5 Tips for Spotting Red Flags During the First Few Dates

In The Love Fix, I talk a lot about expectations. Timing is everything. Before you even start dating, think about who you want as your life partner. Sit with yourself. What are your deal-breakers? Then, how do you envision a relationship? Are you looking out for the red flags?

A psychiatrist wrote a book for therapists called the “5 Minute Session,” and he says that in a therapeutic session, he can see in 5 minutes how the relationship will go, and even how it might end.

This might sound a bit extreme, but you definitely don’t need to be a psychiatrist or psychologist to see the red flags right from the get-go, even the first date. What are some of those items you can look out for?

  1. Listening and Observing: Sometimes just by listening and observing, you can see the type of person he is. How does he treat the wait staff? Rude and disrespectful or kind and patient?
  2. Ask the long-term questions in a way that provides you with answers: After you’ve been dating for a while, ask the more long-term questions such as, “where do you see yourself in three years?” If he says “traveling and my career is the most important thing in my life,” and you’re a 30-something year-old, marriage-minded woman, with the biological clock ticking in the back of your mind, then maybe this is a time to say, “okay, our life goals don’t match up.”
  3. Is it like pulling teeth to make plans with him? But then he jumps every time a family member wants to do something with him? This is a huge red flag that he hasn’t individuated or separated from the family, and is therefore unable to eventually become a family with you.
  4. What does he say in regards to exes? The subject of past relationships and why they ended eventually comes up. Does he constantly bad-mouth his exes and play the blame game? Or, does he look back and have the ability to say “In retrospect, I’m able to really look at my choices and my part in the conflict?” These answers will show if he takes responsibility for his part in a two-person relationship.
  5. They say to never discuss politics, but… especially in a political season like this one, more than ever, it’s not as much as who you’re voting for or the economy, but a great look into the shared values of a potential mate. You should absolutely discuss politics with the mindset of watching for shared values, because having shared values is the foundation for a solid relationship.

When in my office, and couples look back, they see that a lot of these red flags were there from the beginning. Keep some of these tips in mind to help ensure you’ll have a long-lasting and healthy relationship.

What to Do When Your Mom Is Totally Ready For You to Be a Mom

More than anything, your mother loved welcoming you into the world, so it’s really no wonder that the woman who raised you is ready for another bundle of baby joy. “The birth of a grandchild brings on the next phase of life for which some women are yearning,” explains Karen Ruskin, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual.

And whether your mother wants to receive the love only a newborn baby can bring, is eager to bond with you in a new way or is concerned over her own aging, she may be putting pressure on you to procreate right now, regardless of whether you’re actually ready to have children. So if your mom wants you to become a mother too soon, here’s how to deal.

First, gently explain how you feel about having a baby and that you’re simply not ready right now. “It is imperative to communicate in a style in which you are being kind to your mother and thoughtful of how her behavior makes sense coming from her position,” says Ruskin. “Validate her feelings by communicating your understanding of her perspective and why her perspective is sensible.”

Specifically, Ruskin says, “validate in a thoughtful, kind and understanding manner your mother’s perspective by reflecting upon what she just said through your mother’s lens. Then verbalize your hope that her voice and yours can be heard so that you can have an open relationship with her in which both of your perspectives matter. Finally, share your perspective whether it is that you are not ready or some other reason.”

If your mother persists, your reasoning falls on deaf ears or you find yourself emotionally exhausted from an ongoing and stressful discussion, you can ask your husband to speak up — but he must tread carefully. “One of the beautiful things about being in a committed, loving relationship is that in times when you’re feeling vulnerable, your partner can take a stand to protect you,” says Tara Fields, Ph.D., couples therapist and author of The Love Fix: Repair and Restore Your Relationship Right Now.

Together, you can decide on how he can best approach your mother. For example, he can lovingly say, “‘I know you love my amazing spouse as much as I do, and I treasure our relationship, but I am going to take a stand on her behalf,'” Fields says. “He’s setting a boundary and saying, ‘this topic is off limits until further notice.'”

Read the original article here.

How to Solve the Most Common Relationship Conflicts

When you hit a relationship rut—you and your partner argue about the same thing over and over again—it can seem like there’s no end in sight. So how to escape these exhausting conflict loops? On this week’s episode of “The Labor of Love,” host and editor Lori Leibovich talks to Tara Fields, a marriage and family therapist and author of The Love Fix: Repair and Restore Your Relationship Right Now, about the five most common and vexing relationship conflicts—and the straightforward solutions that can help couples sort them out.

1. The Parent Trap. When one partner takes on the role of being the parent to the other, begins micro-managing, and insists on having things done a certain way.

The solution: Begin by identifying where these roles stem from. Is there an underlying anxiety or fear at play? If one partner has become so afraid of doing something wrong, he or she will likely shut down and not take any action at all. 

2. Come Close, Go Away. When one partner begins to feel abandoned—and doesn’t understand why the other needs so much alone time.

The solution: Find the healthy balance of being a “we,” and work to create an interdependent relationship. As a couple, you should be “one,” but both partners should also have a sense of autonomy. 

3. Blame Game and the Shame Spiral. When one partner begins to blame and shame the other, often reverting us to our most juvenile selves (name-calling and flaring tempers). 

The solution: Take ownership, practice mindfulness, and do your best not to be reactive. Speak honestly, and say “I’m not feeling good about what’s going on, so when you want to talk about feelings, I’m available.” 

4. Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3. When one partner has started to feel invisible, so he or she begins testing boundaries—flirting with somebody else, checking in with a former fling, etc.  

The solution: Find the emotional courage to ask directly for what you want. Start an open and honest conversation with your partner, and don’t wait for him or her to be the one to do so.

5. Growing Apart. When both partners have begun taking each other for granted, and one person is beginning to grow out of the relationship.

The solution: Be willing to change as an individual as the relationship changes. During major life events, strive to become a team and be there for one another. Start creating the kind of relationship that no one or nothing outside the relationship can destroy.

Read the original article here.

Relationship Author Dr. Tara Fields’ Love Advice: “The Happiest Couples Don’t Necessarily Have More or Less Conflict”

Reclaim Valentine’s Day!

Forget Cheesy Lingerie — She’ll probably just say, “And what did you get me!?”.
And forget overpriced flowers — flowers just die anyway.

This year, give a real, meaningful gift, one that is personal and one that will last (or at least, a real, meaningful gift and those overpriced flowers). Read more