romantic partners. This is true for any person, regardless of gender orientation or choice in romantic partner.

The subconscious hopes the person can heal their trauma with this new person, despite the rational argument that it will not heal. Then the person becomes hurt again and they continue getting into disastrous relationships in a subconscious effort to heal all those traumatic wounds. It becomes a very vicious cycle.

It would be most advisable for these individuals to seek counseling and work to heal those wounds outside of a relationship. Their efforts to change their patterns are usually unsuccessful until their mind is convinced they are healed of the past trauma. They may work hard to choose a partner that is not destructive but unfortunately, their ability to gauge this accurately is negatively altered. Their “radar” for seeing destructive patterns is broken until the trauma is healed.

A great first step towards making change is to list traits that all past destructive partners have had in common and try to link those traits to any past relationships that were particularly traumatic. At this point it is most advisable to seek the counsel of a therapist trained in attachment and trauma. They will be most capable of helping these individuals look at their past trauma in relationship and work toward repairing and recovering in order to make new, positive choices for themselves and their future.

2. Some of our subscribers have 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?

I think it’s important to first acknowledge the incredible strong messages we are sent as women to look a very specific way. These messages begin at such an early age that they become part of our unconscious. This is why rational reasoning and thought usually don’t work to combat these destructive and negative thoughts. I also believe it is not enough to just work to change the thoughts. I think it’s important to try to act as well. It’s much more believable and convincing to change the way you feel about your body if you can witness it’s amazing strengths. If these feelings are so strong that they lead to depression, anxiety or other self harm it is strongly advised to seek the advice and support of a trained therapist.

Generally, however, I recommend acting and thinking differently. If a woman is unhappy with her body I would encourage her to think about not how she wants it to LOOK different but how she wants it to MOVE differently or what she would like her body to DO for her that it cannot currently do.

If she wants her body to be able to take her on long walks but she can’t walk far, then start by walking a few minutes a day, building slowly up to longer and longer walks. If her desire is not physically possible due to her aging body then how close can she get, given her limitations.

It is more important to focus on what your body can DO than how it may look. By using your body in a way that leaves you feeling more confident and happy (by releasing positive endorphins) you are more likely to engage others and have positive social experiences. As far as changing negative thought patterns, I could write a book but I will provide a link that reviews how to address negative self talk.

First you identify a pattern of thinking based on ten common “distorted” ways of thinking. Next, you challenge that thought with any of the ten ways of “untwisting”. Last, you replace the negative thought with one that is more realistic. It doesn’t have to be overly positive, just realistic. If a woman thought “I hate my body” then she could identify that this is all or nothing thinking or overgeneralizing. She could challenge that thought by admitting that there are parts of her body that she does like. Her more realistic thought could be “I don’t like that my feet are big but I love that my eyes are blue”. If a woman thought “That younger woman is so beautiful, men will love her more than me” then more realistic thought would be “That younger woman is beautiful and has so much learning to do. Men that are interested in beauty will be attracted to her. I am not as physically beautiful, according to a social standard but I am wise and rational and have a great sense of style and men who find these things important will be attracted to me”. Here is the link: http://www.apsu.edu/sites/apsu.edu/files/counseling/COGNITIVE_0.pdf

3. 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?

Identifying that you do NOT want fear or worry to guide your behavior in relationships is the first step. Then you must identify the goal that you do have. Identify the steps it would take to achieve the goal. Work towards the goal with confidence and do not let setbacks put you back into a place of fear. Fear does not produce desirable results unless it is a matter of survival. When we enter relationships from a place of desperation it is usually because we have a deep need that is not met and we are hoping the relationship or future relationships (children) will meet that need. Ask yourself: If I were married or had children now, what need would be met that isn’t currently? When you answer that question then find a way to meet that need without marriage or children. Meeting your own need will empower you and give you the emotional independence you need to have a meaningful and successful relationship. This may require guidance from a good friend or therapist as these questions can be hard to answer on our own.

It is ok to be honest about the desire to have children, marriage and a future. The tone and pressure behind that disclosure is what often drives others away. The desire to have children and the biological pressure is real so I would also consider freezing your eggs so you no longer feel a biological pull to rush into anything.

Lastly, emerge yourself in things that bring you joy. Only in the space of joy will you be able to see joy in others and others will be able to see your true self. Think of your life as a house. You want to have a solid foundation, great structure and a decorative style that reflects you. Your relationship is a guest. You allow them in only as a person that adds something extra to your life, not as a filler or solution to a leaky roof. If they don’t add something, then they can leave and invite the next guest to visit. A relationship is not an opportunity for someone else to meet an unmet need, it is an opportunity to learn and grow from a solid foundation.

4. From our subscribers, we often hear “lack of chemistry” as a leading reason why they aren’t willing to go out on a second date with a man even though he seemed to be a decent guy and they were comfortable and treated with respect during the first date. Can you share your thoughts on chemistry- how important is it for a relationship to succeed long term and can chemistry grow over time? Is it worth persisting with a man with whom a woman feels comfortable but doesn’t quite share the chemistry?

Chemistry is a very very difficult feeling to quantify. I really think “chemistry” is a way of talking about “instinct”. It’s the natural and immediate emotions you feel about a person. There is a lot of weight to give this feeling if you know you have a fairly healthy and accurate instinct in life. Are you typically good at making positive friendships and relationships? Does your instinct typically lead you in a direction that is healthy for you? If not, then your instinct could be reading your needs incorrectly. This would then lead you to believe that a person that is actually very good for you doesn’t have the right “chemistry”. This idea is linked to some of the other questions I’ve answered about how to make positive choices in relationships and when choosing a dating partner.

It’s important first to assess whether the gauge you have that attracts you to others is working to help you or repeat a negative cycle. If it’s the latter, it’s important to get those issues addressed before relying on this gauge. If your gauge is working fine then I think it’s important to listen to that instinct and not pursue the relationship. Chemistry, like anything in a relationship, is only as important in making the relationship work as it is to the people in the relationship. If financial success, procreating and time together is more important than chemistry to both people then the relationship will be successful. If one person finds it important and the other does not then the relationship will have strain until a balance can be found.

5. 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 man 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?

It’s possible to state your concerns and needs without becoming overly emotional. I think actions of others can trigger emotional baggage and this creates an irrational response to something simple. If the person is running late consistently and it bothers you it can be important to address the concern, but do so simply. For example: “I’ve noticed you tend to be late to our meetings and it’s important to me that you make it a priority to be on time.” Usually we address a concern this way, “You’re always late and it’s really annoying. Am I not important enough to you to make it on time? It’s inconsiderate of you, you know”. This statement is full of emotional baggage from previous relationships and childhood. This statement is more about the persons past than the persons present moment. Address the present concern in simple terms. Even keep it to what you notice, as outlined in the first question prompt. Then state your preference, also noted in the first sentence. This makes your present concern and solution clear without adding emotional or relationship baggage from the past. Any person that is put off by someone stating their concerns in this way is someone who struggles to accept responsibility and avoids any confrontation. This person may not be the best choice in a mate, as all relationships come with some degree of tension and conflict.

6. 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 in a relationship, is extremely dependent on the individuals involved. As with most things in a relationship, it all depends on whether the two people have a clear, honest and genuine dialogue and understanding about what they expect. Entering a sexual relationship with clear expectations and honest dialogue is more important than waiting or not waiting. It would be unwise to engage in a casual sexual encounter only to expect that the other individual is willing to commit. Likewise, it would be unwise to wait and hope the person will commit, only to find out they wanted a casual fling. If a person knows they will be hurt or upset if a casual sexual encounter does not develop into a more meaningful relationship, it is wise for them to wait and if they wait and only wanted a casual sexual encounter, it is probably best they vocalize this intention.

7. 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?

Idealizing is typically connected to primary attachment relationships or previous meaningful relationships. It is a behavior that occurs when someone struggles to stay present in most aspects of their life, not just their relationships. It is also common, that these individuals struggle to accept themselves, and their own flaws or tend to shame themselves and others when they fail to live up to their own high expectations. It is strongly advisable that this person obtain outside help from a therapist or other trained expert so they can be guided to stay present and learn how to truthfully evaluate their life and their relationships. It can also be helpful to write down what you admire and dislike about the person you are dating. Then write down how you hope they will change those things you dislike. Then ask someone else, you trust, whether these expectations seem fair or realistic. It’s important to realize that any relationship is strained when one person cannot accept the other person for who they are but who they hope they will be. That person will never live up to the expectations of another and constantly feel as though they are failing and the relationship will become increasingly tense and conflicted. It’s best to work with a professional to learn to love a person, despite their flaws, while working to support them to overcome any challenges they wish to tackle.

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?

This type of behavior is typically related to fear. Fear of intimacy, commitment, happiness (yes..some people are terrified of marital bliss) or even an end to their independent sense of self. It’s best to approach the behavior as you would anyone who was afraid. Show compassion and sensitivity. Ask if there is anything you can do to provide them love or support. Show you are here to help them. If they continue the behavior or refuse to respond then it is probably best to create distance and all them to seek professional help. There is a difference between a average “freak out” and long term attachment and intimacy issues. The former will respond to compassion and patience and love. The latter will recoil and create greater distance. Know the difference and respond accordingly.

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”?

I’m not sure about this question. Men and women are usually looking for the same thing. They are looking for someone who is willing to accept them as they are, support them in their life and find joy. Each person is looking for different things when looking for a person they wish to marry so I’m not sure there is any trait that would be common for men to mention as “wife material”. If they did talk about certain traits they wanted a woman to possess as a wife then I would be concerned they were more focused on her ability to be a wife than on her ability to complement him well as an intimate partner.

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. Stop looking. Really. Looking is energy placed into finding something specific instead of noticing what is around you and being open to new people and opportunities. Stop looking.

2. Start living. Seriously. Do the things that bring you joy and energy and you will find others who you find bring you joy and energy. Everyone is more attractive when they are happy and enjoying life.

3. Know your shit. Know what baggage you bring and own up to it, be aware of it and don’t allow it to ruin your new and ongoing relationships.

About Vanessa Rosage

Vanessa-Rosage

Vanessa Rosage is a trauma- and attachment-focused therapist in Austin, Texas, that supports personal and community transformation. She works primarily with children, parents, families, adolescents and young adults. She is certified in Trauma Based Relational Intervention; an attachment- and trauma-focused training that aims to heal relationships between children and their current caregivers.

To know more about Vanessa, visit her website www.vanessarosage.com.




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