30 Dating Dilemmas in 30 Days – Marissa Geraci
Your favourite cougar dating site, Toyboy Warehouse has 30 days to gather the most influential dating and relationship experts to help answer 30 dating dilemmas from real members. It’s a race against time to solve the world’s love issues, will we make it?
Tell us about yourself
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Tampa, Florida. My background is actually in finance. I worked in corporate America for almost 10 years. I realized I was dying a slow death in my cubicle and I needed a drastic change. While I was still working, I enrolled in a graduate school program to get my Masters degree in mental health. It was the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done for myself. Now I have my own private practice and love what I do every single day.
If someone came to you for dating/relationship advice, what would they expect?
Therapists are technically not supposed to “give advice.” I work with my clients to identify the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationship components, and then we assess how they feel about their own situation. I study a lot of modern day relationship experts (John and Julie Gottman, Esther Perel, Sue Johnson), and also draw a lot from my own experiences. One universal piece of advice is to stop comparing. So many of us judge the health or happiness of our own relationships based on the milestones or timelines of others. We’re constantly trying to figure out what’s okay, or what’s normal. Not only do “okay” and “normal” not exist, their definitions vary from couple to couple.
What are some of the projects you’re currently working on?
I am a huge advocate of adventure therapy. My blog, which is definitely a work in progress, is geared towards helping people make that connection. In many ways, travel and hiking have been the best therapists I’ve ever had. I want to help people understand that they can work on themselves and find healing and growth without sitting on a therapist’s couch once a week. We’re in the process of adding a travel section, as well as a map of hiking recommendations in different cities.
“At what point do you know a relationship is over”
My answer to this question has changed over the years. I used to think that a relationship would end if it experienced things like betrayal and trauma. But over the years I have seen couples stay together, and sometimes come out stronger, after those events. I currently believe that a relationship is over when at least one of you doesn’t want to keep trying.
We have access to so many resources today. There are so many books, videos, blogs, podcasts, and real life therapists to help us change, repair, and strengthen our relationships. And they can work, if you are willing to take the time and make the effort. But if one person stops wanting to, that is a major indicator that you’re nearing the end.
Two other possible indicators that your relationship is over are legitimate deal breakers or abuse. Even the best therapy can’t fix one person desperately wanting to have a baby, while the other person adamantly does not. And we know that abused women tend to stay and justify and hope for the best, but you could literally be risking your life by waiting.
“I’m trying to work up the nerve to ask a girl out. Any tips?.”
Um… Just do it?
Many people experience fear when faced with a situation that may result in rejection. But when it comes to dating, that is the irrational thought that we need to change. If we ask someone out and they turn us down, we immediately go down a self-deprecating rabbit hole. We start to mentally list all the reason’s we’re not good enough, and they feel so believable. Even though there are billions of people on the planet, it’s actually not that easy to find the person (or people – if you’re not in to soul mates) who is a good fit for you. And it’s not because there is anything wrong with you. Or them. We get upset when we can’t fit the square peg into the round hole, and assume it’s because we are flawed in some way. There’s nothing wrong with peg or the hole, they’re just not a match for each other.
Other tips that might be helpful: Decide what you want to say and how you want to say it before you are actually having the conversation with her. If you’ve never talked to this person before, consider some other ice breakers to see if you’d even have enough to talk about during a date. Have some ideas for where to go and what to do on the date, but it’s also a good idea to ask her if she has any preferences.
“I’ve been with someone on and off for over a year now, things seem to go well for a little while then they just fizzle out. Is this something I should stick with or give up on? I’ve tried to ask myself this question and I’m stumped. Love some help.”
These relationships are sometimes the hardest to navigate. We’ve identified that there is something about this person that we’re drawn to, but at the same time realized there is something that’s not working right.
The question you need to ask yourself is, “Why do I feel this person is worth fighting for?” Once we’ve done the back-and-forth a few times, we lose perspective because we fall into patterns of comfortability and familiarity. It’s important to have a good grasp on your own personal values, goals, and what you want out of life. How else can you do an accurate assessment of whether or not your priorities align?
I also noticed that you say in your inquiry that you’ve asked yourself this question. If you haven’t asked your partner, that’s your next step. You can get advice from a million people, but there is only one other person sharing in this experience with you. We tend to be fearful of vulnerable conversations, but without complete honesty and transparency, you’ll continue to be in a place of uncertainty.