Relationship Failure in 2021

There are as many reasons that relationships fail as there are failed relationships but some relationship issues don’t have to be fatal. If they can’t be avoided, (they’re already happening) they may simply need to be addressed so that behaviors can change.

Non-Acceptance

You meet someone and think, “He’s great, but…” We’ve all done it. We find someone that we like who has many qualities that we really dig but there are some things about them that are kind of a turn off. We weigh the good against the bad and decide if we want to go any further. Deciding to over look a partners personality traits or behaviors that we find annoying is fine as long as we commit to acceptance. The problem is that more often than not, we don’t. We go in to it thinking that we can change them. We believe that once they see how great life can be with us, they’ll change for us. In most cases, they won’t.

Over time we get frustrated with our partners and either demand that they change or use passive aggressive ploys to elicit a modification from them. We may even make insensitive comments about them or worse, point out their flaws to others in an attempt to shame them into complying with our will. These doesn’t work. They may even agree to make changes but, depending on the issue, the changes are unlikely to stick. They may grow to resent us for our overbearing behavior.

How do you avoid this pitfall? There are two ways. First, talk about these things before getting serious. Some things need to be ironed out ahead of time. For example; if your partner isn’t ambitious and works a low paying job that they love but you expect them to foot half the living expenses when they move in, you can’t just assume that they’ll leave their great job for a higher paycheck. Let’s say that you believe your partner spends too much time out with the boys. If you’ve accepted this behavior when you were dating, they are likely to expect you to accept it when things get more serious.

Second, simply accept your differences. You picked him and for better or worse, if you value him, you need to let him be himself, no matter how flawed you think they may be.

Lack of Trust

The only things as bad as wondering if your partner is unfaithful is being accused of being unfaithful when you’re not. If your trust issues are justified, forgive or run for the hills but if the lack is trust is manifesting without justification, you need to find out where your trust issues are coming from. We carry our baggage from one relationship to the next and it’s unfair to our partners. I was once told, “You carry the burden of proving that you’re better than every woman who came before you.” but that shouldn’t be the case.

If you find yourself cracking the lock code on his phone while he’s sleeping or sniffing his laundry for left over perfume when there have been no signs that he’s been cheating, you probably have trust issues that you need to address. If you don’t, they’ll cause you to do “Crazy Ex” things until he leaves you.

Differing Priorities

For some, a romantic relationship is the most important aspect of their lives. For others, it’s just a part of the equation and things like family, work, friends, or a hobby hold equal or greater value. If one partner expects to be the center of the universe while the other wants to spend a large part of their life apart from their partner, one will end up with hurt feelings while the other feels smothered.

Relationship building is like building a fire. If you just toss a bunch of logs on the fire without leaving room for air circulation, your fire won’t burn. If you’re relationship can’t breath, you also run the risk of losing the flame.

If there is trust in a relationship, there is no reason why partners can’t have aspects of their lives that they keep separate from the relationship.

Communication

I saved communication for last because it’s a pivotal part of the other three. Proper communication helps to avoid most pitfalls in relationships. If you communicate your expectations in the beginning, your partner can decide if they’re willing to change for you. If you communicate rather than being passive aggressive your partner is more likely to hear you. You can’t just assume that you hold a place of importance in someone’s life. You need to know where they see your relationship going. If you’re uncomfortable speaking honestly with your partner, you need t evaluate the situation and determine if it’s a problem on your end or not. If you are justifiably worried that communicating with your partner will make them angry, you may be dealing with a gas lighter or narcissist and it may be time to move on.

The Red Flags of Social Media

Social media red flags span the gamut from huge to almost trivial and likely depend a lot on your partners age. The younger the man, the larger the role social media plays in his life. The red flags are different at different stages in the relationship as well. A little predate spying may uncover red flags that cause you to call of your first meeting while a change in social media behavior during a committed relationship may be a sign that your partner is unfaithful. Whatever the case, you have boundaries for the way your partner behaves in public. The same should be true for how he behaves on social media..

He values his single status more than he values you

If you are in a committed relationship with a man, he should want the world to know about it. Heck, he should love you so much that he wants to brag about it because he feels lucky to have you. If he drags his feet about changing his relationship status on social media or comes up with excuses why he won’t do it, he is probably trying to keep his side chicks or potentials from knowing about you. If he changes his status to “In a relationship” but doesn’t tag you, he doesn’t want people to know who you are. This may be because he feels like he could do better than you or because he fears that women that he has wronged will reach out to you. Either way, red flag!

The same is true if he never posts about you or pictures of you. You tag him in a photo of you together and sometime later he removes the tag or archives the post.. He’s not that private, he’s hiding something.

He’s never deleted the public pictures of himself with his exes

These photos are his bragging rights. He’s saying, scroll through my photos and see what I can bag. If these were simply fond memories, he’d keep them on his phone or on a hard drive. He’s keeping them public so other people see them and that’s disrespectful. As women, we know that when we break up with a guy, we delete their photos from our social media. Normal men do, too.

He picks fights on social media or flaunts his good deeds all the time

You know the guy who is always up in someone’s comments flexing his imaginary muscles? This guy either has anger issues or an intense need for social acceptance. Both of these traits are toxic.

Is he a good guy because it’s his nature or does he do good things for social status points? If he has to pose for a selfie with the homeless man before he gives him his spare change, he has issues.

He wants you to text via Snapchat

There are two possible reasons he wants to only communicate on Snapchat. One is the lack of permanence allows for fewer inhibitions. You may be more likely to sext or send nudes if you know they’ll disappear in 24 hours. The other possibility is that he’s seeing someone else and worries that they’ll check his phone. Snaps disappear within seconds so his other significant other is less likely to catch him in the act.

He’s always online

When a man, or woman, is always online, they aren’t present in the real world. Social media addiction is real and those who suffer from it rarely have real hobbies or interests. Who wants to date someone like that?

He follows a lot of sexually explicit accounts

You may be thinking, “Hey, he was single when he added those.”, but is he still liking the photos or commenting on the posts?

The same girls keep liking and commenting on his pictures and posts

Huge red flag! While he can’t control who interacts with his social media, if he isn’t reciprocating in some way, most women will simply stop and move on. If they keep coming back, you can be sure that he’s throwing them a bone!

Another woman is commenting intimately on his posts

Perhaps she eludes to the fact that she may have been the one who took that picture he posted of himself in the bar, or worse, in his bed. In my case, a girl used language like, “I’m proud of you,” and “I love you.” When I questioned it, he replied, “I don’t know why she’s like that” Later, I stumbled upon the nudes that they were sending each other on his phone.

He’s reacting to other girls’ pictures

This one is huge! If he’s heart reacting a female friends graduation photo or birthday celebration or leaving a cry emoji when her dog dies, that is probably acceptable. If he’s doing the same to her selfies, particularly the scantily clad selfies, he’s a dog. Let him go.

More red flags

He goes dark to hide when he’s online from you. He has to approve anything you post on his timeline before it becomes public. The number of likes on his posts don’t match the number of profiles you see when you click to see who is liking his stuff. When this happens, someone has intentionally blocked you from seeing their activity. He was big on Facebook when you met but now he only uses Snapchat so you can’t see his interactions. You can see that he’s online but he doesn’t read your messages. He shields his phone from you when he’s reading his messages or looking at timelines on apps like Instagram where only he can see posts from those he follows. He has reconnected with an ex as “friends”. He has thousands of friends and the majority of them are female. And, finally, he paused but didn’t delete his Tinder account.

Tune in tomorrow for “How to Translate Fuckboy” and let me know if you like this red flag series.

Tomi

Red Flags

Relationship Warning Signs for Modern Dating

Is that a Cape or a Giant Red Flag?

What is a red flag? According to dating psychologist Madeleine Mason Roantree, a red flag can be defined as “something your partner does that indicates a lack of respect, integrity or interest towards the relationship”. Over time, we’ve broadened the definition to include personality traits and behaviors that indicate that someone would not make a good partner, like, lack of drive, addictive qualities, and a history of commitment issues.

By now, we’re all pretty familiar with the existence of red flags. But, sadly, we’re also adept at overlooking or ignoring them.

As a romance author, I have researched and written about all kinds of relationships and one thing that stands out to me is that, no matter the decade, romance books about bad boys are always on the best seller lists. What is it about the bad boy that we find so irresistible? We claim to want loving, loyal, responsible men, but our knees get weak when we fantasize about the rude, crude loner who treats women like toys.

Whatever the draw of the bad boy, it could be our desire to change him that causes us to dismiss so many red flags when we see them.

What about the guy who seems perfect in the beginning? You’ve used your natural gifts as a woman to stalk him better than an NSA agent. His apartment is tidy, his dog is fed, there is an actual bed frame under his mattress and the food in his refrigerator did not expire last year. Do we become complacent in his perfection and blind to the red flags when they appear? Maybe, or maybe because women invest emotionally so quickly, we make ourselves believe that we can love the red flags right out of him because we don’t want to admit that our time and investment were wasted.   

Now, I don’t want to come off as man shaming. As women, we have some red flags, too. Some of us are too needy, some of us have trust issues, some of us are narcissistic; the list goes on. Because we are all imperfect creatures, it is important to know when red flags are real and when we invent them as excuses to disconnect from someone. Sometimes, it’s our red flags that do us in. Our own insecurities and tendency to overthink can have us accusing men of all sorts of horrid things when in actuality, they really did just fall asleep on the couch or get too busy at work to answer your text.

The world can be crazy and, believe me, as a single “cougar” aged woman, I know there’s a lot of pee in the dating pool.

I’ve asked a question to myself, and my girlfriends, more than a handful of times; “Is this a problem, or am I overreacting?” I believe most of us have. If you’ve ever had to question your own sanity because of his audacity, this journey is for you!

I’ll be back with part one of my Red Flag Ramblings soon! Stay tuned!

Tomi

Older Women and Younger Men

Older men with younger women somehow seems natural in our society. Men seeking sexy, young, trophy wives and secretly high fiving each other when they catch one. Socially acceptable? That’s debatable. While it seems to be more of a cultural norm than older women with younger men, there are still all those negative cliches and stereotypes that come with this relationship; dirty old man, gold digger, daddy issues, mid-life crisis affair, the list goes on and on. Biologically, there are some explanations for a mans’ attraction to a younger woman. It’s our biological imperative to multiply and younger women are more likely to be fertile and successfully carry and deliver off-spring. But, let’s face it, most relationships aren’t consciously driven by the biological imperative to breed. They are about attraction and, frankly, no one has the right to dictate who another person should be attracted to, (as long as it’s legal!).F

What about older women and younger men?

Let me get personal for a moment – I’ve been married twice. Once to a man my own age and once to a man more than a decade my senior. I was attracted to different things in each of these relationships. When I married my first husband we were both inexperienced in everything. We learned how to navigate adulthood together as equals. It was stressful and bewildering at times but we loved each other and had a great deal of things in common to keep us grounded. Sadly, my first husband and love of my young life was killed while we were in our twenties.

My second marriage was to a man who was my superior at work. He was older and more experienced and had a nurturing tendency that made me feel safe at a time in my life when I felt all alone. I was a newly widowed mother and needed someone to anchor me before I floated away in a cloud of sorrow, fear, and self-doubt. My older man did this for me but our relationship ended when I found my own legs and became independent. He wasn’t capable of allowing me to grow into my own identity so we split.

By the time my second marriage ended, I was a successful professional at a media company. My identity was defined by my tough but fair, logical approach in my dealings with my contemporaries and subordinates. When my work day ended, I went home to be a mother and a creative. The polar opposite of my hard-ass corporate persona. For a long time, I didn’t date or socialize with anyone outside of my small group of life-long friends.

Then, it happened. I was being pursued by an incredibly attractive man at work. He was new to the company and a favorite piece of eye candy for all the girls and he was young! Fifteen years my junior. He would flirt and I would tell myself that he wasn’t really flirting. I talked myself out of the idea that he might be attracted to me. Maybe he was trying to get in good with the boss. Maybe it was just his charm. Either way, why would he want me when every girl his age was falling all over him?

As time progressed, he pursued harder. I guess he thought that I was oblivious to his advances so he moved from verbal flirtation to accidental touches and, eventually, marched up to me and said, “I’m very attracted to you. Would you like to get a drink with me?” I said yes.

Now, this isn’t a love story and it isn’t even about him. It’s an explanation of the attraction between us. So, first of all, the sex was the best I’ve ever had. He was strong and dominant. He was confident and had amazing staying power and he wasn’t afraid of experimentation. When I wanted to close my eyes and drift in to that place of ecstasy and escape, he could bring me there. When I wanted something hot and fast and wild, he could perform at that level, and when I wanted something tender and more controlled, he let me take the lead. Our love making sessions were all night main events but it wasn’t all about the sex.

I loved that I could nurture him. When he had problems, he could talk to me and I had enough life experience to give him advice. It made me feel good to see him succeed at things that he’d asked me to help him with. I couldn’t do this with either of my husbands.

Trust was a non-issue

We both knew that this relationship was not going to lead to marriage. I spent a lot of years building a life for myself and I didn’t want to share. I wasn’t ready to compromise with anyone when it came to my home, my money, and my lifestyle.

He didn’t want to parent my children and we wasn’t ready to settle down.

With none of that “relationship” pressure we were free to explore a completely open and honest dynamic and in time, our feelings grew from lust to a love based on mutual respect and ten years later, though we’ve never been an official couple, we still love each other and would do anything we could for each other. And, though we don’t see each other as frequently as we once did, the sex is still pretty hot!

Though my story hasn’t ended in a traditional relationship, I do understand how older women and younger men fall for each other.

It’s about being open to the idea that love and attraction are possible in unlikely places and partners. It’s about defying the stereotypes and giving in to your own feelings; knowing that sometimes other people will be cruel or say things without thinking; like calling you a cougar or asking if you and your son go out to dinner often.

When this happened to me, my new lover grabbed me and stuck his tongue in mouth. Then, he smiled at the waitress and said, “Mom and I are really close!” while I laughed my ass off. She gave our table to another waitress.

This is not a relationship dynamic for the insecure. If you aren’t confident in yourself, you will forever be looking for judgmental glances and younger girls who want to take your man.

I suppose it’s really not any different than any other relationship. Love is love, right? And… oh, the sex? The experts were right when they determined that women reach their peak later than men do and if you’re lucky enough to come together during those peaks be prepared for fireworks!