THE FACEBOOK CHALLENGE: TEST YOUR CHARACTER

     “Hey there… after looking at an old college directory, thought I’d see if you were on Facebook. I rarely use it so it was a nice surprise to see your smiling face after all these years. 

Upon opening my Facebook page this morning, I read the message above. It was from an ex-boyfriend. Like most people who at some point get a tap on the shoulder from the past, my first response was flattery. Then intrigue. Then, “why not?” Lastly, because I’m in a committed relationship, my final thought was, “Nope, I’m not going to step foot into opening up any form of contact, however brief, however innocent.”
 
Among other issues, I’ve been coaching men and women how to negotiate the slippery slope of Facebook protocol. Look, this isn’t anything new. For eons, humans have been dealing with temptation. Anyone who bamboozles their self into thinking they can simply control their own response or curb the other person’s enthusiasm is in a dangerous fantasy world. 
 
I say “dangerous,” because I work with the devastating fallout from this perfect storm – when arrogance combines with ignorance.  And you know what? Once the devastation hits, the pain is matched equally on both sides – the betrayed is in no more pain than the betrayer.
 
What shocks people who either respond to a friend request or who tap a friend-from-the-past is predictable. “How in the hell did this go from one simple innocent update to sending out a naked photo via text?!” We can thank the primal animal within. Our brains have not yet caught up with our bodies.  
 
Even the nicest of guys and the most guileless of women can find himself or herself mysteriously aroused and daydreaming about sexual fantasies with a Facebook friend. The universal exclamation? “This isn’t ME!!” 
 
Oh, it’s YOU alright. There’s more complexity to the good guy or the good girl. It doesn’t matter one bit between fantasizing or having sex in person – either way, you’re a cheater.   
 
So, think about it. Yes, think. If you’re in a committed relationship, revisit your commitment and set new boundaries for yourself, and for one another. You can either swiftly (and irresponsibly) ASSume, “Nothing bad’s going to happen.” Or you can grow up, wake up, and avoid opening a can of wild worms. If you’re ready to really see yourself, to know yourself, here’s your test:   True or False
 
Test Your Facebook Character            Mark: True or False   
                                                                                                                     1- I accept contact with friends of the opposite sex that I haven’t talked to or seen in 2+ years.
2- I search out friends of the opposite sex that I haven’t talked to or seen in   2+ years.
3- When/if asked, my Facebook page is instantly available for my boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse to view.
4- I sometimes find myself very slightly Facebook-flirting.
5- I don’t like turning down a friend request from someone I know or have known from the past.
6. I want my beloved to approach Facebook the same as I currently approach it.
7. I’m curious about and tempted to accept a request from a past lover.
8. I find myself lingering on the Facebook of friends off the opposite sex.
9. I don’t need to tell my beloved if I’ve accepted or requested a current crush or a person from a past romantic relationship.
10. I want to come to a mutual agreement with my beloved on our Facebook protocol. 
Scoring:
1,2,4,8,9 (true) = -1 point each        3,5,6,7,10 (true) = +1 point each     
   under 5 points – weak character      
    5-6 points – average character    
    6+ – strong character
  

MARRIAGE’S DIRTY LITTLE SECRET

Power stems from the Latin word posse: = “to be able.”
I first discovered the scope of marriage’s dirty little secret upon giving my client a coaching tool. Ana was frustrated beyond belief that her husband would never step into the kitchen to make dinner. Rather than replay yet another failed argument where her husband made her feel like an hysterical witch, I told her to step back, listen and learn.
 
I instructed Ana to quietly boycott by not going into the kitchen that night. “Just notice how your husband handles the situation. Be an anthropologist. Don’t argue with him or defend yourself. Just calmly, and most importantly, silently observe.”
 
Neither of us was prepared for the exquisite dance that would unfold. Ana was more fascinated than distressed at the revelations. “First he bullied me, but I didn’t budge. (Bully) Then he got all sweet and charming, nuzzling me, trying to coax me into cooking. (Charmer) Then he went silent and pouted. (Pouter)” She described seven machinations he went through attempting to get her to do what he wanted.                                                                           
The power play is very much alive and well in love. Many men and women alike have enough selfishness and the guts to get what they want or to get out of what they don’t want to do.                      
 
Are you a Bambi in love? Romantic, guileless, or just plain chicken? Do you find yourself at the other end of Zorro’s quick sword? Shwush, shwush! You’re forced into a corner and you don’t even know how you got there? Well…no more!
 
Wake up! Open your eyes. You’re being had. Not only do you have the right, you have the responsibility to take charge of yourself. To take charge of yourself and activate the power to replace foul play with fair play. 
 
Your first step to dismantling power-plays is to recognize them in action. Expose this dirty little secret in your relationship and stay ahead of the 8-ball by making agreements ahead of time. 
 
Tool: Step back and observe with a cool head and a clear view. Identify the power-plays in your relationship. Make a list.     Carefully review it. Then show it to your guy/girl and establish new household rules for teamwork, respect, and cooperation.
 

 
   
 
 
 

I SEE DEAD PEOPLE

“I love you not only for what you are,                                                                      but for what I am when I am with you.”        Roy Croft
                                                
I listen for a living. For over twenty years, a common complaint is this. “The honeymoon’s over. S/he isn’t focused on our marriage, isn’t romantic, isn’t really present with me, isn’t affectionate, doesn’t seem to know (or care) if I’m there or not.”
 
Love has a way of mesmerizing us to the point of self-extinction. It’s true. I see dead people in love, who unwittingly vacate their own power source. Whatever source used to light them up inside is trumped by the initial flood of ecstasy. The anthropologist and love expert Helen Fisher calls it “the love hormones,” the chemistry combo of dopamine & serotonin. These intoxicating hormones are time-limited. Humans have roughly an 18 month window before -poof!- they expire. People feel lost, even betrayed, without their binky. 
 
To complicate matters,  lot of you romantics out there happily but dangerously put all your love eggs into one basket: the other person. And “the you” inside virtually disappears.
 
Where are you? You’ve changed since falling in love. You’re too comfortable. Comfortable as a well-fed fat cat. At ease as a pair of soft old bedroom slippers. You’ve cozied into this relationship and left behind your creative ways of resourcing your own personal joy. Think about it.
 
When you were single, what did you used to do on Friday night? Call a friend and go listen to live music at a Blues Club, check out a local museum event, go out dancing, drive to a cool district across town, take a class in Haiku, ride your bike on the strand, run a 10K at dawn, walk the Golden Gate Bridge at midnight.
 
Now that you’re in a committed relationship, you’ve dropped the ball – the exploration ball, the learning ball, the wild n’ crazy ball. And you’re left with a dud. No – not your lover. You. The word dud is pretty accurate: a lemon, a fizzle, a flop, a washout, a disappointment, a firework sparkler that fails to light. 
 
Do you want that alive feeling again? The flush of excitement? Good. You don’t have to leave the relationship. You just have to come back to yourself. 
 
Here’s what I want you to stop:
Stop complaining. Stop blaming. Stop crying. Stop ranting to your friends.
 
Here’s what I want you to start:
Recover yourself, your life, your light. Every week, take one night and one whole day apart from your guy or girl. Do what you used to do for fun or fulfillment. Find new activities and interests. No excuses. Don’t be a dud. Re-ignite that sparkler inside you.