by Brad Bollenbach

Couple Fighting

You’re out a party one night and you meet this amazing girl. She’s every flavour of feminine you desire: tall, thin, athletic, beautiful, articulate, charismatic. When she smiles, you feel it in your chest. After spending the night ping-ponging the sexual tension, you exchange contact info and a second date is almost assured.

Sure enough, a few days later, after splitting a bottle of wine in a trendy neighbourhood lounge, she’s back at your place. A conversation on your couch eventually becomes a kiss. As your lips paint each other’s faces with affection, your hand slides down to her waist, tracing a gentle journey over her delicate figure.

Suddenly, she pulls back and the kiss is no more. She looks at you silently. It is not a look of playful affection, but rather one of awkward apology and regret.

“I’m sorry”, she says fadingly.

“Why?”, you wonder aloud.

Her next four words flatten you: “I have a boyfriend.”

Diagnosis: Frustration

Why is it that most guys seem unhappy with women? Either they’re single and frustrated or in a relationship and…more frustrated. She likes to hang out with her guy “friends” and that drives you insane. You’re out with her at a club and she’s dancing with some guy, and she doesn’t seem to mind that his arm is around her. You’ve been together for two years, but not had sex in four months. This thread of bitterness and resentment seems to weave its way into all your relationships. “Sheesh, it’s always something“, you tell yourself.

Does it have to be this way? Are all women crazy? Is there any hope of ever finding that “special someone”? Is it possible to go from continual frustration in your relationships to continual bliss?

In my own experience, I’m one of the only guys I know who isn’t constantly complaining about women. I don’t refer to them as “stupid” or “bitches”. I dare say I’m even happy in my outlook.

But I wasn’t always like this, to say the least. I used to be bitter and doubting of the sanity of the entire female species. But after a string of coarse romances and brutal breakups, I started realizing that I must share at least some fault in this constant stream of bad experiences. In fact, maybe I was approaching things from the wrong angle altogether.

About a year ago, I changed my view of women and relationships entirely, and I feel much happier for it. I took full responsibility for my unhappiness. I was constantly imposing false expectations on the women I was with, was relying far too much on them as my source of happiness, and would often get so tied up in a girl that the rest of my life would fall behind.

Expectation Is the Mother of Disappointment

Consider the following scenarios:

  • You break up with your girlfriend. The next day she has a new boyfriend.
  • Your girlfriend’s been acting aloof lately. You haven’t had sex in months. She confesses that she cheated on you with a good friend of yours.
  • You’ve been on a few dates with this amazing girl you met recently. The last time you were together, you spent the night at her place in constant lustful embrace. You’re scheduled to go out for dinner on Saturday. On Friday, she tells you she thinks you’re better as friends.

What do they all have in common?

First, they are completely normal. These scenarios–and thousands more involving lies, deceit, infidelity, fighting, and other forms of intrigue–are being played out all day long around the world. Second, when it happens to you, you’ll say “I can’t believe she did that. What a f@$%# b@#%!”

The single biggest mistake most guys make with women is to see girls for what they want them to be, rather than for who they are. Instead of projecting onto a woman what you think she should be like, tune into the signals emitted by her actions, and use that to form your own judgement of the quality of her character.

If she cheated on her last boyfriend to meet you, take the hint. If she spends half the conversation talking about all the guy “friends” she hangs out with, and you think you’ll be able to get her to spend time only with you, don’t blame the brick wall for making your head hurt.

Whenever a woman does something that you “can’t believe”, realize that in the broad spectrum of human experience, your situation is neither unbelievable nor particularly unique, whether she cheated on you with your best friend or a zoo animal.

Of course, being human means having emotions, and it’s hard not to be extremely angry at infidelity. But by fully accepting the reality you’ve been dealt, and seeing it in a universal context, you will moderate your emotional reaction and recover more quickly than through the harmful and blurry lenses of denial, resentment, and disbelief.

Don’t Rely on Women for Happiness

Relying on women to feel “truly happy” is an unhealthy way to live. I believe that lifelong monogamy is one of the many fairy tales imposed upon us through social conditioning. A much more sane approach, for me, has been to fully accept the ephemeral nature of relationships, and let women flow into and out of my life in a natural way.

Not relying on women for your happiness implies several things:

  • High standards. When you derive your happiness from things that you can control like, say, the contribution you make the world, instead of depending on female approval, your standards automatically go way up. You shift from being needy and validation-seeking to being the one doing the qualifying. When you see a girl you want to approach, your attitude changes from “What if she thinks I’m creepy?” to “Hm, I wonder if this girl’s as awesome as she looks…”
  • Willingness to walk away. While a lot of guys will tell their buddies they’d “never take that kind of crap from a girl”, the reality is that most guys will say and do almost anything to get laid, especially by women of particular beauty. For the same reasons, they often find it almost impossible to dump a girl, short of having already found another one. When you make the fundamental shift to deriving happiness from self-validation, this desperation melts away.
  • Breaking up is no big deal. I’ve had some painful breakups. Even after adopting the model of reality I’m currently describing, I still get stung from time to time. Getting hurt is human. But some people act like a breakup is the end of the world, as if you have to “pick up the pieces of your life and start all over again”. But making your relationship so central to your life to begin with is a recipe for disaster.

Be Your Own Force of Nature

If you find your relationships to be a constant source of disappointment, the first question to ask yourself has nothing to do with women at all: What do you want to do with your life? This isn’t merely a career question, it’s an inquiry into the very essence of who you are. Once you know the answer to this, you’ll know a lot more about the kind of woman you want.

Be the center of your own universe. Have your own mission in life and allow others to come along for the ride, if they’re interested. For example, my mission right now is to help others grow. The heart-centered pursuit of this objective has taken on a life of its own. 30 sleeps is not even two months old and is already growing way faster than I anticipated. I’ve received loads of positive feedback from readers and users around the world and tens of thousands of unique visitors in the last three weeks.

While women have flowed into and out of my life this summer, 30zzz has proven to be a lasting adventure.

The Power of Now

I’ve talked about acceptance, but how do you learn to accept? I mentioned being willing to walk away, but how do you really let go?

The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle, is an excellent book for understanding the “how” of everything I’ve said in this article. It does a great job explaining how much we are controlled by our ego and how, through surrender, we can eliminate the source of so much pain and suffering. It even includes an entire chapter on “enlightened relationships”.

I read this book a couple months ago and found it invaluable in my social skydiving adventures. It also helped me realize that you can fully accept reality without merely resigning yourself to your circumstances. While the subtitle is “A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment”, don’t let that scare you off. Think of it as a manual on how to find the “off switch” on your own mind, and so be able to eliminate many negative thought patterns.

The single biggest cause of suffering in relationships is false expectations, seeing the other person for what you want them to be, rather than letting their actions speak to who they are underneath. False hopes inevitably lead to disappointment, and disappointment to bitterness and resentment. Unfortunately, we’re often so “addicted” to the other person at this point that it feels impossible to let go, and the downward spiral continues.

If this sounds like you, start by taking full responsibility for the situation. What is causing your frustration and what adjustments can you make to avoid those troubles to begin with? What worked for me was learning to see things as they are, and living my life to suit.

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Comments
  1. Darius B says:

    I believe you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned how important it is to accept people for who they really are instead of whom you want them to be.

    To me it’s as ludicrous as rolling the kilometers back on a car you are looking to buy and then selling it to yourself.

    It is a beautiful moment when you can let go of your fears and of the illusionary sense of control and just accept people for who they are. The key to remember is in the grand scale of things the Universe does not differentiate between “good” and “bad”. Therefore nobody is ever “wrong” or “right” in there actions. Once you give up trying to be “right” in your relationship with others, or rather forcing them to acknowledge how they are “wrong”, you then start to evaluate situation based on whether or not you are “compatible”.

    Great blog post brad. I am very happy to have “stumbled upon” your website. Cheers!

  2. Robert says:

    Great post! I already do a lot of the things you mention in the article, but you’ve offered some nice insights and angles that I haven’t really thought of. Keep it up!

  3. James says:

    I’m starting to rely more and more on just myself as a source to creating true happiness and abundance in my life.

    Great blog BTW, very insightful.

  4. NeutrinoBurrito! says:

    Hm, this is a very good way of thinking in a relationship. In any situation even, not just with women but with most of the important people in ones life. I can’t say that I’ve thought of or practiced any of the above techniques in a relationship, but they sound like they’d work. At the moment I’ve been with one person for about a year and 8 months, and we’ve had ups and downs, but many more ups. I feel that we actually make it through with a little bit of hostility towards each other every now and then, not real hostility, but just sort of making fun of the common problems you find in most relationships, it’s a good laugh, usually without the expense of either one of us, or very much anyone else.

    I do find myself time and again (she does as well) expecting something more from the other party in some situations, but we’re both understanding people, and can usually get over any real conflict we get into. Unfortunately I can’t say that I’d use this idea of yours in my relationship, as both sides are fairly headstrong and not willig to soften up for anything short of the hand of God himself, but I know people that fit the description of “life is over after breakup with boyfriend/girlfriend” that could really use this little plan.

    As always, good call
    NuBu

  5. Nulli says:

    I know what they are and that’s why I prefer escort services.

  6. bazztrap says:

    Well “Accepting People to be who they are” is quite vague term. If you are in a relationship, no matter how much one pretends you get influenced by other person. There is definite exchange of energies. Even though it doesn’t affect your ego, your still being transformed. I think its better to be reactive than being initiator of any cause. we are all consumed by our perception of life and all are in struggle to understand right meaning of ourselves. In this process we make decisions which is suited for best of us. Relationship is path where you traverse your next goal and each break up is fork in your path. There are several paths forking out but in the end they all all going down in a Spiral towards our ego. The moment we are close to our ego we would have gained Spirituality. So it all rotates around one’s Ego. Similarly its question of where is your partners Ego in this entire phase and which path has she chosen, in due course are you going to be elevated from your past. There is no definite answer, Maybe it lies in intuitive happiness . I am traversing in one of those paths and each time I am trying to free a soul . A soul which thought this was answer to everything.
    Spiral out keep going.

  7. Jeff G says:

    Good article and good blog. I think I am at a similar place in my life as you, although I’m just embarking on my journey of really starting to understand relationships and women.

    A related issue to this article is what I think of as putting a woman up on a pedestal. I got burned by this quite badly a couple months ago, and I have been trying to learn from the experience. I asked out a woman who I knew professionally but not personally. I was completely enamored with her and I thought of her as ‘out of my league’ from day 1. So I made the mistake you mention in your article of relying entirely on her for my validation and for my happiness.

    It comes down to power, and I what I did is that I gave away 100% of the power in the relationship to her right from the start. It didn’t matter what she did – it only mattered why I did. She was the god and I was the sniveling peasant, begging for an audience. So she blew me off a couple times and instead of getting angry at her, I just sort of rolled with punches and kept calling her until it was obvious that she had lost all interest in me.

    The right way to handle the situation would have been to tell her that she was out of line and walk away. From what I now know, chances are high that if I had handled things that way, she would have been calling ME up in a few days apologizing and asking me out. And even if she didn’t, it wouldn’t have mattered so much to me.

  8. Interesting post. Great referral – Power of Now was awesome. Can help not only in relationships, as you stated, but also in your career, personal and spiritual sides.

    Good Talk.

  9. Marti says:

    I’m probably older than most people reading your blog, and I would like to offer my insight that you have to kiss a lot of frogs (or beauty queens) before you find the prince (or princess). Dating is a process of trying on people, like you would try on a garment. Not everyone you meet, despite their beauty or outward persona, is a good fit.

    We all present a social facade, and it takes a bit of digging, and time, to discover the real person beind that facade, and for that person to discover the real you, as well. Most often, that discovery is less than satisfactory, and it is time to move on.

    You can’t find ‘the one for you’ until you know yourself, and stop hiding from yourself. Everyone you date, and have a relationship with, is another step on your personal road to self discovery. When you finally know yourself, you will find it easier to sort thru the dross of all those people out there, and hone in immediately on people, or ‘the person’, who is the best fit for you.

    Wonderful blog post. Keep writing, and keep on in your personal journey.

  10. Harry says:

    Very interesting blog, just what i wanted to read, im not sure if its human nature or somethin else but when you ignore someone they’re crazy for you and when you love some one you get crazy for them, ur just giving yourself away, but from what ive learned from my last relationship is that you just cannot trust women, they play with you emotions like a game of chess, maybe its my mistake that i got so close to her that it was hard letting go, it just turns your world up side down when suddenly she says lets just be friends….this too after a 3 year relationship!!!

  11. Carlyle says:

    Love the blog and posts. From a womans perspective, I am coming from exactly the same place, which astounds me. I didn’t think men really gave relationships much thought– but from what I have read here, we want the same things: individuality and love. I have recently separated after 30 years of marriage. I know how to be a “we” but I am just now learning how to me a “me.” On my way to embracing “me” as enough. I always had to have someone else next to me in order to be “enough.” It’s scary to let go of the security blanket of “we” and stand on my own two feet.
    I’m with you guys!

  12. foo says:

    Most men and women have loose morals. It takes a lot of patience and maturity to stick with one person. If someone doesn’t possess that, I truly feel sorry for them. But hey, the multiple marriages and divorces will surely add some fun, right?

  13. Billy says:

    Great article Brad, I’m currently trying to get through the same thing myself. I’m definately gonna read that book. I’ve already read numerous books on being a man and about women and attraction. I’m finding trying to let go of these resentments is one of the hardest things in my life. That’s wierd considering other battles I’ve had to face. It’s reached a boiling point and I’m so angry and confused that I’ve started to get counselling.

  14. simply accept her for how she is, dont try to change her, but at the same time don’t let her rule or control you and everything would go great.
    Thanks

  15. Love the post says:

    Great post!

  16. Sam Wegert says:

    This is fantastic stuff! Thank you for sharing and for having a mission to help people around you.

  17. Jane K says:

    Brad Bollenbach you share interesting thoughts. :) But, after so many relationships, haven’t you reached a point where all this might seem to be a waste of ones time and energy? Don’t you think that the real ego-bashing, ego-cleansing etc. happens when one has to live (may be in a marriage) with one woman day-in day-out, accepting her with her good moods and bad moods. Then becoming a father and having your children clean the remaining fibers of ego. If you survive all of this and with glee, maybe then you pass the test and you would have truly arrived? Yeah?

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