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How to Have a Successful Relationship: An Interview with Sandy Weiner (Episode 164)

Your romantic relationship can be a source of joy and love – or a source of stress and toxicity. Relationship Expert Sandy Weiner joins Dr. Doni to talk about what a successful relationship looks like.

Our relationship with other humans can be a source of joy and love or it can be a source of toxicity. Whether you are currently in a relationship, dating, or not – this episode will be helpful because we discuss how it comes down to knowing and feeling comfortable with ourselves in order to have more fulfilling experiences with others.

That’s why I invited Sandy Weiner as my guest this week. Sandy is founder of Last First Date and The Women of Value. She’s an internationally known TED X Speaker and Dating and Relationship Coach, as well as Women’s Empowerment Coach. She’s author of three books and is a podcast host.

Sandy shares that it was after experiencing a difficult childhood, being brought up by two parents who had a terrible marriage, and divorcing her husband after 23 years of marriage, that she had an opportunity to reassess her life. She decided to reclaim the parts of herself that had been lost along the way, and one of those was her interest in helping others. 

She trained as a life coach which gave her so much self-awareness. She found herself helping friends who were dating, and in the process, started studying the deeper parts of dating, communication skills and boundary setting. This changed her life for the better and now it’s doing the same thing for her clients every day. 

What to Do When You’re in the Wrong Relationship

Sandy finds that a lot of people realize later in life – in their 40s, 50s and even older – that they are not in the relationship that works for them anymore. It’s often when their kids are grown, if they have kids, and they’re starting to think about if they really want to spend the rest of their life with this person. Perhaps they realize they don’t really enjoy being their partner anymore or it doesn’t feel safe anymore. 

Sandy doesn’t think divorce is the right thing for everyone. She says, you must assess for yourself and think if you really want to stay in a relationship. She sees people staying in terrible relationships and that breaks her heart. Couples may be having the same complaint every single time they talk, and yet they stay in the relationship. Of course, there could be a lot of reasons for this, such as fear of going out on your own, or financial concerns. 

You must believe in what you’re doing and know why you’re leaving. In the end, it’s almost always for the better. You have to weigh out how you want to live the rest of your life. 

Avoiding the Same Patterns in a New Relationship

We often make the same choices over and over, and don’t even realize it. Or we go to the opposite extreme. It’s not just about finding the opposite. And we can’t make choices based on attraction. It’s about analyzing if you’re going into a relationship just because it feels familiar and think about it based on your attachment style. 

Knowing how you attach to your partners, how you tend to bring your past into the present, how to self-regulate, how to talk about the things that matter, how to bring up hard stuff, and how to ask questions when you have questions instead of keeping them inside, as well as knowing what you want in life… are all so important. These are things to work on before even going on dates, so that you can come as a whole person to the dating process. 

We also need to look at the patterns of core relationships in our life, and what they have in common. We also need to consider our limiting beliefs, and where we’re struggling. When we really go deep into who we are, then it is easier to find someone that will be a good match for us. 

Attraction Is Not The Most Important Thing in a Relationship

You have to have some attraction obviously, but if you’re so attracted that you lose yourself in that person’s presence, it’s not a good sign. This is something to look at – we need to analyze where does this come from? Is there abandonment involved? Does this person remind you of someone, and now you’re trying to get that missed attention? If you do this, you then can rewire your brain for healthy attraction.

There’s a difference between attraction based on deprivation and attraction based on inspiration. Most of us are stuck in the attraction of deprivation. This is what we don’t have, and so we want it. When we are attracted to somebody in an attraction of inspiration, we’re inspired by that person, but we also bring value. That’s called interdependence. 

With interdependence, we have a life; we have wholeness and fullness, but we also have the capacity to allow another person into our life to add value to each other and to complement each other. 

Narcissism in Relationships

Sandy finds that the term “narcissism” is thrown around a lot, so she tends to focus instead on behaviors. If you were in a relationship with somebody who was self-centered, not empathic, they always had to be right, and you felt that your needs didn’t matter, that is something you need to look at and consider why you chose that relationship.

She helps clients to trace back in order to understand their choices – who did that person remind them of and in doing so, they start to rewire their brain for attraction in a healthier way. She doesn’t believe in hard and fast rules. She believes in principles, and self-care, and knowing how you function best so that you can advocate for that in relationships.

To be able to succeed in a relationship you have to be able to communicate your needs in three main areas: worldview, lifestyle, and sexual. If you don’t communicate your needs, you can’t expect them to be met. Lifestyle has to with whether you like hot or cold weather, and whether you are vegetarian, or not, and can you be with somebody who is a meat eater. What time do you go to bed, and are you an introvert or extrovert. It’s really important to understand that lifestyle piece.

The next area is worldview, which is how you see the world. How do we view religion, politics, God, miracles, faith, community – all the things that are the bigger picture because that’s really the core of you see the world.

And then the last category is sex, including what kind of sex you like and how often. You have to be able to communicate all these things. When you get comfortable advocating for yourself, as well talking and sharing your stories in a way that make the other person want to share their stories in a way that’s healthy, that’s a big win.

A Healthy Way to Be Motivated About Choosing a Relationship 

Sandy shares that a lot of people have a hard time picturing what it is like to imagine a healthy relationship. We can create a vision of what you want, not just what you don’t want, or what you think is out there regarding relationships. Also, it is not healthy to be too rigid or specific about it because you could end up overlooking some amazing people who don’t have all those things that you think you need and then love shows up in a surprise package when you’re open to it.

It’s when we get out of our heads and into our hearts that we make room for real love. But we have to understand what would work best for us. We have to have certain parameters of who that person has to be in order for us to feel that way. That’s where we start to really attract not just the right partner but the right friends and the right work – it’s all connected.

And most people really don’t have an idea and so they get distracted, discouraged, and they just shut down to dating, but what would it feel like to be in a partnership, what would it feel like to have somebody to travel with, to come home to at the end of the day and take a walk and share a meal. It’s those small things that matter.

Communication Is Key in a Successful Relationship

We also need to look at our needs and feelings without judgment. We normally bring in history to our arguments or needs that were not met when we were growing up. When you start to see that needs and feelings are connected it’s helpful. Then you don’t have to say it all out loud. You could even just process it for yourself without feeling upset because of something your partner did or did not do. 

Maybe you had a need for communication; maybe you had a need for respect. And then you get curious about the other person; maybe it wasn’t disrespectful on their part to them but now you can have a conversation about what was going on for you, so your partner knows about it.

This takes practice and openness on both parts. We have to be able to honor the other person and see their needs being as important as ours. Sometimes we’re taught is we say something then the other person might get mad and then we feel like we can never say anything, and then we never do say anything, and it just becomes a tense situation.

It is also very important that we give ourselves time after a breakup before dating again, to process what happened, and to analyze what we learned, what worked, what didn’t, and what would we like our next relationship to feel like; what type of communication would we like to have. 

Give yourself the time to feel it in your body – to feel all the feelings. A lot of people miss companionship and the feeling of intimacy so much that they will either go back to the person or they’ll find somebody to replace them too quickly and end up repeating the same thing over and over. 

We have to take our time to really picture what it would feel like to be in a healthy relationship. What would that look and feel like to you because the more you have it as a felt sense, the more you’re going to recognize it when it comes. 

Sandy finds that a lot of people are waiting to be saved and rescued. Instead, she encourages people to enjoy their life while dating and find somebody who adds value. Don’t settle for less.

If you want to reach out to Sandy and learn more about how she can help you, please make sure to check out her website and her Last First Date Radio Podcast. You can also check out her Dating and Relationship Support Group on Facebook

To understand my approach to helping people recover from stress and trauma with my Stress Recovery Protocol, you may want to start by reading my book Master Your Stress Reset Your Health. I talk about relationships and their impact on our mental and physical health in the book too!

For the most comprehensive support to recover from stress and trauma, even with the most difficult health issues (physical or mental), it is best to meet with me one-on-one, which is available to you no matter where you are in the world (via phone or zoom). You can set up a one-on-one appointment with me here.

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