Love ex­perts share their most life-chang­ing tips.

14 Cana­dian love ex­perts weigh with their in most in­sight­ful ad­vice.

Elle (Canada) - - Contents -

RE­VERSE THE GOLDEN RULE “Treat your part­ner how they want to be treated. I like that this re­quires you to re­ally get to know some­one else’s needs and in­se­cu­ri­ties. We don’t all want the same things out of a re­la­tion­ship, but if you com­mit to some­one and re­ally in­vest in them, you owe it to them to fig­ure out what they want from love and do your best to of­fer it.” – Mandy Len Ca­tron , who’s based in Van­cou­ver, is the founder of TheLoveS­to­ryPro­ject.ca, a blog about love stor ies. LOSE AN AR­GU­MENT“Econ­o­mists mea­sure bar­gain­ing power in re­la­tion­ships as the prob­a­bil­ity that you will get your own way when­ever there is dis­agree­ment. Hap­pier re­la­tion­ships are those where that bar­gain­ing power is shared evenly. No one likes to con­stantly be on the los­ing side of a bat­tle; that is just as true for the per­son you love as it is for your­self.” – Ma­rina Ad­shade is an econ­o­mist at the Uni­ver­sity of Bri­tish Columbia and au­thor of TheLoveMar­ket: What You Need to Know About How We Date, Mate and Marry. FIND A FRIEND WITH BEN­E­FITS “To meet new peo­ple, you need a friend with an ‘open world view.’ This means that he or she is open to chat­ting with peo­ple and do­ing silly, spon­ta­neous things in new cir­cum­stances. Don’t go out with big groups to meet some­one. Your best friend might not be the per­son to go out to bars or par­ties with if all you’re go­ing to do is chat with each other. You need some­one with a ‘say yes’ at­ti­tude.” – Alexan­dra Chong, who’s based in Lon­don, eng­land, is co-founder of the dat­ing app Lulu, which al­lows women to rate me non a va­ri­ety of cri­te­ria. CHOOSE WISE LY“Do not com­pare your­self to other peo­ple or try to shape your­self to be like some­one else. Of­ten, peo­ple con­cern them­selves with ‘Will this per­son like me?’ or ‘Will this per­son want to be with me?’ but think about the fact that you are not only be­ing cho­sen; you are also the chooser.” – Bar­bara Mori­son is a Saska­toon -based cou­ples ther­a­pist. WORK THROUGH YOUR PAST“A lot of peo­ple seek the love they didn’t re­ceive when they were younger. Gaps, bro­ken hearts that have been ig­nored or pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ences that haven’t been un­packed don’t dis­ap­pear. These things can break down a healthy re­la­tion­ship without us be­ing con­scious of it. We all have to be en­gaged in the process of work­ing through our own his­to­ries so that we are able to be good to our part­ners and our­selves.” – De­bra Macleod, who’s based in Calgary, is a ther­a­pist spe­cial­iz­ing in in fidelity. LOOK FOR WHAT’ S EASY“It’ s a lie that re­la­tion­ships ‘take a lot of work.’ When a cou­ple is nat­u­rally com­pat­i­ble and mo­ti­vated to main­tain emo­tional and phys­i­cal in­ti­macy, re­la­tion­ships hum along pretty nicely. Yes, there are times when you have to recom­mit to each other and strug­gle through life’s chal­lenges. But if you’re con­stantly fight­ing to get along or hav­ing to talk things out, then you’re not meant for each other.” – Kim Ka­trin Mi­lan, who di­vides her time be­tween Toronto and new york, is an ed­u­ca­tor who of­ten speaks about love in the quer co­mu­nity. h

BE THERE FOR THE GOOD STUFF

“When we talk about re­la­tion­ship ad­vice, we of­ten fo­cus on how to deal with the bad stuff: dis­agree­ments, set­backs and stress­ful events. But a grow­ing body of re­search sug­gests that how you deal with the good stuff is just as im­por­tant. Ex­press­ing ex­cite­ment and en­thu­si­asm when your part­ner suc­ceeds, and be­ing there to cel­e­brate their achieve­ments with them, can go a sur­pris­ingly long way to­ward mak­ing them feel sup­ported.” – Sa­man­tha Joel is an Aust in-based psy­chol­o­gist study­ing how we make de­ci­sions in re­la­tion­ships.

KNOW YOUR EX­PEC­TA­TIONS

“Mis­matched or un­spo­ken ex­pec­ta­tions are a big chal­lenge in a re­la­tion­ship. This is di­rectly linked to the myth of the soul­mate and the idea that if your part­ner re­ally loves you, he or she should just know what you need, want or mean—which is com­pletely un­fair. You can change this by reg­u­larly check­ing in about what you feel or want. This has to be a con­ver­sa­tion, but it won’t be ef­fec­tive un­less you un­der­stand where your own ex­pec­ta­tions come from.” – Reva Seth is the Toronto-based au­thor of First Comes Mar­riage: Mod­ern Re­la­tion­ship Ad­vice from the Wis­dom of Ar­ranged Mar­riages. STAY FO­CUSED “Most peo­ple put their re­la­tion­ships on the back burner once they feel that that part of their life is locked down. But com­mit­ment is when the work re­ally be­gins. Don’t say ‘Now that I’ve con­quered find­ing love, it’s time to fo­cus on my ca­reer, my friends, my car col­lec­tion.’ Say ‘How can we keep our re­la­tion­ship healthy, ful­fill­ing, stim­u­lat­ing and sexy?’ Set aside a weekly or bi­weekly date for set­ting goals for the fu­ture, talk­ing about your in­ter­ests and reaf­firm­ing your love.” – Kim­berly Mofit, who’s based in Toronto, isa psy­cho ther­a­pist and cou­ples coun­sel­lor. EM­BRACE CHANGE“I think one of the most chal­leng­ing things a re­la­tion­ship can face is sud­den, trau­matic change. For us, it hap­pened eight years ago, when my hus­band suf­fered a trau­matic brain and spinal-cord in­jury at work. In a split sec­ond, our whole world changed. We sur­vived by al­low­ing our­selves to be vul­ner­a­ble and hon­est and kind with each other, and even when we were hurt­ing, we made each other laugh. We ad­vo­cated for each other, threw out the old ex­pec­ta­tions and com­mit­ted our­selves to cre­at­ing a new kind of life.” – Kara Stan­ley, who’s based in Half­moon Bay, B.C., is the au­thor of Fallen, a bok about her hus­band’s in­jury. DEAL WITH DIF­FER­ENCES“Avoid­ing deal­ing with big is­sues out of fear of los­ing some­one is a recipe for an un­healthy re­la­tion­ship. Ask your­self if you can ac­cept and live with the dif­fer­ences in the long term. Ad­dress them up front, dis­cuss them, talk about your reser­va­tions and see if there is room for com­pro­mise. If there is no will­ing­ness on ei­ther side to com­pro­mise, then grace­fully end the re­la­tion­ship be­fore mak­ing a ma­jor com­mit­ment.” – Edel Walsh is a Van­cou­ver-based cou­ples coun­sel­lor. TEAR UP THE SCRIPT“Look be­yond the ‘script’ that re­la­tion­ships are sup­posed to fol­low: meet ‘the one,’ date, have sex, get mar­ried, have kids, die. It helps to stand back and look at the big pic­ture to see how so­ci­ety is feed­ing us these mod­els and cre­at­ing pres­sure to con­form. If we re­sist the pres­sure to change our­selves, love will change to meet our needs and not vice versa.” – Car­rie Ichikawa Jenk­ins, who’s based in Van­cou­ver, is the founder of The Meta­physics of Love Project, which ex­plores ro­man­tic love from a philo­soph­i­cal per­spec­tive, at the Uni­ver­sity of Bri­tish Columbia. DE­VELOP UNSHAKABLE LOVE “The hard­est chal­lenge for in­ter­faith re­la­tion­ships is gain­ing the ac­cep­tance and ap­proval of fam­i­lies. But per­sis­tence and de­ter­mi­na­tion, driven by unshakable love for each other, helps peo­ple through it. In a world where di­vorce rates con­tinue to climb and com­mu­ni­ties and coun­tries con­tinue to fight over dif­fer­ences, it’s re­fresh­ing and re­as­sur­ing when you meet peo­ple in love who have over­come their dif­fer­ences by be­ing open, re­spect­ful and ac­cept­ing of each other’ s be­liefs.” –Jen­nifer Ro­drigue sis the Toronto-based project man­ager for the In­ter love Project, which cap­tures black-and-white images of in­ter­faith cou­ples. EX­PLORE MIND­FUL MED­I­TA­TION (FOR BET­TER SEX) “Pi­o­neer­ing re­search has shown that mind­ful­ness tech­niques can help boost sen­sa­tion and re­duce dis­trac­tion and neg­a­tive thoughts dur­ing sex—com­mon is­sues faced by women. In other words, it helps you be present. The next time you’re mak­ing love, try to fo­cus your at­ten­tion on the sen­sa­tions in your body (rather than wor­ry­ing about what you should be feel­ing) and see what hap­pens.” –Sarah Bar ma ki st he Toronto-based au­thor of Closer: Notes from the Or­gas­mic Fron­tier of Fe­male Sex­u­al­ity.

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