He just doesn’t get me

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“He just doesn’t get me” is something it seems every woman has said about at least one man in her life. And his response of “I just don’t understand women” is probably familiar too.

Acknowledging that there are real conversational differences between men and women, and good reasons for them, matters because effective communication is at the heart of every great relationship. Even slight difficulties in getting your message across can quickly leave you with a misunderstanding that leads to frustration, upset, rejection and anger. Instead of creating clarity, understanding and empathy, words can become weapons and simple discussions a combat (or a no-go) zone.

The stage is set in childhood when boys and girls learn to use language very differently. Girls actually talk themselves into small friendship groups; they share secrets and express feelings, monitor and balance their input, and become attuned to reading and interpreting subtle shifts in attitude and mood. Boys on the other hand tend to play in larger groups, where achieving status and dominance is the priority. They learn the value of competition, posturing, ridicule and argument to earn their place in the hierarchy. No wonder that when grown-up boys and girls try to come together in adult relationships, misunderstanding and friction can be the norm.

The good news is that, while such social conditioning runs deep, it is possible to improve your communication skills.  Just realising that your partner is not being deliberately insensitive, or lacking respect, interest or wit is a great starting point for change. If you then get curious about what’s going on in your own charged conversations – What are your trigger points? How do you (over)-react? What raises the temperature from discussion to ‘fight’?  – without doubt you can start to consciously develop a conversational style that’s more tolerant, relaxed and in-synch, leaving you free to negotiate a way through even the thorniest issues.

If you’re fed up of feeling “he just doesn’t get me” check out some of the main reasons why that might be and try out our top tips for avoiding the classic pitfalls.

1. You expect your partner to be your best friend when it comes to sharing intimate secrets and having deep and meaningful chats but find yourself feeling disappointed and under-appreciated when he only wants to talk about sports or the latest band, cars or photography.

Top tip: Being open with him and not expecting he’ll do the same is a good place to start. If you’re relaxed about what he says or doesn’t say, you’re showing by example that there’s nothing to be afraid of, and maybe he’ll start opening up to you sometime soon. If not, take heart – he’s still much more likely to confide in you than anyone else when the time is right for him.

2. You think asking him questions about your relationship is all part of a positive, healthy conversation that shows you care. He thinks you’re digging for information and invading his privacy. It is not uncommon that women think “The relationship is working, as long as we can talk about it.” Men generally hold the opposite view – “While we keep talking about it, there must be something wrong.”

Top tip: There’s no rule book that says either of these positions is ‘right’, so if you really want to talk about something make it clear that the relationship isn’t on the line and get specific about what’s not working for you. The key is to find the middle ground so you both feel comfortable.

3. You tend to allow your partner to speak without interruption and are more likely to connect the dots between what he’s just said and what he’s trying to express. He doesn’t quite get it that way and often interrupts, sometimes completely ignoring what you’ve just said or focusing only on the facts. It’s no wonder women often complain that “He never listens” and he thinks “You say too much.”

Top tip: Why not agree to take turns to express your viewpoint without interruption. The person listening can then summarise what they think they’ve heard and you can go back and forth until you both have a clear understanding of each other’s position.

4. You worry that there’s a big problem in your relationship when your partner gets assertive, even when he assures you it’s just a conversation. Some couples hold off discussing anything because they fear a heated argument would spell the end of the relationship.

Top tip: Consider that ignoring important issues out of such fear can do more damage than good. Without healthy expression of the range of thoughts and feelings, including the normal human emotions of upset and anger, relationships are more likely to simply wither and fade away.

5. You share a problem to find a sympathetic ear, to share the experience, to seek reassurance. He thinks you’re asking for help to find a solution and comes over all business-like, offering a practical solution or an action plan, a logical interpretation that’s different from yours, or some coaching on how to do it better next time.

Top tip: Let him know how you want him to respond in situations like this. There’s no point in just expecting him to intuit your needs – you probably need to spell it out. It may take a while for the penny to drop, but if you’re persist and he’s keen to support you, he will learn to respond how you’d like in time.

6. You pay attention to what he’s saying by nodding along and making encouraging noise as he speaks. Unfortunately, many men only tend to do this when they agree with the point being made, so the opportunity for conflict here is significant if you later reveal that you actually disagree with him!

Top tip: Watch what happens the next time you have a discussion. If you find that you’re unintentionally showing signs of encouragement or agreement, then we’re afraid it’s up to you to either stop doing it altogether or let him know that this is just something you do and shouldn’t be taken too literally!

Sowing seeds of love

As a relationship therapist and fertility counsellor I think gardening is a perfect metaphor for the work I do.

I see subtle similarities between nurturing the seeds in my garden and the therapeutic process of encouraging my clients to grow and adapt to their sometimes very challenging circumstances

Think about the embryo inside the seed of any plant, lying dormant as it waits for just the right conditions to inspire it towards life. Isn’t that also quite so for someone currently feeling resigned, frustrated or unhappy with their love life or relationship right now?

Here the seeds of change might be lying dormant for months or even years, but the warmth, compassion and encouragement of a counsellor can inspire hope that something new and better can happen – and soon.

BeLoveCurious - Seeds of love

Like the container that holds my seedlings, so is the support a therapist can offer a client. We hold and contain clients’ hopes, dreams, fears and concerns while they safely explore their difficulties until they are ready to push out tentative shoots towards change and renewed love

The cycle of observing, tending and tweaking the support I give to new seedlings reflects how we work with clients in session – we tweak, observe and reflect on the impact of and responses to our questions and suggestions in a conversational dance that we know will eventually let in the light of personal awareness and growth.

As a gardener I know I must also respect and respond to the natural diversity in every seed I plant if it is to flourish. Did you know that all plants have a preferred, optimum environment in which to grow? Tomatoes thrive in hot and dry environments. Parsnips need winter frost. Spinach is encouraged by first putting the seeds into the freezer to mimic a passing season. I have never questioned these differences, labelled them as either good or bad, or tried to change them. Instead I choose to accept them as they are and remain constantly curious about the best course for each plant as it grows.

It doesn’t take much of a leap from this I think to understanding that personal growth is most readily encouraged when clients are accepted for who they are and where they’ve come from.

Our job is not to impose change, or offer advice about the right way to be, or what should be done. Instead we acknowledge our clients’ uniqueness and ground our neutrality in acceptance and deep respect for everyone

We can of course plant seeds without any awareness of their distinctive needs, in the same way that we could attempt to work with clients and their lovelife difficulties in a prescriptive or formulaic way. In the garden this isn’t very successful and will yield very disappointing results. And I imagine the outcome is quite similar when a therapist places a preferred technique or personal rule book before their interest in a client’s uniqueness and finding out what is right for them.

Maintaining and celebrating differences, while ensuring no one element is overwhelming the others is of course what makes the best tended garden and ultimately the tastiest plate of food. And so, as in my garden where I try to work with rather than against nature, applying thoughtful observation rather than thoughtless labour, and considering every living thing as inter-related and functioning together, the therapeutic attitude of curiosity – the philosophy behind BeLoveCurious – is key to sowing the seeds of love.

This is what ultimately makes the difference in my garden, and I believe is also the key ingredient to helping people work out what it will take for their love to fully blossom and their relationships to bear wonderful fruit.

Sarah Swift, is a Relationship Therapist & Fertility Counsellor based in the East Midlands. 

Love in Springtime

BeLoveCurious - First date trial session

Today signals the beginning of Spring – longer daylight hours and the return to life from Winter’s dormancy. Of course this day only represents a moment in time of the continuing cycle of days and months and seasons. There is no precise stop-start in nature nor an absolute signal that’s it’s time for new love to blossom. But there’s also no denying that – for  many of us – the movement and growth all around and the beauty of bursting buds and birds in song  gives us renewed energy and a stirring of endless possibilities when it comes to finding new romantic love or re-kindling the old.

Love in Springtime
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Why Do Birds Sing?

Let poets piece prismatic words,
Give me the jewelled joy of birds!
What ecstasy moves them to sing?
Is it the lyric glee of Spring,
The dewy rapture of the rose?
Is it the worship born in those Who are of Nature’s self a part,
The adoration of the heart?
Is it the mating mood in them
That makes each crystal note a gem?
Oh mocking bird and nightingale,
Oh mavis, lark and robin – hail!
Tell me what perfect passion glows
In your inspired arpeggios?
A thrush is thrilling as I write Its obligato of delight;
And in its fervour, as in mine,
I fathom tenderness divine,
And pity those of earthy ear Who cannot hear.
Let poets pattern pretty words:
For lovely largesse – bless you, Birds!

Robert William Service

If the mating mood is upon you, so why not take this moment in time – this ephemeral coming of Spring, to be present to the transience of life. Your time is now, so don’t hesitate to do what you need to do to have the lovelife you want to have. Winter will be here before you know it so revel, rejoice and allow your perfect passion to glow while you can!

10 reasons to ask for lessons in love

When it comes to finding love and sustaining our most important relationships, people generally seem to leave their lovelife success or failure, pleasure or pain, almost completely to chance.

This is odd considering that we seek out and are coached by experts in many areas of life, throughout our lives. As children many of us will have joined a club to learn how to dance, sing or play sport. Perhaps we had extra tuition to ensure we met the grade in school. Later, in work and business we are expected to listen to trainers, advisors and mentors to improve our professional skills, while athletes at the top of their game look to coaches to help them develop and reach peak performance.

Relationship therapy may not be the first thing you think of if you’re having some ‘not too serious’ relationship difficulties. Yet there are many reasons why it makes sense to get help from a professional.

Yet few of us even think to seek out professional support in relationship matters except maybe when things have got really quite bad. We rely instead on the odd bit of advice from parents and friends. While such advice has your best interests at heart, it’s also true that your nearest and dearest can only ever speak from their personal perspective on a situation and more often than not will sympathise with your take on what’s not working. In other words, they either can’t or won’t tell you what you need to hear that will make the difference.

Deciding to ask for help with your relationship is a very personal decision and there are many reasons why clients seek us out. Here’s our Top 10 Reasons why you might need some lessons in love and some clues as to how a BeLoveCurious Therapist might work with you to get the love life results you want.

1. You find a reason not to date any and every one

Do you have a check list of all the things you don’t want in a partner? You know the things we’re talking about – they have to be a certain height, they must have dark hair not blonde, only a lawyer or a banker will do etc. While a dating coach does advocate you being clear on what you are looking for in a partner, they will make you think carefully about why and how you could be unnecessarily limiting your options.

2. You’ve started to believe that you’re destined to be single and are better off that way

Do you constantly tell people that you are better off single and never wanted to have a relationship anyway? Do you really believe it’s just not your destiny to be in a relationship or marry or is it just easier to keep telling yourself and everyone else this? Thinking about relationships as either competitive or cooperative can be a really helpful way to think about this kind of reasoning. The likelihood is that you’ve simply learned to be single and independent, feisty and in control because that’s what life has so far taught you. If this sounds like your story, a relationship therapist can help you to explore and understand why you feel the need to go it alone and then you can simply choose whether a relationship is right for you or not.

3. Every date feels like the last

Does every new date feel uncomfortably familiar? Do you always attract the same type of Mr/Miss Wrong? Does every promising relationship fizzle away for the same kind of reasons? A relationship therapist can help you identify your set patterns of thinking, relating and behaving and help you to break these bad habits so you start to get different results.

4. You can’t get past the first date and don’t know why?

Why is it that your friends seem to find it so easy and yet you can’t get past the first date. Chatting through your hopes and fears, and perhaps even play acting a first date scenario with your expert  can give you some perspective on what you’re doing and why it might not be helping you to that so desired second date.

5. You think about your ex all of the time and can’t seem to move on

Do you compare every new date to your ex? Does everything you do or say remind you of them; songs on the radio, your favourite box set? A relationship therapist can help you to talk about special people and events in your past all the way back to your earliest crush if needs be to reveal what you are doing now to protect your heart and keep others at a distance.

6. You really want to find the ONE but seem to scare off potential candidates

You know you want a relationship and are desperate to find love, but your full-on approach is not getting you anywhere. Sometimes just doing things a little differently to the way you are doing them now can make a difference; often it helps to just take some time out for reflection and stop the chase. A relationship therapist can work with you to see how your tactics are driving potential suitors away. They will help you to create realistic goals and a plan for success, harnessing your clear commitment to having a relatinship to make steady progress towards having the lovelife you’ll love.

7. You feel that you don’t really deserve a happy relationship

You don’t really like yourself that much, so why should anyone else? Does this sound familiar? Do you think you’re not attractive enough, or clever or outgoing enough to find a fulfilling relationship? Working with a relationship therapist will help you to think again. Most of us entertain more negative than positive thoughts about ourselves so a lovelife coach will look to find out what is at the source of these negative thoughts and help you to see them as the self-limiting untruths that they are so you can start allowing the real you to shine through.

8. You’ve lost your confidence?

Can you pin-point the moment when your confidence vanished? Has a bad date left you feeling flat and uninspired? Working with a relationship therapist can help you get to the bottom of such experiences and what you’ve made it mean about you, so you can get right back in the dating game. Working on your inner confidence – even if you feel you don’t have any! – will help you on your way to being a dating diva and a confident creator of the relationship you really want.

9. You believe that the people you date are only interested in you for sex, nothing more

It is possible to have sex without intimacy and intimacy without sex, and that’s fine as far as we’re concerned. However, for most people sex and intimacy are completely intertwined when they want to create a successful, loving relationship. It’s easy to get them out of balance though – we can hide our emotional vulnerability behind lots of energetic and exuberant sexual encounters designed to mimic intimacy, or lose the intimacy of sharing our personal desires with another from a fear of possible rejection and judgement. A relationship therapist can help you to explore your attitudes, values, beliefs and practices around both sex and intimacy and work with you to have a balanced and fulfilling approach to these equally important aspects of love if you feel that one or other is missing.

10. Your relationship rules are set in stone

Are you someone that has your own set of relationship rules and an expectation that everyone else should know what they are? You know what we mean. You say to yourself after a great date – it’s up to him to call first, and if he doesn’t then he’s clearly not interested. You send a text message and start to fret and worry if you don’t get a reply back instantly/ within the hour/ day etc. Or you believe things like women should never consent to sex before the third date and still expect to be respected. Sometimes having such high expectations of how your date should behave (when often they have no idea of these rules) can only lead to disappointment and upset. Connecting with a relationship therapist will allow you to explore the origin of these relationship rules and discover strategies for adapting them so that they don’t compromise your future happiness.

So there you have it. If any of these applies to you, maybe it is time to seek out some expert advice. At BeLoveCurious we really do believe that having a relaxed, ongoing and totally confidential conversation with one of our relationship therapists will help you to explore what’s getting in the way of achieving your love life or relationship goals and will help you move closer to having the kind of relationship you really want.

Why curiosity is your key to finding love

BeLoveCurious Why Curiosity is the key to love - A red heart shaped lock to represent Why curiosity is the key to finding love - BeLoveCurious

Aren’t you already just a little bit curious about why some people find it so easy to date, be flirty, attract the ‘right’ kind of guy or girl, or have a love life that really works for them – and yet for you it’s never quite so straightforward?

At the simplest level, the invitation to BeLoveCurious, is asking you to do just that. To get curious about the questions and stories you have about life, love, sex and relationships through a conversation with a BeLoveCurious relationship expert.

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BeLoveCurious, is asking you to do just that. To get curious about the questions and stories you have about life, love, sex & relationships through a conversation with a professional relationship therapist

How Do I Be-Love-Curious?

Working with one of our specialist relationship therapists, you will be encouraged to tell your own love life story and start making sense of it. Through the process of considering how it is now, and reflecting on past events and how you see the future, you will inevitably focus on parts of your love life story that are important to you.

Together you will explore why certain people and events have come to be so important in your story, and the meanings you have made about yourself, others or life because of them.

In your unique love story you might see yourself as “the one who can’t commit”, or “is not what men want”, “too giving in relationships” or “not worthy of love.” Or perhaps the supporting cast has let you down; “men can’t deal with successful women like me”, or “my parents were terrible role models” . Noticing these narratives as crucial to how you think, feel and act in relationships is a powerful step on the path to change.

It doesn’t end there of course. Knowing why you might be love stuck rather than love struck won’t in itself make a huge amount of difference. Change almost always comes from doing some things differently – it’s just a question of what will work for you. This is where working with your BeLoveCurious expert as your champion for love will help you see how you can make the meaningful changes in your life that will really make a difference and turn your love life around – naturally, and for good.

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Why Curiosity Really is the Key to Love – Read more

What is this crazy little thing called love?

We know that love matters. As human beings our very existence depends on being in relationship to other people. We need to connect and we need to be connected to.

Being in love is also one of the most thrilling, life-affirming experiences we can ever hope to have. And more than that, research shows that people in a loving adult relationship are happier, healthier and altogether more satisfied with life than those who are not. Love can’t be forced or paid for, and to be worth anything it must be freely given. So when love is missing, it’s not surprising that we yearn for it.

BeLoveCurious - Couple on a big swing - Crazy little thing called love

I’m sure many of us automatically think of a romantic type of love. That intoxicating, mind-dizzying, butterflies-in-tummy-inducing, created-by-fate, two-souls-entwined, kind of love. … The trouble with this idea of romantic love is that it can sometimes get in the way of finding the real thing


But what is this thing called love ?

I’m sure many of us automatically think of a romantic type of love. That intoxicating, mind-dizzying, butterflies-in-tummy-inducing, created-by-fate, two-souls-entwined, kind of love. And with it the sense that life starts here, or anything’s possible, or perhaps a quiet relief that the hard work of finding ‘the one’ is finally over.  And it is this that is often held up as the prize for those in the dating game or in our thoughts on meeting someone new.

The trouble with this idea of romantic love is that it can get in the way of finding the real thing. If you are a true believer and waiting for fate to reveal ‘the one’ you will be more likely to spend your time looking for the signs, more prone to fall in love at first sight, and quite likely to miss an opportunity for the real thing when it’s right in front of you. It can also make satisfying but ordinary relationships seem dull and disappointing, when compared with the magical state of bliss we’ve come to aspire to, streamed out through magazines and chick flick movies, countless love songs and ‘how to’ books.

Romantic love is a myth. The experiences and sensations are real enough, and even love at first sight can be explained as a rational phenomenon, but it is a myth to believe that this kind of intensity can be sustained for evermore. If you think about it, how can you expect to feel as excited about seeing the same person over months and years, compared with the novelty of a second or third date? And it’s the same with sex; your sex-life may well get better with the same partner over time, but the hormone-generated feelings of intense lust will surely fade.

Perhaps you still prefer to believe the hype, or don’t yet want to give up hope of finding the one to complete you, or maybe you don’t think of it like this at all, and already take a pragmatic approach to love and romance. What’s inescapable though is the fact that to endure, first-love – even love at first sight – has to evolve into a different kind of love.

Why not think of the process of finding your true love as a willingness to unleash your capacity for love, rather than achieving the goal of being loved. It is about wanting to know another person intimately, and learning to know and accept them as you know and accept yourself. It is about commitment, to another yes, but also to your vision, hopes, dreams, of what a great life and a great partnership looks like. Wondering what it will take to create that vision, and then going for it unreservedly. It requires patience and humility, fun and generosity, effort, and of course a good dose of curiosity.

So, perhaps it’s time to stop waiting for the thunderbolt to strike, and turn your attention instead to attracting a kind of love that will last a lifetime.