Conquering Fear

blog post swimming

For the past 6 weeks I’ve been working on a long-time fear of deep water by taking swimming lessons. I didn’t always have this fear and swam with ease as a child. I’m not sure why I slowly developed water nervousness – perhaps it is related to infrequent swimming or the vertigo I encountered after being knocked over in the ocean. Or it may have been triggered by the unpleasant experience of shopping for a bathing suit in stores with fun-house type mirrors.

Whatever the reason for this fear, I felt it was finally time to do something about it so I could swim laps when on vacation and in my neighborhood pool.

Let’s talk about fear in swimming and in life – especially romance – while sampling polenta crisps with avocado and yogurt . We talked about fear before but it’s a topic worth revisiting.

To lose the fear of a physical activity, you have to trust your body to know what to do.   When you overcome that fear, you experience a special satisfaction and appreciation of the activity – even if you haven’t totally won the battle yet.

It was a victory when I swam the length of the Olympic size pool without having a mild panic attack. To keep my state of calm, I thought about what my swimming teacher said, “You’re swimming on top of the water…it doesn’t matter how deep it is.”

Gazing down into the deeper part of the pool, I remembered the joy of underwater swimming as a child and relaxed.  I’m not as comfortable as a fish yet but I’m working on it.

Fighting fear is a worthy quest and there are many opportunities for battle. You might not be up for conquering all your fears at the same time and that is okay. Do what you can.

As an observer of marriage, divorce, and the single life, I see many examples of fear: unhappy couples afraid to divorce, divorced individuals afraid to date, people in relationships afraid to ask for what they want.

There is one fear that can help you conquer relationship-related fears. That is fear of missing out. If you fear missing out on happiness more than you fear the breakup of a bad marriage, you might be prompted to make a move. If you fear not being coupled – even if you are happy in the single life – you may work harder to find a mate.

Life is more complicated than a single emotion but I think you can use fear to your advantage.

Try it. What are you afraid of? Can you harness the power of fear to make your life better?

For an interesting read on fear, check out this Psychology Today article.

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Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Can He Cut it? Test Your Date’s Compatibility

blog road sign re delay

There are happy hour dates, movie dates, and walk in the park dates. What is really needed are dates to quickly find out if a man is the one or “one of the ones.”

Let’s enjoy this dating fantasy while we chow down on some lentil vegetable soup.

What qualities do we need to evaluate in our potential “one?” Here are a few desirable traits and a sample imaginary date you could use to test each one. Let’s call our fictional test dater Max.

The Quality: Good Communicator

The Challenge:

The ability to communicate is critical. If you have done or said something to annoy or anger your guy, he should be able to tell you about it. Otherwise, the issue will simmer and resentment will build.

Your challenge is to create a situation where you do something annoying or obnoxious to find out if Max will give you feedback.

The Date Scenario:

Suggest to Max that you go to a movie he has been interested in seeing. Once the movie starts, whisper a comment in his ear. Comment or ask questions about the plot every 10 minutes until the movie ends. Alternate your comments with an offer to share your popcorn. Even if Max says “no, thanks,” keep offering him tastes throughout the movie.

Scoring and Outcome:

A: Max quickly asks you to hold your comments

B: Max shares his annoyance after the movie is over

D: Max says nothing. You break up within a week.

F: Max runs screaming from the theater half way through the movie

The Quality: Resilience (Ability to roll with the punches)

The Challenge:

Life doesn’t always run smoothly. In fact, you can count on things going astray almost daily. An important quality is the ability to take these bumps on the road in stride and enjoy the day regardless.

Your challenge is to create a date filled with obstacles to see how well Max can “roll with it.”

The Date Scenario:

It’s a beautiful late spring day and you and darling Max are headed to a winery event in the country. Max’s favorite band is playing for a short set.

To start things off, you take a little longer getting ready to leave so there is no travel time to spare (if you’re to see the band and get the full wine tasting experience).

Under the guise of being the designated driver, you volunteer to drive so you can control the situation. Your car has a slow oil leak and you deliberately fail to replenish the oil prior to the trip. Soon after you start the 2-hour drive, the oil light goes on and you need to pull over to add oil. The clock is ticking.

You apologize to Max for the various delays but tell him that all is not lost since you found a shortcut on Google directions. This “shortcut” is in fact a nightmare scenario of weekend road construction (as predicted by the local traffic blogs you read in preparation for the trip).

You end up arriving at the winery just as the band is finishing their last song. Plus, the winery has run out of its signature pinot noir, Max’s favorite.

blog photo winery

Scoring and Outcome:

A: Throughout the drive, Max refuses to let the delays drag him down. At the winery, Max talks to the band and finds out the details of their next gig. He happily settles for merlot and kisses you passionately behind the winery shop.

B: Max is slightly petulant during the drive.

D: Max starts a nasty fight with you during the “shortcut” leg of the drive.

F: Max “accidentally” spills his glass of wine on your favorite white pants and doesn’t apologize. He drinks excessively and starts a fight with another patron. You break up that evening.

The Quality: Narcissistic or Not

The Challenge: No one loves a narcissist. Sometimes you’re not sure if you’re dealing with an egomaniac. It’s important to find out whether your guy is all about him, not much about you.

The Date Scenario:

You invite Max over to Netflix and Chill. Pizza is delivered and while you’re eating, you share that you’re dealing with a troubling work situation. You tell Max you’re so stressed out about it that you can’t sleep.

After dinner, you start the movie and move to the sofa to commence cuddling. About halfway through the movie, you pretend that you’re not feeling well. You run to the bathroom. Ten minutes later, you return looking exhausted (you have wet your hair a bit and splashed warm water on your face to look flushed).

You tell Max you think you have food poisoning, noting that it may not be the pizza since you had Chinese food from a sketchy carryout the previous night. You act like you’re about to throw up and run back to the bathroom.

Scoring and Outcome:

A: While you are talking about your work problem, Max is fully engaged, compassionate, and offers thoughtful suggestions. When the “food poisoning episode” begins, Max comforts you, brings you a washcloth, rubs your back in between attacks, and offers to call your doctor.

C: Max listens to your work story but checks his phone frequently while you’re talking. When you start to feel ill, he researches food poisoning online but otherwise is not helpful.

F: Max keeps interrupting your tale of work woes with reflections about times he overcame difficult work situations. He doesn’t let you finish sharing your story.

When the food poisoning attack begins, Max expresses concern that he ate the same pizza and starts to develop psychosomatic symptoms. He resumes the movie while holding his belly as if in pain. He doesn’t call the next day to check on you. You break up that week.

If you liked these diabolical “play dates,” you might like to play a break-up game/app called Damn Love. See my description of Damn Love in a recent post on my favorite things.

Soapbox Notes:

In real life, few, if any, women would be this conniving and few guys would score an F.

These exaggerated scenarios are a reminder to all of us to be aware of how a partner behaves during real life challenges – big and small.

Witnessing a partner’s behavior in tough situations presents us with an opportunity to learn about his – or her – true character and whether it is compatible with ours.

My motto: keep your eyes open; be true to yourself.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia