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Giving Up The Plan B

Something happened recently.  Something that is kind of a big fucking deal in my new relationship.

Spoiler alert: it had absolutely nothing to do with my boyfriend.

Let me be really fucking honest here.  Being a life coach that works with singles on dating, love and relationships, while being out there dating and working on love and relationships herself is fucking humbling as shit.

Especially on days that I am just plain sucking at it.

Because those days totally happen, even for me.  Days where I am downright uncomfortable with letting someone into the weird and wacky world of Kira.  And trust me, it is pretty weird and wacky in there.

But if you are doing this right, it is going to feel uncomfortable.

It is going to feel hard. It is going to feel scary and (insert a bunch of other feelings that people don’t want to talk about around love and relationships).

But I digress.

There came a point in my new relationship where something felt different than it had in a very long time.  Maybe completely different than it had ever felt before.  And not just because it is a new guy and he is special (‘cause he fucking is), but because I am different than I was before.  This is partly due to the fact that I had done a lot of “self work” after my last break up and partly due to some major mindset shifts from my Dad becoming ill this past year.

These experiences had left me more vulnerable and at the same time more clear than I had ever been.  This is a scary, but equally great place to be in.

So couple the “new me” with this amazing guy and the “smitten” phase started pretty quickly. All the good things were happening.

Smart conversations.  Check.

Magical make outs.  Check.

Occupying my thoughts in the best ways possible.  Check.

Can’t wait until the next time I see him.  Check.

I was fucking in this to win this.  And it felt really. fucking. good.

But then one night something happened that was really awkward for me. I was hanging at home, alone, and my iphone dinged.  I smiled, thinking it was a text from D (the object of my smittenship) but it wasn’t.

It was from “Plan B.”  Wondering what that means? Let me explain.

Plan B was one of the guys that I liked to flirt with, usually virtually. He was never a real prospect, but he made me feel wanted. Pretty. Not so damn single.

My relationship with Plan B existed purely for entertainment and convenience on both sides.  We were there to make each other feel good and ultimately, although I hate to admit it, less lonely. Because life can be fucking hard.  Especially on our own.

As I read his mildly flirty text I realized very quickly that I had a decision to make.  I could keep the flirting going, just in case…

I mean, we had not agreed to be exclusive yet.

We were not sleeping together.

All I owed him was honesty and kindness and to keep checking this out, right?

But the truth is, I owed myself something more.  

I owed myself a real chance at love and a relationship.

And the truth is this: when I had the Plan Bs showing up in my texts, emails, facebooks, etc….I was never really “doing this.”  I was never giving my relationship a real chance.

Once I started thinking about it, I realized I had always had a Plan B. Even while dating. They were the back-up plan. They protected me so that I never had to go all in. They kept me safe so I wouldn’t be officially hurt if things didn’t work out.

And if I didn’t get the text or call that I wanted, in the timeframe that I wanted, there was always someone I could flirt with to tell me I was pretty. Or smart. Or whatever I needed to hear at that moment because the person I was dating wasn’t doing what I THOUGHT THEY SHOULD DO.

But that is bullshit.  

Here is why — Plan B’s always kept me dating with one foot out the door. They never allowed me to be really honest with the person I was dating.  They never pushed me to go all in or give this love stuff a real, fighting chance.

I’m talking about growing a relationship into something beautiful and real, full of excitement, trust, hope, fear, messy, crazy, awesome and everything-in-between. Plan B was my subtle sabotage, getting in the way of that. Plan B was a nice idea.

And holding onto a Plan B was me, allowing myself, to buy into my fear.

So that night, I stopped giving into fear and gave into love.  

Love for myself.

Love for the potential of this amazing guy.

Love for the potential of real love and an awesome relationship.

I let the Plan B’s know that night that all communication from that point on would be just friendship.  That is all.  Because I really cared about this guy and I couldn’t wait to see where it would go.

In fact, I am still really excited 🙂

Although I expected some opposition, they all respected it.  They understood.  They even complimented me.  They knew that they wanted someone, someday who would do the same.

Because we all want love and that starts with us actually letting love in.

Are you ready to go all in?

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How I Turned My Hookup Into A Healthy Relationship

It was actually a little awkward.

The night I met my boyfriend there were a few faux pas.  Actually, a lot. Actually, okay, there were a shit ton.

So there was nothing precious or magical about it really.  At all.

For starters, I was a little drunk…and so was he.  By a little I might mean a lottle.

And we went bowling.  Bowling, I say!  (By the way, I super suck at bowling and kind of made an ass out of myself.  He actually fell.  True story.)

Our first kiss was out back behind the bowling alley, near a dumpster.  Confession: This is not even necessarily new for me.  I have dumpster kissed before. 🙂  It was nice but a little sloppy.  It didn’t knock my socks off.  We ended up making out for a bit in my Mom’s car.  Yes, I am 16.

I met him in my hometown of 5000.  I don’t really like my hometown.  I try to avoid most things in my hometown.  Walmart in particular, because can you think of anything less sexy than Wal Mart?

Although I heard from him a little the next day, I then didn’t hear from him for almost a week.  I honestly had written him off.

Even the next time I met him, I was like….ummmm, I think he is really cute, but I am not sure.

None of it was a disaster.  If anything it was a little funny.  But the truth is this: it was all very far from beautifully romantic.

I didn’t think he was “the one.”

There was no love at first sight.

I didn’t know it when I saw it.

My heart did not want shit.

I just thought that D seemed lovely.  Kind.  Smart.  Interesting.  Sweet.

But here is the truth.  I am not a life coach that works with singles just because I find love and relationships fascinating….which I totally fucking do.  I also do this because I am learning as I go along.  I am invested in sharing my own mistakes and takeaways.  Because I’m keenly aware that what holds me back might also be the kind of shit that is getting in your way.

And look, I’m the first to admit that I haven’t always been so great at this whole relationship thingy.  I get nervous.  I get downright scared. I have sabotaged a lot of shit.

But that doesn’t mean that I give up.  

If there is one thing I have learned in my seven years of doing this, it is that everyone can have love and a healthy relationship if they are willing to do some of the really tough work up front. Including me.

So I kept going.  I checked it out, knowing that I would not know in a date or two if I could create a relationship with him.  Doing what I preach to my clients and on this genius site! 🙂

I taught him how to treat me by creating healthy boundaries.  What was acceptable and what wasn’t, so he could always win.  Because if both people aren’t winning, love can’t really grow.

I showed him how I liked to be loved and learned what he likes.  Because knowing how to make the other person feel loved, cared, and good is a huge part of making it work.

I pushed myself out of my comfort zone again and again.  This process has not been “freak-out-free.” The difference is in how I handled it, starting with my own shit. When things felt uncomfortable, I worked out on my own whether it was actually a problem or my own fears.  If it was a problem, I talked to him, with honesty and kindness.  Often, they were my fears and I worked through them myself.  Because love and long-term relationships don’t always feel comfortable for me.

I leaned on my life support team….a lot.   I don’t think that the person I date needs to be everything in my life and they certainly don’t need to hear every crazy fear I have in my head.  My life support team helped listen, clarify, talk me off the ledge and figure out what made sense and what just didn’t.

I separated the truths from stories in my head.   Man, are there a fuckload of stories in my head about my attractiveness right now, the complications in my life and if I am going to fuck this up.  But those are stories not truths and digging deep I was able to  separate the two.

Most importantly, I communicated all the fucking time!  Not obnoxiously, but I shared who I was.  How I work. Where I am imperfect. Where I need a little extra support.  Where I get nervous.

The result?

A beautiful, healthy relationship that is really working.

I can say from the bottom of my heart, I adore this man.  The best part is that all of this is very, very real.  We have gotten in the habit to talk things out the moment they come up.  Our relationship is even stronger after we fight (a place where I used to run away).  I trust him totally and completely. He makes me think, laugh and smile….regularly.

We are perfectly, imperfect together.  He is my partner-in-crime.   Working as a team to better ourselves and create a kick ass future together.

It didn’t matter if our first couple of dates were a bit ridiculous and not very magical.  Unless you think bowling and dumpster kissing is magical.  

It is what you do afterwards that matters.  

And none of this could have happened if I didn’t do the tough stuff that I described above.  Because from the beginning, I opened up my Owner’s Manual, scary as it was to do it, so that he could see inside.

YES, SUGARPANTS, WE ALL HAVE AN OWNER’S MANUAL.  

Just like a car or fancy schmancy smartphone, we all work in different ways.  The way we love.  Fight.  Process.  Communicate.  Each one of us is different and it is our job to know what is inside and then open it up and share it.

If we don’t know what is inside, how can we expect someone else to figure it out?

Don’t worry, I am here to help:)

So I have created a new process and am sharing it with you.  It’s called The Owner’s Manual.  I know, creative.

It is nine steps of totally awesome self-fucking-awareness to help you know what you need to know to create beautiful, healthy relationships. At the end of it, you’ll leave knowing exactly how you work (and `embracing the shit out of it) and even more importantly, you’ll know how to communicate it.

Here is what you are going to learn.

Step One: The beginning (pre-work and the first call)

We’ll start with a self-knowledge inventory to explore your thoughts and beliefs on love, divorce, sex, relationships and life in general.  This will help you understand what a New Relationship looks like and how to actually get it (not just dream about it).  You’ll walk away understanding how to make decisions based on love, not fear.

Step Two: Who the fuck are you?

We are going to dig deep and get to the core of who you really are.  Even the stuff you have forgotten or covered up.  We will understand your natural strengths and weaknesses, your personality profile and more.

Step Three: How did you learn to love?

You learned it from somewhere and it might not be helping you out.  In fact, it might even be leading you to what you are comfortable with instead of actual love.  We will be doing visualizations to uncover what you learned, find out your love language and identify what you are attracted to and why.

Step Four: Stories vs Truths (two weeks)

Is what is going through your head on a daily basis really the truth?  Or just wackadoo thoughts and stories you are making up that aren’t helping you AT ALL.  We are going to dig into what is on repeat in your mind and learn what we need to change it to.  You will learn how to tell your truths from your stories and start doing daily activities to build confidence and happiness.

Step Five: Creating healthy boundaries and trust

It is super hard to create amazing and beautiful relationships if you don’t trust and can’t create boundaries that make you feel good.  We are going to look at any people pleasing (trust me, it is killing you), co-dependence or those big fucking walls (you like to call that picky) you like to put up and pretend they are healthy.  You are going to discover Interdependence.  (Hint: That’s where everyone feels fucking amazing!)

Step Six: How the hell you communicate

How do you fight?  Process information? Have tough conversations? Express love?  We are figuring that shit out here.

Step Seven: Your life support team

Is your life filled with awesome people who support you, listen and make you feel great?  Or not really…Your future partner can’t be the only awesome person in your life.  You need a whole team.  It takes a village, people.

Step Eight:  How you thrive

Relationships rarely break up because of love.  They break up because people have not thought about and discussed the details of the relationship.  How you view money, parenting, sex, intimacy, sleeping situations, etc.  We are going to take all that we have learned and breakdown what feels good for to you. That way you’ll know just what you need to communicate so your partner in crime is on the same fucking page.

Step Nine:  Your Owner’s Manual

Now that we know you, we will talk about sharing it with others.  How to open up your manual and show others in a way that feels good.

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What I did right (and wrong) in the first six months of my relationship

Listen to the podcast version below.

PodcastLogo-150x150Can’t listen right now (cause we know you are probably at work!)? That’s ok, check me out on iTunes and download for your workout or commute! Check out all of our podcasts here. 

Or just read below:)

Sometimes I feel like I am on a reality show.  

A really boring reality show, mind you.

No, there is no island where you vote people off, or villa full of sexy bachelors, and the only star I get to  dance with is my cat Leroy.  He’s pretty much a legend though.  I know, you wish you knew him.

But back to the point: Relationships.

Relationships are always tricky, but dating and mating when you are a life coach who talks about love all day long has its own unique pressures.  Naturally, I want to be crushing it on all levels, all the time, because, well, I know a shit ton about how this relationship stuff should work! I’m here to speak for beautiful, healthy relationships after all – so shouldn’t my own model exactly that?

Well, sometimes I am crushing it, and sometimes I am not.

However, just like the cameras on a reality show, I am in 24/7 observation mode of how I am doing.  Yes, like my own case study.  I am my own Big Brother. Creepy, right? AND stressful.

Let me take a moment and tell you that my sweet and awesome boyfriend is super patient.  He watches me, amused, as my mind works 100 miles an hour, trying to figure out why I reacted a certain way to something.

Evaluating my own reactivity is pretty ridiculous and mildly exhausting, but fuck if I am not learning things about myself every single day.

So in the name of science (and all things ridiculous) I am going to share this case study with you.  Because I am good like that.  And I want you to know that even people who have a shit ton of knowledge and talk about this all day, every day, still have fears, freak out, lose their shit and mess up.

So here is what I did right (and wrong) in the first six months of my relationship.

Right:  Showed him who I was.  Full on.

Listen, I am a fucking handful. I am. Every part of me when I meet someone new wants to tuck a few things away that make me less than stellar.  We all have our own quirks, ways that we do things, the way we like things, personality traits, etc.  But from the beginning I was just me.  Fun but flawed.  Confident with insecurities.  A talker.  Passionate but goofy.  Now those all sounded indie movie cute, let me also get real here.  I also shared my struggles with my weight and body image right now.  My frustration with health issues.  Sadness over my Dad and his current health condition.  Also that I was messy, hate doing dishes, only wash my hair a few times a week and am in some form of pajamas 70-80% of the time. I was just absolutely me, because that person was going to come out anyway.

Why this worked:

I didn’t vomit out my life story and all of my problems the first couple times we met, that is just sabotage.  But I always showed up as myself.

It also allowed him to be absolutely him and I let him know pretty quickly in that I would like him for just him.  Because that is how I want to be liked.  I am working on things that I am not proud of, but ultimately what he saw is what he got.  And if he liked that stuff, we were in business!  So far, so good. 🙂

Right:  Took credit where credit was due.

There is a lot of blame game in relationships.  Even when we have behaved badly, we love to point fingers to the other person at what they did to illicit that response.  But no matter what happened in the first place, we are 100% responsible for our actions.  We have to learn how to acknowledge and apologize, but more importantly do the personal work to understand where those not-so-awesome actions came from.

As far as I am concerned, the thought of people “needing to handle you at your worst to deserve to have you at your best” is bullshit.  YOU need to handle you at your worst and be strong enough to step away, ask for time, talk to a friend or professional if you can’t control the words that come out of your mouth.

We all have moments-God knows I have had a few, but I apologize, learn from them and then figure out what the fuck provoked them so I can prevent them.

Because we are looking for a stable, consistent loving relationship people and it is NO ONE’S job to put up with your bullshit.  You can have a shitty day, talk about it, ask for hugs and support but you can’t lash out.  You are not 5.

Take care of that shit.

Why this worked:  

Trust is easier to build when we can observe someone who is responsible for their actions. We have less fear of getting hurt.

Right (and wrong):  Talked shit out like a mofo

You would think that someone who communicates for a living would LOVE communicating in a relationship.  Well, in fact I DO.  The moment I sniff that something is off, I am on it like blue bonnet!

Why this worked:

Right from the beginning, I set up that talking when there was even the slightest bit of a problem was the norm.  He was pretty thrown off by it because he had never been in a relationship where he worked through problems before.  But, we got really fucking good at it.  There was even a moment that we talked out a problem and hi-fived afterwards because we just kicked ass and both of us felt good.  One of us would bring the frustration and then figure out what felt good for both of us.  That kind of open communication is addicting.  We are not perfect at it, but we are pretty damn good!

When it didn’t:

Too much of a good thing is not always good thing. 😉  Although I find the psychology and human motivation in relationships beyond fascinating (even my own) enjoying the relationship is way more important.  As a chronic over-analyzer, if I am not careful I spend time thinking instead of doing.  This helps no one.

Right:  Created a support team.

In the beginning there were times where things were rocky.  And by rocky I mean I would freak out if I didn’t hear from him in the timeline I expected and if I even grabbed a sniff of getting hurt.  Honestly, it was all of my stuff from past dates and relationships.  And I knew it.

I believe that during that early time we need to have a couple of solid people in our lives as a reality check.  To talk us off the ledge, to stop us from sending that bitchy/crazy text, someone that gives us a solid outside point of view.  Because when we like someone a lot we lose a bit of reality.  As a former runner from relationships, I am so fucking scared of getting hurt that I will look for reasons.  My friends and therapists helped me keep that in check so I could show up and be great for him. And him for me.

Why this worked:

Relationships grow trust much more consistently, and faster, if people aren’t freaking the fuck out all of the time.  True story.

Right:  Asked for what I needed

As a recovering super independent person it is very hard for me to be vulnerable and ask for what I need in a relationship.  For a long time I lived in the fear of “what if I ask and they don’t want to give it”?  So I would just take on all of the shit and pretend that everything was OK.  Easier than rocking the boat, right?

Yup, until you realize that you are not really participating in the relationship or giving that person a chance to be great for you.  And if you aren’t really participating, it isn’t a real relationship.  Yeah, I fucking said it.

Want to know why people leave you easily?  Because they don’t know where to contribute.  If they can’t find a place to support you in your life, they aren’t going to stick around.  Everyone needs to feel needed in some way.

So I made a promise to myself and him, that if I was frustrated or needed something from him, I would ask for it. And told him to do the same.

And you know what?  He delivered!  It is amazing what people will do when you give them the chance to be great for you.

Why this worked:  

I got what I needed and he didn’t need to play the “guess what I am thinking” game. That game sucks and no one ever wins.  And when no one is winning, no one is happy.

The thing is, none of this was overnight.

I didn’t wake up one day and say “all is good!  I am going to be excellent in my relationships from now on!” Even with a shit-ton of knowledge of how to do this.  I had to get clear on what I really needed to feel happy.  Where my own shit was holding me back from that and how the hell to ask for it.

Without those things, you are just trying to fit yourself into other people’s ideas of a happy relationship.  That is going to get you nowhere.

After working through my stuff and getting clear, I know it is working.  How?  I am happy.  In fact we are happy.  Not because this is perfect, but because this is real and we are creating a partnership that works towards a better future. One where love can grow.

Now that is a reality show worth watching.