The Most Important Thing You Can Learn from Old, Married Couples
Google the words “The Secret of Life” and you get over 1,340,000,000 entries.
That’s 4 times more than Kim Kardashian and twice as many as Donald Trump.
Evidently, the secret of life is something that folks have been looking for a long, long time.
Now, I’m not going to claim to know the secret of life – not yet, anyway – but I’m pretty sure I know the secret to a long-term relationship.
It starts with learning from the wisdom of people who are different than you are – old married couples, relationship counselors, and yes, even dating coaches – and considering how to apply their respective points of view to your complicated love life.
In “Why He Disappeared – the Smart, Strong, Successful Woman’s Guide to Understanding Men and Keeping the Right One Hooked Forever,” I’ve taken the liberty to do that for you – accumulating wisdom from a whole bunch of other relationship gurus and sprinkling it with my own experience to explain why men stay with some women and leave others.
And keep reading to learn the secrets of old married people…
You’ve heard me talk about chemistry before. I’m far from the only one.
A favorite relationship expert named Alison Armstrong says that when you’re lucky enough have your chemistry dialed up to 10 with a man, you should probably run in the opposite direction.What?! That sounds so counterintuitive. But consider this:
When you’re crazily attracted to some guy, doesn’t that feeling actually make you a little bit…crazy?
You start to obsess about when he’s going to call.
You become weak and needy because you’re so consumed by him.
You can’t stop thinking about him and have trouble focusing on work.
By the way, it’s not just you. Look up the word “love” on Wikipedia, and you’d see what really happens in your brain when you’re newly attracted to someone:
“Recent studies in neuroscience have indicated that as people fall in love, the brain consistently releases a certain set of chemicals, including the neurotransmitter hormones, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, the same compounds released by amphetamine, stimulating the brain’s pleasure center and leading to side effects such as increased heart rate, loss of appetite and sleep, and an intense feeling of excitement. Research has indicated that this stage generally lasts from one and a half to three years.”
I’m willing to bet that this description struck a nerve with you, since, if you’re anything like the rest of us, you’ve confused the heady chemical excitement of falling in love with actual long-term love.
In fact, they bear little resemblance.
Hold that thought.
Contrast that nervous feeling of attraction and think about who you are at your BEST around. Who loves you unconditionally? Who makes you feel safe, heard and understood?
It’s probably not the person you lust after the most. More likely, it’s your best friend. Or your sister. Or your mom.
These are the people around whom you can truly be yourself – at both your best AND your worst. So why do you so often choose men where you feel anxious just thinking about them?
“I can’t help what I’m attracted to!” you might say.
Attraction isn’t a very good predictor of relationship health.
You’re right. Attraction’s not a choice. By the same token, attraction isn’t a very good predictor of relationship health.
I’ve been attracted to HUNDREDS of toxic women. Most times, I was so driven by this attraction that I was willing to overlook their considerable negative qualities.
Have you ever done this yourself? I’m betting that you have.
Because whether you’re attracted to great looks, extreme wealth, or bountiful brains, you can’t help the way you feel. Yet that feeling is EXACTLY why you keep being drawn towards the same incompatible men.
You like a man who is very successful financially? Guess what? He’s likely to be a Type A workaholic. He’s likely to be opinionated and bossy. He’s likely to be on a bit of a power trip. He may have trouble compromising. He’s not necessarily interested in sharing his feelings and has even less interest in hearing your feelings. But congratulations – you’ve got financial security!
You like a man who is extremely attractive? Guess what? He’s likely to be a bit of a narcissist. He’s used to being given special attention for his looks and may not have developed the same kindness and generosity that you have. He may be underdeveloped in other arenas such as intelligence and worldliness, since so much of his life has revolved around people being attracted to him. Oh, and don’t forget, he’s extremely insecure; he needs the validation of constantly finding new women to tell him how gorgeous he is. But boy, is he hot! Enjoy your trophy, my friend.
You like a guy who is super smart? Guess what? Chances are he lives in his head. He’s over-analytical. He’s somewhat of a know-it-all. He has social insecurities. He’s kind of moody because he doesn’t see the world like everyone else does. He’s tortured by his potential. He can be wildly creative and unstable or blindly driven by money. He’s quite possibly depressed, and, at the very least, intense. But, yeah, he’s fascinating. Hang on tight and embrace the drama!
So when you’re assessing your dating prospects and are thinking past the lust phase into “Who will be wheeling me to my chemo treatments in 40 years”, consider that everything that attracts you comes with a considerable downside.
The people who REALLY have it figured out – the couples who’ve been married for 40 years – could probably tell you the same.
Ask an elderly married person the secret to her relationship. Do you think you’re going to hear words like: lust, money, and intellectual stimulation? No.
You’re going to hear things like friendship, compromise, laughter, and trust.
Yet it’s apparent that THOSE are the qualities you should be looking for when choosing a partner. Those are the qualities that determine long-term compatibility.
And if you’re entirely driven by short-term attraction, you can’t be too surprised when you haven’t found a relationship that sticks.
It may not be a popular stance, but it’s better to have an attraction level of 7 and a compatibility level of 10 than to have an attraction level of 10 and a compatibility level of 4, as is so often the case.
Take a look at your own love life and let me know what patterns you see.
And if you want to do something different, check out “Why He Disappeared,” which lets you know how to avoid the men who break your heart and choose higher quality men – starting right now.
Warmest wishes and much love,
P.S. Karen read Why He Disappeared and things changed almost overnight.
I was lost on how to proceed and what to expect. I needed to learn more about a man’s mind and you’d think at my age I’d know. But no way until I read your eBook, Why He Disappeared.
When I was an actress in Hollywood. I dated high-powered men. Steven Spielberg and I lived together for almost a year. I was sought after. I was beautiful. But I still did not understand a man’s mind and how it worked.
I’m now able to discern motives and watch what I say and do to bring out the very best in a man. I never put him down and I’m still respected for my input and opinions.
I finally feel empowered and in charge in a healthy and not manipulative way. I have men hanging on my every word. I hear constantly how adorable I am, how it’s sexy that I have a successful business and how many roses can I shower you with.
Thank you for opening my eyes, Evan.