Good guys do exist!

How I Almost Missed Out On My “Good Guy” and Tips So You Don’t Miss Yours!

I’m just going to go right out and say it, dating sucks, especially now with all the apps and the swiping and the paradox of choice. However, I don’t think it’s the modern technology, although it doesn’t help, that makes dating suck. It’s more scientific than that. You’ve heard that saying ‘dating is a number game,’ right? It certainly is!

Let’s talk about attachment styles for a minute. Neither one is good or bad (although it may seem that way). Odds are you either will recognize these characteristics in yourself or someone else. The three main attachment styles are as follows:

  • Anxious
    • Wants a lot of closeness in relationships
    • Has a lot of insecurities about rejection
    • Sensitive to small cues and fear the relationship is in jeopardy and that he/she must work to keep you interested
    • Struggles expressing what is bothering him/her
  •  Secure
    • Reliable and constant
    • Naturally expresses feelings for you
    • Not afraid of commitment or dependency
    • Communicates relationship issues well
  • Avoidant
    • Sends mixed signals and doesn’t make intension clear
    • Values independence a great deal
    • Emphasizes boundaries in relationship
    • Has difficulty talking about what’s going on between the two of you

Odds are, you have most likely dated people with an anxious or avoidant attachment style. I know I have certainly dated my share! In fact, I dated so many people with this attachment style, I almost blew my chances when someone with a secure attachment style (my husband–believe it or not) came along!

Don't miss your secure person!

Here’s my story, hopefully you can benefit from hearing it and the lessons I’ve learned from it. Keep in mind, I would consider myself to have an anxious attachment style (at least at this time!) and my husband having a secure attachment style. I will include my inner dialogue and ways my husband calmed my “activated attachment system” as well as some 

See if you can pick up the cues that his attachment style is secure. 

Back in the day, I was a big fan of online dating. It was easier than meeting people in person and I liked the screening process. When my now husband messaged me on a site, I at first did not see it, but then he messaged a few days later and I quickly scanned his profile before responding. We didn’t seem to have much in common, but decided to respond to him anyway. We chatted online for an hour or so then he quickly asked for my phone number that same night. 

“My phone number?! I don’t even know him, he’s moving very fast!”

“What if we talk and he gets bored because we’ve already talked for a while already?”

I gave him my phone number anyway and we talked for a few more hours that night. He said he had a great time talking with me and then asked me on a date for a few days from now. 

“I don’t know about this, I usually like to talk to people more before I meet them.”

“He’s very direct, I don’t know how I feel about that.”

“I bet once he meets me he won’t want to see me again. I don’t know if I am good enough.”

We met and had a wonderful date where we talked and seemed to really hit it off. The next morning, he called and left me a voicemail saying that he had a wonderful time and he wanted to know when I was available next. 

“This is unreal. I meet a nice guy and he tells me right away that he had a great time and wants to make plans with me again right away!”

“What’s his angle here, I’ve never met someone with such clear intensions.”

I messaged him saying I had a great time too and that I was available that next weekend. We called and texted throughout the week, getting to know each other further. He was available to talk during the day (work permitting) and let me complain about my crummy job at the time.

He said he knows he just met me once, but he wants to see where this goes and is planning on canceling any other dates he had lined up for the future. 

“I can’t believe this. No guy has ever been this direct and able to express his feelings so clearly.”

“Do I have to do the same? I am not sure if I like him as much as he likes me…” (no, I did not have to do the same)

“He’s taking a big risk on me, I don’t know if I am worth the risk.”

A close friend warned me about “guys like him.”

Can you pick up on his secure attachment style? How about my anxious one and what I was used to dating in the past (anxious and avoidant men)? Had I listened to my friends and my rather calm but confused attachment system, I may have missed out on someone really special.

A few tips on how to not let a secure person get away:

  • Ask yourself “is this person able and willing to meet my needs?”
    • Do you really like a few texts throughout the day? Are they able to meet that need for you?
    • Do you need to vent about your work? Do they listen to you and not shut you down?
  • How do they react to you expressing your feelings (within reason) for them.
    • Do they shy away from commitment or play games with their feelings?
  • How do they react when you express displeasure with something they did or said?
    • When you effectively communicate that you were disappointed, how open are they to your feedback.
  • Do you know where you stand with this person? Is there very little “drama”?
    • We’ve conditioned ourselves to be used to and welcome the drama, but people with secure attachment styles are upfront with their feelings and can at times seem boring due to the lack of drama. 

Stay tuned for more attachment style insights to help you improve your dating life.

Huffington Post Contribution

10 Ways To Ruin Your Marriage Right Before Bed

I contributed to the following article for the Huffington Post about ways couples ruin their marriage right before bed:

Huffington Post Contribution“7. You tell your partner to sleep on the couch.

“Ever get angry at your partner and say to them ‘I don’t want you to sleep in the bed tonight. You have to sleep on the couch’? Regardless of the argument, you want to be able to say to your partner (through words or actions) that you still love them despite your problems. This can be as simple as both going to bed in your shared bed or holding hands as you fall asleep. By taking ownership of the bed and kicking your partner out to the couch, you’re turning away and creating physical and emotional distance between both of you.” ― Danielle Kepler, a therapist in Chicago, Illinois”

Read the entire article here.

Signs Couples Should Go To Therapy

There’s Only One Sign A Couple Should Go To Therapy

I contributed to the following article for the Huffington Post about the signs a couple should consider going to therapy:

Signs Couples Should Go To Therapy

Image by Huffington Post

“It gives you a safe, open space to address complaints you haven’t voiced to your partner.

“Take a behavior that six months ago was slightly annoying to you, such as your partner forgetting to turn off the lights before leaving the house. At some point, you might start to think, ‘I bet other people’s spouses remember to turn off the lights and aren’t so wasteful.’ Seek out couples therapy before you get to the point. You never want to unfavorably judge your partner’s behavior and compare it with real or imagined alternatives.” ― Danielle Kepler, a therapist in Chicago, Illinois”

Read the entire article here.

Huffington Post Contribution

Your Marriage Could Be In Trouble If You Resort To This During Arguments

I contributed to the following article for the Huffington Post about ways to reduce your defensiveness in arguments with your partner:

“3. Instead of planning your next counterargument, actively listen to what your partner is saying.

“When someone is ranting and raving, it’s easy to plan your mental counter attack, but when you do that you are no longer listening to them and the message they’re trying to get across might get lost. Try to postpone your agenda and listen for points that make sense to you. Then let them know what makes sense. “ ― Danielle Kepler, a couples counselor in Chicago, Illinois”

 

Read the entire article here.

How to be Happy: Compare Yourself to Yourself

As a therapist and a person, I hear time and time again “I just want to be happy” or “I’m not sure why I am not happy.” Upon further discussion it almost always leads to the other person comparing themselves to others around them. Whether it is a single person comparing themselves to all of their paired-up friends or a person in a dead-end job comparing themselves to people they know that are successful. Comparisons.

I’m not sure when humans as a species first learned to compare themselves to others around them but I bet it is similar to Darwin’s “survival of the fittest.” After all, how did we determine who the fittest was or how could we be fitter than the fittest if we first did not compare ourselves to our fellow humans?

This logic might have worked for us back when we had to run from wild animals, but like many evolutionary traits (like the fight or flight response!) they don’t have nearly as much use as they did way back when.

Now, in the modern world, we use that “comparison trait” to compare ourselves to others who already excel in one area where we are weak. Like my earlier examples of single vs. in-a-relationship or in a dead-end job vs. successful. This is not a very fair comparison at all since the other people already have something that you desire. Sometimes this type of comparing can lead to people working harder to surpass others, but more often it leads to unhappiness.

So how does this all relate to happiness?

I’m not sure we can do away with the “comparison trait” all together, but we can turn the focus more inward than outward.

Instead of comparing yourself to what others choose to show you, you can compare your current self to your former self.

Make your own happiness dependent on whether you are growing as a person and completing goals you set out for yourself. Every person is unique and has unique ways they grow. This cannot be fairly compared to the growth or success of someone else. It can be as big as taking a chance and asking someone out that you’ve had a crush on or as small as cleaning your house. Both examples create a sense of personal accomplishment that involves no comparisons.

Three Ways in which to do this:

  1. Start a happiness journal/log and log 3 things you were grateful for that day. Do this for a month and see what happens.
  2. Have a bunch of hobbies you never have time for? Make a list of hobby goals (for yourself!) and set out to accomplish them. ie. learning to cook, learning a new language etc. Make sure it’s easily measurable so you can compare your progress and growth!
  3. Comparing yourself to others looks-wise? Make fitness goals and keep track of your progress. Fitness goals are a good choice because they are about YOU and are easily measurable.

There you have it–whether or not you choose to focus on internal or external happiness is on you.

 

My Office--Suite 928

Modern & Upscale Office in Illinois

I was interviewed about office design for therapists for Freshpractice.design Blog:

“1) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STYLE OF YOUR THERAPY OFFICE?

I’d describe the style of my office as modern industrial. My office building was built in the late 1800s with Romanesque architecture and I wanted to keep some of that theme in my office. I plan to take photographs of some of the architecture in the building and frame them as wall art soon.

My Office--Suite 928

My Office–Suite 928

2) WHAT VIBE DO YOU HOPE YOUR OFFICE GIVES YOUR THERAPY CLIENTS?

I am hoping my office gives client a soothing but interesting vibe.

I feel most at ease when offices are free of clutter so I try to keep that to a minimum by having a paperless office and having lots of storage.

My old office space was very dark so I hope my office also gives clients a light and energized feeling.

3) DO YOU HAVE ANY CREATURE COMFORTS IN YOUR OFFICE FOR CLIENTS?

I have offer clients coffee, water, and tea and have a blanket for clients to use if they get cold. I also have a Tangle ‘fidget’ for those clients that need something to play with to stay focused.

I also have a charging station for clients to charge their cell phones.

Since I often give clients worksheets or writing prompts I have clipboards and pens as well. I also have a mini fridge for snacks/drinks but that’s just for me.

4) WHO DESIGNED AND DECORATED YOUR YOUR THERAPY OFFICE? DID YOU GET HELP FROM PROFESSIONALS, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, OR FAMILY?

I initially asked other therapists on Facebook to show me pictures of their offices for inspiration but quickly got overwhelmed. I normally am against hiring outside help, but I recognized early on that decorating was not my strength.

I hired a local designer who was able to help me come up with a vision, scoured the internet and provided me with 4 or so options for each piece that I ultimately picked out and bought myself.

I also hired a painter/someone to put together my furniture. This saved me lots of time since I did not want to stop seeing clients in my other office while I was decorating.”

Read the entire interview here.

11 Qualities

11 Qualities Every Truly Happy Relationship Has In Common

I contributed to the following article for the Huffington Post about qualities every couple should develop in order to have a long and happy relationship:

11 QualitiesFriendship

“Couples who are good friends know each other well, give each other the benefit of the doubt and are fond of one another. When you take the time to strengthen your friendship, you’re more successful long-term. Making friendship a priority will help you weather any storm that comes your way.” ― Danielle Kepler, a therapist in Chicago, Illinois”

Read the rest of the article here.

6 Tips For Surviving The Holidays If You Don’t Like Your In-Laws

I contributed to the following article for the Huffington Post about tips for surviving the holidays if you do not get along with your in-laws:

“Consider this present a peace offering.”

“Create a sense of solidarity with your partner

Tense situations with in-laws and spouses often occur in marriages and sometimes you may wonder where your partner’s allegiance lies. You both have been part of another family for a long time; that family has its own holiday traditions and customs. A turf war between the spouses and in-laws may ignite, since both parties want the partner’s attention during the holidays. One way to end the war is to create a sense of ‘we-ness’ with your partner so you’re both more inclined to side with each other rather than the parents. This may mean having to hold your ground and stand up for your spouse. It may seem harsh, but slowly parents will adjust to reality and accept that spouses comes first. Remember which team you are on. You are a spouse first and a son or daughter second.

― Danielle Kepler, a therapist in Chicago, Illinois “

Read the rest of the article here.

Two Tips on How to Deal with Your Family and Partner During the Holidays

The holiday season brings many joyful times as well as many stressors. Spending time with family is something many of us look forward to enjoying, but depending on our relationship with in-laws and parents, the holidays may not be as rewarding as we hope. Getting married or being in a long-term relationship means you inherit a new set of parents, your partner’s parents, for better or for worse.

Here are two tips that may help you keep your relationship intact when navigating the relationship you have with your in-laws:

1) Discuss holiday schedules ahead of time in a productive way

Figuring out which family you visit or visit first and when should be a decision between the two of you and usually involves a bit of compromising. This is an important step in showing both of your families that you are now separate from them and have formed your own family. John Gottman identified a method called ’the two ovals’ which works well for figuring out holiday schedules.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Draw two ovals, one inside of the other like a donut or a bagel.
  2. In the smaller circle put the family time you are unwilling to compromise on, the things that if you gave up, you’d really regret and feel badly about. Say holiday dinner at your aunt’s house.
  3. In the larger oval put the family time you are more flexible with, like when you visit your grandparents the next town over.
  4. Discuss your ovals with your partner and ask the following questions:
    1. Where you do agree?
    2. What are both of your inflexible areas?
    3. How can you reach a temporary compromise for this holiday season?
  5. Come up with a plan that works for both of you and then tell your families as a united front. 2 Ovals

2) Create a sense of ‘we-ness’ and solidarity with your partner, especially around the holidays.

Tense situations with in-laws and spouses often occur in marriages and sometimes you may wonder where your and your partner’s allegiance lies. You both have been part of another family for a long time; that family has its own holiday traditions and customs. Somewhat of a ’turf war’ between the spouses and in-laws may ignite, both wanting the partner’s attention during the holidays.

One of the main ways to end the war is to create a sense of ‘we-ness’ and solidarity with your partner and side with your partner over your parents. This may mean having to hold your ground and stand up for your spouse and take this or her side over your parents. This may seem harsh, but slowly your parents will adjust to reality and accept that your partner comes first. You are a partner/spouse first and a son/daughter second. Remember which team you are on. 

Here’s a more mild example:

Your father says: “Jane’s mashed potatoes are good, but your mother’s are better aren’t they? I don’t like all of the onions that Jane put in them this year.”

You can say: “Actually, I really like the extra onions, it gives it a more flavorful taste.”

And another example:

Your brother says: “I don’t know why you married Jack, he’s got no personality!”

You can say: “He really opens up once you get to know him. Why don’t you ask him about his fantasy football draft this year?”

This way you are choosing your partner over your parent/relatives. It might seem like a small gesture, but it adds up, especially in the eyes of your partner!

Hopefully these two tips help you navigate the holiday season with your partner.

Apologies 101: What You Need to Know About Giving and Receiving an ‘I’m Sorry’

I contributed to the following Everup.com article about how to give an effective apology:

““An apology is really just you accepting some responsibility for your part in the argument,” explained Danielle Kepler, LCPC, a clinical therapist based in Chicago, IL. “It shows you care about the relationship and that you recognize what you may have done wrong.” An effective apology also makes some type of “repair attempt.

Kepler also said some of us hesitate to apologize because we fear the other person’s reaction, especially if emotions are still running high. “You shouldn’t apologize until the other person is in a place where they can listen to it and hear it,” she said. So if you’re fighting with your S.O. after coming home late without calling three nights in a row and insults are flying, it might be wise to wait until everyone calms down before delivering an apology.

Kepler also noted that apologies aren’t always reciprocal–and we shouldn’t expect them to be. “When you do ask someone to forgive you, just prepare that you may not get that ‘I’m sorry, too’ response right away … or at all. You’re not owed an apology back.

“I’m sorry you’re upset”—This isn’t an apology that expresses sincerity. “You’re apologizing for someone else’s feelings and it’s very condescending,” Kepler said.”

Read the rest of the article here.