Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Are You Missing a Fundamental Building Block?

Dr. Jenn,

I had a couple of really nice dates with Terry.

He was so excited to see me that he accidentally wore two different shoes!! We laughed and laughed about that. It was good to see he could go with the flow with such things.

After the dates though, I got to thinking about what he said about his house being a total mess.
I must admit that this morning I am quite scared about how bad it might be. He says he bought a new vacuum because he couldn't find the old vacuum in the mess of his house. This was 18 months ago and it has not yet been taken out of the box it came in! He laughs about it, but it scares me.

Also, it seems that even though he says he wants to be healthy, he still eats at McDonalds often, and other fast food places, and this bothers me too. And now I know he is on high blood pressure meds, AND he is quite overweight.

It makes me want to back off from my emotional connection with him until I know more.

He says he wants to be healthier, and he wants to clean up his messy house, but he doesn't appear to be doing either. I know I could influence him, but I have a hard enough time keeping my SELF on a good diet and keeping the clutter out of MY life, so, even though we laugh a lot when together, I find I am emotionally backing off.

Today I re-opened my MATCH profile which had been hidden for the last month or so. I feel I need to remain open to options right now, especially because of these two big yellow flags with Terry.

My original list of WANTS in a man include someone who is reasonably neat and clean, AND someone who takes pretty good care of his body and of his health. Does the laughter that we share overpower these two WANTS? I don't know.

Is it my responsibility to take on these issues and help him with them? No, but I sure can see that by falling for him, and trying to make it work with him, that I WOULD also be taking on these extra burdens in my life, OR I would be deciding to live with him just as he is, a person who struggles to make changes, or really doesn't care to and is perhaps quite happy with things, even though he says he wants to change.

I don't know if he is wanting to make those changes in order to be with me or if he wants to make them for himself. And wanting to make changes and actually MAKING them, can be miles apart. So, as I mentioned before, I feel myself backing away from him emotionally, and keeping myself open to more "juggling".



Hi Lisa,

I am glad to hear that you are keeping your eyes on the red flags and not ignoring them!

It would be easy to temporarily sweep things like “messy house,” “poor diet,” and “overweight” into the corner and pretend that they are not there.

But you are being super smart in recognizing the very essence of the issue: That yes, you would be taking him on EXACTLY as he is.

A budding relationship needs to be built, above all, on acceptance of WHO the other person IS.

That is one of the most fundamental relationship building blocks of all.

If he hasn’t changed on his own, it isn’t likely he’ll change for you, or anyone else. Because like you say, it’s hard enough to change for yourself! Clearly that motivation has to come from within, and up till now it’s been missing.

You don't want to be "that woman" who mistakenly thinks she'll "change her man."
Or that he will "love me enough to change."

Cozy sentiments, but not exactly based in reality, eh?!

So, it’s savvy to realize that you aren’t going to change this man. And smart to know yourself well enough to pause and say, “I’m not sure I CAN accept those things. I’m not sure that I WANT to accept those things.”

Just blindly going along and falling more in love with him would most definitely bring you to a much more complicated choice point in the future- when higher emotional attachments means bigger broken hearts. So slowing down the emotional intensity is a spot on move.

It's almost always better to walk away early after you've acknowledged some issues- rather than to stay and wait it out.

Once you become more deeply emotionally invested, it becomes harder and harder to walk away- even when you know you should. This is how relationships that should have lasted 6 weeks, last 2 years!

It seems to me that this is a case where you can “collect more data” and see how it goes, and keep tuning into your gut along the way. Maybe see his house first hand to get a clearer sense of what the situation is- after all couples do have to live together! And people’s idea of “a mess” can be very different.

But in the end, are the tradeoffs worth it? Only you can know.

But at this early stage of dating, there is no reason to “settle” if several major things just don’t match up. It’s always good to listen to your gut, heart, AND head!

Dr. Jenn

ps- By the way, being able to laugh about something as "embarrassing" as mis-matched shoes is a good personality trait to notice in a potential partner. If you can laugh when others get mad or sad- life together is so much easier!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

True Test: Loving 'Who You Are' with Your Partner

Dr. Jenn

"Over- enthusiasm right from the beginning" is a good way to describe how I felt about the Danny adventure.

It was quite flattering at first, as most guys seem under-enthused, but I also kept thinking that he must not have dated much since he seemed to be jumping to conclusions that clearly were premature.

One good lesson for me, from the Danny experience, is that it clearly DOES take time to get to know another person. I do hope that he learned that lesson as well.

Another thing I’ve discovered is that more and more I see all men as the SAME man, really as mere reflections of me.

With the only difference being that each "male body" holds up a slightly different type of mirror, so that how I see them (in the mirror) is just a slightly different reflection of myself.

Some bring out my funny side, some bring out my angry side, some bring out my logical side, some bring out my spiritual side, etc And some are more comfortable to be with than others. I guess, at this stage of my life, I am looking for comfort, among other things.




I agree that a major gift of this experience was learning that while being overenthusiastic and throwing your self into the moment can feel good on both sides- it really does mask the obvious- that you don’t even know each other!

Thankfully- you were able to keep the bigger picture in mind here and not join Danny too much in creating a fantasy world before creating the reality!

So much can change so soon in the early stages- that the joy is in the discovery- not trying to fast forward to a glorified, imagined future.

I also love that juggling is also allowing you to discover the gift of the Interpersonal Mirror. It is true that relationships act as mirrors shining back to us parts of ourselves.

Some partnerships highlight what we most enjoy about ourselves, while others bring out our worst. There is something to be learned from all of them!

But in the end, it does seem to me that the kind of love that lasts a lifetime comes when, in the mirror of our partner, we become our Best Selves.

When through our interaction, the highest parts of ourselves are encouraged to come out and play together.

It seems to me that great love allows us to fall back in love with ourselves, because we simply love WHO WE ARE with our partner.

Great love happens when the “me” who shows up around our partner is the person we’ve been trying to coax out into the sunshine all of these years, allowing her to glow in all of her natural radiance- rather than to hide in the shadows.

And there always will be shadows that show up in that mirror- but when they come out in this type of loving partnership- when they are seen with loving acceptance in the light of day- shifting them, releasing them, becomes so much easier.

This then, loving Who You Are with your partner, becomes a great barometer of whether someone is a great partner for you!

This is a gift my own husband offers to me every day. And it's a beautiful gift of a lesson on your dating journey!

Dr. Jenn

Monday, January 12, 2009

Can you Gracefully Let Go, Like an Autumn Tree?

Hi Dr. Jenn,

Well, it looks like Danny is "off" my list of possibilities.

After I had to remind him, for the third time that I don't know him well enough yet to become exclusive, I finally had to tell him that I was still talking to other guys and that I even met another guy in person.

He finally "got it" I think, and is feeling very hurt by it. Sounds like he is feeling “burned” even though I was honest with him the whole time. He’s not interested in communicating further.

I feel okay with his decision. It's just a plain fact to me that I am not and was not ready to commit to an exclusive relationship with Danny. Perhaps this is what you meant when you said it only works for so long, when one of the parties is being exclusive, and the other is not.

Since I was following my heart, and staying true to my feelings, this outcome is perfectly fine for me. It just tells me that Danny is not the right match for me.

I guess that he was "trusting" that I was being exclusive with him, even though I politely let him know all along that this was not yet the case. Oh well.

I don't yet know Terry as well as I thought I knew Danny, but with Terry things are moving in VERY good directions. We laugh soooo much. I'm excited!




I am so loving that you are seeing this situation with such clear perspective. Granted, it’s always easier to let one go, when you are excited about another one!

But still- you are so right on when you say “It just tells me that Danny is not the right match for me.”

So often people struggle right at this moment, when instead, they can just relax into the only reality that matters- the other person just wasn’t right for them.

Any time a relationship falls apart- it happens for only one real reason: It simply wasn’t meant to be. There is no point fighting that fact. That's a tiring, futile battle!

When you can fully grasp that truth- letting go comes naturally.

I liken it to the Tree of Love:

- Most partners come as leaves- for a short time, to bring a lesson, then depart.
- A small number come as branches- for a longer time, adding more substantial meaning to our lives.
- But only a tiny handful in our entire lives will ever be true trunks- people with whom we are meant to build a life with.

Danny was clearly a leaf- and just as the tree gracefully allows the leaf to drop away in the Fall, we can do the same- gently allowing nature to take it’s course.

And just as we can imagine the Tree saying, “Hey- it was so nice having you- I’m so glad we got to spend time together. I wish you the best,” we can part in appreciation.

That appreciation is easiest to grasp when we can clearly identify the lessons, the gifts, we were brought together to bestow upon each other.

Stepping into gratitude for those gifts is the best way to ensure that next time around, we attract an even better match!

So- what were the lessons, the gifts, that you and Danny offered each other?

Dr. Jenn

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Are You Creating Myth or Reality?

Hi Dr. Jenn,

And the fourth time was pretty darn good too!!!To think that I ALMOST didn't see Terry again!

I think I may have something called ACTIVE IMAGINATION, where my thoughts read all sorts of things into where a relationship may be headed, or who a person may be, and then I take action based on those imagined thoughts.

I want to be more aware of when this happens in the future.

Yesterday Terry came to pick me up, and we went first to brunch and then to a plant conservatory that was filled with warm humid plants and beautiful music, and plenty of sunshine, and benches for just sitting together and watching the world go by.

We sat there for a long time, talking and people watching, soaking up the sunshine and the warmth. It was a perfect day!!!

And now it is back to work for both of us, but I have a feeling I will be seeing him next week.

I did get an email this morning from Danny, wondering where I have been and noticing that my emails to him have changed.

And they have. I now find myself thinking much more about Terry than about Danny.

And now I need a few days to work on me, and my new little place, and my new job.

Life sure is good!!!




I like how you call it Active Imagination! I call it Projection!!

Most of us have a bad habit of projecting all of our hopes, and wishes, and dreams onto a person before we know them.

We know just a little about them, and fill in the blanks with what we hope is true. Then we are surprised to find out 3 months later, that the person isn’t who we thought they were!!! Ooops!

Usually what we plug in is positive, so we are negatively surprised later on.

But as you have seen, you might also plug in something negative. Now you’ve been pleasantly surprised when the real Terry is being revealed!!

Either way, you hit the nail on the head.

It’s much better not to imagine or project anything. Since we are bound to be wrong when we fill in the blanks on a person, especially since we fill in the blanks based on our own past experiences!

For real love to arise,
We want to create an opening for something new and fresh to evolve.
And we want to allow a intimate connection to develop between the authentic selves.

Both those things can only happen when we open up the Sacred Space of Possibilities, and leave it clear for the truth to emerge between us.

Rather than to fill it in with all of the “garbage” our minds wants to spew forth into that space!

When you keep out expectations, hopes, dreams, and images- you allow your budding relationship to unfold without the heavy burden of myth- and instead you give it the space to become what it was meant to be!

To give that process room to grow organically, I encourage you to not think too much about it.

To be in the moment when you are with them.
And to be in the moment when you are not with them- meaning you aren’t thinking that much about them when they are not around!

Thinking too much about them when they are not around lends itself to fantasy more than reality.

Clear the slate of your mind before each interaction with them.
And continue to offer your authentic self in the moment to each of them.

Then the path will soon become obvious!

Enjoy the journey,

Dr. Jenn

Sunday, January 4, 2009

3rd Times the Charm

Hi Dr. Jenn,

I just got home from my third date with Terry, to a movie and dinner.

And I am REALLY liking him. We laugh so much. And he is SOOOOO sweet and easy going. He sees the humorous side in most anything. I LOVE IT!!

He wants to see me again, soon.

I don't know Terry or Danny well enough yet, but if I had to choose between them today, Terry would win.

He is so sweet and cuddly and warm.

We saw SEVEN POUNDS, the new Will Smith movie, and he even cried!

Anyway, life is pretty darn good right now.




How awesome!

Isn’t it interesting how your feelings can change so much from one date to the next!?

After the second date, you were thinking of canceling this third date- and now you are really digging him!

That’s why I always recommend giving someone at least 3 dates, if you have any interest in someone at all.

It can take at least that long for the real person to start shining through. So, I am super glad you waited it out! That is a great dating lesson to have experienced.

And now the reward: A man who is in touch with his emotions enough to cry!

That’s one of my favorite male characteristics. In fact, when I was online dating, my profile said: “Bonus for a man who can remember the last time he cried.” So, Terry just earned bonus points in my book!

Don't worry about choosing, or how it will turn out- just keep allowing it to unfold in all of it's exciting glory!

You don’t have to KNOW anything right now, your only job is to enjoy the process and keep listening to your gut about how you feel!

Dr. Jenn

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Exploring Concerns with a Noticing Statement

Hi Dr. Jenn,

I had a WONDERFUL time with Danny on New Year's Eve. He brought over some interesting music for us to listen to and also brought me a gift of SILK PJs. It seems too early in a relationship for such a gift, but to be kind I accepted it.

He sure does seem to be working hard to do everything right, including reading a Raw Food book that I recommended. It's almost like he is going overboard to do the things that would get me to like him. Too much, too soon, I think.

Even though I like being with him, I feel like I am needing to hold him off, and maintain time for my SELF. I really like what you had to say about BUILDING MY LITTLE NEST here without too many memories or influence of some guy.

Today I have another date with the Terry who I laugh with every time we talk. I am looking forward to that. I feel that Danny would not be happy if he knew I had a date with another guy today but the right opportunity to tell him did not present itself.

Is it important for me to keep reminding Danny that I am not yet wanting to be exclusive? It seems he is assuming that we are even though I have not told him that. How can I nicely remind him? Maybe not being so available for him will be enough.

Yes, I DO feel that I need more space from Danny. And he left his CDs here without asking and I will make a point of returning those the next time I see him. He wants to see me again tomorrow but I am thinking that I want an evening to myself. I can see that I need/want to schedule in at least one day to myself between dates with guys.

Another thing I noticed with Danny, is that there is some jealousy or something when I pay attention to my dog. My dog is NOT the get in your face type and has not asked for much attention when Danny is here. But Danny has barely even acknowledged that she exists. She is such a big part of my life, that I do want a guy who would like her too.

I like this stage of relationship, where I can just notice such things, and take some notes, and not feel I have to turn everything into a discussion. I also want to see how Danny is NATURALLY and not give him too many clues about exactly what I want and like because I feel he might be trying to BE just what he thinks it would take to win me over.

I am working hard at staying VERY aware that it takes time to REALLY get to know another person, and that the first person they portray, might not be who they REALLY are.

And I am also aware of the ways that I tend to want to be the person I think THEY would like and by being aware of that, I work at first being true to me AND to the little dog in my life.

I really like your suggestion to keep in touch with my girlfriends, etc. I DID go to a movie with my good friend Jamie the other day and we had such a good time catching up on life. I think that watching how a guy feels about that, can be a good clue too, to how he will be about it later. Some guys I have dated can be very possessive with me and my time... and not want me showing affection to my dog.... or spending time with my friends. And I plan to continue to do BOTH of those even IN relationship. Well, maybe it requires somewhat less time with friends but I do still want friends in my life. Right?

Will send a report soon about my date with Terry. We talked by phone again yesterday and again we laughed and laughed. Danny is NOT that easy to laugh with. He is much more serious and "driven".

One thing I really like about juggling is that it gives me something to compare each guy with and think about the options that I have when choosing one to share parts of my life with.



I just love how you are learning to savor this stage of dating! You totally get it now! It’s a real benefit to be able to notice how one person makes you feel versus another. Allows you to get to know yourself and what you really need much more clearly.

It’s also a step forward to be able to just notice things without having to DO something about it. Just noticing how things make you feel, making little mental notes, maybe forming a little hypothesis, then collecting more data.

Like this thing with Danny and your dog. You’ve noticed how this makes you feel, it’s like a little yellow light.

It’s true that you want to see who Danny is naturally, especially with a person who seems to want to please, a little too much. On the other hand, with a situation like with your dog, it’s the perfect opportunity to collect more data by having an open conversation about it.

Exploring something like that now, will give you more information about who he is.

And you can always bring up your concern about him trying to please you, too. I think that might be prudent given all of the signs he’s showing you.

Seeing how he’s able to engage in such a conversation will offer you much insight. If he can deal with something sort of small like this with grace, then it gives hope for handling the more intricate issues that develop later.

I always find that you can bring up these type of things easiest with a simple “I notice” comment.

Something like, “I noticed X about you and my dog. I’m curious, tell me more. ”

Just opening it up like that, will often give the person the opportunity to explain more about what’s going on for them.

Then AFTER you’ve heard their perspective, you can tell him a little about yours AND your needs. That’s ok too.

You want to help the other person understand your needs so it gives them the opportunity to meet them. They don’t have to guess what your needs are or what you want from them.

And in this case, you can follow that up with your concern about him wanting to please you, with a Sandwich, something like,

“It makes me feel so good when you do things like read the Raw Food book, because you know it interests me. That’s so nice. I haven’t dated many men who go out of their way to do things like that! (the positive) I noticed you seem to be willing to do a lot of things to please me. (the concern/negative). I know that in the past, I’ve sometimes been a little too willing to do things to please the men I’ve dated. I just want to make sure we don’t get into something like that here. It’s important to me that we both get to be ourselves. Of course, I think it’s great if we also stretch ourselves and learn about things that we each enjoy. What do you think? (Positive)”

This opens up a whole array of options to explore all sorts of things about both of you, without putting him on the defensive.

If you can have a conversation like this with someone, and have it go well- it tells you a lot about whether your relationship can withstand the tests of time!

Oh yes, and about reminding him of not being exclusive yet. If it makes you feel more comfortable, you can work it into this same conversation with something like,

“You know, I’m getting closer and closer to feeling like being with only you. (positive) It still feels right to take it slow and not just jump into being exclusive quite yet. I’ve had that get so messed up in the past, when I rushed it. (negative) I wanted you to know that I do think we are moving in that direction though (positive).

I invite you to give this whole conversation a try, with your own words of course!

And I do like how you are paying attention to what feels good to you- what you need, in terms of time and space. It’s very easy to just fall into the habit of giving all of your time to someone in the beginning and sort of losing yourself- and your friends!

It’s so important to stand strong and tall, in your Self, in your space. To not lose those boundaries of Who You Are.

As well all know, it’s when two Independent people come together, that they can offer each other Interdependence.

Interdependence is when two people can stand on their own two feet, AND be there to support and rely on each other. That is the healthy way to build love.

Plus, when you keep an active life outside of your partner, with friends and hobbies, you have more energy and ideas to bring back to the relationship to keep it fresh and exciting.

So it is important to see how a potential partner feels about outside friendships and hobbies. It really helps to have a good match in how you see those things. Some people want to be attached at the hip and others, like ships passing in the night.

You need to find a match with what feels good for you!

Let me know how it goes!

Dr. Jenn

Friday, January 2, 2009

Watching the Flower Unfurl

Dr. Jenn,

The date with Terry was low key, and nice enough, but I just don't feel a connection with him. Not enough in common perhaps??? He jokes a lot and we laugh, but he is overweight and kinda sluggish and slow. We have another "date" set, but I am feeling a desire to cancel it. My heart is DEFINITELY being stolen by Danny, who I am going out with again soon.

This will be our sixth or seventh date I believe. The other night he came to get me and we went shopping together. We had a GREAT time. We like all the same sorts of things. When he dropped me off here, we did some meditating together and our combined energies is amazing.

He is still very much focused ONLY on me. I am feeling I WANT to be focused only on him, but haven't told him so as yet. Even though I feel like I could easily do so, I am holding back on how much of myself I share with him.

I’m being VERY aware of how part of me thinks I ought to jump right in and share EVERYthing. Though there is another part of me, the new, wiser part, that tells me it is okay, at this stage, to not tell him everything. Maybe it is even okay at EVERY stage to not tell the person you are with everything.

I can see now, that in my past, I was likely way too open way too soon. I do like though, how open Danny is with me. And he feels like I am the best thing that ever happened to him. And that makes me smile.

So, I am VERY tempted to put all of my eggs in the Danny basket for a time, to see where it goes. Not quite there yet, but sure am moving in that direction. I suspect that when the time is right, I will feel it very strongly, and it will then be very easy to let the other guys know I am no longer available. Right?

I think the fact that I have no desire to be reading new profiles online just now, tells me SOMEthing. Part of me wants to fully and totally relax into this one relationship and see where it takes us.

Based on past dating experiences, I am finding I am a bit afraid to go there so I need to take it slow and allow any relationship a chance to grow on it's own if it does. I find that I am needing to get out of the way and allow it to be what it will and be okay with whatever that is.




It sounds like things with Danny are moving in the right direction- that is how juggling ends- you just one day feel like that is the ONE person you most want to spend time with. The others melt away from importance.

So, I really like that you are taking your time getting there, just noticing each little step along that route- rather than jumping right in.

There is so much to learn about yourself when you slow down and take note!
And you are doing such a great job doing that!

I love how you are noticing what you want to do, what you would normally do- but how you are now able to decide what you will do. That’s the difference between knee jerk reacting, and it’s better cousin, responding, based on what’s best for your own Highest Good.

While opening yourself all up at once can feel good in the moment, it creates a pseudo-closeness that isn’t real yet. You think you really know someone, but knowing someone is about seeing how they are over time, in different situations, not just what they “tell you.”

I love this that you said: “I need to take it slow and allow any relationship a chance to grow on it's own if it does. I find that I am needing to get out of the way and allow it to be what it will and be okay with whatever that is.”

That’s true wisdom, right there!

Taking your time, discovering each new layer, exploring the next level of deepness and savoring the experience the whole way, allowing it to be what it is, not what you want it to be- that’s the healthy way to grow a great love.

It's like watching and allowing a flower to slowly unfurl, each petal at a time, opening to see the light, not needing it to be anything other than just what nature intends.

And I think your bit of fear about “wanting to fully and totally relax into this one relationship and see where it takes us” is normal. It comes from knowing that when you rushed in, in the past, it didn’t always have a positive outcome. It’s a sign that yes, it’s not quite yet time.

The time will be right when that little fear melts away, because you’ve seen enough of Danny, over time, to have the yellow lights turn into a bright green, glowing light, beckoning your heart forward.

Then committing to this one developing relationship, and relaxing into it, allowing it to evolve ever more deeply, will be the most natural thing in the world.

And most rewarding, because you will know you’ve followed your heart, without losing your head!

Enjoying the unfolding of this journey with you,

Dr. Jenn