Love can take us to heaven and can take us to hell. This week, I had a case with a client with whom we are working on his communication skills. I would like to share with you something interesting that I have observed. Is love about creating the right branding for ourselves? Tell me if you relate to his story and what would you advise Andy or Mara? Their names are fictional for obvious reasons.
Andy met his girlfriend Mara on an online dating app. We all aware of the fact that men are from Mars and women from Venus, right? I think the difference is even much further than the planets. It is insane how differently the two genders perceive the same situation.
Andy is 50+ and Mara is 40+ and they have been dating for the past three months. Yes, this was during the lockdown and have to say that this was a little bit naughty both of them, as they didn’t really follow the lockdown rules, and they were meeting up. Please don’t tell Boris! I, as professional and a good citizen, tried to convince them, but not successfully. Mara had major personal issues; she faced a lot of personal addictions, divorce and abuse, but they had an amazing attraction for each other. When they are together, it is like magic surrounds them.
As a woman, she likes attention, and please, ladies, don’t say that we don’t like attention, because it will be a lie. In this case, she was a little bit more intense. She shared lot of her ‘skeletons’ from her ‘past closet’, which later shadowed their relationship. Communication was very blurred in this relationship, as he was saying yes and sorry most of the time, because he wanted to sustain the ‘peaceful’ climate between them. Men, most of the times, try to avoid confrontations – at least the British men do, as I have observed. Maybe it is wise, because sometimes women can be quite weird without a specific reason. That’s a pattern that many men use; they think that, by avoiding a discussion, the problem will go away. Unfortunately, not only does it not go away, but it gets bigger and sometimes this might prove fatal for the relationship.
Mara’s sharing of her skeletons created an image in Andy’s head, and whenever they had an argument, that image would come to the surface and she was judged every time via that image, so his filter was already ‘smeared’.
Andy though did the same; he shared the fact that he used to be a womaniser. So, whenever they were out with other people, Mara stayed very close to Andy, checking him out to see if he was looking or flirting with other ladies. Trust issues started to grow.
The past few weeks, they are having ‘troubles in paradise,’ as I funnily tease him. There is tension and friction, as she is moaning every day about everything, and he is upset with a certain behaviour of hers, but he didn’t tell her that. When he asked my opinion and advice, I told him that, for me, they need to communicate about anything they don’t like, and not just trying to keep things on ice pretending that it is not happening. My mantra in relationships is not “what you say, but how you say it”.
Because that’s what we do when we don’t speak out our truth. Then, there is the way we can share our truth; some people are more sensitive, others are cool, while others don’t want to hear the truth, usually because they can’t handle it. Sharing ‘skeletons from the past closet,’ though, can make things worse. Is it the wrong ‘branding’? What we need to be careful about is to set up our true image based on who we are today.
My tips would be:
- Don’t share needless information
- Create a mystery without being scary
- Listen more – talk less
- Speak the way you like him/her to speak to you
- Don’t share your skeletons from the past, enjoy the present.
Based on my experience, and from various cases of my clients, I believe we should not share our skeletons, because the most important thing is that they belong to the PAST, not in our present, and we would end up giving the wrong impression to our future partner. That goes for not asking him for his past, it doesn’t matter. What matters is who we are today.
My mother and grandmother were always saying to me, to keep most of my ‘secrets’ and not share them with anyone. Don’t give too much information; people will use it against you at some point, and usually when you least expect it. I totally agree with them, and I have seen this happening in real life.
What do you think? How would you advise Andy? What’s your take-away from their story?