Mary Loyer: Founder of Red Lipstick Inc.

Mary Loyer: Founder of Red Lipstick Inc.

Welcome Ladies! As a Speaker and Relationship Coach, I will show you a new perspective on how to be confident woman as bold as red lipstick! If you've ever been frustrated by the men in your life or felt overwhelmed trying to find your own balance and harmony, you have come to the right place for some answers!

Subscribe to my blog, and get ideas and tips for being your best self, and getting what you need from your man with a lot less effort. Perhaps you'll learn something new, or get a reminder to practice living in your fabulousness. Enjoy!

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Time really flies when one is distracted with work, and life, doesn’t it?? It’s been a while since I’ve written, and I yet I still talk with so many women who are heavy in their search to find a man, figure him out, and have a successful relationship. Just the other day, I was in a hair salon, and the woman next to me overheard me talking about men, and asked me several burning questions all in the same breath!

Her eagerness to figure it all out inspired me to offer my perspective on these masculine creatures once again. My advice to her was to simply be complete and happy with herself, rather than maneuver and strategize what she could do to hold on to a man. Once she truly accomplished that, then men would be attracted to the REAL her, and not the version she thought they wanted to be with.

As we spoke, I realized that this could be easier said then done–after all, I have days when I don’t feel like my most confident self. The worst days are when I feel fat, bloated, or I get a pimple, and no amount of makeup will cover it up! Luckily, I’ve learned that men are attracted to authentic women, and they seem to have a radar to know the difference. When I learned this, I was so relieved, and it encouraged me to let it all out–so to speak. I’m so inspired by comedian/actresses like Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Tina Fey who are adored for their ability to let it all hang out in their authentic and real way. What if we all followed their example of letting our quirks be our assets?

These days, I do find my boyfriend giving me the most attention when I least expect it, which is usually when I’m hanging out with no make-up, being happy in my skin and speaking my mind. He always tells me how cute I am o-naturale, and seems to like when I express myself so he knows what I want. I now love when he calls me silly, cause I know I’m being my real self, and then he gets silly right back!

Do you expose the REAL you to the man in your life? If so, I bet it’s those seemingly quirky details about you that he likes the most ? Click on the link below for a fun read of the Top 13 Unexpected Things Men Love About Women. I’d also love your comments on what your funniest quirk is?

13 Unexpected Things Men Love About Women:
http://glo.msn.com/relationships/unexpected-things-men-love-about-women-7315.gallery?gt1=36010

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WeddingBells The hot pink table-clothes draped the tables with femininity while the spring flowers trickled the scent of beauty throughout the air.  The white folding chairs waited patiently for the ladies who all gathered on a Sunday afternoon to celebrate the coming union of a special woman named Molly and her fiancé, Adrian.  On Sunday, I was one of these ladies overflowing with happiness for my friend Molly at her bridal shower.  As we drank wine, shared a feast, and spoke of Molly’s exciting future, I couldn’t help but wonder—Should it really be exciting?  As a former bride, I now realize that it is really an adventure, and the quality of this amazing  adventure depends on what you put into it.  Marriage is as Marriage does…

I remember fantasizing about my wedding and forgetting all about building a life together.  How many of you have done the same thing and wondered why things didn’t fall into place after the wedding?  We might have viewed our parents, our married friends, or even married people on T.V as role models to know what marriage should be like.  We may have even thought it should be the best day of our life.  But then, if it’s the best, how does the rest of our life look after that?  It seems,  the only two people to consult  is you and your husband to be.  Why not start by being open with each other about what each of you needs in the relationship, and hearing each other out regarding the expectations for your life together after you’re married.

Imagine creating the adventure you want—not perfect, not fantasy—but rather an unexpected adventure filled with love, laughter, and many twists and turns along the way.  I’m so thrilled for Molly and Adrian, as they embark on this journey of discovery together.  Perhaps you too will think of marriage a little differently, and imagine creating your own adventure, beyond your own perfect wedding day.

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superman2

In the last several weeks, I’ve outlined the four steps in the Harmony Process for all of you strong, confident women out there who may wonder why men seem so clueless sometimes.  These four steps have saved me much frustration and have helped me to achieve a state of Confident Harmony, in which I experience the men in my life being my heroes.  In the moments when they are doing something I might think is stupid, this process has helped me to always get what I need.  What a relief I have felt when I don’t have the burden of doing everything myself.  I admit it hasn’t always been easy to follow these four steps, especially when I’m in a stressful situation, and my patience is in short supply.

I finally found an easy way to remember these steps and a way for me to catch myself in these moments so that I can reveal the heroes in my life, rather than over-look them, and continue to be frustrated by their supposed acts of “stupidity.”  Use the acronym, H.E.R.O below to start using the Harmony Process in your own life, and watch all the heroes in your midst strive to give you what you ask for.

His Behavior: Identify the so-called “stupid” behavior without evaluating what it means.

Expectations: Get clear on your expectations.  What were you expecting him to know or do?

Request What You Need:  Clearly request what you need and how it will make you feel.

Offer Appreciation: Appreciate his efforts to give you what you need, and behold your hero rise up.

Recently, I remembered the steps in this process with my Dad, and I was so happy to have seen him be my hero, after feeling disappointed by him for much of my life.  Before dinner with my parents one day, my Dad was asking me twenty questions about my new job, and his questions were all about the facts, and detailed data about how each part of the company operates.  At first, I felt overwhelmed, and thought he was being clueless—even stupid to think that I should know all these facts.  After-all, I’m not the President of this company, and why does he need to know these details anyway?

In that moment, I remembered, H.E.R.O, and reminded myself of the following:

His Behavior:  My Dad was asking a lot of fact-based questions.  Rather than evaluate the meaning, I remembered that by nature, men use facts and data-based information to form opinions about things.  He needed to know these facts in order to know his daughter found a good company to work for.

Expectations: I expected my Dad to know that I wouldn’t know all this information.  I also expected him to know that I just got home from work, and rather than interrogate me with questions, I might just want to relax, and tell him what I liked about my new job.  It made me feel like he didn’t care about me, and that he wasn’t listening when I exclaimed how tired I was after work that day.  I reminded myself that he had no idea I had these expectations of him.

Request What You Need:  I took a deep breath and smiled as I told my dad, “I know you are interested in all the details in my job and want to make sure I am working for a great company.  However, It makes me feel interrogated when you ask me so many questions at once.  It would really help me relax, if I could have thirty minutes to unwind from my busy day, and then I’d love it if you would just ask me, “How was your day at work?”  That one question will have me share everything with you.  If you forget to ask, is it okay if I ask you, “Can I tell you about my day?”  At first my Dad didn’t seem to understand how I could be overwhelmed by all the questions.  To him, they were essential.  He still agreed to my request, because I clearly explained how it would help me.  He said, “Oh, I don’t want you to feel interrogated!”

Offer Appreciation:  The next time we had dinner, I was so delighted when my Dad came to me about thirty minutes after my arrival, and asked, “So, how was your day at work?”  You can only imagine the smile on my face!  I felt so free to share what I wanted to share about my day.  I saw a huge smile on my Dad’s face too, as I continued to talk and give details—even some facts about the company I work for.   Thirty minutes later, I thanked him for asking about my day, and for helping me relax after work.

After that experience with my Dad, he continued being my hero!   The next time I saw my Dad, he was on his way to the drugstore.  He asked me, “Do you need anything from the store?”  At first I thought, “I need facial cleanser, but he may not get the right one.”  I just gave him a list, and let him get it for me.  I thanked him later for thinking of me and for saving me the trip to the store.

This might seem small and trivial act, but since then, my Dad has approached me many times wanting to help and provide for me in various ways. I encourage you to continue practicing the Harmony Process with the men in your life.  Behold the Confident Harmony you feel, when you have faith in the different strengths of those around you, and get what you need with a lot less effort!  Enjoy!

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Expectations Last week, I spoke of being an unstoppable woman by cultivating a state of Confident Harmony.  I outlined the first step in the Harmony Process to help you on the road to getting what you need from the men in your life.  So how’d you do this week with Step 1?  Did you Identify lots of so-called “Stupid” Behavior in the men around you?  When I first started observing this, as you can imagine there was no shortage of actions by men that I assumed were evidence of stupidity.  I  know your list may be just as long, and detailed… so for Step 2, you can simply use one “stupid” action to focus on to continue the Harmony Process.

Step 1:  Identify the so-called “Stupid” Behavior without Evaluation
Rather than see the behavior for what you think it means, try observing the actions only.

Step 2:  Get Clear with Your Expectations

This one is tricky, as sometimes we think we don’t have an expectation, because we just assume that everyone does something the way we do it.  I use to have the belief that, “Everyone knows that you shake a person’s hand when you meet them, therefore its not my expectation and if someone doesn’t shake my hand, they are clearly being rude on purpose.”

I’ve come to learn that EVERYTHING I assume is going to happen with people around me– is simply an expectation.  I assume that all women like pedicures because I do.  I assume that all women like wearing lipstick, because I do.  I assume that all women like chic flicks because I do.  I admit that in the past when I met women who didn’t fit some of my assumptions, I thought they were very odd, and again assumed something must be wrong with them.  My expectations were definitely getting the best of me in those moments.  These expectations even effected the men in my life.  Years ago, I really thought my Dad was stupid, because he didn’t seem to express love the way I did .  I expected a certain type of behavior from him, because that is how I would have expressed my love and care.

I lived for eight years, ignoring my father’s existence.  I was so hurt—thinking he was stupid, and incapable of loving me—that I decided to reject him instead.  Later, I realized that my expectations were based on how I express my love, and the whole time my Dad had no idea why I was so hurt.   I was able to open up with curiosity, and I asked him, “ How do you like to express love and care?”  He mentioned that he likes to inquire about people to show interest, do nice things for them, and offer advice to show he cares.  Then I remembered that a big difference between men and women is that men judge each other by their actions, so they are used to taking action and solving problems, rather than using words, or emotion to express themselves.  After that new revelation about my Dad, I started to see the ways he cared for me all the time, and I began learning how to request the kind of care that I needed. 

Using one stupid action on your list, try this step for yourself.  Regarding the man who committed this so-called “stupid” action, ask yourself: What were you expecting him to know or do in that situation? How did it make you feel when he didn’t do it?  Do you think he was purposely trying to make you feel that way?

After answering these questions, you might find that you have some expectations that this man has no idea about.  He may simply be reacting or behaving in a way that is natural to the hunter-single-focused ways of men.  To be sure, try asking him, “What had you do that, or not do that?”    What had you make that decision, or say what you said?  How do you like to give_________ create___________, do _________, clean__________?  Fill in the blank with whatever action or behavior caused you to think he was being stupid.  Most likely, his answer won’t be anything you expected!  Try to be open to being surprised, and be curious without making his answer wrong.  It will be worth it when you get what YOU need from him in step 3!  Stay tuned next week for step 3:  Clearly Requesting What You Need, and GETTING it! 

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Harmony-

Last week, I spoke of how frustrating it can be when we, as women, find ourselves in one of those moments when we encounter a man we think is being “stupid.”  I often become painfully aware that they don’t think like us, and therefore, what we think is the obvious way to do things is not obvious to them.  It can be especially frustrating when we don’t have time to explain it in what we think is layman’s terms.

Does this mean that we are destined to be frustrated and not get what we want or need from men?

That’s a question I’ve been asking myself for many years.  I’ve heard many other men and women ask questions like “Why do relationships have to be so hard?” or “Why can’t we just get along?”  With so many differences between us, it can seem virtually impossible to achieve harmony without one person submitting to what the other person wants, ignoring their own needs, or just keeping quiet when they get upset.  Some people even call that– being a “push-over.”

Some might think that to have harmony in a relationship, one person must be a “push-over,” and neglect what they need.  In researching harmony, I’ve found a different way of looking at it that has made all the difference in my life!

The dictionary, describes harmony as:  a pleasing combination of elements in a whole.  In music, harmony is used to describe the process of playing or singing two or more different notes at the same time to form chords. So really, it’s not about being a “pushover,” and diminishing what you want.   Rather, it’s about being numberswiki.com

completely different and combining those differences to create something amazing.  Imagine being celebrated for your unique set of strengths at work, and being called upon to use those strengths for the gain of the team, similar to the way each instrument in an orchestra has a different strength of equal importance to help create the amazing sound of a symphony.  The symphony just wouldn’t sound the same without the different sounds of the trumpet, or the piano.  It’s also impossible for the trumpet to sound anything like the piano.

If your life is a symphony, imagine utilizing the gifts and strengths of the people around you to help you get what you need and create your amazing tune of happiness.  The more I learn about men, the more aware I am that perhaps they were created to compliment the tune of our melody as women.  I can see my frustration always comes when I don’t understand their strengths and how their tune fits into my symphony.  Although, I’m used to my own instrument, and the way it sounds on its own– I’ve grown to appreciate when my boyfriend’s different tune can make my own a lot sweeter, especially when it saves me a lot of time, effort, and precious energy.

Studying harmony amongst men and women for the last few years has led me to create my Harmony Process.  Using this process, I have found a “Confident Harmony” in my life, as it has helped me handle those frustrating “stupid” moments so that I still get to be my confident self, uncompromising in my values as a strong women, and getting what I need from the men in my life.  If you want a taste of this “Confident Harmony,” stay tuned next week, as I outline 4 steps to master your own symphony.

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MenGivingAttention Doesn’t it feel amazing when your man pays attention to you?  Sometimes it feels like I’m the center of his universe in that moment.  Imagine if you could get as much attention from him as you wanted.  What would that picture look like?  Would he be rubbing your feet?  Telling you how beautiful you are constantly? Perhaps he would notice every nice thing you did for him, and instantly show his un-ending gratitude by showering you with I love you-s?

I wonder, what does it mean to get “enough” attention?  I had the good fortune of listening to fifty-two men speak, about their need for “attention” from their woman, this weekend at a co-ed workshop.  I was surprised to hear that “attention” seemed to be just as important to them, and in some cases not getting it, was the cause of much heart-ache and eventually led to break-up.  I was even more surprised at what they described as “enough attention”.  Many of them agreed on the idea that attention was, in many cases, an instance or feeling of being cared about by their woman.  It might be displayed by her bringing him coffee in his favorite mug in the morning before work.  Perhaps she’ll notice that he is frustrated or cranky, and ask if he’s eaten yet.  Of course physical attention was ranked on the top of the list, simply because our feminine spirit has a great re-charging effect on men.  Above all, it appears that while the little moments of attention for the men might be different, they all included a consistent attitude of care and sincere interest for his happiness and well-being.  Everything she did for him was done with a smile, and he instantly knew she had his back.

I couldn’t help but think how similar the need for attention seems to be with men and women.  The women I’ve talked to agree that it’s the little moments of attention that count the most.  Sometimes it’s the text message that says “Thinking about you- Beautiful!”  Or the way he comes over and kisses her neck when she least expects it.  Those magic moments might be different for each of us, yet the magical connection we feel is the same.

So I ask you ladies, how do we get “enough” of whatever kind of attention we need and how to we give our man what he needs without feeling like we haven’t received any?  Think about that picture in your head of your man giving you exactly the kind of attention you love the most.  I invite you to write down what he is doing for you, and how it makes you feel.  Does it make you feel safe, cared for, loved, rejuvenated?  Now ask yourself, “Have I ever told him that these things are the magical things he does that have me feel safe, cared for, loved and rejuvenated?  You might think it’s obvious, and perhaps you think you’ve given him very clear clues as to what you need.  Keep in mind that he’s human, and he may have forgotten, or you might not have given him the proper appreciation the last time, so he may not know that he can win with you when he gives you that which you say you need.

Friendly reminders that include gratitude are so important; otherwise you may find yourself feeling neglected and resentful that he doesn’t appreciate how you care for him. When men and women don’t get the attention they need from their significant other, they may eventually give up on getting it from them, and find themselves more receptive to the attention they get from outside their relationship.  It seems unfortunate that this could happen, but sometimes our work, busy schedules, busy calendars, and responsibilities can get in the way, and have us forget to give each other what we need.  Before you  find yourself giving up on enjoying those “magical moments” of kisses on the neck, morning back rubs, or daily “I love you-s,” take the time to forgive each other for being human, and remind your man how much you love those little things he does that have his attention on you, and make you feel so special.

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Unemotional-Men As I continue my research for my book about men, I find myself confronted with many questions and  frustrations from the many women I talk to.  I only hope there is enough room in my book to fit them all in.  Just this week, over lunch—the topic of men being “emotionally unavailable” came up, as one woman sited it as the cause for her recent break up with her boyfriend.

  As she unveiled her understandably emotional story,  my mind envisioned a soap opera episode in which her boyfriend failed the emotional availability test.  Perhaps he didn’t cry enough?  Perhaps he didn’t show enough anger when another man ogled her?  Or maybe he wasn’t willing to discuss his feelings at the drop of a hat?  When she told him the reason for their break-up, I wonder if he understood what it meant?

Surely he couldn’t have understood her thirst for connection with him, and her feeling of living in a drought after he failed to be the tall glass of water she hoped he’d be.  I know I’ve seen it on shows like Sex and The City, and many girlie-flicks, as women collaborate in their frustration that their men are “still not evolved enough to be in touch with their emotions.”

At first, I did agree, after all—I grew up hearing from my Mom, and many of my friends that men need to be more in touch with their feelings.  As women, we are so good at expressing how we feel, it’s natural that we would think men should do the same.  But then I wondered, what if we think we want them to be “emotionally available,” but what we really want is something else completely?  As I set out to find the truth, I started with Webster’s Dictionary for some clues and discovered the following revelation:

emotional: expressing an intense feeling (as of love, hate, or despair)
available: capable of being used or seen

Could it be that we are expecting men to express their intense feelings the same way we do when we are sad, or angry?  Do we want them to share with us, because it will help us connect with them the same way we do with our girlfriends?  As hunters who are used to being focused on their hunt, I can imagine having easy access to intense feelings might create a challenge when going in for the kill on a daily basis.  His boss might not respond well, if he was to have hurt feelings because he didn’t get the promotion he was hoping for.  So maybe it’s a good thing that men can be “emotionally unavailable”? 

During my lunch date, my friend who recently suffered a break-up, further explained that when her boyfriend was being “emotionally unavailable”, she got this feeling that he wasn’t able to connect with her, share with her, and  over-all he seemed distant and not present in each moment with her.  “Aha!” I thought.  Perhaps what we want from men is their “presence,”  which means : now existing.   Have you ever felt the presence of a man whose attention was on you and the current moment you were together?  In my experience it can feel like being enveloped in a moment of being seen with appreciation that is warming to my spirit.    This doesn’t seem to have anything to do with emotions, does it?  I now remember these moments of presence I often share with my boyfriend, and now I’m actually quite thankful that he’s “emotionally unavailable,” as it seems he is better equipped to hunt as a result.  The better hunter he is, the more I notice he can protect and provide for me.  I’m all for that!

After talking with several men about this, they confirmed that while they aren’t able to access their emotions as readily as their women, they really appreciate when they get to transition from a day of “hunting,” to being with her and have a moment to turn their focus on her and whatever they are doing together.  So the question is, How do we allow them to transition from their day or their current hunt, so that they can, and want to be present with us?    Stay tuned for the answer next week… 

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Like many women I know, I was drawn to see the movie “It’s Complicated” with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin.  I was mesmerized by Meryl Streep, who at sixty years old still looks so amazing and displays the kind of confidence that had me watch from the audience, thinking to myself how awesome sixty will be and had me actually looking forward to it. 

By now, we’ve all seen the preview showing the shock and horror on Meryl Streep’s face when her character, Jane wakes up in bed with her ex-husband, Jake, played by Alec Baldwin.  They divorced many years earlier, and now they suddenly found themselves in each other’s arms again.  I completely understood Jane’s shock, as Jake was now married to the very-hot thirty-something who he cheated on Jane with.  We can all probably relate to her confusion, feelings of wrongness, and just plain craziness that after cheating on Jane, he would suddenly want to be with her fifteen years later?  Sounds pretty complicated, right?

Well, I’m happy to report that through all the hilarious moments of pure shenanigans a`la Three’s A Company, I learned a very good lesson about love and I now think that perhaps it doesn’t have to be as complicated as we think.  While we might think as we’ve been told–that men only need sex and food–this movie sheds some light on something even simpler that I think we all want and have in common.  I wonder if  we all basically want to be “gotten” by someone– to have our soul be seen and loved as is.  I know it sounds corny, but how many of us melt when our man remembers that special place we like to be kissed or they see when we are about to get frustrated and they just know the special way to calm us down?  Even if it’s your best girl-friend who knows the right thing to say to cheer you up– These are all the ways that we can feel seen and truly known by the ones we love.  I believe it comes from a sincere adoration and appreciation for each other as people.

At a Thanksgiving dinner party I attended,  we all talked about the things we were thankful for, and one of the guests said that he was so thankful for having “a wife who gets him.”  I smiled, thinking that only the two of them could really know what that means.  Their adoration for each other was apparent by how much they seemed to truly enjoy each other.  This reminds me of  the movie, and I wonder if Jake and Jane’s friendship and adoration was possibly re-kindled when they enjoyed genuine laughter and fun together– beyond the matters of work and the kids that might have distracted them in their marriage before.  Could it be that they saw each other as beautiful on the inside and they suddenly found each other so attractive again.  Is it possible that in spite of Jake having a stereo-type-super-hot wife, he simply wanted to be seen, heard, and really be understood and appreciated—rather than just be a sperm donor to his ovulating wife?

When we feel seen by another human being, in my experience it feels like that person is seeing our beauty inside and out, quirks, details—and all!  This movie reminds me to remember all the special things I love about my man, all the little things that have me really “like” him and adore him as a person.  Now I get why, when we are having fun and laughing together, those are often the sexiest moments ever!  What can be simpler than that? 

When is the last time you had real fun with your man?   Perhaps as this New Year is dawning, you’ll remember some of the fun, silly times you have shared together, whether it be enjoying a concert with your favorite artist, or swinging on the swings at your local playground.  Whether your dating or in a relationship, make this year one of fun, laughter, and seeing each other’s true beauty!  Who knows,  you might find yourselves having more fun between the sheets too!  Enjoy!

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DatingHave you ever dated a guy, and decided to call it quits because there just wasn’t enough “chemistry?” If so, you are not alone. It seems our culture has put a huge value on chemistry between men and women. If we don’t have chemistry, we don’t seem to have that “spark” that has us be attracted to them. When I learned what chemistry really is, I found myself realizing why all the guys I liked in high school made my palms sweat when they walked by me, and why I could barely speak in their presence.

When we feel chemistry with someone, what we may be feeling is a chemical reaction. More specifically, it’s the reaction of dopamine-the feel good chemical & testosterone-the hunter hormone our body has when we have an intense physical attraction. The rush of this attraction might be so intense, that it has us be in survival mode as “we must have his sperm to promote the survival of our species.” It may sound crazy, but it can truly feel like a life and death situation if we don’t get that guy, when we are under the influence of this drug I will now affectionately call chemistry. ( Perhaps that’s why I remember so many of my girlfriends in high school say, “I’ll just die if he doesn’t ask me to prom!”)

In my twenties, I remember dating several guys that seemed to trigger this chemical reaction in me. They were so good-looking, seemed so strong and manly, and possessed my vision of the Ken Doll, that I just had to have them. I knew I had it bad, when I couldn’t sleep, work, or do anything else without wondering what my dream guy was doing, when I’d see him, how come he hadn’t called me in three hours, or if he would notice when I wore his favorite color. I also seemed to get my feelings hurt a lot when I was with them.

I can see now that my physical chemical reaction to them had me contort myself into who I thought I needed to be to win them. I was in hunt mode, and I completely lost myself. I lost my likes and dislikes, my preferences, and I lost all the things that were important to me. Eventually, things didn’t work out, because I grew exhausted being this other person, and I wasn’t really giving them a chance to show me who they really were either. How many of you can relate to Katherine Heigl’s character in the move: “The Ugly Truth?” I laughed so hard, because I could see myself in her. Remember how much she changed who she was just to win the guy of her dreams? In the end, the guy she fell in love with was the guy who got to see who she really was. He was charmed and enchanted by her authentic self, and actually wanted to be with her beyond the physical attraction.

Whether you’re in a relationship or single and dating, perhaps you’ll notice those moments when the chemical reaction of intense physical attraction is clouding your thinking and having you behave like someone else. Your friends may also be a great radar to sound the alarm, when you are twisting yourself like a pretzel to get the guy. Instead, try dating off-type or spending time with guys that don’t have you be speechless in their presence. Remember, the physical attraction will lead to sex, but being your authentic self can lead to finding someone who wants to spend time with you and make you happy in addition to all the other fun activities you will share together…

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HappyThanksgivingDuring this time of year I’m reminded of all the amazing things in my life I have to be thankful for. My family, my health, my wonderful friends, and my handsome-loving Man all come to mind when I’m having a moment of gratitude. I also think about how gracious everyone is during this time of year, and I wonder how much of it is really influenced by the “spirit of the season” of giving thanks and appreciation. It might seem obvious, but why is it that the rest of the year, some people may not seem as willing to give thanks?

I remember how good I feel whenever someone thanks me for the help I give them, or shows appreciation for my contribution to them in some way. It literally has me want to do more of that appreciated act of kindness even if they haven’t asked me. On the flip side, when I’m criticized for some way that I’m not helping like I use to, although I’ll pick up the torch and carry it once again, I’m suddenly less motivated to give it my all. Have you ever felt that way?

Of course, I find myself relating these thoughts back to the way men and women interact. We may be as different as cats and dogs, yet my search continues for ways that we can have harmony with each other. What can I say… it’s my happy obsession!

While feeling the sting of having been criticized in the past, I suddenly wondered how men relate to criticism. Have you ever asked your husband or boyfriend, “How come you don’t bring me flowers anymore?” Or asked him, “Why don’t you ever say you love me like you used to?” The men I’ve talked to about this say that such comments can cut like deep criticism, and have them think their woman “doubts his care and affection for her.” It may even seem almost impossible to please her when she is only noticing the things he’s NOT doing. The women I spoke to confirmed they might have a similar reaction from the criticism of men. Either way, it’s clear that it can be disheartening to receive criticism from someone you love.

However, these same men responded to appreciation dramatically different than the criticism. When their women appreciated them, and expressed “how much she loves it when he brings flowers, or how happy it makes her to hear him say he loves her,” It appeared in their minds that now “she is giving him hints on how to make her happy.”

I was both intrigued, and amazed by this! I remember growing up and noticing the times my Mom criticized my Dad when he didn’t hug my sisters and I enough, or for not taking us out to dinner more often. I know my Mom thought she was doing a good thing by pointing out where he could improve and be a better Father, but I see now that my Dad may have received it as criticism. Perhaps he would have responded differently to… “The girls love it when you hug them,” or “thanks for taking us to dinner– I love moments like that when we can go out as a family.” As an adult, I’m so thankful to enjoy a greater closeness with my Dad, as I show appreciation for both my parents and the support they give me.

Perhaps this season, you too will see the power of giving thanks and appreciation—so much so that it will spill over into the rest of your year. I know I certainly am more mindful of it now!

I’d love to hear about your experience of showing appreciation rather than criticism this season! Please email me at mary@redlipstickinc.com with your comments, questions, and stories. Happy Thanksgiving!

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