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7 Ways to Stop Your Casual Relationship From Ruining Your Love Life

7 Ways to Stop Your Casual Relationship From Ruining Your Love Life

Just rewind back to when you were a child and you used to play with your Barbie and Ken dolls. You put so much of your imagination into those toys. You created story lines, plots and character arcs that would put the best writers in Hollywood to shame. For many of us, Barbie and Ken were the first relationships we experienced. As children, we believed that every relationship should be like Barbie’s and Ken.

Then, we were invaded by the hookup culture, where sex became as fast and as cheap as a Quarter Pounder with cheese. Now, our sex lives are equivalent to our fast food addictions.We know that they both offer very little nutritional value, yet we can’t stop eating because we are addicted to the taste. While fast food clogs up our arteries, casual relationships and 2am booty calls block us from receiving real love and intimacy. Casual relationships may keep us trapped in our own fantasy world, where our relationships are as superficial as Ken and Barbie plastic dolls. Lucky for you, you can save your love life by learning these 7 major tips.

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Don’t engage in uncommitted sex — you might regret it later.

Hookups and uncommitted sex became more frequent in the 1920s with the invention of the automobile. People were no longer restricted to having sex in a bed, when the back seat of a car was just as convenient.  By the 1960s, a full fledged sexual revolution had begun. The rise of feminism and widespread availability of contraception such as birth control and condoms gave birth to the era of the casual relationship. Today, the media is a huge source of sex education.  We are inundated with messages about uncommitted sex being healthy and enjoyable. But quantity doesn’t necessary equate to quality.  When a survey was conducted with 270 college students, 72 percent indicated that they felt a sense of regret after a casual hookup. (Oswalt, Cameron, & Koob, 2005).

Don’t use uncommitted sex as a cop-out. You’re worthy and capable of a committed relationship.

You ever notice how everything is great in the beginning when you’re casually dating? Then, when the B word (boyfriend) or G word (girlfriend) is uttered, everything changes. Suddenly there are these unrealistic expectations. And your Barbie and Ken fantasy relationship starts to feel like demented characters in some cheesy horror film. You feel like you’ve got to put on an act by wearing clown paint and a twisted smile. Besides, you have to cover up your unhappiness, misery and disappointment. Only the clown makeup feels like war paint, reminding you of all the wars you’ve fought, lost and won in all of your dead-end relationships.Labeling your relationship as casual is like putting a Band-Aid on a severed knee. It’s not going to make things better. You’re a human being with real emotions, and no amount of uncommitted sex is ever going to change that. Instead, address the real reasons why you’re having a difficult time making a real connection with another human being.

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Don’t give yourself a free pass. Use every hook-up as an opportunity to learn about yourself.

Many people say they like to keep things light. In truth, they don’t want to make any real sacrifices or investments into having a committed relationship. Ironically, they want all the benefits of a committed relationship such as sex, love, intimacy and security. You may very well feel entitled to a free pass because you’re in a casual relationship. However, you still have to put work into yourself. Now, you have the freedom to try different sex partners like they are a pair of shoes. Take this opportunity to learn from them. Learn what you like and what you don’t like. Use this information to understand what gives you pleasure. Then, you’ll know exactly what qualities to look for when you’re ready to engage in a real relationship.

Don’t engage in a casual relationship if you’re not going to enjoy it.

For many women, an orgasm is hard to come by. According to Al Cooper, Ph.D. Sex Therapist and author of the book Understanding the Female Orgasm, 75 percent of women need clitoral stimulation in order to have an orgasm. A study published in the Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia, titled Orgasmic Dysfunction, states that thirty-free to 50 percent of women experience infrequent orgasms or are dissatisfied with their partners after sex. Many people who engage in hook-ups often have a difficult time speaking up and communicating with their partner. People who are not committed in a series relationship may not be focused on pleasing their partner. In fact, they may want to hook up strictly for their own benefit.

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No strings attached, really means no strings attached.

Don’t play with fire. Many people go into a casual relationship with an alternative agenda. This happens because we are all looking for a sense of security. A lot of times, you may see people as who you want them to be, rather than who they are, so you may very well agree to a casual relationship with uncommitted sex. However, there is a part of you that secretly wants more. This is when your imagination will start to get the best of you. It will put in you in a perpetual state of denial where the only real pleasure you get from your casual relationship is from your distorted imagination. Sadly, your character plots and story lines can turn for the worse, when you refuse to be honest about who you are. It takes a strong sense of security to have uncommitted sex and be in a casual relationship. Be wary about getting involved in something that your emotions can’t handle.

Don’t think that hooking up is just about sex.

Women and men are still programmed to associate sex with security and commitment. Although the era of casual relationships is relatively new, your primal genetic programming is very old. In fact, we all inherit genes from our mitochondria mother. And her prehistoric memories are still haunting us today. Back in her day, sex was an honor that men had to fight for. They had to prove that they were powerful and could offer a sense of security through the courting process. As a result, men may associate sex with a sense of achievement, so they may devalue sex if it comes way too easily. For women, sex was always a huge risk. Our cavewoman ancestor was totally dependent on the caveman to protect her and feed her while pregnant. Also, the chances of her and the baby dying in childbirth were much higher. We can’t change eons of genetic programming overnight. Even though the risks of uncommitted sex have been minimized, we will always be subject to the cautionary voices of programming.

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Don’t think that you can live your life without real love.

People engage in uncommitted sex and casual relationships because they want to have a sense of security, yet they don’t want to feel like they’re sacrificing a great deal of freedom to be in a committed relationship. Of course, people with this mentality may also believe that they can eat 4000 calories a day and still lose weight. Be weary about engaging in a diet of fast and cheap sex. Be careful about buying into a fantasy with no real substance. Just remember as children, we played with dolls. We brought them to life with our own story lines and imaginations. Only the dolls were merely a reflection of who we were inside. We were discovering our selves through our imaginations and creating our own ideal relationships, just as we are now discovering ourselves through casual relationships and uncommitted sex. It is important to not get lost in la-la land. Instead, we need to take these experiences and focus on building a foundation that will allow us to have relationships of substance and value.

Featured photo credit: Casual Relationship via dreamstime.com

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Last Updated on January 14, 2021

How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

Despite our best intentions and efforts, making mistakes is a fact of life. Humans are prone to error, so we are inevitably going to mess up at one point or another.

Many of the slip ups we make won’t have any impact on those around us, but what about the times when they do hurt someone else, either inadvertently or purposefully? Do we ignore the mistake and hope it will go away on its own? Do we confront the mistake, however painful that may be, and apologize? How we react to our mistakes defines both who we are and how we are perceived by others.

I’m a voice and presence coach specializing in training people to find their voice and speak their truth. One of the most difficult tasks I teach my students is how to apologize authentically. It takes a lot of vulnerability to admit wrongdoing, and even more so to seek forgiveness and make amends. (After all, we live in a world where some of our top leaders openly avoid taking accountability for their mistakes.) However, like anything else in life, if you ignore something painful instead of facing it, that pain tends to grow and appear in other parts of your life. It’s better to face these things head on.

So how do you apologize effectively? Technically, there is no one “right” way, but there are plenty of ineffective ways to go about apologizing. I’m going to approach this from the perspective that we are genuinely remorseful and wish to make amends for the hurt we have caused.

Simply saying, “I’m sorry” is easy. But it’s important that your words match your intention. It’s complex to apologize authentically when you have made a mistake – to utter remorse that is grounded in your truth, and it’s what we’re going to cover here.

In order to make a genuine apology, I refer to a practice introduced to me by a mentor several years ago: the Hawaiian Ho’oponopono prayer. I’m not an expert on Hawaiian prayer, but having meditated with this one for a number of years, I can say that this practice of reconciliation and forgiveness is incredibly powerful.

Ho’oponopono means “to make right” or “rectify an error.” What sets this practice apart is that the focus is not on controlling a particular outcome (i.e. healing the hurt relationship you have with this person), but instead on healing yourself in order to heal the situation.

The Ho’oponopono prayer is profoundly simple, and translates as follows:

I’m sorry.

Please forgive me.

Thank you.

I love you.

Everything we need to apologize is right here. Let’s break down the structure of this apology into these 4 concrete steps for before, during, and after the apology.

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Before the Apology

Step 1: I’m Sorry – What are you sorry for?

Before you start speaking and leading from pure emotion, it’s important to actually figure out what you are sorry for:

Start by Writing Down the Facts

When you’re writing this out, avoid assigning any judgments to the scenario or making any assumptions about the person affected by your mistake. Instead stick to straight facts. Dump the whole situation onto the page, including all the details.

Ex. My friend was having a hard time with her boyfriend. She kept complaining to me about it, and I was tired of listening to the situation. I also felt I knew exactly what was going on, and what was not working, so I finally got blunt and told her my opinion. She was very offended. I realized afterward that she just needed an ear to listen, and she wasn’t looking for my advice.

Write Down Your Part in Making This Mistake

Stick to your contribution only. Avoid speaking for anyone else, simply focus on what you did that you know helped create the situation.

Ex. I gave feedback that my friend wasn’t interested in hearing. My mistake was assuming that she’d be better off if she heard what I had to say.

After Writing It All Down, Ask Yourself How You’re Feeling by Grounding Yourself in Your Truth

I teach a process to my clients called the Voice Body Connection process, which starts with grounding yourself in your physical sensations. This process will help you find your voice and speak your truth objectively, even if you are flooded with strong emotions in the moment.

Identify the Physical Sensations You Feel

Now that you have relived the experience of making the mistake by writing it out, tune into your body, and ask yourself the question:

“What is the strongest SENSATION I feel in my body right now?”

Be sure to keep this body-based. When you are preparing to apologize, taking note of your sensations helps you ground yourself in how you are feeling so that you can show up.

Ex. I feel an aching sensation in my heart.

Identify Why You Think You Are Feeling This Sensation

After you’ve identified your primary sensations, ask yourself the following question:

“What do I think is the STIMULUS that led me to feel this sensation?”

This is likely a very simple statement that you already wrote about. It’s the heart of the matter.

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Ex. I gave my friend advice she wasn’t asking for.

Identify Your Emotions About This Situation

Now that you know why you are feeling these physical sensations, move to identify your emotions. Ask yourself:

“What are my EMOTIONS about noticing all of this?”

Some primary emotions are fear, anger, sadness, disgust, joy, and arousal.

Ex. I’m feeling sad that I crossed my friend’s boundaries.

Identify Your Ideal Outcome For This Situation

Your emotions are tied to your desire for a future outcome. Ask yourself,

“Do I have any desires related to everything I just noticed?”

Examples of core desires are safety, comfort, bonding/love, and curiosity/growth.

Ex. I want to repair the relationship so that we can be close again.

Make Sure You Actually Want Forgiveness And Reconnection

Please keep in mind that if in this process, you discover that you don’t feel safe with this other person. There’s no reason to apologize and re-connect.

But if you feel safe and comfortable with them and desire to be connected again, then you can proceed to the next step of the Ho’oponopono prayer.

During the Apology

Step 2: Please Forgive Me

You’re not going to share everything from your process above with your friend. What you are going to share is your acknowledgment of the hurt you caused, your part in creating that situation, and your desire to reconnect[1].

It’s also very important to be clear about only speaking your truth and not commenting on their side. That’s their job.

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You can use this script by filling in the observations you noted above:

I think <a simple statement about what happened> happened between us…

And I believe my mistake was <insert your part here>…

I am left feeling <insert your emotions>…

and moving forward, I would want to <insert your desires>.

Ex. I think I gave you feedback that you weren’t interested in hearing…

And I believe my mistake was assuming that you’d be better off if you heard what I felt I needed to say.

I am left feeling sad that I crossed your boundaries.

And moving forward what I really want is to be close to you again, and to assure you that I will ask permission in the future before I give you advice.

Once you’ve shared this introductory olive branch, stop talking about yourself. This is it for now…. it’s all you needed to say to get the conversation started.

Your next job is to listen and be curious. Ask open-ended questions about their experience like “How did that feel for you?”. De-center yourself and let your friend share as much as they need to. When you do speak, let them know that you hear what they are saying, and acknowledge your impact.

I’ll grant you that this is hard to do – it’s easy to get defensive. But your checklist is:

  • Tell them you heard them
  • Let them know you understand you had an impact on them
  • Ask them more about their experience

Step 3: Thank You

Now that you have asked the other person about their experience, it is quite possible that they will say things you don’t want to hear. You may find yourself feeling defensive or even angry. A stressful situation like this can trigger “fight or flight” mode in your body: you may notice that you start sweating, that your pupils are narrowing, that your eyes tear up, that you start experiencing tunnel vision. This is all normal.

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To help stave this off and stay present, keep being genuinely curious about what their experience has been. Don’t listen to be “right,” listen to be connected. Listen to understand.

Even if they say something you don’t like hearing, thank them anyway for sharing the truth of their experience and for being in your life. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but it is a necessary step towards your own healing in the Ho’oponopono prayer.

Moving Forward Post-Apology

Step 4: I Love You

Let’s say you’re actually at a place where the relationship you have with the other person can be repaired. “I love you” encourages curiosity: how can you repair and reconnect? How can things look different moving forward?

Think of something you can do to express and experience your love, appreciation, or respect for each other. Make a plan for how to move forward.

A great practice is to make a list of things you are grateful for about the other person. Be sure to share this list, either as a letter or just out loud. It’s important to share how much we appreciate each other, and it feels as good to give gratitude as it does to receive it.

This last portion of the prayer is not just for the other person… it’s for you as well. Filling yourself with a sense of love ensures that you’ll be able to move on from the mistake and heal. It’s easy for many of us to beat ourselves up and continue to hold onto guilt, or even shame, about a mistake we have made — even though we are genuinely remorseful and have tried to make amends.

You can continue to repeat the entire Ho’oponopono prayer to yourself after the encounter where you have apologized:

I’m sorry.
Please forgive me.

Thank you.

I love you.

In doing so, you may find you’re apologizing to yourself too.

The Bottom Line

To speak our truth in an apology, we must show up fully without expecting anything of the other person. Though we cannot affect or control the outcome of the apology, no matter how repentant we are, following the Ho’oponopono can guide us to true repair and healing.

If you have been stuck on finding the “right” way to reconnect and apologize to someone in your life, I hope this process inspired by the Ho’oponopono prayer will help you to make that first step.

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Featured photo credit: Gus Moretta via unsplash.com

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