In my online quiz “Find out: Your Relationship Performance Indicator” I have now collected over 2,150 responses. Over 80% of these are from women and I am sorry to say that I have lost count of how often their question is “Does he love me?”
In one of her great songs, Cher believes the answer is easy – ”it’s in his kiss!”
And we all know the saying that “you need to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince” – which is a common saying in Germany and France.
So why are so many women feeling that they’ve been left in the dark?
What are we men doing to not communicate that we love our partner?
People fall in love. They have butterflies in the stomach and their feelings go through the roof. When they meet they can’t keep their hand off one another. In this phase, no one doubts that their partner is in love with them.
But as the for big question at hand – “Does he/she really love me?” – most of us are okay with not knowing the answer to this so early on in the game.
Fast forward by three, six or twelve months and our couple has move in together and starting to plan their life together. Now the BIG question is valid. Are we meant to stay together? I do love my partner. Does he/she love me back?
It might be the case that one of the two is still not 100%, sure. Maybe there is a past trauma that plays out so that they can’t commit fully. Maybe there are other reasons.
Does moving in together mean the relationship is going to be a life-long relationship? Definitely not. So, you wait patiently, hoping that the feelings are being mutual.
As time goes by, it is not uncommon to feel more and more sure that what you have is real, mutual love, or you realise it is not going to work and you quit.
Time is a critical indicator here.
I once met a couple that has been together for ten years and in one of our sessions, the wife asked me the question “When do you know he is the one?”.
A very valid question “When do you know he is the one?”
Even after being together for ten years, she still had moments of wonder, the question still posed itself to her. Where is this question coming from? What is he doing that makes her insecure and what is she expecting that he might not know of or can’t fulfil?
And maybe this is where the answer lies…
As my wise grandmother used to say to me, when I was in my early twenties – “When you want to know the true character of the person you are dealing with, don’t listen to their words, but only pay attention to their deeds.”
Action speak louder than words!
If you are not sure whether your partner really loves you, some senses in your brain are on full alert. Or in your gut. Because your intuition sits in your gut – brain.
If their actions do not match their words…or…
if their actions are not in line with your expectations…or…
if their behaviour leaves you in doubt…
then your gut-feeling of “does he/she really love me?” is probably a good warning sign, that something is missing.
To the person on the other side of this equation, who has a partner questioning the authenticity of their feelings, I might say:
If your true feelings are not showing through…or…
if you’ve stopped making an effort in your relationship…or…
if your actions are contradicting (not supporting) your words…
then it is no wonder that your partner feels insecure and not fully loved.
What you can do.
My online quiz is a great conversation starter for any couple who wants to find out where they are standing. If you’ve asked yourself the question “Does he really love me?”, take that as a clear indication that something in your relationship is already amiss.
I can’t say what it is. It could be too high expectations on the one side or too low commitment on the other side. Or it could just be a mismatch in communication.
Let’s put it this way: in a loving, intimate and respectful relationship, this question would not come up, because both partners know what they have in each other, and both partners know that they can depend on the other person 100%.
Again, take this article and the online quiz as a conversation starter to find out where your partner is and where you stand in your relationship.
Opening your eyes to a situation is the first step of dealing with it.
I am more than happy to help you to facilitate your discussion.
Just book yourself an obligation free call with me to find out whether and how I could support you.
And remember Cher, maybe you just want to kiss more often. Because it really is all in his/her kiss. 🙂
Many couples report that over time they’ve been drifting apart.
The early cracks are getting wider and wider and eventually the chasm isn’t bridgeable any more.
In his regular podcast “Conversations on Purpose” Justin Cooper is interviewing me and we are exploring the early warning signs every couple should be aware of.
Here are some of the signs…the early cracks…the canary in the coal mine:
- The normal life infringes on your relationship
- You stop making time for each other
- You actually stop dating
- No Active Appointments
- No longer sharing of deeper thoughts
- Not spending quality time together
- You stop talking
- You don’t have the desire to come home
- You are exchanging fewer kisses per day or stopping kissing completely…
Listen to the complete podcast here.
Many people approach me to find help or support with their relationships, often at a time when their relationship has already taken a turn for the worse.
They are sometimes unhappy about their partner’s behaviour; others sometimes compare their relationship now with what it was three or five years ago and are left feeling disappointed.
Other times, I speak to people who just can’t put their finger on the problem, but see that their connection to their partner is broken or lost.
I hear a lot of clients say that the conversations they have with their partner seem to end in the same argument over and over. Intimacy and sex are happening less and less.
Some people admit to not looking forward to coming home to spend time with their partner. They’d rather stay at work or go the gym instead.
There are lots of reasons that people approach me for help. There are no wrong or unusual answers or scenarios when it comes to reaching out for assistance with your relationship concerns. In fact, it may help you to feel less alone to see that many, many couples seem to hit the same speed bumps throughout their relationships.
If you are concerned about the state of your relationship, it may help to take a look at my LoveCycle™ (pictured above) to see if you can identify a stage that relates to the symptoms you feel are present for you. I most commonly see couples who identify with the Working/Routine or Functioning/Boredom or Stopped Talking stages. Try to be honest with yourself and assess where your relationship fits on the cycle.
Oftentimes, when meeting for the first time with clients, it will be the female in the relationship who first to reaches out to contact me. It is also apparent that most of the responses in my online Relationship Quiz come from women (88%). Maybe women have a finer intuition when it comes to observing feelings than men. Maybe men don’t think about their relationships as much as women, or maybe men feel content more readily in a sub-optimal situation than women.
I’m not sure. But the fact is that the majority of enquiries I get are initiated by women.
And one of the first questions I ask is whether this person wants to work with me alone or whether they’d prefer their partner to be part of this.
You can expect this same conversation should you decide to reach out to me too. You are in control; the decision is yours and we can certainly work efficiently whether you decide to work at this together or by yourself.
Remember: I am not a counsellor. I’m not a psychiatrist. I’m a relationship expert who has the ability to break down complex situations and visualise them in simple models. I can tell you relationships are one of the most complex constructions there are.
Therefore, working with me does not mean we’ll dive into your past and dig up and air all of your dirty laundry. We won’t revisit any past argument that hasn’t been re-solved satisfactorily.
Instead, we’ll be looking at you and your individual aspirations. We will work at figuring out what is best for you.
You see, there are literally three different paths laying ahead of you. Continue, Leave or Change.
You don’t want to simply go on in your relationship as it is right now, because otherwise you wouldn’t be here. That is why “continuing as it is” is not an option.
You probably don’t really want to Leave either. You love your partner, you really do. You want to make it work, even if some days you feel like you’ve already tried everything. You want your relationship to last. Leaving now would destroy everything you’ve built over the last couple of years. You don’t want that to happen.
But one thing is clear also: it can’t continue – it’s eating you up. It is destroying you from the inside. You feel unhappy, your worries could be making you unwell and you know that you deserve better. Conversations with your partner end up in stone-walling or arguments that go around and around in circles. Being close to each other feels awkward and you hardly even exchange kisses any more.
Something needs to change. Otherwise, you’ll end up living together like room-mates and secretly resenting each other. You may even already, pointing your fingers at each other and blaming each other for what you’ve both become. He/she is at fault. He/she is the reason you are stuck in this situation.
You may even feel somewhat angry with yourself. You may ask yourself ~
How could you let your relationship drag you down like this?
Why did you end up with your partner in this situation?
Why do you tolerate their behaviour? And why do you tolerate your own behaviour?
Something needs to change.
Remember you can’t change the other person. You can only change yourself.
I have written a couple of blogs on that topic if you need some further insight.
So, we’ve established that from the three different paths you might take, Continue, Leave or Change, the best option for you is to pick up your game and change. Neither continuing nor leaving feels like a viable option.
You need to change!
And change can come in many forms.
You could change your behaviour. You could change your approach to your partner. You could change the way you communicate with your partner. There are multiple options. The important part here is that you need to be aware of your options and accept that change is unavoidable if you want to rescue your relationship.
In short, this is how I help my clients: to determine their best path and what is best for them.
I’m offering 1:1 mentoring for individuals, 1:1 mentoring for couples, live workshops for women, and online courses for individuals and couples.
In these sessions, I focus on many aspects of your relationship, including:
- Intimacy / Sex
- Quality Time
Newlywed or soon-to-be parents?
Have you just been married, or are you about to take your vows? Perhaps you are eagerly awaiting the arrival of your first child? I am certain your relationship is thriving. In the early days, everything seems to work fine. It’s all roses.
These are the stages of Moving in together and Happy in my LoveCycle™ (pictured above).
Remember though: if you don’t take care of the things you cherish, you run the risk of them losing their value.
You maintain your house, your car, your health and your friendships on a regular basis.
You need to look after your intimate relationship in the same way and invest time and money to keep it thriving.
That’s why I offer special workshops for newlyweds and first time parents as well.
To learn more about these programs please check out my website or organise an obligation free call with me directly. J
How much do you value your relationship?
Every now and then I speak to couples who are really suffering in an unhappy relationship.
Imagine you are with your spouse spending time together, still neither you nor your spouse is happy. You both look for distractions to avoid to being too close to each other.
Think of how badly you’ve lost connection when you are talking to each other but not listening.
Or worse still, you’ve stopped talking altogether.
Each of you is going your own way at home and questions are either ignored or answered with a single word or phrase. There is not much left: No empathy, no heart, no love.
This is the reality for many couples searching for help through friends, on the internet or by reading a relationship self-help book.
When I spoke to a man some time ago, he told me that he got divorced after forty years of marriage. I was just blown away and said: “Wow, forty years of marriage – that is a very long time, what happened in the end that made you file for divorce?” And he replied: “For over ten years I dreaded coming home. We had nothing in common any more, we had nothing to talk about any more. Some days I even took a 20-minute detour to postpone me coming home by a bit”.
Just try to imagine it: you come home each day, dreading the feeling of putting your key into the lock. Not at all looking forward to seeing your spouse.
Or, perhaps you might feel elated when, after coming home, you realise that your partner isn’t yet home.
We all want relationships. We want closeness, trust, security and the certainty that we won’t grow old alone. We want to wake up lovingly next to our best-friend, partner and confidant, feeling closer than we did the day before.
You see, no matter how many ‘things’, accolades, money or awards you’ve accumulated – nothing compares to coming home to a loving and supportive partner whom you can share anything with, especially moments of time you’ll never replace.
But when then the relationship gradually turns sour, we find ourselves at a loss. When the happiness and excitement turn into routine, and then in turn the routine turns into boredom, we start to look for help. The problem is, sometimes it really is only half-heartedly.
In fact, if it is not bad enough, why even bother?
At this stage, oftentimes only one of you feels anxious or worried about the state of your relationship. Sometimes, the other is unhappy too but thinks this is only a momentary disconnect and only a temporary glitch in your relationship.
And it might well be.
Relationships do not follow a linear path of great connection and overwhelming feelings for each other. Relationships are a breathing entity. There are times that you feel closer to one another, and there are times that you feel further apart. There will be times that you can’t get enough of each other, just as there will equally be times where you just want to be left alone. That is completely normal.
So how then, do you decipher whether this current state of your relationship is one of these ‘normal’ times where you are a bit further apart than usual or whether this is beginning of a crisis?
There is no formula (being a mathematician) that I could give you from which you could determine the answer to that question.
Instead, I’d highly recommend you fill in my Relationship Quiz online and answer 25 questions which in turn will give you a very good indication of the state of your relationship. But even with a low score your partner might be in denial and respond “ah, this is just a superficial test, I don’t think that we have a problem in our relationship.”
You maintain your house, you look after your car, and you update or backup your computer on a regular basis. You go to your doctor because you care for your health or to the dentist to look after your teeth. You do all of this on a regular basis, because if you don’t, these things deteriorate, they lose their value.
The same is true for your relationship. If you do not look after your relationship, it declines in value.
After over 26 years of being happily married I can absolutely testify to that fact. A happy relationship is daily work.
So, what is the value you associate with your relationship?
How much do you value your relationship?
What are you prepared to do on a regular basis to look after your relationship?
Think of the happiness it brings you. Think of the wonderful feeling when you love someone unconditionally and in return, are loved the same way. Think of the warm fuzzy feeling you get waking up next to your partner, knowing that nothing can derail you as long as they are there. Think of your future or past travel with your spouse and the magic moments you’ve created over the years. Think of the friendship you formed together with many other people around you. Think of the food you like to share and think of the touch of their hands on your naked skin. Think of the challenges you’ve conquered together and think of their smiling faces.
Now let me ask you again: What are you prepared to do and to give to keep your relationship happy?
When the happiness turns into routine and the routine turns into boredom, we might look for help – but not really.
Only when the boredom turns into a lost connection and the fighting starts, do we become serious about getting help. Unfortunately, by that time, it is often too late.
I don’t know about the state of your relationship right now. But I encourage you to do the online quiz and when you want to find personal help, connect with me and let’s find out whether and how I could help.
Maybe you want to share this article with your friends. Please do, because there are many, many couples out there needing help right now.
Being lonely or feeling lonely is a new epidemic in our society.
In spite of all the connections we make online, in spite of all the social media interactions we have and in spite of having a communication tool in our hands 24/7 we, as a society, are feeling lonelier than ever before.
We touched on this subject in one of my recent blogs: “perception is reality”.
There, we discussed how our personal awareness makes it clear that there really is no difference between actually being lonely is reality, or simply ‘feeling’ lonely.
A lot of people come to me and report that they are feeling lonely in their relationship, which might have been a problem for the majority of their partnership.
How can that be?
You are living together with a person you love and slowly over time, somehow the loneliness has crept in.
When I ask my clients about when they first noticed their feelings of loneliness, usually no one has an answer. It seems to just happen.
Everything seems so normal in their relationship. The desire, the longing or the lust for each other simply slowly faded away. Their conversations became less deep and meaningful, but rather functional. Their minds became occupied by their work or by their children. It is all less about two lovers and more about two people living together and sharing food and a bed.
It is a slippery slope when a relationship becomes routine and starts to become predictable. Weeks go by without incident, and we can be left feeling uninspired. Weeks turn into months and months turn into years. You watch the children grow and notice your parents growing older.
Instead of daily sex – as it was in the beginning of your relationship – you only have time for sex once a week and soon it is only once a month and neither of you seems to miss it much.
You look at your friends and they seem to be getting on well. However, when you take the opportunity to confide in them in private, you may hear the same story which could just be a reflection of your own.
Deep inside of you, you know that your partner is committed to you and that they love you enough to still be with you. But can you be sure? When was the last time that you said “I love you” to each other and you felt the butterflies in your stomach?
And then one day, when you’ve been comfortable for an age and have forgotten to inject some time and energy into your relationship, you may realise that you partner doesn’t really know you all that well anymore. Perhaps you don’t really know your partner either. You may realise with this thought, that in spite of living together, sharing everything with each other and seeing each other every day, you don’t know each other anymore.
And the feeling of loneliness creeps in.
We humans are a tribal species. We need other humans around us to survive.
This basic instinct is one of the reasons we fall into a loving relationship in the first place. Deep down in our psyche we know that there is a safety in numbers and that two together are better equipped to face the world.
The connection we have with our partner, to our children, to our parents, to our friends, to our co-workers and to our acquaintances are essential for our wellbeing.
The moment we feel lonely, we feel vulnerable and lost.
That’s why retirement is often times so depressing; because from one day to another the bands that connect us to all of our family, friends and co-workers are severed and lost.
That’s why when the last child moves out of the family home, you may end up feeling empty and abandoned.
That’s why our peers are so important to us.
How to avoid becoming lonely in your relationship?
When boredom and routine set in, your connection with your partner is weakened and you might find yourselves sharing less and less of who you are.
To avoid this, you want to keep the spark of your connection alive.
You want to reinvigorate the excitement, the adventure, the curiosity and the desire for each other, remembering how you felt about each other when you first met.
A simply way to begin implementing this, is to shake up the routine. Maybe instead of watching television together you could play a board game together. Or you take a walk around the neighbourhood. You might decide to cook dinner together, instead of simply sitting across from each other while you eat.
It does not take monumental effort to keep the connections alive.
It’s much more about the consistency of doing something together.
It’s about the small things we choose to do for each other in life and those small things need to be constant.
By playing together, walking together or cooking together, you create a space where exchange can happen. You want to have the space and the awareness to allow the other person to open up and share their thoughts, their fears and their aspirations.
Watching television suppresses any meaningful conversation. Playing computer games – online or offline – is killing any connection with the people next to you. And texting or interacting on social media is again a solitary activity and does not allow your partner to communicate with you.
For the real-life challenges, you want your tribe right next to you and physically feel their support and protection.
Please reach out to me if you want to talk about your individual situation.
Ten or so years ago, you met the man of your dreams. He’s attractive, he’s witty, and he’s got charm.
He’s also intelligent and good looking and he is free. And most important he likes you.
You go out dating and you both fall in love with each other. And the rest is history as they say.
Yes, in a way that is true for you too. The time of dating lasted only a short time before you both decided to move in together, and from there it was only a short 18 months until he proposed to you and you got married.
These first two or three years went by in a hurricane. A storm of feelings, adventures and great sex. You did great trips overseas and made love on the beach in Bali.
Now, seven years after the wedding and honeymoon you sit with two children age 6 and 3 and pregnant with the third. But despite having everything you supposedly should want, you have the distinct, undeniable feeling that something is missing – big time.
It seems like having children has somehow moved you further apart from each other instead of closer together. How can this be? He is a good father and does his share at home. And yet still, you both feel the loss of something important in your relationship.
So how do you not let your children become a problem in your relationship?
Children are the greatest source of joy and the greatest source of trouble for any relationship.
Wasn’t it difficult enough to get your two lives organised together, revolving around each other in harmony? Wasn’t it difficult enough to sort out the differences and preferences and habits in your day to day lives, without the introduction of small and sometimes unpredictable infants?
Now with two more little ones, your priorities have shifted.
To visualise this shift, I often ask my clients to draw a circle representing the 168 hours we have in a week and then fill out segments for work, sleep and all the other activities you do in a normal week. This list contains shopping, cooking, gym, friends, sex and me-time like reading, watching television or FaceBook.
Draw one circle for the time before children and make another one for the time now.
Let your partner do the same and then compare and discuss.
We normally see a shift for one of you (usually Mum) which shows a greater influence of work, sleep and caring for children, meaning that all of the other segments see movement and reduction as well. Often the segments of Gym, Me-Time and Sex end up shrinking (if not disappearing) due to one or both parties having to shift the way they spend their time.
When you compare your circles with those of your partner, you might also see that for him the shifts from before children to now are not as dramatic as they may have been for you. In other words, he might experience a normal week that isn’t dramatically different to how his week looked before, which is hard to understand because for you, the world feels like it’s been turned upside down. (Please see also my blog-article on this topic)
Stress and Problems
The difference between what our expectations are and the reality of what we get can cause almighty stress. The bigger the gap between your expectations and reality, the greater the stress.
You can’t avoid the disappointment completely, but you can reduce the stress by verbalising it and talking about it.
If your expectation was that everything would just carry on as usual only with two or three little ones at your side, think again. Once you have children, life will never be the same. Children need attention, they need care and supervision, and they need guidelines and daily stimulation for learning and development.
What could you do to avoid that your children becoming a problem in your relationship?
- Show your partner that you love them
- Tell your partner that you love them
- Create the 168-hours circles as described above.
- Discuss what each of you would wish for your children. It is important to agree on some basics around childcare.
- Talk about your children as often as possible and compare individual experiences.
- Allow for each partner to spend time with your children alone
- Create time for each partner and each child have 1 on 1 time and do something special eg going to the movies.
- Engage babysitters regularly (if possible) and organise active appointments
- Avoid having arguments with your partner whilst your children are listening or watching.
- If possible, keep working after the children are born so that you have a regular outside stimulation. This is important mainly for your self-worth and earning your own money is a great feeling too.
- Divide the chores at home (eg. groceries, laundry, cooking and cleaning) so that you both have more time for each other. See the 168-hour circle.
- Agree on necessary boundaries for your children and for yourselves.
Maybe you want to grab a signed copy of my book to find more tips on how to create and maintain a loving, intimate and respectful relationship.