Get Smart with Your Heart: The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Love, Lust, and Lasting Relationships

Get Smart with Your Heart: The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Love, Lust, and Lasting Relationships

by Suzanne Lopez

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399525797
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/01/2000
Edition description: 1 PERIGEE
Pages: 1
Product dimensions: 6.04(w) x 9.02(h) x 1.07(d)

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Chapter One

There's Nothing More Romantic Than a Relationship That Works: A Systematic New Process for Designing and Creating a Relationship

When a smart woman wants to learn about history, the arts, literature, or science, she goes to school or reads books. When a smart woman wants to learn how to conduct business, she finds a mentor and/or goes to business school. When a smart woman wants to buy a car, she visits several dealerships and comparison-shops for the car that best suits her budget needs and preferences. Yet when it comes to learning about relationships, even the smartest of women leave the choice up to chance, romance, and intuition, allowing themselves to be guided by their hearts alone. Is this smart? Statistics and time have shown that the answer is a resounding "NO!"

    In addition to her professional career and lifelong spiritual path, intimate relationships are among the most important components of a woman's life, yet most women don't put as much conscious time, energy, effort, and careful planning into creating and forming relationships as they do into other areas of their lives. When it comes to matters of the heart and romance, smart women must learn to use their heads (bolstered by a heightened sense of conscious awareness) in conjunction with their hearts when they are evaluating and choosing romantic partners.

    Over the past two decades in my psychotherapy practice, I have counseled hundreds of women who were not finding happiness and satisfaction in their relationships and love lives. I regularly counsel womenwho are CEOs of major corporations, entrepreneurs and business owners, Ph.D.s, and movie producers. They are very successful in their respective fields. They are attractive, bright, desirable, lovable, and interesting women who consistently make bad relationship choices. In their businesses and careers, they would never dream of basing their decisions on anything other than logic and sound reasoning. The way they handle their love lives, however, is a different story. Over and over again, I have seen these women become involved with louts, losers, and con artists, getting their hearts broken, their bank accounts emptied, and, in some cases, their lives shattered. I decided to investigate why.

    What became painfully clear was that the majority of my patients had no clear idea of what they were looking for in a relationship and had very little information or support regarding what good choices for them might be. Although many of them would never rely on fate or the passage of time to make their business problems disappear, they were waiting for a magic "something" to occur in their romantic lives. Why would a thirty-five-year-old woman who was a wealthy, charming, and attractive movie producer choose to be with a writer who never made a dime from his craft, slept all day, wrote all night, and was unwilling to marry her and start a family even though they had been together for seven years? Why would a forty-year-old woman who ran a small company and had a large group of interesting, eclectic friends date a man for five years who hated being social and refused to spend time with her friends? Why would she stay with him when he never spent an entire night at her house and stole away at two or three o'clock in the morning? Why would a beautiful, vibrant woman of twenty-eight who was working her way up in the record business have a parade of men come in and out of her life, each of whom was more than happy to sleep with her on the first or second date, then be repeatedly surprised when they would never call her for a third or fourth date? It was evident that no one had shown these women how to use their heads, as well as their hearts, in making their relationship choices.

    I saw so many smart women in my practice who were repeatedly experiencing this type of romantic blackout—who, despite all their education and professional savvy, did not know how to shake off bad relationships. It became clear to me that they needed to become conscious and aware and start making choices based on the reality of their situations. They needed to start finding men who were appropriate for them. To help these women, I developed the Smart Heart Partnering Process to dispel pervasive romantic myths and delusional fears about relationships, to teach women how to look at relationships in a new way, and to demystify the process of partner selection. The Smart Heart Partnering Process gives women practical tools for making systematic, conscious choices that support their lifestyles, their goals and values, and who they are. By using the Smart Heart Partnering Process, you too can become more aware, more successful, and more satisfied with your choice of dates and mates.

    Every woman, no matter what her background, financial status, level of education, or profession, needs to become aware of and willing to be responsible for designing her own relationship objectives. Whether you are eighteen or eighty, if you are a woman who is looking for high-quality relationships and conscious pairing and partnership, then this book can help you reach your objectives, whether you have been single your entire life or married for twenty years. Whether you've been in a long-term relationship or you've just graduated from college and are starting to date seriously for the first time, you will benefit and grow from using and understanding this process.

    The Smart Heart Partnering Process will allow you to design and define your own unique relationship objectives and help you to answer the following questions about yourself and your prospective partner:

1 What kind of life do I envision for myself, and of what does it consist?

2 Does this man really fit in with what I am looking for in my life?

3 Is this man compatible with my relationship objectives and dreams?

4 Am I compatible with him and his life?

    Before you walk out the door to go on a date, you need to understand why you are going and what you hope to get for yourself out of that time. By being conscious about what you want, you won't be swept up into an unconscious fugue of romantic myths and images, only to land in a trap of your own making with someone who is not right for you. The good news is that you can return to this flexible process over and over again as you move in and out of different phases of your life.

    Being clear about their relationship objectives and continually using their heads in conjunction with their hearts to evaluate whether or not the men they are involved with support their objectives is something that women today, at every stage of their romantic lives, must make a commitment to do. It may seem easier to let yourself be carried along by the gods of love, trusting in the Fates that long-term happiness awaits you just around the corner. Divorce statistics confirm, however, that relationships aren't working. I have seen evidence of the extent of problematic relationships in the number of unhappy, dissatisfied women who come to me for help. The lack of understanding of the true nature of relationships is evident in the many men who get a bad rap for simply being themselves. It's clear that if you are not a proactive player in your own romantic life, you cannot have a successful and satisfying relationship.

We Can't Look to the Past for a Map of the Future

Women today are in the fortunate position of being able to choose their romantic partners for themselves. This was not the case even as recently as one or two generations ago. Our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers needed to be married to survive and procreate. Society provided few other options for women, other than to marry and bear children. In order to succeed and survive, women needed men to protect them and provide for them and their children. Women seldom married with the expectation that their husbands would be soul mates who would give them love, friendship, or companionship.

    In the past, most marriages were arranged. A prospective husband was chosen based upon his ability to provide money, security, social standing, and healthy offspring. A prospective bride was initially chosen for her looks and her ability to bear children. Intelligence, creativity, and vitality were seldom considered valuable assets in a woman.

    Your mother and, depending on your age, your grandmother didn't have to accept such arrangements, however. Rather, they were allowed to choose men for themselves based on their own criteria. Nevertheless, a woman was reliant on her husband's ability to earn a living and support the family, and a man's earning power was high on the list of attributes they and their families were looking for in a husband and provider. Some women might have married for love, but many others wed with low expectations of ever experiencing love and fulfillment in their marriages.

    It wasn't until World War II that it became more fashionable to marry "for love." The war and its impending threat of danger filled American culture with romantic ideas. For the first time, women were able to go against traditional social and familial constraints and choose men because they "loved" them. Thousands of young couples fell in love and married quickly before the men were shipped overseas for duty. By the 1950s, women were beginning to question unhappy and unequal marriages because, although they might have chosen their husbands out of love, they still didn't enjoy other types of freedoms. In the fifties, divorce was still considered taboo, abortion was illegal, and women were generally not in charge of their reproductive rights. The sexual revolution of the 1960s was a time for women to freely explore their own sexuality and act on physical attraction, while shirking romance or other ideas they considered constraining.

    During the liberating 1970s, millions of women declared their emancipation from outmoded ideas about marriage, partnership, and sexuality. Women attended colleges and universities in record numbers. Moving the issue of equal rights to the forefront of politics, they had more freedom over their bodies and reproductive rights than ever before. On the whole, women could be more independent, not only financially but professionally, psychologically, and emotionally as well. Having seen many of their own mothers suffer in emotionless, unhappy marriages, even if the couples didn't divorce, women became determined to marry on their own terms, if they were going to marry at all. Because millions of women were now attending college and graduate school and thus were able to work in higher-paying jobs than ever before, they no longer needed to look to a husband for financial security. This is still true today. Women don't necessarily need men to purchase homes, eat in elegant restaurants, take extravagant vacations, or buy nice clothes and furniture. Even more liberating are the advances in reproductive technology, not only in relation to birth control but also in the fact that today women don't need husbands in order to bear children.

    Because divorce is so prevalent, the social construct of marriage that was originally designed to protect women and children no longer successfully serves that purpose. Most women have adapted to this shift, and many are capable of providing for themselves and their children, as necessary. Over time, especially in American society, marriage and long-term partnership have become universally accepted ways of formalizing love between two people, rather than a function of survival.

    Women have found that marrying or partnering solely for romantic love is not the answer. In pursuit of passion and love, women have overlooked rational thought as an important component in mate selection. Many women surmise that men with whom they have great times, great sex, and great dates would be men with whom they could be more committed and intimate over the long term.

    Unfortunately, a colossal number of marriages in the last twenty years have ended in divorce, with the rate now hovering around 50 percent; for every two women who get married, one ends up divorced. (In California, the rate is even higher.) Our thought processes, or lack thereof, in the matter of partner selection have shown that during the last forty years something is obviously missing. My psychotherapy practice is filled with heartbroken women who can't figure out how something that began so hopefully could have ended so dismally.

    The consequences of poor partner selection go beyond broken hearts. Too many children are being raised by parents who have divorced. It is the exception, rather than the norm, to find a child whose family is still intact. The psychological effects of divorce on children, who often blame themselves for the breakup and may feel that neither parent really wants them, are illustrated abundantly in studies and literature on the topic. My therapy practice mirrors what teachers say they observe at school. More kids are "acting out," becoming violent, or behaving as if they don't care about anything, including themselves. It's no coincidence that cynicism and apathy have risen in tandem with the divorce rate. According to studies, children of divorce have been found to have higher rates of dropping out of school and mental problems. Most children of divorce will also have problems later in life. The angry and stressful environment of a troubled, splintered household has undoubtedly contributed to children being abused.

    A higher divorce rate has also created a new class of poor, i.e., divorced, women and their children. Statistics show that a man's income rises dramatically when he leaves his wife and children, whereas a woman's plunges. One report found that an astonishing 38 percent of women with children live in poverty. While many women might have advanced degrees along with solid credentials, if they are alone with small children to raise, most can barely stay afloat financially.

    Obviously, these results were not what women intended when they declared an end to pragmatic pairings in favor of partnerships based on romance and love. Many women have found that they can find a man fairly easily, but the difficulty is in finding the right man. Women have let themselves be too easily swayed by a man's charisma, sensuality, money, or prestige. Consequently, they lose their heads as they follow their hearts down the aisle or into long-term commitments with disastrous results.

    Many women feel that if they have had one relationship failure, they should give up on ever finding another relationship that might work. Over forty years ago, Margaret Mead said that a woman will have had a series of monogamous relationships over the course of her lifetime. The first one would be for sex and experimentation; the second, for creating families; the third, for career and vocational exploration; and the fourth, for spiritual union and intimacy. When we look at statistics, what Mead predicted is happening today. We could even say that today the second and third stages often occur in reverse order, because many women are pursuing careers and working before they marry and have children. The guys we wanted to fool around with in high school are not the kind of men with whom we would want to build a family, and we might not want to share a spiritual union with the men we married and with whom we are raising children. Because women live well into their seventies and eighties now, most can count on having several serially monogamous relationships over the course of their lifetimes.

    Having more than one relationship in your life doesn't make you a failure. Some people may be blessed to be with the same person for their whole lives, but this is exceptional. The rest of us will be blessed by experiencing several monogamous relationships over the course of our lifetimes.

    Many women still believe that they are somehow flawed if they have been in several different long-term relationships, or have been married and divorced more than once, but the problem is not that they are failures in relationships; it is rather that they are holding themselves up to an outdated model of one lifetime, one true love. Instead, women need to appreciate the opportunity they have had to experience different men while continuing to learn more about themselves in their growth process. Just because a relationship is over doesn't mean that you have failed. It may simply mean that you have finished that particular relationship and what it had to teach you. You have learned what you needed to learn; you have grown as much as you could during that particular situation, and now it is time to let go and move on. This is hardly indicative of failure.

    Now is the time to demystify relationships and create a balance between romance and reality. Women must learn to integrate their heads and their hearts to learn how to choose a man consciously, not chemically or reactively. I am not saying that love has nothing to do with the process of choosing a long-term partner, mate, or husband. Still, I believe that it is time for women to admit that love isn't the only, or even the most important, part of creating a mutually satisfying, healthy, intimate relationship. Women need to become smart with their hearts by adding conscious and careful evaluation of the facts with their feelings.

The Smart Heart Partnering Process

The Smart Heart Partnering Process will help you make careful systematic evaluations before getting into a relationship. If you want to become a Smart Heart woman, you must put your current or future boyfriends, partners, and mates through a series of assessments if you are to do all you can to ensure a lasting and satisfying partnership. The question is not simply "Can he provide for me?" as your grandmothers asked. The question isn't "Am I in love with him?" as your mothers or sisters may have asked. The questions you must ask both yourself and a potential partner are more complicated and diverse, such as:

* Am I seeing this guy clearly as who he really is, or am I letting hope and hormones disguise someone who is really a bad bet?

* Am I settling for the wrong man out of misplaced feelings or fears?

* Am I hooked on this guy simply because I have had great sex with him?

* Do this man and I have compatible personalities?

* Are we in the same developmental stages in life?

* Do we share the same goals and values?

* Do we even enjoy many of the same things?

    Even a decade ago, such pragmatic assessments may have seemed unromantic, but we need to wake up to the fact that nothing is more unromantic than divorce. Adding your head to your heart when you assess a potential life partner isn't being unromantic; it is just plain being smart.

    I started counseling women about relationships in the early 1980s, and I have been struggling with my own issues about relationships since I was an adolescent. I am the oldest of ten children, and my mother never worked outside the home. My father was a dominant, critical, repressive, Hispanic father. How could I learn how to make choices that would serve and support me and my needs coming from this family system? Because other areas of my life were so different from my mother's, it was clear I could not look to her for answers. The scary thing was that there was nowhere else to look. Out of the struggles of my personal life and throughout my many years of professional practice, I was inspired to create a process that supports women in being able to combine romance with intelligence so that they could make wiser choices.

    After almost two decades of looking at this issue from a professional, as well as personal, point of view, I created this process not only to support my clients but also to support myself. I found that I was able to use it quite successfully in a personal relationship with a man I met at my twentieth high-school reunion. Our relationship lasted for several years, and we were planning to be married. We had just purchased a house when he unexpectedly died, leaving me alone. Although it took me over a year to recover from that loss, I am actively back on the dating scene today, and I employ the Smart Heart Partnering Process with the men I become involved with.

    Whether you like it or not, whether you are a feminist or not, whether you are a die-hard romantic or a complete pragmatist, you must be willing to understand that women are the ones who maintain, nurture, create, and manifest relationships. Men want to be with us, but we are the ones who must be conscious about whom we choose and what we want because we create the relationship and cause it to flourish or flounder.

    Women must be willing to journey inward to discover what their own internal terrain looks like, where they want to go, and how they want to get there. As a woman, you need to have the courage to step into a new frontier of your own design. The tools in the Smart Heart Partnering Process will help you determine how and what you can do that is right for you relative to the current circumstances of your life, in accordance with your own personality, style, beliefs, values, and ideas.

    Because each woman is unique, her choices will be unique. Using the Smart Heart Partnering Process will help you no matter who you are or what your current situation is. The process worked for Janine, a thirty-seven-year- old client of mine who was a successful producer and director of commercials. Janine lived with a man named Rob who was a successful writer. They lived together for eight years in a house they bought jointly. Although she didn't want to be married when they were first together, eventually she decided that getting married and starting a family were important to her. Every time she broached the subject with him, Bob would say that he wasn't ready or that marriage wasn't what he wanted. By their eighth year together, she was so resentful of him that she left him.

    Shortly after Janine and Rob broke up, he began to date another woman, Melissa. After nine months, Melissa said to Bob, "If you want to be with me, we need to be married. If you aren't willing, then I am not going to see you anymore." After six weeks, he proposed and they got married a few months later.

    When Janine heard the news, she was completely flabbergasted. She had been too afraid to give Rob such a clear, honest, respectful ultimatum, a fear that cost her the relationship. If Janine had given Rob the clear-cut choice of marrying her or not being with her, it is likely that he would have chosen her. Unlike Janine, Melissa was confident and valued herself enough to say exactly what she wanted. Whenever Janine spoke to Rob about getting married, she gave him resentful, manipulative, attitude-filled complaints. Rob could only respond by being defensive and withdrawing. What would have been more appropriate for her to say is "This is what I want. The experience that I am looking for is this. This is what I need. If you can't give me those things, that's fine, but there is no point in my being in this with you if we are not on the same path." This is clearly what Melissa did.

    With my support, and by using the Smart Heart Partnering Process, Janine started dating a lovely man who had been married before for fourteen years. Tim didn't have any children from his previous marriage. His wife had left him, and he was devastated for a long time. The breakup wasn't something he had wanted. Tim and his ex-wife remained friends, however. She moved to San Francisco for a new job, but she sometimes came back to Los Angeles on business or to see friends, and she often stayed with him at the house they had formerly shared. She still had the keys to the house and the code to the answering machine. The emotional part of the marriage was definitely over, but Tim did not completely close off all relations with his ex-wife or limit her involvement in his life.

    Though Janine really liked Tim, she was very uncomfortable that his ex-wife still had total freedom to move in and out of his life without regard for her. In this situation, Janine had the Smart Heart Partnering Process as a resource. She had learned how to be clear and direct about her relationship objectives, so she spoke to Tim about her discomfort and made her request, saying "Having your ex-wife come and go as she pleases was fine before, but now you are seeing me and it makes me really uncomfortable. It doesn't work for me or seem appropriate considering you and I are intimate and need some privacy. I need you to reconsider your boundaries with this woman. I am not telling you that you are not allowed to have her in your life, as a friend, but that level of intimacy isn't appropriate any longer." He responded positively and took steps to set more appropriate boundaries with his ex-spouse. Once Tim did that, he opened up a larger space for Janine in his life and they were able to progress in their relationship. They eventually were married.

    Any woman can use the Smart Heart Partnering Process to improve herself and her relationships. I call it the Smart Heart Partnering Process because it is a process that allows you to use both your head and your heart in a systematic approach to evaluate yourself and your relationship partners.

    You are going to make mistakes. So what! You won't learn anything or gain very much unless you allow yourself the opportunity to take risks. This is true not only in relationships but also in all aspects of life. Welcome your mistakes. You will learn as much, if not more, from your errors as you will from doing everything "correctly." Your mistakes reveal where you need to grow and what more you need to learn. There is no such thing as failure—just a delay in the end result you are seeking. You may have made errors in judgment. You may have been with an abusive guy. You may have created obstacles for yourself this time around. Next time, you won't. It is possible to change the course of your relationships, provided you are willing to do the work and to be aware.

    Here are some suggestions before you get started. Keep a pad or a notebook with you as you go through each chapter of each stage of the Smart Heart Partnering Process. Whenever an idea, a question, or a statement strikes you, write down your thoughts, reactions, responses, and comments. Writing down these thoughts will assist you in:

* Creating and designing your relationship objectives

* Assessing the qualities that you are looking for in a man and a long-term, committed relationship

* Deconstructing destructive personal feelings and fears

* Assessing your personality, as well as that of your current or future partner

* Delineating your values, beliefs, lifestyle, needs, and goals

    Although I guide you throughout the process—making suggestions and providing scenarios, exercises, questions, and advice—feel free to personalize and make it your own. If you flip through it and want to start in the middle because the Personal/Partner Profiler first catches your attention, I encourage you to do that. Start where you are. The only thing I recommend is that wherever you choose to start in the process, make sure you work through all the stages, even if you do them out of order. All the various components are included because they are important parts of the overall process of self-discovery, evolution, and expansion. This is not a quick fix or instantaneous solution to all your relationship problems. I don't believe one exists. I do promise, however, that you will benefit from taking the time and energy to do the work that the Smart Heart Partnering Process suggests.

Table of Contents

Preface: A Love Letter to Womenxi
Part 1Getting from "Me" to "We"
1There's Nothing More Romantic Than a Relationship That Works: A Systematic New Process for Designing and Creating a Relationship3
2Know What You Want Before You Start15
3How to Identify Negative Feelings and Fears That Will Keep You from Getting It Right31
4Rotten Reruns, Repeat Performances, and Media Distortions48
5Mr. Right, or Mr. Right Now?78
6Conscious Dating: How to Make Him Squeal, and What Not to Reveal95
Part 2Detours, Dangers, and Disasters
7What's Love Got to Do with It?118
8Hormones, Pheromones, and Other Moans134
9Is He a Knight, Prince, or King? Why It Matters157
10Bad Boys Are Bad Bets174
Part 3Putting the Smart Heart Partnering Process to Work
11The Personal/Partner Profiler (PPP)213
12What's Your Number?227
13Now That You've Got His Number, Are Your Personalities Complementary or Conflicting?290
14Delving Deeper, Knowing More: Discovering Values, Beliefs, and Interests332
15Touchy Topics346
Conclusion: Using the Power of Your Choices Wisely: Stop, Look, and Listen357
Other Resources, Seminars, Workshops369
A Final Note371

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