Saturday, December 3, 2011

Do You Believe in Unconditional Love?

The difference between unconditional love and unconditional relationships.
 by Dr. Jeremy Nicholson

I am asked this question frequently in discussions... When I respond with a "yes", my questioners are usually puzzled. They wonder how I can believe in unconditional love, yet discuss very "conditional" dating and relating techniques such as reciprocal gift-giving, withholding forgiveness, rewarding a partner, etc. After all, they assume, if you love someone unconditionally and truly bond with them, then you don't ever try to influence, limit, persuade, or set boundaries with them...right?

Unconditional Love and Unconditional Relationships

Love is very important. When you find someone through dating and relating who loves you for "who you are", it is an amazing experience. Similarly, it is rewarding to love someone else "as they are" (or "warts and all" as my grandmother would say). I believe that such a bond is priceless and should be nurtured with great affection. Love is part of our emotions, attachment chemicals in the brain (for those inclined), and spirit (for those inclined).
Relationships, however, are an entirely different thing. Relationships are working partnerships. They involve thoughts, reasons, and decisions. They require two (or more) individuals in communication, commitment, and cooperative exchange.
As a result, love (feelings) and relationships (decisions) can have separate rules and expectations. Love, because it is a feeling, can be unconditional. Sometimes, no matter what a partner does, feelings toward them do not change. Relationships, however, are working partnerships. As such, they require conditions, boundaries, limits, and directions to run smoothly.
Therefore, a distinction must be made between "unconditional love"...and "unconditional relationships".

But, Isn't Love Enough?

Now that we have made the distinction between "unconditional love" and "unconditional relationships", it is possible to love someone without limit, yet still have contingencies placed upon continuing a relationship with them. In other words, while you may continue to love a partner "no matter what", you may not choose to be in a relationship with them under all conditions. This distinction is important to understand. But, it doesn't hold for everyone...
There are some individuals that say, "no, love is enough". These individuals decide, as long as they have love, nothing else is necessary. As a result, their relationships become "unconditional" as well. They do not set firm boundaries, contingencies, or limits with their "partner". They make "relationship" decisions based on their feelings of love alone. Sometimes this works out... Other times, however, because no one is actively creating a working "partnership", disaster can strike. Furthermore, because there is an expectation to "accept the partner for who he/she is" at all times, relationships may perpetuate under the worst of conditions.
On the other hand, the distinction between love and relationships is upheld with individuals that say "healthy relationships are necessary too". These individuals love their partners unconditionally, but also set rules that maintain a relationship with them. They use influence, limits, and contingencies to ensure a balanced, equitable exchange in their romantic partnerships. Furthermore, while they may continue to "feel" love unconditionally, they also chose to end unhealthy partnerships when the conditions for them are no longer feasible.

What This Means For Your Love Life

The dating task is very different for those who say "yes" or "no" to the question..."is unconditional love enough"?
For those who say "love is all I need" - Your task in dating is to select the "right" person...because that may be the only time you have influence over the health of the impending relationship. Once you choose and fall in love, you will then make keeping that love the highest priority. As a result, your relationship will most likely become "unconditional" - and your partner will ultimately be free to behave as he/she chooses without repercussion. So, pick wisely. Find someone who will "do right by you" for all time. Make sure they are upstanding, conscientious, and love you very deeply in return (see here). Otherwise, you may find yourself in a very unhealthy relationship, with little recourse to fix it.
For those who say "working partnerships are important too" - Your task in dating is to learn to set boundaries, limits, and contingencies to maintain a healthy relationship. Your task is to also use your influence in a caring and disciplined manner to create a balanced exchange with your dating partner. Such skills are not exercised to "control" or "manipulate" for selfish gain, but rather to maintain a mutually-beneficial and satisfying partnership (see here, here, and here). However, because your relationships will be more "conditional", personality differences can continue to be worked through after you pick a partner and fall in love. Unhealthy relationships can be remedied (or, in unfortunate situations dissolved), rather than simply endured. Nevertheless, there are few things more painful in life than choosing to leave an unhealthy relationship with someone you unconditionally love. So, picking someone you can "work with" is still an important idea.


Today we have made an important dating distinction between "unconditional love" and "unconditional relationships"...
For those who place love above all, there is little distinction between those two concepts. Both their love and their relationships are ultimately unconditional. This merger makes identification and selection of a conscientious partner of the utmost importance.
However, for those who equally value working partnerships with love, there is a wide distinction between the two concepts. Love can be felt unconditionally, while still maintaining conditional requirements for the partnership. This separation allows for more flexibility to both experience love and use influence to create healthy exchanges. For these individuals, a disciplined knowledge of negotiation, boundary-setting, influence, and persuasion can be invaluable.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


From Wikipedia
Dating is a form of courtship consisting of social activities done by two persons with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse. While the term has several senses, it usually refers to the act of meeting and engaging in some mutually agreed upon social activity in public, together, as a couple.
The protocols and practices of dating, and the terms used to describe it, vary considerably from country to country. The most common sense is two people trying out a relationship and exploring whether they're compatible by going out together in public as a couple, and who may or may not yet be having sexual relations, and this period of courtship is sometimes seen as a precursor to engagement or marriage

Etiquette And the only rule is that there are no rules.

Kira Cochrane
 Although dating etiquette has become more relaxed during the twentieth and twenty first century, there are considerable differences between social and personal values. Each culture has its particular patterns. For example, when an activity costs money (such as a movie or a meal), the man was expected to pay, particularly on the first date, in countries like the United States.
 More recently the practice of "going Dutch" (splitting the expenses) has become more common and acceptable. Conversely, among some cultures, such as the Karen people in Burma and Thailand, women are expected to write love poetry aFrequency of dating varies by person and situation; among single persons actively seeking partners, 36% had been on no dates in the past three months, 13% had one date, 22% had two to four dates and 25% had five or more dates, according to a 2005 U.S. survey.nd give gifts to win over the man.
 While equality between the sexes has changed dating, men are generally expected to ask women out and pay for the first date.
Dating can be stressful, particularly since one is being evaluated while conducting an evaluation oneself, and some Internet email chatters have delayed meeting potential mates because of the stress factor of a romantic encounter with a stranger.
It is a tough evaluation, and almost all daters will run into rejection or be ignored, but dating advisers counsel not to take it personally.

 There is a general tendency to avoid confrontations when trying to end a dating relationship; in Britain, 30% of all relationships are ended face-to-face, suggesting 70% are ended by not returning emails or phone calls, or by letter.
 Traumatic events can sometimes cause people to start dating; for example, two passengers aboard US Airways Flight 1549, which crashed in the Hudson River but without loss of life, began dating afterwards.

Flirting is generally part of dating. One study in 2010 of 5,100 people suggested that people have one of five basic "flirting styles": physical, traditional, polite, sincere and playful, and researchers advised that it helps to understand what one's natural style is. Judi James in The Guardian advises daters:
The copulatory gaze, looking lengthily at a new possible partner, brings you straight into a sparring scenario; you will stare for two to three seconds when you first spy each other, then look down or away before bringing your eyes in sync again. This may be combined with displacement gestures, small repetitive fiddles that signal a desire to speed things up and make contact. When approaching a stranger you want to impress, exude confidence in your stance, even if you're on edge. Pull up to your full height in a subtle chest-thrust pose, which arches your back, puffs out your upper body and pushes out your buttocks. Roll your shoulders back and down and relax your facial expression.
—Judi James,

Dating advisers distinguish between the first date and subsequent dates. The first one should be simple such as going for coffee or after-dinner drinks, since a quick getaway may be necessary.
Second dates can be more expensive and adventurous such as a dance or craft class.

Meeting places

 There are numerous ways to meet dates, including blind dates, classified ads, dating websites, hobbies, holidays, office romance, social networking, speed dating, and others.

A Pew study in 2005 examined Internet users in long-term relationships including marriage found many met by contacts at work or school.
The survey found that 55% of relationship-seeking singles agreed with that it was "difficult to meet people where they live. One writer suggested that meeting possible partners was easier in pedestrian-oriented cities such as Berlin or Barcelona rather than Los Angeles since there were more chances for face-to-face contact.
Work is a common place to meet potential spouses, although there are some indications that the Internet is overtaking the workplace as an introduction venue. Some couples met because they lived in the same building and shared a common bathroom.  Hobbies can be an informal way for people to meet.  n Britain, one in five marry a co-worker; half of all workplace romances end within three months.  In India, there are incidents of people meeting future spouses in the workplace.  One drawback of office dating is that a bad date can lead to "workplace awkwardness".

Men versus women

 The difference in expectation of a date in the male/female view of dating is quite marked and clearly shown by the public advice disseminated by popular media like magazines, which is in stark contrast. For both sexes, the idea of being in love can be scary; one said "being really intimate with someone in a committed sense is kind of threatening" and described love as "the most terrifying thing."

 In her Psychology Today column, research scientist, sex columnist and book author Dr. Debby Herbenick compared it to a roller coaster:

There's something wonderful, I think, about taking chances on love and sex. ... Going out on a limb can be roller-coaster scary because none of us want to be rejected or to have our heart broken. But so what if that happens? I, for one, would rather fall flat on my face as I serenade my partner (off-key and all) in a bikini and a short little pool skirt than sit on the edge of the pool, dipping my toes in silence.

At the same time, there are strong drives while the agendas of men and women can be conflicting:

Heterosexual men often seek women based on beauty and youth . Psychology researchers at the University of Michigan suggested that men prefer women who seem to be "malleable and awed", and prefer younger women with subordinate jobs such as secretaries and assistants and fact-checkers rather than executive-type women. Online dating patterns confirm that men are more likely to initiate online exchanges (over 75%) and are less choosy, seek younger women, and "cast a wide net".

Heterosexual women often seek well-educated men who are their age or older with high-paying jobs, according to one account.  Evolutionary psychology suggests that "women are the choosier of the genders" since "reproduction is a much larger investment for women" who have "more to lose by making bad choices."
Educated women in many countries including Italy and Russia and the United States often find it difficult to have a career as well as raise a family; many delay finding a mate and having children and wonder if they're too accomplished that they won't be as appealing to men.
Writer Danielle Crittenden in her book What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us argued that having both a career and family was taxing and stressful for women, and she made a case that the ideal path for women was to marry early in their twenties when their relative beauty permitted them to find a solid marriage bargain and choose from a large pool of available men, have children, and return to the work world when they were in their early thirties with kids in school; but Crittenden agrees splitting up the career path with a ten year baby-raising hiatus poses difficulties as well. Columnist Maureen Dowd quoted comedian Bill Maher on the subject of differing dating agendas between men and women: "Women get in relationships because they want somebody to talk to -- men want women to shut up."  Dowd quoted poet Dorothy Parker on the subject of romance:

Dorothy Parker
By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying -
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.
—Dorothy Parker,


Advice for men varies by culture and includes such issues as dressing neatly, being polite and positive, giving gifts, avoiding self-deprecatory humor, paying attention to your partner, and so forth. Some dating advisors offer a complete plan about how to approach and attract women which includes guidelines about what to wear, how to act, make love, and how to be confident. One dating adviser suggested that smart men have a tougher time dating, since they're more focused on personal achievements and expect love based on their personal academic prowess; sometimes they fail to consider less intelligent women as possible mates,  and often lack romantic skills.

One advised "quit thinking girls should like you because you're smart" and commented "a woman will like you based on how you make her feel ... so make her feel stuff - preferably good stuff." 

There is disagreement about how much of a financial role men should play in dating. One view is that men should pay for the dates, particularly for the first date;  a contrary view is that paying for dates is equivalent to trying to "buy your way into a woman's favor" and is counterproductive.

There is stronger sentiment that men should take the initiative in dating, and not let a fear of rejection prevent them from asking women out on dates.  There are now more than 500 businesses worldwide that offer dating coach services -- with almost 350 of those operating in the U.S. And the number of these businesses has surged since 2005.



In 1995 the book The Rules appeared. Columnist Maureen Dowd described it as a "dating bible" encouraging women to play "prefeminist mind games" such as "don't stay on the phone for more than 10 minutes" and "when you're with a man you like, be quiet and mysterious, act ladylike, cross your legs and smile" and to appear "busy and important." Women can return to "hunting their quarry" but women are advised to play elaborate games to make men think that the men are the hunters when they're not.  British writer Kira Cochrane of The Guardian found the book The Rules to be confining since it urged women to "laugh at all their date's jokes", never ask a man to dance, and appear "challenging" since "men are born to respond to challenge."  Cochrane's problems with rules were that they relied on "objectionable, outdated notions of masculinity and femininity" and urge people to suppress their gut instinct, and they "make a game and a chore out of something that should be natural and fun and overwhelming."  But writer Bibi van der Zee, initially skeptical of the advice, tried it and found it made the men she dated "keener" to keep going out with her; she found herself to be "calm, unflappable" and, based on the advice, she would leave early on a date, appear busy, not phone him back.  While she worried about appearing to be a "game-playing bitch", she was surprised that the strategy worked; she married and became known to her friends as The Rules Girl.     Dating

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Relationship: Please Define

Facebook official? Friends with benefits? Just benefits? The labels for relationships can go on and on. To us at, it doesn’t matter what name you place on your relationship, as long as it is healthy for both partners and you both agree to it.
Are you not sure if you’re both on the same page? Bring up these points and compare notes with your partner to know how to proceed with your relationship.
Exclusivity: This one is first because it is most important. Set clear boundaries so don’t unintentionally hurt or get hurt by your partner. This includes a wide range of behaviors. Can you date other people? Can you dance with other people? Remember that in a healthy relationship, one partner never dictates what the other can or cannot do. This step is just making sure that you both know the extent of your relationship.
Affection: Public displays of affection can make a partner really uncomfortable if not used to holding hands, kisses on the cheek, hugs, and everything else.
Time: How often are you going to hang out? If one person has a billion things on their plate and the other doesn’t, this can be a deal-breaker. Things can be different depending on schedules, so be sure to let your partner what your plans are.
Texting and Calling: How often will you text? Think really hard about where your own boundaries are and when you feel smothered. Do you need to talk every day? Or just when you need to make plans? If you are someone who responds to snail mail faster than a text, let your partner know to avoid hurt feelings.
Sleeping Over: Is it okay if your partner stays at your place and vice versa? If you have roommates, setting clear boundaries is a must. No one wants to be the hated housemate. Mention something to your partner’s roommate so they are always comfortable.
Any relationship arrangement that you come up with is fine by us, as long as you are comfortable. If you are ever uncomfortable in a relationship and need to talk it out, chat or call us anytime at             1-866-331-9474      .
What else do you think should be on the negotiating table? What else do you like to talk about when defining your relationships?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Intimate relationship

An intimate relationship is a particularly close interpersonal relationship that involves physical or emotional intimacy. Physical intimacy is characterized by romantic or passionate love and attachment, or sexual activity. The term is also sometimes used euphemistically for a sexual relationship.

Intimate relationships play a central role in the overall human experience. Humans have a universal want to belong and to love which is satisfied within an intimate relationship. Intimate relationships consist of the people that we are attracted to, whom we like and love, romantic and sexual relationships, and those whom we marry and provide and receive emotional and personal support from. Intimate relationships provide people with a social network of people that provide strong emotional attachments and fulfill our universal need of belonging and the need to be cared for.


Courtship is the period in a couple's relationship which precedes their engagement and marriage, or establishment of an agreed relationship of a more enduring kind. In courtship, a couple get to know each other and decide if there will be an engagement or other such agreement. A courtship may be an informal and private matter between two people or may be a public affair, or a formal arrangement with family approval. Traditionally, in the case of a formal engagement, it has been perceived that it is the role of a male to actively "court" or "woo" a female, thus encouraging her to understand him and her receptiveness to a proposal of marriage. Within many western societies, these distinct gender roles have lost some of their importance and rigidity.
Courtship may include the couple going out together in public, (often known as dating), for a meal, movie, dance, sports or other social activity. Courtship may also involve private activities which usually include much talking together, perhaps by telephone or by electronic means such as text messages or e-mail. There is often exchange of letters, gifts, flowers and songs.


Dating is a form of courtship consisting of social activities done by two persons with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse. While the term has several senses, it usually refers to the act of meeting and engaging in some mutually agreed upon social activity in public, together, as a couple.
The protocols and practices of dating, and the terms used to describe it, vary considerably from country to country. The most common sense is two people trying out a relationship and exploring whether they're compatible by going out together in public as a couple, and who may or may not yet be having sexual relations, and this period of courtship is sometimes seen as a precursor to engagement or marriage

Friend zone

If a dating relation evolves into a platonic non-sexual union, it is sometimes termed the friend zone:
When a guy agrees to be friends, he's forced to stifle his attraction while regularly seeing and talking to the woman he's attracted to. She discusses her love life and has the audacity to ask his advice on it. He performs occasional "manly" household and automotive favors for the woman. Essentially, he does everything a boyfriend would do--without the benefits.
—Gina B

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